Just Say No to Ash Wednesday; Or How I Learned to Stop Loving the World and Embraced Biblical Expressions of Prayer and Fasting12 02 2015
One of the strange benefits of serving a church that does not follow the man-made “church” calendar is that you, blessedly, forget about what the seasonal days might be, but I guess that is why I have a desk calendar which helpfully makes me aware of such things. Today in this short blog post I want to, humbly, give you a yearly reminder that if you are a Presbyterian and planning a Ash Wednesday service or are getting things together for a 40 Day-long Lenten calendar you are in fact doing Presbyterianism and, more importantly, Biblical piety wrong. I may even go out on a limb here and say that God is not impressed with your man-concocted “holy” actions that take away from His blessedly provided means of grace and the elements of worship given by Christ Himself in the Holy Scriptures. So since folks in our day are interested more in “listicles” of the Buzzfeed variety I’ll give you 10 reasons why you should stop, cease, and desist from adopting pagan rituals and instead teach your folks honest to goodness year-long, regular, Christian devotional practices that God not only will honor, but that will actually help brothers and sisters in Christ live a year long life of repentance and faith, resting and trusting in the righteousness of Christ Alone.
1) Time-Limited “seasonal” heightenings of devotional practice died out with the old covenant. Why do you want to impose Judaic worship rituals on yourself? Have you not been freed from the law? Why seek to be put back under it? (Col. 2:8-23)
2) The Means of Grace given by Christ are better than what man can create with his imagination. (Exodus 32). Why seek to be wiser than God? (1 Cor. 1:25)
3) Christ Himself quite clearly tells us not to do our works of piety before men, to be seen by them. (Matt 6:1-4, 16-18). It is hard to imagine something that says, “look at my righteousness” more than putting ashes on your forehead and walking around the office/school/mall, etc…
4) Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Season stink (no pun intended) of works of Supererogation (Eph. 2:8-10) which hide the free grace of Christ and create levels of obedience.
5) “The church has always done it” or “other people do it” and/or “we don’t do it like them” are not a sufficient reasons for violating the clear command of the Bible when it comes to the church creating festivals and feast days. Such idolatrous reminders of past days should be put away by the Refoming Christian, not re-adopted for a different use. The church can no more “Christianize” Ba’al worship than it can purify Romanist practices. (Deut. 7:25; 12:30).
6) Lent and Ash Wednesday trivialize Christian sacrifice. God is neither impressed nor honored that you gave up a first-world personal pleasure item for 40 days. (Psalm 40:4-10, Hosea 6:6, Matt 9:13, Heb. 10:1-10)
7) The First Day of the Week, now called the Christian Sabbath, is the only day set aside by God Himself and called Holy. Humans have no right or duty to declare other days to be “holy” by their whimsy. (Ex. 16:23, 20:8-11, Lev. 11:44, Heb 4:9).
8) Creating days of obligation (however much you want to pretend liberty) not only diminish the Lord’s Day, but implicitly teach that there are parts of the year that are more holy than others. That one can miss Sabbath worship in June, because hey this is just “Ordinary Time”. (1 Tim 6:12, Heb 12:1, Rev. 3:1-6).
9) The inevitable end-point of these man-created seasons is “I’ll save up my repentance for Lent”. In other words the seeking of the intercession of Christ in day-to-day life for forgiveness of sins is set aside for the special time of Lent when I’ll “really” focus on my need for assurance of pardon. (Acts 11:18, Gal 2:20, 2 Cor 7:9-10).
10) Last, but not least, the Confessional Standards of the Presbyterian Church explicitly condemn these practices. (WCF 21, WSC Q.49-52, Q. 57-62, WLC Q. 99, Q. 107-110, Q. 115-121
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Tags: holy days, Protestantism, Regulative Worship, Roman Catholicism
Categories : Presbyterianism, Roman Catholicism, RPW, Worship
Originally posted on The Confessional ARP:
I have made mention in previous posts both here and otherwise that one of the greatest blessings that we have in this age is the work of the good folks at Internet Archive (a San Francisco based non-profit) who, among other things, make available scanned PDF’s of works from previous centuries, free to the consumer. A good friend of mine is a post-doctoral student in Northern Ireland and always lets me know when something new comes along at the site that I may find enjoyable. It was with this in mind that he sent an e-mail to draw my attention to two works that he had found by an original Marrow Man, Alexander Moncrieff (find them here and here). These particular volumes contain the “Practical Works” of this founder of our denomination, with sermons on various subjects and two treatises responding to doctrinal controversies in his day. It is…
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Categories : Confessional ARP
In reading older Reformed works one always comes to the conclusion that Solomon’s well-known words “there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9) are so obviously correct as to be unassailable. This is most true it seems when it comes to the Presbyterian church and her worship. As anyone reading this post is more than aware there has been quite a declension in the normal mode of operations when it comes to the Lord’s Day worship of the people of God in our several Presbyterian denominations over the last century. What once was a hallmark of our faith (Regulative Principle worship) has given way to a hodgepodge of everything from Broad Evangelical worship concerts to near-High Church Anglican practices. The Sabbath is a complete unknown, and in fact is derided, mocked, and ignored. Much digital ink has been spilled chronicling the truth that just because it says “Presbyterian” on the door…
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Tags: Anarchy in Worship
Categories : Fire and Hammer Reformation
I made mention in the monthly pastoral letter that one of the peculiar things about the current cultural climate (which is a climate change I could get behind, but I digress) is the way in which the doctrine of the Lord’s Day is mocked, derided, and just flat out despised in Christian circles. There seemingly is no other commandment, within the Church, that receives as much open disdain as number four. As I noted in the aforementioned letter I was always under the (evidently misguided) impression that the New Covenant was a better covenant, but evidently not only do many think the covenant sign and promise were reneged upon post-first advent but also we no longer get to have a whole day of rest anymore. One can almost imagine the glee the early Apostles must have felt telling the new followers of Christ, “Sorry guys, I know in the Old Covenant we were able to rest, along with the strangers in our gates, one day in Seven and worship the Lord God, but now we get to work and fill our lives with more world pursuits 7 days a week and only join in public worship for an hour!”
This is of course all a bit silly. The New Covenant is a better covenant, one that continues the moral blessings of the Sabbath Day where believers (and non-believers) benefit from the day of rest. It is an odd thing how Christians seek out ways to encourage sloth and clutter to further fog their spiritual minds with the untidiness of this world. Not to go all Seinfeld on this post, but what is the deal with that? One would think that maturing Christians would see the problem with encouraging the materialism of the West (and East, they don’t get to be left out just because they seem more spiritual) upon the sheep and then creating new and advanced ways to violate God’s compassionate gift of the Lord’s Day. Of course what is even worse is when the Church attempts to marry the idolatrous feasts of excess with the worship of God under the auspices of “fellowship”. Godly conferences over the weightiness of sin and the majesty of divine grace are replaced with discussions concerning the air pressure of a leather ball (which then its other name is mostly used in a coarse way to invoke the inner 5 year-old, which by the way this bizarre attempt to “demystify” swear words in our circles and somehow “reclaim them for Christ” is mindbogglingly odd, but that is another old man rant).
Now I know the response, “Rev. Glaser you are just a killjoy who is afraid someone, somewhere is having a good time!” I love sports (cannot really tell you why). That certainly is not the issue. However, if you are spending the balance of your day on the Lord’s Day losing your mind over a football team’s progress (or regress) rather than on the state of your own soul’s march up and down the battlefield of sin then it is probably time to spend more time with Tom Brooks than with Tom Brady. Now for some shouting: THE SABBATH IS A BLESSING THAT GOD GAVE YOU! LOVE IT AND HONOR IT!
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Tags: 10 Commandments, Antinomianism, Sabbatarianism, Westminster
Categories : 10 Commandments, Antinomianism, Sabbatarianism, Westminster Confession of Faith
As nearly anyone knows who comes across this blog I have been posting at the Confessional ARP Blog far more regularly than over here.
For the latest at that outlet go here:
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If there is anything that is a central issue among Protestants in this current day it is the embarrassing lack of discernment among the “top men” of the evangelical world, two recent examples being the unwillingness to heed the warnings concerning Mark Driscoll and the way there was so much “hush, hush” surrounding the scandal of Sovereign Grace Ministries and C.J. Mahaney. There are of course a myriad of other instances and Mark Jones of the Ref 21 Blog wrote a piece recently about the sin of flattery, which in itself highlights a large part of the problem. No one wants to be dis-invited to the cool parties and academic clubs. However, there are also those of us who may fall into the other side of the trap, which is to be so shrill about everything that eventually we become like the boy who cried wolf. When trouble really and truly is on the horizon we are tuned out and ignored. This must also be looked at seriously, that not every mole hill is a mountain. But when there is a mountain it does need pointed out with vigor, honesty, and not a small amount of graciousness.
That all being a bit of rabbit trail I want to focus on the main purpose of this post, which is the friendly dynamic which is growing between Rome and many well-known evangelical leaders. This is highlighted today by another kerfuffle over interactions with Rome on Twitter, centering around this tweet by John Piper:
The Pope dresses down the Vatican for the “cancer of clerical careerism.” In other words, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals.
— John Piper (@JohnPiper) December 23, 2014
Now several folks in response to this tweet are (rightfully) wondering why John Piper would speak like this. Does he mean to say that Roman Catholic priests are our brothers? Now, (to me) it looks like he is merely using the title of one of his books to mark out a problem in the Roman bureaucracy, which is fine in and of itself. However, what concerned me about this was again not so much the tweet itself, but the reaction (as is often the case in these things). Ed Stetzer (and retweeted by Russell Moore, he of a recent trip to Rome) used this as an opportunity to call out the critics:
Now, again the problem is not really John Piper’s original tweet, it is the way legitimate concern about the Pope is turned into a “let’s turn the guns on the Calvinists” meme. Now a few men, like Dan Phillips of Pyromaniacs and the gentlemen at No Compromise Radio did attempt to speak to the original tweet and were likewise ridiculed by the swift defenders of John Piper. There are a lot of evangelicals who are being strangely warmed by Pope Francis I and his willingness to knock down a few shibboleths and speak truth-to-power and this makes many of their hearts go all a flutter (especially when his guns are turned towards the easily mocked “Fox News” evangelicals). And part of the reaction to this is to shout down any who would call attention to the gospel problems (as in Rome doesn’t have it) found in the Roman Catholic church. This is especially noticeable when those of us who think that it would likely not be wise to make common cause on various “social issues” attempt to have our voices known. We see similar attempts to stifle dissent when work with other non-Christian groups like the Church of Latter-Day Saints is critiqued, which is just another bullet point on the list of this lack of discernment. I guess Justification By Faith Alone is a secondary issue these days. But I digress…
There is little doubt our forefathers would be pretty alarmed at the way we deal with Rome, and that is because they still had this crazy idea rattling around in their brain that 2 Thessalonians 2 (and related passages) spoke of the person who claims to be Christ’s Vicar on Earth. But thankfully we have moved passed the bigotry of a former age and rightfully changed our standards to reflect this.
It is a shame that at the end of the 19th Century, in the same age of “can’t we all get along” ecumenism that moved American Presbyterian churches to neuter other parts of the Westminster Confession of Faith, there was felt a need to neuter the 25th Chapter of the WCF and changed it from this:
VI. There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the Pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalts himself, in the Church, against Christ and all that is called God.
to this (ARP version):
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Tags: Antichrist, ARPC, Confession
Categories : Confessionalism, Rome, Signs of the Times