© Charles A. Clough 2002
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 6: New Truths of the Kingdom Aristocracy
Chapter 4 – The Historical Maturing of the Church
Lesson 198 – Church History – From the Reformation to the Present
25 Apr 2002
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
We’ve been going through the history of the church in a very abbreviated way, and we’re going to move on and hopefully get in the last section. We won’t finish tonight but we will come close to it. To summarize, we know that the Holy Spirit came on Pentecost and set up the church and the Church Age is going on, so far for at least 2,000 years, and the Holy Spirit has been busy during that time teaching the church certain key truths. And it’s really interesting to study church history and watch the sequence of issues that have come up. When you do a diagram of these issues that come up, it turns out that they mirror a systematic theology. It’s sort of interesting, it just kind of happens that way, in that in the early centuries the issue started out with the authority. So you have the Canon of Scripture, that’s the first issue because this is the issue of authority. You can’t go anywhere in theology without revelation, so clearly this Canon had to be developed and the issue of authority settled, that that was the apostolic corpus.
Then we have theology, the doctrine of the Trinity and who the Lord Jesus Christ is. Then we came into the Middle Ages and toward the end of the Middle Ages the issue of what did Jesus do on the cross; so we have Anselm. You remember that the issue there, over against heretics, was that did Jesus on the cross actually do something on the cross or was the cross merely a martyr’s death signifying loyalty to a cause, that kind of thing. In other words, was the cross something that would just stimulate a subjective emotional response, or was there something that actually was transacted on the cross. Clearly [it’s] the satisfaction approach, that Jesus Christ objectively did something on the cross, and sins were forgiven, sins can be forgiven on the basis of that atonement.
Then we came down to the Reformation, and the issue there was, how do we receive the grace that comes from that cross to us? That is on page 95, “Receiving the Benefits of the Cross.” During this time, whereas most of the church in the West accepted the satisfaction approach to the cross, i.e., the cross objectively did something, but what happened was that whereas people would say that the cross is an expression of God’s grace toward us, and forgiveness toward us, there was no settled view about how that grace came to us. In other words, do you get all the benefits of the cross, some of the benefits of the cross, what do the benefits of the cross do for you, do they cleanse you from past sins or do they cleanse you from past, present and future sins. If they cleanse from past, present and future sins then what motivation is there to live a godly life. Those are the issues that came up during the Reformation period.
We worked our way through that and we came to, on page 97, we’re talking here about how the church was forced, in about 1500–1600, the issue separated the Western Church, and that was the issue of how God’s grace comes to man through the cross. The Catholics and Protestants agreed on the fact that something was done on the cross, but because in Roman Catholic theology sin was not as profoundly developed, the doctrine of sin, ironically, because you normally think it would have been, but it really wasn’t as far as the sin nature. For example, the idea of baptism in Roman Catholic theology is that it removes original sin, and that what happens is that you have post-baptismal sins that have to be dealt with, and that’s penance, etc., those are the ways those post-salvation sins are taken care of. But as far as the deep Calvinist Reformation emphasis on the sin nature, you don’t find too much of that in Roman Catholic theology. There’s a bunch of issues that are tied into this, it’s not just an issue of the sacraments, it’s not just an issue of what constitutes faith, but it’s an issue of what is sin, how deeply does sin permeate the human soul, those issues. All of that was the battleground.
On page 97 I give you the conflict that Luther faced. You can tell from the two titles of the books what was the issue between him and another one of his Protestants called Erasmus. Luther’s book was the Bondage of the Will. Erasmus’ book was The Freedom of the Will, and that was the debate Luther fought. Calvin agreed with Luther, most Reformed people agree that sin includes the will. They’re not saying that the will is destroyed; they’re simply saying that the will is free to sin. Or put more bluntly, everyone can go to hell in their own way, it’s just choosing what road you want to travel; you have a right to choose the roads. But there’s no inclination, apart from God’s grace, there’s no inclination in our hearts to return to the Lord any more than there was an inclination in Adam and Eve’s heart to return to the Lord unless the Lord in the Garden called out and He initiated the conversation. That was the argument that was going on there.
Also in that paragraph, “The sacraments, Luther held, are only symbols through which the Word of God works. They witness to man subjectively but have no objective function of mediating God’s saving grace.” That was the other issue that came up, because the issue of the ordinances or the sacraments became a big issue. Interestingly, as a result of this debate what we call modern Roman Catholic theology jelled. Notice the next paragraph, the Council that I mention there, the Council of Trent, is where Catholic theology was really firmed up. So what we call Roman Catholic Theology, 95% of it was fixed there in that Council. Notice the dates on the Council, they come after Luther, so it’s a reaction by a church that didn’t go along with Luther and Calvin to shuck those Protestant Reformers. So here’s where the church took a hard-nosed line, and I give a quote from … by the way, this is called the Trentine theology, and the quote lets you see what was going on.
“If anyone denies, that, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted,” i.e., anybody denies that the guilt of original sin is remitted through baptism, “or even asserts that the whole of that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away…let him be anathema,” let him be cursed. There’s the Trentine doctrine of the fact that God’s grace comes through the sacrament of baptism and it’s baptism that removes the original sin. That’s why after that Trentine quote I have the next sentence, “After the sacrament of baptism, that is said to regenerate, the child is left in a state of innocence with a free will that, for some reason, still chooses sin.” That’s the problem that everyone who denies the universality of sin or what the Protestants call total depravity, always have a problem with explaining the ubiquity of sin. Why is sin ubiquitous? I mean, what’s the deal, why is it you never have to train a kid how to be bad, they naturally do that. There’s something wrong here, there’s something abnormally wrong with everybody including children. And the “something” that is wrong is the fact that we have a sin nature. It’s not just that we commit personal sins.
There are three areas of sin and we want to remember these because people usually think of only one of these. There is one that everybody thinks about and that is personal sin, that’s acts of sin, thoughts of sin, choices, that sort of thing. Most people say okay, I agree with that, personal sin. The problem is there are two other kinds of sin that are involved. Turn to Romans 5 to see these because these other areas of sin are also involved, and when you see these it makes the work of Jesus Christ a lot more profound. We have personal sin, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” That’s Romans 3:23. So clearly we have personal sin, and most people don’t argue about that. But we also have some other kind of sin.
In Romans 5:12, “Just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—,” notice past tense on the verb sinned at the end of verse 12, all have “sinned.” Here’s the debate. If everybody physically dies because they have sinned, then it follows since infants die that infants too have sinned. When did they sin? When is this verb happening that says all “sinned” in verse 12? Does it happen the moment you take your first breath? Does it happen after you’ve lived your life for a while, or is there something else involved? There’s something else involved, verse 13, “for until the Law,” i.e., for until the Law of Moses, it wasn’t given until 1440 BC or thereabouts, until that Law, and by the way, until that Law includes the period of Adam, Methuselah, Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, it includes a lot of people. “For until the Law sin was in the world;” and it’s clear that sin was in the world, “but,” says Paul, sin is not credited when there is no law.” In other words, it has to be a violation of some standard, and the Law here he’s talking about the Torah, the Torah Law.
But he says that … so you can’t attribute physical death because it’s a punishment under the Torah, it has to be a punishment under some other law than the Torah because there wasn’t any law before the Torah in the sense of the Torah. Now there was a moral law that God revealed through Abraham, etc. So then he concludes in verse 14, “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of Adam’s offense, who is a type of Him who was to come.” What he’s saying is that because of the ubiquity of death, there has to be a cause behind all death. And the cause behind all death is that we have blame, physical death is a sentence upon all of us because we sinned. Well, how did we sin? You go on and the argument basically argues that we sinned in Adam. Adam is a representative, a federal head of the human race, and we are all under that, and we call that imputed sin, i.e., sin that is credited to our account because we are “in Adam,” who is “a figure of Him who was to come.”
People say imputed sin is unfair; if I was in the Garden I wouldn’t have sinned. Come on! People look at imputed sin and they say it’s unfair but if you notice Adam is a likeness of one who shall come and that “who shall come” is the Lord Jesus Christ. So the federal headship of being in Adam that everybody says is unfair turns out to be a blessing, because being in Adam, Adam is the federal head, that’s structure of being “in” a federal head over a human race, that’s the reason why Jesus Christ righteousness can also be credited to our account, because we didn’t obey perfectly either, but we’re credited with that righteousness. We weren’t physically in the Garden of Eden but we’re credited with that sin. So if the sin is unfair in the case of Adam’s sin being credited to our account, then it’s unfair for Jesus’ righteousness to be credited to our account. Those are similar structures. This is not easy stuff; people have debated this down through church history. This is heavy theology here.
But the Bible insists there is a unity to the human race that goes beyond biological unity. Every one of us carries the DNA of Adam; notice I said Adam; I didn’t say Adam and Eve. Why didn’t I say Adam and Eve? Because Eve’s DNA came from Adam. Eve was created in a special way. People say oh that was just a little mythical story. No, no no! Genesis 2 in the story of the creation of Eve is meant to be literally true, that the woman’s genetic makeup was taken out of Adam so that both male and female together are under that one unified head, Adam.
That is the reason why there’s a debate today over gender neutral Bible translations. Yes, it’s true technically that the word “mankind” means men and women. Everybody that sort of knows English knows that the word “mankind” includes male and female. But for some strange reason in our generation we’ve got to say it explicitly. So what other generations knew intuitively we have to get out and start dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s and say we can’t translate mankind mankind because some people might think that women aren’t in there. So now we have to change the translation and make it men and women, just so everybody understands what mankind means.
Technically from a translator’s point of view that seems nice, you know, you’ve got semantic equivalency, hey, no problem, but it’s not just a technical question here. This issue of being “in Adam” is involved in this debate. The reason historically in the English language the word “mankind” came about is coming off the Bible. The English language as we know it has been influenced by the King James translation and the word “mankind” is a direct reference to Genesis 1. That noun m-a-n-k-i-n-d, where do you suppose the k-i-n-d came from? What does it say in Genesis? Everything was created after their “kind.” What is man, in that sense, in the word “mankind”? It’s a reference to “the man” in Genesis 1, Adam. All that theological richness is embedded in that way of talking. So when you hear all the little debates about male and female and yeah, it’s semantically equivalent, you could argue that, if you have a computer translating it and a theologically ignorant computer, it would go ahead and make those semantic equivalencies. But to do that evacuates the richness behind these words. So it is your traditional translations that support the traditional rendering in English “mankind.” And until our generation, everybody understood that, but something’s wrong today I guess.
Personal sin and imputed sin, but that’s not all. There’s also a sin nature, so in Romans 7 Paul deals with that one. We have personal sin, we have imputed sin, and we have what we call inherent sin. The Lord Jesus Christ has to deal with all three of these; the salvation package has to cope with all three kinds of sin. Romans 7:7, “What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it not be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said ‘You shall not covet.’  But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind,” see in verse 8 the subject of the verb “produced” is a noun and it is “sin.” That sin there isn’t imputed sin, and sin there isn’t personal sin—that is a sin power that is in us, and that’s inherent sin. So all three of these are involved, and this is why when you deal with sacraments or you deal with the finished work of Christ, you deal with the work of Christ, what He’s done, to discuss those subjects presumes that you have already understood the sin subject. And if the sin isn’t clearly defined then the discussion of the work of Christ gets all foggy.
So if, for example, you’re thinking, as it happened sometimes in the Reformation debates, if you think only in terms of personal sin, then you come up with some screwy ideas, because now you’re talking about, as it says on page 97, the quote from Trent: “If anyone denies, that, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is conferred in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted; or even asserts that the whole of that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away… let him be anathema.” Well now, we all know that the men who wrote that paragraph at the Council of Trent certainly weren’t teaching perfectionism. They weren’t that far out. So when you see that sentence, “the whole of that which has the true and proper nature of sin is not taken away” by baptism, what they are referring to is personal sin. Of course they’re talking a little bit about the imputed sin, the credit, etc. But it’s a little foggy there, it’s personal sin and these other two get very ill defined; it’s not handled well. You can go back and you can read these documents and when you read them you say well wait a minute, what are these guys talking about? Are they talking about imputed sin and inherent sin or personal sin? You start asking those questions and it’s not clear when you’re reading them, which means that they probably weren’t clear either. That was one of the issues that came out of the Reformation.
At the bottom of page 97 you’ll see one of the results of all this. “Trentine theology views forgiveness as applying only to past sins,” plural, “not past-present-and future- sins” as a package deal. In other words, in time the atonement of Christ carries you up to the present, not into the future. There’s the difference. In the Protestant gospel of Luther and Calvin, and the people of the Reformation, salvation was a packaged deal. In other words, the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross purged sins past, present and future and that’s why they talked about justification as a completed thing. Out of this the Protestant position is justification is a point in time.
In Roman Catholic theology they use the word “justification” but what they mean is baptism, penance, penance, penance, penance, penance, penance, maybe extreme unction, etc. throughout the life. So they use the word “justification” but they do not mean the same thing as the Protestants meant by the word, and unfortunately they didn’t coin a new word, so when you hear somebody say on the Roman Catholic side of the issue, they’re talking about well I believe in salvation by grace, they can literally say that. Of course, they believe in salvation by grace, they believe in justification, but to get into the content of what they mean when they use the word, they don’t mean what Luther and Calvin meant by it. So it gets greasy in the conversations because both sides are using the same word but both sides don’t mean the same thing so oftentimes they’re talking by one another in discussions.
The last sentence is where the rubber meets the road in the Middle Ages and beyond, especially with the Council of Trent. “The Council of Trent, therefore, retained full organizational control over dispensing Christ’s meritorious work on the Cross in the Roman church.” In other words, if the sacraments are the means through which this grace comes to man, and it’s the church that controls the sacraments, guess who’s in charge of salvation? This is where Roman Catholicism is actually a church–state and its political power and impact down through the centuries has been because of this right here. This is the core of the power. It’s not papal infallibility; papal infallibility wasn’t declared until a little over a hundred years ago. That may shock some people but infallibility is the doctrine that was not articulated until the mid-nineteenth century. So the power of Catholicism has been always in the power to control the channels of grace, and the power politically and socially and religiously to dominate that thing.
I’ll give you an example. It’s happening right here to a couple in our congregation. We have a person marrying a person of Roman Catholic background. The person of Roman Catholic background comes from a home of devout Roman Catholic parents and the Roman Catholic parents are very upset by what’s happening because to them, believing this scheme, what’s one of the sacraments? Marriage, there are seven sacraments and marriage is one of them, and for a marriage to occur outside of a priest and the blessing of the church is like we would think of somebody out of fellowship and lost. So you can understand the pain of the parents who are devout Roman Catholics trying to think this through, here’s their child getting married to this Protestant and no sacrament, no priest, nothing. Well what kind of a marriage is that going to be, they think. So we have to understand the mentality of what’s going on here and why these conflicts arise and can become very, very disruptive and not easy to deal with because we’re dealing with two completely different systems of approaching this matter.
Continuing, we’ll come back to the sacraments but I want to introduce this because this all came down, it’s the leading edge, so to speak, of the Protestant Reformation. Now the problem came within Protestantism. So let’s forget Roman Catholicism for a minute and come back over and look at what happened to the Reformation. Page 98, “As Luther found with Erasmus, Protestants quickly found great debates internally in the movement. Protestantism spawned diverse movements within a century or two. Jacob Arminius tried to alter classical Calvinism to blunt attacks being made against Reformed Theology.” The attacks that were dealt with here go back to what I just said. Here’s what happened. The Roman Catholics all over Europe, along with the Council of Trent, etc. all that went with it, started shooting at the Protestants and here’s the bullets they used: you guys are ruining the spiritual lives of everybody on this continent because you’re going around France, Germany, northern Europe, and you guys are going around and you’re preaching to the people in the street and everywhere else that when they’re saved they’re completely saved, that their sins have been forgiven, past, present and future. Now you just removed all incentive to live godly lives.
See the argument. It’s still going on, even in our own circles because there are people in evangelical Christianity that hold the same thing, if you get to heavy on the complete salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ, there won’t be any motive to live the Christian life. So let’s address the issue of motive. Let’s look at the motive. If it’s really true that at baptism I am saved from the past sins but not the present sins, then it means that as I walk through time in my Christian life I live on a knife edge of damnation, because those sins aren’t forgiven. I have to keep getting saved, as it were, I have to keep getting my sins covered lest I take a step, boom, and you know, all of salvation in the past isn’t going to count in the future. So if that’s the motivation to live the Christian life isn’t that a motivation of fear. It’s true, the Bible says live in the fear of the Lord, but is it that kind of fear? Is it the fear of God for who He is and respect for His character or is it a fear of constantly losing my salvation? That was the issue the Protestants, the original Reformers, Luther and Calvin had to deal with and they are right on the front end of the Reformation.
Their argument was that’s not the motivation to live the Christian life, where do you read that in the epistles? The epistles are all … the motivation is not fear, it’s one of gratitude, it’s a gratitude because God has saved me, and then because I am thankful to Him that I live the Christian life the way I live. So what looks like a hairy theological thing has a very operationally practical result here. The issue is, is the motivation fear or is the motivation gratitude? To this day there are still people who argue that we’ve got to have a little fear here because if we don’t have a fear people won’t follow the road. They’re partly right in the sense that there is an area in the New Testament epistles that does involve the motivation for fear, but it’s not fear of eternal damnation, it’s a fear of God’s discipline in my life temporally, physically, and that is in the New Testament epistles. God has a paddle and He’s not afraid of corporeal punishment. There’s no social worker that’s going to intervene with how He disciplines His children. God can discipline very physically; in fact, He can kill us, 1 Corinthians 11. We read 1 Corinthians 11 at every communion service, and what does it say? It says for this cause, people with unconfessed sin and they let it go and let it go and let it go, “for this cause many sleep among you.” What’s he talking about? They’re not sacked out in the aisle. They’re talking about somebody that physically died. So there’s the extreme discipline of the Lord, but it’s a discipline not trying to undo salvation. If you look at those passages like 1 Corinthians 5 it, in fact, says that God disciplines a person so that He saves his soul, it’s keeping the person saved to take Him out.
All this is background for this sacrament issue and everything else. The Calvinists and the Arminians, the Arminians were trying to defend what they felt the Calvinists were overdoing God’s sovereignty. So they tried to make an issue out of volition. Page 98, “Whereas Calvinism saw regeneration as the Holy Spirit overcoming a fallen will, Arminianism saw regeneration as a strengthening of man’s natural abilities.” John Wesley was famous because he actually modified Arminianism and it “came to be expressed as Methodism and its offshoots, the Holiness and Pentecostal movements,” historically that’s where that went. But John Wesley wasn’t really a [can’t understand word] Arminian either, he was mixed.
“Along with Arminianism, came more radical departures from Reformed Theology.” In our country what’s wrecked Bible Christianity more than anything else is the next sentence. “The Socinianism led to Deism and Unitarianism particularly in Colonial America.” Colonial America was not a Bible-waving Bible-thumping society. There were genuine Christians in it and Christianity had influenced it, but also embedded in what we call Colonial American thought was a lot of Deism and Unitarianism. “This movement consistently rejected orthodox Christian theology at nearly every point. Having rejected Biblical authority,” Thomas Jefferson rewrote the Bible, they rejected Biblical authority, they rejected the Trinity, that’s why they’re called Unitarians, “they rejected Chalcedonian Christology,” meaning Jesus Christ is God and man, they rejected “the judicial accomplishments of the Cross,” they redefined sin, they redefined salvation, and they redefined grace. “Let with the inexplicable universality of human sin, this movement thought of sin as a mere tendency to follow foolishness that could be eradicated by education” and underline this one, because this is still with us politically today, they thought that “foolishness could be eradicated by education and moral example.”
And that underlies a lot of American public education from the very beginning. There was a famous educator, I lost the name because there were three or four of the guys at the beginning of the 20th century, but one of them had a name for kindergarten. Do you know what it was? The new Eden. Ever been in a kindergarten? It really looks like Eden, doesn’t it? Stay in one for three days, and see if you think it’s Eden. Anyway, his hope was that through education we could improve society. See this is where the study of history gives you insight into what what’s gone wrong here. What’s the background for this whole point in this definition of sin? If you’ve misdefined sin you’ll be a sucker for all the self-improvement programs because the self-improvement programs are all founded on a false view of what’s wrong with man. They view it as merely foolishness. Is sin foolishness? Yes it is. Can some of it be restrained? Yes. Sure. But the root of sin is not taken care of by a self-improvement program, or an educational program.
Unless sin is dealt with, education just makes us sin more effectively. After all, who can murder and kill more people, a people that can design bigger and better bombs. Think of World War II, what was the greatest, the one nation in Europe that was known for its universities? And who started World War II. So the whole point is that education doesn’t save and cannot save because structurally it doesn’t deal with the sin issue. The gospel does that and that’s being excluded from the public education system by definition. So that’s why it’s bound to fail, and you will never find in our society today a public educational system that will ever be successful. This is not a slam on the poor people that are trying to make it, the teachers. The Christian guys and gals that are in there slugging away every day in that system are trying to just have some education happen, we’ve got to have some, but after all is said and done, if there’s not a conversion experience with Jesus Christ you can kiss it off as far as any profound affects it’s going to have.
Last paragraph, page 98, at this date, a very important date, AD 1054, the Eastern Churches decided they had had enough, and they left. They did not accept the authority of the bishop at Rome and so they formed their own groups. And they went “outside of the Japhetic-European emphasis … the Eastern Orthodox groups continued to mix tradition and Scripture as their authority, adhered to a weaker Christology (only the Father, not the Son, sent the Holy Spirit), and largely avoided discussion about the judicial nature of the Cross work.” Why is this? Notice what I said in that sentence, “Japhetic-European,” you see, the European culture is made up of the heirs, the daughters and the sons that go all the way back to Japheth. And Japheth has a characteristic down through history, he’s an organizer. Who had the best organized empire that man has ever seen? The Romans—Japheth. Where did philosophy begin in all the world? Europe—Japheth. Where did law really get refined? Western Europe—Japheth.
Japheth does a lot of things well but he also doesn’t do things. One thing Japheth isn’t, he isn’t an inventor. Where did most of the inventions happen down through history? Ham. Who invented gun powder? The Chinese—Hamitics. Who invented the printing press and ink? The Chinese and the Oriental people—Hamitics. Who were the first ones to drill teeth? The Egyptians—Hamites. So each one of the sons of Noah has a contribution to make to overall human destiny but each one does it in his own way. And Japheth appears that his strength is that he’s a debater, he’s an organizer, etc. and it’s to that end that the gospel went into Europe through Rome, through Paul and his missionary journeys, because it looks like that what God the Holy Spirit had in mind, that the church had to organize the revelation it had been given and He utilized those Japhetic assets to do that. Where have most missions come from? Japheth. So it’s just a pattern that you observe in history. The Eastern Church, however, is not primarily Japhetic, it’s Shemitic, it’s mixtures of Japheth and Ham, etc. and it just has never historically shown the strengths and clarity of doctrine.
Let’s summarize on page 99. We come to the end of the Middle Ages, the Reformation and we go on to the next emphasis. The next emphasis is what is the purpose and goal of the church. We’ve gone through the founding period, we’ve seen the rise of the Canon, we’ve seen the doctrine of God, the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ, and we’ve seen the work of Jesus Christ, we’ve seen the issue of faith and how the grace of God is received in man, how people are saved. This is all the background of God and this teaches the church about salvation. You’ll notice something else as you study church history; the issues usually aren’t revisited. In other words, the Trinity is the Trinity is the Trinity. We don’t teach any different Trinity than Luther taught, Luther doesn’t teach any different Trinity than Anselm taught; Anselm doesn’t teach any different Trinity than Augustine taught. That doctrine hasn’t changed. Once the Holy Spirit has clarified it to the church, it just sticks and that’s it. You have heretics trying to oppose it, but the doctrine is maturing. Similarly the gospel hasn’t changed since the time of Luther and Calvin. There have been weak versions of it, there have been heretics that deny it, but by this time the gospel was clear.
What’s the next stage in history? The stage in which we live from the time of Luther [and] Calvin, on down to right now. That’s the period we’re going to start studying now, and that is the nature of the church and its goal. This is going to involve several aspects. It’s going to involve what is the church, what are the offices in the church, what is the church doing, what is its role in history, because we’ve dealt with the other issues so at this point as the Holy Spirit leads the church to maturity through the centuries, now He’s saying okay, it’s time you guys started learning who you are. It’s time you guys started thinking about what your purpose is in history.
What did we say has always been the method of the Holy Spirit teaching? What have we observe over the centuries of time, all the way from the book of Acts. What’s His primary too? Pressure, persecution, heresy, because it just seems we don’t learn unless we get kicked in the butt. And that’s the way we learn. You see it in Acts; the church doesn’t leave Jerusalem until it’s kicked out of Jerusalem. The issue of missions doesn’t come up until Paul has to fight everybody to define what missions are all about. The doctrine of the Trinity never got straightened out until you had heretics and Unitarians arguing that Jesus wasn’t God so all that had to be straightened out. The issue of salvation wasn’t straightened out until you had a church that became so corrupt that it thought of itself as a dispenser of grace bit by bit that you could pay alms too. And when it got so bad, then finally somebody said enough is enough, we go back to the Word of God and find out how do we get saved? What is salvation? And that was how we got to here.
After the 1600–1700s what is the major new social institution that arises in history? Before that in history you had kingdoms and domains, but by 1700, 1800, 1900, now you have the rise of what historians call the nation-state. You have the French Revolution. You have the American Revolution. You have the Russian Revolution. And all these revolutions involve what we call a nation-state, and the particular Nazism, Fascism in Italy; all of these movements involve the role of the goal of the human race. After all, what was the appeal of Hitler? Those of you who have studied World War II what was the Nazi program. Killing Jews was a means to another end, what was the end of Nazism? The Third Kingdom. Doesn’t that sound a little funny, where did the Third Kingdom idea come out of? The Bible. And it was an attempt to bring in a perfect society. It’s an eschatology… [blank spot]
… it was to conquer the world and bring in the dictatorship of the Proletariat, and we would have a perfect society. What was the role of Fascism? What is the role of Islam today, the fanatical Islam? To conquer the world and bring in a kingdom. So if you’ve noticed the last 300–400 years we have been fighting an abortive heretical eschatology. All these movements are heretical eschatological beliefs. They are beliefs in a false vision of where history is supposed to be going. That is something primarily new in the last 300–400 years. And it’s those visions that have led to severe persecution of the church. The church has had to deal with this and is still dealing with it. The only way the church deal with it is it answered the question who God was, it answered the question of salvation, and now the church in the persecuted areas has to answer what are we doing? What should we be doing? Should we be political activists; should we be politically passive? Is the role of the church to Christianize the culture and get it ready for the return of Jesus or is it something else. And how do we answer that question unless we have some idea of God’s prophetic program. So in the last 200–300 years there’s been a lot of discussion about the nature of the church, the offices of the church, and most importantly, the details of the second return of Christ.
It’s not an accident, because God the Holy Spirit teaches by persecution and pressure. So He turns the heat up first in one area, then He turns the heat up in another area, then He turns the heat up in another area. I don’t know about you but I can look in my Christian life and that is recapitulated on a personal level because that’s how we learn too. The Holy Spirit puts pressure here and we have to cope with it, he puts pressure here, we have to cope with it, He puts pressure here, we have to cope with it. That’s how He teaches us on a small scale. But He teaches the church on a large scale that way. So now we come down to the church and the goal, and we really deal here with eschatology, i.e., the doctrine of future things.
Let’s look and we’ll see the purpose and goal of the church, page 99, “The Nature of the Church.” What is the church? “Throughout the Acts period and thereafter the Holy Spirit consistently moved New Testament believers toward the realization that they could not be defined by their nationality, by their gender, by their situation in life, or by any other convenient labeling device. Whatever the church was, it wasn’t an ethnic group of a political body.” A strange thing this church. Judaism had a definition, it was a nation, under the heel of Rome but you ask a Jew who he was, he knew who he was, he’s part of the Jewish nation. What do you do about a Christian in Corinth, Gentile, woman, and she meets Stephen, a Jewish man, Jerusalem? They’re both in the church. What nation do they belong to? What’s their politics? What’s their agenda? Both are the same. So you have all these questions, what is the church? What’d we say? The church basically came to be the community of people who believed something. What they have in common is not their gender, not their race, not their political allegiance. What they have in common is what they believe, the New Testament gospel. So it’s the content of doctrine that defines what the church is, or is it the organization that defines what the church is.
That’s the first big debate in this area of the church. Is the church primarily a group of people with common beliefs, and by “belief” here I mean belief in a defined body of doctrine, or is it a group of people who have a common organization. This has gone on for a number of centuries. Let’s think about one form it takes—apostolic succession. I don’t know about you but I came out of a highly liturgical church, not Roman Catholic but I came out of a church that spoke of apostolic succession, saw itself as sharing with Rome apostolic succession. And the idea was that the bishop had been ordained by two or three bishops who had been ordained by two or three bishops who had been ordained back, back, back, back, back to the apostles. So you have this unbroken line of ordination, apostolic succession. The idea was that apostolic succession guarantees the identity of the church. Well, what you do with heretical people that are ordained? For example, what about, years ago, Bishop Pike who was an atheist bishop in Arizona, of the Episcopal Church? He was in the apostolic succession, he was part of the organization, but I wouldn’t say he was part of the common faith of orthodox Christians.
So here we have to take a stand; are we going to follow some sort of succession organizationally, apostolically or are we going to follow a common belief. Again here’s the Reformation erupting again because the Reformation said we follow the Apostles. And the Roman Catholic Church said, you do not, you have broken apostolic succession, you do not belong to the Roman Catholic Church, you are not in succession to the Apostles. The Protestants said you’re the ones that are not in succession because you don’t follow the apostolic teachings. So bang, here we go. Is it the common organization or is it a common mode of beliefs. And Protestants believe it’s a common mode of beliefs.
So part of the advance was the church came to see that it’s very important to articulate what it is you believe. That’s why those Councils are so important. It doesn’t matter who ordained who, it doesn’t matter what the particular organization has done 400 years ago, the issue is today what do we believe and are we part of the community that believes in the historic Christian faith?
Not only did that issue come up but the issue, on page 100, the ordinances. “Throughout the Foundational and Medieval periods, the church continued to be characterized by various ordinances and leadership offices which were becoming more elaborate and developed.”
Oh by the way, those verses in the previous paragraph, Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Timothy 3:1–2; Titus 1:5, 7, and 1 Peter 5:1, those are passages in the New Testament where the titles elder, pastor and bishop are used interchangeably. They are not speaking of three different ranks. In the military you have ranks; in the Army, the Air Force and the Marines you start out with Second Lieutenant, First Lieutenant, Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel and then you get into the different kind of General levels and everybody has a rank. That happened to the church. The church started ranking these three names. But if you look back in those passages of Scripture, bishop, pastor and elder apparently were all the same rank. They’re not handled differently; they’re all spoken of to be the same person. But that wasn’t to last. In the centuries after the New Testament those three areas became different ranks, and the highest ranking one was the bishop. The bishop came to be the chief pastor, usually of a city. So you had the Bishop of Constantinople, the Bishop of Antioch, the Bishop of Jerusalem, the Bishop of Rome, the Bishop of Carthage. And all the different pastors would get together and this guy was the spokesman and they called him the bishop. So now you start to see there’s a stratification going on in the church.
So that’s why we say, “Throughout the Foundational and Medieval periods, the church continued to be characterized by various ordinances and leadership offices which were becoming more elaborate and developed. The ordinances were gradually turned into sacraments. Whereas in the early period baptism,” now notice this, “in the early period baptism was administered only after the candidate had been instructed in the faith.” Now it’s true that the fathers kept saying the water of baptism washes from sin, but if you read carefully those first few centuries, they instructed people before they got baptized. Why were they instructing them if the baptism was automatically conveying salvation? Why were they instructing them? Well clearly it was because they really believed that the person had to believe in the Word of God in order for this to be effective. Why the instruction? Baptism in the early period “was administered only after the candidate had been instructed in the faith, by the Middle Ages baptism had become a sacrament through which forgiveness of sin came regardless of the faith of the candidate.” That’s how you can justify infant baptism; infants can’t believe. “The Word of God receded into secondary importance to the ritual itself.” So the ritual now has assumed primacy.
This is not, by the way, to knock baptism and communion. I don’t think we emphasize those enough in our own circles, frankly, because they are divinely designed rituals that God designed. He didn’t say chips and coke, He said wine and bread. Why did He pick those two things? Because there’s something in them, there’s a whole heritage of those two foods and what they reveal in their structure. But behind it is the Word of God; it’s trusting in the Word of God.
“Communion or the Eucharist followed a similar path. In the early centuries Christ was thought to be present during Communion in a special way distinct from all other times.” They didn’t articulate it too much but they did believe in a special presence of Jesus during the Communion. But “by the Middle Ages, the elements themselves were thought to become miraculously the material body and blood of Jesus,” transubstantiation, meaning that those elements became the body of Christ. “His presence was not only spiritual but material also. This view led to the problematic result that Christ must be seen to repeat His sacrifice each time the sacrament is administered—a view that denies the once-for-all complete sacrifice on the Cross.” So there was a theological problem with this.
Finally, “This changing nature of the ordinances logically connects to a changing nature of the church.” Remember what the issue here is, what’s the nature of the church. The church by the Middle Ages had become a powerful organization, a state unto itself. It gained much of its political power from its religious power. After all, if the sacraments are the main channels of grace under the control of church leadership, then the church organizationally stands between God and all men. Besides baptism and communion, the church by this point had increased the number of sacraments to seven: baptism, the Eucharist, confirmation, penance, extreme unction, orders and marriage. All of life was now under the thumb of the church leaders!”
And the problem the Roman Catholics are having right now is concerning one of the sacraments. The idiots that write in the paper, these guys, before they commit themselves to writing an article in the paper there ought to be a rule that they read background material, do a little research. They’re faulting Roman Catholics because the Pope didn’t say kick the bad priests out. The Pope can’t say that. Why? Because the priests are ordained and what is one of these sacraments? So you may disagree with it, you may say they should or they shouldn’t, but for heaven’s sake don’t sit there and say gee the Pope can do this, why, it’s easy, just kick them out. No it isn’t easy because they’ve got a whole doctrinal frame of reference to deal with here. They’re not going to deal with that, they’re not going to throw them out; they can’t any more than they can throw marriage out. Just because we have bad people in marriage doesn’t mean you throw marriage out. If you have bad priests you don’t throw the whole ordination scheme out. But if you were Roman Catholic tonight that’s the struggle you would be facing. I’m just saying logically b follows a and c follows b, and we have these hip-shooter commentators saying well I don’t understand why the Catholics can’t solve the problem. Well it just shows you the ignorance of somebody that says that. They don’t understand Catholicism.
Top paragraph, page 101, “And how was the leadership organized? In the West, the bishop of Rome grew in influence and power. Bishops had earlier gained ‘rank’ over other elders and pastors. They were associated with major cities. Augustine insisted upon the primacy of the bishop of Rome and the collapse of the Roman Empire left the Roman Church in a power vacuum that it quickly filled.” The Eastern Orthodox bishops rejected the claim of the supremacy of the Roman bishop and along with other issues this conflict led to the rupture of the church into Eastern and Western branches. In the West the concept of a ‘pope’ arose as the Roman bishop came to assume power even over the secular kings.”
Notice the footnote, here’s one of the most interesting statements one of the Popes made: Pope “Boniface VIII (pope 1294–1303),” notice his dates, 200 years before the Reformation, and remember when Rome fell, the Roman Empire fell, the Roman Catholic Church stepped in and in one sense held Europe together; there was a cultural unity across Europe. Had the church not done that, God knows what would have happened. We would all be running around wearing loin cloths. “Boniface VIII claiming that he was,” look at this, “a God of Pharaoh, set between God and man, lower than God but higher than man.” That’s classical Roman Catholic theology and it’s logically coherent, you can’t just say oh well, I don’t believe that. All right, but you have to understand where they’re coming from. There’s a whole edifice and structure here that’s all grounded, the sacraments are all tied into this, there’s a whole schema here.
This is why when Luther and Calvin, if you really grasp what Roman Catholicism is, you say to yourself, holy mackerel, how did Luther and Calvin ever do it? Do you know how they did it? This is how they did it. They didn’t do it, they went to the Word of God and they said this is what defines; it is not the Pope, it is the Word of God. And once they said that it cut right through all the sacrament mess, because now the grace of God comes because I trust in God and His Word and He mediates His grace to me through Jesus Christ. It’s not that I demean the meaning of baptism and communion but I don’t need seven kinds of sacraments to run my life. And I don’t need some priest, some Pope, telling me how I’m going to live my life. This tells me how I live my life. So understand the background for what went on, the power and impact of the Reformation was like a nuclear bomb religiously, and we’re still living in the fallout from that. It’s an amazing story.
Next week we’ll carry on; I had an appendix on Part IV on the millennium, postmillennialism, premillennialism, and amillennialism. If you look at that we’re going to deal a little bit with eschatology and how it started. We’re not going to deal with all the fine details, right now I’m dealing with the end of church history, our present era, which is a debate about eschatology, and I want to give some background on amillennialism, premillennialism, postmillennialism so you’ll have the background to understand why some people say we should be politically active, if we are politically active what do we do, what are the priorities between the gospel and our activism. If we’re not politically active, why aren’t we politically active? All this is tied in with very practical issues to eschatology.
Question asked: Clough replies: I think the sense of wanting that grows out of the fact that every born again Christian has the same spirit within him. If you’ve never had the experience of going to a totally foreign culture and meeting a Christian in that foreign culture with whom you have nothing in common other than Jesus, people who have gone through that experience say it’s amazing because in spite of all of your cultural differences, all of a sudden there’s this tremendous spiritual bonding that takes place between you and this other person, and it’s because you share Christ, you share eternal life. And it’s so powerful that it almost overwhelms these other things. So I think that’s true, I think you have Christians in church A and Christians in church B and Christians in church C and there’s a natural tendency to want to be with each other.
Question asked: Clough replies: The church splitting and fragmenting has all gone on down through history, it’s nothing new. What usually stops that kind of fragmentation, although it doesn’t always do it is where you have a common hostile culture. If you start seeing, for example laws passed which state that if you delineate certain sins in the pulpit, that’s a civil crime, a hate crime, and the pastor of church C gets arrested and the pastor of church A gets arrested, and the Pastor of church M, I guarantee the churches come together; a lot more come together. But the problem we have in Protestantism in America and the reason why there’s a reluctance to have any organization higher than the local church goes back to a historical incident.
The historical incident - and this is a chapter in church history I wish every one of us would know because I find there’s a tremendous ignorance and naiveté on the part of evangelicals who sit in church every week, we don’t know our own history and why we’re here. If you could read back in the historical period between World War I and World War II, between those wars there was a war that went on in this country that devastated the culture more than either World War I or World War II. At the time this war was going on it was a war between what was called then modernism against fundamentalism. And there were headlines and banner headlines in the newspapers documenting this in the 1920s. Our grandparents, most of our grandparents lived through that and if you have a grandparent that lived through the 20s and they were aware religiously of the culture, they will be able to tell you about what went on because it was headlines for years.
In that modernist-fundamentalist controversy almost every denomination was split. The Baptists were split, the Methodists were split, the Presbyterians were split, and it’s ironic that the traditional differences between the Methodists, the Baptists and the Presbyterians, mode of baptism and a few other things about this and that paled in comparison. You could take a conservative Methodist, a conservative Presbyterian, a conservative Baptist, they would have far more in common that the conservative Baptist would with a liberal Baptist, because these guys were totally theologically at odds. It got economic, so to explain why there’s a reluctance to have any organization dominating the local culture was this: particularly in the Presbyterian, lesser so with the Methodists, lesser so with the Baptists, but primarily in the Presbyterians, the Presbytery owned the church property.
And what happened was the liberals are very clever how they went through this. They sent guys to Germany to get their PhDs; the guys come to America with their PhDs and they take positions in the seminary. Now what they’re doing is they’re training the pastors. So what liberalism did is it end ran around the local congregation. So what would happen, you’d have a liberal guy take the pulpit of a church, and nobody would know he was liberal, because he used the words, resurrection, he’d talk about resurrection on Easter. What people didn’t realize was that when he was talking about resurrection he didn’t mean physical resurrection, he meant spiritual resurrection. So these guys would get in the pulpit and they’d do their thing. Well after a while a few people in the congregation began to say wait a minute, something doesn’t compute with this guy.
So what they would do is they would go to study Bibles and that is one reason why the Scofield Reference Bible is so hated by the liberals, because the little old lady sitting in pew 53 would be sitting here and she’d hear this guy talking about resurrection, something didn’t compute. She wasn’t a Bible scholar, but what she would do is she’d go back to her Scofield Bible and start looking at the study notes and say wait a minute, something’s wrong here. And she’d raise her hand in Sunday School class and say, “You know you say this, but the Bible says this.” And it started a lot of fights inside the congregation because these guys were getting exposed by lay people who were going to the Scofield Study Bible. And there were other issues that came up.
The seminaries, you know if you ever walk into a Biblical seminary, there are not too many left, but you’ll see a massive investment in libraries. In those libraries there are volumes of stuff that are irreplaceable. You can’t get copies … for example, years ago when I brought in Samuel Rutherford’s Lex Rex which was the work of 1600, Samuel Rutherford in Scotland, and it was his argument against the divine right of kings. That’s how they overthrew the king, for heaven’s sake, and it was a big long tract. They didn’t have tracts two pages, they had tracts two hundred pages, and they’d pass that sucker out all over Scotland, and that’s what led to the opposition to the king.
Well, that volume is only found in one place; I think there are only two copies of it or something in America and it’s in Harvard library. Now if you lose the library and you lose control of the library, now what happens to your seminary? Now you’ve lost everything. So the conservatives lost one seminary after another. Harvard went down the drain, Yale went down the drain, Amherst went down the drain, Rochester went down the drain, the University of Chicago went down the drain, Richmond Seminary went down the drain, I mean one after another, all in maybe a 30 or 40 year period. The problem with this, the conservative scholars that believed the Bible came out of those faculties and they had to go down like we have to, to a store front and start a new school all of a sudden. Do you know how long it takes to start a new school like that, to get it funded, and to get a library rebuilt? It takes you decades to do this, if you can.
And that’s what happened. So the memory of that …, now granted the baby boomer generation doesn’t know anything about this, but a generation or two ago the people that ran the churches knew all that very well and they said no-no, the local congregation is going to control the property, sorry fella. Or, if the Presbytery own the property we’re going to separate from the Presbyterian Church and we’re going to do something where the Presbytery are held to doctrinal standards and then okay, they can control the property. But people were betrayed. I mean, millions of dollars of property was stolen between World War I and World War II, and the people who lived through that, just like the people you met that lived through the depression, they’ll never forget it. And people who lived through the depression are always frugal because it created such a lasting impression on their minds of food lines with no jobs. They won’t ever be a spendthrift after living through something like that.
Well, the people who were Christians, who lived through the defrocking of Machen, who lived through the loss of the seminaries, who saw church properties confiscated with the liberals who would come in, take it over, and say bye-bye, if you don’t like it, leave. When they lived through that, they had a taste in their mouth for years and it was we don’t trust big organizations. And one of the tragedies that this has caused in our evangelical ministries is that what was also lost beside the libraries was the inter-city missions. We forget that a lot of the social work done in this country was done by rescue missions deep in the heart of the cities. When the industrial revolution came, and there was poverty in the cities, it was the rescue missions that fed the poor, that clothed the poor, who had schools for their children; all that social work was done by Christians.
What happened? Then you had the organizations that control the social work taken over by the liberals. What did we just get through saying that Socinianism and Unitarianism believe? What do they believe? They altered the programs of the missions, the mission was no longer to bring these people, for example, to teach children to read so they could read the Bible, or to clothe people and feed people so they can get a job, so they can support their family. That was all beside the point because now it’s not sin; we don’t need to preach Jesus. Now we are going to improve everyone with programs. So who took over a lot of the social work? The Christian missions who remained faithful, what was their problem? They were financed by the denominations. If the denomination goes liberal what happens to the money? It goes down the drain. So as the missions collapsed in this country and the social work wasn’t being done any longer, guess what steps in? The Federal government steps in and so you have this massive expansion of government programs, the government’s got to do this, the government’s got to do that, the government’s got to do something else, because nobody else is doing it. Well why? A hundred years ago there were people doing it and nobody asked the question what happened to the Christian banks.
So when I hear all the bleeding hearts about the church isn’t socially involved I have to laugh at them. Of course the church isn’t socially involved; the church was booted out of those areas. The church had its finances cut off, it had it’s people betrayed, it was basically destroyed by you liberals and you’re the people fussing about this no social work; you’re the people that caused the destruction. That’s a little chapter of American history most people don’t know about, but it’s a very important chapter in our history and once you see this you understand why we meet the way we do, why there’s a fragment church here and a fragment church there, because nobody trusts one another. They remember what happened.
Question asked or statement made: Clough replies: The fighting was awful, there were fist fights, in Texas there was J. Frank Norris who was a fundamentalist and the press would pick up these stories because there were extreme fundamentalists, guys that just liked to fight, and this guy had a pistol in his office, he kept a live firearm in his office and some guy came into his office one day from one of the, I don’t know whether he was drunk or what happened but he came in, he tried to assault the pastor, so J. Frank Norris pulled his pistol out and shot him in the office. So that made headlines all over Texas. He happened to be the guy who was the leader of the fundamentalists who were against Baylor University because the liberals took over Baylor University, they still control Baylor University. A Southern Baptist University doesn’t have a clue about what Southern Baptists believe; it just goes on day after day cranking out liberals. They were the ones who spawned evolution in the Southern Baptist Convention, and here J. Frank Norris, when he’d get up in the pulpit on Sunday he’d send a telegram over to the President of Baylor and say did you grow your tail yet.
I mean, there was real nasty stuff going on between the fundies and the modernists. It broke loose one Sunday, because in June, 1922, there was a guest preacher called Harry Emerson Fosdick and he was a guest preacher in Riverside Memorial Church in New York City and he got up and he gave a sermon that was on the front page of the New York Times, and went all over America. It was entitled Shall the Fundamentalists Win? It was a sermon against fundamentalist extremists who were trying to impose their beliefs on loving gracious Christians. I mean, these fundamentalists want all the missionaries to believe in the deity of Jesus. Well now there are some good missionaries out there with social concerns, they just can’t come to believe that Jesus was really God, but these fundamentalists would throw these poor people, these men out of their jobs in social work just because they don’t believe in the deity of Jesus. And that’s the nature of the sermons.
So next week from Philadelphia Clarence Macartney got up in the pulpit and his sermon was Shall the Liberals Win? And that was the squaring off inside the Presbyterian Church of … finally it wound up that the fundamentalists professors that were teaching at Princeton left the faculty. Then J. Gresham Machen who was the New Testament scholar… I mean, these fundamentalists, you hear they’re stupid, J. Gresham Machen was the authority on New Testament Greek, he wrote the New Testament Greek text that’s still used in seminaries, and Robert Dick Wilson knew 25 languages, Oriental languages. This is the caliber of guys that were booted out of Princeton because of the liberals. So J. Gresham Machen, he’s a Presbyterian and he said wait a minute, we have Presbyterian missionaries overseas that deny the virgin birth. We have missionaries that deny this doctrine, that doctrine, the vicarious atonement of Christ, and I think I’m going to cut it off. So he got himself involved in the mission’s administration inside the Presbyterian Church and he started chopping funds off to all the liberals. Well, the liberals heard about that and they came back, they defrocked him, took his ordination away from him and told him to get out of the Presbyterian Church, which he did.
You can’t understand the hostilities that went on for decades over these issues, and frankly the fundamentalists lost. We had bad press, we were the people that were the obstructionists, we were the people that caused all the problems, the churches were perfectly find until the fundies come along. That’s not true. The fundies were the ones that perpetuated the theology of the past. I’ve got a fantastic quote from Christian Century, I’ve always kept it on a little 4×6 card, in 1925 the editor of the Christian Century, which turns out to be a liberal newspaper, said: I feel sorry for those who argue with the fundamentalists because they may be wrong and I think they are, but they’re the ones that follow the historic faith of the Christian church; it is we who have departed, not them. Now isn’t that a great admission?
But that’s the history that we don’t know, from 1920 to 1930. You can’t help but think of the depression almost being a judgment economically, because the depression happened in 1929–1930, right after all this stuff was going on. And I’ve always tied that together, that the economic devastation … God said okay, you guys want to play games, you have wrecked the churches, you have destroyed My libraries, you have ruined the structure and the infrastructure that supported missions all over the world, so now baby you’re going to feel what it is, you took the money away from the Christians, now it’s going to be taken away from all of your society. And it was, for three years, boom, boom, boom.
Question asked, something about what happened prior to that: Clough replies: What happened prior to that was that Unitarianism and liberalism was always lurking in our country since the Colonial times. It’s just like lurking there under cover. And by the 1900s, like Francis Schaeffer said, philosophers start and theologians follow, the philosophers of Kant and others had taken over European Universities. Now where do your most influential educators get their doctorates? They go to Germany. See that’s another thing about the 20th century, you see it’s interesting, you go back in history a hundred years prior to World War I and World War II, what was the fountainhead of theological corruption in the world? Germany. And what was the country that finally got judged in World War II? Germany.
It’s interesting; you see these trends in history. It may take God a generation or two, but we’re paid back for those kinds of things. And the liberals had gotten the PhDs, it was top down, it wasn’t bottom up, it was top down, and they just started being duplicitous about the way they would speak. I mean they snookered a lot of Christians into thinking that they were orthodox. You say well how did they sign a doctrinal statement? The same way they still are signing doctrinal statements in these places. I believe in the Apostolic Creed, I believe it was an expression of the first and second century phase of the church, yeah, I can agree to that. No, that’s not what we asked you. What we asked you is do you believe that the teachings of the Apostolic Creed are true today as much as they were in the second century? Do you believe that?
But this is background for what was going on and we need to know this because it explains a lot of things you observe about what’s going on. We’re still picking up pieces from the 1920s, frankly, in this country. We haven’t gotten back to social ministries or any other ministries because we’re so wounded, so destroyed by what went on up until the depression. And frankly, after World War II there are only about five men in this country that led the conservative wing. I mean there were a lot of godly pastors but you can name them on one hand, Harold Ockenga in Boston; Barnhouse in Philadelphia, you had men like Harry Ironside, and it was these guys, you could probably name them all on two hands. Those are the guys that held the line and nobody else did. And they had to build all over again what had been lost. Keep in mind what had been lost in the 20s and 30s had taken 200 years to build. That was the fruit of people from Colonial America investing for decades, for hundreds of year, and pffft, it all went away. That’s why there’s a suspicion about structures, about organizations.