Archives For History

Who is church history’s most notorious false teacher?

It might not be possible to answer that question definitively. But if we were to create a top-ten “most wanted” list, the name Arius would undoubtedly be near the top.

In ancient times, Arius’s teachings presented the foremost threat to orthodox Christianity — which is why historians like Alexander Mackay have labeled him “the greatest heretic of antiquity.” None other than Martin Luther said this about Arius:

The heretic Arius [denied] that Christ is true God. He did much harm with his false doctrine throughout Christendom, and it took four hundred years after his death to combat its injurious influence, yea, it is not even yet fully eradicated. In the death of this man the Lord God exalted His honor in a marvelous manner.

In case his name doesn’t sound familiar, Arius was a famous fourth-century false teacher who taught that the Son of God was a created being. Consequently, Arius denied Christ’s equality with God the Father, and along with it, the doctrine of the Trinity. Essentially, he was the Continue Reading…

August 26, 2014

The First Seminary

by Nathan Busenitz

Today is the first day of classes for the fall semester at The Master’s Seminary. Hence the topic of today’s post. Paul_teaching A biblical justification for seminary education might be made from a number of passages, from Matthew 28:19 (and its emphasis on teaching disciples) to 2 Timothy 2:2 (and its emphasis on leadership training) to Titus 1:9 (and its emphasis on elders being equipped to articulate and defend the faith).

But there is a short passage in Acts that, I believe, provides a biblical precedent for seminary education in a particularly insightful way. These verses, which at first glance may not seem overly significant, show the apostle Paul starting a theological training school in the city of Ephesus. As one commentator explains: “In Ephesus, Paul opened a school of theology to train future leaders for the developing church in the province of Asia” (Simon J. Kistemaker, Acts, NTC, 684).

I doubt Paul called it Ephesus Theological Seminary (not to be confused with the modern ETS), but in essence that is exactly what it was. Continue Reading…

This is information is about forty-five years the wrong side of news; but it’s news to me. On July 20, 1969, moments after the lunar module, The Eagle, alighted upon the Sea of Tranquility, a solitary Presbyterian church elder celebrated the Lord’s Supper in reverent silence—on the Moon.Moon

Commander Buzz Aldrin had stashed a piece of bread, a capsule of wine, and a tiny silver chalice onboard the Columbia, and smuggled it into space with him. Before his historic walkabout, Aldrin requested a brief radio silence. He described the following moment in the 1970 issue of Guideposts magazine:

I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.

His actions were at first kept secret because NASA was embroiled in a lawsuit with an atheist who was suing them for broadcasting a public reading of the Bible by the crew of Apollo 8 (evidence that missing the point is not limited to the religious).

When I read of Aldrin’s Eucharistic exploits, I found myself thinking, that’s pretty neat, except for one thing—that’s not communion.

Continue Reading…

On my personal blog, and through e-mail, I sometimes get reader requests for posts.  People often have interesting questions about a wide variety of issues, and I do what I can to try to tackle reader questions when I can.  One of my relatives sent me a question a little over a year ago, and seeing that I had the same question boiling around in my mind many years ago (before I figured it out), I’m thought I’d tackle it and clear up what is a somewhat common question.

jesus-descend-into-hell

The question has to do with whether or not Jesus went to Hell after the cross and why the Apostle’s Creed reads that Christ “descended into hell” (descendit ad inferna).  The problem is confounded in that not only does the phrase appear in the Apostles Creed, but it also is arguably insinuated in Acts 2:25-31, Romans 10:6-7, Ephesians 4:7-10, 1 Peter 3:18-20 and 1 Peter 4:6 (though due to time I won’t tackle the biblical texts but rather leave that to people who have already done a far superior job to my possible offerings).[1]  So how do we unpack this idea and figure out what is going on in the Apostles’ Creed? Continue Reading…

While the United States celebrated her 238th birthday last Friday, many Americans are unaware of another significant anniversary taking place this week. On July 8, 1741, America heard what is often hailed as the greatest sermon preached on her soil from a man who is often hailed as the greatest theologian and thinker to minister on her soil.

In the years 1733 through 1737, Jonathan Edwards continued to preach in the  Northampton pulpit that was now his own, having been bequeathed to him by his grandfather, Solomon Stoddard. During these years God had blessed Edwards’ preaching and ministry with revival in New England and beyond. Many were converted and others edified in their faith. Biographer George Marsden quips, “By March and April of 1735, the spiritual rains had turned the stream [of conversions] into a flood.”[1] Edwards himself describes the revival’s effect on his congregation:

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For those who have found my Twitter profile or read my bio-slug, you may have guessed that I’m kinda a Mennonite.  When I say “kinda”, I mean “pure-blooded Russian Mennonite stock on both sides, raised in a Mennonite Brethren Church, first words were in plautdietsch, generally in theological agreement with Mennonites as far as historic Orthodoxy, but neither attending a Mennonite Brethren Church nor really welcome in those circles by any stretch of the imagination”.  D.A. Carson has once said something along the lines of that this generation of Mennonites have forgot the gospel but hung onto Christian social entailments, and he’s generally correct.

Carson said it, not me.

I’m agreeing with D. Sizzle.

D Sizzle

Now why do I bring up my Mennonite heritage? Continue Reading…

June 10, 2014

Upon This Rock

by Nathan Busenitz

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said to Simon, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”

Roman Catholics interpret Matt. 16:18 to mean that Peter is the rock upon which the church is built. That interpretation then becomes the basis for the doctrine of papal succession. If Peter is the rock on which the church is built, and if the bishops of Rome are Peter’s successors, then it follows, they say, that the papacy remains the foundation of the church.

But that is not at all what Matthew 16:18 teaches.

The name “Peter” was a nickname given to Simon by Jesus, all the way back in John 1:42 when Peter first met Jesus. Coming from the Greek word petros (or the Aramaic word “Cephas”), the name Peter means “Rock” or “Stone.” To use an English equivalent, Peter means “Rocky.” Continue Reading…

June 3, 2014

Who will go?

by Nathan Busenitz

A guest post on world missions from Charles Spurgeon:

I plead this day for those who cannot plead for themselves, namely, the great outlying masses of the heathen world. Our existing pulpits are tolerably well supplied, but we need men who will build on new foundations. Who will do this?

Are we, as a company of faithful men, clear in our consciences about the heathen? Millions have never heard the Name of Jesus. Hundreds of millions have seen a missionary only once in their lives, and know nothing of our King. Shall we let them perish?

Can we go to our beds and sleep, while China, India, Japan, and other nations are being damned? Are we clear of their blood? Have they no claim on us? We ought to put it on this footing – not, ‘Can I prove that I ought to go?’ but, ‘Can I prove that I ought not to go?’ When a man can honestly prove that he ought not to go, then he is clear, but not else. What answer do you give, my brethren? I put it to you man by man. Continue Reading…

Foxe's_Book

In light of Jesse’s post yesterday …

Fox’s Book of Martyrs is a must read for every Christian. Written by John Fox over 350 years ago, it catalogs the lives of hundreds of believers who, throughout church history, were willing to give their lives for the cause of Christ. When it comes to contagious courage, I can think of no greater testimony than reading about those who embraced their Lord to the point of embracing death.

One such account concerns the lives of Jerome Russell and Alexander Kennedy, two English Protestants who took a daring stand for what they believed. Because of their biblically-sound doctrine, the pair was arrested and imprisoned. Kennedy was only eighteen years old. After some time, the two men were brought before religious officials for questioning. Russell, being older, gave an articulate defense, usI ing the Scriptures to support his belief in salvation through faith alone. Yet, in spite of the evidence, the men’s accusers prevailed and Russell and Kennedy were deemed heretics.

In keeping with the jurisprudence of the times, they were condemned to death—their sentence to be carried out the following day. Early the next morning, Russell and Kennedy were led from their prison cells to the place of execution. They could have denied their Lord, right then and there, and been spared. But when Kennedy, being but a young man, began to display signs of fear, Russell quickly encouraged him to stand firm: Continue Reading…

Last month we named our newborn daughter Adelaide. And this is why…

In 1831 King William IV became the oldest monarch to ascend the throne of the United Kingdom and Ireland, at the ripe royal age of sixty-four. His nickname was “The Sailor King,” a sobriquet he earned through years of maritime service in the Royal Navy, but retained his reputation by ongoing effort. He drank like a sailor, swore like a sailor, and fathered ten children out of wedlock by the time he became king. He was also such a prodigal spender, and was unable to live within the financial bounds drawn for him by Parliament.

Staring down the barrel of life as a broke bachelor, William resigned himself to the idea of a marriage of convenience. In vain he scoured the fertile European social landscape for a princesses who would wed a geriatric alcoholic philanderer and to raise his children.

Several proposals were declined, but eventually, as providence would have it, there was a single German princess, twenty-seven years his junior, who was willing to try her hand at reforming the king. She would become the neck to direct Britain’s head.

Her name was Adelaide.

Queen AdelaideWell, actually her name was Adelaide Amelia Louise Theresa Caroline, her Serene Highness, the Duchess of Saxony and Princess of Saxe-Meiningen. (Incidentally, the state of Saxe-Meiningen was the first with a free press who allowed criticism of rulers; Adelaide came from assertive stock, which would prove useful being married to William.)

The couple met once—a week before the wedding. William was surprised at how amiable and positive his new queen was. Unlike her fiancé, Adelaide was known widely for being deeply religious, kind, pure, sensible with money, and most dignified.

William wrote to his eldest son, “She is doomed, poor dear young innocent creature, to be my wife.”

Adelaide soon endeared herself to her husband and her new subjects, becoming one of the most beloved and respected queens in British history. She was loved for her kindness to the poor, her modesty, and irrepressible commitment to Christ. Not only was she able to put up with William, but slowly people began to notice her sanctifying influence on the old sailor.

Continue Reading…