Thursday, August 01, 2019

ESS and the flippant charge of heresy

But those who say: 'There was a time when he was not;' and 'He was not before he was made;' and 'He was made out of nothing,' or 'He is of another substance' or 'essence,' or 'The Son of God is created,' or 'changeable,' or 'alterable'— they are condemned by the holy catholic and apostolic Church. - [First] Nicene Creed 325 AD

Whoever wills to be in a state of salvation, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith, which except everyone shall have kept whole and undefiled without doubt he will perish eternally - Athanasian Creed

According to the ecumenical creeds, whoever believes contrary to them are not saved. Such people are to be treated as heretics (if teachers) and unbelievers (otherwise). The original Nicene Creed of 325 AD even added an explicit anathema against all who rejected it. Therefore, if one holds these creeds to be definitional of the faith, then one inherits their view of what constitutes soul-destroying heresy. Whoever wishes (Quicumque wult) to be saved MUST hold to those creeds. Whoever denies those creeds are to be considered unbelievers and/or heretics. If one disagrees with the creeds on this, then one does not hold on to these creeds, period. There is no way to adopt those creeds without the condemnations, as if the creeds are like a buffet where one can pick and choose which part of which creed one wishes to adopt!

It is therefore a serious charge against anyone to claim that so-and-so denies Nicea or the Athanasian creed. Such a charge is essentially a charge that the person is a heretic or at the very least an unbeliever. To say that someone denies Nicea is to say that that person should be treated as an unbeliever. If a teacher, he is to be charged with heresy. If a member of a church, he is to be rebuked, and if unrepentant, he is to be excommunicated. In a biblical church, it is not right to say that a member is unrepentant about his heresy and yet, since he is a member, allow him to continue to be a member in good standing in a church. NO! Deliver "this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord"! (1 Cor. 5:5). For anyone to do otherwise is to hold that heresy is a trivial sin. Such a church is no better than the Corinthian church that tolerates a man who is committing incest within the church. Such a church trivializes God's command of holiness for man's idea of "being nice and not offend anyone."

Since such is the case, for people like Carl Trueman who attack anyone who holds to ESS as "semi-Arians," or for others who claim that ESS and/ or complementarianism are "against Nicene" or "against the Athansian Creed," please realize what you are actually saying. You are claiming that your opponents are not believers! Do you really want to stand by that claim? Then be prepared to go all out. Be consistent! Call us unbelievers. Treat us as unbelievers. Nevermind that we claim to believe in the Gospel, the five Solas, the five points of Calvinism, the Nicene creed and the Trinity. According to you, we must be outside the Kingdom of God, and treated accordingly. That IS the logical implication of what you are saying.

On an ecclesiastical level, this means that the church I am a member of, or am visiting, must rebuke me for heresy. And since I am "unrepentant," you must excommunicate me. Failure to do so is to tell me that (a) you do not care about my soul; and/or (b) you do not care about sound doctrine. It is not possible to say that the whole thing is "so complicated." Yes, of course it is complicated. BUT either the Truemans of this world are right, and I am condemned to hell, or the Truemans of the world are wrong, and you have to tell me that they are wrong and I am not going to hell. Just because the topic is complicated does not absolve any minister from the requirement of dealing with the topic, because of how serious a charge Trueman et al have leveled against us.

So let's be clear about this: Due to the seriousness of the charge, all ministers must take a position on the matter. You do not have to take a position on whether ESS is biblical or not. But you have to take a position on whether you think someone holding to ESS is a heretic or not (and thus whether Trueman's accusations are correct or not). That is the nature of the controversy over ESS, from the polemical pen of Trueman and company.

[P.S.: Look at the recent article by Aimee Byrd stating that "those who teach ESS are not in line with confessional Nicene trinitarianism." Will she be called out for her lies? We all know that will not happen!)

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