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May 06, 2010


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James Sundquist`

Dear Aaron,

Since you mention Alistair Begg, I thought you might be interested in my letter to Alistair Begg.

Comment if you care to.


James Sundquist

Begin forwarded message:

From: James Sundquist
Subject: Re John Calvin, musical instruments in worship, infant baptism, simony, Hamite and Antisemite Theology
Date: May 11, 2020 at 9:20:27 AM EDT
To: [email protected]

Dear Pastor Begg,

As you would already know, you admirably refute infant baptism and you employ musical instruments in worship in your church. I AM GLAD!!! But what is baffling and confusing to me is that you also glowingly promote and endorse John Calvin. But Calvin burned people at the stake for opposing infant baptism and declared that use of musical instruments in worship is an abomination. Did you know that? This brings me to the following questions:

1. Why would any kind of Baptist not totally reject John Calvin and have no association with even his name who burned people at the stake for opposing infant baptism? This is what you and I would look like were John Calvin to get his hands on us:


2. As you know, The Netherlands is where Reformed Theology TULIP originated then spread throughout Europe, Africa, and America. But of the billions of tulips sold from there every year, wasn't there at least one wise among them to inform them to inform them that a tulip has only 3 petals and to this day no one has exposed this?

3. Conrad Mbewe a black leading pastor in Zambia is championing Calvinism taking over Africa. But Calvinism is responsible for Apartheid white supremacy Dutch Reformed Church in Africa and corrupting Curse of Ham racism plague, resulting in the death of 21,000 Blacks that also infected America my country such as Calvinist Presbyterian Pastor Robert Lewis Dabney who stated: “colored men . . . should not be ordained to the full work of the gospel ministry, simply because they belong to the negro race.”…1.5 million died in the Civil War, almost destroyed our country. So what would Dabney say to Moses whose second wife was a Black woman from Ethiopia (Cushite)? Better yet, what would and should have Moses done to Dabney? I can tell you what the Lord did to Miriam, effectively saying them “so you don't like Black, let see how you like white with Leprosy for judgment seven days!” (Number 12:10) At least Aaron repented, Dabney never did! Had Abraham Kuyper, Dabney and a host of Calvinists done what Philip did by cozying up in the Black Ethiopian’s chariot for his first church service, we might have avoided Hamite theology path of destruction, and The Third Reich Holocaust since Calvin was vehemently antisemitic. Can you explain this? So shouldn’t we be fleeing Calvin, not embracing him?

4. Calvin banned and condemned the use of musical instruments in worship, calling it an abomination. So why do so many Reformed, and all other Baptist Denominations and so many other denominations, use musical instruments in worship in defiance of John Calvin? This was punishable according to Calvin, so I also wonder what would happen to you and all of the musicians in your church, and me as a guitarist who has ministered in concert in 43 States? (see my website below).
But what does Calvin say about the Psalms?
“Nowhere is the method of praising God delivered more fully; or are we stimulated more powerful to render him this office of godliness...sounds of string instruments...and song in four parts do not in the least suit the majesty of the Church, and only greatly displease God” John Calvin
Another quote from Douglas Bond, citing Calvin:

“John Calvin urged that “all human inventions in worship be removed and driven from us, which God himself justly abominates.” Far from aping the world, Christian men ought to stand against the impulse to reinvent worship so it looks and sounds like the world.”

“Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting of lamps and the restoration of other shadows of the Law. The Papists therefore have foolishly borrowed this as well as many other things from the Jews.” John Calvin

5. I note that you conduct Certified Biblical Counseling at or through your church in which people would pay fees for spiritual/soul counseling both directly as well as through Fieldstone Counseling posted on your church website. But John Calvin said this about Simony:
“I maintain that, in the Papacy in the present day, scarcely one benefice in a hundred is conferred without simony, as the ancients have defined it.” John Calvin (Calv. in Art. 8:21)

6. Calvin committed the sin of the Leaven of Herod in Ecclesiastical Ordinances and Consistory. He claimed to be against merging church and state, but, de facto, that is precisely what he did. Have you exposed this, or will you?

Will you run these questions by your congregation?

I look forward to your responses!!

Thank you.

Kindest regards in Christ,

James Sundquist

Aaron Stern

Cristina - thank you for your comment. We are all susceptible to religion and rebellion, no matter if Catholic or Protestant. I agree that we can run toward things that encourage our self-sufficiency. I am grateful that God works through anything to reach our hearts and turn us toward Him.


...sorry about me and my iPad typos above! I see I can't edit them.


Thirsty: excellent, gentle, clear and thoughtful response.

Six years after you posted, I am not the only Protestant who has heard the word "rebellion" by the Spirit in prayer and had many confirming incidents and answers. To my surprise as I submit to finally obeying the Lord, He has led me back (as a Father moves a child forward): the Hebrew understanding in the Scriptures, to Early Church Fathers in my Reformed studies - and now Catholic Apologetics that Scripturally chllenge my Protestant tradition and bias.

The Jews and the Catholics understand the treasures of mystery. Rebellion goes on for us Protestants!nThe Enlightenment came in with the Reformation and even now, no one wants to submit to earthly authority. Oh, it is easier to say "I submit only to the Lord!" Well, Calvin was a demanding authority and Luther had his anti-semitic old-age temper.

The visible church is made up of flawed sinners still, but thank God for Jesus' love. He opened my eyes in Israel as I saw a passion and sincerity spill forth from tearful saints of the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox groups. How dare Protestants claim these do not know Jesus! Had I been faced with accountability before a priest and dictates of the Catholic church, perhaps I would not have picked and chosen a variety of Protestant churches for four decades - to fit my disobedient life choices!

I thank God for the Catholics with their last stand sanctity of human life and family; and unity (despite pressures and from without and within), May I one day be like them!

Aaron Stern

Eulalia - thank you for commenting. Your story is a perfect example of how we can be a part of a church and never know Jesus. Any church, Catholic or Protestant, can have people in them who don't follow Jesus. We must continue to preach and explain the Gospel in churches in every stream and not assume that all who sit in a service have surrendered their lives to the redeeming work of Christ.


Nice post Pastor Aaron.
Reading all the comments, I can't help myself but comment and express my point of view.

I am a sinner but I'm saved by Jesus' death on the cross. I truly believe this and am trying to live as a practicing christian. Having said this, I belong to the Catholic Church. I was born, baptized and raised in the Church, but it was only 4 years ago that I encountered Christ(or you would say I'm born again; but when I look back, God's grace was always there in my life, it's just I was unsure). I went in search for answers to my questions and found God. Anyone who seeks will find Him. It can be a person from another religion. It doesn't matter. God doesn't segregate.

This existing war between the Catholics and Protestants really puzzles me.
I am in a relationship with a Protestant and we have faced comments from both sides.
Coming from a country like India where 97% are non-christians, I am amazed why Protestants are trying to get Catholics to join their church and vice versa. Clearly, we are losing our purpose to spread the Good news to non-christians and not church catechism. I am convinced that loving God and telling others about God's love and Christ's sacrifice for us is and should be the main objective of every christian.
Honestly, I can't quote many bible verses and argue; I just share my testimony and what God has done in my life. And I'm humbled that God uses my life to reach out to others.
My humble request is to share the good news and your testimony with people belonging to other religions. They need to know Jesus Christ and what He has done for us and we ought to tell me.
God bless us all.

Augie S

A Christian is not.......
Every Protestant
Every Catholic
Everyone who calls themselves Christian
Everyone who is baptized
Everyone who goes to church
Everyone who belongs to a church
Everyone who is a member of a denomination

A Christian is......
Everyone who believes Jesus forgave all their sins, past, present , and future.
Everyone who believes they are saved by Christ alone.
Everyone who believes they are saved by grace alone.
Everyone who believes that they are saved through faith alone.
Everyone who believes they are saved through God's Word alone.
Everyone who believes they are saved for God's glory alone.
Everyone who admits they are a sinner.....and
Everyone who acknowledges the need for a Savior....and
Everyone who believes Jesus Christ is that Savior....and Everyone who professes Jesus Christ as Savior AND Lord.
Everyone who purposes in his heart to follow Him.

Augustine John Edward Supan
V 144 (3-30-12)


I listened to Alistair Begg's radio show yesterday, and he emphatically denounced Catholicism as being a valid way for a man to find salvation in Jesus Christ.

I could not agree more. Spurgeon would also disagree rather bluntly, and would denounce Mary worship, praying to Mary (who is dead by the way) the present virginity of Mary (who is not a virgin any longer because Jesus had brothers) and a host of other Catholic heresy's that exist.

Some of these heresy's include:
1) Calling a priest father, which is forbidden in scripture. (Matthew 23:9) "And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven."

2) Praying vain and repetitious prayers in order to obtain forgiveness (Say xx hail Mary's and xx our Father's and you will be forgiven my son).
3) Infant baptism and non-submergence baptism
4) Statue worship, which is idolatry.

This girl, this servant of Jesus Christ, told this young Catholic the truth of the Gospel. She IS not a Christian if she is not born again (regenerated). I personally, have never met a Catholic that is born again, nor have I ever met a Catholic that even knew what being born again was.

I have led a Catholic to Christ, and once he knew the truth of the Bible, he RAN AWAY from the Catholic church and has not looked back since.

Is it possible for a Catholic to be born again? Yes, but, once that person is regenerated they should be able to have discernment about the Catholic church, and eventually, leave.

I could not respectfully disagree more with this blog, and it's ecumenical presuppositions.

Alistair Begg's thoughts here:

Ziero E Solano

The Church of God is the Body of Christ NOT a denomination. The Catholic church was founded almost 400 AD and it was a mixture of pagan believes and Christianity (we see it today with all their idols,saint, virgins, etc) Mary was the mother of Jesu NOT the mother of God (God created Mary), Mary had many children after Jesus was born (see matt 1:25/matt 12:46-50) Mary was a virgin because Joseph was not the phisical father of Jesus. Now are Catholics Christians and saved? The answer is simple: John 14:15 If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands.John 14:21 The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.](Amplified Bible). What was Jesus talking about? Deuteronomy 5:6-14 (Amplified Bible)
6I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
7You shall have no other gods before Me or besides Me.8You shall not make for yourself [to worship] a graven image or any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth.9You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,10And showing mercy and steadfast love to thousands and to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.11You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in falsehood or without purpose. 12Observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,14But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, or your manservant or your maidservant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the stranger or sojourner who is within your gates, that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you.
1 John 2:4-5 4Whoever says, I know Him [I perceive, recognize, understand, and am acquainted with Him] but fails to keep and obey His commandments (teachings) is a liar, and the Truth [[c]of the Gospel] is not in him. 5But he who keeps (treasures) His Word [who bears in mind His precepts, who observes His message in its entirety], truly in him has the love of and for God been perfected (completed, reached maturity). By this we may perceive (know, recognize, and be sure) that we are in Him:.
Go to the Word of God John 8.32 32And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.
Gal 5:16-21 16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery,[c] fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 IDOLATRY, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders,[d] drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
You put it to the test, if someone is not living according to the WORD OF GOD NOT the wisdom of man... will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Aaron Stern

thirsty - I agree with much of what you say but it seems that we are not going to see eye to eye on the subject of church and church authority. I respect your thoughts and position - I agree that Protestants can often have no 'oversight' and therefore do whatever they want, and I can agree with the need for submission of ideas and teachings to spiritual authorities but I think our differences come down to what that has to look like.

Ryan - I totally agree. I said what I said about the Creed stating the absolutes as it reflects what Scripture says not as a stand alone document with subjective definitions.

Ryan Hindley

I know that this response is a long time in coming...things have been crazy because of finals, and then my sister's wedding.

You're answer seemed to side-step my question. I understand that this is a tricky subject, but what you have said is that the Nicene Creed says that Jesus is God, and since Mormons don't believe that, they can't be saved. I completely agree that Jesus is God. I also think that anyone who believes that the Bible is the Word of God -- and that no other literature is above it (a.k.a. The Book of Mormon) -- and has read the Bible, has to come to the same conclusion. That is why I think it was included in the Nicene Creed. However, because no literature is above the Bible, I would say that the Nicene Creed is not above the Bible, either! Now, I agree with everything that the Nicene Creed says, but I would not say that if someone disagrees with something in it that they are not a Christian. For example, the Nicene Creed says, "We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins." The term "for" has umpteen different definitions, but in this case it is going to mean one of two different definitions. One could be that because we are baptized we are forgiven. I think we both agree that that is not the meaning, because we are forgiven when we accept Christ's gift of his death on the cross, and resurrection from it. The other option is that we are baptized because we are forgiven; and that is the definition that I think it means. However, it says that "we acknowledge one baptism..." ONE. So, would you say that someone who believes in two baptisms is not a Christian? New Life Church's own policy is in having two baptisms...water baptism and Holy Spirit baptism!

So, I say that a person is not a Christian based upon what the Nicene Creed says is truth, but what the Bible says is necessary to be a Christian.


Are you saying that the creed's definition of the Church and the Church's understanding of itself were not adequately informed by scripture? Are you saying that now that there is a schism and Protestantism, we have better scriptural understanding of the meaning of Church than the institution did only a few generations removed from the Apostles? Why would you assume this? How did the protestants come about this special revelation?

Your posts are touching on some foundational and controversial issues, and it is important that we go all the way with them in order to arrive at a better understanding of Truth. So I will attempt to push it a little further.

Prior to Arius, there was not universal consensus and acceptance of the New Testament canon. So one could not just say "because the Bible says so." The absolutes of scripture were not so absolute at this point. We have the benefit of 2000 years of corporate interpretation to illumine and sometimes confuse our understanding of scripture.

The Church wrote the Creed to clarify the teachings of the Church. It is important to remember that there was a reason that there was a controversy. If everything was self evident within scripture, why would there have been a need for the creed or the seven ecumenical councils? If everything was self evident in the scriptures why are there so many different protestant church teaching so many mutually exclusive things.

Arius' argument was that "there was a time when the Son was not." He thought that if the Son was "begotten" (a scriptural idea) then he must have come into being like all Sons do and therefor in some sense he was created. Athanasius' argument was that if God is eternally the Father, then the Son must also be eternal in order to for an eternal fatherhood. Prior to the Creed, there was no set Orthodoxy. The scriptures do not clearly delineate whether the Father and the Son are of the same essence or not. It is the Church’s job to interpret and give meaning to the scriptures. So for two months the two sides debated vigorously. It should be noted that Arius was a passionate follower of Christ and so was Athanasius. Ultimately the Church decided by conciliar consensus in favor of Athanasius’ orthodoxy and excommunicated Arius and his followers. Only two bishops voted in support of Arius. Arius was not attacking the absolutes of scripture, but rather he persisted in his opposition to the Orthodoxy of the Church and his continued heresy would have affected the unity of the Church. Subsequently he was removed from communion (physical and spiritual).

The Church did feel that it was significant to include "one holy and apostolic church" to the creed. But this particular phrase is not found within the scriptures, however an example of biblical support for the physical and spiritual unity of the Church is found when St. Paul returns to Jerusalem to submit his teaching and the subsequent conversion of Gentiles to the Elders in Jerusalem. Paul was not from Jerusalem. His “home” church was in Antioch hundreds of miles away. But he felt compelled to submit his teachings to the James and the others. If he were protestant, he would have just relied on his own ability to interpret the scriptures and discern the voice of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul did not. James responds to Paul by saying, “its seems good to us and the Holy Spirit”. This is biblical evidence for the One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Paul was not starting a new thing. He wanted to make sure that it meshed with what the Church was doing and wanting to do (Oneness). He came quite a distance from Antioch to Jerusalem. He recognized the Jerusalem Church’s authority over him, even though he was not a local “member” of the congregation (Catholic). Paul submitted his teaching to the Church that was connected directly with the Apostles. He did not go to some other place to get approval. He went to the Apostolic church (Apostolic). What is significant is that this Jerusalem church still exists. It has persisted for 2000 years. How many protestant churches are returning to Jerusalem to submit their teaching to the apostolic church? Why do they refuse to do this? This is the biblical example.

It seems to me that you are saying that scripture is the non-negotiable thing and not the Creed. The Creed was not conceived in the protestant ethos of sola scriptura, and it is very challenging when protestants try and deal with the Creed. They lack the basic infrastructure and commitment to foundational organizational framework that actually allowed the Creed to be embraced. This becomes especially problematic when you declare that the Creed is close-handed and non-negotiable, but then redefine the terms to fit a protestant understanding of the world. The Creed cannot be “closed-handed”, as you put it, while the writers were improperly or inadequately informed of the scriptural definition of the Church. If you open up one part of a closed creed, the rest of it is exposed to arbitrary changes. One further example of the protestant revisions of the meaning of the creed is the understanding of the Virgin Mary. Some deny her virginity altogether, but most deny the perpetual virginity of Mary. However even Martin Luther was not so bold to forfeit this. She was not merely a virgin at the conception of Jesus, remained a virgin throughout her life. This is why she is called the “Virgin Mary”. Yet apparently this is a negotiable statement in a “non-negotiable” creed. If the meaning of the Church and the Virgin Mary can be unilaterally changed, why couldn’t the nature of the Trinity also be unilaterally changed?

Rather than the historical church being misinformed, could it be through the altering of the meaning of the Creed, thousands of reformists and protesters are justifying individual pride and an inability to submit? After all the Protestants do not have a strong track record of working together and coming to consensus. When ever groups disagree over practice, theology, scripture or whatever, they start a new fellowship. This seed of schism was first sown by the bishop of Rome unilaterally adding the phrase “and the Son” to the Creed. The schisms continued with Martin Luther and onto the thousand others that separated themselves further from the communion of the Apostolic church. But now this division is celebrated as diversity. Is this the oneness that Jesus prayed for the night he was betrayed? If all that is necessary is a “spiritual” and “mystical” oneness, why would Jesus pray repeatedly that we would be one?

Not trying to pile it on here, but I get passionate when discussing the nature of the Church. I am looking forward to your thoughts.

Aaron Stern

Joe - thanks for the comment and the info about MILL Sunday School. Sunday School starts at 9:30AM in the WPC chapel.

Ryan - I would definitely encourage you to go to MILL Sunday School for a more detailed answer to your question, but Joe is right - a Mormon would not adhere to the Nicene Creed. This would be reflected in their belief of who Jesus is, the nature of God, and salvation.

I understand what you are saying..."It boils down to whether you have faith that Christ died on the cross for your sins, and has forgiven you, and that you confess with your mouth that Christ is Lord of your life"...but the specifics of the Nicene Creed indicate some definitions that are critical to the words used in your statement. For instance the belief that Jesus is God is in the Creed and not something a Mormon would believe.

Joe Kirkendall

Aaron - Great post. We are in agreement that Mormons would not agree to the Nicene Creed. If anyone wants more information about this, come to theMILL Sunday School for the next two sundays. We will be specifically talking about the differences between Christianity and Mormonism.

Ryan Hindley

I really appreciate that you commented on this. It is a point of great misunderstanding within the church. In fact, it was an issue of great discussion in the Born Identity small group, before it became a MILL small group. However, you state the issues listed in the Nicene Creed as the issues that cause someone to be a part of the Church of Christ, or not. I beg to differ. The Bible clearly states in different parts how you know that you are saved. It boils down to whether you have faith that Christ died on the cross for your sins, and has forgiven you, and that you confess with your mouth that Christ is Lord of your life. Therefore, I would also say that it is possible for Mormons to be Christians, although I would probably say that most are not. What are your thoughts in response to this? I really want to know if my reasoning is in error, and why.

Ryan Hindley

Aaron Stern

Nicole - throwing around ideas without an understanding of what we are saying has done a lot of damage. I pray that we adhere to the I Peter 3:15 - mixing thoughtfulness grounded in truth, with kindness.

thirsty - I agree that what the writers of the creed were referring to was the catholic church because it was the only church there was at the time. I don't think that i am revising history or the creed to fit my definition of church. You mentioned the creed being a response to Arius - true but he was attacking the absolutes of Scripture not the definition of church. And we must go back to Scripture to find our definition of Church not what they writers of the creed understood church to be at the time. So if our definition is informed by Scripture then the creed is a great expression of the non-negotiables.


Thank you Aaron! It's great to see a biblically based answered to life's questions. I recently had a long conversation with a former Catholic, now Atheist where this was brought up and another Christian had told him he wouldn't get to Heaven because he was Catholic! It really shows how IMPORTANT it is to search out the biblical answers to the questions we have and not simply go with what we've been told.


I do understand what catholic means. I did not capitalize it, and I also included the words holy and apostolic. I take exception with the definition you included in the post. You wrote: "When 'catholic' is used in the creed it refers to the universal/ global Church." This is an example of revisionist history and actually alters the intended meaning. At the time of the writing of the creed there was ONE church. All local fellowships were in physical communion with each other. Catholic did not simply convey a spiritual idea of universalism. When the creed was written, it initially included a anathema to all the followers of Arius. Those that did not accept the content of the creed and the teaching of the one holy catholic and apostolic church were on the outside and condemned. They were not still "spiritually" in the catholic church. Why is it okay to alter the meaning now? If the creed is "close-handed" and "non-negotiable" why has the meaning of the ONE holy catholic and apostolic church been altered by protestants? Why couldn't the acceptance of Mary as Virgin be loosely believed that at one time she was a virgin, but not necessarily when she conceived Jesus? Why couldn't she be a "spiritual virgin"? If the creed is really non-negotiable, why have the thousand protestant denominations negotiated the final part of the creed to fit their experience and theology? At no time in the first 1000 years of the Church was there even an idea about a non-physical universal church. Even after the great schism of the East and West(which was primarily about the subtle altering of the Creed's meaning), the division was mourned, not celebrated for its diversity. Even to this day there are prayers prayed to end the schism. This idea of a spiritual "oneness","apostolic universality" is relatively new, and an example of a negotiation of the creed to justify material inadequacies. Thoughts?

Aaron Stern

Thirsty - Thanks to Julia for the clarification. I have included a definition in the post since your comment just for clarification.

Guy - thank you. We do Q&A once or twice a year. It is really fun and always has a sense of risk and adventure. Attendance at theMILL is about 800-1000 every week and Q&A nights are about the same.


Catholic in this sense is with a lower case "c," which means "universal." =)

Guy Chmieleski

Great post Aaron!

I love that you have a time for Q & A. I would imagine your students eat it up! What kind of attendance do you typically get for events like these? How often do you have a Q & A style format?


Good post Aaron. I liked your inclusion of the Creed here. I have a quick question though. How do you reconcile the "We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church" part of the Creed with the fragmentation of protestantism?

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