Archive for ‘Wayne Wylie’

December 14, 2015

Radicals Reject the Ecumenical Creeds

 

SONY DSC

Faustus Socinus

On Sunday, November 22, 2015, Elder Wayne Wylie led a discussion on the Radical Reformers’ Rejection of the Ecumenical Creeds.

The ecumenical creeds, namely, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Chalcedonian Definition confess the foundational doctrines of the Christian Faith. The “Magisterial Reformers,” or the Lutherans, Calvinists and Anglicans, retained confession of the ecumenical creeds in their reforms of theology and practice.

The “Radical Reformers,” known also as the Anabaptist movement, however, rejected the ecumenical creeds. They emphasized a more individualistic form of divine revelation at the expense of Scripture. They, therefore, repeated many errors of the ancient heretics like Adoptionism and Docetism , among others. Socinianism was introduced. Faustus Socinus denied the deity of Christ and the exclusivity of salvation through him.

The communions born out of the Magisterial Reformaiton divided regionally due to blocks of nations establishing the various churches. Those who confessed a particular tradition moved to that tradition’s region of Europe.

The controversy over freewill was discussed. The freedom to do what one wants is limited by various factors, chief of all the moral nature of the individual. Semi-Pelagianism finds expression in post-Reformation era in the form of Arminianism. Crisis in the Reformed Churches recommended for an introduction to the debate at the Synod of Dort.

Listen to “Radicals Reject the Ecumenical Creeds” at mcopc.org.

Advertisements
November 21, 2015

Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism and the Decline of Conciliar Orthodoxy

Pelagius

HT: Wikipedia

On Sunday, November 15, 2015, Elder Wayne Wylie lead a discussion on the heresies of Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism, and the decline of conciliar orthodoxy.

Pelagianism—A teaching, originating in the late fourth century, which stresses man’s ability to take the initial steps toward salvation by his own efforts, apart from special grace. Belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil with Divine aid (from class handout).

The class discussed Pelagius’ first principle that man is able to obey God’s commands, and that Adam sinned only for himself, not humankind. This was followed by a discussion of the orthodox doctrine of original sin (See Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 6).

Next, Semi-Pelagianism was defined, and it was explained that this heresy persists in various forms to the present.

Semi-Pelagianism or Massilianism—Semi-Pelagianism involved doctrines upheld during the period from 427 to 529 that rejected the extreme views both of Pelagius and of Augustine in regards to the priority of divine grace and human will in the initial work of salvation. The beginning of faith springs from the free will of nature, and that the essence of “prevenient grace” consists in the preaching of the Christian doctrine of salvation. On the basis of such faith, man attains justification before God (“prevenient grace” allows persons to engage their God-given free will to choose the salvation offered by God in Jesus Christ or to reject that salvific offer) [from class handout].

With the fragmentation of the Christian Church due to the Great Schism between the Eastern (“Orthodox”) and Western (“Catholic”) Churches and the Protestant Reformation, the Christian Church could no longer speak with one voice to formally condemn heresies. Subsequently, heresy abounds today due to the lack of universally authoritative accountability.

Listen to “Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism and the Decline of Conciliar Orthodoxy” at mcopc.org.

November 18, 2015

Pneumatomachianism and the Definition of Chalcedon

Click image to read more about this book.

Click image to read more about this book.

On Sunday, November 8, 2015, the Adult Sunday School lesson introduced Pneumatomachianism and the Definition of Chalcedon.

The class discussed the eternality of the Holy Spirit in light of the fact that he “proceeds from the Father and the Son.” Then, Pneumatomachianism was introduced, and how this ancient heresy led to the insertion by the Western catholic church of the so-called “filioque clause” into the Nicene Creed, which reads, “…And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.”

Pneumatomachians–While accepting the divinity of Jesus Christ as affirmed at Nicea in AD 325, they denied that of the Holy Spirit which they saw as a creation of the Son, and a servant of the Father and the Son. Led to the Filioque of the Nicene Creed (from class handout).

The difficulty of conceiving of the human and divine natures of the Lord Jesus Christ and the gravity with which the orthodox creedal formulations of the first five hundred years of church history were enforced was then discussed.

The Chalcedonian Definition of the relationship between the two natures of Christ:

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from the earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us. (Click here for more information about the Definition of Chalcedon)

Implicit faith in the revelation of the human and divine natures of Christ in Scripture despite the complexity of how this can be without falling into one or other of the ancient heresies was affirmed.

Then the discussion moved to the issue of original sin, and how the guilt of Adam was not imputed to Jesus because his conception was “extraordinary,” rather than being the “ordinary generation” by which the guilt of Adam is conveyed to his posterity, in the words of the Westminster Standards.

Finally, the class closed with some discussion of the apparent hierarchy in the Godhead and the distinction between the ontological and economic Trinity (click here for more on these terms).

Listen to “Pneumatomachianism and the Definition of Chalcedon” at mcopc.org.

November 3, 2015

The Arian Heresy and Nicene Orthodoxy

The Council of Nicea ruling on the Arian Heresy.

The Council of Nicea ruling on the Arian Heresy.

On Sunday, November 1, 2015, Elder Wayne Wylie taught about the Arian Heresy and Nicene Orthodoxy.

Christianity faces more controversies and heresies than other religions because it is based on propositional doctrine rather than morality, as other religions are. “Contending for the faith” is a biblical duty intended to preserve the peace and purity of the church (Jude 3). In the ancient era of church history, the Faith needed to be stated more clearly in a formal way, hence the development of Nicene Orthodoxy.

The heresiarch Arius taught that Jesus was the first created being, and denied the “ontological Trinity,” which means he denied that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are of one divine essence. The councils which developed the Nicene Creed demonstrate the fact of the eternal generation of the Son, and the modern controversy over this teaching is due to a new understanding of the Greek root of the term translated “begotten” in reference to Christ.

Listen to “The Arian Heresy and Nicene Orthodoxy” at mcopc.org.

October 27, 2015

Gnosticism and Docetism

The Pleroma in the Valentinian System

The Pleroma in the Valentinian System

On Sunday, October 25, 2015, elder Wayne Wylie taught on Gnosticism, and introduced Docetism in his series on Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church. Elements of the ancient heresy of Gnositicism include the ideas of dualism, the elitist attitude of the “Gnostikoi” who are the chosen few favored with secret knowledge of Gnostic doctrine, and some discussion of how this two-tiered attitude is reflected in various Christian movements to this day. Another prominent custom among modern Christians which bears some parallel to the notion that Christians have direct knowledge of God apart from Scripture is in the notion of receiving individualistic “guidance by the Holy Spirit,” often appealed to in day-to-day decision making. Important varieties of Gnosticism, such as that of the arch-heretic Marcion and the school of Valentinus were also introduced.

In Gnosticism, knowledge of Gnostic doctrine, rather than faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, is the key to a redemption comprised of the escape of the spirit from the body at death.

Docetism was also introduced. “The word [Docetism] is derived from the Greek dokeo, meaning “to seem” or “to appear.” According to Docetism, the eternal Son of God did not really become human or suffer on the cross; he only appeared to do so. The heresy arose in a Helenistic milieu and was based on a Dualism which held that the material world is either unreal or postitively evil. The basic thesis of such docetics was that if Christ suffered he was not divine, and if he was God he could not suffer [from class handout].”

Listen to “Gnosticism and Docetism” at mcopc.org.

October 26, 2015

Introduction and Review: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church

Click image to read more about this book.

Click image to read more about this book.

On Sunday, October 18, 2015, Elder Wayne Wylie reviewed “Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church” which he taught through the 18th century about a year and a half ago. After a couple of weeks of review, Wayne will resume where he left off dealing with Pietism and Revivalism.

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) sets a prominent theme the student of heresies in church history must keep in mind. The heresies with which the modern church contends are merely variations on heresies which the church throughout history has always had to correct.

The concepts of “heresy,” “error,” “dogma” and “orthodoxy” are defined, compared and contrasted.

Why are there more controversies and heresies associated with Christianity than with any other religion? This stems largely from the fact that most religions are based on morality, whereas Christianity is based on propositional doctrines which are rooted in historical events.

Heresy forces the church to define what we mean by the doctrines we confess. The earliest heresies dealt with who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What was he like? How much does one really need to know about the nature of the triune God, and the person and work of Jesus Christ?

Listen to “Introduction to Heresy and Orthodoxy” for all of this and more at mcopc.org.