Yes, There Has Been A Name Change

Back in The Day, we used to say we “renamed” something. Now, things get “rebranded.” I thought the only things which got rebranded were unfortunate little cattle who had originally been branded incorrectly in the first place and this had to undergo the searing heat of a branding iron a second time. Alas, the times, they are-a-changin’, to quote Bob Dylan.

After a little more than six years and 1,954 posts, we have indeed “rebranded.” Our address is now Please modify any bookmarks or favorites which point here to reflect the new address. The URL will still get you here, BTW and we will keep that active for that purpose.

Why the change? Some may attribute the change to a growing curmedgeon factor in an old man, but aye, ’tis not so. It is more a reflection of this – the gospel is serious business. Nothing matters more. Not even here in Texas, where football (American-style football, for our global audience) is king. We have decided to move away from those occasional posts which are more lighthearted and mirthful in tone to a more consistently serious, sober-minded tone.

Also, we have made the change to become more God-centered. This blog is not about an old man in Texas. It is about the living God who rescued an old man from the curse of sin and did so for His own glory, not mine.

Thank you for stopping by and you can continue on to here.

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Douglas Moo: Lectures On The Book Of James, Part 1

Douglas Moo is a scholar at Wheaton College and the author of an acclaimed commentary on James. He lectured on James at The Master’s Seminary and these are the videos. Moo is also one of the translators of the TNIV and the NIV 2011 and he occasionally comments on translation issues – whether one agrees with him or not, his points are interesting and give some insight into bible translation.

Robert Reymond: The Deity Of Christ

From the book, Jesus, Divine Messiah: The New and Old Testament Witness. This is a footnote on page 96 as he comments on Isaiah chapter 8.

For example, (1) the “Lord of hosts” of 8:13 is the “Lord Christ,” according to 1 Peter 3:14–15; (2) this same “Lord of hosts” of 8:14 who is “a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall” is the Christ whom the Jews rejected, according to Romans 9:33; (3) and yet he is to be distinguished from the Lord in some sense for, according to the Author of Hebrews, it is the Christ who says in 8:17: “I will put my trust in him” (Heb 2:13), and who speaks of having received children from the Lord in 8:18 (see “everlasting Father” in 9:6) (Heb 2:13); (4) the geographic locale specified in 9:1–2 is applied to the locale of Jesus’ ministry in Matthew 4:13–16; (5) the nature of the Child’s reign described in 9:7 is the background to Gabriel’s statement in Luke 1:32–33; (6) the statement that only a remnant in Israel rely upon the Lord and return to the mighty God in 10:20–23 (see “mighty God” in 9:6), Paul in Romans 9:27–28 applies to the then-current wide-scale rejection of Jesus Christ; and (7) the Root of Jesse to whom the natives will rally in 11:10 is the Christ, according to Paul in Romans 15:12. Clearly, the Child of the “Volume of Immanuel” is Deity incarnate and yet is in some sense to be distinguished from Deity. Only the postulation of the correlative doctrines of the Incarnation and the Trinity can resolve this otherwise clear contradiction. More examples could be given: As a further explication of the content of that one “more superior name [than “angel”]” of “Son,” the Author of Hebrews declares that when this Child was born, God commanded that all the angels should worship him (Heb 1:6; see Deut 32:43 LXX), and that as God’s Son he is himself the “God” of Psalm 45:6–7 and the “Lord” of Psalm 102:25–27. Surely he is Deity.

Reymond, R. L. (2003). Jesus, Divine Messiah: The New and Old Testament Witness. Fearn, UK: Christian Focus Publications.


Nathan Pitchford: What The Bible Says About The People Of God (The Millennium, Part 4)

From the booklet of the same name, available for free download at Monergism Books. Pitchford writes from the perspective that God has always had a “people” – and only one “people.” The present writer would affirm Mr. Pitchford’s point.


The “first resurrection” corresponds well with other New Testament teaching on the present resurrection life of believers.

Romans 6:3-4 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of What The Bible Says About The People Of GodGod, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Colossians 3:1-3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
1  J0hn 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
Ephesians 2:4-6 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Colossians 2:11-12 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

The binding of Satan corresponds well with related New Testament teaching.

Matthew 12:26-29 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.
Luke 10:17-18 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
John 12:31-33 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
John 16:8-11 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
Hebrews 2:14-15 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

The more obscure, apocalyptic visions of John should be interpreted in light of the clearer, didactic epistles of the New Testament, which we have already examined.

The Fallibility Of Papal Infallibility

By Jason Engwer.

“It is abundantly clear by reading the Catholic apologists that they will not accept any evidence that overturns papal infallibility. No matter how badly a Pope has erred – morally, doctrinally, or otherwise – no charge against papal infallibility will ever stick. It would save us a lot of time if Catholic apologists will simply admit this. In reality, this is nothing short of historical gymnastics and wishful reconstructions at best – and blatant dishonesty at worst.” – Eric Svendsen, Evangelical Answers (Atlanta, Georgia: New Testament Restoration Foundation, 1997), p. 34

There are a lot of disagreements about when Popes are infallible and when they aren’t. The First Vatican Council and other recent Catholic sources that have claimed infallibility for the Pope have been interpreted in different ways by different people. Catholics don’t agree with each other about papal infallibility, and non-Catholics also disagree over how to interpret the doctrine. Since Popes have often erred, some Catholic apologists have claimed that papal infallibility has only been exercised twice: the Immaculate Conception decree of Pope Pius IX in 1854 and the Assumption of Mary decree of Pope Pius XII in 1950. However, even those decrees have errors in them. For example, in the Immaculate Conception decree, Pope Pius IX referred to Mary as the crusher of Satan’s head in Genesis 3:15. That interpretation was derived from a mistranslation of the passage that was part of Catholic Bibles for centuries. The crusher of Satan’s head in Genesis 3:15 is actually masculine, not feminine. There’s no reason to believe that Mary is the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15, contrary to what Pope Pius IX wrote in the Immaculate Conception decree. Because of such errors, some Catholics claim that not even the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary decrees are infallible. Only some parts of those decrees are exercises of papal infallibility. Other Catholics argue that Popes have exercised papal infallibility more often. However the doctrine is defined, there’s no evidence that Popes have any power of infallibility, and the Catholic Church’s failure to further define the doctrine reflects that. The Catholic Church has been vague on this issue for obvious reasons.

While the Catholic Church tries to avoid responsibility for papal errors by defining papal infallibility in a vague way, it demands obedience to the Pope at all times, as though every word coming from his mouth is infallible. The Catholic Church thereby avoids responsibility while commanding obedience. It can err repeatedly, yet still claim infallibility, and demand obedience at all times, even when it’s erring. For example, the Second Vatican Council taught (“Dogmatic Constitution on the Church”, no. 25, emphasis mine):

This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and that one sincerely adhere to decisions made by him.

Nobody knows just when the Pope supposedly is speaking infallibly and when he isn’t, and he’s to be obeyed even when he isn’t speaking infallibly. This reasoning allows the Roman Catholic Church to derive all of the benefits of claiming infallibility, such as having hundreds of millions of people obey it, while avoiding the responsibilities of claiming infallibility.

Even the Catholic apologists who claim that papal infallibility has only been exercised twice often cite papal infallibility on other issues. They’re inconsistent. To avoid the implications of papal errors such as Liberius’ support of Arianism and Honorius’ support of Monothelitism, Catholics will argue that papal infallibility is defined so narrowly that those papal errors aren’t part of that definition. However, when Catholics are discussing the canon of scripture, for example, they’ll claim that a Pope such as Damasus or Innocent infallibly declared what the canon of scripture is. Or when discussing an issue such as the deity of Christ or the Trinity, they’ll claim that Popes infallibly settled those matters. But if papal infallibility has only been exercised twice, how can Catholic apologists claim that the canon of scripture, Christ’s deity, the Trinity, etc. have also been infallibly declared? How can they claim that some rulings of Popes and councils are infallible, while others aren’t, without having a reasonable and consistent standard by which to make such a distinction? For example, if Pope Pius IX’s Immaculate Conception decree is infallible, why wouldn’t Pope Boniface VIII’s Unam Sanctam decree, which errs repeatedly, also be infallible? Both decrees were issued by Popes, both decrees define doctrine, and both decrees use authoritative language. Or when the Fourth Lateran Council dogmatizes transubstantiation, why is that accepted as infallible, while the same council’s offering of indulgences to those who participate in a Crusade and “exterminate heretics” isn’t accepted as infallible? Catholics are unreasonable and inconsistent in how they define papal infallibility.

The doctrine of the papacy, even without papal infallibility, has led to a lot of false doctrine and dishonesty. Millions of people have been deceived into accepting false teaching because they believed that the Pope has apostolic authority. Popes have brought about all sorts of false doctrines, persecutions, and wars. Incalculable amounts of time and effort have been spent arguing back and forth about the papacy, papal infallibility, and related subjects. A lot of people have given their reputations, their lives, and even their souls to defending the doctrine of the papacy. As Charles Hodge wrote, regarding papal infallibility:

We know that when Christ was on earth men did not believe or obey him. We know that when the Apostles were still living, and their authority was still confirmed by signs, and wonders, and divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost, the Church was distracted by heresies and schisms. If any in their sluggishness are disposed to think that a perpetual body of infallible teachers would be a blessing, all must admit that the assumption of infallibility by the ignorant, the erring, and the wicked, must be an evil inconceivably great. The Romish theory, if true, might be a blessing; if false, it must be an awful curse. (cited in Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1998], Vol. I, p. 171)

History proves that the doctrines of the papacy and papal infallibility are not blessings, but are instead awful curses. Below are two of the many examples that could be cited.

Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam

What follows below is Pope Boniface VIII’s Unam Sanctam decree, issued early in the fourteenth century. I’ve highlighted portions that contradict what the Roman Catholic Church teaches today, as well as portions that misinterpret scripture. As you read this papal decree, ask yourself whether this Pope’s scripture interpretations are accurate. Does this Pope interpret passages like John 18:11 and 1 Corinthians 2:15 correctly? Ask yourself whether this is a “Vicar of Christ” speaking “infallibly” or, instead, a fallible man perverting the gospel, misrepresenting scripture, and attempting to attain more power for himself. I’ll be including numbers, in brackets (“[]”), after each portion of the decree that I highlight. At the end of the decree, I’ll comment on each of the portions I highlighted.

 Boniface, Bishop, Servant of the servants of God. For perpetual remembrance:

Urged on by our faith, we are obliged to believe and hold that there is one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. And we firmly believe and profess that outside of her there is no salvation nor remission of sins, as the bridegroom declares in the Canticles, “My dove, my undefiled, is but one; she is the only one of her mother; she is the choice one of her that bare her.” And this represents the one mystical body of Christ, and of this body Christ is the head, and God is the head of Christ. In it there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. For in the time of the Flood there was the single ark of Noah, which prefigures the one Church, and it was finished according to the measure of one cubit and had one Noah for pilot and captain, and outside of it every living creature on the earth, as we read, was destroyed. And this Church we revere as the only, even as the Lord saith by the prophet, “Deliver my soul from the sword, my darling from the power of the dog.” He prayed for his soul, that is, for himself, head and body. And this body he called one body, that is, the Church, because of the single bridegroom, the unity of the faith, the sacraments, and the love of the Church. She is that seamless shirt of the Lord which was not rent but was allotted by the casting of lots. Therefore, this one and single Church has one head and not two heads,- for had she two heads, she would be a monster,- that is, Christ and Christ’s vicar, Peter and Peter’s successor. For the Lord said unto Peter, “Feed my sheep.” “My,” he said, speaking generally and not particularly, “these and those,” by which it is to be understood that all the sheep are committed unto him. So, when the Greeks [Eastern Orthodox] and others say that they were not committed to the care of Peter and his successors, they must confess that they are not of Christ’s sheep [1], even as the Lord says in John, “There is one fold and one shepherd.”

That in her and within her power are two swords, we are taught in the Gospels, namely, the spiritual sword and the temporal sword. For when the Apostles said, “Lo, here,”- that is, in the Church,- are two swords, the Lord did not reply to the Apostles “it is too much,” but “it is enough.” [Luke 22:38] [2] It is certain that whoever denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter hearkens ill to the words of the Lord which he spake, “Put up thy sword into its sheath.” [John 18:11] [3] Therefore, both are in the power of the Church, namely, the spiritual sword and the temporal sword; the latter is to be used for the Church, the former by the Church; the former by the hand of the priest, the latter by the hand of princes and kings, but at the nod and sufferance of the priest. The one sword must of necessity be subject to the other, and the temporal authority to the spiritual. For the Apostle said, “There is no power but of God, and the powers that be are ordained of God”; and they would not have been ordained unless one sword had been made subject to the other, and even as the lower is subjected to the other for higher things. For, according to Dionysius, it is a divine law that the lowest things are made by mediocre things to attain to the highest. For it is not according to the law of the universe that all things in an equal way and immediately should reach their end, but the lowest through the mediocre and the lower through their higher. But that the spiritual power excels the earthly power in dignity and worth, we will the more clearly acknowledge just in proportion as the spiritual is higher than the temporal. And this we perceive quite distinctly from the donation of the tithe and functions of benediction and sanctification, from the mode in which the power was received, and the government of the subjected realms. For truth being the witness, the spiritual power has the functions of establishing the temporal power and sitting in judgment on it if it should prove to be not good. And to the Church and the Church’s power the prophecy of Jeremiah attests: “See, I have set thee this day over the nations and kingdoms to pluck up and to break down and to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” [Jeremiah 1:10] [4]

And if the earthly power deviate from the right path, it is judged by the spiritual power; but if a minor spiritual power deviate from the right path, the lower in rank is judged by its superior; but if the supreme power [the papacy] deviate, it can be judged not by man, but by God alone. And so the Apostle testifies, “He which is spiritual judges all things, but he himself is judged by no man.” [1 Corinthians 2:15] But this authority, although it be given to a man, and though it be exercised by a man, is not a human but a divine power given by divine word of mouth to Peter and confirmed to Peter and to his successors [5] by Christ himself, whom Peter confessed, even him whom Christ called the Rock. For the Lord said to Peter himself, “Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth,” etc. Whoever, therefore, resists this power so ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God, unless perchance he imagines two principles to exist, as did Manichaeus, which we pronounce false and heretical. For Moses testified that God created heaven and earth not in the beginnings but “in the beginning” [Genesis 1:1] [6].

Furthermore, that every human creature is subject to the Roman pontiff [the Pope],- this we declare, say, define, and pronounce to be altogether necessary to salvation. [7]

1. This claim contradicts the Second Vatican Council and other recent Catholic documents, which teach that people outside of the Roman Catholic Church, including Eastern Orthodox, can be saved without submitting to the Pope.

2. Luke 22:38 isn’t teaching that the Roman Catholic Church has authority over governments. Passages such as John 18:36 contradict this Pope’s interpretation of Luke 22:38.

3. John 18:11 isn’t teaching that the Roman Catholic Church has authority over governments, and it isn’t teaching that governments must use their sword at the command of the church.

4. Jeremiah 1:10 isn’t about the church.

5. 1 Corinthians 2:15 is referring to all Christians, not the Pope. Verse 16 tells us that “we have the mind of Christ”.

6. Genesis 1:1 doesn’t prove that there has to be a Pope.

7. This claim contradicts the Second Vatican Council and other recent Catholic documents, which teach that people outside of the Roman Catholic Church can be saved without submitting to the Pope.

Pope Sixtus V, Aeternus Ille

Peter de Rosa, a Roman Catholic and former Jesuit, gives a lot of examples of Popes erring and contradicting one another in his book Vicars of Christ (New York, New York: Crown Publishers, 1988). What follows is one example, the Sixtus Bible. A Pope, Sixtus V, issued a version of the Bible that was filled with errors, and he ordered all Christians to accept and follow that erroneous Bible, which he had personally edited. Not only does this illustrate the fallibility of Popes on matters of faith and morals, but it also illustrates once again how corrupt the institution of the papacy is and how much it corrupts other people. I’ve added emphasis in bold:

The Pope Who Rewrote the Bible

When Gregory XIII became pope in the year 1572, the Franciscan Cardinal Montalto retired from public life. His retainers passed it around that his Eminence had one foot in the grave already and wanted no more of life than to prepare for death. At the rare meetings of the Sacred College which he was obligated to attend, he coughed continuously as if he were in the final stages of consumption. To whatever was proposed he meekly bowed his big tonsured head in assent. He was too weak to argue. When his colleagues protested that he was far too young to die, Felice Peretti da Montalto shrugged sadly and added eight years to his age in an effort to convince them of his imminent decease. An English visitor to Rome chanced to catch a rare glimpse of his Eminence bent over his fire and wrote home about this ‘most crooching, humble cardinal that was ever lodged in an oven’.

Pope Gregory died in 1585. Montalto appeared at the conclave, hollow-cheeked, dull-eyed, with wrinkles carefully applied. His gait was snail-like, his voice scarcely audible. He walked on crutches, and so round-shouldered was he that his head nearly touched the ground. It was evident to all forty-two cardinal-electors as they cast their votes that Montalto was perfect for the papacy. They were immediately undeceived. As soon as Montalto won the vote, according to his biographer Leti, he straightened up, threw his crutches away with the cry, ‘Now I am Caesar,’ before intoning the Te Deum with a voice of thunder.

In five years, Sixtus V got through fifty years’ work. He had teams of men labouring day and night to put the dome on St Peter’s. He had the obelisk moved, inch by inch, by hundreds of workmen and mules, to its present central position in the piazza. He built the Vatican Library. He constructed an aqueduct over valleys and hills to bring water twenty miles into Rome. He well earned his nickname, ‘The Consecrated Whirlwind’.

Allied to titanic energy was a fierce and clamorous egotism. He asserted his temporal jurisdiction over all kings and princes. When the Jesuit, Robert Bellarmine, the stoutest champion of the papacy since Aquinas, suggested in his book of Controversies that the pope only had indirect jurisdiction over temporal rulers, Sixtus resolved to censure him. He could for any reason, he said, and whenever he pleased, appoint or dismiss anyone, emperors included. He also disapproved of the theologian Vittorio for daring to write that it was lawful to disobey unjust orders of a pope. Yes, he, Sixtus, pontiff, would ban the books of both these renegades.

The cardinals of the Congregation of the Index were too terrified to tell his Holiness that these eminent authors based their views on the works of countless saints and scholars. Count Olivares, the Spanish ambassador in Rome, wrote to his master Philip II that the cardinals stayed silent ‘for fear Sixtus might give them a taste of his sharp temper and perhaps put the saints themselves on the Index’.

Sixtus was particularly ungracious towards Bellarmine. The Jesuit had gallantly co-operated with him on editing the works of St Ambrose. It cannot have been easy. At every point, Sixtus had overruled his judgement. Afterwards, the pope made the order that his version was now the standard text. It was and it remains the most unreliable in existence.

The same high-handed approach he adopted to the Bible. The results were devastating.

The Latin version of the Bible, the Vulgate, was the work of St Jerome in the fourth century. By the Middle Ages it had pride of place. By then, many false readings had crept in, owing to sleepy copyists. With printing, editions multiplied, as did the errors. At the Reformation, Protestants had their own versions of the Bible; it was imperative for Catholics to have a reliable text of the Vulgate in all disputes.

The Council of Trent in 1546 had called the Vulgate the church’s authentic version of the Bible. It alone was to be used in lectures, disputations, sermons. ‘Authentic’ means that Catholics can be sure it is free from doctrinal and moral error and substantially faithful to the originals. When the fathers of Trent commissioned a new edition of the Vulgate, they had no idea of the size of the task. Eleven popes lived and died, and nothing happened. Until Sixtus V.

Three years into his pontificate, at the end of 1588, the scholars he had appointed to edit the Vulgate presented him with their final text. There was too much scholarship in it for the pope’s liking; and they had put in too many variant readings. He shouted the president of the commission, Cardinal Carafa, out of his room, screaming he could do far better on his own. This astounding claim he set about trying to prove. In a 300-word sentence, he declared in a Bull that he, the pope, was the only proper person to decide the question of an authentic Bible for the church.

Hour after hour he laboured, and night after night, for he was an insomniac. He had only one full-time secretary, who was almost driven to the grave. In the main, Sixtus kept to the Louvain text which he was familiar with. It was not particularly scholarly. Where it was obscure, he did not mind adding phrases and sentences to clarify. Often he translated according to whim. Another of his idiosyncrasies was to alter the references. A system of chapter and verse had been worked out in 1555 by Robert Stephanus. It was not perfect but it was convenient and was universally used. Sixtus discarded it in favour of his own scheme. All previous Bibles became instantly obsolete; all books in the schools, with their armouries of texts, had to be reprinted. Apart from changing the titles of the Psalms which were considered by many to be inspired, he omitted, probably through carelessness, entire verses.

After only eighteen months, his work was done. In 1590, the first folio copies appeared. ‘Splendid,’ he muttered, admiring the beautiful binding, until one glance at the text revealed many misprints. Then more and more. The printers, too, had been expected to operate, night and day, in whirlwind fashion.

So as not to waste time, Sixtus started patching things up on his own. He wrote corrections in ink on tiny bits of paper – squares, oblongs, triangles – and pasted them over the printer’s errors. It took him six months, and he botched a lot of it. Publication kept getting deferred as the pope’s nightmare continued. His Bull, Aeternus Ille, was long ready. Never was there a more authoritative document:

By the fullness of Apostolical power, We decree and
declare this edition . . . approved by the authority
given Us by the Lord, is to be received and held as
true, lawful, authentic and unquestioned in all
public and private discussions, readings, preachings
and explanations.

No printer, editor, bookseller was allowed to deviate by one jot from this final and authentic version of the Latin Bible. Anyone contravening the Bull was to be excommunicated, and only the pope could absolve him. Temporal punishments were threatened, too.

In mid-April copies were at last delivered to cardinals and ambassadors. They inspected it, boggle-eyed. Four months later, on 27 August, the bells of the Capitol announced the pope was dead. That night a storm arose so fierce it was as though Sixtus’ departing spirit had whipped up the elements into a frenzy. Rome went wild with delight, but none was so elated as his enemies in the Sacred College.

The next pope died after a twelve-day pontificate. Gregory XIV (1590-1) was left to limit the damage. But how? A Bible had been imposed with the plenitude of papal power, complete with the trimmings of excommunication, on the whole church – and it was riddled with errors. The academic world was in turmoil; Protestants were deriving enormous pleasure and amusement from the predicament of the Roman church.

On 11 November 1590, Bellarmine returned to Rome from a mission abroad. Personally relieved that Sixtus, who had wanted him on the Index, was dead, he feared for the prestige of the papacy. He suggested to the new pope how he might deal with this dilemma. In his Autobiography he was to tell all.

Some men, whose opinions had great weight, held that it should be publicly prohibited. I did not think so, and I showed the Holy Father that, instead of forbidding the edition of the Bible in question, it would be better to correct it in such manner that it could be published without detriment to the honour of Pope Sixtus. This result could be achieved by removing inadvisable changes as quickly as possible, and then issuing the volume with Sixtus’ name upon it, and a preface stating that owing to haste some errors had crept into the first edition through the fault of printers and other persons.

In brief, Bellarmine advised the pope to lie. Some of his admirers have disputed this. Their task is formidable.

The options were plain: admit publicly that a pope had erred on a critical matter of the Bible or engage in a cover-up whose outcome was unpredictable. Bellarmine proposed the latter.

He may have been tempted to take this line because it was a selfless thing to do: he was defending the honour of a man who had impugned his own. He may also have meant to include Sixtus in that vague reference to the fault of printers ‘and other persons’. Yet could any reader have possibly guessed that the pope was one of the other persons? Besides, the only damaging errors were the pope’s, not the printers’.

The deceit did not stop there.

A thorough overhaul of Sixtus’ Bible would take years. Years they did not have. A small band of scholars, including Bellarmine, went to work in a country house on a slope of the Sabine Hills eighteen miles from Rome. They did a remarkable job, completing their revision in mid-June 1591. The problem now was how to present it to the world. Bellarmine, asked by a new pontiff, developed the cover-up.

The new version should be printed at once. Sixtus’ version was bound to fall into the hands of heretics. They would point to the changes, omissions, mistranslations and say: ‘Look, popes think nothing of corrupting Bible texts to suit their own purposes.’ With the new text should go a preface saying Sixtus had published a Bible revised according to his orders but, on examining it, he had discovered that many errors had crept into it owing to unseemly haste. This was not so unusual in first editions. Sixtus, therefore, decided that the work must be done all over again. At his death, his successors were keen to carry out his wishes. Hence the new edition.

This was very far from the truth. The only really disturbing errors were those of which Sixtus was unaware: his own. He never had the slightest intention of revising his own work, only that of the printers. The decision to revise and republish was taken after his death.

Uppermost in Bellarmine’s mind was this: popes must never be seen to condemn the solemn decrees of their predecessors. That would reflect badly on papal authority itself. On the other hand, respect, was also due to the Bible; that, like the papacy, was inerrant. Out of the need to reconcile the irreconcilable came the cover-up.

Bellarmine suggested that the new version should not be the only one allowed. It had been done in a hurry and there were, no doubt, errors in it that time would reveal. Besides, he added, ‘though the Pope has given us our commission, he could not give us the assistance of the Holy Spirit which is his exclusive prerogative’. There was in Bellarmine’s mind, for all its greatness and subtlety, an almost childish strain when it came to the papacy. He did not care to explain what happened to the assistance of the Holy Spirit while Pope Sixtus was working on the Vulgate.

The Bible was ready for publication at the end of 1592, and Clement VIII agreed to it going out under the sole name of Sixtus. In The Church and the Papacy (1944), Jalland says, tongue in cheek, that this affair

serves to provide unique documentary evidence of the possibility that even the Roman See can change its mind. Yet the fact has subsequently been obscured, for when the new edition appeared in 1592 it was boldly and somewhat disingenuously presented to the world as the ‘Sixtine’ Bible. If the name of Clement was later introduced, it scarcely served to atone for a strange feat of literary dishonesty, nor to conceal the truth that the Roman See had so far yielded to popular clamour as to treat one of its earlier decisions as reversible.

After the lies, one problem remained: how to get back copies of the real Sixtus Bible. Bellarmine advised the pope to buy them back, regardless of cost, which was likely to be high. Not only were they magnificently produced, but a half-wit would see their curio value.
Instructions went out to the Inquisition in Venice and to the Jesuit General to scour printing houses and private homes, especially in Germany, to save the honour of the papacy. The search had elements of farce. At a time when Protestants were distributing free Bibles, the Catholic church was desperately trying to buy some back.

How many copies were recovered is not known, but at the most ten. One copy found its way into the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Its first librarian, Dr Thomas James, treated it like manna from heaven. In 1611 he wrote a book contrasting the two Bibles of Sixtus and Sixtus-Clement. He found ‘that the two popes did notoriously differ amongst themselves, not only in the number of the verses [the later version went back to Stephanus' system of reference] but in the body of the text and in the Prefaces and Bulls themselves’.

James claimed to see a remarkable thing: two popes warring in open contradiction of each other. ‘In this war, their Head hath been so soiled and their Church so deadly wounded that all the balme in Gilead will not cure them. We have here one Pope against another, Sixtus against Clement, Clement against Sixtus, disputing, writing and fighting about the Jerome Bible.’ The Bible, as far as Catholics were concerned, said James, was a wax nose which popes bent into whatever shape suited them. ‘If the Pope said what was white was black and black white no Catholic dared disagree.’

It was good polemics, and Sixtus thoroughly deserved it. But even Dr James did not find more than one or two fundamental differences between two popes or any real attempt by either to deceive the reader. Enormous stupidity was present but precious little malice.

What the affair revealed was something quite different.

In any other institution, mistakes such as those made by Sixtus would have been a mere passing embarrassment easily laughed off and soon forgotten. Only in the Roman church could it provoke what, in Bellarmine’s view, was the greatest crisis of the Reformation. Reacting to this crisis, a man of Bellarmine’s integrity felt compelled to tell lies and half-truths which more than one pope swallowed with relief. If a saintly person like Bellarmine was prepared to lie for the papacy, what will others not do? What have others not done? What are others not doing?

Bellarmine, selfless and poor, emerges as the sad victim of the papacy which he gave his life to defend. So large did it figure in his mind that in him Dr James’s jibe was verified to the letter. He did, to please the pope, say that black was white and white black in a most dangerous area: ethics. He states in his book on the Roman pontiff that whatever the pope commands, however evil or ridiculous, has to be obeyed, as if it is virtue itself. Whatever the pope does, even when he deposes an emperor on the most frivolous pretext, has to be accepted by Catholics who henceforward have to obey the pope and not the emperor.

The affair of the pope who rewrote the Bible proves once more that the teaching that the pope cannot err creates its own version of history and leads even saintly men to lie on its behalf. But Bellarmine is chiefly remembered today not because he covered up for a pope, but because he helped ruin the career of a layman – one of the most famous who ever lived [Galileo]. (pp. 215-221)

Nathan Pitchford: What The Bible Says About The People Of God (The Millennium, Part 3)

From the booklet of the same name, available for free download at Monergism Books. Pitchford writes from the perspective that God has always had a “people” – and only one “people.” The present writer would affirm Mr. Pitchford’s point.


Revelation chapter twenty must be interpreted in light of its genre: Revelation is a book full of symbolic visions and numbers.

Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, [Unless there are literally seven Holy Spirits, the reader has to acknowledge a symbolic use of numbers here.]
Revelation 1:20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven What The Bible Says About The People Of Godchurches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Revelation 17:9-12 This calls for a mind with wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he does come he must remain only a little while. As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast.

In other places in Revelation, the final consummation of all history has already been reached; therefore, chapter twenty is likely another “recapitulation,” a different symbolic way of describing the New Testament era, followed by a description of the end of history.

Revelation 11:15-19 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.” Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
Revelation 14:14-16 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.
Revelation 16:17-21 The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!” And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath. And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found. And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.
Revelation 19:11-21 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.

81 Weeks Of Art (Azurdia, That Is) Preaching Through The Book Of Revelation: The Potency Of Intercession (8:3-6)

Arturo Azurdia III is one of the pastors of Trinity Church, Portland, Oregon. Almost fifteen years ago, while pastoring another church in California, he preached through the book of Revelation over a course of 81 sermons.  In the interest of full disclosure, Dr. Azurdia’s approach to this book may be a little different than what you may be accustomed to.  If you will be patient with him, I think you will find that he brings much light to what can be a confusing book and makes it rather easy to understand.  If you do not attend a Sunday evening service, this would be well worth your while as a substitute. You will need your bible open in front of you while listening to this series.

This week: Chapter eight, verses three through six.

3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, 4 and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. 5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.

The Seven Trumpets
6 Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.

Nathan Pitchford: What The Bible Says About The People Of God (The Millennium, Part 2)

From the booklet of the same name, available for free download at Monergism Books. Pitchford writes from the perspective that God has always had a “people” – and only one “people.” The present writer would affirm Mr. Pitchford’s point.


The rescue of the church and the eternal destruction of the wicked will occur at the same time.

2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospelWhat The Bible Says About The People Of God of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
Matthew 24:29-31 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Matthew 25:31-46 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
1 C0rinthians 15:51-57 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 3:3-14 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. [Here, immediately before the dissolution of the heavens and earth in fervent heat, people are saying that all things are continuing in the same way they always have; which could not be said following all the events of Dispensational eschatology. Furthermore, the delay is intended to bring in the
full measure of those who should repent and be added to the Church, and also provides a basis for Peter's exhortation to contemporary believers to be watchful, looking for this
final, catastrophic day. He does not exhort us to be watchful for the appearing of Christ as that which rescues us from the earth, but leaves one-thousand-seven years of history afterward; but for the appearing of Christ as that which brings the final destruction of the world.]

The resurrection of the righteous dead and the wicked dead will occur at the same time.

Daniel 12:1-2 ‘At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your peo­ple shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

John 5:28-29 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrec­tion of judgment.