Monday, December 31, 2007

Credo ut Intelligam

Credo ut intelligam - Latin for, I believe in order that I might understand. Per Saint Augustine, Crede ut intelligas, believe in order that you may understand.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Augustine Quote

"It is very easy to execrate the flesh, but very difficult not to be carnally minded" (Augustine Of True Religion Pg. 36).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Spurgeon Quote

"Beter break your leg than your neck."

"Undoubtedly the one is a sad accident, but to lose life itself is worse. In all matters prefer the less evil to the greater, and solace yourself under any ill with the reflection that it might be worse. The wicked old woman when she lost her old man said, 'Well, it might have been worse. The cow might have died' (Spurgeon Salt Cellars Bk, I Pg. 75)."

Monday, December 17, 2007

"Merry Christmas" and Political Correctness

Political correctness once alarmed me. Now it is just either sad or humorous in that it has gotten so ridiculous. A lady at a restaurant sent me off with a "happy holidays" at which I replied "merry Christmas." She was thrilled and responded "merry Christmas!" She said that they were not allowed to say merry Christmas unless it is first said to them because they might offend someone. This goes to show though that this is not really what people want. We have yielded our senses to absurdity.
(Isn't interesting to observe how the very name of Christ is offensive.) I will not ever conform to political correctness! Since when do we allow the minority to control the majority anyhow? I am afraid that political correctness is going to have to run its course until we get so fed up with it that we put a stop to it. I'm sure it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. But I am confident that eventually it will fall under its own weight. Or sane people will eventually say, "enough is enough already!"
If I say merry Christmas to you and it offends you, I am truly sorry, in more ways than one. But it is offensive to Christians to be made to feel as if we are not allowed to celebrate Christmas as is our culture, our heritage, and religious right. So here is a big Merry Christmas to you!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Example of Ambiguity

Often I am asked where my boys get the red hair. My reply is that their grand parents had red hair on one side. Herein lies the ambiguity in that it could be taken to mean that the grand parent only had red hair on one side of the head!
When I come across such examples I will share them for those of you that are into philosophy.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Augustine Quote

"Repudiating all who do not carry philosophy into religious observance or philosophize in a religious spirit..." (Augustine Of True Religion Pg. 13).

Does the great patriarch of philosophy and theology contradict himself in light of the previous quote by him? Absolutely not! There is a philosophy that is after the tradition of men and a philosophy which is after Christ. The nature of the former sort of philosophy is nothing more than the wild imaginations of man about God. Such devices, though usually very popular, are nothing more than inaccurate, corrupt, portrayals of God. The latter form of philosophy, that which is after Christ, aims at seeing the world, understanding theology, and pursuing religion through a right kind of philosophy. This philosophy is true to God and his word, reflecting that image of God that still remains in us, an image not being so corrupted as to lead us down the path of the speculations of man, but so leads us in all matters of truth. All good theologians are philosophers and all good philosophers are theologians. One without the other only leaves a half witted man.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Augustine Quote

"However philosophers may boast, anyone can easily understand that religion is not to be sought from them" (Augustine Of True Religion Pg. 10).

This was true then and it is no less true now.

Monday, November 19, 2007

a kempis Quote

"What does a man gain from being held in high repute by someone else? When one man praises another it is a case of one hypocrite deceiving his fellow hypocrite, the blind cheating the blind, the weak the weak; and so meaningless the praise is, it's really more of a disgrace to its recipient than anything else" (Thomas a Kempis, Imitation Bk. iii Pg. 196).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

a Kempis Quote

"Lord, grant that I may know what I ought to know, love what I ought to love, praise what best pleases you, value what you deem precious, condemn whatever in your eyes seems filthy. Let me not judge things by outward appearances or form my opinions on the hearsay of those who know but little; give me that true judgement which can form a correct opinion on matters both of the world we see and that other world of the spirit; and let me above all else ever seek what best pleases your will" (Thomas a Kempis, Imitation Bk. iii Pg. 196).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

a Kempis Quote

"There [heaven] will your will and my will [God's] be ever as one, and you will desire nothing I do not desire, nothing for yourself alone" (Thomas a Kempis, Imitation Bk.iii Pg. 192).

What a glorious day it will be when we no longer contend with selfish desires that distract us from a singular object of purpose and have only God to contemplate. I long to be in this state.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


More often than not those we would like to impress aren't very impressed by us. Here again we see the vanity of pride!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Jeremiah 31:34

It has been said that "to err is human, to forgive divine." But truthfully it is human to forgive and divine to forget. "I will remember their sins no more" (Jeremiah 31:34).

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Crab Flavored Potato Chips!

I have seen it all now. McDonald's has hot wings and Lay's has crab flavored potato chips. They are awesome! Taste just like crab.

This is me in front of the Black Sea.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Mary Jones and Her Bible

Though not on my list, one book that I just finished reading is Mary Jones and Her Bible. It is about the contribution of a little girl in the founding of the British and Foreign Mission Society. At about age sixteen Mary Jones, having saved for six years, walked twenty five miles one way (bare footed) to buy a bible, in that they were so unavailable. Her love of the word of God was instrumental in the founding of the society. The book is well written with a vivid description of every event. The author is unknown. It is not a hard read at all and so I would recommend it to youth to read, but it is also inspirational for adults as well.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ukrainian Satelite

I don't have cable at home so I have been surfing the six hundred channels here in our apartment in Ukraine. Nothing good is on. We have the God channel, the living God channel, and the holy God channel! It seems as if there are many other religious channels, Islam TV, eg., but I don't know the languages. We are still having a great time and without no serious complications in the adoption process yet. All of the categories for blogger are in Russian including the spell check, so you have to remember where things are if you want to do a post, unless there is some way to change the settings. Continue to pray for us.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Life in Ukraine

Things are different--a lot different. (I love the Ukraine and the people. The women are all wearing high boots and dressy clothes. Many of of the men wear business attire, but all dress nice. Their physical features are even unique.) There are some practical things to adjust to, however. Simple things like needing insert a room key into a slot to operate the elevator and turn the lights on in the room are new discoveries for me. The train is powered by electricity not diesel engines. Most of the cars are compact. They drive on the right side of the road like back home (most of the time at least). If there is the need for an additional lane they make one, or use the side walk, or ride on the street car tracks. If you want to walk across the street, and still live, it is safer to follow the locals, usually. McDonald's does not have breakfast food, but you can get a cheeseburger and cherry pie for breakfast if you want. I can hear crows all of the time, which reminds me of my childhood and some old movies. I cannot wait to go to church. Many of the churches are greatly adorned. They have high bell towers and are beautiful in their design both on the interior and externally. Today I am going to walk down to the Black Sea before going to the orphanage. It is sad to see so many children in need of a home. We hope to help in changing this.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Stranger in a Foreign Land

Sunday night we left for Kiev Ukraine. I hate flying! After having the daylights scared out of me we arrived in New York where we Waited for our next flight to Kiev. It is one of the most wonderful places I have ever been to. The European architecture is beautiful. The people of the Ukraine are a unique people. I like the food too. It is strange to be in a foreign land where not many people speak the same language as you. Our trip is going well. I will be posting video and pictures coming up. Leslie is also blogging here.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Orphans of Ukraine Video

If you have not seen this yet, watch it now.

Leslie personally took the pictures on the video (this is current) except for the last few. Some are un-adoptable, some have been and are being adopted. But the others are waiting on you! What are you waiting for?

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Ultimate Gift

I have been very disappointed with the movies that are coming out. It seems like only one in twenty is worth watching. Well here is one I highly recommend. It is titled The Ultimate Gift. It is well worth the rent or purchase even.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mortifying Sin in a Non Legalistic Spirit

"The Lord said to Cain, 'If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.'" (Gen. 4:6,7 Not quoted verbatim).

We can be saved much misery in life if we could take this to heart. But we, like Cain, do not always do so. In the next verse Cain attacked his brother and killed him.
How easy it is to sin. How much harder it is to do what is right. How many times have I promised to never do a certain thing again only to find myself in the very next "verse" disregarding what is right, breaking yet another promise to myself and God, choosing sin, over and over again? Do I give up the fight? Shall I sin that grace may abound? God forbid!
I will continue to strive to master sin. This is the life struggle of the Christian. We must master it. We must be about the business of mortifying sin or it will mortify us.
Let us remember the choice that Cain made and its consequences, not following his example, but choosing good.
If we fail, and we will, let us pick ourselves up and get back into the fight. We cannot stay down. I will not stay down. Christ has forgiven me. He commands me to master sin. The Holy Spirit will help me. Besetting sins or not, we strive for the mastery of sin!
Sanctification is a reality and will do its work until the day I die. Sometimes it may look like and feel like we are loosing the battle, but we aren't. We press on, wounded, but toward victory. The war is won. Christ has declared it; but we remain in battle; and as such, we must fight. The enemy would still defeat us and make slaves of us.
Shall we be slaves or masters?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Panel to Consider Birth Control Prescriptions at Maine Middle School

Can a middle school prescribe birth control to an eleven year old, and that, without parental consent? Click to read.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Steve Brown Quote

To the best of my memory here is something Steve Brown said at St. Paul's during the Sunday sermon. "We are shocked at other people's sin because we have too high a view of ourselves." This is so true especially if you have been scared by legalism like me.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Some Funny (and Embarassing) Things my kids have Said and Done

Nathanael asked his mom, "Does God ask for ten percent of our outcome?" while holding up some change left over after a candy bar purchase. She said, "You mean income!" I said, "God wants a hundred percent of our outcome, including the ten percent."

The holidays are coming up. My favorite time of the year. Hannah and Joshua were arguing last Christmas over the ingredients of eggnog. After much debate Joshua said, "Well it may have eggs in it, but it ain't got no nog in it!"

We were in church and one of the boys stretched to the extent of coming out of his shirt!

Dr. Sproul asked a question during the sermon and one of the boys gave an audible answer. I don't know who was in more shock, Dr. Sproul or us.

Hannah woke me up excited on the day of her baptism and said, "Dad wake up I am going to be hypnotized today!" Sproul got a kick out of this one.

We were filling out a loan application and one of the boys asked the guy who was African American, "Are you from Africa?" What can you do with that? They were small children learning about differences and similarities. Cut them some slack on this one and the next one.

Hannah went up to an obese lady in the park and said "what's wrong with your legs?" Again what can you do?

Kids can make you laugh and keep you humble.

Then there is the classic "What was things like in the old days when you were young?"

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Spurgeon Quote

"Better a fortune in a wife than a fortune with a wife" (Spurgeon, Salt Cellars Pg. 73).

Friday, October 12, 2007

Flying - A Mark of Salvation?

I swore to myself I would never fly again after my last experience. The jet kept changing direction (it was at night time) which felt similar to what may be like riding with a drunk driver. There was a strong over powering smell of jet fuel and the wings kept rattling. I am scared of heights anyhow.
There is something unnatural about flying. If God wanted me to fly he would have made me an angel with wings not a man! Furthermore, who in their right mind gets on something moving when you can't even see who's driving?
We have to go to Ukraine and I am very nervous about flying. Pray for me. I do have this one comfort though and that is that this is evidence of my faith in God and salvation! I am just having a bit of trouble finding this particular mark of salvation in the bible. But its got to be in there somewhere!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

lex talionis

lex talionis is the law of retaliation and is seen in the old testament by way of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Punishment is proportionate to the crime. Justice is absolute.
Though the old testament emphasises the letter of the law it was Jesus that emphasised grace at this point. He said "turn the other cheek," did he not? Forgiveness is better medicine for the soul than justice more often than not. It also bears a strong witness.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Coram Deo

Coming up are some of my favorite Latin theological terms. Here is my very favorite.

Coram Deo means before God. This term is a reminder to me that I am always before God no matter what, and as such, I am reminded of how I ought to live. Do we really believe this to any real degree? If so how much different ought our lives be to line up with such a profound notion?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Self Esteem? Or Chief of Sinners?

It is only when we feel as if we cannot go on that God is closest to us and uses us most. In our weakness he is made strong. What makes us weak but sin?
Humility of spirit leads to a true understanding of who we are apart from God. When God raises our spirit we are exalted by and in God. Stripped of pride and all human ability we have find our true identity and purpose in life, which is to know and Glorify God. A low view of our selves is the result of and leads to having a high view of God. A healthy view of ourselves is to see ourselves as justified in Christ. We should be cautioned at this point not have an unbalanced view of our weaknesses, overemphasising them, because this would lead to a problem in and of itself.
We should stay fixed on Christ for it is only in Christ where we find the only source of self esteem (if we can even call it that) as opposed to popular thought. Paul was the chief of sinners. But that was two thousand years ago! I am the true chief of sinners.
How can one carry such a burden? One cannot. Christ does.
The thought of Christ as my source of sanctification causes me to press on towards godliness--in him. The thought of attaining sanctification on my own leaves no room for happiness of life at all, much less any sort of self esteem. I know I need to be more than what I am now. But I cannot be what I need to be apart from Christ. Apart from Christ there is nothing but despair. In Christ I find the curse of life lifted and the road home ahead.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

a Kempis Quote

"Thus it comes about that I, poor piece of humanity, am the theatre of civil war, a burden to myself, with the spirit trying to soar aloft, and the body endeavouring to stay below" (Thomas a kempis, Imitation Bk. III Pg. 188).

Monday, October 1, 2007

Truth and Gray Areas

When I was younger I saw all things as gray. What you did was up to you and what I did was up to me. We can all be right, was my motto. As a young Christian I saw more in terms of black and white than I do now. I emphasised objective truth to the detriment of subjective truth and experience. As I have matured somewhat on the subject, I am more sympathetic to the subjective than I was.
Over the last few years I began to allow for the possibility of there being legitimate gray areas in knowledge as relates to truth. But what I was not prepared for and what nobody told me (at least I was reluctant to hear it if they did) was that there is not only gray areas in life, but there are various shades of gray! What I speak of is not the fundamentals of Christian doctrine or of life, but concerns that are more controversial, where there is not much light given to know the truth of a matter with certainty.
Naturally there is an answer one way or the other, but arriving at the truth of a matter is at times impossible. Sometimes the fault lies with us and not that there is not enough light on a subject. We simply see gray when we are too ignorant to come to the knowledge of truth. The mode of baptism is a good example of a thing that is not gray, but is surrounded in controversy. While the use of alcohol in the life of the Christian can be a very gray issue, even allowing for truth for one and not for the other, depending on the persons conscience.
If you are like me and subjectivity is regaining a hold back in your life what are we to do? Keep a good balance using scripture as our guide for life.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Spliting Hairs and Atoms

We should all have a zeal for the truth, contend for the truth, and fine-tune our beliefs in accordance with the truth. It is appropriate and necessary at times to debate among ourselves in an effort to know the truth of a matter. In fact, this is one of the many ways in which we learn. But in an attempt to do what is right, and be right, we sometimes go too far entering into a vain, futile, unprofitable, unfruitful, judgmental activity. In wanting to be right all the time about every single thing we demonstrate our folly. When the focus on what really matters regarding the truth is lost and we begin hair splitting, we follow in the spirit of old scholasticism. It was common place for the Scholastic to debate so tediously that they gained a reputation for arguing about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. When we obsess to this point, we do damage and injustice to truth in the kingdom of God; all the while thinking we are doing a good thing; thinking God is own our side; that God needs us to stand up for him. What foolishness!
Our hair splitting only becomes explosive and destructive. It should be better classified under the science of atom splitting according to the natural sciences. Truth is lost and what becomes the object of attention is nothing more than triviality. This is not beneficial and not done for the glory of God, but the glory of man. This is not honorable in the sight of God. It causes divisions among ourselves, and makes a spectacle to the world. Agree to disagree. State your point. If it is truth it will be made evident by God as he sees fit. Otherwise it will be yet another witness against sinful obstinacy and arrogance.
What does it hurt, but by contrast, how much more good is there to be gained in yielding our opinion and allowing the opinion of others to stand at times?
We cannot force anyone to see the truth of spiritual matters. God reveals these things to us. Small matters, and this is what I speak of, should not worry us nor divide us. Even when dealing with false teachers on major issues we should have reservation and avoid foolish controversies (Titus 3:9).

Friday, September 21, 2007

Being Original in Writing

I have been struggling with the idea of writing a book or two. There is a big part of me that says that there is no need to. Our culture is running on information overload in a sense. I rationalize that what I might say has already been said and--I am sure better! I further reason that there are multitudes of solid Christian writers out there and they are doing a great job so what need is there for me to add anything?
All through school we are exhorted to be original when writing term papers, i.e. say something new. This progresses when it comes to writing prospectuses, theses and doctoral dissertations, though somewhere along the way "research" in integrated in. I guess to save face.
I have always been frustrated with this and want to respond by saying, what's the bibliography for again? Or, I read your book and there was nothing new there!
Well, though it has probably already been said, and said better (There is nothing new under the sun anyhow right?), I realize the point is that we all have our part to do. Someone may not read Augustine or Calvin, but they may pick up something current (Lord help em if it's mine). So, there is our responsibility as regards this, but also I seem to learn better when taking something in and then putting it back out. So there is a personal beneficial advantage in this regard.
I conclude this matter then by saying, though there may not be anything I can add that's new, I will nevertheless press forward with the matter of the writing of books. Indeed I hope that I do not add anything new at all for in my subject area this would be heresy, creative perhaps, but not new. It is the old that I am interested in; not the new, because what is new is not always true. Even current topics being addressed by Christian writers today for the most part are not new but old ideas in new clothes. There are exceptions or course, especially in the field of medical ethics, but there is not usually some ting absolutely new and original. So I will stick with the old and say what has been said and what will continue to be said until the end, that Jesus saves sinners! Unless Martians land and then I may write a book on the nature of Martians, or something, in light of scripture.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Mounce on Greek

"I have seen a rather interesting pattern develop. The only people I have heard say that Greek is not important are those who do not themselves know Greek. Strange (William D. Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek).

Greek Again

Just when I thought I was done with seminary for a while I find myself having to do some "leveling" work to satisfy demands of Ph.D. applications. So I am back at RTS taking Greek-again! My biblical languages are only on the college level and must be brought up to standard with that of the graduate level. We are using the same textbook and my college professor of Greek was and is as good as they come. But praise God I will know Greek! Bureaucracy at its finest! But God in his wisdom!!
I am reminded of when I was in graduate school at USM. There were college students taking some of the same courses as the grad students. We used the same text books, had the same professor, took the same tests, etc., but one was labeled graduate the other undergraduate. I hope they don't have to do leveling work like me.

I am taking on a better attitude having been somewhat discouraged by the bureaucrats lately. I do not intend to complain (maybe I am), but hope to see all things in faith. Sometimes problems need to be pointed out though don't they?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Theologians and Philosophers

In my opinion the greatest theologian of all time was Augustine. Second to Augustine is John Calvin who is similar to him. I like Thomas Aquinas a lot as well. One could spend a lifetime immersed in the writings of these theological giants. They are my favorites. Do not go through life without at least reading their best works. As for philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle are the best of the best. Of course there are some fine living theologians and philosophers too as there have been throughout all of history. There is, however, a high standard to live up to as we walk in the shadows of giants that have gone before us.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Don Kistler Quote

Don Kistler preached today at Saint Paul's on 2 Samuel 23:1-5. Here is a quote from the sermon (according to the best of my memory).

"There is more right with God than is wrong with me" (Don Kistler).


Lord guard my heart so that all of my affections are in direct accord with your will; enlighten my mind so all of my understanding comes from you; guard my tongue so that all I speak about is you. Direct my sight toward heaven so all I see is you. Keep me from foolish actions and spurious decisions that are not thought out and do harm rather than good.
I love you above all things on earth. Your word is more valuable to me than anything to me. It brings me great joy and happiness to study it. Your word is the source of all true knowledge and wisdom. Teach me its mysteries. Bring me clarity of understanding of all things revealed in it. It is a light to my soul. It is a guide for my path. But Lord do not leave me void of your presence. Walk with me as you did with Enoch. Show me your glory as you did for Moses. Give me a double portion of your Spirit as you did for Elisha. Give me wisdom as that of Solomon. Give me Jesus who died for me! For he is the summation of what it is that I ask. Forgive me of my sins and do not hide your face from me but look at Jesus in my stead. I grow weary of this world and all of the evil in it. I can only find peace in you. Keep me fixated on you. Keep my family as an object of your favor. I love my wife as the one you have given me, but help my love of her to increase. I love my children as they are gifts from you. Teach me the example of fatherhood. Bless them as you have blessed me in this life. Watch over them and bring them into close fellowship with you. As for the one to be adopted, give her comfort and peace.
Let us know what your will is for us and we will do it no matter what the cost may be in life or in death. (A prayer Robert N. Landrum)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

a Kempis

"I am he who in a moment can so lift up the mind of a humble man that he has a firmer grasp of the ways of eternal truth than the man who has spent ten years studying the subject at a University" (Thomas a Kempis, Imitation Pg. 178).

Friday, September 14, 2007

a Kempis Quote

"You may have done a lot of reading, and found out a great deal about a variety of subjects, but the basic fact you must always come back to is this: that I am (God) he who teaches men whatever they know; to those of child-like simplicity I give a cleareer understanding than any man can teach (Thomas a Kempis, Imitation Pg. 177-8).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Why all of the quotes?

Sometimes I am tired and do not feel like putting thought to paper, but nevertheless I still want to share what I am thinking about in an easy fashion such as a quotation. Sometimes I don't have anything to say. And more often than not they have said it better than I can.

a Kempis Quote

"Never read anything to enable you to appear better--educated or wiser than your fellows. What you ought to study is the way to kill off your worst faults; that will do you far more good than knowing all about a number of vexatious problems" (Thomas a Kempis, Imitation 177).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

a Kempis Quote

"You must not let yourself be impressed by the fine and clever things you hear men say; it is power that builds up the kingdom of God, not words" (Thomas a Kempis, Imitation Pg. 177).

Saturday, September 8, 2007


Think of how Job changed his opinion of himself and God--how he was exposed in that he was not quite as righteous in his eyes as he thought he was and his knowledge of God was not as superior as he believed it to be--and how his many reasonings of self justification and arguments testifying to the solidity of his righteousness fell to pieces upon finding himself in the very immediate presence of God. His revised knowledge of himself and God is voiced in these words: "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my every see you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5,6).

Calvin Quote

"Because nothing appears in us or around us that has not been contaminated by great immorality, what is a little less vile pleases us as a thing most pure--so long as we continue our minds within the limits of human corruption....So it happens in estimating our spiritual goods. As long as we do not look beyond the earth, being quite content with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue, we flatter ourselves most sweetly, and fancy ourselves all but demigods...Man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God's majesty" (Calvin, Institutes Bk. I Pg. 38-39).

Friday, September 7, 2007

Isaiah 11:6

Is this sort of what it is going to be like in the future age to come?

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. - Isaiah 11:6 (ESV)

Bureaucracy and the Will of God

Please do not take the following as sinful complaining. I hope it is not at least. I don't think there is a conspiracy theory out to get me, this is just how I have been feeling lately! I am voicing this in an effort to train my thoughts on this truth. "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." (Job 42:2) Romans may be a more relevant place to quote from but I like this verse and it is a truth that God's purposes are inclusive of us and our purpose.
Does it ever seem like you have been hogtied by the bureaucrat's red tape? Well I have had my fill of it lately! Not wanting to cast a shadow of ill repute on certain institutional setups I will be as vague here as I can and still make my point.

Educational Bureaucracy: When is enough enough? For those in academics the credentials that one has to have are never ending. It seems as if by the time I satisfy all of the demands I will be ready to retire! And no matter where you go or who you study under, it is never the right school or professor! Looking into PhD. programs lately I am horrified at the requirements for admission policies. GPA's, GRE's, leveling work, equivalency standards, already earned degree subject relevance, out of site tuition costs, reference letters, writing samples, and I am out of breath! I don't think Socrates, Plato and Aristotle would make it into some of these programs, and it is a definite that divine intervention will be necessary for me to get into one (as it has been the case in every instance so far). Who makes these rules up? I am not opposed to high standards but it seems as if we run the risk of and are indeed filtering out many fine capable people.
Along these lines let me take a rabbit trail and vent a bit more by saying that I have always despised most modern methods of testing. I am reminded of a college professor that said "don't loose heart if you don't do well on my test. It only points out what you don't know, it does not really test what you do know!" Is there not some truth in this? And it is also said that to do well on tests today one merely has to memorize what the teacher says and give it back just the way they want it. What is lacking here is critical thinking!

Ministerial Bureaucracy: Some denominations will make you the pastor if you show the slightest spark of interest in things spiritual while other denominations would have your knowledge surpass Jesus'. In being zealous to make our ministers qualified we sometimes raise the bar too high don't you think? If we wait on bureaucracy to balance itself (an impossible contradiction) in this respect we do injustice to the true biblical qualifications of ministry.

Vocational Bureaucracy: I am all for being fair but if you haven't noticed affirmative action has turned on the white American male in many instances. And then there is the classic "you have to have experience." How do you get experience without being given the opportunity? I realize this overlooks apprentice-type experience, but you get the point.

Let us not forget these things if we are ever awarded the red tape gun dispenser responsibility! It will not turn the world upside down if we season things with little bit of common sense.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Science and Religion

"In fact much bad science is the product of bad religion. There is nothing more destructive to good religion than bad religion with a closed mind." (Robert N. Landrum Science Religion and Cosmology, World View Ministries Blog).

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Spurgeon Quote

"As the good man saith, so say we;
But as the good wife saith so it must be.

Cunning servants will approve of what the master says, and yet feel sure that the mistress will have her own way. As they are much in the house and observe how matters go, they come as a rule to a true conclusion when they reckon that the lady of the house will practically carry her point. Well, it is best it should be so. The house is the woman's dominion, and her husband should let her reign, saying, 'Only in the throne will I be greater than thou.' He will be wise seldom to sit on that throne" (Spurgeon, Salt Cellars Pg. 52).

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

John Owen Quote

"What John bare record of was God's word, not words about God" (Owen, Biblical Theology Pg. 6).

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day Thought

More often than not I find myself complaining about something work related. In fact there is a big part of me that doesn't like work at all. It is no wonder, because the curse on Adam and the natural world make work what it is--WORK! We collect our bread by the sweat of our brow.
I grew up in construction and have leaned on my skills for most of my life. This is hard work. It is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I have to remind myself that though work as described is curse related it is also sanctioned by God. On six days we work. The seventh we rest. This cycle is representative of what we have in Christ, "rest," and what our state will be like ultimately on the last day. When I think of this I remember that there is something to be gained from work. There is a sense of worth that is to be found in labor. The sloth is hard at work, in a sense, doing his thing--though there is no sense of value and dignity for him.
What is it that we are working for anyways? First, temporally speaking we work for life's provisions.We work for our bread, shelter, and worldly needs (and wants). We need to eat, have clothing, and have a place to live. All of this is accomplished through work. Even the rich are at work maintaining their riches. Most things that we work for in this life are fleeting --reflecting the imperfections of this world. A new car always gets a scratch or a rock in the windshield. Eventually it gets old and needs to be replaced. We just bought a new refrigerator and it already has two broken shelves. I damaged a utility trailer at work and have to pay for it to be repaired. Such things are always with us. Our earthly homes bear the marks of impermanence, both our physical houses and our bodies. All will return to where it came from. Secondly, we work eternally for God's glory and kingdom and a reward that does not perish.
Spurgeon said that a smart man works by the sweat of his mind and not his brow. But I find that both are work. So whether you are on a construction site, in a seminary or university library, pushing a pencil behind a desk, or digging ditches, do all for the glory of God!

By the way shouldn't labor day be called leisure day?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Hoekema Quote

"Above all, we should be encouraged by the conviction that our sanctification is ultimately not our achievement but God's gift, since Christ is our sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30)....The fact that the Christian finds himself in tension between what he already possesses in Christ and what he does not yet enjoy implies that he should see himself as an imperfect new person. Yet the emphasis should fall, not on the continued imperfection, but on the newness. To lay the emphasis on the imperfection instead of on the newness is to turn the New Testament upside down. As Oscar Cullmann puts it, for the Christian believer today the already outweighs the not yet" (Anthony A. Hoekema The Bible and the future Pg. 71).

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

John Calvin Was Not Saved by "The Queen of China"

The Christian in Romans Seven

Reflections of a Christian Philosopher on the Christian in Romans Seven
A Theological, Philosophical, and Epistemological Perspective
Robert N. Landrum
Acts and Paul
Professor Reggie Kidd
Spring 2004
Reformed Theological Seminary

It was one of my favorite biblical characters, Job, who posed this question: “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” The obvious answer to Job, and to me as well, is “No one!” (Job 14:4) It was the prophet Jeremiah that made this complimentary observation “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil?” (Jeremiah. 13:23). The apostle Paul further reiterates this theme when he says in Romans seven, I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good” (Romans. 7:21).
In this paper, I will be looking at Romans seven and raising some philosophical and theological questions regarding the nature and scope of sanctification for Christians, i.e. what sanctification is and the extent to which a person may or may not actively obtain and achieve a sanctified life. More precisely, I wish to answer the questions of, “How far we can go in sanctification?” and, “What are the limits to which a Christian might be sanctified if there are any?”
Given the nature of the passage selection of Romans seven, it does not serve my purpose as much to entertain the positive side of sanctification as it does the negative side. In other words, this is primarily a paper about the limitations of sanctification. In this respect, the term indwelling sin in the believer may be a more precise theological term to use to describe this aspect of the sanctification process; but, nevertheless, I think this discussion falls under the topic of sanctification, broad as it may be.

The Controversy

Before getting into a discussion of the Christian in Romans seven I will briefly touch on a few formalities. The theological controversy that surrounds Romans seven is two fold. (1) There are those that argue that Paul refers to the state of an unbeliever, viz. himself. (2) There are those that argue that a believer is described in the passage (the position that I hold to).[1]

The Christian in Romans Seven

“For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:22-24).
To be sanctified means that one is set apart from the ordinary for the purpose of being used for a special purpose. In the case of Christianity the Christian is set apart for use by God. A more specific aspect to sanctification for the individual Christian is that one is to be separated from everything that defiles (Harrison 470-471). In Leviticus 20:26 the Lord says, “And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.” Given this definition of sanctification we see that there is a distinction that is to be made from those that are God’s people and those that are not, i.e. the unbeliever.
It is out of this distinction that our morality as Christians is separated from that of non-Christians. It is separated in that our good deeds are recognized or sanctioned in a sense by God, whereas the unbeliever may do good and abstain from evil, which is in itself a form of righteousness, but not of the sort that God is pleased with in any spiritual or eternal way, in that he has not sanctified those deeds.[2]
We run into a problem though when it seems as if the unbeliever is outliving the Christian, morally speaking. In fact, it is a popular soapbox of the skeptic to point out a Christian that is not living a sanctified life. The criticism goes something like this: “Look at so and so.” “He professes to be a Christian, but I know pagans that are living on a higher moral plain than him.” Indeed, this is an unfortunate truth at times. Just because an unbeliever is without Christ does not mean that he will be as bad as he can be.
More often than not, Christians have a serious struggle with sanctification because of the severe extent of the depraved nature of many of those that are converted. Jesus said that it is the sick that are in need of a physician, not the well. The problem is that there are those that have a whole lot more dirty laundry set in front of them for the cleaning then others may have. Augustine rightly made the observation that there are those that are blessed with a greater sense of general restraining grace.

If man is called by you, follows your voice, and has avoided doing those acts which I am recalling and avowing in my own life, he should not mock the healing of a sick man by the Physician, whose help has kept him from falling sick, or at least enabled him to be less gravely ill. He should love you no less, indeed, even more; for he sees that the one who delivered me from the great sicknesses of my sins is also he through whom he may see that he himself has not been a victim of the same great sickness (Augustine 32-33).

It is apparent that Augustine is here talking about another Christian, but the analogy applies to those that are not Christians. As mentioned above, unbelievers are not always as bad as they can be. This is due to the same general grace mentioned by Augustine. Paul points out in Romans 2:14, “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them.” This answers the old philosophical and theological question: Can a man be good apart from religion? He most certainly can! But it is to no eternal avail.
Christians have an epiphany that the unbeliever does not have. We are faced with the abrupt hard reality that we remain sinners after our conversion to Christ even to the point of loosing an outward witness to the fact of our salvation, becoming in a way and for a time confused with the unregenerate. For some this may seem to be an elementary principle (and it is); but I think that our understanding of all of the ramifications of this is lacking, and our attitude toward our brothers and sisters in Christ that are struggling, perhaps more than others, is more often than not expressed in a shallow and superficial way.
What I wish to probe into is that other side of the statement “we are still sinners”. That side that is not said in a passing, casual, colloquial and even cavalier way; but rather is expressed out of the sense of despair, and devastation that is felt on the part of the Christian sinner who has come to terms in a face to face manner with the realization of the fact that he is still a wretched sinner and that he will remain a wretched sinner all of his earthly days. Again Job says, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1).
I wonder what the motives are for people that do not want to affirm the Christian in Romans seven. I am sure there are those that do so solely on a conviction that is based strictly on hermeneutics. However, I think that there is another underlying problem and that is pride! We do not like to think about the reality of our sins. But I cannot understand why really. Unless we are afraid of what the usual immediate consequences are to owning up to our sins. We may be afraid of what the church, the elders, our friends, or the world in general may think of us. I am surprised at this! It is part of the central message of the gospel that Jesus came to save his people from their sins. We cannot be ashamed of this. Quite the contrary, we should shout it from the housetops!
We are not allowed to be sinners in any real way after our initial conversion and repentance. If we would be honest though, I cannot help but to think that we must affirm that our ultimate salvation from sin will not take place in the here and now but in the not yet, i.e. our future eternal state. In the mean time God has given us guidelines on how to live with this dark shadow. Just to name one passage in support of this we can turn to Galatians 6:1 which says, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken on any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Rather than the church actively incorporating this principle in the lives of its members we sometimes have the tendency to point out another’s faults in a prideful, snobbish, and legalistic way. It is no wonder that people are afraid to be honest with their sins. Why are we not allowed to be the sinners that we are?
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not minimizing the active role of sanctification in the life of a Christian. Nor am I an antinomian in any way, shape, or form. I am a reformed Calvinist. Furthermore, I do not intend to diminish the doctrine of repentance or the mortification of sins. But as I have already mentioned, I am not expounding on those topics here, but their counterpart; and this is where the emphasis naturally is. I wonder what sort of revival might break out in the land if we recognized the simple fact that it is our sins that get the attention of the Holy Spirit in a saving and healing way. Without our sins we cannot be saved and because of our sins the Holy Spirit has work yet to do in our lives. But to admit this is to overcome the fear of being pointed out, or even being thrown out of the church in the name of a so-called biblical excommunication. What would become of our sanctification if we were to cry out to God for his Holy Spirit to work in helping us to mortify our sins and become more like Jesus. And to be able to accept in the right spirit that where sin abounds grace abounds much more (Romans 5:20).

Arthur W. Pink makes this observation in his sermon The Christian in Romans 7,

The controversy which has raged over Rom. 7 is largely the fruitage of the Perfectionism of Wesley and his followers. That brethren, whom we have cause to respect, should have adopted this error in a modified form, only shows how widespread today is the spirit of Laodiceanism. To talk of “getting out of Rom. 7 into Rom 8” is excuseless folly. Rom. 7 describes the conflict of the two natures in the child of God: it simply sets forth in detail what is summarized in Gal. 5:7. Rom. 7:14, 15, 18, 19, 21 are now true of every believer on earth. Every Christian falls far, far short of the standard set before him—we mean God’s standard, not that of the so-called “victorious life” teachers. If any Christian reader is ready to say that Rom.7:19 does not describe hi life, we say in all kindness, that he is sadly deceived. We do not mean by this that every Christian breaks the laws of men, or that he is an overt transgressor of the laws of God. But we do mean that his life is far, far below the level of the life our Savior lived here on earth. We do mean that there is much of “the flesh” still evident in every Christian—not the least in those who make such loud boastings of their spiritual attainments. We do mean that every Christian has urgent need to daily pray for the forgiveness of his daily sins (Luke 11:4), for “in many things we all stumble (James 3:2, R.V.) (Pink 2, 3).

Objections Answered
As for the objection that Paul in not talking about his present state as a Christian, but that he is referring to the time before his conversion: to this I respond first of all that Paul does not say “O wretched man that I was”, but “O wretched man that I am!” Besides this, it does not make sense for Paul to refer to himself as the “chief of sinners,” when he might have said that I “was the chief of sinners.” Furthermore, Paul says, that he delights in the law of God and serves the law of God with his mind. This is something that cannot be done if one is not converted. To do so would mean that one is converted. In an unregenerate state we cannot even love God intellectually. A non-Christian cannot delight in God’s law. Proverbs 15:26 says, “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord.” Thirdly, it is objected that a Christian cannot be a slave to sin. But we are indeed slaves to sin. At least this is true as regards our unredeemed flesh. One the one hand, we are free from sin in the death of Christ, but on the other, we still await the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:22-23). To this objection I answer that what is meant as a slave to sin must be understood epistemologically. Before the law we did not know of our bondage to sin, but since the law we are knowledgeable of our sinfulness (Romans 7:7-12). It is true that Paul says, “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness” (Romans 6:20). This seems to indicate that we are no longer slaves, and we are not any longer, at least, epistemologically. Before our conversion our minds were darkened to the point that we were the slaves of sin. But now after our conversion, we have a newfound liberation from the bondage of sin. Now we are slaves to God (Romans 6:22). Our minds are enlightened and we are now able to see the kingdom of God (John 3), but our flesh has not caught up with us in this respect yet; this where sanctification takes an active role in our lives. And this is how Paul was able to say that there is now warfare between the law of his mind and his flesh. Nowhere in the bible are we definitively, universally, and absolutely said to be set free from sin.

The Myth of Perfectionism

There are some extremist that assert that we can be made perfect in this world due to making the right decisions at all times and not giving in to temptation. This is a principle that I reject. But to deny the fact of indwelling sin in the believer or the picture of the Christian in Romans seven is tantamount to affirming perfectionism. The question that cannot be adequately answered by those that reject the possibility for a Christian in Romans seven is, “How do you explain the obvious self-evident and directly evident fact that we actively and passively remain sinners after conversion?” This question cannot be answered if one does not acquiesce to a literal interpretation of Romans seven. Where does one go to affirm this empirical and rational fact if not to Romans seven? And indeed, there may be other points of support for the doctrine of indwelling sin in the believer, but why not accept Romans seven as a primary source for the doctrine? The answer escapes me.
Perfectionism is doomed to failure from two points of view. It is problematic first of all in that no one in his right mind will claim that he has never sinned at all. Because of this I cannot help but to think that one is therefore disqualified from being perfect due to past shortcomings. Secondly, who is it among mortal humans that can make the claim (legitimately) that they are living a life of absolute moral perfection? (And I am simplifying things by restricting the conversation to moral perfection, and not bringing things like everyday inerrancy and infallibility into the equation.) I am afraid that such a person is guilty of the worst kind of self-deception and pride. To disprove this, we merely have to conduct a simple empirical experiment. I am sure that one would only have to follow such a person around for a few days—if that long! Or ask his friends and family whether or not this is true of him. I think that if we will all be honest with ourselves, basing our argument on rational and empirical evidence, we may conclude that perfectionism is out of our grasp. Biblically speaking there is only one perfect person, Jesus our Lord. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Lets Not Forget About Original Sin[3]

There may indeed be a third reason that underlies the two points just mentioned, that of original sin. According to the doctrine of original sin we do not merely commit sins, but we are sin! Original sin still affects us after conversion. This simple observation is to often blurred, due to our emphasis on it as it pertains to the unconverted.
As a reminder here is a reiteration of the doctrine. We have inherited a sinful nature from our first father Adam. And because of this our bodies will eventually pay the ultimate penalty declared by God in Gen. 3, i.e. death, for being corrupted in this manner. Job recognized this. “Since his days are determined, the number of his months is with you; you have appointed his limits, so that he cannot pass (Job 14:5.) We will all face this judgment and in a timely fashion at that (Job 14:1-3).[4]
Jesus came as the second Adam to restore to us what the first Adam lost for us.
However, this restoration is a process. We are not able to partake of the benefits of eternal life in Christ, but in all due time. We are declared justified at the time of faith in Christ, but the death penalty on our bodies remains.
If the doctrine of original sin is true, and I believe it is, then there is an intrinsic and natural pollutant that has irreversibly stained our bodies making them corrupt. This corruption will not be reversed until our bodies take on a new form that is incorrupt. (see Paul’s letter to the Corinthians as regarding this). But until then we must live as Christians in Romans seven.

Appendix I
Here are some insightful observations made by some of the ancient philosophers. I add this to illustrate the fact of the effects of original sin in our decision making process. The greatest philosophers that the world has ever known have wrestled with why it is that we do the things we do. In trying to justify and understand our choices we have this testimony of Socrates and Aristotle on the subject.

Some Philosophical Observations made by the Ancient Philosophers
There is really no denying that the world is filled with evil both natural and moral. The ancient philosophers made this observation understanding that there was a serious problem with man’s moral condition. They wrestled with the problems associated with why we make the choices that we make.
For Socrates, evil is ignorance and pleasure is good. We may be mistaken about the good and as a result do evil. But for Aristotle, it is out of a weakness of the will (incontinence) that leads one to do evil.
In Plato’s Protagoras, Socrates attempts to refute the argument that one does evil knowingly because he is seduced and overpowered by pleasure. He argues that to be overcome by pleasure is to really be ignorant of what is truly good. It is because of a defect in knowledge that we choose evil and not good. “Then, I said, that no man voluntarily pursues evil, or that which he thinks to be evil. To pursue what one believes to be evil rather than what is good is not in human nature” (Protagoras 64, source of quotation unknown).[5]
Aristotle argues that:

The incontinent man, knowing that what he does is bad, does it as a result of passion, while the continent man, knowing that his appetites are bad, refuses on account of his rational principle to follow them….Now we may ask what kind of right judgment has the man who behaves incontinently. That he should behave so when he has knowledge, some say is impossible; for it would be strange—so Socrates thought—if when knowledge was in a man something else could master it and drag it about like a slave. For Socrates was entirely opposed to the view in question, holding that there is no such thing as incontinence; no one, he said, when he judges acts against what he judges best—people act so only by reason of ignorance. Now this view plainly contradicts the apparent facts and we must inquire about what happens to such a man…that the man who behaves incontinently does not, before he gets into this state, think he ought to act so, is evident….And further the possession of knowledge in another sense than those just named is something that happens to men; for within the case of having knowledge but not using it we see a difference of state, admitting of the possibility of having knowledge in a sense and yet not having it, as in the instance of a man asleep, mad, or drunk. But now this is just the condition of men under the influence of passions; for outbursts of anger and sexual appetites and some other such passions, it is evident, actually alter our bodily condition, and in some men even produce fits of madness. It is plain, then, that incontinent people must be said to be in a similar condition to men asleep, mad, or drunk. (Ethics vi-vii, source of quotation unknown).

One has to hand it to the ancient philosophers. It is amazing how close they come sometimes to representing biblical truth. The doctrine of original sin is clearly evident in that they wrestle with the fact that we cannot always choose the good. Socrates rationalizes by saying we mistake the evil for good and Aristotle, equates choices of evil to madness.
They were masters of processing the data given to us through natural revelation. They fall short, however, of a pure correspondence theory of truth in that they do not have, or use, whatever the case may be, God’s special revelation, i.e. his Word. This is a necessary guide for properly interpreting knowledge that comes to us through natural revelation. Apart from God’s word knowledge, as such, is distorted. In this instance, fallen man is left to interpret the natural world through a dirty lens so to speak. (It is also true that the image that we get of the world is imperfect due to the curse on the natural world as well.). There is no denying the fact of our fallen condition with or without special revelation.

Appendix II
A Glimpse into my own Christian Experience

At the time I become a Christian (at least this is the case for me and I assume this to be standard in all conversion experiences), I became enlightened to a greater understanding, or rather knowledge of, the reality of sin in my life and its effects. In this sense I believe that the theme of Romans seven is basically an issue of epistemology.
I do not mean to say that I did not know the difference between good and evil, but rather I was enlightened as regards to who it was that I offended most with my sins. When I would do something wrong, my conscience would condemn me, but that was the extent of the matter really. I have always believed in God, and in a way I believed that there was the chance that I would go to hell if I did not do right.
The message of Romans seven is not really about that though. Romans seven has to do with epistemology on a higher level then such basic (natural)[6] notions. The point of Romans seven is that we are slaves to sin apart from Christ. This is something that I did not know! I did not know how bad off I really was until I was “freed from sin” in the death of Christ.
For me sin’s reign in my life was first and foremost epistemological. It wasn’t until I started trying to get rid of sin that I came to the realization that it is not that easily gotten rid of! If someone would have told me I was a sinner I would have agreed in a caviler way. However, if some one would have told me that I was an absolute slave to sin and son of the devil, I would have been grossly insulted, and swelling up with pride I would have closed the door on that conversation. But indeed that is what my state was (Note Ephesians 2). There was that higher plane of knowledge that was missing that made me a slave to sin. I was the worst kind of slave, one that was a slave and did not even know it in any meaningful sense. Adam sold me to Satan and he owned me. My ownership to him was marked by the deeds that I would do. But I was living blindly in the most important sense to this.
Upon receiving a spiritual awakening, I began that process of sanctification. This is where the rubber meets the road—when our corruption begins to be challenged. Upon starting out, I confused sanctification with moral legalism only to prove further the depths of my depravity! After a few years of being immersed in legalism, I came to the conclusion that I had not been making progress in sanctification, at least in this regard. With this new revelation I plummeted into a state of despair and even began to entertain some sins of the past (for I thought that at least I could remove my self from any accusations of hypocrisy). It is after many years of struggling with sin and even episodes of despairing thoughts that I may not be a Christian after all, that I have found solas in this interpretation of Romans seven.[7]
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not condoning sin. I abhor it! I do not think that we should sin that grace may abound. God forbid it! But what is one to do when he realizes that there is no escaping sin in this life? There is only one thing left to do. Cry out with Paul “who shall deliver me from this body of death?” Thank God—Christ our Lord!
If there is no Christian in Romans seven, then I am not a Christian! For I find an exact representation of myself in the portrait that has been so beautifully painted in this text. Therein lies the explanation of my predicament, i.e. my struggles in this life with my sinful nature—a problem that seems to be contradictory of what it means to be a sanctified Christian, and indeed would be apart from this passage. The internal torment that leads to a despair beyond all description; yes, such a despair that will even drive the strongest minded person to the brink of insanity, will continuously close in on the true Christian that feels the wretchedness that accompanies sin. But thanks be to God we have Romans seven that tells us all is normal. This is what stops the despair that comes along with not being able to do the impossible. And this is what gives us hope for our future and comprehensive deliverance from sin.

Augustine. Confessions. Ed. Henry Chadwick. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Harrison, Everett. Ed. Baker’s Dictionary of Theology. Michigan: Baker Book House, 1991.
Kidd, Reggie. Acts Pauline Epistles. Course Compact Disc: 2004
Pink, Arthur W. The Christian in Romans 7. Pensacola: Chapel Library.

[1] I will not belabor the points of controversy due to the shortness of the paper. I would rather try to build my case for the position that I hold to.
[2] See Martin Luther on active and passive righteousness.
[3] For a further discussion on original sin read Augustine and Pelagius on the topic. Due to the short nature of this paper, there is not space to discuss all that should be mentioned about this.
[4] As it stands there does not seem to be any hope for Job but as verse 14 indicates there is ! There is the hope of the resurrection of the body to eternal life for all those that are in Christ. It is then that we will be set free from this life of sin. But I do not wont to give away the end of the story just jet.
[5] The source of this quotation is a Xerox copy that is not distinctly marked by way of editor and publisher and, therefore, is not in the bibliography.
[6] Remember that Calvin’s observations that natural revelation extends to the person as well as the natural world, i.e. we know God intuitively. He is revealed to us in our mind.
[7] I am not here asserting that there was or is no distinguishing marks of sanctification in my life. After all I have devoted my life as much as is possible for me to do with my limitations to the service of Christ. Though the waters may be turbulent on the surface at times the currents that bring me closer to Christ are always moving.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Spurgeon Quote

"Be always as cheerful as ever you can,
For few will delight in a sorrowful man."

"Hood, visited by a clergyman whose features, as well as language, were lugubrious, looked up at him compassionately and said, 'My dear sir, I'm afraid your religion doesn't agree with you.' The same remark might be made to others who seem to have just religion enough to make them miserable. They forget the precept 'Rejoice in the Lord'" (Spurgeon, Salt Cellars vol. I Pg. 61)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

a Kempis Quote

"A man often goes in eager pursuit of something he wants; when he has got it, he doesn't feel the same about it. Man's affections are unstable, and are apt to drive him from one desirable object to the next, so that even in trivial matters it is well worth renouncing oneself" (a Kempis, Imitation bk. 3 pg. 173).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Spurgeon Quote

"As you hope for mercy, show mercy."
"Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy Mat. 5:7 " (Spurgeon, Salt Cellars vol. I Pg. 58).

Monday, August 20, 2007

Spurgeon Quote

"An ounce of revelation outweighs a mountain of speculation" (Spurgeon, Salt Cellars vol. I Pg. 58).

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Spurgeon Quote

"Bear-footed folk should not tread on thorns."
Those who are peculiarly sensitive in any direction should keep out of the way of the evil they dread" (Spurgeon, Salt Cellars vol. I Pg. 60).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Spurgeon Quote

"A sermon's length is not its strength. "
"It may be very much its weakness. In this case brevity is a virtue. It is a pity to weary the head when we should win the heart. Some divines are long in their sermons because they are short in their studies" (Spurgeon, Salt Cellars vol. I Pg. 56).

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Spurgeon Quote

"Any boy or girl you see
Can leap o'er a fallen tree.

As soon as the man is down, there are plenty to triumph over him. A hare can sport with the beard of a dead lion. In fact, some spirits take peculiar delight in pouring contempt upon the great in the day of their calamity" (Sspurgeon, Salt Cellars vol. I).

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Lord give me grace for paitence and understanding towards my family. Administer strength to me for the work that is required in this world (especially as relates to your kingdom and not just according to necessary manual labors). Teach me wisdom and give me knowledge according to your ways. Draw near to me so I can see your perfections more clearly. Do not let Satan tempt me. Show me that your beauty is more beautiful than anything this world has to offer. And that pleasure in you is far greater than any worldly pleasures. I know this but sometimes my mind would reverse things at times and have me look in the wrong places for what I can only find in you. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on you. My fallen flesh is crafty and causes me to see in a distorted way. Keep me straight on this. All that I need is you. Pursuit of happiness anywhere other than in you is a false happiness. Everytime I say "There it is." "This will make me happy." And it is not you, I find myself unfulfilled in my desires. It is sinful to think there is something out there that will bring me peace other than you. I am let down and disappointed every time I take on such a pursuit. What I am looking for I already have. It is sinful madness to look elsewhere. Bring this to my remembrance the next time the fever of temptation sets in on me. Amen. (Robert N. Landrum).

Friday, August 10, 2007

Spurgeon Quote

"A saint is often under a cross, but never under a curse. Sweet comfort this is to the afflicted believer. In a sea of sorrow there is not a drop of wrath to the man who is in Christ Jesus" (Spurgeon, Salt Cellars Vol. I).

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Spurgeon Quote

"A sheep must be fed on the ground."
"We must preach according to the capacity of our hearers. The Lord Jesus did not say 'Feed my giraffes,' but 'feed my sheep.' We must not put the fodder on a high rack by our fine language, but use great plainness of speech" (Spurgeon, Salt Cellars vol. I).

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Lord thank you for the cross. I am aware of your sufferings for me--how you died for my sins. Make me more aware so that I can be closer to you. It is my one desire that I walk with you in your ways. This world and all that is in it is fleeting. It is only a matter of time till we all go into eternity. Give me a taste of your goodness as I suffer this life I now live longing to be with you. No, rather fill me to till I cannot hold anymore with your presence.
Father grant me these three things: To have the mind of Christ that I might know you and your ways , to have the love of Christ that I might love you, and those you have given me to love that are dearest to me. And having given me these as an illumination to my soul give me the compassion of Christ and use me as a light in this world.
Lord forgive me for my childishness and foolishness. Forgive me for talking when I should have remained silent. Forgive me for remaining silent when I should have spoken. Forgive me for loosing my temper in sinful ways. Forgive me for not being patient. Forgive me for slothfulness in your work. For give me for doubting your future provisions. Forgive me for not giving all of my self to my wife and my children as regards this duty. Forgive me for entertaining worldly thoughts and sinful lusts. Forgive me for overindulgence when I should have used moderation. Forgive me for my lack of knowledge in your word. Forgive me for being prideful knowing that a worm has nothing of his own to boast of. Forgive me for not loving as you have loved me. Forgive me for secret sin that is grievous to your spirit and is a cancer to my soul, such sin that I may not even be aware of in my life, because in its very nature it is hidden . It is hidden to me but not to others and most importantly it is not hidden to you. This is probably the worst sin one can have in that I am not privy to its deceitful workings. It is almost worse than presumptuous outward sins in that they rot the interior of the soul in areas unseen, giving the appearance of a sound structure, when in reality there is no soundness at all. Forgive me of all of these and more.
As you see I do not limit your atonement but am in much need of your grace.
And Lord having forgiven me all, help me to forget what is past and press onward having my eyes fixed on you. Robert N. Landrum

Friday, August 3, 2007

Spurgeon Quote

"A child of light may walk in darkness, and a child of darkness may walk in light."

"The light of the ungodly man comes from the dying sparks of his own fire; the light of the righteous is a sun which may be under a cloud, but is ever shining. Bunyan's ditty is worth quoting: he describes his pilgrim in the valley of the shadow of death, and says to him--

'Poor man! where art thou now? thy day is night.
Good man! be not cast down, thou yet art right.
The way to heaven lies by the gates of hell;
Cheer up; hold out, and all things shall go well.'" (Spurgeon, Salt Cellars vol. I)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

World View Ministries is Now Online

I am happy to announce that I made the first post on the World View Ministries blog today.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Is Being a Christian Easy Like Some Imply?

"When he has tried me I shall come out as Gold" (Job 23:10, ESV)

When he has tried me!

Many misleading Christian leaders preach an easy life for those that would become Christians. They are wrong. If anything it is harder to live as a Christian than not. There is no easy life that awaits the Christian. There is no "cheap grace." (Though if it were not cheap we could not afford it as Steve Brown says, but this is not what is meant here.) The cost of discipleship is high. It demands one's whole life. We belong to God to do as he sees fit to do with us.

Life is not always a bed of roses whether you are a Christian or not. But for the Christian there is much adversity to face and overcome. The world rejects us as we reject it. Satan temps us. Sin entices us. And our very own flesh which still awaits redemption turns on us at times, fighting in an inward battle against everything we aim to be in Christ. This makes life difficult at times to say the least. Considering that the whole of our lives were spent in pursuit of satisfaction of these things mentioned--such things that we abhor now, but must still wrestle with on a daily basis--it is a wonder that we can stand it.

Furthermore, contrary to what many false teachers would have us believe, God, who will not have us as we were, but must change us for the better, uses many trials in our lives as a means to this end. At times evil in the world is mysteriously used for our good and his glory. He disciplines us, tests our faith--matures us.

Though its not easy we have one advantage. Knowing that God loves us and has our best interest in view we do not loose heart and are not broken under the weight of discouragement; rather we welcome trials and temptation, counting them as joy even (James 1:2) hoping that they do not come on the one hand, but taking the occasion of faith on the other when they do come. Unlike the unbeliever who has no hope we take our new disposition to be such that we can even glory in tribulations (Rom. 5:3) For when he has tried us we come out as Gold.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Did the Early Church Baptize Infants?

Note to the reader: I am not completely satisfied with this paper. Some time has passed since I wrote it. I did not do justice to Part II. In fact I think the heading should be renamed to something like Baptismal Regeneration. I will re do this paper along the lines of I. The the method or mode of baptism II.The recipients of baptism (infants and adults) III. The theology of baptism
I may have been misleading in the idea of a debate between infant and believers baptism. The debate was not should we baptize infants or not, but is it expedient considering the regenerative effect of baptism? Both sprinkling and immersion were used and both infants and adults were baptized.
Here is a paper written at Reformed Theological Seminary. The paper explores the early church's (not the bible's) teaching on baptism. Issues such as infant baptism, the baptism of blood, and how baptism was administered are discussed. And just for laughs, did you know that the early church baptized in the nude? Before one forms a dogmatic opinion on baptism an understanding of baptism through the eyes of the early church is very helpful.

The Teachings of the Early Church on Baptism
Robert N. Landrum
The History of Christianity
Professor Frank A. James III
The Teachings of the Early Church on Baptism
Table of Contents
I. Baptism Traditions
II. Infant Baptism versus Believers Baptism
The debate over baptism continues to rage. Since the time of the early church there has not been universal agreement on the particulars of baptism, whether that be in relation to the way it is administered or to those that it is administered to. Much controversy (both then and now) is over who the recipients of baptism should be. On the one hand there are those that believe baptism should be reserved only for professing believers, while others contend that baptism should be extended to infants, who are obviously not able to make a profession of faith.
This paper will explore how the early church perceived baptism practically, i.e. how baptism was administered and to whom it was administered. In exploring the early church’s views on baptism, we will discover that there is not a consensus of agreement on baptism in either of these areas. There are some basic fundamentals such as the need for baptism and the use of water, but overall there is disagreement on the details. Having said this, I will not be arguing for any one particular approach to baptism, nor is there an emphasis on what the scripture says regarding baptism; rather, my argument is basically that there was no unanimity on the specifics of baptism in the early church.[1]
Due to the diversity of disagreement in the writings of the early church it would really be impossible to formulate any one argument. In other words, I cannot argue for infant baptism because I would have to be selective as to who I used as a source. For example, if I favored infant baptism, I would have to do so by narrowly selecting those sources that support it, to the exclusion of those that do not. (There are, however, more sources on infant baptism.) Even in regards to the New Testament one has to build an argument from silence due to the fact that there is no direct reference to infant baptism (of course covenant theology is not to be taken exception to). The same is true when looking at the sources of the early church. However, there is one difference; infant baptism is explicitly mentioned. There is no argument from silence in this regard. But the arguments that are made in the affirmative as well as in the negative have to be based on choice as to who was right and who was wrong. There is really no way of knowing.
Furthermore, we cannot construct an argument grounded in a genetic fallacy (i.e. we cannot say that because the early church baptized infants it must be right. This is tantamount to saying that because a previous generation believed the world was flat it must be flat, or that because baptism was believed to be regenerative it should be so believed now). Thus, in this respect, this paper is probably more informative as opposed to argumentative for one position or another, namely, as concerning infant baptism.

General Definitions
Baptism in water is not a Christian rite alone. Many different sects practiced it in the times of Jesus, and by the Jews when receiving proselytes (Hamman107). Baptism is considered to be that act, ceremony, or ritual which initiates one into the Christian church. The word baptism itself is a transliteration of one (or both) of two Greek nouns that are from the same verb stem. One means the action of immersing or dipping. The other is the result of that action. These words are esoterically related to Jewish/Christian use. The pagan Greek world had words that were related and denoted “to sink” or “to drown,” but these words were not used in reference to Jewish or Christian Baptism, whether it was the practice of ritual cleansing found in Judaism or cleansing proselytes (Brauer 82). Baptism regards the cleansing from sin. Some took baptism to be symbolic to having been raised to new life in Christ while others believed that baptism had actual regenerative power.[2]
I. Baptism Traditions
There were two classifications of people in relation to baptism in the early church, those preparing for baptism and the already baptized. Those that were preparing for baptism were called the catechumens. These two groups were separated from one another. The catechumen had to go through a waiting procedure while they prepared for baptism. This process could take as long as two to three years. There was also another separation of a kind in that there was both a private and public part to baptism. The deacons and deaconesses prepared the men and women for that part that was private due to the fact that it was done in the nude. The Eucharist was also private, allowing only the baptized to participate in it.
During the first two centuries of the church, it seems as though adult baptism was normative (but apparently not exclusively). The evidence for or against infant baptism in the apostolic and post apostolic eras is both indirect and ambiguous. There was, however, a conflict that arose during the latter part of the 2nd century related to infant baptism (see Tertullian). By the middle of the 3rd century infant baptism had become common practice (Cyprian) though not universally observed (Gregory of Nazianzus) (Brauer 83). The theological significance behind adult baptism would be an antecedent profession of faith. In regards to infant baptism such a profession of faith is obviously excluded. In the place of a profession of faith, emphasis was placed on what was done to and for the one being baptized (Brauer 83,84).
There are four main initiatory traditions. First, in East Syria there was the sequence of a messianic anointing with olive oil; water-bath; then the Eucharist. As a latter addition, there was a second anointing with chrism. This was added between the water-bath and the Eucharist.[3] Secondly, the more Hellenistic churches of West Syria had a water-bath; anointing with chrism; and the Eucharist.[4] Thirdly, there is a hybrid of East and west Syrian modes where there was a renouncing of Satan and acceptance of Christ that preceded the messianic anointing; water-bath; anointing with chrism; then the Eucharist.[5] The fourth tradition is characterized by, an exorcistic anointing; water-bath; anointing with chrism; presentation of the newly baptized to the assembled faithful[6] including laying on of hands, prayer for the grace of the Spirit, and a second anointing with chrism; then the Eucharist.[7] (Kavanagh 299). The east is marked by an emphasis on baptism as an incorporation into the divine Logos, while the west stressed forgiveness of sin and redemption from the devil (Brauer 83).
There was much diversity in the details of ceremonies that accompanied baptism in the early church before the end of the fourth century. For adults some of what was involved included fasting and prayer before the rite. A vigil was held the preceding night followed by a renunciation of the devil at dawn. The body was anointed against the devil. There was the actual immersion and baptismal confession recital. They were clothed in white. Hands were laid on them. There was a signing of the cross in chrism oil; an acceptance by the bishop for the community; first participation in the Eucharist; and a partaking of milk and honey. For infants, there was an emphasis on exorcism, which replaced the confession of sin. (Brauer 83).

Hippolytus on Baptism
Hippolytus was a second/third century (198-236 A.D.) western Greek writing church (Rome) theologian. He mentions having heard discourses by Irenaeus and Eusebius, the early church historian, referred to him as a bishop and contemporary of Origin. It is believed that he died a martyr in the mines of Sardinia during the time of Apollonius a Roman senator (Schaff vol. 2, 758-9). In Hippolytus’ Apostolic Traditions, he gives us a glimpse into the early church’s administration of baptism.
The process begins with the catechumen (applicant for baptism). Catechumens spend three years as hearers of the word. The process could take less time depending on the character of the catechumen. After this time of instruction, the catechumens pray by themselves apart from the other believers. The women had to stand by themselves in a separate part of the church during this time. When the catechumens finish their prayers, they are not allowed to give a kiss of peace because their kiss is not yet pure. This is reserved for the already baptized and even then this salutation was between men and men, women and women. After the time of prayer, the instructor that trained the catechumens would lay his hands on them, pray and dismiss them (Hippolytus 43).
Hippolytus goes on to give us insight into the “baptism in blood.”[8] In explaining what a catechumen should do in the case of being arrested for his faith Hippolytus says, “If a catechumen should be arrested for the name of the Lord, let him not hesitate about bearing his testimony; for if it should happen that they treat him shamefully and kill him, he will be justified, for he has been baptized in his own blood” (Hippolytus 44).
The ones that are set apart and chosen for baptism are the ones who’s lives have been examined and met certain standards. Their lives have been examined to see whether or not they have lived soberly, honored the widows, visited the sick, and have been active in well doing. These are set apart from the other catechumens and hands are laid on them daily in exorcism. When the day of their baptism draws near the bishop himself exorcises them so he can be personally sure that they are pure. If any are found not to be good and pure, they are put aside as not having heard the word in faith, “for it is never possible for the alien to be concealed” (Hippolytus 44).
Those set apart for baptism are then required to bathe on Thursday, freeing themselves of any impurities. Women that are menstruating have to be set aside and baptized on another day. On Friday the candidates are to fast. On Saturday, the bishop assembles them and commands them to kneel in prayer. The bishop then lays hands on them and exorcises all the evil spirits to flee and never to return. After doing this he breathes in their faces, seals their foreheads, ears and noses, then raises them up. The candidates then spend all night in vigil as they listen to reading and instruction.
At the crowing of the cock the next morning, prayer is made over the water, and the stage is set so that the stream either flows through the baptismal tank or pours into it from above. If there is a scarcity of water, whatever water that can be found should be used (Hippolytus 44,45).[9]
They are then to remove their clothing for the actual baptism. The little ones are to be baptized first.[10] If they can speak for themselves, they should do so. If not their parents, other relatives are to speak for them. The men are baptized next. The women are baptized last having let their hair loose and put aside any gold or silver ornaments that they may have been wearing (Hippolytus 45).
At the set hour of baptism, the bishop gives thanks over the oil and places it in a vessel, (the anointing is preformed by a presbyter). This is called the oil of thanksgiving. Other oil is then taken and exorcised. This oil is called the oil of exorcism. Two deacons then stand at the side of the presbyter. The deacon with the oil of exorcism stands to the presbyter’s left and the deacon with the oil of thanksgiving stands on his right. Then the presbyter takes hold of those that are to be baptized and commands him to renounce Satan. He is to say these words: “I renounce thee, Satan, and all thy servants and all thy works” (Hippolytus 45).
After this is done, the presbyter anoints him with the oil of exorcism saying, “Let all spirits depart from thee” (Hippolytus 46). Having done this, he is given over to the presbyter who baptizes. The presbyter, candidate, and a deacon all go down into the water.

Then, after these things, let him give him over to the presbyter who baptizes, and let the candidates stand in the water, naked, a deacon going with them likewise. And when he who is being baptized goes down into the water, he who baptizes him, putting his hand on him, shall say thus: Dost thou believe in God, the Father Almighty? And he who is being baptized shall say: I believe (Hippolytus 46).

There are three final phases left in the formula of the baptismal ceremony.

Then holding his hand placed on his head, he shall baptize him once. And then he shall say: Dost thou believe in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was born of the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and was dead and buried, and rose again the third day, alive from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sat at the right hand of the Father, and will come to judge the quick and the dead? And when he says: I believe, he is baptized again. And again he shall say: Dost thou believe in the Holy Ghost, and the holy church, and the resurrection of the flesh? He who is being baptized shall say accordingly: I believe, and so he is baptized a third time. And afterward, when he has come up out of the water, he is anointed by the presbyter with the oil of thanksgiving, the presbyter saying: I anoint thee with the holy oil in the name of Jesus Christ. And so each one, after drying himself, is immediately clothed, and then is brought into the church (Hippolytus 46,47).[11]

Having done this there was then a confirmation and commission to service which included another anointing, and signing on the forehead. At this point, the baptized are allowed to join in prayer with the faithful (previously they were not allowed to do this or give the kiss of peace), and give the kiss of peace (Hippolytus 47,48). The Eucharist followed all this.

The Didache on Baptism
The Didache (also called “The Doctrine/Teaching of the Twelve Apostles”) is an early church document of church practices that gives some insight into how baptisms were performed in the church. The Didache says,

As for baptism, baptize this way. …baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, in running water. If you do not have running water, however, baptize in another kind of water; if you cannot do so in cold water, then do so in warm water. But if you have neither, pour water on the head thrice in the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Before the baptism, let the person baptizing and the person being baptized—and others who are able—fast; tell the one being baptized to fast one or two days before. …Let no one eat or drink of your thanksgiving [meal; i.e., the eucharistic meal] save those who have been baptized in the name of the Lord, since the Lord has said, ‘Do not give to dogs what is holy’ (Didache 9,10).

Like Hippolytus, the Didache is concerned with how the water is to be used, but making an exception (to what was apparently immersion) in the case that there was a lack of water. In such an instance water could be poured on the head of the baptized. We also see that the Didache required fasting, and the Eucharist was not to be partaken of apart from having been baptized.

II. Infant Baptism versus Believers Baptism
Hippolytus and the Didache are only two examples of the mode of baptism in the early church. As mentioned above, there are variations as to the details of how baptism was administered. The debates that surround the mode or method of baptism are somewhat minimal in contrast to the intensity of the debate on the issue of the recipients of baptism, i.e. adult versus infant baptism. Not only was there disagreement on this in the early church, but also this is one of the most enduring and hotly debated topics in the church today.
This part of the baptism debate is different from the current debate among Protestants that primarily agree that there is no regenerative presence in baptism. Today some Protestants argue that we should not baptize infants because of the need for regeneration and after such regeneration has taken place, baptism is then administered as a sign of the new birth. Others argue that the sign should be administered to infants in anticipation to a time of future generation, baptism being the sign of the covenant and having taken the place of circumcision.
The believer’s baptism in the early church, however, had plenty to do with regeneration. Baptismal regeneration was popularly taught in the early church, Tertullian being the most popular proponent of it. He discouraged infant baptism believing that one should wait until later in life to receive the cleansing of baptism. Baptismal regeneration is contrary to the scriptures, but one of the problems that the early church faced was that they did not have the completed cannot of the New Testament. Some times only fragments were available. Others did not even have this, but had to depend on memorized portions of scripture. It is no wonder then that there were some unorthodox beliefs in the early church.

Cyprian (ca. 200-258 AD) who is famous for his saying, “there is no salvation outside the church” was an early church theologian and martyr. In The Epistles of Cyprian LVIII, we find that Cyprian argued that an infant could be baptized as soon as it was born, rather than having to wait, as some contended, until the eighth day after birth.

But in respect of the case of the infants, which you say ought not to be baptized within the second or third day after their birth, and that the law of ancient circumcision should be regarded, so that you think that one who is just born should not be baptized and sanctified within the eighth day, we all thought very differently in our council. For in this course which you thought was to be taken, no one agreed; but we all rather judge that the mercy and grace of God is not to be refused to any one born of man. For as the Lord says in His Gospel, ‘the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them, ‘ as far as we can, we must strive that, if possible, no soul be lost….But again, if even to the greatest sinners, and to those who had sinned much against God, when they subsequently believed , remission of sins is granted—and nobody is hindered from baptism and from grace—how much rather ought we to shrink from hindering an infant, who, being lately born, has not sinned, except in that, being born after the flesh according to Adam (Cyprian in Roberts vol. V 353,354).

It is clear that infant baptism was very much a part of the early church. There was some disagreement as relates to this though. This disagreement starts with Tertullian and expands into the area of those that did not baptize infants. Cyprian was not as concerned about the ultimate effects that baptism would have on the infant as his teacher Tertullian was.

Tertullian (ca. 160-230 AD) the greatest early church theologian (called the master theologian by Cyprian), and is known for his saying, “What has the academy to do with the Church? What has Christ to do with Plato—Jerusalem with Athens?” believed that, because baptism had regenerative powers, one should wait until the end of one’s life before being baptized. That way one could enter heaven freshly cleansed. This is obviously very risky business! One can see though, why Tertullian would be opposed to infant baptism.
Tertullian has a somewhat different take on infant baptism then does Cyprian. In his work On Baptism XVIII, he argues that the delay of baptism is preferable. Tertullian, however, is not arguing that one should delay to the eighth day as the opponents of Cyprian argued. He argues for something more drastic.

And so, according to the circumstances and disposition, and even age, of each individual, the delay of baptism is preferable; principally, however, in the case of little children. For why is it necessary—if (baptism itself) is not so necessary—that the sponsors likewise should be thrust into danger? Who both themselves, by reason of mortality, may fail to fulfill their promises, and may be disappointed by the development of an evil disposition, in those for whom they stood? The Lord does indeed say, ‘Forbid them not to come unto me.’ Let them ‘come,’ then, while they are growing up; let them ‘come’ while they are learning, while they are learning whither to come; let them become Christians when they have become able to know Christ. Why does the innocent period of life hasten to the ‘remission of sins?’ More caution will be exercised in worldly matters: so that one who is not trusted with earthly substance is trusted with divine! Let them know how to ‘ask’ for salvation, that you may seem (at least) to have given ‘to him that asketh.’…If any understand the weighty import of baptism, they will fear its reception more than its delay… (Tertullian in Roberts vol. 3 678).

There are no documents in the early church that attack infant[12] baptism as false or heretical in anyway. Tertullian is the best source for support that infant baptism should not be administered. His reason for dissention, however, are not as strong as some would like. In a sense he seems to simply express the notion that baptism should be deferred but it would not be completely unlawful to baptize infants.
However, due to the limited information given by Tertullian on this topic, interpreting him may not be so easy. Tertullian does not seem to have a serious problem with infant baptism from one point of view, but one could also infer that infant baptism should be deferred altogether if we take Tertullian to a logical conclusion. Schaff says,

Among the fathers, Tertullian himself not excepted—for he combats only its expediency—there is not a single voice against the lawfulness and the apostolic origin of infant baptism…. But the very manner of Tertullian’s opposition proves as much in favor of infant baptism as against it. He meets it not as an innovation, but as a prevalent custom; and he meets it not with exegetical nor historical arguments, but only with considerations of religious prudence. His opposition to it is founded on his view of the regenerating effect of baptism, and of the impossibility of having mortal sins forgiven in the church after baptism; this ordinance cannot be repeated, and washes out only the guilt contracted before its reception (Schaff 259,261 vol. II).

Deathbed baptisms were popular throughout the early church, which meant that there were a number of people that did not get baptized as infants. There was a significant amount of freedom during the early church in this respect. Schaff points out prominent figures such as Constantine, Gregory of Nazianzum, St. Chrysostom, and St. Augstine (cf. Augustine’s Confessions Bk. I). Constantine sat among the fathers at the Council of Nicaea, giving legal status to its decrees, but put off his baptism to his deathbed. The others had pious mothers but they were not baptized until they were adults (Schaff 258 vol. II).
In conclusion we see that there was disagreement in the early church on the details of the way baptism was administered. We also see that there was disagreement on whether or not infants should be baptized.


Augustine. Confessions. Henry Chadwick, Trans., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Brauer, Jerald C., Ed. “Baptism”. The Westminster Dictionary of Church History. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

Hamman, A. “Baptism”. Encyclopedia of the Early Church. Vol. I. Angelo Di Berardino, Ed., New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Hippolytus. Apostolic Traditions

Jefford, Clayton N., Ed. The Didache in Context: Essays on Its Text, History, and Transmission. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1995.

Kavanagh, Aidan. “Christian Initiation”. The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology. Alan Richardson and John Bowden, Eds. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1983.

Roberts, Alexander and James Donaldson, Eds. Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325, Vol. III, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdsmans Publishing Company, 1973.

---. Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325, Vol. V, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdsmans Publishing Company, 1978.

Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church. Vol. II, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1994.

[1] I do have personal (yet growing) convictions in regard to baptism but they are not relevant here.
[2] I mention a distinction between those that believed baptism to be regenerative and those that did not. The early church for the most part believed in baptismal regeneration. The apostles clearly did not. One would assume that their teaching on this would be transmitted and received to some degree. I do not at this time have sources on this, and so my distinction in this part of the debate may be more related to latter and contemporary times in the Christian church as opposed to the era of the early church. Assumptions are not always good.
[3] The acts of Thomas, Didascalia Apostolorum, and the Armenian Ordo attest to this.
[4] Found in the post-baptismal catecheses of Cyril. Apparently this was a mark of the non-Roman churches of Gaul and Spain as well.
[5] According to Apostolic Constitutions
[6] Here we have an account of a public affirmation of the initiate’s baptism. This was previously private (Richardson 300).
[7] Hippolytus’ Apostolic Tradition
[8] There were two types of baptism in the early church, water baptism and the baptism in blood, reserved only for martyrs.
[9] It is interesting to note that there was the use of some sort of baptismal tank. It is not clear to me what exactly this was and I hate to speculate. It is also interesting to note that baptism was flexible in accordance to the availability of water, cf. also what the Didache has to say in regards to this.
[10] Again it is interesting to not that Hippolytus included the “little ones.” It is not clear whether or not they were infants, but he does mention that some were so young that they could not speak for themselves.
[11] In this paper I have tried to minimize long quotes by paraphrasing, however, I have included some more than usual lengthy quotes in order to bring in a portion of the voice of the primary sources.
[12] I think that it is safe to say that Tertullian includes infants in regards to “little children” given the context of what was happening with Cyprian.