Heinrich Bullinger on the Holy Catholic Church (2)

Preaching on how the church conducts itself in this world, Bullinger says:

“Against heresies and errors it striveth both constantly and wisely. The simplicity of the christian faith, and the sincerity of the doctrine of the apostles, it most diligently keepeth. She keepeth herself as much as lieth in her unspotted of the world and of the flesh, and from all carnal and spiritual infection. And therefore she fleeth from and by all means detesteth all unlawful congregations and profane religions, with all wicked men; and willingly and openly confesseth Christ both by word and deed, even with the damage of her life” (Heinrich Bullinger, Decades).

But how many who profess to be followers of Christ will actually dare to judge another human being unregenerate? Who in the vast sea of professing Christendom actually believes what John said concerning testing the spirits whether they be of God (cf. 1 John 4:1)? What Calvinist even wants to be caught making a “judgment” that merely gives him the semblance of a spine? That is, what Calvinist wants to possibly endanger his reputation as a man-pleaser by judging an abstract impersonal “ISM” as lost, let alone judging an actual concrete person of flesh and blood as lost? Their false humility and piety revolts against obedience to the Scriptural commands to judge saved and lost:

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world” (1 John 4:1).

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership does righteousness have with lawlessness? And what fellowship does light have with darkness? And what agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what part does a believer have with an unbeliever? And what agreement does a temple of God have with idols? For you are a temple of the living God, even as God said, I will dwell in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Because of this, come out from among them and be separated, says the Lord, and do not touch the unclean thing, and I will receive you. And I will be a Father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

“But beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inside they are plundering wolves. From their fruits you shall know them. Do they gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?So every good tree produces good fruits, but the corrupt tree produces evil fruits. A good tree cannot produce evil fruits, nor a corrupt tree produce good fruits. Every tree not producing good fruit is cut down and is thrown into fire. Then surely from their fruits you shall know them” (Matthew 7:15-20).

To judge a professing Christian a “wicked man” or a professing Christian congregation an “unlawful congregation,” is NOT necessarily to judge that person or congregation an unregenerate viper or unregenerate den of vipers. How can this be? Well, we Christians have many times witnessed the bombast and bluster of great swelling judgments that are bereft of any Biblical meaning — one example of this is when certain Calvinists who appear to have a spiritual spine will judge a certain heretic as a “wolf.” BUT when pressed they acknowledge that it is entirely possible that a wolf is regenerate. Thus, what seemed at first to be a spine, in reality turns out to be a soggy banana doing its best impersonation of a human vertebrae.

“But it was because of those false brothers stealing in, who stole in to spy on our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, they desiring to enslave us, to whom not even for an hour did we yield in subjection, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Galatians 2:4-5).

The apostle Paul had the temerity and unmitigated gall to actually judge a professing Christian to be unregenerate. And from the immediate context and from the entire context of Galatians, these professing Christians whom Paul judged as lost were subtle in bringing in their damnable heresy. Perhaps like our enemies, they would falsely accuse Paul of “some form of perfectionism” (cf. http://www.outsidethecamp.org/letters72(2).htm ) or falsely accuse him of an inordinate zeal and focus on the “intricacies of Christ’s efficacious atonement” or of a twisted fascination with the “wonderfully complicated machinery” of God’s sovereign workings in the regeneration and salvation of the elect and active hardening and damnation of the non-elect.

Furthermore, all these tolerant heretics who speak peace when there is no peace (cf. Deuteronomy 29:17-20; Isaiah 28:14-18; Jeremiah 6:14, 8:11, 14:12-16, 23:16; Ezekiel 13:10-16; 2 John 9-11; Revelation 18:1-5) think that to engage in righteous judgment by judging on the basis of the gospel (cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:36; Romans 1:16-17; 1 John 4:1) is to take God’s place as Judge. Evidently for these false teachers and shepherds, the essential spiritual life-and-death doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ are penciled in as doctrines that are “extremely useful” and “profitable,” but nonetheless, “optional.”

“It keepeth unity and concord carefully. All and every the members of her body she most tenderly loveth” (Bullinger).

It sure does. Just witness the tolerant Calvinist heretics heatedly babble, burble, banter, bicker, brouhaha, and ballyhoo over doctrines they deem not essential to the gospel — doctrines such as the efficacious atonement of Jesus Christ, unconditional election, and the sovereignty of God to name just a few. One prominent instance in “church history” of this careful “unity and concord” is seen in two famous brothers in Satan, John Wesley and George Whitefield: