As I Was Saying

After much deliberation, prayer, and encourage from some friends and readers the HB is back. Thanks to a dear and loyal friend who did an amazing amount of work to make it happen.

The last HB post was in May 2011. Much has happened since. It’s not possible to fill in the blank created by the interim so I won’t try. The two concerns, however, that animated the HB from 2006-2011 continue to fuel my teaching and writing: 1) getting the gospel right (and getting it out) and 2) getting worship right (to the glory of God and the edification of the church). I remain committed to Recovering the Reformed Confession.

As I look about it does not seem that the world has changed much since May, 2011 but I have changed, however, mainly through loss, which has been sobering and saddening. I’m sure that I am worse for it. Nevertheless, as I continue to learn the greatness of my sin and misery I also learn the magnificence of the mystery of grace (unconditional acceptance with God on the ground of Christ’s righteousness imputed and received through trusting in Christ alone) and grace is sustaining.

For some of the interim I’ve been helping to finish work on a long-term translation project that should (Dv) appear in 2013. I’ve been working on a project that considers the relations between the Reformed faith, rhetoric, love, truth, and ethos in the late modern era.

In response to the several email queries I’ve received: I don’t know what happened to Jason Stellman. We have not talked. He has my mobile number and a standing invitation to call any time.

In case you’re troubled by Jason’s apparent defection from the biblical, evangelical, faith and are tempted to follow him you should know this: whatever her apologists may say, Rome is not home. She is a way station to other even more unhappy destinations. She is most certainly not a path to the faith and practice of the Scriptures nor is she a path back to the early church. The Patristic (100-500 AD) and medieval (500-1500 AD) churches in the West were gradually Romanized but they were not the Roman Church we know today.

Properly speaking, there is no “Roman Catholic Church.” Such a claim may be clever marketing but it’s oxymoronic. A church is either Roman (local) or catholic (universal). By definition she cannot be both simultaneously any more than Jesus’ humanity can be at the right hand of the Father and in Berlin at the same time.

As a matter of history, the Roman communion came into being in 1547, midway through the Council of Trent, when that council condemned the Holy Gospel. From a historian’s perspective, Rome is a sect, whose identity, theology, piety, and practice is so tied to Trent that it would be entirely unrecognizable to the apostolic and early post-apostolic (Patristic) church and to much of the medieval church. Were most of the theologians of the first nine or ten centuries to look at Rome in the 21st century, they would be shocked and disappointed to learn that doctrines that were marginal in their day have become Romanist orthodoxy and orthopraxy. There would be much face-palming and head slapping from the host of Patristic and early medieval theologians.

From the “I Told You So” Dept: The Federal Vision has not gone away and worse, the de facto leader of the Federal Vision movement has apparently been integrated into the evangelical-Reformed mainstream. I noticed that, in July of this year, he was interviewed on the TGC website about lectures given on the campus of the University of Indiana and that he posted an article earlier the same month. Just days ago he posted on worldview. Then, of course, there was the kerfuffle over Jared Wilson’s quotation of his comments on sex as conquest. It’s more than little disappointing that the Gospel Coalition should adopt the leading proponent of the Federal Vision doctrine as one of their own and that controversy should erupt, not over his corruption of the gospel, but over his reconstructionist-inspired account of marital relations. A word to the TGC: If you lie down with a dominionist federal-vision theologian you wake with his fleas.

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  1. Great to see you back online, Scott! 🙂 Looking forward to back-and-forthing blog-to-blog again. (I’m trying to revive my own, though it’s slow going)

    Grace and Peace,


  2. This is good news indeed. Glad to see the HB up and running again. (I think I hear AC/DC playing “Back in Black” somewhere.) The www isn’t the same without you, Scott. I am confident that many will be encouraged in the faith by your labors.

  3. This is wonderful news! (The HB rising Phoenix-like from the ashes, not the RC, of course.)

    Now, if I could just get a regular dose of the Heidelcast, all would be right again . . .

  4. Hi All,

    Thanks for the encouragement!

    There was some weirdness with the post. I was updating it just as the internet crashed in San Diego county. I think it’s fixed now.

  5. Welcome back Scott! I’m eager to start reading your posts again, and to learn from your passion for the gospel, Reformed worship, and the Reformed confessions. Blessings on the work!

    • TFan,

      Thanks, but no anonymous comments please.

      FYI here’s the comment policy:

      Comments are welcome but must observe the moral law. Comments that are profane or that deny the gospel or advance positions contrary to the Reformed confession are subject to deletion. Anonymous comments, posted without permission, are forbidden.

  6. Dr. Clark, I was delighted to read over at the Riddleblog that you’ve brought back the HB. Welcome back, and thank you for blogging again.

    It will be interesting to see if Bryan Cross and co. engage you here. I’d love to see it.

    It’s been heartening to see contributors at Old Life and Greenbaggins (and elsewhere) uphold the gospel and oppose Cross, et al.

    I look forward to more of the same here.


  7. Probably more excited than I should be to have the Heidelblog back, welcome! I’m also very glad you brought the archived material with you. At the time of it’s (temporary) demise I was working through a lot of the back material and very disappointed to see it go!

  8. Scott, this is wonderful news!

    I am grateful to the Lord for you and your writing.

    Thank you for Heidelblogging again!

  9. So glad to see you back here! This makes my day! Thank you also to whomever archived your old posts. They have been a great blessing to me as I grow in faith and I’m glad to see them again. Looking forward to seeing you at Zion URC this November!

  10. Todd,

    If there’s a core group, who knows? Synod took some positive steps toward church planting and missions generally. Email Jody Lucero in Des Moines to see what he says.

  11. Dr. Clark, thank you SO MUCH for what you do. I have been seeing this infiltrate the PCA churches and I’ve been telling people and they don’t want to listen. It’s like a blindness coming over them. I’m so, so sad about it.

    I’m glad to see you are back. Someone had alerted me to this post just now and I’ll be reading what you put out. Blessings to you! You’ve taught me much; you just don’t know it 😉

    Tamara Slack

  12. Dr. Clark,

    So happy to see you back to blogging and your continued engagement to for Recovering the Reformed Confession. Thank you for jumping back into the ring of fire!



  13. What a really pleasant surprise! I was googling “reformation worship” and what do I stumble across?… Scott, great to see on back online. I’ll be checking-in regularly, as I know my wife will also.

    good luck in the Lord…

  14. Glad to have you back, Dr. Clark. I’m pleased that you were able to recover your old posts, and I look forward to the new ones.

  15. As a Lutheran, I can’t resist; where is the right hand of God? 🙂

    Welcome back to the blogosphere! I look forward to reading.

  16. May I clear the bases?

    tap, tap [bat on spikes]

    scratch, scratch [profanity not described per posting policy]

    swing, crack, roar. [home run]

    Welcome back from URC planter in DC (home of the first place Nats, cough, gag, choke! Go Blue!)

    And, by the way, a member of Classis East Church Planting Committee, actively seeking out core groups east of the Mississippi… it’s an eminent domain type of thing.

  17. That the Heidelblog is back is wonderful news, as is the fact that its archives are now available again. Your work (and the behind the scenes work of others) is appreciated.

  18. This is great news. You were missed in at least one Presbyterian Church in Melbourne, Australia – welcome back.

  19. Welcome back, Dr. Clark! I was just thinking, “I miss the good old days when I could go to the Heidelblog, search ‘pietism’ and read for hours.”

  20. Just when I thought blogging was losing its appeal…glad to see the Heidelblog back up and running.

  21. So I was reading this post, and over my shoulder my 8-year old says “Ha, ‘Heidel-Blog’, that’s funny”. I’m just glad he knows about “Heidelberg” and “Blog”, so that he gets why it’s funny.

    Well, I’m also glad that HB is back of course. We all missed you! Here’s hoping you can fill that JJS-shaped hole in my heart!

  22. Great to see your blog back. My wife and I missed reading your blog. I am excited to see your posts again.

  23. Scott,

    So glad that you are back in the blogosphere. I really appreciate your work. This made my day!

  24. So very happy to see this Dr. Clark–it’s a relief to have your voice ‘out there’, protecting us sheep, esp from FV….Delighted and will pray for God’s blessing on this ministry!! Thank YOU!!

  25. R. Scott,

    You wrote:

    “Properly speaking, there is no “Roman Catholic Church.” Such a claim may be clever marketing but it’s oxymoronic. A church is either Roman (local) or catholic (universal). By definition she cannot be both simultaneously any more than Jesus’ humanity can be at the right hand of the Father and in Berlin at the same time”

    The RC claim is neither oxymoronic, nor contraditory in any way. You may deny on scriptural, historical or other grounds that the RCC is the One, Holy, Apostolic and Catholic Church which Christ founded, but her identity claim is not self-contradictory as you assert. Bryan Cross explained the problem with your assertion in dialouge with Michael Horton in 2010, writing as follows:

    “You [Michael Horton] also claimed that the term “Roman Catholic” is an oxymoron, since, as you said, “the catholic church is the whole body of Christ in all times and places.” An oxymoron involves a contradiction, and if the Church were said to be particular and universal at the same time and in the same sense, that would be a contradiction. But there is no contradiction if a thing is particular in one sense, and universal in a different sense . . . The universal Church Christ founded is Roman in the sense that its visible head (until Christ returns) is the episcopal successor of St. Peter at Rome. The notion that either the Catholic Church Christ founded has no visible head, or there is no Catholic Church, is a false dilemma. Christ being the Savior of all men (every race, tribe, nation) is compatible with His being born of the Virgin Mary in a stable in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth. In Christ we see universality in one sense, and particularity in another sense, such that there is no contradiction. So likewise, the Catholic Church that Christ founded extends throughout the whole world, will endure through all time, and is open to all men; in that sense it is universal. Yet Christ gave the keys of this Catholic Church to one man (i.e. St. Peter), who made Rome the place of his apostolic seat, and through martyrdom spilled his blood, handing those keys on to St. Linus, who gave them up to St. Cletus, who gave them up to St. Clement, etc. In that sense the Catholic Church is Roman; that is its particularity, which is rooted in Christ’s giving the keys of this universal Church to one particular man. So there is no oxymoron in the term “Roman Catholic,” because the Church is Roman in a different sense in which it is Catholic.”

    The only claim that would fall prey to your criticism would manifestly be a straw man presentation of the Roman Catholic Church’s actual explanation of what is entailed by the term Roman Catholic Church. On the RCC’s own terms, your criticism is benign.

    Pax Christi

    • RC,

      1. I approved your comment this time only to show how silly the Romanist view is. Henceforth you will observe the terms of the comment policy. This blog is not playground for seducers or Romanist apologists seeking to make people twice the sons of hell they are.

      2. Your quotation of Cross shows how vacuous the Romanist position is. There’s not a SHRED of NT evidence for Petrine episcopacy and certainly no evidence that he ever served as or was regarded by any of the apostles or anyone else for that matter as anything other than a apostle of the Lord Jesus. The ONLY way the Romanist argument works is by the use of gross anachronism and that won’t fly here. I spent two hours reading the Epistles of Ignatius yesterday with a seminar and there’s enough there to destroy the Papist claims. Ignatius (c. 125?) knows nothing of an “apostolic succession.” Indeed, he knows nothing of monepiscopacy. He knows three offices: episkopos, presbuteros, and diakonos. The episcopos is a ministerial, not monepiscopal magisterial office. The presbytery is a council, to whom he’s accountable, and authority is shared. He could have appealed to apostolic succession but he never did because it didn’t exist.

      3. He does speak of the “church catholic” — indeed probably the earliest usage but he knows NOTHING of a “Roman Catholic” church. Again, Romanist anachronism (reading the 13th century back into the 2nd) won’t fly here.

      4. The Church does have a head: His name is Jesus of Nazareth and he established a visible church to which he gave genuine, ministerial authority to administer the keys of the kingdom (Matt 16). Peter was the rock, when he confessed Christ and he was anti-Christ when he denied our Savior — which he did more than once, including once as an apostle (See the book of Galatians). It has no single, earthly head because the Head of the Church, Jesus, never established one. We have a priest: Jesus, whose work is finished once-for-all. See the entire Book of Hebrews, which was written apparently to forestall what the papists managed to create anyway. Take a listen to the Office Hours series on Hebrews and see if you think there’s any room in Hebrews for a continuing, memorial, propitiatory sacrifice. “Once for all” doesn’t mean, “Jesus made a good start but now we must continue to make daily propitiation for sins.”

  26. R. Scott,

    I am entirely unclear how my comments were even remotely in violation of your comment policy. Frankly, Christian charity demands that we think the best of one another before assuming the worst. I am not conscious of being a “seducer” who makes “people twice the sons of hell they are”. I am a Catholic who very much respects the cogency and precision of much Reformed theology. I had no intention to offend, but rather hoped to challenge what remains a false statement about the RCC position – namely that the very term or definition “Roman Catholic”, is somehow oxymoronic or contradictory. There are enough real disagreements between Catholics and Reformed Christians. Claims about the oxymoronic or contradictory nature of our respective views, which turn out to be false when those respective views are presented in their proper (rather than straw man) form, should be tabled. From one man to another, your response seems surprisingly reactionary and thin skinned. I would hope a theological blog such as this could countenance a mild challenge with respect to the truth of a logical assertion.

    I am perfectly clear that you think there is no NT or sub-apostolic historical evidence for the Roman Catholic position. As I said in my first comment: “You may deny on scriptural, historical or other grounds that the RCC is the One, Holy, Apostolic and Catholic Church which Christ founded . . “. But your historical response entirely ducks the criticism I actually leveled concerning your specific assertion that the RCC name/identity is, in itself, oxymoronic and contradictory. That assertion has nothing, whatever, to do with whether or not the NT or subsequent history support the RCC’s claim to be the Church Christ founded.

    Your assertion (the one I questioned) was a logical one, not a historical one; and as a matter of logic, it is in error with respect to the actual Catholic position. Even if everything you say concerning the NT, St. Igantius, etc., were true and the Catholic Church were just the dangerous delusion you think she is; it would still be true that the phrase Roman Catholic Church, as Catholics understand that term (and as Cross has explained), would not be oxymoronic or contradictory in the way you say. Your assertion that “By definition she [the RCC] cannot be both [Roman and Catholic] simultaneously”, is false because according to the RCC position, she is not both in the same way at the same time, which is what you would need to establish the existence of a contradiction or oxymoron.

    Arguing that the RC position is false on historical grounds (which is what you did in your reply to me), does not establish that the RC position is oxymoronic or contradictory in itself, which is what you originally claimed. Hence, your assertion that the RCC position is oxymoronic or contradictory remains false and you should acknowledge that much, even if you hold exegetical and historical positions which you believe establish the falsity (as distinct from the logical coherency) of Catholic claims.

    Pax Christi

    • RC,

      1. The comment policy is as follows:

      Comments are welcome but must observe the moral law. Comments that are profane or that deny the gospel or advance positions contrary to the Reformed confession are subject to deletion. Anonymous comments, posted without permission, are forbidden.

      Advocating the Roman communion is contrary to the Reformed confession.

      2. I ignored your claim re the logic of “Roman Catholicism” as too obvious to need a reply. Cross’ argument makes no sense. Rome claims that she, being Roman, is universal. The qualifier Roman is of the essence of the being and nature of the Roman communion. From a historical pov, Rome has not made the sort of argument Cross makes. But if you insist, once more: The word “katholikos” is Greek for “universal.” The adjective “Roman” is necessarily local. These are mutually contradictory. The church is either Roman or catholic but it isn’t both simul. Of course, the church is universal and visible but that’s not the same as universal and Roman.

      3. One of the problems in debating with Called to Communion types is that they don’t know their new communion, your their adopted tradition. They’re typical Americans (still thinking like the evangelical converts they are) and making up things or imputing their own ideas to the church and the tradition. The E. Orthodox has their “Baptists” (as they say) and now so does Rome.

  27. Some of the blogs I follow use to mention you and your formerly defunct blog…with your sabbatical, that wasn’t so…I like to follow the news, but it’d sure be nice if the Kardashians took a hiatus. Know what I mean?

  28. RC,

    I deleted your post

    1) Because it is advocating Romanism. I meant what I said. This isn’t a debating society where you get to peddle Romanism. This isn’t just an intellectual question. It’s a spiritual question. Rome is false church. That’s the confessional position of the Reformed Churches. Allowing you or others from Called to Communion to advocate Romanism here puts people in spiritual danger.

    2) No, not accepting your terms of debate or your premises doesn’t make me illogical, it makes me critical of your premises. As a matter of history, to say that the Catholic Church is Roman is to say that it is submission to the Bishop of Rome, at bottom, which makes one a catholic. This is the teaching of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published Dominus Iesus in 2000 declaring that Protestant churches are not churches at all because we’re not in submission to Rome. That’s exactly what I’m claiming to be the Roman. That’s what’s contradictory.

    The local cannot be local and universal. As I say, I don’t think you understand Roman doctrine. If the visible church is universal, then it isn’t and cannot be Roman. That predication negates universality.

    Our disagreement, as I indicated in the post above, is grounded in different Christologies. You have an unbiblical and sectarian Christology. The catholic and biblical Christology is that the humanity of Jesus is local. That’s the teaching of Scripture and confessed by the Reformed Churches.

    3) The catholic church comes to visible expression in true churches where the gospel is preached purely, the sacraments administered purely, and discipline is practiced. Catholicity is not matter of submission to the Bishop of Rome but the perspicuous Word of God, which, by the way, is what you and every member of Called to Communion need to do–you are all placing your souls in mortal danger by refusing the finished work of Christ for sinners and placing your trust, at least partially, in your cooperation with grace. That’s a direct contradiction of the teaching of Holy Scripture.

  29. What? Wait a minute. Do you mean to say that all the ex prot Cardinal Newman wannabes over at CtC will not be allowed to post at the new and improved version of the HB? What about the First Amendment? What about charity? What about . . .

    Seriously, not that there isn’t some benefit in sparring with the CtC partyliners and seeing the jesuit philosophizing of romanism in action firsthand, it still is refreshing to see somebody call a spade a spade and refuse to buy into their false Christ, false gospel and false peace.

    Besides if we can’t figure out that it is protestantism that calls the papal church Roman Catholic, while the true blue refer to themselves as The Catholic Church, one has no business shilling for Rome and baiting the reformed schismatics and heretics …. uh, separated brethren to join up.

    IOW it’s good to see the HB back again, defending and promoting the reformed faith and worship.

  30. OK, I’m late to the news. Great to see you back! I really missed you. The Reformed blogosphere hasn’t been the same without you. Now I have some catching up to do on your posts.

  31. Dr. Clark,

    I’m late to this party, but I wanted to tell you that I am delighted to find the Heidelblog back in business. Yours was – and is again – one of the best Reformed confessional voices in the blog-o-sphere.

    Yours in Christ,
    Pastor Tony Phelps
    Christ Our Hope PCA
    Wakefield, RI

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