Matthew Poole (1624-1679): An English Protestant’s answer to a Popish Priest’s accusation of schism



Originally posted on Theologia est doctrina Deo vivendi per Christum:


The English Nonconformist theologian Matthew Poole (1624-1679), most commonly known for his 5-vol Synopsis Criticorum (a biblical commentary in which he incorporates the views of 150 biblical critics from an array of theological traditions) and for his English Annotations upon the Holy Bible, published a book in 1667 called A Dialogue between a Popish Priest and an English Protestant, which was intended for a popular audience, unlike his more scholarly defence of Protestantism titled The Nullity of the Romish Faith, which was published the year before. In this Dialogue, Poole has the English Protestant and the Popish priest discuss various key points and arguments for their respective positions. One of these is the Popish priest’s accusation that the Protestant is guilty of schism. This is from p. 41-45 of the 1843 reprint:

Popish Priest: It is sufficient against you, that your church is schismatical…

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Calvin’s Definition of the Sacraments

Originally posted on Reformed Fellowship of Bellevue:

CalvlibwebI think that this definition will be proper and simple, if we say that a sacrament is an exterior sign by which God seals in our consciences the promises of his good will toward us, to strengthen the weakness of our faith, and by which, on our part, we testify as much before him and the angels as before men, that we take him for our God.

One may define what a sacrament is even more briefly, in saying that it’s a witness of the grace of God towards us, confirmed by an external sign, with a mutual expression of the honor with which we esteem him.

Jean Calvin, L’Institution Chrétienne, IV.XIV.1

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Hold On to What the Spirit Has Taught You, Because the Antichrist Is Come

Originally posted on Reformed Fellowship of Bellevue:

Italy Pope Ash WednesdayThe apostle John writes to the Church in Ephesus and surrounding churches in 1 John 2:18-25, because he’s encouraging her members to remain steadfast in the faith they had once received. He says that they are in the last days, which is proven by the fact that there are many antichrists out and about spreading false teaching about Christ. He writes,

1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

It is the last time. Ever since the Lord Jesus Christ died and rose again, ascended, and sat down at the Father’s right hand, his reign as Christ was inaugurated. He sent his Spirit to his disciples gathered at Pentecost, giving them their marching orders. His finished work on the cross, having been openly declared at…

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Order of Worship for the Sabbath day, 22 February 2015

Originally posted on Reformed Fellowship of Bellevue:

The following is the order of worship for morning worship on the Sabbath day, 22 February, 2015, at the Reformed Fellowship of Bellevue.

Call to worship: Psalm 124:8

Prayer of Confession of Sin

The Reading of the Law

Song: Psalm 100

Old Testament Reading: Daniel 11:30-45

New Testament Reading and Sermon Text: 1 John 2:18-25

Prayer for Illumination

Sermon: Retain the Spirit’s Doctrine, Because Antichrist Will Come

Song: Psalm 46

The Apostles’ Creed

Pastoral Prayer

Song: Psalm selection from the congregation


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Calvin on the Papists denying Christ through “free will”

Originally posted on Reformed Fellowship of Bellevue:

“So the Papists, at this day, setting up free-will in opposition to the grace of the Holy Spirit, ascribing a part of their righteousness and salvation to the merits of works, feigning for themselves innumerable advocates, by whom they render God propitious to them have a sort of fictitious Christ, I know not what; but the likely and genuine image of God, which shines forth in Christ, they deform by their wicked inventions; they less his power, subvert and pervert his office.”  –Jean Calvin commenting on 1 John 2:22

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Who are the Coptic Christians?


In the wake of the savage execution of 21 Coptic Christians on the shore of Lybia, as recorded in a video posted by representatives of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), (and confirmed according to reports, by a spokesman of the Coptic Orthodox Church,) some folks might well ask who the Copts are, that is, what is the Coptic Orthodox Church, the most numerous church in Egypt?

It is a group which heretically broke off from the orthodox and catholic Church during the fifth century, after the council of Chalcedon, also known as the 4th ecumenical council of the Church catholic.  The Copts maintain, contra the Definition of Chalcedon (AD 451), that Christ is not of two distinct natures: God and man, in one person, forever, but rather of one nature, comprised of a compound of the divine and human.  Hence, they are not, strictly and doctrinally speaking, our brothers and sisters in Christ. The Copts to this day dissent from the following words accepted by all orthodox Christians since that historic council:

“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;”

The Definition of Chalcedon states clearly in the above words, in opposition to false teachings that had cropped up leading up to its convening, the true doctrine of the Mediator.  (Incidentally, for those who may think I’m splitting hairs unnecessarily by pointing out the true Savior when Christians are under attack, the Council of Chalcedon itself, originally scheduled to take place at Nicaea, was relocated to Chalcedon because the Huns were invading, yet it was held.)  The bishops at the Council of Chalcedon stalwartly defended the pure scriptural doctrine of the Mediator who is God and man in one person, and two distinct natures, forever, knowing that only this Person is the Savior who reconciles God to sinful men.  This isn’t just a technicality. It is in fact the Person who is our Salvation, our Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Other than him there is no Savior.

Our hearts go out to those who lost their lives to Islamic savages in the name of Christ.  I’m well aware that they were not killed for being heretical, but because they claim to be Christians.  As far as ISIS is concerned, it might just as well have been us.  It has also been reported that there has been something of a Reformation afoot in the Coptic Church, in Egypt, in recent decades.  May God grant that it increase and flourish. Nevertheless, it has to be at least a bit confusing when otherwise orthodox Christians claim that these adherents to a heretical sect dissenting from Chalcedonian orthodoxy are martyrs for the true Christ.  Let us pause and consider before we speak.

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How Do We Know That We Know Him?

Originally posted on Reformed Fellowship of Bellevue:

Did you know that God has given two books in order for us to know him? The second is the one that you might have in your hand. The first book is the book of creation, or natural revelation. God makes himself known to all people in that his glory and attributes are reflected in everything that he has made, even in man himself. But because of the effect of sin on our perception, man turns, twists, confuses, contorts, and obfuscates this knowledge of God which is written in his creation into silly things like gods with animal-like heads and feet, or gods who look and act just like humans, like the Greek and Roman pantheon. God in his mercy did not leave all mankind groping and grasping int he dark, without any hope of finding him. He sent his Son, at just the right time, to become human, by…

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Machen on Smoking

“The fellows are in my room now on the last Sunday night, smoking the cigars and eating the oranges which it has been the greatest delight I ever had to provide whenever possible. My idea of delight is a Princeton room full of fellows smoking. When I think what an aid tobacco is to friendship and Christian patience, I have sometimes regretted that I never began to smoke.” Stonehouse, J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir, 1987, p. 506.

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Adventure On the Confluence of the Platte and Missouri

On Saturday I had said to my 7 year old son, my hunting buddy, that we should go camping the following evening, which was supposed to be reasonably warm, in the thirties, and get up early to call coyotes on public access land in farm country about an hour away. I had Monday off because of the federal holiday.  But on the Lord’s Day, I was tired after preaching twice and driving nearly 150 miles, and I just wasn’t up to getting out all the camping equipment and pitching an incomplete tent in the dark. Plus, while he and I were both reading theology while sitting on the back porch, and I was smoking a cigar, we saw hundreds of Canada geese flying in formation overhead. We both simultaneously arrived at the idea to hunt geese on the following morning instead of coyotes (much tastier.) There is also a convenient location nearby to hunt geese, Schilling Wildlife Management Area, at the confluence of the Platte and Missouri Rivers. I could hardly sleep in anticipation. At around four o’clock, I rose and used the bathroom. I boiled some water for coffee. When it was a quarter to five, I quietly went into my buddy’s room and whispered, “Do you want to go hunting?” He immediately sat up and nodded his head in agreement, and made his way to wash up in the bathroom. I tried the same with my eldest daughter, but she barely budged. So my buddy and I managed to find enough camouflage clothing, and our hunting gear. We ate leftover homemade bread pudding for breakfast while I drank strong coffee poured from my French Press. I threw the duck decoys and my shotgun in the truck, and we were on our way. (Geese will be attracted to duck decoys, because seeing ducks around tells them it’s a safe area.) We decided to bring our German pointer. Even though he wouldn’t be much use for ducks, it would be nice to have him there in case we wanted to go after some partridge and quail in the afternoon, and he would appreciate getting a little exercise.

We slapped together a few sandwiches, grabbed some water bottles, and were on our way to Schilling. First we drove to the confluence of the Platte and Missouri rivers. It’s a spot frequented by waterfowl, though the sheer strength of the river current makes it difficult to set up decoys or retrieve game. We turned back to the other side of Schilling. When we got there we checked out a pond that we had in mind. It was too dark to see very well. But tossing a few wooden boards out on the pond convinced us that it was still frozen solid, not the best place to set up our decoys. We went back to the confluence. We waited for a while, and I finished my coffee. Within one hour to sunrise, we began to hear the honking of Canada geese. We put on our waders. My buddy was trying on his new waders from Cabela’s for the first time, the waders to replace the ones we mysteriously lost on our last outing. I chained up the pointer to the truck, so that he could not disturb our goose hunt.

At seven-twenty seven, one half hour before sunrise, we were ready to go. I loaded up with three three and a half inch shells full of number two steel shot. We were locked and loaded, and headed toward the mighty Missouri. We passed the spot where we had set up our decoys last time, and spotted a flock of Canada geese on the river, about one hundred fifty yards from the bank. I immediately got the idea that we could sit in the vicinity of this flock instead of setting up our duck decoys. Live geese are better to attract geese than plastic ducks! I wished my dog back at the truck would shut up. He thought we had left him forever. The flock of geese were out of the range of my shotgun, but if we creeped up slowly and didn’t spook them, we could set up by the river under a big fallen log that lay on the bank of the river, with good cover, and perhaps some geese would fly overhead. My buddy stalked quietly, and I felt proud to see him show some woodsman skill in the way that he followed me to the cover. He was well camouflaged in his coat and hat. We got to where we had a good view of the flock of geese. What better learning opportunity could there be, than to quietly spy our game, to learn their habits and behavior? We sat quietly. My buddy was perfectly still. Not five minutes later, a few geese were flying from the north. I concealed myself under the log and got up to my knees to be prepared to fire if they came close enough. They turned toward the river and I held my fire. Two geese came flying from the Iowa side of the river toward us, and flew right above our heads. I led the first goose with my twelve gauge, and pulled the trigger. A second later I heard a great “smack” on the river. I didn’t see the goose drop because I was focused on shooting the second one too. I pumped my action, and pulled the trigger a second time. “Click”, nothing happened. I realized that in my excitement I had failed to pump the action hard enough to extract the first empty three and a half inch magnum shell. I had reinserted the empty shell into the action. Now I vigorously pumped twice, extracted the empty shell, and the remaining live shell, too. I grabbed three shells from my bandoleer and reloaded. At that moment I looked to see the goose that I had downed. It was on the river, toward the center, its neck erect and head alive. I fired twice. The second shot killed it. The head was no longer visible. I must have hit it. I watched helplessly as the goose floated toward the fast-moving current of the middle of the Missouri river. I began to run in the same direction, downstream, along the bank. I called to my buddy but he didn’t need to be told what I was doing. He was following close after. The geese were active this morning. They kept flying overhead as I was trying to keep an eye on the downed bird floating down the river. They were a bit too high, but I must have fired nine times. My confidence was up after hitting the one. While I was firing at the birds, I had left my dog’s collar unbuckled. He took off, and we never saw the collar again, with its brand new medallions for a dog license and rabies vaccination. The prized game bird floated as we ran downstream, until finally it was out of sight, hidden by the glare of the morning sun rising over the Iowa horizon. My buddy insisted that we should make every effort to go and find it, and so we agreed to take a bridge from Nebraska to Iowa to see if we could find it, if perchance it had floated to the opposite bank and been stopped by something. I thought it was worth a try, and besides, it would be fun. But I didn’t even know how to get to the Iowa side.

We stopped back in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, at the police station to get general directions on where to find the nearest bridge over the river. When we crossed the river, it was quite a chore to find out how to actually get to the river bank. “There is no public access”, I was told by a woman at a farmhouse where we asked for directions. Not letting that deter us, we found a service road right in front of a bridge leading back over the river. We got off the highway, and drove along a gravel road to a muddy spot rutted with tire tracks. That was the end of our driving. We got out, and headed out on foot, in our boots (without the waders.) I reasoned that the waders would be too uncomfortable for walking, and that if we found the goose I could get myself wet for the short period of time it would take to get it out of the river without endangering myself as a prolonged exposure might. By this time the temperature was about thirty degrees, it was sunny, and we felt quite warm. We didn’t wear our coats when we set out. We hiked from our improvised parking spot to the river. The riverbed was covered by jagged rock. The pointer sometimes stayed with us, but mostly not. We sometimes walked on the jagged rocks on the river bank, and sometimes up on the bank among the trees, alternating as the path seemed easier. I was glad to be wearing my old trusty gore text Danner boots, the ones that got me through survival and evasion training sixteen years ago.  I had flashbacks of that training as we made our way over the rocks and fallen timber.  After traveling for two miles, we were tired. We sat down as I pulled two salami sandwiches and two water bottles from my cargo pockets. My buddy was smiling the whole way. Along the way he was throwing rocks and sticks into the river, shucking corn cobs, and stuffing goose and turkey feathers in his pocket for safe-keeping.  We were having an adventure, hiking along the Missouri river, looking for my downed goose. He would not have had it any other way. We decided that we were not going to find the goose, so we backtracked. Meanwhile the pointer had managed to get himself lost. He came to us as we trekked back through woods and on the edge of cornrows. (I was not carrying any firearm as this was Iowa, and I am only licensed to hunt in Nebraska.) He regained us twice, and got lost again. We made it back to the truck about five hours after we had begun our hike. My buddy was as content as could be. We napped for forty minutes under the hot Iowa sun, removing our long sleeve shirts and keeping the door open in the warm fifty degree noon weather. The dog never returned. I began to worry that he had collapsed of heat exhaustion, frantic about having lost us. I had called, clapped, and honked the horn of the truck to call him. Now my buddy and I took off on foot to find the dog. He had lost his collar, and if anything would happen to him, we would never find out. It took about a half a mile trek back south along the river, and finally he came limping out, tired, his paws sore and bleeding from looking for us. That dog never did learn to stick close by. I poured some water out of a bottle for him to lap up, and dowsed his head and back with the rest. Finally we had him, and we headed back to the truck. I threw the dog in the truck and we headed home. It’s a true blessing to have a hunting buddy who will push me and encourage me to press on, my seven-year old son. We had seen hundreds of majestic Canada geese, shot one way overhead, and trekked for miles along the Missouri river today. What an adventure. We can’t wait to do it again.

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Rebaptism: Turning a Pastoral Dilemma into a Teaching Opportunity

Originally posted on TheEcclesialCalvinist:

[Editor’s note: This article was first published in a short-lived journal in the mid-1990s.  The content dovetails nicely with Ken Stewart’s guest article from last week here on TheEcclesialCalvinist, and is reprinted here for the benefit of those who understandably missed it the first time.  Although it is a bit dated at this point, and there are a few things I might say differently today, I have resisted the urge to update it.]

“The sacrament of baptism is but once to be administered to any person.” (WCF 28.7)

Bob was baptized as an infant. After a period of teenage rebellion, Bob comes to a vibrant faith in Christ and joins an ARP church. During his interview with the session Bob asks to be rebaptized as a sign of his faith in Jesus.

Peggy, a victim of childhood physical abuse, comes to faith as an adult and is baptized by a…

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