Don’t let nobody take your joy!

The poor grammar is deliberate.  One of the most precious spiritual joys I have–have had–can have–is hearing the announcement extra nos that God reigns and that the finished work of Christ applies pro me, and that nothing can snatch me out of Jesus’s hands. Jesus really did something on the cross.  He really bought me back from the slave pens of Egypt.  He really gave me His Holy Spirit as a down-payment which guarantees future blessings.

That is literally the best pillow someone can have.  People think I have a bulldog mentality on Anchoretic traditions.  It’s not that I can’t change my mind and won’t change the subject.  If my life is any indicator–and please do not do as I did–I can attest to the loss of joy for almost five years.  Here’s how it happened.

I started studying the early church and Trinitarianism around 2007.  Even now it was a rewarding experience.  But some problems came up and I just couldn’t deal with them.  I came across sayings from Cyprian, “Outside the Church There is No Salvation” and numerous ones from Ignatius along the lines of “Stay close to the bishop” and “schismatics forfeit the kingdom of God” (sorry John of San Francisco).  I came to reason:  sh!+, I better make sure I am in the right church, because on these guys’ glosses, even if they don’t draw the inevitable logical conclusion, If I am in the wrong church I am going to roast in hell for all eternity.  I lost sleep for weeks, if not months, at a time.

SIDEBAR:  My focus of salvation at this point was more on “which organization am I in so that I can be saved” rather than the finished work of Jesus Christ.  Of course, God did not leave me without witnesses.  Ironically, it was N.T. Wright’s work on the Gospels that made me realize that even if Orthodoxy is true, N.T. Wright’s exegesis is just better.

And it does no good to say, “Oh, even though those saints said that, we don’t mean that.  Who knows who is going to be in heaven and hell?”  Well, the problem is that those statements by those men have to mean something and if you say no one can know, then Cyprian’s and Ignatius’s statements are simply pointless and devoid of all meaning.  If that’s the case, please stop quoting them since on your gloss they don’t mean anything.  I am not in his organization; therefore, I cannot be saved.  Being damned is the contrary of being saved. Q.E.D.

I’m skipping a lot of material, but one of the men that helped me get this straight is Michael Horton.   I didn’t want to read him earlier because as theonomists, we were taught to hate Horton because of his (admittedly) schizophrenic social ethics.  This was a shame, since Horton was one of the few Reformed writers who could actually mount a response to Anchoretism.    His response was in the way of ontology.   I’ve summarized these elsewhere.   It is simply unanswerable.

Concurrent with Horton’s project was Bruce McCormack’s lectures on Christology.  I would link to them but in a moment of failure of nerve, the Henry Center took them down.    Besides showing some fatal tensions in Cyril’s project, if McCormack’s reading is correct and the post-Damascene tradition relies on substance metaphysics, then the believer is fully warranted in rejecting that tradition.  Further, if that infallible tradition is indeed shown to be quite fallible, then they aren’t an infallible tradition after all.

But here are some thoughts on the Ignatian claim:

  1. Granted that Ignatius makes much of Christ at times, but to the extent that claims of “staying close to the bishop for salvation” take prominence, to that extent Christ has been eclipsed.
  2. Admitting that Ignatius was close to the apostle John, how are we epistemically warranted to project Ignatius’s vision onto the whole of the Roman Empire?
  3. Most basic of all questions, “Who died and made him king?”  Why should we privilege his statements more than any others?

This next line is more subjective, but here goes.  Why would God mislead Martyn Lloyd-Jones?   The better model is that God simply wanted to shed his love abroad in MLJ’s heart.  (I realize my example is quite problematic for Reformed Cessationists!)

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7 comments on “Don’t let nobody take your joy!

  1. Andrew Buckingham says:

    Good post, thanks for sharing about yourself here, Jacob.

    Peace to you and yours.

  2. Eric Castleman says:

    I think I have read this post like a million times already on here. Anyways, I wonder how you get from God’s finished work for his elect, to you being one of those elect. Honestly, how can you have such joy when you can’t even determine if you are not a wolf in sheeps clothing. In fact, i think this is the same problem with sola scriptura, in that, you just determine for yourself depending on your own personal experience.

    As to your second issue, which seems to want to say that Orthodoxy is a cut and dry in or out sort of deal in regards to salvation outside of the church: I think it is strange, or maybe you have yet to really become familiar with Michael Horton’s thinking, but he teaches that there is only one true church, and that is the church that identifies with the 3 forms of unity – in fact, I was raised in one of the churches affiliated with his papal type position at Westminster, and he would even every ince in awhile grace us with his presence, as would Godfrey. My father was an elder in that church for many years, and here is the funny thing – this very issue you are bringing up is exactly why my father left. He refused to believe that the only true church were the reformed Calvinist churches that fell inline with what Horton said. At that time, I was not on my Dad’s side, and I stuck with Horton and the pastors educated under him. So what you are saying is a gross misunderstanding, or just plain ignorance in your part.

    Finally, one of the hardest things for me to get over when I moved towards Orthodoxy is their view of other Christians, seeing as that I came from the position above, into a position that teaches that the atonement was universal, since God took on a human nature, and not individual (person), yet salvation is personal. So, with this gloss I must confess that God loves the Calvinist just as much as any Orthodox christian, which Calvinism denies, claiming that God hates anyone outside of his elect, meaning, that a church that isn’t a true church results in God not loving them, which is false. Salvation, if you ever understood the energies of God, is definitely possible outside of the visible church, and that isn’t just a teaching that some cling to, but every Orthodox Christian holds to.

    These posts aren’t very good, and that isn’t an attack in your intellegence, because i actually think you are very intellegent, however, it is starting to become obvious that you are either A) writings these posts to convince someone else that you reject Orthodoxy, or B) Realizing that odd arguments are the only options available. For instance, your post on Nominalism and Creation…now i know you know that Nominalism isn’t that. If it was, then sacredotelism would be nominalism as well, since something is being said and it then becomes a reality, however, Nominalism is God defining something differently and it becomes a reality for God, not the nature of the thing…we would simply be defined differently..te nature of the thing wouldn’t change. Creation coming from God saying something doesn’t entail Nominalism….but you know that…so…why write it?

    It just seems like a hoax

    • Olaf's Axe says:

      Was there an actual question you wanted me to answer? I am not asking and dealing with the same questions as Vanilla Reformed are, so there remains possible a chance for a good discussion.

      This is one of the reasons nobody really wants to discuss things with Perry Robinson: there is the temptation just to post 3,000+ word comments.

    • Olaf's Axe says:

      Nevertheless, I’ll try to answer your comments. If there is an aspect of it I do not address, it’s because the blogging medium really isn’t the best mode.

      *** I wonder how you get from God’s finished work for his elect, to you being one of those elect. Honestly, how can you have such joy when you can’t even determine if you are not a wolf in sheeps clothing.***

      1) I am using election in the Barthian sense.
      2) The apostles Paul and John didn’t seem to see that as a problem.

      ***become familiar with Michael Horton’s thinking, but he teaches that there is only one true church, and that is the church that identifies with the 3 forms of unity***

      That’s wonderful for him. I was referring to his scholarship and whether the conclusions follow from his premises. I don’t really care how chaotic and silly the URC can be at times.

      ***Finally, one of the hardest things for me to get over when I moved towards Orthodoxy is their view of other Christians, seeing as that I came from the position above, into a position that teaches that the atonement was universal, since God took on a human nature, and not individual (person), yet salvation is personal.***

      And I’ve demonstrated before on this site that Maximus’s anthropology falls apart.

      ***So, with this gloss I must confess that God loves the Calvinist just as much as any Orthodox christian, which Calvinism denies, claiming that God hates anyone outside of his elect, meaning, that a church that isn’t a true church results in God not loving them, which is false. ***

      But on your gloss I’m outside the church (otherwise Cyprian’s statement is utterly meaningless). If I can be “saved” outside the church, then that kind of renders the church superfluous on anyone’s gloss (which is the very point the Branch Theorists at Orthodox Bridge were afraid to own up to).

      *** if you ever understood the energies of God***

      I’ve already demonstrated why the energies distinction is simply logical and theological incoherence.

      • Eric Castleman says:

        Is there anyone in reality that agrees with you on any of this? You seem to have a theological fruit cake on your hands, which has parts of this one man’s ideas put together with another. I don’t know what church you attend, but I did live in Louisiana over the course of 2 years, and not one reformed church fell in line with anything Horton would see as a true church. I am just trying to point out the absurdity of pushing such notions as anxiety to feeling as though you were not going to be saved unless you were in the true church. Horton would probably not consider you in a true church. Just saying.

        P.s I lived in Alexandria, Monroe and Shreveport, and each church I visited I had to email to my pastors and each one I was told wasn’t legitimate. So as nice as Horton’s words might be, he doesn’t think they are for you. ////my point being, is that I don’t think you are in the superior position of joy in regards to certainty and the true church claims.

  3. Eric Castleman says:

    Also, can you flesh out how you determine that you are in fact elect vs one who is deceived?

    • Olaf's Axe says:

      I’ll flesh out the election one in due time. To answer your first question, I suppose there are people who agree with me. I just assume they do. I don’t go around hoping people are different. My views aren’t all that different from the Standards. I approach Scripture differently (though I think I end in the same spot) and I would perhaps ask some more pointed questions on election, but at least I affirm the actuality of God in that. So yes, there are people who agree with me.

      I think a lot of anchorites tried to pin me as Drake Shelton’s clone. I really do like Drake, but our theology really isn’t similar.

      As regarding Horton, I don’t care if he kicks puppies. I am evaluating him on whether his propositions are true or false. I read Hegel for fun, but that doesn’t mean I have to line up with everyhthing Hegel says.

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