RUNNING NEWS AND COMMENTS
Due to time constraints, I had to cease writing regular Puritan News Weekly articles. But in lieu of that, I offer this Running News and Comments webpage in a blog-like format.
11/23/12 – Some thoughts on the long term effects of illegal immigrant amnesty can be read at http://www.puritans.net/news/amnesty112312.htm .
11/20/12 – “Two men, two visions…” can be read at http://www.puritans.net/news/men112012.htm .
11/12/12 – Some thoughts on the options that present themselves in the aftermath of Pres. Obama’s re-election can be read at http://www.puritans.net/news/options111212.htm .
2/16/12 – A Plea to Fellow Free Presbyterians for Explicitly Reformed Christian Politics
This plea can be read at http://www.puritans.net/news/plea020912.htm .
1/4/12 – On Education
Education of children begins in the home under the parents, and that is forever the foundation of the education of children.
But God has also ordained in His word schools. As cooks are to kitchens, teachers are to schools: the former imply the latter. “I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies [are] my meditation.” – Psa 119:99 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers…” – Eph 4:11 And to what institution do these “teachers” serving in an official capacity belong? The schools and colleges are to be under the superintendence of the Church, and the Church has the duty to make sure the schools are teaching doctrines in accordance with God’s word. As a nursing mother to the Church, the Civil Magistrate has the duty to make sure the Church has the resources it needs to carry out its functions.
But if the Church is not doing its duty by having sound schools, and the Civil Magistrate is not doing its duty of helping the Church have resources for sound schools, then parents must seek to step in and fill the gap with their children where the schools are lacking.
9/21/11 – Recipients of the Sacraments
Baptism is an initiatory rite for babes in Christ, whereas the Lord’s Supper is an ongoing and repetitive rite for catechized adults in Christ. The latter should only be administered to those who have been catechized in the reformed Christian faith, have understood the catechism, and have professed agreement with it. But the requirements for admittance into the former should be appropriate for even babes in Christ.
We see this exhibited in the case of the Philippian jailer, who upon hearing the gospel and evidently professing belief in it, was qualified for water baptism:
“And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night [JPM- not after multi-year catechetical instruction and then profession of assent to the gospel and the catechism doctrines, but after profession of assent to the simple gospel message] , and washed [their] stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.” - Acts 16
But he would not have been qualified for communion and communicant membership status, because he had not received the appropriate catechetical instruction, so as to be able to duly examine himself. Information regarding the Biblically appropriate catechetical instruction can be read in Dr. Francis Nigel Lee’s book at http://www.dr-fnlee.org/docs4/pvp/pvp.pdf , among other sources.
It should be noted in the case of the jailer as well, that though he evidently was a baptized but not communicant member, he was entitled to have his children baptized as well.
Westminster Larger Catechism questions 166 and 173 address this topic. They read:
Q. 166. Unto whom is baptism to be administered?
A. Baptism is not to be administered to any that are out of the visible church, and so strangers from the covenant of promise, till they profess their faith in Christ, and obedience to him, but infants descending from parents, either both, or but one of them, professing faith in Christ, and obedience to him, are in that respect within the covenant, and to be baptized.
Q. 173. May any who profess the faith, and desire to come to the Lord’s supper, be kept from it?
A. Such as are found to be ignorant or scandalous, notwithstanding their profession of the faith, and desire to come to the Lord’s supper, may and ought to be kept from that sacrament, by the power which Christ hath left in his church, until they receive instruction, and manifest their reformation.
These statements are true to scriptural teaching on the subject. The following should be noted from them:
1. The pre-conditions of water baptism and communion for the adult believer are not the same.
2. The basic pre-condition of water baptism is the profession of faith in Christ, the recipient having heard the gospel and professed belief in it. This is illustrated in a scriptural prooftext cited for Question 166, the case of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:36-37- And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.)
3. There are more pre-conditions for receiving communion than for receiving water baptism. One of these is [catechetical] “instruction”, that the recipient of communion not be “ignorant” but rather able to examine himself according to the scriptural dictates for partaking of communion. For what the Westminster divines intended by “instruction”, I would refer you to Dr. Francis Nigel Lee’s writings on the topic.
4. An adult who is a baptized member (but not necessarily a communicant member) is qualified to have, and should have, his infant children baptized.
5. The Westminster divines were very purposeful in distinguishing the requirements for baptism from the requirements for the Lord’s Supper, for they did not regard them as the same.
Historically, one distinction between reformed Christian (and ancient Jewish) catechetical instruction versus Roman Catholic catechetical instruction was that the former was far more extensive and never concluding in pre-puberty. But sadly this distinction in more modern times has waned in various reformed churches, as reformed Christianity has become more lax than it was during the Reformation and come closer to the Roman Catholic Church.
As Samuel Rutherford and other reformers during the Reformation pointed out, in a covenanted reformed Christian nation, the Church and the State – although separate institutions – have a co-extensive citizenry. In other words, there are no atheistic, agnostic or Mohammedan citizens in a covenanted reformed Christian nation, even as there were to be no pagan citizens in Old Testament Israel, but all citizens in such a covenanted nation are at least nominally to be Christians. Hence, all such citizenry are to be Christian baptized, even though all are not to be communicant members. This was the dominant model of the reformed nations and churches during the Reformation. It even was embraced as the dominant model in Puritan New England.
For further information on this topic see http://www.puritans.net/news/baptism061207.htm .
9/20/11 – Reforming Business
At http://www.puritans.net/news/business092011.htm I opine on the need to reform business.
9/19/11 – Comparing Different Models for Explicitly Christian Politics
At http://www.puritans.net/news/models092011.htm I compare different models for explicitly Christian politics.
9/17/11 – Learning from the Past
Much can be learned from the past regarding how reformed Christian politics should proceed today, as I note at http://www.puritans.net/news/past091711.htm .
9/1/11 – Rationale for Reformation Party Distinctives
The rationale can be found at http://www.puritans.net/news/reformationparty062011.htm .
8/10/11 – The Failure of Multiculturalism
Multiculturalism is the policy of maintaining a diversity of ethnic cultures within a community or nation. This contrasts with Christian ethnic nationalism, which would allow each ethnic group to have its own homeland nation where that ethnicity is allowed to preserve its cultural heritage within the bounds of Biblical Christian principles. Bible-based Christian ethnic nationalism does not call for ethnically pure nations (which is really impossible anyway), but allows each ethnic group to dominate its own ethnic homeland nation and requires outside ethnic people living in that homeland to assimilate into that homeland culture. The Bible calls for every “nation, tribe, and tongue” to submit to Jesus Christ, and the very word “nation” in the Greek is “ethnos”, referring to a tribe or ethnic people group.
Multiculturalism has been a tremendous failure. It makes for an unstable and contentious society, where each ethnic group battles for control of the nation, instead of living peaceably as neighboring nations. Two recent examples illustrate this. The recent riots in England are in no small measure fueled by the failure of multiculturalism. "Like France's blighted banlieues, the London neighborhoods now suffering turmoil have heavy immigrant and visible minority populations airing complaints of discrimination, endemic unemployment, and tense relations with police. Yet these populations are part of a wider, mixed residential pool. Indeed, unlike France 2005, the Watts or South Central riots in Los Angeles, or instances of arson and looting in New York's Harlem, objectives of “containment” by officials in reacting to violence those cities are non-starters in London--whose mixed socio-economic-ethnic demographics make the current violence an equal opportunity threat."
(from http://globalspin.blogs.time.com/2011/08/09/the-riots-of-paris-and-london-a-tale-of-two-cities/#ixzz1UXF1ogPy ) “We should not be surprised at riots in inner-city areas like Lewisham…Those readers who recall the ‘Battle of Lewisham’ against the National Front in 1977, the dreadful tragedy of thirteen young black peoples’ deaths in the New Cross Fire of 1981, the ‘Dread, Beat and Blood’ of Linton Kwesi Johnson and the Catford ministry of the Revd Desmond Tutu, will also know that Lewisham has long been a sustaining home to many black and ethnic minority people, as well as the locus of historic struggles against racism and white supremacist organisations. 34% of Lewisham’s population are from black and other ethnic minorities, compared to a 6% average across England.” (http://opinion.publicfinance.co.uk/2011/08/why-there-were-riots-in-lewisham/comment-page-1/) Another recent example is the terrorism of Anders Breivik in Norway in response to the growing population of Muslims in Norway. I am in no way justifying the acts of the English rioters or of the terrorist Breivik, but we should not be surprised at such societal disorder when a nation pursues a multiculturalist policy.
In truth, God is judging the Western nations, and He has done so by blinding them to the hazards of multiculturalism, sodomy, abortion, artificial contraception, greed and covetousness, etc. Multiculturalism is just a euphemistic word for invasion by foreigners, but where the host country has invited the invaders in. He has condemned the nations because of their false religion and worship, resulting in many evil consequences.
7/22/11 – A Response to Kinism
I would ask kinists and non-kinists alike to consider my article at http://www.puritans.net/news/kinism072111.htm .
4/1/11 – Our Present Crisis : The Invasion Across our Southern Border
We are under God’s judgment as a nation, and one important example of it is the invasion that is occurring but which Americans are not responding to as an invasion. Read the article at http://www.puritans.net/news/crisis033011.htm .
2/8/11 – Hebrews 10:25-27 in the Context of a Small Number of FP Communicant Members
It is a matter of public knowledge that here in the Grand Rapids, Michigan community there are residing two male communicant members that do not regularly meet for prayer and worship, but rather go their own separate ways. My perspective is this: under ordinary circumstances, when two or more male communicant members of the FPCS reside in a community, they should regularly meet together to worship God, unless providentially hindered, until such time as the Lord raises up a FPCS congregation in that area. To worship separately would be to contradict sound Biblical principle.
I would note Mr. Matthew Henry’s cogent exposition of Matthew 18:20, as it relates even to small assemblies of brethren:
“The presence of Christ in the assemblies of Christians, v. 20. Every believer has the presence of Christ with him; but the promise here refers to the meetings where two or three are gathered in his name, not only for discipline, but for religious worship, or any act of Christian communion. Assemblies of Christians for holy purposes are hereby appointed, directed, and encouraged. [1.] They are hereby appointed; the church of Christ in the world exists most visibly in religious assemblies; it is the will of Christ that these should be set up, and kept up, for the honour of God, the edification of men, and the preserving of a face of religion upon the world. When God intends special answers to prayer, he calls for a solemn assembly, Joel 2:15, 16. If there be no liberty and opportunity for large and numerous assemblies, yet then it is the will of God that two or three should gather together, to show their good-will to the great congregation. Note, When we cannot do what we would in religion, we must do as we can, and God will accept us.”
If the FPCS is justified in maintaining its separate denominational status from other Christian denominations in the USA and various other countries around the world, which I believe it is, and presumably other FPCS communicant members should believe as well, then the assembling of FPCS brethren where possible should be promoted and maintained. (If the time should come that such separate denominational status is unjustified, then FP members should simply join themselves with those other denominations with whom it is justifiable to join, and they should regularly assemble with them for worship, etc.) And according to Hebrews 10:25-26, assembling with fellow FP brethren should not be forsaken:
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”
In my opinion it is the duty of the elders of the FPCS to make sure that communicant members of the FPCS are not forsaking the assembling with their FP brethren, even in contexts where there are only a small number of FP communicant members in a community. Indeed, it is even more injurious when a given communicant member refuses to meet in such circumstances, because in these contexts, if one does not meet, it may deprive the other(s) of all regular FP assembly when that does not otherwise have to be the case. In contrast, when there is a large FP congregation, if one forsakes assembling, it does not deprive the rest of all assembly. My point is not to exonerate forsaking of assembling in the context of larger congregations, but simply to emphasize why it is important that the FPCS enforce assembling in contexts where there are only a small number of FP communicant members. But if a certain FP communicant persists in willfully forsaking assembling with his fellow FP brethren, then he should be first exhorted by the FP elders, and eventually deprived of FP communicant membership status.
11/2/10 Reformation Party
I was recently asked where there are no other FPCS members in the Reformation Party. I think in order to answer this about the RP one has to understand the historical context.
During the Protestant Reformation era and before then the norm was for each nation to have an established church. Only members of the established church in any given nation were allowed to vote and rule in the nation. There may have been people of other Christian denominations within a nation, but only one denomination within any given nation was recognized as the established church, and only members of that established church were allowed to rule the nation politically. That political philosophy (the Establishment Principle) is embedded within such Reformation era confessions as the original Westminster Standards and the Three Forms of Unity.
That political model maintained until 1776 with the formation of the USA. The USA was arguably the first nation populated primarily by professing Christians without an established church recognized by the nation. Indeed, the US Constitution was designed to forbid national church establishment and greatly undermined the Establishment Principle.
Following the USA model, in the decades and years following the formation of the USA other nations either significantly weakened establishment (e.g., in 1828 England allowed Englishmen outside of their established church to vote and hold office) or did away with church establishment altogether. Although there was some opposition to the dismantling or significant weakening of the Establishment Principle (e.g., Dr. Chalmers and Mr. William Gladstone’s efforts in the 1830s [see Gladstone’s book State in its Relations with the Church]), the popular tide was all against it. (For a fascinating discussion of their efforts, read Stewart J. Brown’s essay on “Gladstone, Chalmers and the Disruption of the Church of Scotland” in the Gladstone Centennary Essays available on the internet.) And no political party was formed for the purpose of upholding Presbyterian church establishment. Such an effort was considered impractical, because in most English-speaking countries political power generally resides in two or at most three political parties. Perhaps one reason reformed Christians in the Netherlands are more open to smaller political parties like the Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij (SGP) [http://www.sgp.nl/English] is because the Dutch political system allows a greater chance for smaller political parties to be represented in the Dutch parliament.
Given the long history in English-speaking countries without such a political party, and given that there is no influential member of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland who supports it, there is currently only one member in the FPCS (and I am on the periphery of the FPCS) who is a member of the Reformation Party. Nevertheless, I remain persuaded that we should cast aside notions of what is “practical” on this issue, and focus instead on what is Biblically ideal, and then pray that God would bring it about. I hate to say it, but expediency can often be just another word for lack of faith in what God can bring about, even though the odds seem all against it. If ideally each nation would recognize as its established church a denomination holding to the doctrinal principles of the FPCS, then surely it follows that the ideal political party would have as one of its chief goals to effect the same. Granted, God has to change many minds before such a political party would ever rule, but God is certainly up to the task when and if He decides to do it.
9/10/10 – Thoughts on Orania
Some Afrikaners in South Africa embarked on the experimental settlement of Orania almost two decades ago (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orania,_Northern_Cape ), and it seems to me their experiment is paying off. I think such a settlement is Biblically justified, especially if the following provisos could be made to obtain:
· Its established religion is reformed Christian.
· It has an established reformed Christian church separate from its civil government.
· Only communicant members of its established church should be able to vote and hold civil public office.
· It allows non-Afrikaners fully to join in the settlement and inter-marry in the settlement in a controlled manner **if** they are willing to take the posture of Moabite Ruth when she sought to become an Israelite. (Moabite Ruth of course fully assimilated into the Israelite people, as did Rahab, Uriah the Hittite, etc.) In other words, Orania should not be about some sort of racial purity experiment (along the lines of Nazi Germany), but rather about the right of a people to continue their cultural, religious, and linguistic heritage, to the extent it is consistent with scripture.
(I think Orania currently does not meet all of these conditions, but I hope it will in the future.)
One positive element about the current Orania is that the people there have realized that one price of long term sovereignty for a people is that they do their own manual and menial labor and not rely on those of other nationalities, religions, and cultures to do it for them. The lack of this recognition has been one element of the problem in the old apartheid-era South Africa and the old Southern Confederacy, to take two examples.
If I were an Afrikaner in South Africa today, I would probably seek to move to some Afrikaner settlement like Orania and seek to improve upon it where it needs improvement. It is far more viable from a long term perspective than Afrikaners seeking to maintain their heritage in a black dominated society where black laborers are relied upon to do the manual labor for white Afrikaners. The lesson of white Zimbabwean farmers should be learned as quickly as possible. Afrikaners should establish their own separate settlements. And one nice thing about the modern South Africa is that the current South African government allows them to do it peacefully, which could probably not be said about the modern US government.
9/9/10 – Thoughts on Koran Burning
9/1/10 – FP Meetings
Under ordinary circumstances, when two or more male communicant members of the FPCS reside in an area, they should regularly meet together to worship God, until such time as the Lord raises up a FPCS congregation in that area. To worship separately would be to contradict sound Biblical principle.
08/20/10 – Letter I sent to the brethren of the Kalleyan Church of Brazil-
Dear Brethren of the Kalleyan Church in Brazil:
Greetings in the Lord from the United States. It has been with great joy that I have received from Professor Moreira the news of your church. I had been totally unaware of your church’s presence until I was contacted by Professor Moreira. We can but wonder how God has preserved a people from generation to generation in many parts of the earth; “…how unsearchable [are] his judgments, and his ways past finding out! “
I am part of a relatively small population of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland in North America. Like you in South America, we are struggling to bring the claims of Christ as passed down from the Protestant Reformation to the people here in North America. We are seeking to proclaim the doctrines of grace and purity of worship to a people who by and large have strayed from the Biblical standards accurately outlined in the Westminster Standards. We labor in hope, because we know that despite the obstacles, Christ will build His church and “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. So we would encourage you likewise to continue so to labor and press into the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, even as “the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it”.
It should be the desire of all of us that the visible Church of Christ should be one, unified in common true Biblical standards of doctrine and practice. Even as we read:
“…one Lord, one faith, one baptism…” – Ephesians 4:5
“…gave some apostles …till we all come in the unity of the faith…“ – Ephesians 4:11-14
“…that they may be one, even as we are one…” – John 17:22
Visible ecclesiastical unity was a great desire of the Protestant Reformers. In the framing of the Solemn League and Covenant, which anticipated the preparation of the Westminster Standards, the end of unity for the glory of Christ in His church was displayed. And it had been the hope of many following the composition of the Westminster Standards that the nations of Europe might use it as a stepping stone to visible ecclesiastical union beyond the bounds the kingdoms of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. God calls us to continue that great project even in our own day.
This project calls each of us as individuals, families, churches and peoples to engage in self-examination to determine where we might be standing in the way of unity based upon truth (in contrast to anti-Biblical ecumenism based upon toleration of scandals and errors). What pet sin am I engaging in that is impeding this visible unity? What pet sin are we engaging in that is impeding this visible unity? It is not easy work cutting off such sin, for the world, the flesh, and the devil are all opposed to its removal. But if our chief end is to glorify God in truth, and not merely in vain words, then remove we must, until we may stand united in the bond of faith.
Our two churches – the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the Kalleyan Church of Brazil – have a common heritage and common confessional standards. There is no good reason our two churches cannot be visibly united before the world, by God’s grace. We must persevere and dedicate ourselves to the task to remove any undue sinful obstacles. What issues separate us, and what is God’s word relative to those issues? We must conform our beliefs and our practices to scriptural teaching.
Of course, it is only by God’s grace that we can do anything. So we must pray to God that He will do in us what we cannot do ourselves. We must pray that He would receive glory in His church by our faithful obedience to His commandments.
Thy kingdom come, O Lord, through thy humble servants in the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the Kalleyan Church of Brazil and others who seek Thy mercy.
J. Parnell McCarter
8/1/10 – Worshipping Alone for a Season
We can deduce from such passages as I Kings 19:4ff that God does not want us to join schismatic denominations that would lead us into personal sin, even if it means we must worship alone for some period of time.
7/20/10 – The Husband’s Responsibility in Choosing a Church
11/20/09 – EU and US
With respect to the issue of the
was educated at the
Flemish Christian democrat...Van Rompuy is a Catholic and has often gone on religious retreats in the Abbey of Affligem (Flemish Brabant) to renew his faith and meditate."
is a strong opponent of Turkey joining the European Union. In 2004, he
I think the EU is still on track for eventually making the Romish Church the established church of the EU and the Pope as its spiritual head.
And I think the
As explained at http://www.puritans.net/news/prts111909.htm , Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary (PRTS) is in need of significant repentance and reformation.
1. It would have been a dangerous thing to be joining Nadab and Abihu in worship with strange fire. It would call the judgment of God down upon oneself to be worshipping along with them using the strange fire. (And it should be noted the judgment came after Nadab and Abihu did it but once, and we have the advantage of their example, which they did not have.)
2. Musical instruments in public worship are strange fire. Although the judgment of God upon infractions might not be the same as that upon Nadab and Abihu, it can be very real. One such judgment I have perceived in many is a blindness imposed upon them relating to the Regulative Principle of Worship because of their generally cavalier attitude relating to the strange fire of musical instruments in public worship. And who knows but some of the other problems in various denominations stem from this?
11/12/09 – Presumptive Regeneration, Baptism and Preaching
First, it is nonsense to assert that paedobaptism is predicated on presumptive regeneration. Neither God nor Esau's parents were presuming Esau was regenerate when he was circumcised. That was not the basis of it. The bases of it were:
1. The command of God
2. The duty of a covenant head to dedicate and commit everything under his headship (insofar as his station allows) to Christ and Christianity.
3. The duty of all to bow to Christ: Nothing is neutral, so everything not dedicated to Christ is anti-Christian. Leaving a child unbaptized is effectively saying the child is dedicated to rebellion against Christ (though I realize Baptists would not admit that).
Regarding preaching, man’s native and natural condition (no matter whether born of a Christian parent or not) is depraved and in need of conversion. The starting point has to be the need for conversion, not the assumption of conversion. And even communicant members need continually to hear the duty of conversion in the preaching, for purposes of self-examination because we are easily deceived as to our true state.