We are Protestant, Calvinistic and Reformed Prayer Book Churchmen and Churchwomen. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; in 2012, we also remembered the 450th anniversary of Mr. (Bp., Salisbury) John Jewel's sober, scholarly, Protestant, and Reformed defense An Apology of the Church of England. In 2013, we remember the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. Our book of the month for Aug 2014 is Mr. Underhile's "The Church's Favorite Flower: A Patristic Study of the Doctrines of Grace," a handy little volume at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Churchs-Favorite-Flower-Patristic-ebook/dp/B00KUCITIS/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403315865&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=andy+underhile. We've added Mr. Underhile's anti-Marcionite and Reformed "Comfort in Chaos: A Study in Nahum" as the book of the month for September 2014 at: http://www.amazon.com/Comfort-Chaos-Study-Preserves-People-ebook/dp/B00KQX8JBI/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407621661&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=andy+underhile+nahum. Our book for October 2014 is Francis Turretin's 3-volume "Institutes of Elenctic Theology" at: http://www.amazon.com/Institutes-Elenctic-Theology-vol-set/dp/0875524567/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412273572&sr=8-1&keywords=turretin+elenctic
Saturday, August 28, 2010
From David in Entebbe:
"The CAPA primates met with Rowan Williams in a closed-door session Tuesday night. It went on for many hours, but Williams got the message loud and clear - there will be no compromise on homosexual practice. None. When I tried squeezing an African Primate, not so much about the content of the meeting, but about the dynamics of the meeting and how Rowan responded, he simply said this, `When all was said and done, he was being Rowan.'"
"WORSHIP. There is nothing quite like hearing more than 400 strong African voices raised in glorious harmony singing the great hymns of the church. Hymns stretch across the ages, cultures and time. No praise choruses here, just the grand hymns of the faith that have sustained Anglicans both Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic for generations. Tears came to my eyes as we sang one of my favorite hymns, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts (1674-1748), often referred to as the "Father of English Hymnody". One wonders if I will ever hear it sung again like this in my lifetime."
And, quite rightly:
"The deeper truth is that the axis of Anglicanism has moved from the Global North to the Global South. African Anglicans no longer need to go through Canterbury (if they ever did) to get to Jesus. In reality, Canterbury and Lambeth are historical relics and tourist attractions along with St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey. There is very little if any gospel being proclaimed there, hence the churches are empty. (The church hugging the walls of Lambeth Palace now sells plants and offers advice on herbal cures)."
The slow but discernible disentanglement of Western Anglicanism from the Global Southern version of Anglicanism proceeds.
As if the Reformed do not understand "the Gospel." While the Reformed are looking at Germany, maybe they can infiltrate and establish the Reformed faith in England (with the Prayer Book as well).
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.
ἐὰν πορευθῶ ἐν μέσῳ θλίψεως ζήσεις με ἐπ' ὀργὴν ἐχθρῶν μου ἐξέτεινας χεῖρά σου καὶ ἔσωσέν με ἡ δεξιά σου
κύριος ἀνταποδώσει ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ κύριε τὸ ἔλεός σου εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τὰ ἔργα τῶν χειρῶν σου μὴ παρῇς
Si ambulavero in medio tribulationis, vivificabis me; et contra iram inimicorum meorum extendes manum tuam, et salvum me faciet dextera tua.
Dominus perficiet pro me; Domine, misericordia tua in saeculum: opera manuum tuarum ne despicias.
RA is in no mood to accomodate the MBCY's on any level or on any subject.
True Protestants and true Catholic Churchmen—Calvinists or the Reformed, Lutherans and classical Anglicans—consider Augustine to be one of the theological fathers of Reformation due to his teaching on salvation and divine grace. B.B. Warfield, the “Lion of Princeton Seminary,” has written an excellent work on Augustine and Calvin. (American Anabaptists, Revivalists, Wesleyans, Pentecostalists and other enthusiasts hardly recognize the great Doctor of northern Africa...or anyone else for that matter except their celebrities.)
Below, we offer two brief citations in memoriam of Augustine: (1) one example of an Augustinian and representative prayer from The Book of Common Prayer and (2) one quote from the vast corpus of Augustine—whom Luther often called the Blessed Augustine—a quote from Augustine concerning his conversion to the Lord and Redeemer of the Church.
(1) From the Book of Common Prayer:
O GOD, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed; Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that both our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by thee, we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
(2) From Augustine:
“I cast myself down I know not how, under a certain fig-tree, giving full vent to my tears; and the floods of mine eyes gushed out an acceptable sacrifice to Thee. And, not indeed in these words, yet to this purpose, spake I much unto Thee: and Thou, O Lord, how long? how long, Lord, wilt Thou be angry for ever? Remember not our former iniquities, for I felt that I was held by them. I sent up these sorrowful words: How long, how long, "to-morrow, and tomorrow?" Why not now? why not is there this hour an end to my uncleanness?
“So was I speaking and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo! I heard from a neighbouring house a voice, as of boy or girl, I know not, chanting, and oft repeating, "Take up and read; Take up and read. " Instantly, my countenance altered, I began to think most intently whether children were wont in any kind of play to sing such words: nor could I remember ever to have heard the like. So checking the torrent of my tears, I arose; interpreting it to be no other than a command from God to open the book, and read the first chapter I should find. For I had heard of Antony, that coming in during the reading of the Gospel, he received the admonition, as if what was being read was spoken to him: Go, sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come and follow me: and by such oracle he was forthwith converted unto Thee. Eagerly then I returned to the place where Alypius was sitting; for there had I laid the volume of the Apostle when I arose thence. I seized, opened, and in silence read that section on which my eyes first fell: Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, in concupiscence. No further would I read; nor needed I: for instantly at the end of this sentence, by a light as it were of serenity infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt vanished away.”
The Confessions of Saint Augustine, Book VIII, Paragraphs 28 and 29.
No surprises here other than that this time someone, this time from liberal Princeton Seminary, is saying what we at RA have long believed--rootless, confessionless, and liturgy-less churches produces theology-challenged people. Just talk to the youth for awhile.
The leaders, parents and educators are to blame, like the days of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. Nothing new under the sun.
"Croft was born at the Manor House, Nether Ettington, Warwickshire. He was educated at the Chapel Royal, under the instruction of John Blow, and remained there until 1698. Two years after this departure, he became organist of St. Anne's Church, Soho. In 1707, he took over the Chapel Royal's "Master of the Children" post, which had been left vacant by the suicide of Jeremiah Clarke (one of Croft's pupils in this capacity was Maurice Greene). The following year, Croft succeeded Blow (who had lately died) as organist of Westminster Abbey. He composed works for the funeral of Queen Anne (1714) and for the coronation of King George I (1715)."
Work: Te Deum in D-major.
Quartet: The Father of infinite majesty
Chorus: Thou art the King of Glory
Alto solo: When thou tookest upon thee
Terzetto: Thou sittest at the right hand
Terzetto: We believe that thou shalt come
The Choir of St Paul's Cathedral, London.
Orchestra: The Parley of Instruments.
Conductor: John Scott
Fortunately, though we are high church Anglicans and living in the Anglican Babylonian Captivity in the west, we are not totally routed or denied our past, our doctrine (Reformed Confessions), Prayer Book (1662), our music of confession, praise and petition, nor our biblical piety. Thank God we have these resources despite the leadership, including the westernized, Americanized, and amnesiacal Bishops--the latter being practical exhibits for the near-adoption of Synodical and Presbyterian polity. But the Presbyterians, at least the American ones, have no Anglican liturgy nor musical traditions. Being alone, however, we press on in confession, praise, prayer and with high views of God, His Word, His doctrines, and exhortations. The "Religio Americanorum" has no appeal for the disciplined Churchman. "Here we stand, so help us God."
Friday, August 27, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
110 years ago today, June 10th, 1900, the prolific writer, vigorous preacher and faithful pastor, John Charles Ryle died in England at the age of 84. Here are some quotes surrounding Ryle’s death and his legacy in Christian history.
J.C. Ryle’s Death
From Evangelical Bishop by Peter Toon and Michael Smout:
Ryle had chosen Lowestoft [England] as the scene of his retirement, along with his daughter, Jessie Isabella. He had learned to love the seaside town during his time in Suffolk and so it was appropriate that he should name his new home, ‘Helmingham House.’ The Ryles were due to arrive in Lowestoft on March 6th, 1900, but it was the middle of the month before they arrived, further illness having delayed them. The house was pleasant and overlooked the North Sea, but Ryle was in no condition to appreciate the view. He slept badly and had little energy to talk. The end came suddenly. It was June 9th, a Saturday evening, when the doctor was called. He found Ryle partly unconscious. His sons were sent telegrams asking them to come immediately but only Herbert, not far away in Cambridge, came in time. At 2:15 p.m. on the Sunday afternoon, the Lord’s Day, John Charles Ryle went to be with that same Lord.
J.C. Ryle’s Funeral
On Wednesday morning a small crowd gathered at Lowestoft station to pay its last respects. The huge oak-paneled coffin was put in a special funeral car attached to the 7:57 a.m. train for Liverpool. Arriving in Liverpool the coffin containing the old Bible from which he had preached was taken to All Saint’s Church, Childwall. As yet there were no crowds; only the Vicar and Bishop Royston were there to receive it. The ivy-clad church stood on the slope of a hill looking out south over the Mersey [river] and into Cheshire. The Bishop had known it well for he had visited the grave of his wife there each week since she had died [in 1889].
The morning of the day of the funeral began grey and drizzly but by the afternoon the weather had brightened up and people in their thousands came out from the center of Liverpool in the special trains. The service was quite simple. Archdeacon Taylor read the first lesson from Psalm 90. ‘Rock of Ages’, Ryle’s favorite hymn, was sung. The second lesson was from I Corinthians 15 read by Archdeacon Madden. It had been planned to end the service by the graveside but the rain came on. Therefore after the service in church only the words of committal, said by Bishop Royston, and the benediction, given by Bishop Chavasse, were said by the graveside. The body of J. C. Ryle, with Bible clasped in his hands, at last lay next to that of his third wife.
J.C. Ryle’s Gravestone
On the gravestone were engraved two texts. The first was a reminder of the conversion which set him off on the Christian pilgrimage; Ephesians 2:8, ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith.’ The second testified that he had now finished that earthly pilgrimage; II Timothy 4:7, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.’ In a memorial sermon Canon Hobson declared that ‘few men in the nineteenth century did so much for God, for truth and for righteousness among the English speaking race, and in the world, as our late Bishop.’ More simply, his successor, Bishop Chavasse, described him as a man ‘who lived so as to be missed.’
(see original article for photos.) The gravestone on the left (below) marks the grave of Bishop Ryle. The stone on the right (below) marks the grave of his third wife Henrietta (Clowes) Ryle. His first marriage was to Matilda C. L. Plumptre on Oct. 25, 1845. Matilda died in June 1847. On Feb. 21, 1850, Ryle married his second wife Jessie Elizabeth Walker. Jessie died in May 1860 from Bright’s disease. In Oct. 1861, Ryle was married to Henrietta, who died in 1889.
J.C. Ryle’s Legacy
From Faithfulness and Holiness: The Witness of J.C. Ryle, p. 13, 14:
Three days after Ryle’s burial, Richard Hobson, a senior clergyman who had been at the Liverpool diocese from its foundation in 1880, declared:
“He [J.C. Ryle] was great through the abounding grace of God. He was great in stature; great in mental power; great in spirituality; great as a preacher and expositor of God’s most holy Word; great in hospitality; great as a writer of Gospel tracts; great as a Bishop of the Reformed Evangelical Protestant Church in England, of which he was a noble defender; great as first Bishop of Liverpool. I am bold to say, that perhaps few men in the nineteenth century did as much for God, for truth, and for righteousness, among the English speaking race, and in the world, as our late Bishop.”
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
A timely word for Anglicans in the Wilderness.
One of the first Systematic Theologies that I read about 19 years of age. The first was Louis Berkhof's, given to me by my father as I entered university. Then came Charles Hodges's three volumes. These three sets always need, amongst so many others, to be re-read.
An Harvard Valedictorian with a double major in English and Classics joins a convent.
In the grand cathedral tradition for which Anglicanism is known and for which no apologies are offered (especially to Americans), the third video clip is from Ely Cathedral as part of 800th anniversary celebrations of Cambridge University. The music is sung by the choirs of Downing, Jesus, Queens', Magdalene, Selwyn, Sidney Sussex and St Catharine's Colleges. Organist: Robert Quinney
Director of music: David Hill.
Charlie Ray offers his fair and even-handed review. http://reasonablechristian.blogspot.com/2010/08/youtube-r-scott-clarks-attack-on.html.
This scribe places little credence in Collier's review. We are High Churchmen at Reformation Anglicanism.
Four days left on BBC, an audio re: John Henry Newman, the arch-anti-Reformation Anglican of the 19th century. Notwithstanding his theology, he was honest and left for Rome, unlike Anglo-Catholics.
Next month Pope Benedict XVI arrives on a state visit to Britain and one of the highlights of the trip will be the beatification in Birmingham of Cardinal John Henry Newman, whose life spanned most of the 19th century. It's the penultimate step on the route to sainthood making Cardinal Newman the first non-martyred British saint since before the Reformation. Edward Stourton explores the life and legacy of Newman who was once described as the "most dangerous man in England" because his religious faith took him from Protestantism to the Church of Rome and attracted suspicion on all sides. The programme includes access to Newman's rooms at the Birmingham Oratory which have remained as they were when he died there in 1890 and to the grave where he was buried with his male companion of 32 years. The programme includes interviews with Archbishop Vincent Nichols, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales; Newman biographers Fr. Ian Ker and John Cornwell, the Anglican bishop and Newman scholar Geoffrey Rowell, Catholic columnist Dr. Melanie McDonagh and the composer James MacMillan. It also includes music associated with Newman including Edward Elgar's setting of Newman's great poem The Dream of Gerontius plus a preview of the new English setting of the Mass composed by James MacMillan which will be sung at the beatification ceremony in Birmingham. The actor Michael Maloney reads from Newman's letters, autobiography and diaries.
"Self-Inflicted Amneisa: Tell Us Your Stories" by Collin Hansen--Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org
Older believers recognize this youthful arrogance for what it is. You’ve been there, done that, grown out of it. You wait patiently for us to do likewise. But I want to encourage you not to let us younger believers off the hook so easily. Don’t berate us, for we excel at tuning out what we don’t want to hear. Don’t patronize us, as our pride will kick in and make us defensive. Still, there is one thing you can do: Tell us your stories.
Tell Us Your Stories by Collin Hansen | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org
I use the 1662 BCP. This sounds like the 1928 BCP? The Bible lections are not the 1662 either. The Psalter-lections are not the 1662 which is a problem? The service is read much too quickly, although with fair enunciation. The Venite was quite quick. But just getting used to this site.
The music this scribe uses is from St. Paul's Cathedral, London, for all Psalms. Having said this, a good site for occasional use.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Northern Plains Anglicans: The Archbishop of Canterbury notes Anglican vitality shift from Northern to Southern Hemisphere
Duh? No kidding, Mr. Williams of Canterbury. Fellow exiles in Babylonian-American Manglicanism, we are where we are. Look at the leaders we have in Western Anglicanism.
Northern Plains Anglicans: The Archbishop of Canterbury notes Anglican vitality shift from Northern to Southern Hemisphere
The Archbishop of Canterbury notes Anglican vitality shift from Northern to Southern Hemisphere
He offers some good thoughts about God's priorities, about the role of Bishops, about the need for "sacrificial and selfless political leadership," and about the shift of Anglican (and other Christian traditions')vitality to Africa and the "Global South":
"It has been said that this is going to be the African century of the Christian Church in terms of energy and growth and vision. Archbishop Mouneer [Anis of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa] has already reminded us of this and of its deep roots in Christian history. God raises up different countries and cultures in different seasons to bear witness to his purpose in a specially marked way, and it may be that this is indeed his will for Africa in the years ahead. And if the churches of Africa are going to be for this time a city set on a hill, how very important it will be for the health and growth of all God's churches throughout the world that this witness continues at its best and highest. In this meeting, God has given us the grace to come together for just this end, to reflect on how the bishop's ministry can best serve and show the new creation, the one great hope for men and women to be truly free and joyful as they work against all the terrible things that wound the image of God in us and hold back the potential of those whom God loves so passionately. We in the Church worldwide pray with you, with all our hearts, that your hopes and goals in this meeting will be wonderfully realised and that you will be able to speak a word not only for this continent but for all God's people, a word that all will hear and recognise as the calling of the eternal Word to the world he loves, the calling into fullness of life."
The journey of Luther, as followed by a couple of journalists.
The Almost-Luther Day Here I Walk
The Almost-Luther Day
We have dubbed today the Almost-Luther Day, because at 39km we fell a trifle short of the 42km average he is supposed to have walked on his southward journey. (Much of the day was spent along the Rennsteig, a very old road from Ilmenau southwards. Many times we walked through the rut–sometimes more than 8ft deep–carved by hundreds of years of horses, mules, oxes and carts. All in all a very historical day.)
All the same it took us 13.5 hours and we’re in our Zimmervermietung in a state nearly beside ourselves with exhaustion. We also got a taste of Luther’s winter cold, despite it being August. And we also realized that walking in November and December, Luther must have spent quite a lot of time walking in the dark. More on this and our other day’s adventures tomorrow when we are more coherent
The Pope reacts to the slaughter of thousands of French Calvinists hunted and massacred on 24 August 1572 and the months that followed. We quote briefly from a fair and introductory article on wikipedia. In the same year, the Pope "excommunicated" Queen Elizabeth, having declared also the "dissolution of the oath of allegiance" by British subjects to their Queen. On 24 August 1572, Queen's Elizabeth's Spy-Master-in-Chief, Sir Francis Walsingham, a Calvinistic Anglican, barely escaped Paris himself. His report to the Queen was not favourable re: Popedom, religion and politics.
"The Politiques were horrified but many Catholics inside and outside France regarded the massacres, at least initially, as deliverance from an imminent Huguenot coup d'etat. The severed head of Coligny was apparently despatched to Pope Gregory XIII, though it got no further than Lyons, and the Pope sent the king a Golden Rose. He ordered a Te Deum to be sung as a special thanksgiving (a practice continued for many years after) and had a medal struck with the motto Ugonottorum strages 1572 showing an angel bearing a cross and sword next to slaughtered Protestants.
The massacre, with the murder of Gaspard de Coligny above left, as depicted in a fresco by Giorgio Vasari. The Pope also commissioned the artist Giorgio Vasari to paint three frescos in the Sala Regia depicting the wounding of Coligny, his death, and Charles IX before Parliament, matching ones on the defeat of the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto (1571). `The massacre was interpreted as an act of divine retribution; Coligny was considered a threat to Christendom and thus the pope designated 11 September 1572 as a joint commemoration of the Battle of Lepanto and the massacre of the Huguenots.' Although these formal acts of rejoicing in Rome were not repudiated publicly, privately misgivings in the papal curia grew once the nature of the killings gradually became better known. Gregory XIII himself refused to receive Charles de Maurevert, said to be the killer of Coligny, on the grounds he was a murderer. "
An excellent statement about the Charisholics. Andy Underhill gives us a good post.
Wilhelmus À Brakal’s Response To Continuists:
Wilhelmus À Brakal’s Response To Continuists:
In volume 2 of à Brakal’s “Reasonable Service” he discusses the marks of true and false churches. The sixth mark he refutes as a mark of a false church is the continuing presence of miracles. To this à Brakal replies:
“Sixthly, miracles are proposed as one of the distinguishing marks of the church. To this we reply:
(1) Miracles do not belong to the distinguishing marks of the true church. This is nowhere to be found in the Word of God.
(2) Miracles are not intended for believers, but for unbelievers; thus the church has no need of them. If one were desirous of bringing an unbeliever into the true church, one would have to perform a wonder time and again, which, however, the proponents of this mark do not do.
(3) The performance of and boasting in miracles in the post-apostolic era, as a means of the confirmation of doctrine, is a distinguishing mark of the anti-Christian church. “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (2 Thess 2:9). This certainly confirms that the performance of miracles does not belong to the distinguishing marks of the church.” (Wilhelmus à Brakal, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, vol. 2, pg. 29.)
Isn’t ironic that the continuists claim to follow Scripture, hence their practice of charismata, yet Scripture nowhere states that miracles are a distinguishing characteristic of the Church. In fact, Scripture takes it for granted that false teacher may perform “miracles.” (Deut. 13:1-5; 2 Thess. 2:9). In fact, Jesus never rebuked the Pharisees for not believing in His miracles; He rebuked their unbelief of His teaching and the Scriptures. The warning of Deut. 13:1-5 is surely behind this fact.
I once knew a missionary who claimed that miracles were, in his words, “the dinner bell to salvation.” I watched him preach and pray for those who came forward to his altar calls. I can’t recall a single miracle. No doubt there were many in his imagination, but there were certainly no verifiable miracles. I don’t buy the claims of healing from headaches or back pain.
Moreover, à Brakal’s point is dead on: where are the people performing verifiable miracles over and over to bring unbelievers into the Church. Indeed the Charismatic doctrine of faith precludes this. On the Charismatic scheme, miracles occur for those who have the faith to believe for their miracle, hence an unbeliever could never receive a miracle. If miracles are to convince unbelievers, we have a catch-22 on our hands. Those who need miracles and for whom they exist can never have one!
Martin Bucer: A Reformer and His Times by Keith Mathison | Ligonier Ministries Blog
Martin Bucer: A Reformer and His Times
from Keith Mathison
Writing in 1539, John Calvin described Martin Bucer as a man “who on account of his profound scholarship, his bounteous knowledge about a wide range of subjects, his keen mind, his wide reading, and many other different virtues, remains unsurpassed today by anyone, can be compared with only a few, and excels the vast majority.” Calvin wrote these words during his three year stay in Strasbourg (1538–1541), where Bucer was a prominent Reformer. After his arrival in the city, Calvin lived for a time in Bucer’s house before moving into a house with a back yard that abutted Bucer’s back yard. During this time the two Reformers became close, and Bucer greatly influenced his younger colleague. Yet in spite of the close connection between Bucer and Calvin, Bucer remains something of an unknown for many Reformed Christians, relegated to the role of a secondary Reformer.
Martin Greschat’s biography of Bucer was originally published in German in 1990. It’s translation into English by Stephen Buckwalter and publication by Westminster John Knox in 2004 makes it the first biography of Bucer to appear in English in seventy years. Martin Greschat is University Professor of Church History and Contemporary Church Affairs at Justus-Leibig-Universität Giessen, Germany. He has written a number of scholarly articles on the life and thought of Bucer and is well qualified to write a full length biography.
Martin Bucer was born in1491 in the city of Sélestat, an imperial free city in Alsace (today in northeastern France). He joined the Order of Preachers, or Dominicans, as a novice in 1507. After a year, he took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, becoming a Dominican monk. The initial stage of his studies consisted of in-depth study of Aristotle. The Dominicans considered the study of Aristotle as culminating in the study of theology, and Bucer followed this educational path. He visited Heidelberg in 1515 and Mainz in 1516 to continue his biblical and theological studies. While at Mainz, Bucer was ordained a priest. In January 1517, he returned to Heidelberg in order to obtain a university degree. In 1518, an event occurred in Heidelberg that would set the course for the remainder of Bucer’s life.
In April 1518, Martin Luther came to Heidelberg for a disputation. Bucer was present. In his disputation, Luther “asserted man’s incapacity to do good, denied free will, set forth a new understanding of theology based on the cross, and proclaimed salvation by faith in Christ alone.” Bucer showed particular interest in Luther’s first thesis: “The law of God, the most salutary doctrine of life, cannot advance man on his way to righteousness, but rather hinders him,” and his twenty-fifth thesis: “He is not righteous who does much, but he who, without work, believes much in Christ.” Bucer agreed with much of what Luther said, but he had a broader view of the law. Christians, he argued, relate to the law in a new way. Bucer’s understanding of the law, as Greschat summarizes it, is that Christians “consent to it in their hearts and are moved by the Holy Spirit to live and behave according to it” (p. 28). Bucer realized the implications of his agreement with Luther. On April 30, 1518, he drew up a formal will and an inventory of all of his books.
In 1521, Bucer received a dispensation from his Dominican vows, and in 1522 he married a former nun, Elisabeth Silbereisen. In May of the same year he accepted the call to be the pastor in the town of Landstuhl. After working for Reformation there for six months, Bucer came to Wissembourg in November 1522. Bucer preached the doctrines of the Reformation relentlessly. This did not sit well with all of the city’s inhabitants, and opposition rose. Eventually, Bucer was excommunicated, and the town council asked him to leave the city. It was in this condition, as a penniless, excommunicated refugee priest, that Bucer arrived in Strasbourg in 1523. Bucer would lead the Reformation in Strasbourg for the next twenty-five years. Between 1523 and 1549, when he was once again exiled, Bucer would be a key figure in the Protestant Reformation.
One of the central disputes during the time of the Reformation concerned the doctrine and practice of the Lord’s Supper. Very early on, a rift appeared between Luther and the Swiss Reformers, such as Huldrych Zwingli and Johannes Oecolampadius. This division created not only theological and ecclesiastical problems, but political problems as well. The armies of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V were a threat to the cities and regions that had converted to the cause of Reformation. Disagreements over the Lord’s Supper among Protestants led not only to ecclesiastical divisions but to political divisions as well, divisions which weakened the Protestant cities politically and militarily. Bucer devoted much of his energy to the task of finding a way to reconcile the Lutherans and the Swiss. His efforts resulted in several important documents. He co-authored, for example, the Tetrapolitan Confession in an attempt to effect reconciliation. His views of the Lord’s Supper influenced Calvin, who also took a mediating position between the Lutherans and Zwinglians.
In his biography of Bucer, Martin Greschat discusses these and many more events, including Bucer’s last years in England after being exiled from Strasbourg. Whether one admires Bucer or finds his efforts at unification theologically misguided and/or naïve, this biography is well worth studying. There are many works on the Reformation as a whole, and some of these works demonstrate outstanding scholarship. They all, however, tend to suffer from the same inevitable defect. Histories of the Reformation as a whole are forced by their very nature to cover a great deal of material, and this prevents them from focusing intently on the day to day work performed by those in the midst of this defining moment in history. Such general works are necessary, but they should be supplemented with books such as Greschat’s biography of Bucer. This is necessary because many students of the Reformation view the writings and disputes of the Reformation in a vacuum. They do not take into account how much political, social, cultural, and other factors affected the Reformers and their work.
Greschat does a magnificent job drawing readers into the world of the sixteenth century. Readers of this biography are given a fascinating glimpse of these tumultuous years from the perspective of one significant player in the events. We see the political maneuverings of princes, city councils, kings, reformers, and bishops. We see the effects on the Reformation of economic depressions and deadly diseases. We see the day to day gains and losses of those who sought to call the Church back to Scripture. Bucer was certainly not perfect, and Greschat points out his flaws. He was, however, a fascinating and important part of the sixteenth-century Reformation. Thankfully, Martin Greschat has provided the church a fine biography of this forgotten Reformer.
Spot-on from Bishop Ryle.
The Best Safeguard Against False Teaching « J.C. Ryle Quotes
What is the best safe-guard against false teaching? Beyond all doubt the regular study of the word of God, with prayer for the teaching of the Holy Spirit. The Bible was given to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. (Psalm. 119:105.) The man who reads it aright will never be allowed greatly to err. It is neglect of the Bible which makes so many a prey to the first false teacher whom they hear. They would have us believe that “they are not learned, and do not pretend to have decided opinions.” The plain truth is that they are lazy and idle about reading the Bible, and do not like the trouble of thinking for themselves. Nothing supplies false prophets with followers so much as spiritual sloth under a cloak of humility.
~ J.C. Ryle
Monday, August 23, 2010
Due to family issues--death of Dad, an 80-day hospitalization of my Mother, and her relocation to assisted living--I missed this timely memorial about my former Pastor, Jim Boice. Had there been a morning Prayer Book service, it would have been heaven on earth. However, even as such, a Presbyterian Church, it was still excellent. He was a Pastor-Scholar.
In Memoriam, James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000) - Reformation21
In Memoriam, James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000)
Article by Rick Phillips June 2010
June 15 marks the tenth anniversary of the death of James Montgomery Boice, who was for thirty-two years the pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, the dean of Reformed pastor-scholars in his generation, and my beloved pastor. The enduring image of Dr. Boice in my mind is also the first, when I had walked into Tenth Church for an evening service in 1990: standing in the pulpit preaching God's Word with authority, clarity, and both intellectual and spiritual power. The ten years since his death have seen little decrease in his standing and influence among evangelical Christians. Through his continuing radio ministry on The Bible Study Hour and especially through his writings, Boice continues not only to teach the Scriptures and its great doctrines, but he continues to anchor the commitment of his followers and admirers to the innerancy and sufficiency of God's living Word.
In my opinion, the reason for James Boice's influence and legacy is seldom understood. What was it about him that drew so wide an audience of pastors and laypeople? The answer is that as a Reformed theologian, James Boice was a Christian first. That is, the issues for which he stood were Christian issues: the inerrancy of Scripture, the gospel of faith in Jesus, the sin-cleansing power of Christ's blood, and the Christian witness for the salvation of the lost. It is true that Boice served this Christian and evangelical cause from a distinctively Reformed perspective, but his cause was simply that of Christ and his gospel. It is in this way that Boice so ably advanced the credibility of Reformed theology within evangelicalism, by showing that it is only the Reformed doctrine that can consistently uphold Christian distinctives. Boice taught, proved, and defended Calvinism by teaching, proving, and defending the Bible. On a personal level this Christ-centered priority was also true for James Boice. While Boice was a Calvinist through and through, his passion was for the person and work of Jesus Christ, and his labor was offered in personal service to his living and reigning Lord and Savior. Calvinism was ever the servant of Boice's passion for Jesus and never the master.
I think that James Boice's ministerial career can be seen in three phases. The first phase of his career, from the mid-1960's to around 1980, involved the defense of evangelical doctrine against liberal assaults. These were the years when Boice was wrapping up the education he received in liberal institutions like Princeton Seminary and the University of Basel. In his John commentary, dating from these early years, one will frequently read Boice defending the Bible from the interpretations of liberals like Rudolf Bultmann. These were also the years when Boice was ordained in the liberal United Presbyterian Church, so that the context for his ministry was that of opposition to liberal attacks on the Bible. It is no surprise that Boice's chief concern during these years was to defend the inerrancy and authority of Scripture, as seen in his leadership of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI).
The second phase of Boice's ministry took place from around 1980-- when Tenth Presbyterian Church left the liberal UPC and eventually made its way into the evangelical Presbyterian Church in America -- until 1993. This phase of Boice's ministry focused on the teaching of Reformed theology within an evangelical context. Boice believed that the evangelical movement could only maintain its doctrinal moorings (and therefore its spiritual vitality) by standing on the foundation laid by the Protestant Reformers (and the apostles before them). The crowning achievements of this period of Boice's ministry were his four-volume commentary on Romans, which not only lays out the biblical basis for Reformed doctrine but also shows the necessity of these doctrines for Christian faith and life, and his lay-friendly systematic theology, Foundations of the Christian Faith.
The final phase of Boice's ministry can be dated from the publishing of David Well's book, No Place for Truth, in 1993, which uncovered the looming danger of worldliness in the faith and practice of evangelical churches. These years saw Boice emphasize not merely the inerrancy of the Bible but also the sufficiency of Scripture for the church's evangelism, holiness, guidance, and cultural impact. It was around this time, 1994, that Boice (along with Michael Horton) founded the Alliance for Confessing Evangelicals, which carries on his work to this day. One of Boice's final and best books issued this clarion call to reformation, Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? a book which retains every bit of its relevance today and will continue to be relevant for decades to come.
Was James Boice successful in his endeavors as a Christian statesman? I think the answer is that he was remarkably successful as God blessed his Bible teaching and statesmanship. As for his early defense of the Bible, Boice did not persuade the liberals, but his and others' efforts did anchor a generation of evangelicals to the inerrancy of Scripture. As for his middle years and their emphasis on Reformed doctrine as key to the gospel, Boice lived to see the beginnings of the Reformed awakening that is now in full bloom among so many evangelical Christians. When Boice founded the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology in 1974, experts insisted that no one wanted to hear Reformed teaching much less pay to attend such a conference. Today, not only is Boice's PCRT still going strong (with over 2000 people attending in 2010), but it has spurred a host of even larger conferences such as the annual Ligonier Conference and the more recent Together for the Gospel. Finally, as for Boice's later endeavors as a reforming leader, in this he also was blessed by God with considerable success. It is true that Boice, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and other like-minded groups have not stemmed the flood of worldliness and doctrinal infidelity in the broader evangelical world. But Boice did inspire a generation of young Christian leaders who are passionately committed to biblical fidelity and filled with gospel zeal. In the last couple of years of his life, Boice often spoke to me about his excitement for the future due to the emergence of so many fervent, well-grounded young pastors and lay leaders. Jim Boice did not die with a sense of failure but with a joyful optimism regarding what God would do in the coming years through the legion of fervent, Bible-believing, cross-exalting, sovereign grace-proclaiming Christians he saw coming behind him.
One way for me to eulogize James Montgomery Boice is to recount both the first and the last things he ever said personally to me. My first conversation with Boice took place at a congregational dinner of Tenth Church, shortly after I had been converted and joined the church. I remember arriving late for the meal in the church's crowed fellowship hall, filled with circular dinner tables, and seeing no available seat except for one directly next to the senior minister, Dr. Boice. I suppose others were too intimidated to sit next to the great preacher, but I was thrilled. During the meal I recounted to Boice how I had been growing under his preaching and especially how my reading of his books was enriching my soul and leading me into truth. After a bit of this, Boice interrupted me and said, "Young man, you are talking too much about me. I would suggest that you stop reading my books and start reading the Bible for yourself, focusing on the truth that Jesus will teach you by the Holy Spirit." At the time I was downcast over this reproof, but the episode left a permanent impact on me on the importance of being devoted to Christ and his Word rather than the teaching of any man.
My final meeting with James Boice took place about ten years later, just a few days before he died. A group of us from the church had gone to his home to see him for a last time and to sing some of the hymns he had written and which were set to music by Paul Jones. The last of these hymns we sang was in my view Boice's best: "Come to the Waters," a hymn gathering together all the "water of life" themes in the Bible as they flow from the gospel. (If you want to feel the very heart-beat of James Boice's ministry, just sing this hymn!) Sitting on the couch with Jim afterwards, he grabbed my arm and in his cancer-weakened voice he said to me, "Rick, do you see what I am saying in that hymn? It all flows to Jesus and out from him. Don't ever forget that!" By God's grace, I don't believe I ever will forget it, and I will certainly never forget the inspirational, Christ-centered life and ministry of my friend and pastor, James Montgomery Boice.
Not long after that final meeting, I had the privilege of preaching the evening sermon at Tenth on the Sunday after Dr. Boice died. Phil Ryken and I had scripted that Sunday, with him preaching a pastoral message of comfort to the congregation in the morning and with me preaching a memorial message that evening. I chose as my text 2 Kings 2:11-15, the ascension of Elijah in a chariot of fire. One reason for selecting this text was that when I had learned weeks earlier that Dr. Boice would soon die of cancer, I had gotten onto my knees and prayed for God to give me double the portion of the Spirit so as to be one of those who would carry on Jim's work. In the sermon I wanted to point out that we as a congregation could take up Boice's legacy, like the mantel that fell from Elijah's ascending chariot, and carry it on by holding forth the convictions he had taught us from God's Word. A couple of days before preaching the sermon, however, Phil Ryken gave me a cassette tape of a message Boice had preached on that passage. I had thought that Jim had never preached from that text, but it turned out that he had done so for his tenth anniversary as Tenth's pastor. In that sermon, Boice revealed that when he was a seminary student at Princeton in 1960, his father had called to tell him about the sudden death of Donald Grey Barnhouse, then pastor of Tenth Church and Boice's pulpit hero. Jim related how when he heard the news, he fell to his knees in his room and prayed for God to give him double the portion of Elijah if he was to take up the mantle of so great a man as Barnhouse. I ended up telling this story in my memorial sermon for Boice, pointing out that he was, like us, simply a man of faith who had prayed to be used by God. It is therefore our sovereign and gracious God who deserves the praise and glory for the life and ministry of James Montgomery Boice, as Dr. Boice himself would be the first to insist. If we will pray for the same - for God's mighty Spirit to equip us to minister the gospel truth to our generation - we can expect God to do great things through our labors as well.
Dr. Boice's favorite benediction from the Bible says of God that "from him and through him and to him are all things." Paul concludes, "To him be glory forever. Amen" (Rom. 11:36). It was James Montgomery Boice's own glorification to leave us and be with God, ten years ago today, having devoted his life and labors to the praise of God's glorious grace.
Luther Was Not a Monk Here I Walk
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Luther Was Not a Monk
The decidedly urban character of Erfurt meant another important thing for our story: the presence of friars. Luther was not a monk, properly speaking, but a friar or better a hermit of Saint Augustine. He’s responsible for this error, as he frequently referred to himself as a monk. But he was a friar nonetheless and shared more with the Middle Ages’ new form of religious life defined by the Dominicans and Franciscans than he did with the true cloistered monks of the Benedictine Rule.
For various reasons, meteorological and technological, the population of Europe exploded after 1050, and an agricultural surplus fed the growth of urban life. Friars were made to order for this new environment and the challenges it placed upon the faith of the populace at large. Unlike their landed, Benedictine brethren, who were dedicated to ora et labora (prayer and work) within the confines of a monastery (and its often vast estates), urban friars worked outside their quarters in the cities doing service and teaching. Many were preachers—an art not often practiced by parish priests—or catechists, while others taught in the rapidly growing university system. Still others did works of charity.
Friars were not allowed, at least initially, to own property—the traditional support for monastic existence. Because of this stipulation of strict poverty, they were called mendicant or “begging orders.” This was a matter of some divisiveness. Luther’s own priory had accumulated quite large holdings from alms and bequests. He and his brothers said many masses in payment for these gifts. Individual friars, though, were forbidden possessions.
Because of its name you may be tempted to think that the Augustinian order was a very old one, but it wasn’t. The Order of Augustinian Hermits can be traced only to 1244 (while St. Augustine himself lived from 354–430), when a loose group of reform-minded religious banded together under the so-called rule of St. Augustine—a set of precepts laid out by the church father himself in the fourth century.
In Erfurt, the hermits prayed the hours, studied, taught in the University, preached in local churches, heard confession, and said mass. It was a busy life, full of religious responsibilities and not so full of comforts. The day began the middle of the night, with matins; then there was 6 a.m. prime, 9 a.m. terce, sexte at 12 noon, and after the noonday meal and rest the 3 p.m. nones, 6 p.m. vespers, and at last compline just before bed. And mass sometime before midday. Missing any service required a good excuse and had to be compensated for. After he moved to Wittenberg and assumed the duties of a professor, Luther would have had exemptions from certain hours. He kept careful track of what he had missed, though, and by the time he finally stopped praying the canonical hours altogether in 1520 he had accumulated over three months of prayer debt.
The later Luther had little good to say about monasticism. But he only stopped wearing his cowl in 1523 and was ever loathe to give up the mass. During his years in the cloister, he would have recited three psalms at every office (which means that it he prayed the Psalms through nearly once a week). It was monasticism that gave him the Bible.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
We will be following this 70-day trek on foot by these journalists. They have ecumenism in their thinking. Yet, we will be sifting for facts and remembering Brother Martin's journey to hell and back, to Rome on foot and back to Wittenberg and Erfurt n foot.
Why Luther Went to Rome Here I Walk
Why Luther Went to Rome
Motivation is one of the most difficult things to determine, even for people who are alive, as any therapist will tell you. The shelves of Luther biographies have accumulated more than their fair share of psychoanalysts. And not without reason. Luther’s fervent piety, the intense anxiety he showed over his own salvation, the degree to which he desired—yet constantly failed—to achieve any peace with God, the later demonization of his opponents: all these suggest an extraordinarily rich and complicated character. Why was he in particular so unable to tolerate a theological and ecclesiastical system that plenty of others—even reformers of the past themselves—managed to work within and around?
But all this is yet to come for Luther. In 1510 his motivations were somewhat simpler. That’s why his pilgrimage is easier to recreate than so many of the other bits of his history, tied as they were to words and meetings. The land remains to a greater degree than any of the personalities he interacted with. Luther was sent to Rome by his order. Other motivations would have been quite secondary to his primary obedience.
He was, of course, curious about the land between Erfurt and Rome. Notes from his later conversations at table show a healthy interest in the people, customs, and flora of his journey. More particular was his attention to technical and organizational differences: a mechanical clock in Nuremberg, the foundling house in Florence. Absent seems to be any interest in the visual culture of the Renaissance that would have surrounded him in Bologna or Siena.
And he would have been motivated by the chance to do pious works in Rome—the most holy city of all Christendom (with the possible exception of the difficult-to-reach, Mameluk-controlled Jerusalem). Contrary to popular opinion—created, in all likelihood, by later Reformation polemics—Rome wasn’t thought holy primarily because of the Pope. The papacy was a conflicted institution in 1510; the popes of Luther’s time were respected in public but the subjects of scathing satire and critique by many prominent churchmen for their glaring shortcomings.
No, for Western Christians, Rome was first of all the city of martyrs. When Luther saw the steeples and domes in the distance he reports himself to have descended to his knees and cried, “Be greeted, most holy Rome.” Holy because it was bathed in the blood of what was believed at the time to have been hundreds of thousands of Christians slain by pagan officials for confessing Christ. The merit of these most holy believers was accessible through countless holy acts. Luther surely would have looked forward to these opportunities.
But even this was a secondary purpose. His primary reason—if not motivation—was a rather arcane errand of his order. The Erfurt house and its prior, Johann Nathin, belonged to a reform movement among the Augustinians that sought to expand a more strict observance of the rule. The houses in Nuremberg, Kulmbach, and Erfurt were particularly fervent, and they objected strongly to an effective merger of the reformed with the province at large announced on September 30, 1510—a union forced upon them by Luther’s later friend and influential advisor John Staupitz, who was at the time head of the Saxon congregation.
Union would water down the reforming cause, the strict observants believed. And so an alliance of the strict decided to appeal to the vicar general, Giles (Egidio) of Viterbo, in Rome. There was clearly some urgency about the appeal. It seems likely they wanted to try and get to Rome before the passes of the Alps became completely… well, impassable.
Five years of study and earnest religious life had brought Luther to the attention of his brothers. A combination of his demonstrated potential and vigorous youth made him an ideal candidate for what was sure to be a demanding journey. And so in November of 1510 he left Erfurt. He would not have traveled alone, for such was forbidden by the rule. He was likely accompanied by Anton Kresz, from the observant house in Nuremberg, who is believed to have been the one in charge of the appeal.
As to their mode of transport: they walked. Such was their lot as friars. Horses and carriages belonged to soldiers and nobility. Despite being among the best educated and respected people of the time, walking fit their voluntary lowliness. Suffering and humiliation were part of the program. Pilgrimage was penance, after all.
Friday, August 20, 2010
An interesting idea that merits further consideration for Protestant, Reformed, and Confessional Prayer Book people.
Audio and ipod resources from Rev. Dr. James Innes Packer.
It's heating up again in the NAPARC world over Federal Vision, Norm Shepherd (my prof in 1979), and some midwestern Presbyteries.
Walking 1,000 Miles in the Footsteps of Martin Luther, From Erfurt, Germany to Rome, and Thinking About the Reformation. - WSJ.com
We'll be following this blog as the steps of Bruder Martin are retraced by a few journalists from Erfurt to earth's hell hole, Rome, Vatican, the home to all manner of usurpations.
The trip by these WSJ writers will take 70 days and will attempt to follow Martin's footsteps in 1510--when he went to hell on earth.
You may wish to follow the feed at www.hereiwalk.org/feed/
We will be walking alongside, electronically.
Below is our proposed itinerary. Many of the stopping places are small villages or even hamlets, so I’ve included the larger towns on-route or nearby.
This schedule will likely change somewhat before we leave, and while we adjust it on-route. Stay tuned to our progress posts for more exact estimate of our arrival in any given place.
If you want more specific route information, visit our maps page, where each day’s journey is indicated in distinct colors.
08–25 Almerswind (~Coburg)
08–26 Grub am Forst
08–27 Lofeld (~Lichtenfels)
08–31 Dormitz (~Erlangen)
09–02 Haag (~Schwabach)
09–05 Oettingen in Bayern
09–08 Stetten ob Lontal
09–11 Weisshorn (~Senden)
09–13 Rothenstein (~Memmingen)
09–14 Ermengerst (~Kempten)
09–15 Wilhams (~Missen)
09–21 Parpan (~Chur)
09–22 Furnatsch (~Tiefencastel)
09–23 Casaccio (~Septimer Pass)
09–28 Seveso (~Como)
10–01 Santa Cristina
10–07 Passo Cisa
10–08 Villafranca in Lunigiana
10–09 Sarzana (~Spezia)
10–13 Altopascio (Lucca)
10–15 Florence, San Miniato
10–16 San Gimignano
10–17 San Gimignano
10–21 Castiglione d’Orcia
10–22 Ponte del Rigo
10–23 San Lorenzo Nuovo
10–27 Campagnano di Roma
10–28 La Storta
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Similarly, Matt Kennedy over at "Stand Firm" says:
"Arrogance masquerading as humility, lies garnished with truth, historical myth making, biblical distortion, a friendly face, a furrowed brow, an "earnest" desire to "free the gospel" from the "old narrative"...here's Brian Mclaren's culturally seductive slew of error.
Therefore God sends them a powerful delusion that they may believe what is false...(2Thessalonians 2:11)"
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
“Then, at the end, he prays for them, praises them, and commends them to God. He speaks of his office and of his preaching, and asks them kindly for a contribution to the poor at Jerusalem. All he speaks of or deals with is pure love.” (LSB, 1939)
15.8-13. The OT, the Abrahamic covenant, as well as numerous OT prophecies viewed the day when Jews and Gentiles--strong and rich, educated and less so, humble and contrite, men, women, teen-agers, children and baptized infants in Christ's peaceable and merciful covenant--of multi-national and multi-cultural backgrounds would come together and worship together on God’s holy hill, Zion. That's the historic, catholic, and holy church since Eden. Paul reminds the Ephesian Gentiles that previously--once dead in sins and trespasses, servants of the prince of the power of the air—that they had been hopeless, Godless, without Christ and outside the visible and invisible Church of history (Eph.2.11-22). But, being quickened or made alive in Christ (Eph.4.4-6), the partition wall between Jews and Gentiles had been torn down. Chapters 14-15.13 deals with some remaining tensions, culturally and theologically, between Jewish and Gentile believers. Christ is the Hope, Savior, and Lord over an international church.
15.14. my brothers. Interestingly, Paul speaks of my brothers. They are filled with goodness and ability to teach one another. Teaching, encouragement, and admonition constitute churchly behaviors. He speaks in the plural, brothers, a congregation of faithful men. We give you a once-upon-a-time-Constitutional document for Anglicanism.
We cite Article XIX of the XXXIX Articles (http://www.eskimo.com/~lhowell/bcp1662/articles/articles.html#20 ) :
XIX. Of the Church.
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is preached and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same. As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred: so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.
The church is a “congregation of faithful men.” However, the congregation includes households as evinced in the books of Acts wherein entire households were baptized into Christ Jesus. So, while Paul speaks of my brothers, namely, male leadership in the church, the congregation surely includes wives, teens, children and baptized infants.
More largely and quite effectively, we find a sterling description of the life of this community entitled “Of the Communion of Saints,” Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter XXVII. http://www.reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_proofs/
I. All saints [DPV, all men, women, teens, children and baptized infants], that are united to Jesus Christ their Head, by His Spirit, and by faith, have fellowship with Him in His grace, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other's gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man.
II. Saints by profession are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their several abilities and necessities. Which communion, as God offers opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus.
Families are in communion with Christ, His blessed benefits, their common worship and share in their differing gifts, sovereignly and divinely-given gifts. (1 Cor.1.5-7; Rom.12.3ff.)
15.15-19. Paul is reminding the Jews and Gentiles of their equal footing in the Church of Rome and of the communion of the saints. Justification is equal to, at, and upon all—Jew and Gentile—while sanctification and progress is varied—again, to Jew and Gentile alike.
We are reminded of this by the distinction and clarification in the Westminster Larger Catechism, namely, (Q. 77). Wherein do justification and sanctification differ? Answer: Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputeth the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification of his Spirit infuseth grace, and enableth to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued: the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.
Whether Jew or Gentile, all boasting has been utterly excluded.
15.16. a minister of Christ Jesus…priestly service…offering. Paul’s calling was evangelism by teaching, preaching and writing, particularly to Gentile audiences.
15.17. I have reason to be proud of my work for God. Previously, Paul had taught that all boasting was excluded because of the gracious, gratuitous, merciful and kind imputation of Christ’s righteousness apart from/without/solely without one’s works-obedience and legal efforts. (Rom.3.21-4.12). There is a sense in which boasting is permissible, e.g. Rom.5.2, namely, that of rejoicing and thanksgiving. Rom 15.2: “…through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” (NASB) I Corinthians 1.29-31: “..so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, "LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD." We boast, exult and give thanks because of Christ our righteousness, santification and redemption. Jeremiah 9.22-23: “Thus says the LORD, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD. This forms that sum and substance of the Christian life.
We have "fixed in mind" (the value of "fixed prayers") the much-valued prayer for Evensong, lest we might ever lean to, accept or permit Pelagianism, semi-Pelagianism, boastful or--often--the quite hidden inclination to "grab the headlines (even privately and duplicitously)" in self-sufficiency. This "fixed" prayer "fixes" and ends that pompous boast every evening. (http://www.eskimo.com/~lhowell/bcp1662/daily/evening.html ) :
The Second Collect at Evening Prayer
O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed; Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that both our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by thee, we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
It is Augustinian, like the rest of the Prayer Book.
Having spoken of St. Paul's effectual and extensive ministry as well as the communion of the saints, we do well to pray for all Pastors and other Ministers in Christ's congregations.
Or this suitable "fixed prayer," having reflected on St Paul and all faithful Churchmen (http://www.eskimo.com/~lhowell/bcp1662/daily/prayers.html):
"ALMIGHTY God, the giver of all good gifts, who of thy divine providence hast appointed divers Orders in thy Church; Give thy grace, we humbly beseech thee, to all those who are to be called to any office and administration in the same; and so replenish them with the truth of thy doctrine, and endue them with innocency of life, that they may faithfully serve before thee, to the glory of thy great Name, and the benefit of thy holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
We do well to remember all these good things done upon, to, at, for, in, through and—yes—by us through God.
Romans 15.8-end, St. Paul, his ministry which shaped Western Churches, our Pastors, families and Christ's Word and Sacrament form the basis of thanksgiving and praise. Let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation. Psalms at Morning Prayer (Daily): Venite, Psalm 95 http://reformationanglicanism.blogspot.com/2010/08/psalms-at-morning-prayer-daily-venite.html May the singing of this "fixed" and ancient Psalm continue to inform and govern our praises.
Psalm 95 – The Venite, as traditionally know in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Sung with cheer and animation. We again recommend the purchase and use of the Psalter-set from St. Paul's Cathedral, London, UK. Pricey, but profitable for the Psalms at Morning Prayer.
In the midst of a national, family or personal crisis, this Psalm assures people that God is the King over all and the Good Shepherd of His people. The Psalm refers to Temple practices such as procession and bowing. Format: Vss.1-5: call to exultant worship because, despite everything good and bad, God still reigns; vss. 6-11 is a stern warning not to rebel against the LORD as the Israelites did.
95.1-7. “O come, let us sing unto the LORD.”
95.1. “to the Rock of our salvation.”
95.3. “come into His presence.” “Presence from the Hebrew, panim. “To be in front of or presence of someone/something.” To “enter God’s presence” typically refers to visiting the Temple or tabernacle for worship. See courts of the LORD. An advancing warrior “faced” his enemies, so the LORD’s presence or “face” is fearsome to His enemies. See “be with us,” the language of the covenants; we "come into His presence" in prayer, where two or three are gathered together in His name, and in our local congregations of faithful men, women, children and infants. With respect to the church, we cite Article XIX of the XXXIX Articles.
Article XIX. Of the Church.
THE visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is preached and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same. As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred: so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.
We come into His presence in private living, friendships with fellow Christians, but, notably, in the gathering or congregation of the faithful. The Psalm says “O come, let us sing unto the LORD.” It is together that we say Our Father, who art in heaven.... We note the plural pronouns for the singing and prayers.
Courts of the LORD. The various courtyards that surrounded the tabernacle and temple were restricted by various standards of holiness. To enter these holy places was to enter God’s presence. Confer Herod’s Temple in the LSB, 1838.
Before worship, it is wise to prepare oneself for worship. My parish rector advises: (1) Greet others cordially. (2) Enter expectantly. (3) Worship reverently, kneeling for prayer and standing for the hearing of the Gospel. (4) Listen attentively and with application of God's Word to one's life, hearing the Law and resting in the gracious promises of Christ. (5) Leave thoughtfully. (6) Greet other cordially as you leave. (7) Come again. Upon entrance to divine worship, we bring you this meaningful prayer.
"GRANT unto us thy servants, O Lord, humble and contrite hearts, that we may come before thee in thy holy temple, and worship thee this day in spirit and in truth. Open thou our lips, O Lord, that our mouth and tongue may show forth thy praise. We bless thee, O Lord, for thine unspeakable mercy in giving thine only beloved Son to be an atonement for our sins, and to open to us the gates of everlasting life."+
95.2. “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving.” According to Psalm 92.4-6, fools hate this; it makes no sense to them on any meaningful level.
http://www.comfortablewords.com/comwords/prayers.php?searchtype=titles&searchvalue=Of Praise To The Trinity
With thanksgiving, we come into the presence of the Triune God with all the company of heaven.
+Of Praise To The Trinity
Clement Of Alexandria (late 2nd century)
Be merciful to thy children, O Instructor, O Father, charioteer of Israel, Son and Father, both one, O Lord. Grant that we, thy followers, observing thy commandments, may make perfect the likeness of thy image; that through his strength we may know the goodness of God and the kindness of his judgment. Bestow on us all good things; that we may live our lives in thy peace, and be transferred to thy city; that we may sail over the waves of sin without storm, and be borne along in calm, night and day, by the Holy Spirit, the inexpressible Wisdom, until we come to the perfect day. That we may give praise and thanksgiving to the only Father: and the only Son; to Son and Father, the Son our instructor and teacher, together with the Holy Spirit: rendering all praise to the One, in whom are all things, though whom all things are one, through whom is eternity, of whom all men are members, and the Ages [in this case, heavenly powers] are his glory; all praise to the Good, the Lovely, the Wise, the Just: to him be glory now and for ever. Amen.+
95.4. “in His hand.” God’s hands are pictured as holding up what he has made (vs.5) and caring for His people (vs.7). “depths…and heights.” The vast expanses of the heaven and drying land, images that picture and teach that the whole universe is God’s.
95.7. “…people of His pasture…sheep of His hand.” A shepherd provides for and protects his sheep and flock, as a King does for his subjects. David, Israel’s great shepherd and king, was a shepherd in his youth. God is the great Shepherd, Psalm 23. Jesus would later refer to Himself as the Good Shepherd (Jn.10.11-17).
95.8-11. Recalls Israel’s wandering in the wilderness wandering when rebellion and complaint was often evident against God and Moses.
95.11. “harden not your hearts.” To "harden the heart" is "to stubbornly rebel" against what God has said. See Ex.4.21; 9.12. Meribah, “dispute.” Massah, “testing.” Cf. Ex.17.7. Even after the miraculous deliverance, the people still questioned God’s presence with them. Heb.3.7-4.12 pictures those who stubbornly refuse and reject God’s Word. “Today” means every day. The warning is “do not be deceived by the deceitfulness of sin.”
95.10. “For forty years I loathed that generation.” “Loathed”. God’s reaction is revulsion and disgust. This is very strong language, even as poetic language. As narrative sections in the Pentateuch, "it reads as it reads." Now, for the modern church, it generally "loathes" God's "loathing" and will have nothing to do with it. Ask enough questions of the leadership in time; it will come out; it cannot be hidden. We have come of age, we are assured by the modern prophets. (As a result, they have little left of mercy, kindness or love. What is left is self-entitlement programs.) But, to turn the tables on the modern audience, does God "loathe" the moderns' "loathing" of God's holiness, righteousness, and justice? Does God loathe their imaginations, images, dreams, aspirations and plans, spun and crafted without faith, without God, without reference to His Glory or Word? 95.10. “For forty years I loathed that generation.” Is God disgusted and revulsed? Who are you going to believe?
95.11. swore. What God says He will do, He does and no one resists His will or hand, in the heavens, galaxies, or on earth, Kings, nobles, or impoverished (Dan.4.34-35). Israel wandered for forty years until that generation died and a new generation arose. The promised rest was the “Promised Land,” a place to live in peace and prosperity. Heb.3-4 expands that rest to “include salvation: our eternal rest in God’s presence.” God's covenanted promises are sure and a "Yeah and amen."
Psalm 95, The Venite as traditionally know in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, shoud be sung with cheer and animation. We again recommend the purchase and use of the Psalter-set from St. Paul's Cathedral, London, UK. Pricey, but profitable for the Psalms at Morning Prayer.
Sung everyday before and in preparation for the OT and NT lections, it serves an expectant saint, family, and congregation well.