Nicene Monarchism and Images of Christ Saturday, Jan 12 2013 

In the last 7 years or so I have been a staunch defender of Puritanic Iconoclasm. However, as these issues of the Trinity have become more clear and concrete I have noticed a problem sustaining the Puritan prohibition of images of Christ.

In the Westminster Larger Catechism we read,

Q. 109. What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?

A. The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counselling, commanding, using, and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself; tolerating a false religion; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever…

Notice that the prohibition is premised on the idea that all three persons are the One God. This I reject. Now I do agree that no worship should ever come to an image of Christ or of an image of any kind in this dispensation.

Now, Max, a friend of mine recently questioned me about this and I answered by quoting Owen’s argument that God has commanded only one icon, the incarnation of Christ, and thus all other images of Christ are forbidden.

However, upon further examination of Owen, I found the same Sabellianism which this prohibition is premised up. Owen says,

“Hence, as he absolutely rejecteth all images and representations of him of men s devisings, (for the reasons before mentioned,) and declares that the honour that any should think would thereby redound unto him was not given unto him, but unto the devil; so that which he hath provided himself, unto his own holy ends and purposes, is every way approved of him. For he will have “all men honour the Son, even as they honour the Father;” and so as that “he who honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father:” John v. 23. This image, therefore, is the person of Christ ; ” he is the image of the invisible God.” This, in the first place, respects the divine person absolutely, as he is the essential image of the Father: which must briefly be declared. 1. The Son is sometimes said to be Harpl, ” in the Father,” and the Father in the Son : ” Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?” John xiv. 10. This is from the unity or sameness of their nature for he and the Father are one: John x. 30. Thence all things that the Father hath are his, (chap. xvL 15,) because their nature is one and the same. With respect unto the divine essence absolutely considered, wherein the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father, the one cannot be said to be the image of the other. For he and the Father are one; and one and the same thing cannot be the image of itself, in that wherein it is one. [But his view of nature is numeric, mine generic.-DS] 2. The Son is said not only to be…” in the Father,” in the unity of the same essence; but also…, “with the Father,” or ” with God,” in the distinction of his person : ” The Word was with God, and the Word was God:” John i. 1. “The Word was God,” in the unity of the divine essence and ” the Word was with God,” in its distinct personal subsistence. ” The Word” that is, the person of the Son, as distinct from the Father ” was with God,” or the Father. And in this respect he is the essential image of the Father, as he is called in this place…and that because he partakes of all the same divine properties with the Father. But although the Father, on the other side, be partaker of all the essential divine properties of the Son, yet is not he said to be the image of the Son. For this property of an image respects not the things themselves, but the manner of the participation of them. Now the Son receives all from the Father, and the Father nothing from the Son. Whatever belongs unto the person of the Son, as the person of the Son, he receives it all from the Father by eternal generation: ” For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given unto the Son to have life in himself:” John v. 26. He is therefore the essential image of the Father, because all the properties of the divine nature are communicated unto him together with personality from the Father 3. In his incarnation, the Son was made the representative image of God unto us as he was, in his person, the essential image of the Father, by eternal generation. [Thus he is denying that he is the image of God with respect to his nature because on his view persons are only hypostases, without consideration of their own numeric nature.-DS ] The invisible God whose nature and divine excellencies our understandings can make no approach unto doth in him represent, exhibit, or make present unto our faith and spiritual sense, both himself and all the glorious excellencies of his nature. Wherefore our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, may be considered three ways. 1. Merely with respect unto his divine nature. This is one and the same with that of the Father. In this respect the one is not the image of the other, for both are the same. [See.-DS]2. With respect unto his divine person as the Son of the Father, the only-begotten, the eternal Son of God. Thus he receives, as his personality, so all divine excellencies, from the Father; so he is the essential image of the Father s person.”

Therefore, at this point I can no longer affirm that making an image of Christ is a violation of Exo. 20 or Deut. 4.

Is God-ness a Platonic Idea that Stands above the Divine Persons? Saturday, Nov 10 2012 

This question assumes that God-ness is something that all three persons participate in. This is the fallacy. On my view God-ness is not the same thing as divinity. Only one person is God and that is the Father. God-ness is not something abstract as a divine attribute. God-ness is a hypostatic property of the Father alone. The mistake is the way people use the word “God”. Many think it means divinity, or deity. I think, with the Nicene creed that it means origo, auto-theos, source of operation.

Unitarianism [Capital "U"] says that only one person is DIVINE (Nature). Nicene Monarchism (My view-unitariansm [lowercase "u"]) says that only one person is GOD (Hypostasis-Person). The Bible at no point refers to the One God as an abstract essence/subject or nature/subject that attaches to three other relation subjects or the absolute blasphemy of the Tri-Theistic or Monadistic phrase “God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost”. The only time the NT uses the word “Theos” and attaches a numeric value to it, it is referring to the Father; never to the son or spirit. And the fact remains, the One God is never said to be a divine nature. The Scripture does describe ******the Father****** as the one person who is, “tou monou Theos” (John 5:44 “How can you believe, when you receive [fn]glory from one another and you do not seek the [fn]glory that is from the one and only God?), “ton monon alethinon theon” (John 17:3 “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.) and “eis theos” (1Cor 8:6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him; Eph 4:6 one God and Father of all ).

Some may object: Wait! Didn’t Ryan say, “To be divine is to be eternal, omniscient, good, just, etc. These are universals which may be predicated of the Father, of the Son and of the Spirit; that is, each is divine because there are a set of distinct, divine attributes which may be predicated of each of them.” http://unapologetica.blogspot.com/2012/09/drake-sheltons-triadology-summary.html

Does this not imply that there is a realm of universals higher than the persons? No! Why? Because these universals are Ideas within the mind of the Father. They are the activity of the Father’s being/mind. True, the activity is caused by the being/mind but that in no way implies that the being/mind is caused.  Remember, the Father is the absolute and independent person. He is the only person that possesses these attributes independently. The Son and the Holy Spirit emanate (Christian sense not Plotinian) from the Father eternally, therefore, they possess these attributes in a mode different from the Father, that is derivatively. But doesn’t that mean that the Son and Holy Spirit are different in generic substance from the father? No! Why? Because independency and absoluteness (they mean the same thing) pertains to the hypostasis of the Father, not his nature.

The hypostasis of the Father is therefore the first (logical not necessarily chronological) and highest principle; the One God to whom all peoples owe allegiance, worship and obedience: Shema Yisrael!

Carlstadt on the 7th Day Sabbath, the Regulative Principle and the Lord’s Supper Tuesday, Oct 2 2012 

Barnas Sears, The Life of Luther (Philadelphia: American Sunday-School Union, 1850), 361-363

“He [Carlstadt] had so far restored the sacrament of the Lord’s supper as to distribute the wine as well as the bread to the laity. Luther, “in order not to offend weak consciences,” insisted on distributing the bread only, and prevailed. He [Carlstadt] rejected the practice of elevating and adoring the host. Luther allowed it, and introduced it again. Carlstadt maintained, that “we should not, in things pertaining to God, regard what the multitude say or think, but look simply to the word of God. Others,” he adds, “say that, on account of the weak, we should not hasten to keep the commands of God; but wait till they become wise and strong.” In regard to the ceremonies introduced into the church, he judged as the Swiss reformers did, that all were to be rejected which had not a warrant in the Bible. [Thus Carlstadt affirmed the Regulative Principle] “It is sufficiently against the Scriptures, if you can find no ground for it in them.” Luther asserted, on the contrary, “Whatever is not against the Scriptures is for the Scriptures, and the Scriptures for it. Though Christ hath not commanded adoring of the host, so neither hath he forbidden it.” “Not so,” said Carlstadt, “we are bound to the Bible, and no one may decide after the thoughts of his own heart.”

Carlstadt differed essentially from Luther in regard to the use to be made of the Old Testament. With him, the law of Moses was still binding. Luther, on the contrary, had a strong aversion to what he calls a. legal and Judaizing religion. Carlstadt held to the divine authority of the Sabbath from the Old Testament; Luther believed Christians were free to observe any day as a Sabbath, provided they be uniform in observing it. But Carlstadt was also a mystic, following an inward light. Hence his sympathy with the Zwickau Prophets. He was a singular compound of Zwinglian, Lutheran and Anabaptist ingredients.

The most important difference between him and Luther, and that which most imbittered the latter against him, related to the Lord’s supper. He opposed not only transubstantiation, but consubstantiation, the real presence, and the elevation and adoration of the host. Luther rejected the first, asserted the second and third, and allowed the other two. In regard to the real presence, he says: “In the sacrament is the real body of Christ and the real blood of Christ, so that even the unworthy and ungodly partake of it; and ‘partake of it corporally, ‘ too, and not spiritually as Carlstadt will have it.” [And the Puritans] After Carlstadt had been compelled to keep silence, from 1522 to 1524, and to submit to the superior power and authority of Luther, he could contain himself no longer. He, therefore, left Wittenberg, and established a press at Jena, through which he could, in a series of publications, give vent to his convictions, so long pent up. He also preached in several places in that neighbourhood, but chiefly at Orlamunde, a little above Jena, on the Saale. A furious controversy ensued. Both parties exceeded the bounds of Christian propriety and moderation.

Carlstadt was now in the vicinity of the Anabaptist tumults, excited by Muncer. He sympathized with them in some things, but disapproved of their disorders. Luther made the most of this. The work which he wrote against him, he entitled “The Book against the Celestial Prophets.” This was uncandid; for the controversy related chiefly to the sacrament of the supper. In the south of Germany, and in Switzerland, Carlstadt found more adherents than Luther. Banished as an Anabaptist, he was received as a Zwinglian.

No doubt this circumstance did much toward producing that intolerant spirit which Luther ever afterward manifested toward Zwingle and his associates. It is not for us to decide the doctrinal question. It is enough to say that those men were as much entitled to the respect and charity of Luther, as he was to their s. We pass over this whole controversy, and the numerous colloquies and debates growing out of it, as inappropriate to the character of this work.”

Our Puritan forebears followed Carlstadt on Sabbath keeping simpliciter,  the Lord’s Supper and the Regulative Principle but did not follow him regarding the day of the Sabbath. Huh?

Called to Communion’s David Anders Can’t Answer My Criticisms of His Recent Posts on Relics and So He Deleted My Comments Friday, Aug 17 2012 

Called to Communion has recently published a blog Relics, Saints, and the Assumption of Mary by David Anders. Anders did allow my first two comments but only addressed about 5% of what I said. My next series of comments were even more horrifying to him because he became firmly aware that his Protestant Opponent understands the Fathers a bit more than he is comfortable with. So just like the Eastern Orthodox Robert Arakaki, and that Van Tillian James Anderson, Mr. Anders decided to censor his sheep from this troubler of Israel (1 Kings 18:17). And these guys wonder why I am trying to start my own Church. I am giving them opportunities to convince me and  they just keep convincing me that I’m right. The following were my comments:

“Well, yes, that’s what I mean by Christianity – among other things. And, I think I did show that there was some basis for saying this. It’s one thing to say you think I have misconstrued the data. It is another thing to say, “No basis what so ever!”

>>>What I was saying is that you have no basis for your assertion, “relics were indispensable to the former”, which is why I wanted to make a clear connection to the Jewish people because as I showed, relics were not indispensable to the Jews. Veneration wasn’t done in the temple and neither imagery, nor relics nor veneration was done in the synagogue either which shows it was dispensable.

“As far as your references to Synagogue worship – this really isn’t at issue in the post. I don’t remember mentioning synagogue worship or Jewish art. Really, the post has nothing to do with that.”

>>>But this regards Jewish worship which after the tabernacle meant Temple and Synagogue worship. Neither of which contained what you say they contained.

“Rather than go point by point from here on, let me restate the central focus of the post – which I think you misconstrue.”

>>>Even if I did, that does not remove the problems that I showed with many other things in your post. You don’t want to have to reply to them so you are trying to escape by finding some ambiguity in one of my replies among many replies.

“Ancient Jews and Hebrews believed that some people were gifted with miraculous powers due to their close relationship to God”

>>>But is that what you believe?

John of Damascus, On Holy Images Part 2,

“Behold, then, matter is honoured, and you dishonour it. What is more insignificant than goat’s hair, or colours, and are not violet and purple and scarlet colours? And the likeness of the cherubim are the work of man’s hand, and the tabernacle itself from first to last was an image. “Look,” said God to Moses, “and make it according to the pattern that was shown thee in the Mount,” (Ex. 25.40) and it was adored by the people of Israel in a circle. And, as to the cherubim, were they not in sight of the people? And did not the people look at the ark, and the lamps, and the table, the golden urn and the staff, and adore? It is not matter which I adore; it is the Lord of matter, becoming matter for my sake, taking up His abode in matter and working out my salvation through matter. For “the Word was made Flesh, and dwelt amongst us.” (Jn. 1.14) It is evident to all that flesh is matter, and that it is created. I reverence and honour matter, and worship that which has brought about my salvation. I [73] honour it, not as God, but as a channel of divine strength and grace. Was not the thrice blessed wood of the Cross matter? and the sacred and holy mountain of Calvary? Was not the holy sepulchre matter, the life-giving stone the source of our resurrection? Was not the book of the Gospels matter, and the holy table which gives us the bread of life? Are not gold and silver matter, of which crosses, and holy pictures, and chalices are made? And above all, is not the Lord’s Body and Blood composed of matter? Either reject the honor and worship of all these things, or conform to ecclesiastical tradition, sanctifying the worship of images in the name of God and of God’s friends, and so obeying the grace of the Divine Spirit.”

No. On your view the efficacy of the relic comes from the incarnation. I find it fascinating that Damascus even admitted that Athanasius thought this practice with regard to the dead bodies was totally pagan and rejected it. Damascus says in Part 1 of On Holy Images,

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

OUCH! I’ll stick with Athanasius on that one thanks.

“those powers sometimes adhered even to their corpses, and such power is echoed in the book of Acts.”

>>>That is sleight of hand. You are referring to the power of a person’s piety with regard to OT saints and then saying it echoed in the book of acts as if it is the same power but it is not, it is the power of the incarnation in the book of Acts on your view. I don’t even think you understand what your Church teaches sir.

Maybe you have not been introduced to these issues because there are certain metaphysical categories in Damascene’s construction that don’t quite fit Thomistic Theology Proper.

The Indifferency of Superstitious Religious Ceremonies Refuted by George Gillespie’s English Popish Ceremonies Saturday, May 12 2012 

When confronted by the Puritanical rejection of holy days, such as Christmas and Easter along with the superstitious ceremonies that accompany these man made holy days, an Anchoretic Priest or Crypto Catholic Pastor and the common modern day Baptist Minister will appeal to the indifferency of these ceremonies. They will say that the holy  day with its ceremonies is neither good nor bad. It is just a fun ceremony with no moral ties one way or another.  Well, is it?

Before I begin I wanted to provide some keys definitions of terms Gillespie uses from The Metaphysics of the School Vol. 2,  by Thomas Norton Harper pg. 755,

“IN ACTU SIGNATO, IN ACTU EXERCITO. These two terms are used by the Schoolmen to distinguish between two conjoined effects sometimes resulting from the same action. An effect is said to be in actu signato, which is directly intended (so to speak) by the action. Thus, the impression produced in the wax by a seal is the effect in actu signato. An effect is said to be in actu exercito, when it is a necessary concomitant result of the same action, though not directly intended. Thus, in the above instance the cooling of the wax resulting from contact with the seal is in actu excercito.”

The following is taken from George Gillespie’s English popish Ceremonies, pg. 214-217,

“CHAPTER IX.

A RECAPITULATION OF SUNDRY OTHER REASONS AGAINST THE INDIFFERENCY OF THE CEREMONIES.

Sect. 1. That the ceremonies are not indifferent to us, or such things as we may freely practise, we prove yet by other reasons:

For, 1. They who plead for the indifferency of the ceremonies must tell us whether they call them indifferent in actu signato, or in actu excercito ; or in both these respects. Now, we have proven, that there is no action deliberated upon, and wherein we proceed with the advice of reason, which can be indifferent in actu exercito, and that because it cannot choose, but either have all the circumstances which it should have (and so be good), or else want some of them, one or more (and so be evil). And for the indifferency of the ceremonies in actu signato, though we should acknowledge it (which we do not), yet it could be no warrant for the practice of them, or else the believing Gentiles might have freely eaten of all meats, notwithstanding of the scandal of the Jews, for the eating of all meats freely was still a thing indifferent, in actu signato.

Sect. 2. The ceremonies are not indifferent eo ipso, that they are prescribed and commended unto us as indifferent; for, as Aquinas resolveth out of Isidore, every human or positive law must be both necessaria ad remotionem malorum and utilis ad consecutionem bonorumThe guides of God’s church have not power to prescribe any other thing than that which is good and profitable for edifying; for they are set not as lords over Christ’s inheritance, but as ministers for their good : ” It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, (say the apostles and elders to the churches,) to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things,” Acts xv. 28. They would not, you see, have enacted a canon about those things, howbeit indifferent in their own nature, had they not found them necessary for the eschewing of scandal. And as for the civil magistrate, he also hath not power to prescribe any thing which he pleaseth though it be in itself indifferent; ” for he is the minister of God unto thee for good,” saith the Apostle, Rom. xiii. 4. Mark that word, for good,—it lets us see that the magistrate hath not power given him to enjoin any other thing than that which may be for our good. Non enim sua causa dominantur, saith Calvin; sed publico bono ; neque effrceni potentia prcediti sunt, sed quce subditorum saluti sit obstricta. Now, the first and chief good which the magistrate is bound to see for unto the subjects, is (as Pareus showeth), bonum spirituale. Let us, then, either see the good of the ceremonies, or else we must account them to be such things as God never gave princes nor pastors power to enjoin ; for howsoever they have power to prescribe many things which are indifferent, that is to say, neither good nor evil in their general nature, yet they may not command us to practise any thing which in the particular use of it is not necessary or expedient for some good end.

3. The ceremonies are not indifferent, because, notwithstanding that they are prescribed and commended unto us as things in themselves indifferent, yet we are by the will and authority of men compelled and necessitated to use them. Si vero ad res suo natura medius accedat coactio, &c., then, say the Magdeburgians. Paul teacheth, Col. ii., that it is not lawful to use them freely : ” If ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances (touch not, taste not, handle not, which are all to perish with the using), after the commandments and doctrines of men.” Hence is Tertullian taxed for inducing a necessity in things indifferent. Now, with how great necessity and co-action the ceremonies are imposed upon us, we have made it evident elsewhere.

Sect. 4. 4. Whatever be the quality of the ceremonies in their own nature, they are not indifferent to us; neither may we freely practice them, because Papists make advantage of them, and take occasion from them to confirm sundry of their errors and superstitions, as we have likewise elsewhere made evident…

Sect. 5. 5. Things which are most indifferent in themselves become evil in the case of scandal, and so may not be used. So hold the Century writers ; so Pareus ; so Zanchius ; so Chemnitius ; so Augustine ; and so hath the Apostle taught.[1 Cor 8:8-9] But that out of the practice of the ceremonies there groweth active scandal unto the weak, we have most clearly proven. Wherefore, let them be in their own nature as indifferent as anything can be, yet they are not indifferent to be used and practised by us; and whosoever swalloweth this scandal of Christ’s little ones, and repenteth not, the heavy millstone of God’s dreadful wrath shall be hanged about his neck, to sink him down in the bottomless lake; and then shall he feel that which before he would not understand.

Sect. 6. 6. It is not enough for warrant of our practice that we do those things which are indifferent or lawful in themselves, except they be also expedient to be done by us according to the Apostle’s rule, 1 Cor. vi. 12. But I have proven that many and weighty inconveniences do follow upon the ceremonies [pg. 188], as namely, that they make way and are the ushers for greater evils; that they hinder edification, and in their fleshly show and outward splendour, obscure and prejudice the life and power of godliness; that they are the unhappy occasions of much injury and cruelty against the faithful servants of Christ, that they were bellows to blow up, and are still fuel to increase the church-consuming fire of woeful dissentions amongst us, &c. Where also we show,that some of our opposites themselves acknowledge the inconveniency of the ceremonies ; wherefore we cannot freely nor indifferently practise them.

Sect. 7. 7. These ceremonies are the accursed monuments of popish superstition, and have been both dedicated unto and employed in the public and solemn worship of idols, and therefore (having no necessary use for which we should still retain them) they ought to be utterly abolished, and are not left free nor indifferent to us, which argument I have also made good elsewhere…Yea, Joseph Hall himself, doth herein give testimony unto us, for upon Hezekian’s pulling down of the brazen serpent, because of the idolatrous abuse of it, thus he noteth:” God commanded the raising of it, God commanded the abolishing of it. Superstitious use can mar the very institutions of God, how much more the most wise and well-grounded devices of men ! And further, in the end of this treatise, entitled, The Honour of the Married Clergy, he adjoineth a passage taken out of the epistle of Erasmus Roterodamus to Christopher, Bishop of Basil, which passage beginneth thus: ” For those things which are altogether of human constitution must (like to remedies in diseases) be attempered to the present estate of matters and times. Those things which were once religiously instituted, afterwards, according to occasion, and the changed quality of manners and times, may be with more religion and piety abrogated.” Finally, If Hezekiah be praised for breaking down the brazen serpent (though instituted by God) when the Israelites began to abuse it against the honour of God, how much more (saith Zanchius5) are our reformers to be praised, for that they did thus with rites instituted by men, being found full of superstitious abuse, though in themselves they had not been evil!

Sect. 8. 8. The ceremonies are not indifferent, because they depart too far from the example of Christ and his apostles, and the purer times of the church ; for instead of that ancient Christian-like and soul-edifying simplicity, religion is now by their means busked with the vain trumpery of Babylonish trinkets, and her face covered with the whorish and eye-bewitching fairding of fleshly show and splendour; and I have also showed particularly how sundry of the ceremonies are flat contrary to the example of Christ and his apostles and the best times.

Sect. 9. 9. The ceremonies make us also to conform, and like the idolatrous Papists, whereas it is not lawful to symbolise with idolaters, or to be like them in a ceremony of man’s devising, or anything which hath no necessary use in religion ; such a distance and a dissimilitude there is required to be betwixt the church of Christ and the synagogue of Satan ; betwixt the temple of God and the kingdom of the beast; betwixt the company of sound believers and the conventicles of heretics who are without; betwixt the true worshippers of God and the worshippers of idols, that we cannot, without being accessory to their superstitious and false religion, and partaking with the same, appear conform unto them in their unnecessary rites and ceremonies. Durandus tells us, that they call Easter by the Greek and not by the Hebrew name, and that they keep not that least upon the same day with the Jews, and all for this cause, lest they should seem to Judaise. How much more reason have we to abstain from the ceremonies of the church of Rome lest we seem to Romanise ! But I say no more in this place, because I have heretofore confirmed this argument at length..

Sect. 10. 10. The ceremonies, as urged upon us, are also full of superstition; holiness and worship are placed in them, as we have proven by unanswerable grounds,  and by testimonies of our opposites themselves. Therefore were they never so indifferent in their own general nature, this placing of them in the state of worship maketh them cease to be indifferent.

Sect. 11. 11. The ceremonies against which we dispute are more than matters of mere order, forasmuch as sacred and mysterious significations are given unto them, and by their significations they are thought to teach men effectually sundry mysteries and duties of piety. Therefore they are not free nor indifferent, but more than men have power to institute ; for except circumstances and matters of mere order there is nothing which concerneth the worship of God left to the determination of men, and this argument also hath been in all the parts of it fully explained and strengthened by us, which strongly proveth that the ceremonies are not indifferent…

Sect. 12. 12. Whatsoever indifferency the ceremonies could be thought to have in their own nature, yet if it be considered how the church of Scotland hath once been purged from them, and hath spued them out with detestation, and hath enjoyed the comfortable light and sweet beams of the glorious and bright shining gospel of Christ, without shadows and figures, then shall it appear that there is no indifferency in turning back to weak and beggarly elements, Gal. v. 9. And thus saith Calvin of the ceremonies of the interim, that granting they were things in themselves indifferent, yet the restitution of them in those churches which were once purged from them, is no indifferent thing. Wherefore, OScotland! “strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die,” Rev. iii. 2. Remember also from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works ; or else thy candlestick will be quickly removed out of his place, except thou repent, Rev. ii. 5.”

No, the man made holy days and ceremonies of the Anchoretic Churches with their modern apostate would–be Protestant daughters are not indifferent. They are monuments of idolatry that should be forgotten forever.  Our opponents will object that Protestantism’s iconoclasm has been at the root of the secular dominance of art in the past few centuries.  What they fail to acknowledge is that our iconoclasm emphasized and gave rise to the most important art: Literature. After the Protestant Reformation, the world learned how to read, and the greatest writers in world history took the stage to dazzle the minds of mankind, not just the elite and the privileged.  Thank you iconoclasm!

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

John of Damascus on Holy Images Refuted Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Damascus complains (pg. 15),

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

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

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

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

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

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

Damascus makes a strange admission on page 29,

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

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

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

John of Damascus on Holy Images Refuted Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

Damascus says,

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

>>>This is Damascus’ primary error. He thinks that the reason God forbid images was because the OT people of God had not seen an image to depict. This is mistaken. Moses saw a form of God as an Old Testament Saint: Num 12:8  With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? Matthew Henry Commenting says, “God allowing him that favour because he was above the temptation of idolatry; but for the people who had lately come from admiring the idols of Egypt, they must see no resemblance of God, lest they should have pretended to copy it, and so should have received the second commandment in vain; “for” (says bishop Patrick) “they would have thought that this forbade them only to make any representation of God besides that wherein he showed himself to them, in which they would have concluded it lawful to represent him.” http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc1.Deu.v.html

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

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

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

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

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

Damascus argues (pg. 9),

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

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

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

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

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

Damascus summarizes his primary distinction between worship and adoration saying,

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

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

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

Damascus says (pg. 11-12)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If the Jews knelt down before the ark and the temple why can’t Christians venerate icons and relics? In George Gillespie Sunday, Feb 5 2012 

In a section dealing with the anchoretic arguments for kneeling before the host, Gillespie refutes in toto, the anchoretic arguments for icon and relic veneration.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the fourth place, we read that the disciples fell on their faces when they heard God’s own immediate voice out of the cloud. What maketh this for falling down to worship at the hearing of the word preached by men? How long shall our opposites not distinguish betwixt mediate and immediate worship?”

 

 

 

 

 

Eastern Orthodox Defense of Christmas Refuted; Pious Fabrication’s David Withun Trying to Defend Christmas Again and Failing Saturday, Dec 10 2011 

In 1567-1617 A.D. King James VI reigned and plotted against the Reformation.  James VI passed the Black Acts (1584) to impose royal authority over the Scottish Kirk between 1584 and 1603. This Act prohibited ecclesiastical assemblies without the King’s consent. In 1618-1621 James VI increased his pressures against the Reformation. The Reformed Presbytery says,

“Thus, after several former attempts to this effect, was episcopacy again established, and prelates lording over GOD’S heritage advanced, imposing their Popish ceremonies, which in that pretended assembly convened at Perth, anno 1618, were enacted, and afterwards ratified in a subsequent parliament, in the year 1621.” (Act, Declaration..)

He imposed a number of ceremonies, among which was the Celebration of Christmas. This was resisted in Scotland.  In 1637-1638 The Covenanters in Scotland rose up against the efforts of their King and renewed the Reformed National Covenant in March of 1638.  In 1644 Rutherford published his world altering book Lex Rex which was the refutation of the Divine Right of Kings and a Biblical construction of the separation of powers based upon the same system of authority that denied the celebration of Christmas/Holy Days. This book stripped the Royalists of their Anti-Christian de-facto power and demanded that lawful authority have the consent of the people. These accomplishments were a product of the previous seven years of national trial. In 1646 Charles I surrendered to the Covenanter army after his General Montrose was defeated at Newark. I say this only to demonstrate that this is a touchy subject for us Scottish Puritan types, and especially qualifies us to speak to the issue and quite frankly the contemporary Christian world is abysmally ignorant of this history without which they would all be under the tyranny of English Monarchs. Our system of authority is the only one that remains consistent while denying the de-facto authority and Apollinarianism  of the Royalists. If contemporary Christians wish to celebrate Christmas they need to be consistent and deny the American War of Independence  and accept the Divine Right of Kings, which would make their own government based solely on conquest and tyrannical itself, which some fundamental Baptists, Mark Minnick is one, have been honest enough to admit to- at least to the former.

Withun’s Pious Fabrications, an Eastern Orthodox Blog has a defense of the Patristic Celebration of Christmas here and he has recently repeated such in a video here:

I found David’s article to fail in providing warrant from either scripture or history for the practice of Christmas. His was a diatribe against the Anabaptists and the Atheists; a very popular method in Patristic apologetics. The Reformed position is found in the Directory for Public Worship. AN APPENDIX, Touching Days and Places for Publick Worship in the Original Westminster Standards and it reads thus:

“THERE is no day commanded in scripture to be kept holy under the gospel but the Lord’s day, which is the Christian Sabbath.

Festival days, vulgarly called Holy-days, having no warrant in the word of God, are not to be continued.

Nevertheless, it is lawful and necessary, upon special emergent occasions, to separate a day or days for publick fasting or thanksgiving, as the several eminent and extraordinary dispensations of God’s providence shall administer cause and opportunity to his people.

As no place is capable of any holiness, under pretence of whatsoever dedication or consecration; so neither is it subject to such pollution by any superstition formerly used, and now laid aside, as may render it unlawful or inconvenient for Christians to meet together therein for the publick worship of God. And therefore we hold it requisite, that the places of publick assembling for worship among us should be continued and employed to that use.”

David says,

“The modern use of a Christmas tree no more implies an adherence to any of the pagan cults which used trees in their worship than the eating of a meal implies a dedication to the god Mithras whose worship involved the eating of communal meals.”

Drake

If pagan associations are not to be done away with along with the idolatry then why does Jacob command the destruction of the earring in Gen 35:4? They could have said, “Oh Jacob, wearing earrings no more implies a dedication to idols than eating a meal implies being involved in pagan communal meals.” The same could be said of the gold offering in Deut 7:25, the coverings in Isa 30:22, etc. Duet 12:29-32, Isa 30:22, Jude 23, Exo 34:13, Duet 7:25, Num 33:52, Rev 2:14, 20 (knowingly), Gen 35:4, 2 Kings 10:22-28, 2 Kings 23: 4, 5, 6, 7 ,2 Chron 23:15, Dan 1:8, 2 Kings 16:4, 10, 2 Chron 13:9, Exo 23:13, Duet 12:3,30, Josh 23:7. Chrysostom had temples of idols destroyed inPhoenicia;Constantine did not destroy the temples of the idols when he came into power and because of this Julian the Apostate was able to resurrect these idolatries. The Didache forbids fasting on certain days that the hypocrites do for the same reason: religious association. Christmas trees are monuments of Bohemian idolatry. Period.

David

“The common mythology of Christmas origins goes something like this:

“Early Christians did not celebrate the birth of Christ and even regarded the celebration of birthdays, including even that of their savior, as a superstitious pagan practice. For this reason, no one was even remotely interested in finding out the day of Christ’s birth.””

Drake

Well, as George Gillespie (He wrote the magnum opus of Puritan worship, English Popish Ceremonies) showed about 400 years ago, Easter is the only ceremony that the Patristics can show for the first 2 centuries of the Church: “yet can neither be proved to have been observed in the apostles’ own age, nor yet to have been established in the after age by any law, but only to have crept in by a certain private custom.” Gellespie, EPC pg. xxxviii. You proved him right.

David

“There is, however, no explicit mention of a celebration of these events. Equally, there is also no condemnation of nor aversion to such a celebration.”

Drake

Thank you for the admission, yet, the Regulative Principle eliminates the relevance of any prohibition, condemnation or aversion. Divine Warrant is required, Deut 12:29-32, Mat 15:8,Col2:23.

Your argument on the dating was a monumental failure. What his conception has to do with anything remains a mystery to me in determining the day of his birth. The day Jesus died is referred to as the Passover in John 18:39. This celebration begins after sundown on the 14th day of Nisan which on our calendar would be in the middle of March. According to Daniel 9:24-27 there are 70 weeks (Weeks are periods of seven years) determined forIsrael. There are 69 weeks from the building of the temple to Messiah. The Messiah’s ministry is in the midst of the 70th week and an in the middle of this week he is killed and his death puts an end to the sacrificial system (Mat 27:51). Therefore, his ministry began at the end of the 69th week and continued until the middle of the 70th week, making his ministry exactly 3 and ½ years in duration. Jesus began his ministry when he was 30 (Luk 3:23) years old as was tradition among the Levite priests from the command of God in the law (Num 4:3). Therefore, his death was in mid March; 6 months before mid March is mid September and three years before that is obviously mid September. He began his ministry the same time as his 30th birthday, therefore he was born in the month of September not even close to December 25th. Now to another bit of fiction from the traditional nativity scenes: Jesus was born and in the same day was lying in a manger (Luke 2:16). After eight days he received circumcision (vs 21). Even as Mat 2:1 and the context reveal, the magi who came bearing gifts came much later after his birthday; as is added by Mat 2:11 they found him in a HOUSE as compared with his manger birth. These were not birthday gifts and it was not the first Christmas celebration. So you are way off no matter what calendar you choose.

Your section on the peripherals of Christmas was abysmal. You didn’t deal with any of the documentation that Alexander Hislop gave to these issues in his bookThe Two Babylons.

To the reader: If you are in a Protestant denomination and if indeed you must celebrate this holy day, be consistent. Leave your Church and join the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or Anglican Church. Luther left the Lutherans no room to celebrate holy days in his Treatise on Good Works 17: “This Sabbath has now for us been changed into the Sunday, and the other days are called work-days; the Sunday is called rest-day or holiday or holy day. And would to God that in Christendom there were no holiday except the Sunday;”. Granting the Church authority to impose ceremonies is an ipso facto rejection of sola scriptura and the regulative principle not to mention an admission of the hierarchical Churches’ authority to do so.

Churches that abolished Holy Days: Geneva, StrassburgGermany,Zurich in Helvetia (Switzerland)[EPC, 48], Belgic Church National Synod 1578, The Waldenses [EPC, 49]. The Church of Scotland and a number of the Puritan Colonies of theNew England area in the 17th century.

Many years ago before I was  a Christian, I used to date a girl who was into witchcraft and this celebration is known as Yule among our Bohemian ancestors. She would buy the tree, decorate it and celebrate all the common customs associated with it the old pagan way. David and the anchoretics live in fantasy land.

The Lord’s Day is the only observance of a day allowed in the NT. All other holy days are forbidden in the NT dispensation because none are commanded or implied.

        I will give arguments proving this assertion basing them on the work of David Calderwood, Perth Assembly [91] (1619) which I have found most agreeable to scripture.

A holy day is a public and solemn ceremony observed at a certain time of the year giving special thanks to God for a received benefit with great delight. To give a distinction: a holy day is annual, the Sabbath is weekly.  Holy days in the OT required in general, that common work be sequestered, the hearing of the word of God, and participation in the sacraments.

i.  God commands that we work on common days and if there is no prohibition to work, such as the Sabbath, we are commanded to work and redeem the time (Exo 20:9, Eph 5:16).

ii. A holy day, being an act of religious worship falls under the restrictions of the regulative principle (Duet 12:29-32).  There is no command for holy days after their abrogation, therefore, they are forbidden.  Holy days such as Christmas are not simply traditional days for public remembrance, heritage or civil celebration but are synchristic acts of religious worship that combine elements of Christianity and paganism. In this they are condemned as Popish superstition.  It is God’s prerogative how one worships him.[92]   The pagan roots of Christmas have been so overwhelmingly proved and admitted that I find no reason to beat this dead dog.

iii. Some say that they celebrate Christmas, not as a religious holy day but as a family day.  The problem is, in the solemnity of the Church service, the selection of the Christmas text,  usually Luke 2, the Christmas sermon, the solemn carols sung that are reserved only for the service or at least the month of December, the special garbs, the decorating of the Church and the private homes, the special meals and the gathering of the family, makes this day not only religious, but more solemn and religious than the weekly Sabbath.

iv. Days of fasting do not require abstinence from work and cannot be considered holy days. Days of fasting are allowed to be proclaimed and are not contradictory to these principles (Joel 2:15).

v. The Lord’s Day is given to remember all of Christ’s work and has apostolic authority in it’s practice. No other day commemorating any other work of Christ is commanded or practiced by apostolic example and therefore forbidden.

vi. Relics of idolatry are never to be Christianized as the Roman religion seeks.  Therefore, our relationship to Christmas trees is at least analogous to what Hezekiah did to the brazen serpent that had of late been used in superstitious worship (2 Kings 18:4). He did not baptize it, he destroyed it.

vii. Monuments of past idolatry (And not only the idols themselves but the passage speaks of all the vessels and ornaments associated and used in the idolatry) are to be destroyed as good King Josiah did in 2 Kings 23 along with many other examples.[93]

viii. Whether the assumed birthday of Christ chosen by the sheepish party is associated with paganism is a fallacy of accident in the major issue concerning December 25.  The major issue is that he was not born on December 25 and to say so is a lie.  The lie is exposed by simple mathematics. The day Jesus died is referred to as the Passover in John 18:39. This celebration begins after sundown on the 14th day of Nisan which on our calendar would be in the middle of March.  According to Daniel 9:24-27 there are 70 weeks (Weeks are periods of seven years) determined for Israel. There are 69 weeks from the building of the temple to Messiah.  The Messiah’s ministry is in the midst of the 70th week and an in the middle of this week he is killed and his death puts an end to the sacrificial system (Mat 27:51).  Therefore, his ministry began at the end of the 69th week and continued until the middle of the 70th week, making his ministry exactly 3 and ½ years in duration.  Jesus began his ministry when he was 30 (Luk 3:23) years old as was tradition among the Levite priests from the command of God in the law (Num 4:3).  Therefore, his death was in mid March; 6 months before mid March is mid September and three years before that is obviously mid September.  He began his ministry the same time as his 30th birthday, therefore he was born in the month of September not even close to December 25th .

ix. The regulative principle applies just as much to regular life as it does to public worship. If the element of worship is present, the restriction remains.   Women need to cover their heads when they pray, whether it be in Church or in the home; Praise to God must be sung only from the Psalter whether in Church or in the home;  and vessels pertaining to synchristic idolatry should be left out of the home as well as the Church.

x. Jesus was born and in the same day was lying in a manger (Luke 2:16).  After eight days he received circumcision (vs 21).  Even as Mat 2:1 and the context reveal, the magi who came bearing gifts came much later after his birthday; as is added by Mat 2:11 they found him in a house as compared with his manger birth.  These were not birthday gifts and it was not the first Christmas celebration.

Objections:

i. Christ celebrated the feast of the dedication (John 10:22-23) which was not commanded.

Ans.  The passage nowhere says he celebrated it. He simply arrives at a gathering of people for the purpose of preaching.

ii. Purim was observed by the Jews and it was not commanded (Est 9:26-29).

Ans.  This is not a holy day but a civil celebration (Est 9:19-22).

iii. Paul kept the feast of Pentecost. Acts 20:16, 1 Cor 16:8

Ans.  This is the Jewish Pentecost, for the Pentecost celebrated by the sheepish party the seventh Sunday after Easter (Celebrating the descent of the Holy Ghost) is celebrated in many places; yet Paul seeks to leave where he is presently writing to observe Pentecost and explicitly says in Acts 20 he would be coming to Jerusalem to observe it.

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[91] Calderwood, David Perth Assembly.  Edited by Greg Fox. (www.puritanreprints.com:  Puritan Reprints, 2006)

[92] 1Ki 12:32  And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.

1Ki 12:33  So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.

[93] Deu 12:2  Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree:

Deu 12:3  And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.

Gen 35:1  And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.

Gen 35:2  Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:

Gen 35:3  And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.

Gen 35:4  And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

2Ki 10:26  And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them.

2Ki 10:27  And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day.

2Ki 10:28  Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel.

[94] For the fullest account of this issue I refer the reader to Calvin and the Sabbath by Richard B. Gaffin.[94]

[95] Originally the Institutes were published in 1536 and taught that there is no specific day that the Church has to worship God.  In the Genesis commentary that was published in 1554, he says that God has appointed one day in seven that all people should observe for worship. Here the contradiction is resolved.

[96] Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin

Rick Meyers 2009, E sword version, http://www.e-sword.net/extras.html

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