Archive for November, 2015

Casting of Lots in Trivial Matters Such As Games- A Third Commandment Issue

November 27, 2015

Casting of Lots in Trivial Matters Such As Games- A Third Commandment Issue

 

Westminster Larger Catechism states,

“Q113: What are the sins forbidden in the third commandment?

A113: The sins forbidden in the third commandment are… by blasphemy, perjury; all sinful cursings, oaths, vows, and lots; violating of our oaths and vows, if lawful; and fulfilling them, if of things unlawful; …”

“When is the use of the lot sinful? “The Lot is a mutual agreement to determine an uncertain event, no other way determinable, by an appeal to the providence of God, on casting or throwing something” (Buck’s Theological Dictionary). The use of the lot is sinful (a) when it is used for a trivial matter; (b) when used for a matter which could and should be determined in some other way; (c) when used in a light or flippant spirit, without reverence and faith in God.” Vos’s Commentary on the Westminster Larger Catechism

Again, Westminster Larger Catechism states,

“Q142: What are the sins forbidden in the eighth commandment?

A142: The sins forbidden in the eighth commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required …as likewise idleness, prodigality, wasteful gaming; and all other ways whereby we do unduly prejudice our own outward estate, and defrauding ourselves of the due use and comfort of that estate which God hath given us.”

“What is “wasteful gaming” and why is it wrong? By “wasteful gaming” the catechism denotes all forms of gambling, which are inherently sinful because they involve an attempt to gain wealth without rendering an equivalent value in return. If the gambler wins, he is a thief; if he loses, he is a waster of his Lord’s property. The fact that gambling is involves an implied agreement to transfer money or property one way or the other as determined by the “chance” fall of dice, etc., does not make it legitimate. A contract to do something sinful is itself sinful. Gambling includes “slot machines,” raffles, “punch boards,” betting, lotteries, games of chance played for money or prizes, various forms of “pools,” etc. All of these are essentially immoral, and Christian people should leave them all strictly alone. Gambling is not only a sinful vice, but a fever which grows on a person until he cannot let it alone. The only safe and right course is to have nothing whatever to do with gambling in any form. Of course churches and civil organizations that sponsor any kind of gambling scheme are beneath contempt.” Vos’s Commentary on the Westminster Larger Catechism

Increase Mather wrote,

“AS for Games of Hazard and Chance, such as Dicing and Cards, and sundry Games at Tables, there are great Divines (as anon we shall shew) who judge them to be in their own nature Unlawful. Others suppose that if the Rules which should be remembered in all Recreations, respecting the Time, and Measure, and Manner, and the End of them, were duly observed, they might without Sin be used. Two things we may assert. 1. That it is best and safest, wholly to abstain from the Games mentioned. 2. That as they are commonly practised, there is much Sin and Provocation to God in them. Both these I shall endeavour to clear. My first Assertion is, That it is best and safest to decline all such Games; and that for these Reasons:

1. There is real weight in that Argument, commonly made use of by Divines, from the Lottery which is in the impleaded Games, to prove that they are Breaches of the Third Commandment, and so in themselves Unlawful. It is granted, that there is Art and Skill mixed in some of these Games; Nevertheless, there is a Lottery in them. Now a Lot is a serious thing not to be trifled with; the Scripture saith not only (as some would have it) of Extraordinary Lots, but of a Lot in general, that the whole Disposing (or Judgment) thereof is of the Lord, Prov. 16:33. So that when the Lot is cast, God sits in Judgment. The Lot (as Mr. Cartwright [In locum] speaks) is as God’s Deputy, who is Judge of the World, and unto whose Providence appeal is made to decide the Question. Mr. Perkins (who was a man of a very clear and accurate Judgment) well observes [Cases of Consciences. p. 163.] that in the use of a Lot there are four things, “The first is a Casual Act done by man, as the casting of the Die. The second is the applying of this Act to the Determination of some particular Controversy, the ending whereof maintains Peace, Order, &c. The third is Confession, that God is a Sovereign Judge to end and determine things which can no other way be determined. The fourth is Supplication, that God would by the Disposition of the Lot order the Event. Now from these Considerations, Grave and Great Divines have esteemed all Lusory Lots to be Unlawful. We may not either by Words or Actions invocate the Name, and make Appeals to the Providences of God on every trifling occasion. As an Oath or Prayer, so a Lot is prophaned, when not solemnly used. A worthy Person [Mr. Morton against the Gaming humour, p. 14.] speaks well to this purpose, when he saith, What an Abomination would it be to any Christian to see a Pulpit, a Communion-Table, a Font exposed on a Stage, or the Gestures of Worship aped by Players? And it is not much better, when men play with Appeals to God, or make themselves sport with Lotteries. Whereas some have affirmed a Lot fittest for trivial matters, their Assertion is very unsound. We do not find in the Scripture, that ever a Lot was made use of, except in matters of great weight, either in themselves, or in respect of their Consequences; sometimes when the matter has not been great in it self, yet to prevent endless Contentions and Controversies, a Lot has been used amongst the Lords People of Old, Lev. 27:32. Prov. 18:18. but not in matters of Disport. The very Gentiles themselves thought there was aTi Theion, something Divine in a Lot, as is manifest from Jonah 1:7. They concluded that some Numen or Deity must needs direct their Chance, which (being ignorant of the True God) they did superstitiously ascribe to Fortune. And do not Gamesters at this day use to say, They’ll try their Fortune: And that they had bad Luck, that Fortune was against them, and the like Paganish Expressions, by which nevertheless they acknowledge a Director of the Chance. This must be either God, which if they confess, the cause is yielded, or a Good Angel by his direction; or an Evil Angel, unto whom they will not own that they make any Appeals, or owe any Subjection. He that makes use of a Lot, wholly commits his Affair to a superior Cause then either Nature or Art, therefore unto God. But this ought not to be done in a Sportful Lusory way.

2. Practices, which eminently Learnedly Divines and Holy Ministers of God, who are most likely to know the Truth, have looked upon as Sinful, it is best and safest to abstain from them. But this is true of the Games in question. I know that Popish Casuists (who in matters of Morality, as well as in matters of Faith, are many times corrupt) do justify the impleaded Games as Lawful. So Tolet, A Lapide, Delrio, and others. Yet Papists will not allow of such Games in Ecclesiastical Persons. One of them [Ignatius Lopez.] maintains it to be a Mortal Sin for a Clergy-man to play at Cards and Dice. Several Councils have made it a Crime worthy of Excommunication, for a Clergy-men either to Practise or to be present at such Games. Not only the Canonical, but the Civil Law of Old has stigmatized them. Amongst the Ancients they are reproved with great severity, particularly by [Lib. 3. Cap. 11.] Clemens Alexandrinus, [Homil.6. in Mat.] Chrysostom, [Epist. de Aleatoribus.] Cyprian, [De Tobia. p. 590.] Ambrose, [Epist. 119.] Austin. As for our great Reformers, they have generally condemned such Games. as in themselves unlawful. So Martyr, Gaulter, Rivet, Tassin, and Danaeus, who has written a Learned Discourse on this Subject. The Dutch and French Ministers of the Reformation, do generally disapprove of these Games; and so do our English Divines: In special Mr. Cartwright, Mr. Perkins, Dr. Ames, Mr. Fenner, Mr. Easty, Mr. Dod. Yea, and two Bishops also have testified against them, viz.Bishop Babington, and Bishop Downham. As for Dr. Hammond, who was a man very corrupt in many of his Notions, and in some points of Doctrine, which are of great concernment; I do not judge his pleading for the lawfulness of such Recreations worthy the taking notice of; nor can I call to mind more then two Protestants of Note, who have published any thing considerable in defence of these Games. [In casibus lib. 4. c. 4. Casu 10.] Balduinus (aLutheran Casuist) excuseth them. Also, our Learned Gataker has taken more pains to prove the Indifference of them, then any I have seen. But he writ that Discourse in his younger years; and has been well answered by Mr. Balmford, and Learnedly refuted by Voetius. Yea, and Mr. Gataker himself, after he had said all he could say, wisheth [Gataker of Lots, p. 267.] that men would in Godly Discretion abandon such Games, because they are so much abused, and many are unsatisfied in the lawfulness of them.

3. It is best and safest to abstain from all things which are of evil Report. The Apostolical Rule is, Whatsoever things are of Good Report; Practices that will cause a man to have a Good name among sober People, If there be any Virtue, if there be any Praise, think on these things. Phil. 4:8. which sheweth that things infamous or of ill report, should be carefully avoided. But so are the impleaded Games. The Satirist calls the Dice by the name of Alea turpis. And the Orator brands Cataline and Antony with this infamy, that they were men that used to play at Dice. And the generality of good men abstain from them as evil & infamous things. Are not such Games branded as infamous, when in every Indenture for a Prentice, these words are usual, At cards, dice, or any other unlawful and prohibited Games he shall not play.

4. It has been observed by many that there is a secret Curse attending these Games. Hence it is that when persons have once a little used themselves hereunto, they can know no bounds therein. They are so [V. Gage survey of West Indies. p. 282, 283. ed. 3.] bewitched with a Gaming Humor, as that they will lose their Friends, Esteem, Estate and every thing else that’s desirable, rather then play no more at Cards. Infinite Evils and Miseries have sprung up from this bitter Root. So that the Tree has been justly suspected as not Good, upon which such bad Fruit has grown. [Bern] Non facile adducar licitum consentire, quod tot parturit illicita, It is then best and safest not to meddle therewith.

5. These Games are offensive. And that both to Good and Bad, The Scripture saith, Give none offence neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the Church of God. 1 Cor. 10:32. But these impleaded Games give offence to all. Good men are grieved at such Practices as in their Consciences are unlawful. And many Carnal ones are hardened in their Profuseness and Profaneness when they hear of any that seem to be Religious in other things, to do in these matters as they do, though perhaps not altogether in the like Degree.

6. If there were nothing else to be said, but that the lawfulness of such Games is doubtful, that’s enough to make wise men to abstain from them. Suppose it could not be clearly proved that they are absolutely and in their own nature sinful, yet if the matter be any way disputable, tis Best & Safest to keep clear of them. I am sure there is no sin in not playing at Cards and Dice. And then as long as there are other Recreations enough, concerning which there is no Doubt of their Lawfulness; it is best to desist wholly from them that are Doubtful, and make use of others. These things make good what I first proposed. My second assertion, is, That the impleaded Games, as commonly practised, are unquestionably sinful and provoking to God.

1. It is common for such Gamesters to play away their Estates, or to get other men’s Estates in this way, both which are exceeding sinful. When God has possessed a man of an Estate which he has a just Title unto, now for him to make it a Question whether this Estate shall be his or another mans, and then to decide the controversy by the shuffling of Cards or the cast of a Die, is unworthily to abuse the good Providence of God, and so to transgress the third Commandment. This is also to break the 8th Commandment in a very High Degree. To get another mans goods, at an under price is injustice and theft, and clearly against the Rule of Righteousness, how much more to take from another his Money and give him nothing at all in lieu thereof? It is a crying sin! Who can, who dare pray to God to bless his endeavours to get an Estate in this way? Most certainly the Holy God who hates Robbery for Burnt-offering, would not hold the man guiltless that should thus take his name in vain: when as all lawful ways of adding to our Estates may and should be prayed over. That worthy and truly Religious Gentleman Mr. John Bruen (see his life written by Mr. Clark p. 91.) was wont to say, that such Gamesters and Thieves were of the same Corporation, & the more cunning men are in that Art, the more wicked. And a late writer observes that Money gotten by Gaming is like the goods of them that dye of the plague, which commonly bring a Pest with them. He that shall add but a little to his Estate by getting money from another in any such unrighteous way, will perhaps find that little to be like a Moth that shall consume, and bring a secret Blast of God upon all that he enjoys. And He that gets Riches and not by Right (the man that gets a sum of Money by playing at Cards, has gotten Riches and not by Right)He shall leave them in the midst of his Days, and at his end be a Fool. Jer. 17:11. I would seriously advise all such persons, so far as they are capable, to return back their ill gotten goods again, as ever they desire pardoning Mercy at the Hands of God against whom they have grievously sinned. That saying of Austin’s is well known, and generally approved of, Non tollitur peccatum, nisi restituatur ablatum. He that has in a way of unrighteousness taken from another any part of his Estate, has no reason to expect the remission of his sin, until such time as he shall make restitution to the party wronged by him, so far as he is able to do it.

2. A world of precious Time (more precious then all men’s Estates) is commonly spent in these vain and vexatious sports. For a Christian to use Recreations is very Lawful, and in some cases a great Duty, but to waste so much Time in any Recreation, though never so innocent and laudable, as Gamesters usually do at Cards and Dice, and Tables, is hainously sinful. Every mans Eternity in another world, will be according to his improvement of time here. What a sad account will they be able to give to the Son of God at the last Day, who have spent a very great part of that Time wherein they should have been preparing for eternity, in nothing but idleness & plays? What can there be more contrary to that Divine Precept of Redeeming the Time, because the Days are Evil?”

-Increase Mather, A Testimony Against Several Prophane and Superstitious Customs Now Practiced by some in New England, The Evil Whereof is Evinced From the Writings both of Ancient and Modern Divines

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“The powers that be are ordained of God.” The Prime Fallacy of Many Commentaries. James Wilson on Romans 13

November 18, 2015

“The powers that be are ordained of God.” The prime fallacy of many commentaries on this entire passage consists in taking for granted that this phrase—”the powers that be”—means all and any existing governments. This cannot be. The considerations already advanced, in setting aside a similar interpretation of the preceding clause, forbid it. Nor are there wanting others, equally conclusive. Of Israel it is said, referring to the establishment of an independent government by the ten tribes under Jeroboam, “They have set up kings, but not by me; they have made princes, and I knew (approved) it not.” (Hos. 8:4.) And the prophet Daniel, and afterwards the apostle John, expressly and frequently denominate the Roman Empire a “beast.” The former, a “beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it.” (Dan. 7:11.) The latter, a “beast having seven heads and ten horns, and on its horns ten crowns, and on its heads the name of blasphemy,” (Rev. 17:1.) Surely such a description was never given of a government that could lay any solid claim to be “ordained of God;” at least, in any other sense than the pestilence is God’s ordinance, existing in his providence, but to be shunned and banished as soon as possible.

No other meaning can be affixed to the language of the apostle, consistently with due reverence for Him who is the Holy One and the Just, the rightful and beneficent moral Governor. Can it be, for a moment, believed, that God has made man a social being—placed him in society, and thus necessitated, by the very laws of the human constitution, the establishment of civil rule, and that he has, after all, set no bounds to the authority, no hedge about the claims of civil rulers? That, after all, He has left this whole matter to be lawfully managed, not by law, even His law, not by rule, but merely according to human caprice, or, what is far worse, human ambition, self-seeking, pride, and violence? And, then, as the issue of the matter, that in case a government exist, whatever the principles that guide its administration, whether it be just or unjust, God-fearing or infidel, liberal or despotic, it exists, and He acknowledges it as “ordained” by Him, and as entitled to the regard, homage and obedience of its subjects? This cannot be. God is not so indifferent to His own glory, or to the welfare of man, and particularly of the church. He never intended, we may assert, with entire confidence, to sign, if we may so speak, a blank, and then leave man to fill it up according to his pleasure. Every attribute of God forbids this. Paul teaches no such doctrine.

Does the Spirit of God here [Romans 13] condemn these efforts of the nations to rid themselves of the yoke of despots? Does this passage rivet the chains of the oppressed? Certainly not. God denounces the oppressor. “Wo to him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness and his chambers by wrong,” (Jer. 22:13.) “Wo unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness, which they have prescribed.” (Is. 10:1.) And, to say nothing of the threatenings—repeated and awful—against the ungodly and oppressing powers, symbolized by the “beast” of Daniel and of the Revelation, we have the striking inquiry of Psalm 94:20: “Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth iniquity by a law?”

It is evident that the proper interpretation of this passage depends upon the meaning of the phrase, “ordinance of God.” What then is its import? Does it mean any and every existing government? Does it mean a Phocas, who “waded to the throne of the Roman Empire through seas of blood?” Does it mean that Joseph of Austria, with his government, is the “ordinance of God” to Hungary? Does it mean the government of the Pope and his cardinals, under which the Papal States groan? In short, is this term applied to any government merely from the fact that it exists? Clearly not; for, then, the powers just mentioned must be also embraced in it—a conclusion equally repulsive to the Christian and to the friend of human liberty. And, besides, if this be its meaning, the very worst government has the very same right to demand an unresisting subjection, as the very best, for both alike exist—exist in the same overruling and all-controlling providence; and both would be armed with the same high sanction: to “resist” either, would be to make the same assault upon the “ordinance of God!”

….

It is evident that the apostle enjoins subjection only to such governments as answer the ends of the institution of magistracy. Great injustice is done to this passage by regarding it in any other way than as a whole. Separate the first and second verses from the context, and they seem to inculcate a blind and complete submission to any authority that may happen to exist. Study the entire passage, and we learn just the contrary.

….

It is confidently asserted that the Roman Christians must have understood the Apostle as referring to the Roman government—enjoining subjection to it. This is, perhaps, the prime objection, after all, to the views we have presented of the scope and bearing of this passage, and deserves a tolerably minute examination. And, (1.) The description here given of the magistrate does not correspond to that of the reigning Emperor of Rome, nor to the character of his administration. Nor are any so ignorant as to be without some knowledge of the character of doings of Nero Caesar—that he was a human monster; a bloody persecutor; a tyrant so remorseless that even pagan Rome ultimately dethroned and put him to death. How could it be said by Paul, speaking of such a man, “That he was a terror, not to good works, but to the evil?”—”a minister of God to thee for good?” We again quote Hoadly: “If any should say that he speaks particularly of the Roman Emperor who, at this time, was a very bad man, I answer, if he were such a magistrate as did set himself to destroy the happiness of the people under him, and to act contrary to the end of his office, it is impossible that Paul should mean him particularly in this place. For the higher powers, v. 1, are the same with the rules, v. 3, and whomsoever Paul intended, he declares to be, not a terror to good works, but to the evil. So that if the Roman Emperor were a terror to good works, and not to the evil, either Paul was grossly mistaken in his opinion of him, or he could not be particularly meant here. If Paul intended to press obedience to him, particularly, he manifestly doth it upon the supposition, that he was not a terror to good works, but to evil. And if this supposition be destroyed, the reasoning built upon it must fall, and all the obligation to subjection that is deduced from it.”

— Covenanter James Mcleod Wilson, On Romans 13, 1853

“There is no power but of God.” This Much Abused Verse. William Roberts on Romans 13

November 18, 2015

“”I beheld a fourth beast dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly.” The aspect of this beast is dreadful, astounding the spectator, and its rage was terrible, affrighting the object of its wrath, and so huge its strength that the power of the mightiest was but feebleness in its horrible grasp.

“And it had great iron teeth;” its means of destruction are beyond, in strength, and adaptedness, all the powers that have preceded it, and no wonder that it “devoured, and break in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it.” “It far exceeded,” says Dr. Scott, “in power, fierceness and destructive rage, all that had gone before it, as well as in the extent, and long duration of its dominion. And no animal could be found so terrible and ferocious as to lend it a suitable name. This was doubtless an emblem of the Roman state, the invincible fortitude, hardness and force of which, perhaps, were never equaled. By wars and conquests the Romans bore down all opposition, and rendered almost every kingdom or state in the known world into some kind or degree of dependence; drew all the spoil and wealth of many conquered nations to enrich their great capitol, and tyrannized over all that did not quietly yield obedience to their authority.”

Certainly, this monstrous beast is not the symbol of civil rule, as it is the ordinance of heaven, but a terrific contrast as a horrid despotism, to the benign kingdom which the God of heaven sets up. The ordinance of God has not great iron teeth, to devour and break in pieces; nor huge iron feet, to bruise and crush and stamp into the dust the feeble and the helpless.

These kingdoms have been resisted, and this, too, with the Divine approbation. Founded in conquest and in blood, the nobly pious, and enlightened patriots, have from the earliest ages, resisted their oppressive enactments, and that, too, at the hazard of their lives, and all that was dear to them on earth.

The history of Christianity for the first three centuries, is a history of resistance to the despotic decrees of Imperial Rome. A noble cloud of witnesses starts up before my vision, when I turn to the contemplation for a moment of the same despotic power, in its divided administration. In this form of the Roman Empire, “power,” it is said [Rev. 13:7], was “given it to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.” And in the last period of its rule, in reference to the noble resistance of the witnesses, it is written [Rev. 11:7], “When they shall have finished, (be finishing) their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit, shall make war against them, and shall overcome them and kill them.” These passages prove that resistance is made to this beastly power of diabolical origin during the continuance of its misrule, and that this resistance is made with Divine approbation. The witnesses who are employed in it are claimed by God, as his witnesses. “I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophecy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sakcloth.” [Rev. 11:3].

Thus God has not left himself without witnesses against the despotism of the nations, and on behalf of the civil rights of mankind. In every age there have been noble spirits raised up, in his providence, to resist the arm of despotism, stretched forth to crush the poor and the needy.“

“There is no power but of God.” The just import of this much abused passage, is, there is no legitimate authority that has not the Godhead for its fountain. Civil government is the ordinance of God, and the Deity himself alone is the Supreme source of civil power. Other alleged powers may exist, having the Devil as their author; but these are all immoral despotic powers, such as have been described—fierce beasts of prey—‘the Kingdoms of this world.’ There is, however, no lawful power that has not its fountain and its law in the will of the Supreme Lawgiver, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. When I use the term will, in this connection, I do not embrace what God has permitted to exist in his providence, but intend the pure rule of right and wrong inscribed on the heart of upright man, or rewritten in the volume of inspiration. God is the head of all that is properly authority, and the recognition of this truth is the first element in the kingdom which he sets up.”

Covenanter William L. Roberts, The Higher Law, 1851

Liberty of Conscience in Civil Matters by William Roberts

November 18, 2015

“The kingdom which the God of heaven sets up, protects the rights of conscience. In reference to civil matters, the grand principle in relation to liberty of conscience, is this: That no human constitution or law that is not founded in the Divine law, of which we have treated above, is obligatory upon the conscience of men. “Be ye not the servants of men.”

God is the Lord of the conscience. It is absolutely free from the dominion of man, but subject to the authority and law of God. …

We must obey God; is the first rule of action. A loose view is entertained by a vast majority of men. That conscience only is the rule of action. Hence the common expression, “The dictates of conscience.” Conscience, however, is not a dictator, but a subject. The subject of the Supreme Lawgiver, Jehovah. He is its sovereign Lord, and his dictates, it is bound to obey. He who teaches otherwise is the advocate of rebellion, and strengthens the human mind: in its enmity against God, displayed in disobedience to his law. Liberty of conscience is therefore not a licentious liberty. Men have not a right to think, speak and act, as they please. No man, however exalted, has this right. All our rights are derived—they are derived from God. He has given to no man the right of doing what is right in his own eyes. The will of God is the rule of the intelligent creature’s actions. …

The revealed law of the God of heaven binds authoritatively the conscience. It is a first principle of the law, yea, its very essence, that man believe whatever God reveals, and performs whatever he requires. “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to harken than the fat of rams. Teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you.” The dependant relation which man sustains to his Creator, proves that it is his duty to believe whatever God reveals, and perform whatever he enjoins. The holiness and rectitude of the Divine nature secures that nothing shall be revealed and enjoined, but what is right, and the interest of man to believe and obey. “The words of the Lord are pure words, as silver tried in a furnace of earth purified seven times.” Whatever, therefore, the God of heaven has prescribed in his revealed will, as a duty, binds the conscience of the human being upon whom the duty is enjoined. To refuse obedience is direct rebellion. All men, all nations, lie under this obligation. They are to observe all things whatsoever the God of heaven hath commanded them.

No human enactment, by whomsover issued, contrary to the law of the God of heaven, is obligatory upon conscience. We must obey God rather than men. This is a grand point amidst the rights of conscience. The human mind is not bound in chains to any merely human authority. ”

Covenanter William L. Roberts, The Higher Law, 1851

Gospel Liberty, RPW is Freedom from being Forced to Worship God in ways Devised by Human Invention

November 18, 2015

The Regulative Principle of Worship is Gospel Liberty. It is Liberty in that we are not forced to worship God in any way devised by human invention.

It is not enough to that that every single believer whose liberty is thus taken away is free to go and worship somewhere else. Nor does it justify imposing their human ideas of how God is to be worshipped on others. A church ought to order its affairs in general and its worship in particular in such a way that any believer who comes together with it should immediately feel at home and should no more be forced to worship in ways not found in scripture than he should be compelled to hear erroneous or heretical doctrine in the preaching and teaching or fail to receive the basic love and hospitality due a fellow believer.

Whether it deals with Crosses, Man-made Hymns, Choir, Drama, Dance, Musical Instruments, Musical Styles or a million other sorts of man-made and devised forms of worship.

David Lachman on Gospel Liberty in Worship from the book “Worship in the Presence of God”

“While positively, gospel liberty in worship is freedom to worship God as He would be worshipped, negatively it is freedom from being forced to worship God in ways devised by human invention. It takes away our liberty in Christ to be forced to sit and watch while a priest goes through some sort of mumbo jumbo or hocus pocus, with gestures, incense and the like. It equally curtails our liberty to be forced to sit and watch while ‘the fat lady sings’, while doting parents admire (and perhaps applaud) a children’s choir, while a dance troupe performs or while a dramatic production is presented. It does not matter if the performance is well or badly done. It does not matter if the performers are talented or not. It does not even matter if the performers intend in their hearts to honor God. For none of these things is required of us in Scripture, there is no indication God wishes to be worshipped in these ways. And to impose such worship on believers gathered together to worship God is to force on them worship of human invention. Whether or not they recognize that this is being done, the gospel liberty given us in Christ is thereby taken away.

It will not do to say that the individual believer whose liberty is thus taken away is free to leave and worship elsewhere, where there is a more congenial style of worship. This assumes an urban, suburban or large town setting in which there is a church which worships without the offending practice. It does not cover a situation in a rural or small town environment (or a state church in which non-biblical forms of worship are prescribed) in which the abridgement of liberty can not – or at least can not easily—be remedied.

Nor does it justify those who would impose their ideas of how God is to be worshipped on others. A church- any church- ought to order its affairs in general and its worship in particular in such a way that any believer who comes together with it should immediately feel at home and should no more be forced to worship in ways not found in scripture than he should be compelled to hear erroneous or heretical doctrine in the preaching and teaching or fail to receive the basic love and hospitality due a fellow believer. Those who believe themselves free to impose their ideas on other believers are seriously out of accord with New Testament teaching. We are not Lords and Masters in the church of Christ, but are only servants and ambassadors for Him; we have only powers which are ministerial and declarative, not legislative. There is nothing in Scripture which gives us power to innovate in worship; we are as restricted in this as we are in matters of doctrines, and without the authority of Scripture, are no more free to invent ways of worshipping God than we are free to invent teaching about Him.

 

Some have maintained that it is appropriate for different churches to have differing worship styles, often citing cultural differences. In practice this tends to mean catering to a variety of musical tastes (classical, folk, gospel, rock, etc) and often is just various kinds of entertainment, frequently with an emphasis on instrumental accompaniment. Indeed, much of what goes under the guise of worship today is essentially entertainment. The applause which increasingly frequently accompanies the performance of, for example, a musical or dramatic presentation is illustrative of this and those who attempt to excuse it as an expression of appreciation to God are simply deluding themselves, while justifying a practice which is essentially blasphemous, giving as it does honor to man in a service supposedly designed to worship God. Of course there is no indication in the New Testament that God is pleased by such a man-centered, entertainment oriented worship, whatever the musical orientation, there is no indication in Scripture that worship is to vary from church to church or that the aesthetics, musical or cultural taste of believers should have any influence on worship. New Testament worship is spiritual worship and, as such, like the worship of the synagogue, is devoid of signs, symbols, and ceremonies (apart from the two instituted by our Lord, baptism and the Supper); it is a worship in which cultural differences are minimized to the circumstantial and are not allowed to intrude into the substance of worship. Thus it is wrong to expect that we should have dancing in the aisles in one culture and ceremonies and vestments in another. While such externals as dress (as long as it does not signify anything and thus enter into the substance of worship), type of building and seats (if indeed there are seats at all), and time of meeting are circumstantial and vary from place to place and time to time, the substance of worship ought to be such that Christians from any time or placer ought to feel immediately at home- and ought not to find anything which would surprise them. Those who urge the expression of cultural differences generally do so because they also urge the inclusion in worship of practices which God has not commanded and which by their very nature are culture oriented. Gospel liberty in worship is such that cultural barriers are minimized; restricted our worship simply to what God has commanded enables this. Emphasis on different styles and on cultural differences separates Christians, both from each other and from God.

Others have sought to obtain freedom to worship God as they please by saying that only principles are taught in Scripture (e.g. that we are to praise God is clearly taught, but not how we are to praise Him; thus we may do so in prayer, drama, or whatever suits us. We are not confined to song).

But although it is true that praise of God ought to permeate our prayers and preaching, for example, as well as our songs, it cannot legitimately be concluded that the primary form of praise, that of song by the whole church, is not commanded as much as is the principle of praise. It is true that principles are taught, but that this is the case does not mean that forms are not prescribed as well. Saying that it is left to our judgment as mature Christians how we will render praise to God sounds noble, but if it leads to practices that are contrary to God’s revealed will it is nevertheless simple will-worship and rebellion, however artfully disguised by fine-sounding words.

How has the church been led into the non-Scriptural practices so common today? It is probable that the modern failure to consider God’s commands rather than human desires in worship stem largely from nineteenth century Revivalism which, working on semi-Pelagian or Arminian principles, sought to concentrate first the Revival meeting and then worship in general on the sinner and his conversion rather than on God. The results have been a worship oriented to the worshipper rather than the One worshipped. As the potential convert seemed to respond to gospel songs and extended emotional appeals and anxious seats, these were emphasized. Soon they became institutionalized in worship. It was reasoned that people were influenced for good by the use of such means; surely therefore God would be pleased. The progression to the present day, in which worship is largely entertainment, has been gradual, but really is little more than the logical results of such a premise. If it pleases people and attracts them to hear the gospel (often itself adjusted so as not to offend), we assume God will be pleased by it and that we are therefore free so to worship Him.

All this makes it plain that, as the Westminster Confession of Faith puts it in the matter of divorce, “the corruption of man be such as is apt to be study arguments” that will enable him to worship God in a way that please him, without concern as to how God wants to be worshipped. This was true in the case of Cain and is equally true today. In my own experience, there is little as likely to get many, ostensibly spiritually mature, Christian people really angry than to suggest that they ought to consider if what they are doing in worship is really pleasing to God, according to Scripture. If we are genuinely seeking to worship God, if our worship is not to be will-worship, if it is not to be primarily oriented to entertain ourselves, surely we ought to focus on what will please God. For therein lies not only the right and only safe course of actions, but also the only true path of liberty, the freedom given us in the gospel truly to love God and serve Him as He would be served, forever.”

Reformed Precision

November 11, 2015

Precision especially in matters of religion are extremely important. But sadly today we live in a lackadaisical world. A world of lukewarmness if not straight out frigid cold when it comes to matters of religion. We live in an age of Antinomianism (No Lawism) and Neonomianism (New Lawism). And to extreme disappointment we live in an age that consider precisionism in matters of religion to be legalistic (by their false definition) and down right Pharisaical!

Were not the Pharisee the Precisionist of their day? Were they not the right handed ultra conservative? Many believe today that they were. But the answer is no, the Pharisees were the left handed liberals of their day. They made void the laws of God by making God’s law of no affect. They replaced God’s holy law with their own set of moral codes. And they broke God’s law not only the spiritual letter of the law but most times also the literal letter of the law.

Jesus never faulted the Pharisees for being doctrinal purists. He faulted them for being false teachers who abandoned the truth of God’s Word in favor of the erroneous word of man (Matthew 16:11–12; 15:1–9; Mark 7:6–13).

It is the Christians duty to be Precisianist and God expects us to obey His laws. Not for matters of Justification for no man can keep the law of God perfectly but He still expects us to obey His laws as a rule of life.

Trying to be precise about obeying God’s commands is not legalism, it is obedience, holiness, and love for our Saviour.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Jesus called Christians who demanded doctrinal purity “disciples,” not “Pharisees.” “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31–32) In fact, Christians who demand doctrinal purity are really following the example of Jesus and the Apostles (Matthew 7:15; see also Matthew 24:10–11; Mark 9:42; 2 Corinthians 15:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 Timothy 4:16; 6:3–4; Titus 1:7–9; 2:1, 7–8; 1 John 4:1; 2 Peter 3:17).

Christ did condemned the Pharisees for their apostasy. The Pharisees had abandoned the Old Testament faith and therefore they rejected Jesus Himself (Matthew 8:11–12; 21:42–46; 22:41–46; Luke 7:29–30; 13:28–30; John 5:39, 43–47; Acts 4:10–12; Romans 9:1—11:36; 1 Peter 2:7–8). Christ also condemned the Pharisees for softening the demands of the Law. The Pharisees diluted the Law’s requirement of perfect obedience with manageable human rules that they could keep (Matthew 5:17–48). And then finally Christ condemned the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and self-righteousness.

The condemnation of the Pharisees had nothing to do with doctrinal purity but had everything to do with the false hope of human obedience.

The Pharisees taught that salvation was the result of God’s mercy plus man’s obedience.

The Pharisees abandoned God’s Word for the word of man. And in this sense, the Pharisees were really the Liberals of their day.

I get so tired of people calling precisionism and obeying the law (as a rule of life) legalism. THAT IS NOT LEGALISM!!! No one Reformed is saying here that we keep the laws of God for Justification.

The world might define it legalism, the modern evangelical church might define it legalism, but that is NOT how the Reformed Faith defines legalism. The Reformed Faith teaches being Precise and being observant in the minutest detail and circumstance in our worship, our doctrine and our practices. That is how we got the name Puritan and Precisionist.

When someone remarked to Richard Rogers’ (1551-1618) : ‘I like you and your company very well, only you are too precise.’

Rogers famed reply to the scoffer, ‘Oh Sir, I serve a precise God’, which gave the occasion for the puritans to be called ‘precisionists’.

The Great Covenanter Commentator Matthew Poole wrote, “What Galen said of Physics is even truer of religion. There is nothing small and trivial in it.”, he continues elsewhere, “God esteems nothing small in his worship and service, and he expects his will should be observed in the minutest circumstances.”

Nadere Reformatie (Dutch Further or Second Reformation Theologian Gisbertus Voetius wrote,

“The object [of precision] is the practice of piety or obedience according to all the parts, actions, grades and circumstances that God’s word requires. Therefore, the following are to be directed in precision: (1) our thought and faith in all concerns of religion (Lk. 8:18; Phil. 1:9-10); (2) our observance of all things, both natural and legislated, pertaining to the worship of God, adding nothing, taking away nothing, leaving out nothing; (3) observance of all things which are necessary for the practice of love and justice toward our neighbor, and toward ourselves; (4) observance of all things which pertain to our particular vocation; (5) resulting from this, control of thought, word, action, and behavior in this world, in the presence both of those who are within and those who are without [the church] (1 Cor. 10:31-32)…” -Gisbertus Voetius, Selectae Disputationes Theologicae, “Concerning ‘Precision’ in Interpretation of Questions 94, 113, and 115 of the [Heidelberg] Catechism,” in John W. Beardslee, III, ed. and trans., Reformed Dogmatics – Seventeenth-Century Reformed Theology Through the Writings of Wollebius, Voetius, and Turretin, p. 319

English Puritan Richard Alleine wrote,

1. Christians must be Precisians.

2.. Precisians are no fools:, or Christians of an exact, and circumspect life are, whatever the world accounts them, truly wise men. This latter observation it is which I intend to insist upon.

Beloved, I am, entering upon a discourse on a sort of people, of whom we may say, with those Jews,” Concerning this sect, we know that it is every where spoken against; (Acts 28: 22; ) and who, with the Apostle,” are made a spectacle to the world, to angels, and -to men;” (1 Cor. 4: 9; ) concerning whom, heaven and earth are divided, and the world is divided within itself; of whom God says,” the world is not worthy;” of whom the world say, they are not worthy to live; of whom GOD says, they are the “apple of mine eye;” of whom the world say, “they are a sore in our eye;” whom GOD accounts his jewels; whom men account” the filth of the world,” and” the offscouring of all things;” of whom GOD says, they are the “sons of wisdom,” but men say they are fools. And as God and men are thus divided, so are men no less divided among themselves. Some few say concerning these, as they of old concerning CHRIST,” They are good men;”_ others say,” No, but they are deceivers of the people.” A Precisian, with the most, is grown into a proverb of reproach, a mark of infamy. To be a drunkard, a fornicator, a swearer, is no reproach, in comparison of being noted for a Puritan.

Well, but let us inquire a little more narrowly into this sort of people, about whom the world is thus moved, and has been in all ages. In order hereunto, I shall show you,

First, What a Precisian is; and Secondly, prove to you, against all the world, that he is no fool, but a truly wise, yea, the only wise man.

Touching the former, What a Precisian is, a Scripture Precisian, let me first tell you, to prevent mistakes, who he is not.

1. Not a Pharisee, a painted sepulcher, whose religion is a mere show; who has the form of godliness without the power; who is pure in his own eyes, and yet not cleansed from his filthiness; who is exact about the punc*tilios of religion, and hath a great zeal about the lower and more circumstantial matters, and neglects the weightier things of the law. This is not be.

2. Not an Enthusiast, properly so called; (though that be a vizard put upon him by some, as the hides of beasts were put upon the Christians of old; ) not an Enthusiast, I say, whose religion is all fancy, imagination, enthusiasm, the dreams and visions of his own heart. Neither is this he. Christianity is not a castle in the air, but is a building that has foundation. …

By a Precisian, I mean, a sincere, circumspect Christian; one whose care and endeavor it is” to walk uprightly, according to the truth of the Gospel;” who, withdrawing himself from the fellowship, fashions, and lusts of the world, and denying himself the sinful liberties thereof, does exercise himself to keep a good conscience towards GOD and men.” -Richard Alleine, on Eph. 5.15, in Vindiciae Pietatis; or, a Vindication of Godliness, in the Greatest Strictness and Spirituality of it, from the Imputations of Folly and Fancy, together with Several Directions for Attaining and Maintaining of a Godly Life

The Cry of every Believer should be “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.” Psalm 119:97-98

Gospel and Law are not mutually exclusive. We are to obey the command of the scriptures to believe but we are also to love and obey God’s law and meditate upon it night and day. The continuity of scripture must be stressed. To sacrifice Gospel or Law is to sacrifice the whole of Scripture. Antinomianism and Legalism must always be avoided.

And so we have been free from the bondage of sin, so that we can keep the laws of God.

We are told in the Old Testament that the law brought liberty (Psalm 119:45), wisdom (Psalm 119:98), and peace (Psalm 119:165).

To the godly man, God’s law is not a burden but a delight, for “the law of the Lord is perfect” (Psalm 19:7), and we may “behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psalm 119:18). Paul said: “I delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Romans 7:22). The law cannot save, of course, but to the sinner saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ, he can say sincerely: “Thy law is my delight” (Psalm 119:77).

True Christian Liberty is that we have been free from the Bondage of Sin through Regeneration by the Spirit of God So that we can Keep the Laws of God

“The law sends us to the gospel that we may be justified; the gospel sends us to the law again to inquire what is our duty as those who are justified.” -Samuel Bolton

“The Gospel is temporary, but the law is eternal and is restored precisely through the Gospel. Freedom from the law consists, then, not in the fact that the Christian has nothing more to do with the law, but lies in the fact that the law demands nothing more from the Christian as a condition of salvation. The law can no longer judge and condemn him. Instead he delights in the law of God according to the inner man and yearns for it day and night.” Herman Bavink

“When once the fiery law of God Has chas’d me to the gospel road; Then back unto the holy law Most kindly gospel-grace will draw.” – Ralph Erskine (1685 – 1752), Seceder, Associate Presbytery

“These lands pride themselves and glory in their numbers, their navies and armies, but this glory will soon wither before a blast of God’s judgments; this ‘glory shall be made thin’ when many are cut off, and few left; when the slain of the Lord shall be many; and when Christ, with his rod of iron, shall dash these nations into pieces for refusing to submit to the sceptre of his word of grace…and as faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will be the most necessary and reasonable exercise in that day of calamity; so it is the best to prepare for it.” — — Alexander Moncrieff, “Practical Works, Vol. II”, pg. 23

“It is striking how frequently the other nations are called upon in the Psalms to recognize and to honor God, And how complete is the witness of the prophets against the nations surrounding Israel. God does not exempt other nations from the claim of his righteousness; he requires their obedience and hold them responsible for their apostasy and degeneration.” -J.H. Bavinck

“The gospel does not abrogate God’s law, but it makes men love it with all their hearts.” -J. Gresham Machen

“If the law might be disannulled as to new creatures, then why doth the Spirit of God write it with such legible characters in their hearts?…Now that which the Spirit engraves upon the heart, would Christ come to deface and abolish?” -Thomas Manton – Quoted in Kevan, The Grace of Law, 157

“The justice of God is very dreadful in itself, that threatens an eternal curse to every soul that does not obey it in everything. In Deuteronomy 33:2 it is called a “fiery law.” That’s part of God’s law, the fiery law of God. And we know how the law was given, with what dreadfulness, as you may see in Exodus 19. The mountains shook and trembled when the Law of God was given. And God expects that the heart of sinners should tremble when they hear the Law of God at any time.” Jeremiah Burroughs, Gospel Fear, 1643

“So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.” Psalm 119:44-45 Observe how he resolves to keep God’s law, [1.] Continually, without trifling. God must be served in a constant course of obedience every day, and all the day long. [2.] For ever and ever, without backsliding. We must never be weary of well-doing. If we serve him to the end of our time on earth, we shall be serving him in heaven to the endless ages of eternity; so shall we keep his law for ever and ever…. ‘I not only give consent to them as good, but take complacency in them as good for me.’ All that love God love his government and therefore love all his commandments…. He promises himself here in the strength of God’s grace…that he should be free and easy in his duty: ‘I will walk at liberty, freed from that which is evil, not hampered with the fetters of my own corruptions, and free to that which is good, doing it not by constraint, but willingly.’ The service of sin is perfect slavery; the service of God is perfect liberty. Licentiousness is bondage to the greatest of tyrants; conscientiousness is freedom to the meanest of prisoners…” Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible

“Of Admonition, to take heed how we vilifie or contemne this Law of God … What, shall we revile that which is God’s great mercy to a people? Because the Jews and Papists do abuse the Law, and the works of it to justification, shall it not therefore have its proper place and dignity? Take heed therefore of such phrases, An Old-Testament-spirit, and, His Sermon is nothing but an explication of the Law: For it ought much to rejoyce thee, to hear that pure and excellent image of Gods holiness opened. How mayest thou delight to have that purity enjoyned, which will make thee loath thy self, prize Christ and Grace more, and be a quick goad to all holiness? And if you say, Here is nothing of Christ all this while: I answer That is false, as is to be proved, if the Law be not taken very strictly: And besides, the Law and the Gospel are not to be severed, but they mutually put a fresh relish and taste upon each other. And shall no mercy be esteemed, but what is the Gospel? Thou art thankfull for temporall mercies, and yet they are not the Gospel; but this is a spiritual mercy.” -Westminister divine Anthony Burgess, Vindiciae legis

When it comes to being Reformed and what Reformed is and means, means you don’t get to redefine terms and pretend you’re “within the bounds” of what the nomenclature ‘Reformed’ is.

Find it depressing, find it sad then perhaps you might not be Reformed as you think you are.

“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.”

The Tyranny of the Weaker Brother is on full display when you’re being accused of sin for thinking that something is sinful or foolish.

Wisdom is a thing. It’s in the holy Scriptures. There are entire books on the topic.

The impulse to shout “legalist” at anyone who tries to think through wisdom issues (or expresses an opinion on a wisdom issue) is not a godly impulse. It’s not an impulse derived from Scripture.

If God didn’t want us to think through these issues, He would have just spelled everything out in the Scriptures. He didn’t do that!

As Christians we must be extremely careful and be extremely precise when it comes to the Scriptures, the Divines Laws of God and what we think, how we act, how we behave and what we do or do not do. We are called to be Precisionist and if you are Reformed then you should know already that we are called to be Precise in all things that pertains to religion right down to the minutest detail and circumstance.

Christ said, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15) and “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:4).

The Triqueta, Triangles, Trinity Knots, Trinity Shield and the Second Commandment

November 4, 2015

Many times when discussing the Second Commandment the issue comes up regarding crosses, Trinity Triangles even the Triquetra. Are these symbols also forbidden? Previously on my blog I have already covered the issue of crosses but now I want to tackle the issue of the Trinity Triangles!

For my blog article on the Historic Reformed and Patristic View of Images of any person of the Godhead, mental representation of any person of the Godhead, images of mary, images of angels and images of prophets and apostles, see the following,

https://mintdill.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/historic-reformed-and-patristic-understanding-of-images-of-any-person-of-the-godhead-mental-representation-of-any-person-godhead-images-of-mary-images-of-angels-and-images-of-prophets-and-apostles/

For my blog article on Why do Covenanters reject the Representation of the Symbol of the Cross, see the following

https://mintdill.wordpress.com/2015/09/01/why-do-covenanters-reject-the-representation-of-the-symbol-of-the-cross/

Are symbols that represent the Trinity forbidden by the Second Commandment? It’s a symbolic representation, but not an actual representation, so there shouldn’t be a second commandment violation any more than a cross or dove is, right? But oh wait, those too are forbidden. Scratch that!

“All representing of the persons as distinct, as to set out the Father (personally considered) by the image of an old man, as if he were a creature, the Son under the image of a lamb or young man, the Holy Ghost under the image of a dove, all which wrongeth the Godhead exceedingly; and although the Son was and is man, having taken on him that nature, and united it to his Godhead, yet he is not a mere man; therefore that image, which only holdeth forth one nature, and looketh like any man in the world, cannot be the representation of that person which is God and man.” -James Durham, The Law Unsealed

Canon 82 of the Quinisext Council of 692 addressed controversies in this area: prohibition of the representation of Christ as a lamb.

Symbols as much as portended literal representations are all forbidden. It does not matter it is in the form of a diagram or a shape.

The Triquetra, Trinity Knot, Trinity Shield, Trinity Triangle are all violation of the Second Commandment.

The Triqueta, Triangles, Trinity Knots, Trinity Shield and any other way that tries to symbolically represent the Trinity does not represent perfectly the concept of the Trinity. No two dimensional, or three dimensional, image can. Therefore, the prohibition of the 2nd Commandment stands in relation to this image. The Trinity is perfection indeed, and no image stained with sin can depict God in His perfection. And Therefore is a violation of the Second Commandment of God.

John Brown of Haddington, one of the greatest theologians that the Scottish Second Reformation produced and one that all Covenanters should have an wide open ear to, said,

“Q. Is it idolatrous to paint God as light or the Trinity as a triangle, or body with three heads?

A. Yes.” From Questions and Answers on the Shorter Catechism by John Brown of Haddington

Some have actually gone as far as to say this is a unique Covenanter position and not much across the board by Reformed Scholars. I present the following as some examples that this is not unique to Covenanter position but is a Westminsterian point of view as well as the Historic Continental view point.

Francis Turretin a First Reformation Italian theologian explicit stated that all symbols are forbidden. He does not mention the Triangle per say but the Triangle is a symbol which Turretin condemns.

no one is so simple and insane as to wish to represent the spiritual essence of God by any external and corporeal symbol. …

“Although God sometimes manifested himself in a visible form and in such an appearance is described to us in Scripture (when members and bodily actions are ascribed to him), it does not follow that it is lawful to represent him by an image. (1) The same God who thus appeared nevertheless strongly forbade the Israelites to fabricate any representation of him (to wit, God could employ speech, bodies and symbols, in order to testify his special presence; yet not on that account may man make unto God an image …”

Puritan Thomas Watson wrote in his commentary on the Ten Commandments that all portraitures, shapes and ideas are forbidden in the Second Commandment with regards to the any person of the Godhead or the Triune God as a whole. Diagrams, Triangles, Triquetra etc are not only ideas but also shapes that are expressively forbidden when made for a religious use and for representing God either symbolically or literally..

“In the first commandment worshipping a false god is forbidden; in this, worshipping the true God in a false manner.

‘Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.’ This forbids not making an image for civil use. ‘Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, It is Caesar’s.’ Matt 22: 20, 21. But the commandment forbids setting up an image for religious use or worship.

‘Nor the likeness of any thing,’ &c. All ideas, portraitures, shapes, images of God, whether by effigies or pictures, are here forbidden. ‘Take heed lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make the similitude of any figure.’ Deut 4: 15, 16. God is to be adored in the heart, not painted to the eye.” Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments

Puritan Thomas Ridgley wrote that not only is such Triangles unnecessary but totally unwarrantable by Scripture and says that the Trinity of person in the Unity of the divine essence is to be understood as revealed in the words of Scripture and NOT brought to our remembrance by an emblem which is an ordinance of our own invention.

“But there are some who, though they do not much care to defend the practice of making pictures of God, yet plead for describing an emblem of the Trinity, such as a triangle, with the name Jehovah in the midst of it. Now, I would observe concerning this practice, that if the design of it be to worship God by the emblem, it is idolatry; but if not, it is unwarrantable, and, indeed, unnecessary; since a Trinity of persons in the unity of the divine essence, is to be understood as revealed in scripture, and not brought to our remembrance by an emblem, which is an ordinance of our own invention.” -Thomas Ridgley’s, A Body of Divinity

§The Pagan Roots of the Triquetra

The triquetra has been found on runestones in Northern Europe and on early Germanic coins. It has pagan religious meaning and it bears a resemblance to the Valknut, a symbol associated with Odin. It cannot be adopted or cleaned up for Christian use.

It only became a Christian symbol in the 19th century during a Celtic Revival.. And is NOT a Diagram but an actual Symbol.

So I would definitely not permit it for three reasons,

1. Making a Symbol we are not permitted to do. (RPW)

2. A Symbol of the Trinity which is also something we are not permitted to do. (Second Commandment issues)

3. Taking a Pagan religious practice that has pagan religious meaning, clean it up and adopt it which is expressively forbidden in Divine Law.

We are not called to redeem or clean up pagan practices. We are expressively and explicitly called to not imitate the ways of the Heathens and to destroy their practices from the land. Exodus 23:24; Exodus 34:13; Numbers 33:52; Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 7:25; Deuteronomy 7:26.

§About Legalism

A moment on the issue of legalism. I have been and I know I will continue to be excused of legalism in this issue. I really don’t care. Call it legalism all you want. But this is not my private interpretation but as been shown a teaching by numerous orthodox highly respected Reformed Theologians. It is the position of the Westminster Standards.

Trying to be precise about obeying God’s commands is not legalism, it is obedience, holiness, and love for our Saviour. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

I am so sick and tired of people calling things legalism for keeping the laws of God and being precise on it… THAT IS NOT LEGALISM!!! No one is saying here that we keep the laws of God for Justification…

The world might define it legalism, the modern evangelical church might define it legalism, but that is NOT how the Reformed Faith defines legalism. The Reformed Faith teaches being Precise and being observant in the minutest detail and circumstance in our worship, our doctrine and our practices. That is how we got the name Puritan and Precisionist.

As the Great Puritan Richard Rogers (1551-1618) said, “Sir, I serve Precise God” and as the Great Covenanter Commentator Matthew Poole wrote, “What Galen said of Physics is even truer of religion. There is nothing small and trivial in it.”, he continues elsewhere, “God esteems nothing small in his worship and service, and … he expects his will should be observed in the minutest circumstances.”

You don’t get to redefine terms and pretend you’re “within the bounds”

The tyranny of the call of legalism is on full display when you’re being accused of sin for thinking that something is sin. Wisdom is a thing. It’s in the Scriptures. There are entire books on the topic. The impulse to shout “legalist” at anyone who tries to think through wisdom issues (or expresses an opinion on a wisdom issue) is not a godly impulse. It’s not an impulse derived from Scripture.

“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.”

And before someone tries to chime in that then we cannot write words or use words, that is a red herring. That and the sacraments are the ONLY forms or symbols we are permitted to use as revealed in the Scriptures.

So please drop the Triquetra, Triangle, and other variations and ways to symbolically portray the Trinity and please do not display it. It offends God, His divine law and me.