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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Sunday, November 13, 2005
Council of Orange
Earlier today (Sunday, 13 Nov 2005) I gave a study on the perseverance of the saints. In particular I wanted to address the Pelagian and SemiPelagian heresies and demonstrate that the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints did not begin with Calvin, but was in fact the orthodox teaching in the church for the first 1500 years of its existence.

In doing so, I chose to go over 24 of the 25 Canons from the Council of Orange (529 A.D.)

For those of you who are unfamiliar, there were two councils held at Orange (Arausio - a town in southern France). The first met on November 8, 441, but it is the second council at Orange to which we refer to today. This second Council was held on July 3, 529. Unlike the Council of Nicea which was an ecumenical council attended by 200+ bishops - the council of Orange was a local Council attended by a modest fourteen bishops - but it is never the less significant in that most of the 25 canons drawn up at Orange were derived almost entirely from a series of "Capitulas" based on the works of Augustine and Prosper and delivered to Orange by Felix IV. The canons of the second council have therefore played a central role in church history in interpreting Augustine.

In my congregation I am aware that some are decidedly Arminian in their theology - which means that I can expect a bible study on the doctrine of the perseverance of the Saints to engender some passionate conversation. So I felt the wisest place to start was to define first the original heresy, Pelagianism, then to define its compromising child, SemiPelagianism, and then to introduce the findings of that council that declared semiPelagianism a heresy.

The trouble of course is that while the Council of Orange is crystal clear in denouncing semiPelagianism, it also reminds us that Augustine believed in baptismal regeneration (Augustine taught that the Virgin Mary was without sin, that unbaptised infants who die go to Limbo, and he even prayed to the departed saints for intercession!) So in examining this document we must remember that it stands as genuine historical document - including all its good and bad points.

I removed the 13th Canon for that reason - I didn't want to get sidetracked discussing the nature of baptism (Centuri0n has amply demonstrated how much fun that is...), but I otherwise left the document unchanged. Bryan was there however, and being a theology buff himself he took it upon himself to remind me openly that this document from which I was teaching also taught baptismal regeneration.

Now, Bryan isn't kidding, nor was he mistaken - To be sure, the document teaches that grace is received through baptism (Canons 8, 13, & the Conclusion), and that regeneration is received through baptism (Canon 5).

I confess, I was somewhat annoyed when Bryan brought it up and wanting to squash it before it became a tangent I said that it wasn't really teaching baptismal regeneration - but that some people read it that way. Which isn't entirely wrong - it doesn't teach it per se - the document simply assumes baptismal regeneration based on what Augustine believed. Never the less, as soon as I said it I knew I had given into the flesh, and only said it to try and nip the tangential stream in the bud. But I had nipped it the wrong way, and had to apologize to him, then pick up the pieces and spend some time explaining that while not everything in the document was theologically accurate - nevertheless - the document itself was entirely appropriate and useful to the task at hand - demonstrating that SemiPelagianism had been dealt with in the early church, and considered a heresy.

Iron sharpens Iron. In preparing the study, I figured by sticking to the main point I could skip over the doctrinally sketchy parts by bringing the focus to, and maintaining the focus upon, the lion's share of the document whereby semiPelagian is rightly and accurately denounced. But Bryan, God bless him, isn't dazzled by my carnival huckster fast-talking/theological prestidigitation - and so by bringing it up forced me to deal with it fairly. I hadn't wanted to because I know the doctrine of eternal security is already one of the most hated doctrines in the church - and having barely 45 minutes to teach it, I didn't want to be side-tracked explaining how one doctrinal skew did not taint the other doctrinal view. Sigh.

The study went well (I think) in spite of my carnal lapse - but praise the Lord it was back on track soon enough - and Bryan was full of grace and accepted my apologies afterwards.

Bottom line for the study? I think the Lord opened some eyes - and for that I am grateful.
posted by Daniel @ 9:13 PM  
  • At 10:51 AM, November 14, 2005, Blogger Brad Williams said…

    Side-tracked by baptism?! Has the whole world gone MAD?! Since when did the issue of baptism become an insignificant doctrine that is unworthy of a sidetrack?

    Okay, I'm off of the melodrama. But I must say that I am seriously annoyed that a baptismal discussion is boring and a sidetrack. I'm not referring to the Orange debate but the Piperesque non-debate. Yes, I am an obsessive compulsive credo-baptist. I can't help it.

    Password: WUUZS. As in baptism wuuzs a big deal in church history but now we can't figure if its an issue or not.

  • At 11:26 AM, November 14, 2005, Blogger Daniel said…

    I hear ya. :-D

    It is not so much the "baptism," as the "debate" that would be the sidetrack.

  • At 1:49 PM, November 14, 2005, Blogger Brad Williams said…

    I know. I just keep having this dream of Balthasar Hubmaier and his wife being martyred for a "non-essential" issue not worth debating.

  • At 2:00 PM, November 14, 2005, Blogger Bryan said…

    Although I found the study interesting in the academic sense Dan I am somewhat perplexed as to why you persented the case for Baptism the way you did.

    Your study was based around the idea that becasue the doctrine of Perservance of the Saints has been the orthodox teaching of the church since the beginning it should be accepted? Is this not what you mean when you say; "I wanted to address the Pelagian and SemiPelagian heresies and demonstrate that the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints did not begin with Calvin, but was in fact the orthodox teaching in the church for the first 1500 years of its existence."

    The problem with that line of argument is that it is a bad one, it's an "Argumentum ad Antiquitam." Simply becasue something is old does not mean that it is right, a fact that you have often pointed out to me when we've discussed wether or not the early church baptized infants, which they did ;). The reason I brought up the question of Baptismal regeneration during the study was becasue you kept repeating when refering to the council "This was the orthodox teaching of the church...". The arguemnt you were making for PofS would, to be consistant, need to be applied to the whole document. If PofS should be accepted becasue it is the older teaching then surely Baptismal Regeneration should be.

    When I brought this up briefly after your responce was that the later church corrected the error of baptismal regeneration. That line in itself shows the inconsistancy of the argument you were making becasue it could either be argued that the later church didn't correct but corrupted, or if the doctrine of baptismal regeneration needed correcting then surely so does PofS.

    Now I do believe there are legemit times to use an argument from history, but if you are then you need to be consistant and it is very hard to be using early church documents (no matter waht side you are on). Really I think going through some of Dort would have been more effective if you wanted to use a confession/creed becasue I think the arguemnts used in it are much more biblicaly based and more defendable then Orange.

    I was overall suprised at the study since I have seen you both write and talk on the subject better in the past. Perhaps I'm being a Monday-morning-preacher but when you began in Romans 8:28-30 I thought you were going to approach the subject the way I usually find myself doing; those foreknown are the ones glorified there is none foreknown that are not glorified...ect but you read through it and then seemed to set it aside and jump all over the place.

    I know you won't take this as harsh critism, you always ask for feedback and I finally have some to give, take it is loving critism. I'm sure it is one thing for me to write about or speak about this topic when talking with freinds and a whole other thing to go before a congergation that is hostile to the doctrine and make an argument for it.

    But hey, although I knew what Orange said that was actually the first time I had read through any of it, thanks for the oppunity for that!


  • At 4:24 PM, November 14, 2005, Blogger Daniel said…

    Bryan - I think you are 100% right on all counts. :-D

    What I was going for wasn't so much to say "this is right because it is old" - but rather - because this is old it demonstrates that Calvin didn't dream up the doctrine himself. Some in our church think that Calvin dreamed up eternal security - and the point of the study was to demonstrate that this was not the case.

    -THAT- was where I went wrong - I believe that the Lord would have me speak on that topic - but I ran with it a bit, and whenever I do I fall on my face. Such was the case Sunday morning.

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