Rome, Pentecostals, and Credulity

One of the creepier aspects of both Romanist and Pentecostalist piety is their virtually indistinguishable credulity about alleged “miracles.” I use the pejorative adjective intentionally because, at bottom, despite the formal differences between them, both are peddling magic and superstition and that’s creepy.

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801–90) is about to be “beatified.” (HT: Beggars All) but some questions have arisen about the truthfulness of the claims made by a Romanist deacon that he prayed to JHCN and that the latter heard his prayer and healed him miraculously. The late Roman high priest (pontifex maximus) is on the fast track for beatification and canonization but he too has hit a speed bump.

In Romanist piety “beatification” is part of the process of canonization whereby a dead Christian is recognized as a true object of veneration. The process requires that it be proved that this dead Christian heard and answered a prayer and performed a miracle. Hence the requirement for credulity in both senses of the word. The theological problems with such claims are not insignificant. First, one has to agree that finite, dead, humans, can, because they are glorified, hear prayers. This assumes a sort of omnipresence and omniscience that neither Scripture nor Christian theology confers upon them. Second, it assumes that humans, because they are glorified and particularly pious, are able to do that which only God can do: interrupt what we understand as the ordinary providence of God.

In medieval theology credulitas referred to assent to and trust in the magisterial teaching of the church. In modern usage “credulity” denotes a “disposition to believe on weak or insufficient grounds” (Oxford English Dictionary). The Reformation attacked this confidence in conciliar and papal dogmas as misplaced. Only the triune God and his self-disclosure in Scripture is worthy of implicit faith and unquestioned (not to say unreasoning) confidence. Hence, against the medieval and the Tridentine (Romanist) doctrine of credulity and fides implicita the Protestants asserted and taught the doctrine of sola scriptura, that only Scripture is God’s Word, that only Scripture deserves the sort of authority Rome confers upon the church. Scripture forms the church; the church does not form the Scripture.

Reading about the controversies over whether JHCN and JPII heard and answered prayer and are thus qualified, according to Rome, for beatification, I was struck by how similar the language and rhetoric of the Romanist is to that of Benny Hinn and his ilk. Neither the Romanist nor the neo-Pentecostalist (neo-Montantist!) confesses the sole, unique authority of the Word of God. Neither the Romanist nor the neo-Pentecostalist recognizes the unique nature of the canonical revelation or of the canonical apostolic and prophetic offices. The piety of the Romanist and the neo-Pentecostalist depends to a considerable degree upon their claims of ongoing apostolic authority and demonstrations of power (e.g., “signs and wonders”). Neither of them is satisfied with the finished work of Christ. Neither of them understands the sufficiency of Christ, how that all of redemptive history pointed to and was fulfilled by Christ. Each, in his own tawdry way, wants us to think that what he claims happens today is substantially identical to what happened in canonical redemptive history. If Paul survived stoning and serpents, the neo-Pentecostalist has done the same and more! If the apostles put people to death and raised them from the grave, the neo-Pentecostalist has done the same. Of course both Rome and neo-Pentecostalism really specialize in claims of healing. That’s where the discussion usually focuses.

Since the rise of Wayne Grudem’s more sophisticated revision of neo-Pentecostalism (attempting to affirm a predestinarian version of neo-Pentecostalism and to synthesize it with the Reformed doctrine of canonicity) it is considered by some to be bad form to invoke Warfield but I must. We should all go back and read his marvelous de-bunking of the neo-Pentecostal and Romanist nonsense: Counterfeit Miracles. The question has never been whether our sovereign triune God can perform the canonical signs and wonders. After all, he did it the first time! The questions are whether Scripture promises that he will and whether we can honestly say that he has done and is doing now. The exegetical case for ongoing signs and wonders is precarious at best. As to empirical evidence, Warfield was right. It usually comes down either to lowering the standards of what happened in the apostolic (or more broadly) the canonical period or in elevating what is alleged to have happened in our time. Thus, the biblical glossolalia is re-defined and identified with a universal religious phenomenon. Alleged occurrences of “healing” and other modern signs and wonders become as hard to verify as the Romanist claims that the JHCN or JPII performed a miracle.

I am not saying that God is absent from the universe or that he is not active constantly and wonderfully. Not at all. The Biblical doctrine of providence says that God exercises the same power manifested in creation to uphold and govern and sustain and work through his creation today. He has promised to work wonders through the preaching of the holy gospel to bring his elect to faith and to sustain and confirm that faith through the use of the holy sacraments. I am not saying that God never wonderfully and unexpectedly heals anyone. I’m sure he does but I am as unsure that he has done so either through the intercession of dead cardinals and popes as I am that he does so through the imprecations and invocations of jet-setting, white-suited charlatans.

It is striking how, on examination, the cardinal, the pope, and the pentecostalist all begin to look the same but ironically none of them sees himself in the other.


Must Reformed Christians Be Cessationist?

Reformed and Pentecostal?

Presbyterians and Quakers Together

Did God Leave Me When I Enrolled in Seminary?

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. great job. if only people understood the very real connection between Montanism and Pentecostalism.

  2. Scott-

    I agree with a good deal of what you say. But I would point out two things. First, regarding our relationship with Christians who are now glorified and stand in God’s presence, the doctrine of the Communion of Saints is surely part of the picture. Second, we regularly ask prayers from fellow Christians here on earth; are we free to do so from those who are now in God’s presence? Scripture is silent about this; to answer either yes or no necessarily implies “adding to Scripture.” So it’s a matter of Christian liberty, don’t you think?

    • Calvin did not agree that Scripture was silent on intercessory prayers to dead saints. See Institutes 3.20.17 – 27. Christ is our only Mediator!

    • John,

      The Reformed churches have inferred from 1 Sam 28 and other passages (2 Chron 33; Gal 5; Deut 18; Josh 13; Ezek 13) that we are not to seek to communicate with the dead.

      We understand that there are episodes in Scripture where there is communication between the living and the dead (e.g., Luke 16) but nowhere is such communication commended. Nowhere are we taught by precept or example to seek it. Further, given the genre of Lk 16:19ff it seems unwise to use it as a basis for defending communication with the dead.

      As has been pointed out, Scripture repeated teaches that Jesus is the ONE mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5). Heb 9 and 12 also teaches that Jesus is the divinely appointed Mediator between God and man.

      Isa 53 teaches that Jesus is the ONE who makes intercession for us. This is clearly taught in Heb 7:25.

      Again, no one else is commended and certainly not a dead Christian, is said to intercede with God for us.

      On the basis of these passages and biblical principles the Reformed churches confess in Belgic Confession Art 26:

      Article 26: Christ’s Intercession

      We believe that we have no access unto God but alone through the only Mediator and Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous; who therefore became man, having united in one person the divine and human natures, that we men might have access to the divine Majesty, which access would otherwise be barred against us. But this Mediator, whom the Father has appointed between Him and us, ought in no wise to affright us by His majesty, or cause us to seek another according to our fancy. For there is no creature, either in heaven or on earth, who loves us more than Jesus Christ; who, though existing in the form of God, yet emptied himself, being made in the likeness of men and of a servant for us, and in all things was made like unto his brethren. If, then, we should seek for another mediator who would be favorably inclined towards us, whom could we find who loved us more than He who laid down His life for us, even while we were His enemies? And if we seek for one who has power and majesty, who is there that has so much of both as He who sits at the right hand of God and to whom hath been given all authority in heaven and on earth? And who will sooner be heard than the own well beloved Son of God?

      Therefore it was only through distrust that this practice of dishonoring, instead of honoring, the saints was introduced, doing that which they never have done nor required, but have on the contrary steadfastly rejected according to their bounden duty, as appears by their writings. Neither must we plead here our unworthiness; for the meaning is not that we should offer our prayers to God on the ground of our own worthiness, but only on the ground of the excellency and worthiness of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is become ours by faith.

      Therefore the apostle, to remove this foolish fear, or rather distrust, from us, rightly says that Jesus Christ in all things was made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted. And further to encourage us to go to Him, he says: Having then a great high priest, who hath passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need. The same apostle says: Having boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, etc. Likewise: Christ hath his priesthood unchangeable; wherefore also he is able to save to the uttermost them that draw near unto God through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

      What more can be required? since Christ Himself says: I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me. To what purpose should we, then, seek another advocate, since it has pleased God to give us His own Son as our Advocate? Let us not forsake Him to take another, or rather to seek after another, without ever being able to find Him; for God well knew, when He gave Him to us, that we were sinners.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this article, Dr. Clark, seeing as I’ve managed, via God’s providence, to note the errors of the Pentecostalism. What bugs me is that there are some who are bent on claiming they are reformed and charismatic. Aren’t the two mutually exclusive?

    I had a conversation with an individual who makes this claim (i.e. of being reformed and charismatic) who told me that I’d be surprised to hear what Calvin had to say about the gifts of the Spirit. He then went on to tell me that he read from Calvin to a few of his fellow Presbyterian minister friends and they all grew indignant, demanding to know what he was reading. He told them it was Calvin and they were shocked, they couldn’t believe it.

    I couldn’t believe it either – and I still have my doubts. Not trying to move in too far of a direction from this post, but is there anything, at all, in Calvin’s writing that would lead someone to think that he would be in agreement with the charismatics regarding Continuationism?


  4. We are assailed by two sects which seem to differ most widely from each other. For what similitude is there in appearance between the Pope and the Anabaptists? And yet, that you may see that Satan never transforms himself so cunningly, as not in some measure to betray himself, the principal weapon with which they both assail us is the same. For when they boast extravagantly of the Spirit, the tendency certainly is to sink and bury the Word of God, that they may make room for their own falsehoods…… ” (from Calvin’s reply to Sadoleto).

  5. It’s difficult to argue that what that we just don’t seem to see many miracles these day. On the other hand it’s very easy to read the New Testament and come to the conclusion that we ought to be seeing a lot more of them! I had lunch just last week with a dear friend whose faith was hanging by a thread. This man had come to Christ 30 years ago through the ministry of Francis Shafer and is a militantly low church Anglican who has been left badly scared (both emotionally and physically) by two recent life threatening illness. When I asked him what was at the root of his doubts he listed firstly an existential feeling of loneliness (His exact words where “I miss my Papa [God]”) and secondly the gap between what he believed the church had been promised in Acts and what he saw around him. I suggested that the fact that he was still alive was in fact a miracle (the cancer he had had a 5% survival rate) but in spite of his impeccable reformed theology (he has a masters in philosophy from Toronto’s Dutch Reformed ICS) he could not escape from a overwhelming sense of what had been promised to the apostles had not been delivered.”

    • @ Steve in Toronto,

      I am truly sorry to hear of your friends suffering. I can sympathize to some degree, as I have had to deal with my own suffering and that of my son who was diagnosed with a serious heart condition at birth. What I learned, as there were many who were praying for apostolic type healing, is that we so often seek healing and do not seek the Healer. God used modern medicine to mitigate my son’s condition, but the process my wife and I went through was a wrenching struggle with God’s providence. We still don’t know why God allowed these things. But I can tell you how we both squirmed as well meaning Christians seemed to put God’s goodness to the test in praying that God’s goodness would be manifest in his healing. Would He have been less good if He hadn’t healed our son?

      What I learned through that ordeal is that we all struggle with the mystery of Providence on this side of glory. We are all mortals walking through the valley of death’s shadow, being a believer doesn’t negate this, or illuminate the incomprehensibility of sickness and suffering. As believers though, we should not cling to the fleeting hope of healing that God may or may not provide, rather we must cling to the certain hope that Jesus will bring us safely home to glory, even if that means enduring painful trials on this side. God has given us grace through his Son, and while some of Charismatic persuasion tragically miss this, it really is sufficient. Hope for healing and signs is shaky, where hope in Jesus is firm and will not dissapoint.

  6. I hear people- pastors even, say they do not see miracles. This always puzzled me. I pastored a small church for 12 years and saw many. Lives transformed by the gospel, people healed after the doctors had thought they would be dead, hearts of fathers returning to their children. Of course none of this went on through a show, but by the normal means of grace: God’s Word read and preached and prayer.

    Okay, “many” sounds big. Lets say a few each year! I do not remember a single end of the year report that did not include a miraculous event (conversion, healing, etc.).

    • Ron,

      Sometimes “miracle’ is used in a technical way to refer to “canonical miracles” so that anything that happens outside of Scripture isn’t, by definition, a miracle.

      I’ve certainly seen some marvelous acts of God’s providence.

      • I understand, but I get the idea some look at God’s providence in a rather mechanical way. Steve from Toronto’s friend is saved from cancer, but he doesn’t seem to see it as an active work of God. God providentially saved him, yet because he can’t “feel” God, he seems let down rather than filled with awe and gratitude.

        Pastorally, this is a tough one. You get the kids asking for prayer for their sick cat and declaring a miracle when it spits up a hairball and somebody making it through a difficult surgery without much thanks to God. It is easy when there is a dramatic change or in God’s providence the dying person seems to come around immediately after prayer.

        • There is also Jed’s case.

          Thanks for posting that. We had a similar event while in seminary- we almost lost our new born son.

        • I agree it’s pastorally tough. It’s harder to help people to trust God in all things, governed in his severe and smiling providence, than to proclaim miracles where there technically were none on one hand, or to speak rashly like Job of things too wonderful to know on the other.

          And it’s tough not to come across as a bad guy when trying to help those feeling let down by God understand that these feelings reveal more about our own heart’s idols than they do God’s inability to carry through on his promises.

          But greater than seeing illness remarkably vanish, is to see hearts awed and humbled, bowing down in worship before Almighty God, inscrutable in his wisdom, and unfailing in his love for us in Christ.

        • Ron, the problem is that is comes down to making distinctions. Miracle encompassing 3-4 terms used in the new testament, including signs, powers and wonders.

          But when people speak of “miracles” today, they use it very broadly. I’ve heard Christians say pretty much everything in their life was a miracle. I think we should use the terms “God’s grace” and “God’s providence more”, like the Puritans correctly did.

  7. With respect to ongoing apostolic authority (quite apart from the continuing veracity of “miracles”), what if the Catholic responded: “Wouldn’t the evil one’s rule be to mirror the truth and twist it ever so subtly so as to lead as many people astray as possible? Is this not what modern-day montanism (pentecostalism) does? Maybe you Reformed have thrown the baby out with the bathwater (which also delights the enemy)?”

    • That might be more persuasive if the argument remains a purely intellectual level. But as I stared at the decapitated mummified head of Siena’s beloved patron saint, on display in the Dominican church for pilgrims to venerate and pray to (Rome decided to keep the rest of her body), something just doesn’t seem right.

  8. “what if the [Romanist] responded: “Wouldn’t the evil one’s rule be to mirror the truth and twist it ever so subtly so as to lead as many people astray as possible?”

    That would be ironic indeed, coming from a papist.

  9. Dr. Clark: Very good post. The reference to Grudem (waiting to be read) points to the “incomplete” Reformation of many self-professed Calvinists. As always, appreciate your focus on the means of grace.

  10. I am one that was once reformed (URC) who is now in Catholic church, and this article was sent to me by one of my reformed friends. I just needed to post a quick point.

    Pentecostals say the same thing about the reformed. Anytime a pentecostal argues against reformed theology (if they even know what it is) they claim that it is just too Catholic.

    While I am at it, I will add that every church in protestantism claims that every other church is “too Catholic”. Seventh Day Adventists claims that Sunday worship of protestants is Catholic error, and Baptist claim infant Baptism is Catholic error carried into the reformation.

    The fact is, that all churches in protestantism have some form of truth from Catholicism, just not all of it.

    Let me add one more thing. I dare Horton to put a quote on the back of a pentecostal book, like he did with the popes. It only goes to show, that while pentecostals are total morons, they are not the same as Catholics.

  11. “I dare Horton to put a quote on the back of a pentecostal book, like he did with the popes.”

    LOL! You must be new around here. Don’t you know you can say just about anything, but don’t dare touch Saint Horton’s book endorsements. He is incapable of error.

  12. @1jpd

    I am not trying to prove error with Horton. I still like some of Horton’s teachings, and I even try to refrain from speaking against the Westminster staff, because of where I came from. I am only trying to show, that while Horton, and others can try to pull Catholicism into the same bout as the shameful pentecostal churches, he on the other hand, has said in interviews, and in a quote on the popes book, that he holds him as a incredibly intelligent theologian.

    I just wonder if he would do the same with a pentecostal, seeing that they are the same and all.

    Also, I am not new around here. I read this blog from time to time.

    • Eric,

      I don’t know what happened or why you left a confessional Reformed congregation for Rome, but my point is that, in substance, both the Romanist and the Pentecostalist disregard the unique canonical authority of Scripture when it suits them. Yes, the Romanist is typically better educated but that doesn’t change the substance of the problem. Rome makes herself the matrix of revelation. This is simply false. The Word is the matrix of the church. The Word produces the church. The church is a mere minister of the Word.

      Further, Mike’s endorsement was not of Romanist theology of but simply of the usefulness of a volume surveying the doctrine of an important Romanist theologian. If a Pentecostalist happened to write a book that Mike found equally useful, he would endorse that too. He’s not a bigot.

      Such an endorsement is NOT an endorsement of the doctrines taught by Rome nor would be an endorsement of views taught by Pentecostalism.

      • Scott-
        I realize we’ve disagreed before, but-

        >The church is a mere minister of the Word.

        Sorry, I just can’t let this one pass. The New Testament refers to the church as the Body Christ, the Bride of Christ, the pillar and bulwark of the truth, as that against which the very gates of hell will not prevail. etc. A “mere minister of the Word”? Doesn’t sound like New Testament ecclesiology to me.

        • John,

          The NT nowhere makes the visible church the matrix of the Word. Read those passages in context. The visible church is essential in ministry of the Word, sacraments, and discipline but the church doesn’t MAKE the Word what it is. The church does not sit in judgment over the Word. The Word is un-normed.

          You can’t extrapolate the Romanist view of Scripture from a single metaphor! A pillar and ground is not a parent. A pillar is a bulwark a support. A pillar doesn’t create the roof or the building but it is established by Christ and by his Word to uphold it. So it is with the church.

          if you’re going to appeal to a metaphor (same with the gates of hell) then you have to understand the metaphor in the way it was intended.

    • This is good stuff from Tim. Thanks! It’s funny and sad simultaneously. More evidence that the Anabaptists have been in charge of the asylum in America for a long time.

  13. There is a debate which is long over due hinted at in this posting of Dr. Scott Clarks. It is the astonishing hijack of classic Reformed theology and practise in name by charismatics and some pentecostals. Such apostolic types like CJ Mahaney, Mark Driscoll, Wayne Grudem and over here in the UK Terry Virgo claim to be Reformed and say they like Calvinism. What they have brilliantly achieved is to get a mainstream voice and influence in supposedly Bible believing evangelical circles, having equal status on conference platforms but with, I would suggest, a quiet but firm agenda to convert folks to their theology.

    It is a perversion of classic Reformed theology to let these men and groups like Sovereign Grace Ministeries and New Frontiers in the UK to have such voice they now have in even supposed Reformed ministries, and it dilutes the power and force of true Biblical Calvinism to say they are rightly understanding the fundamentals of the Reformation. It may not be popular or deemed ‘nice’ to say such strong words, but they need to be far more articulated and pressed home; vigorous debate is a hall mark of sharpening good theology, not fuzzy acceptance of those who seem warm, Biblical and pious.

    Sincere words about the Lord Jesus Christ and His precious blood need to clarified in creeds and confessions which reflect a clear Biblical theology. And none of the creeds give any room for the ‘signs and wonders’ camp which has now gained widespread acceptance. I suggest that evangelicals who have embraced these groups in recent years have done so not on the basis of hard thinking and theology, but a desire to be pragmatic and somehow loving. And so we have men like Don Carson being elevated to statesman like esteem, and he is sadly typical of those who clearly deny the Sabbath Day for Christians and yet advocate the supposed charismatic gifts.

    Please would someone have the conviction and character to open this matter up in book form, as it urgently needs adressing before more damage is done through what I would term the ‘New Perspective’ on calvinism.

  14. Eric Castleman,

    I am sorry about not putting my name above. I haven’t commented but one or two times before.

    While I obviously agree with the Roman Catholic position of the church, I will not turn this into a debate on sola scriptura.

    I was merely trying to make the point, that it would be theological tunnel vision, not to be aware, that almost every church in the protestant world, feels that other churches have carried over RCC theology.

    • Eric,

      Well, we all have common roots in the Fathers and in the medieval church. As a historian I am convinced that the “Roman Catholic” church as such did not really exist until Trent, which defined so much of what is distinctively Roman theology, piety, and practice.

      The commonalities we have aren’t distinctively “Roman” or “Roman” inventions. They are either biblical, patristic, or medieval inheritances.

      As you may know, we’ve always disputed whether Rome is truly “catholic.” Many distinctively Romanist doctrines are not catholic at all. As I keep point out to anyone who will listen, Romanist historians admit freely that the sacramental system as it came to exist in the Roman communion is a relatively late development. As late as the 9th century, Radbertus and Ratramnus, who disagreed on the nature of the Eucharist agreed that there were only 2 sacraments.

      Jesus turned water into wine and Rome, by her own admission, turned sacramentals (sacrament-like practices in popular piety) into sacraments.

      The contemporary Marian piety developed gradually during the middle ages. The Tridentine view of the canon is uknown to Jerome. The Tridentine and post-Tridentine (esp. Vatican I) view of the papacy is unknown to the patristic church and hotly contested during periods of medieval church history.

      The Roman communion is just as much the product of the 16th century as the Protestant church.

  15. Eric Castleman,

    Interesting perspective R. Scott Clark.

    Do you have any blog entries, or literature that you can point me to, to further understand your position on this? I am very interested to know more about your perspective on these things.

    As for the development, I am quite aware of this. I find that development can be very scary indeed, but also a very good thing. When studying things like the trinity, isn’t it clear that it was a development also? Do you think that someone like Ignatius grasped the trinity as well as someone like St. Gregory the theologian did in his orations? obviously, it doesn’t make it less true, just more clear.

  16. Scott
    I don’t dispute your assessment of Rome. However I’d just add one observation of the relative credulity of Rome and much Pentecostalism. In Australia we have had lots of news recenlty about the beatification and canonisation of Mary Mackillop an Australian nun (1842 – 1909). I was struck by the high bar that the Vatican set for establishing a ‘miracle’ attributed to her. There were lots of miracles claimed for her, but only two were accepted by the Vatican as established and only after what seemed like a rigourous process. I am simply going on media reports and I’m sure the level of credulity has been higher in the past, but in this case the official Vatican assessment seemed quite careful.

    In contrast much Pentecostalism accepts any and every claim to a miracle and will not be open to any assessment. Rome’s relative care highlights the shame of fraudulent faith-healers. It dosen’t prove that the so-called saints have a mediatorial role, which, as you say, is exclusive to Christ.


  17. While reading a letter Luther wrote to the magistrates and councilmen in all cities in Germany on educating the neglected German youths I came across this- Luther stated the following: “Nor should we be led astray because some boast of the Spirit and despise the Scriptures or others, like the Waldensian Brethren (a footnote noted that Luther might have meant the Bohemian Brethren or Picards) , consider the languages unnecessary. But, dear friend, you may say what you will about the Spirit, I too have been in the Spirit and have seen the Spirit, perhaps more of it (if it comes to boasting of one’s own flesh) than they with all their vaunting shall see in a year. My Spirit, moreover, has given some account of itself, while theirs sits very quietly in its corner and does little but sing its own praise. But I know full well how perfectly the “spirit” does all things. I should indeed have failed egregiously if the languages had not aided me and given me a certain and positive knowledge of Scripture. I too could have lived uprightly and preached the truth in seclusion, but I should then have left undisturbed the pope and the sophists with the whole anti-christian realm. The devil has not so much respect for my spirit as he has for my speech and pen when they deal with Scripture. For my spirit takes from him nothing by myself alone, but Holy Scripture and the languages leave him but little room on earth, and that means a loss to his kingdom.

    Nor can I at all commend the Waldensian Brethren for depreciating the languages. Even if they taught the truth, they must nevertheless frequently miss the right sense of a text and are also unequipped and unskilled in the defense of the faith against error. Moreover, their teaching is so obscure and expressed in so peculiar a form, departing from that of Scripture, that I am afraid it may not be pure or may not continue pure. For there is great danger in speaking of divine things in a different manner and in different terms from those employed by God Himself. In short, they may lead holy lives and teach holy things among themselves, but as long as they remain without the languages they cannot but lack what all the rest lack, namely, the ability to treat scripture with certainty and thoroughness and to be useful to other nations. But since they could do this and refuse, let them see how they will answer for it to God.

  18. The charismatics and anabaptists of today do not “sit quietly in their corners and sing their own praise.” They may sing their own praise but they are very aggressive in proclaiming their interpretation of the scriptures. Whether they can be of help in accurately proclaiming the scriptures and actually helping other nations without leading them astray is yet to be seen. It seems the me the Reformers and their heirs could do a much better job of it.

  19. This is not meant to persuade you of the possibility of saintly awareness of prayers or of their ability to do anything about it. But the Angelic Doctor’s words here should suggest that the doctrine does not necessarily imply that “[it] assumes a sort of omnipresence and omniscience that neither Scripture nor Christian theology confers upon them.”


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