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. You will not hear these things in modern outlets for Anglican advertisement. Confessional Churchmen keep the "lights burning in the darkness." Although Post-Anglicans with sorrow (and contempt for many, especially the leaders), we maintain learning, faith, hope and reading. Mr. (Rev. Dr. Prof.) James Packer quipped and applied this specific song for muddler-Manglicans: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGyPuey-1Jw. Our book of the month, July 2014 is the Rev. Dr. Wayne Pearce's "John Spottiswoode: Jacobean Archbishop and Statesman" at: http://www.lulu.com/shop/a-s-wayne-pearce/john-spottiswoode-jacobean-archbishop-and-statesman/paperback/product-21652023.html. Also, 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. We're still Prayer Book Churchmen, but we have "articles of faith" paid for by blood.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Rev. Charles Simeon, the great Anglican preacher, Holy Trinity Protestant (Anglican) Church, Cambridge. Holy Trinity continues to be a beacon to the Biblical Gospel in Cambridge, UK.
More info on Holy Trinity at their website: http://www.htcambridge.org.uk/welcome.htm
It may appear that Holy Trinity has embraced some MCBY-ish elements (MCBY-ish = Methodobaptocostalyapper-ish). In Simeon's day, it was standard, classical services from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
This lecture is commendable and this practice, preaching the entire Bible per year, needs to be recovered, e.g. following the Prayer Book tradition.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
These evangelicals without roots other than anabaptistic and revivalist roots are experiencing their own captivity--to themselves and the ignorance.
And I thought the Babylonian Anglican Captivity was bad--and it is--but at least we have the English Bible and the classical Prayer Book.
This SBC Pastor, Ken Silva, is pulling his hair out over these evangelicals, e.g. PDL Pope, Rick Warren.
The Anglican Psalter: The Psalms of David (Edited By: John Scott, St. Paul's Protestant Cathedral, London)
The Anglican Psalter: The Psalms of David: Edited By: John Scott By: Edited by John Scott: 9781853119880: Christianbook.com
The Anglican Psalter: The Psalms of David
Edited By: John Scott
Westminster John Knox Press / 2009 / Paperback
Scott, one of the world's leading organists and choir masters, served as director of music at St. Paul's Protestant Cathedral (Anglican) for 14 years. He pairs the best Anglican chant with biblical texts that have been sung to God's glory in the temple, synagogue, and church for 3,000 years. Works by Elgar, Parry, Stanford, Wesley, and more. 352 pages, softcover. Canterbury Press.
We note that John Scott also produced the Psalter-set from St. Paul's Protestant Cathedral, London, a pricey but most useful CD-set on the entire Psalter. The cost is roughly $130 plus P & H, but the daily use of Mattins and Evensong from the classical 1662 BCP make it essential for the disciplined Reformed, Protestant and Anglican Churchman. One has to make their own way in this Babylonian Captivity of American Anglicanism.
Number of Pages: 352
Vendor: Westminster John Knox Press
Publication Date: 2009
Survey: Americans don't know much about religion
By RACHEL ZOLL,
AP Religion Writer
Sept. 28, 2010
A new survey of Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths.
Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn't know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ.
More than half of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the person who inspired the Protestant Reformation. And about four in 10 Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the greatest rabbis and intellectuals in history, was Jewish.
The survey released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life aimed to test a broad range of religious knowledge, including understanding of the Bible, core teachings of different faiths and major figures in religious history. The U.S. is one of the most religious countries in the developed world, especially compared to largely secular Western Europe, but faith leaders and educators have long lamented that Americans still know relatively little about religion.
Respondents to the survey were asked 32 questions with a range of difficulty, including whether they could name the Islamic holy book and the first book of the Bible, or say what century the Mormon religion was founded. On average, participants in the survey answered correctly overall for half of the survey questions.
Atheists and agnostics scored highest, with an average of 21 correct answers, while Jews and Mormons followed with about 20 accurate responses. Protestants overall averaged 16 correct answers, while Catholics followed with a score of about 15.
Not surprisingly, those who said they attended worship at least once a week and considered religion important in their lives often performed better on the overall survey. However, level of education was the best predictor of religious knowledge. The top-performing groups on the survey still came out ahead even when controlling for how much schooling they had completed.
On questions about Christianity, Mormons scored the highest, with an average of about eight correct answers out of 12, followed by white evangelicals, with an average of just over seven correct answers. Jews, along with atheists and agnostics, knew the most about other faiths, such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism. Less than half of Americans know that the Dalai Lama is Buddhist, and less than four in 10 know that Vishnu and Shiva are part of Hinduism.
The study also found that many Americans don't understand constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools. While a majority know that public school teachers cannot lead classes in prayer, less than a quarter know that the U.S. Supreme Court has clearly stated that teachers can read from the Bible as an example of literature.
"Many Americans think the constitutional restrictions on religion in public schools are tighter than they really are," Pew researchers wrote.
The survey of 3,412 people, conducted between May and June of this year, had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, while the margins of error for individual religious groups was higher.
VirtueOnline - News - As Eye See It - Out of Egypt - Gerald Bray
Out of Egypt
by GERALD BRAY
From The Churchman
On 30 January 2010 Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt announced that he was resigning from the standing committee of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC).
The ACC is a little-known body that seeks to co-ordinate the activities of the Anglican Communion, and it wields considerable influence behind the scenes, setting much of the stage (and in effect, the agenda) for the Primates' Meetings, the Lambeth Conference, and so on. Since the consecration of Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, it is one of the bodies where the continuing presence of American representatives has been questioned, especially by churches from the developing world who see it as a means of disciplining member churches of the Communion that have stepped out of line.
No church has gone farther in that direction than the American Episcopal one, and its continuing participation in the ACC, which includes having Ms Schori, their presiding bishop, on the standing committee, is widely regarded as anomalous (to put it mildly). Many churches have given up on the ACC already and formed their own network of communication, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA). The FCA is not an exact parallel to the ACC, because anyone can join it and make a contribution to the ongoing development of orthodox Anglicanism. It may have its faults, but at least nobody can accuse it of being a closed body of church bureaucrats, which is what the ACC all too often appears to be.
When the Anglican Communion started to unravel in 2007, following the Archbishop of Canterbury's unexplained decision to invite the American bishops to Lambeth 2008, even before the deadline for their compliance with certain restraints imposed by the primates, and the subsequent attempt to pretend that the 'deadline' was nothing of the kind, Bishop Mouneer stood out as someone who was not prepared to break with the central organs of the Communion.
Unlike many other primates from the developing world, he continued to believe that the processes envisaged by the Windsor Report (2004) and the proposed Anglican Covenant, sponsored by the Archbishop of Canterbury as the answer to the Communion's incoherence as an ecclesial body, were good and necessary solutions to the church's problems. Accused of being naive by some of those who went on to form the FCA, Bishop Mouneer stuck by Rowan Williams and became one of his strongest backers. His public statements are full of praise for him and often quote him at some length, a degree of devotion which must make him virtually unique in the Anglican world.
Alas, Bishop Mouneer's reward for this extraordinary loyalty has been meagre. At one point he specifically asked the ACC to hold back on a statement it was going to issue because he was on a pastoral visit elsewhere in the Middle East and would not have time to consider it until his return to Cairo. He was ignored, and the ACC went ahead without him, making only the shortest of apologies when it realised that it had caused offence. Dr. Williams, who seems to have all the time in the world for Ms Schori, never rushed off to Cairo or showed any public concern for Bishop Mouneer's position. He could not ignore the bishop's resignation of course, but his official statement was perfunctory in the extreme and betrayed no sign of any sympathy for the reasons which compelled him to leave.
Bishop Mouneer could easily have camouflaged his resignation in the way that people often do. He could have pleaded the burdens of office or the dangers of stress and ill health. He might even have said that it was time for someone else to take his place, and pretended that he was stepping down in order to give others a chance. He did none of those things.
Instead, he told the truth. He made it as clear as anyone could that he was leaving because he had been marginalised and because the ACC was drifting inexorably in a liberal direction. Its pleas for a period of 'listening' to other people's points of view were nothing more than a desire to give the Episcopal church enough breathing space within the Anglican Communion to commit further outrages against it. Of course it had always been suspected that the 'listening' was going to be in one direction only.
The Americans made it clear from the start that they had nothing to listen to, and at their General Convention in July 2009 they opened the way to further consecrations of actively homosexual bishops. No sooner was permission for that given that a lesbian was elected as suffragan in Los Angeles with the expectation that the necessary confirmation from the other bishops would be forthcoming. No-one could argue that the Americans had not heard the opinions of the rest of the Anglican Communion-the
Archbishop of Canterbury was at the Convention in person to make sure that the message was communicated. The reaction? He was ignored and even accused by some of trying to intervene in the affairs of another church in neocolonialist style.
Meanwhile the ACC carried on as if nothing had happened and continued to work for further delays in implementing either the Windsor Report or the proposed covenant. As usual, it bent over backwards to ensure that churches opposed to the latter were over-represented on the committee which had to deal with it, whereas only one church that might have signed it (Ghana) was so privileged.
The process of watering down an already weak document went on apace, with little sign that alternative voices, including that of the Archbishop of Canterbury, were being heard. Naturally there was no sign that Ms Schori would absent herself or step down, and it is now clear that she will never do so. We now know that even if the American Episcopal Church is censured by every other member of the Anglican Communion, it will not go away and its presiding bishop will carry on regardless. That was too much for Bishop Mouneer, who finally tendered his resignation from a body that he could no longer conscientiously identify with.
In the wider world of Anglican politics, Bishop Mouneer's resignation may look like a minor incident that will not affect the overall direction of the Communion. Something like that approach seems to be the one already being taken, and given the relatively low public profile of the ACC, it may very well succeed. But the deeper implications of his act should not be overlooked or discounted.
Bishop Mouneer was one of the very few voices from the non-Western world who was still supporting the Archbishop of Canterbury, and his disillusionment will be seen by many as evidence that such support is pointless. Whatever Dr. Williams thinks, says or does, it now seems obvious that the Anglican Communion will accept the American Episcopal Church (TEC) without serious reservation, making its activities legitimate within Anglicanism, if only by default.
There is talk in some quarters of the emergence of a 'two-tier' Anglicanism, but what that means is not spelled out. On current form, it seems that the Americans and their supporters in the Western world will form the first tier and the FCA/GAFCON churches will be relegated to the second division. That is what has happened so far, as Lambeth 2008 made only too clear, and we can hardly expect that there will be any great reversal of that.
Of course, other Anglican churches will not be forced to follow TEC's lead, but as they never have been, that is nothing new.What they will have to do though, is concede TEC's right to hold and implement policies which they regard as heretical and deeply un-Christian. TEC's behaviour will remain the elephant in the room that nobody wants to notice, and eventually the odour given off by that elephant will permeate the entire structure of the Communion.
The likelihood of this happening sooner rather than later has been brought home by the recent attempt by a lay member of the Church of England's General Synod to get that body to affirm its solidarity with the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA), a new organisation formed from a number of dissenting Episcopal churches in the USA. Unlike TEC, ACNA has professed a willingness to adhere to the Windsor Report and to sign the proposed covenant, but this display of co-operation with other Anglican bodies has not sufficed to win over the English establishment. To some extent that is understandable.
ACNA is a new and untested body that may yet fracture under the weight of competing claims made by those within it. There is also the problem that there are still many faithful Christians in TEC who may one day recover the lead and succeed in wresting control of their church back from the renegades who now run it. Weakening them at this crucial juncture may not be the wisest move, and certainly nobody who advocates recognising ACNA wants to create further difficulties for them.
It is also hard to say whether the General Synod has any right to express an opinion about who the Church of England is in communion with. The truth is that nobody seems to know to whom this right belongs, although traditionally the Archbishop of Canterbury has played the key role in deciding whom to accept and whom to reject. It is very possible, indeed almost certain, that TEC will object to any move the Church of England might make towards ACNA and that may well be the excuse needed for refusing to recognise it.
It is hard to escape the suspicion that behind the moves to dilute the resolution in favour of ACNA and to set up a committee to study the matter for the next year or so lies a profound unwillingness to disavow TEC. It is well known that there are many senior Anglican figures in England who would rather see the whole of Africa depart the Communion than lose the small but wealthy American church, and whose personal sympathies lie with the radical agenda now being canonised in the USA.
The Archbishop of Canterbury is coming to resemble no-one more than King Charles I, a man who tried to play one faction off against the other to his own advantage but who ended up losing the respect of them all, along with his throne and his head.
Dr. Williams is unlikely to be executed (that would be against European Union law) but he has already reached the point where no-one of any integrity trusts him or believes a word he says, and how much longer can that go on? If nothing else, Bishop Mouneer's resignation has made it crystal clear that even Canterbury's most loyal supporters are losing patience with him. Dr. Williams evidently feels that such people are expendable-another characteristic of Charles I, who sacrificed both Archbishop Laud and the earl of Strafford in order to save his own skin. Seen in that light, Bishop Mouneer hardly stood a chance.
Will anyone stand up for him within the higher ranks of the Church of England? We can forget about most of the Evangelical bishops, who are no more likely to support him than they are to start preaching the Gospel. It was depressing, though not surprising, to see that the executioner chosen to torpedo the resolution in favour of ACNA was the bishop of Bristol (one of the few men on the bench with a serious claim to be an evangelist), who seems to have taken to his assignment with some relish.
The brave bishops who objected to the appointment of Jeffrey John as bishop of Reading in 2003 are now mostly retired or reduced to silence, the most exquisite torture having been meted out to the bishop of Bedford, who has to work with Dr. John in the same diocese and so cannot say a word against him. The bishop of Liverpool has even gone so far as to recant and effectively withdraw his signature from the letter opposing the original appointment.
It is true that there has been some fresh blood since then and perhaps we may hear from one or more of those bishops who were not in post in 2003. It is possible that the bishop of Durham will come out in support of Bishop Mouneer and urge the church to recognise ACNA, and we must hope and pray that he will do so. The new bishop of Peterborough is another possibility, though the omens there are not good.
Few can have failed to notice that the congratulations on his appointment emphasised not his retention of the faith once delivered to the saints but his progressive abandonment of it, even before he had any inkling of eventual preferment. Now he has been reported as saying that he no longer holds to his earlier certainties and that he is on a 'faith journey', which for those who understand Orwellian Newspeak, means a journey away from faith, not towards it. The only question now is whether the next time the authorities need a fall guy to do their dirty work for them, will it be to Peterborough or to Bristol that they will turn?
Egypt had a bad press in the Old Testament, having declined from being a land of refuge for the famished Israelites into a house of bondage from which they were forced to escape. Yet later on Alexandria became the main centre of Jewish culture and one of the most important bases of the early Christian church. Even today, after centuries of Muslim rule, Egypt still has a large and influential Christian minority, which is tolerated more than Christians usually are in the Middle East. Among them, Anglicans are few but influential.
Many of the church's members are highly educated and cosmopolitan in outlook, with a sophisticated but determined faith-something they need in order to evangelise effectively in a fundamentally hostile environment. Bishop Mouneer is part of that culture and one of its most attractive representatives. In the face of constant provocation and attack, he has shown the Christian virtues of charity and humility to an unusual degree.
Those with an eye for such things will not fail to notice these qualities and respect him for the spiritual leadership that he has shown in the most trying circumstances. What that example will mean for the Anglican Communion, only time will tell. Can it be that just as God raised up Moses to lead his people out of slavery, and centuries later allowed his Son to flee persecution by taking refuge on the banks of the Nile, that he is now calling his servant Mouneer Anis to point the way ahead for Anglicans everywhere who wish to remain faithful to the Gospel of Christ in spite of suffering and persecution?
Perhaps it will even be that on the great and terrible day of judgment, when the hearts of all men are revealed and the compromising leaders of today's church are consigned to their everlasting fate, that the Lord of glory will turn to Bishop Mouneer and say to him: 'Out of Egypt have I called you, my son.
Enter into the joy of your Lord.'
---Dr. Gerald Bray is the Anglican Professor of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School and teaches church history, historical theology, and Latin. Dr. Bray is an Evangelical theologian, writer, and research and an ordained minister in the Church of England.
We will pick this up for review and possible use. We will advise. We are unsure if this contains musical scores for the Psalms.
The product description indicates 71 pages, so we are not optimistic. However, it may have the Canticles and a fair number of Psalms. Time will tell. The product description follows these lines:
"The purpose of this book has been to gather into a single volume those Anglican chants - until now dispersed among many different collections - that are considered by expert opinion to be both worthy compositions in themselves and suitable for general use in parish churches. Almost every chant book in existence has been examined, and many hundreds of different chants have been considered, the inclusion or rejection of each one depending upon the opinion of the majority of a board containing a large number of Church musicians, both professional and amateur."
We continue to recommend the Psalter-set of chants from St. Paul's, London. While we do not have the musical score, we are learning the set by repeated use since 24 Jun 2010. Of course, this set follows the classical Anglican Prayer Book, the 1662--not that awful thing Americans use, the 1979 BCP (shameless). We are pleased with this Psalter-set.
The Cathedral Church of Christ, commonly referred to as Durham Cathedral, in the city of Durham, England, is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Durham. The Bishopric dates from 995, with the present cathedral being founded in AD 1093. The cathedral is regarded as one of the finest examples of Norman architecture and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with nearby Durham Castle, which faces it across Palace Green.
Country: United Kingdom. Denomination: Church of England.
Beverley Minster, in Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire is a parish church in the Church of England. It is generally regarded as the most impressive (architecturally speaking) church in England that is not a cathedral.
Originally a collegiate church, it was not selected as a bishop's seat during the Dissolution of the Monasteries; nevertheless it survived as a parish church, and the chapter house was the only major part of the building to be lost. It is part of the Greater Churches Group and a Grade 1 Listed building.
Scandals, theologically, in the fundamentalistic, anabaptistic, non-liturgical and non-confessional world. This article traces revivalism back to its forefather, Chas. Finney. Not bad, actually.
Although, there is little of relevance to a Prayer Book and Reformed Churchman. We did not run up these alleys of the enthusiasts.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Calvin and Calvinism » Blog Archive » Herman Bavinck (1854-1921) on Reprobation and the Means of Grace
 From the foregoing it has become evident in what sense reprobation must be considered a part of predestination. From the perspective of the comprehensive character of the counsel of God, we have every right to speak of a “double predestination.” Also sin, unbelief, death, and eternal punishment are subject to God’s governance. Not only is there no benefit in preferring the terms “foreknowledge” and “permission” over the term “predestination,” but Scripture, in fact, speaks very decisively and positively in this connection. It is true that Scripture seldom speaks of reprobation as an eternal decree. All the more, however, does it represent reprobation as an act of God in history. He rejects Cain (Gen. 4:5), curses Canaan (Gen. 9:25), expels Ishmael (Gen. 21:12; Rom. 9:7; Gal. 4:30), hates Esau (Gen. 25:23-26; Mal. 1:2-3; Rom. 9:13; Heb. 12:17), and permits the Gentiles to walk in their own ways (Acts 14:16). Even within the circle of revelation there is frequent mention of a rejection by the Lord of his people and of particular persons (Deut. 29:28; 1 Sam. 15:23,26; 16:1; 2 Kings 17:20; 23:27; Ps. 53:5; 78:67; 89:38; Jer. 6:30; 14:19; 31:37; Hos. 4:6; 9:17). But also in that negative event of rejection there is frequently present a positive action of God, consisting in hatred (Mal. 1:2-3; Rom 9:13), cursing (Gen. 9:25), hardening (Exod. 4:21; 7:3; 9:12; 10:20,27; 11-1F14-4; Deut. 2:30; Josh. 11:20; 1 Sam. 2:25; Ps. 105:25; John 12:40; Rom. 9:18), infatuation (1 Kings 12:15; 2 Sam. 17:14; Ps. 107:40; Job 12:24; Isa. 44:25; 1 Cor. 1:19), blinding and stupefaction (Isa. 6:9; Matt. 13:13; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; John 12:40; Acts 28:26; Rom. 11:8). God’s reign covers all things, and he even has a hand in people’s sins. He sends a lying spirit (1 Kings 22:23; 2 Chron. 18:22), through Satan stirs up David (2 Sam. 24:1; 1 Chron. 2IT), tests Job (ch. 1), calls Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus his servants (2 Chron. 36:22; Ezra 1:1; Isa. 44:28; 45:1; Jer. 27:6; 28:14; etc.) and Assyria the tod of his anger (Isa. 10:5ff.). He delivers up Christ into the hands of his enemies (Acts 2:23; 4:28), sets him for the fall of many, and makes him a fragrance from death to death , a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense (Luke 2:34; John 3:19; John 9:39; 2 Cor. 2:16; 1 Pet. 2:8). He abandons people to their sins (Rom. 1:24), sends a spirit of delusion (2 Thess. 2:11), raises up Shimei to curse David (2 Sam. 16:10; cf. Ps. 39:9), uses Pharaoh to show his power (Rom. 9:17), and heals the man blind from birth to manifest his glory (John 9:3). Certainly in all these works of God one must not overlook people’s own sinfulness. In the process of divine hardening humans harden themselves (Exod. 7:13, 22; 8:15; 9:35; 13:15; 2 Chron. 36:13; Job 9:4; Ps. 95:8; Prov. 28:14; Heb.’ 3:8; 4:7). Jesus speaks in parables not only in order that people will fail to understand but also because people refuse to see or hear (Matt. 13:13). God gives people up to sin and delusion because they have made themselves deserving of it (Rom. 1:32; 2 Thess. 2:11). And it is ex posteriori that believers see Gods governing hand in the wicked deeds of enemies (2 Sam. 16:10; Ps. 39:9-10). Nevertheless, in all these things also the will and power of God become manifest, and his absolute sovereignty is revealed. He makes weal and creates woe; he forms the light and creates the darkness (Isa. 45:7; Amos 3:6); he creates the wicked for the day of evil (Prov. 16:4), does whatever he pleases (Ps. 115:3), does according to his will among the inhabitants of the earth (Dan. 4:35), inclines the heart of all humans as he wills (Prov. 16:9; 21:1), and orders their steps (Prov. 20:24; Jer. 10:23). Out of the same lump of clay he makes one vessel for beauty and another for menial use (Jer. 18; Rom. 9:20-24), has compassion upon whomever he wills and hardens the heart of whomever he wills (Rom. 9:18). He destines some people to disobedience (1 Pet. 2:8), designates some for condemnation (Jude 4), and refrains from recording the names of some in the Book of Life (Rev. 13:8; 17:8).
These numerous strong pronouncements of Scripture are daily confirmed in the history of humankind. The defenders of reprobation, accordingly, have always appealed to these appalling facts, of which history is full.153 Present in this world there is so much that is irrational, so much undeserved suffering, so many inexplicable disasters, such unequal and incomprehensible apportionment of good and bad fortune, such a heartbreaking contrast between joy and sorrow, that any thinking person has to choose between interpreting it–as pessimism does–in terms of the blind will of some misbegotten deity, or on the basis of Scripture believingly trusting in the absolute, sovereign, and yet–however incomprehensible–wise and holy will o f h im who will some day cause the full light of heaven to shine on those riddles of our existence. The acceptance or rejection o f a decree of reprobation, therefore, should not be explained in terms of a persons capacity for love and compassion. The difference between Augustine and Pelagius, Calvin or Castellio, Gomarus and Arminius is not that the latter were that much more gentle, loving, and tenderhearted than the former. On the contrary, it arises from the fact that the former accepted Scripture in its entirety, also including this doctrine; that they were and always wanted to be theistic and recognize the will and hand of the Lord also in these disturbing facts of life; that they were not afraid to look reality in the eye even when it was appalling. Pelagianism scatters flowers over graves, turns death into an angel, regards sin as mere weakness, lectures on the uses of adversity, and considers this the best possible world. Calvinism has no use for such drivel. It refuses to be hoodwinked. It tolerates no such delusion, takes full account of the seriousness of life, champions the rights of the Lord of lords, and humbly bows in adoration before the inexplicable sovereign will of God Almighty. As a result it proves to be fundamentally more merciful than Pelagianism. How deeply Calvin felt the gravity of what he said is evident from his use of the expression “dreadful decree.”154 Totally without warrant, this expression has been held against him. In fact, it is to his credit, not to his discredit. The decree, as Calvin’s teaching, is not dreadful, but dreadful indeed is the reality that is the revelation of that decree of God, a reality that comes through both in Scripture and in history. To all thinking humans, whether they are followers of Pelagius or Augustine, that reality remains completely the same. It is not something that can in any way be undone by illusory notions of it. Now, in the context of this dreadful reality, far from coming up with a solution, Calvinism comforts us by saying that in everything that happens, it recognizes the will and hand of an almighty God, who is also a merciful Father. While Calvinism does not offer a solution, it invites us humans to rest in him who lives in unapproachable light, whose judgments are unsearchable, and whose paths are beyond tracing out. There lay Calvin’s comfort: “The Lord to whom my conscience is subject will be my witness that the daily meditation on his judgments leaves me so speechless that no curiosity tempts me to know anything more, no sneaking suspicion concerning his incomparable justice creeps over me, and in short, no desire to complain seduces me.”155 And in that peaceful state of mind he awaited the day when he would see [God] face to face and be shown the solution of these riddles.156
 Though, on the one hand, there is every reason to consider reprobation as a part of predestination, it is not in the same sense and manner a component of God’s decree as election, as the defenders of a double predestination have also at all times acknowledged. When the sovereignty of God, the positive and unambiguous witness of his Word, or the undeniable facts of history were at issue, these defenders were as intransigent as the apostle Paul and had no interest in compromise or mediation. In such situations they sometimes uttered harsh words, which could trouble the Pelagianistic human heart. Augustine, for example, once commented that God could not even be accused of wrongdoing if he had wanted to damn some people who were innocent. Said he: “If the human race, which exists as originally created out of nothing, had not been born under the guilt of death and with original sin, and the omnipotent Creator had wanted to condemn some to eternal perdition, who could say to the omnipotent Creator: Why have you done this?”157 Other theologians as well, also among the Reformed, have expressed themselves with a similar harshness. Anyone who realizes something of the incomparable greatness of God and the insignificance of humans, and considers how we frequently contemplate with complete indifference the most severe suffering of humans and animals–especially when such suffering is in our own interest or for the benefit of art or science–will think twice before condemning Augustine or others for such a statement, not to mention calling God to account. If the question here is only one of rights, what rights can we claim over against him who formed us out of nothing and to whom we owe everything we have and are? Still, though one may for a moment speak in this fashion to someone who believes he or she has a right to accuse God of injustice, Calvin and almost all later Reformed theologians have in the end firmly, and with indignation, rejected such “absolute rule.”158 Although the reason why God willed one thing and not another, chose some and rejected others, may be totally unknown to us, we do know his will is always wise and holy and good, and that he has his righteous reasons for everything he does. His power, we must insist, cannot be separated from his justice.159 If only God’s honor and sovereignty were first recognized, all Reformed theologians recommended the most cautious and tender treatment of the doctrine of predestination and warned against all vain and curious approaches to the subject. “Hence it is not appropriate for us to be too severe. If only we do not in the meantime either deny the truth of what Scripture clearly teaches and experience confirms, or venture to carp at it as i f it were unbecoming to God.”160 Although God knows those who are his and the number of the elect is said to be small, “nevertheless, we should cherish a good hope for everyone and not rashly count anyone among the reprobate.”161
All of them maintained, furthermore, that, though sin is not outside the scope of the will of God, it is definitely against it. Sin, admittedly, could not have been the efficient and impelling cause of the decree of reprobation, for sin itself followed the eternal decree in time, and would, if it had been the cause, have resulted in the reprobation of all humans. However, it was the sufficient cause and definitely the meriting cause of eternal punishment. There is a distinction, after all, between the decree of reprobation and reprobation itself. The former, namely, the decree, has its ultimate ground in the will of God alone, but the act of reprobation itself takes account of sin. The decree of reprobation is realized through human culpability.162 This decree, therefore, is neither a blind fate impelling humans against their will, nor a sword of Damocles hanging threateningly over their head. It is nothing other than God’s idea of reality itself. In the decree cause and effect, condition and fulfillment, and the whole web of things are linked together in precisely the way it is in reality. In the decree sin, guilt, misery, and punishment have the same character and relate to each other in the same way as in the empirical world we daily observe. With our own eyes we see that decree–which was not revealed to us beforehand–gradually unfold in all its fullness in history. As we on our part think about it, that decree is and has to be an exact reflection of reality. We see and think about things after they occur. But on God’s part the decree is the eternal idea of reality as it gradually unfolds in time. His ideas of things precedes their actual existence. What the decree of reprobation finally comes down to is that this entire sinful reality, all of world history as an interconnected series of events, is ultimately caused, not by factors inherent in itself–how indeed could it? but by something extramundane: the mind and will of God. The decree does not in the least change reality. Reality is and remains identical, whether one follows Augustine or Pelagius. But the decree prompts the believer to confess that also this dreadful world–which Manichaeism attributes to an antigod, pessimism to a blind malevolent will, and many others to fate or chance–exists in accordance with the will o f him who presently would have us walk by faith, but who will at sometime in the future, on the day of days, vindicate himself before all creatures.
Entirely mistaken, therefore, is the notion that the counsel of God in general and the decree of reprobation in particular is a single naked decision of the divine will concerning someone’s eternal destiny. It is wrong to conceive the decree as if it determined only a person’s end and coerced him or her in that direction regardless of what they did. The decree is as inconceivably rich as reality itself. It is, in fact, the fountainhead of all reality. It encompasses in a single conception the end as well as the ways leading to it, the goal along with the means of reaching it. It is not a transcendent power randomly intervening now and then from above and impelling things toward their appointed end. On the contrary, it is the divinely immanent eternal idea that displays its fullness in the forms of space and time and successively-in its several dimensions-unfolds before our limited field of vision that which is one in the mind of God. The decree of reprobation, accordingly, does not exist separately alongside other decrees, not even alongside that of election. In real life sin and grace, punishment and blessing, and justice and mercy do not occur dualistically side by side as though the reprobate were visited only with sin and punishment and the elect only with grace and blessing. Believers, after all, still sin daily and stumble in many ways. Are the sins of believers the consequence of election? No one will say this is so. True, these sins are again made subservient by God to their salvation, and all things work together for good to those who are called (Rom. 8:28). But this is not the natural outcome of those sins themselves; it is the result only of the gracious omnipotence of God, who is able to bring good out of evil. Sins, therefore, are not means of salvation, as regeneration and faith are. They are-not “a preparation for grace” but, inherently, the “negation of grace.”163 Hence, the law is still important also for believers. For that reason they are still admonished to be zealous to confirm their election (2 Pet. 1:10), and among them, too, we sometimes witness a temporary hardening and rejection. Conversely, the reprobates also receive many blessings, blessings that do not as such arise from the decree of reprobation but from the goodness and grace of God. They receive many natural gifts–life, health, strength, food, drink, good cheer, and so forth (Matt. 5:45; Acts 14:17; 17:27; Rom. 1:19; James 1:17)–for God does not leave himself without a witness. He endures them with much patience (Rom. 9:22). He has the gospel of his grace proclaimed to them and takes no pleasure in their death (Ezek. 18:23; 33-11- Matt 23:37; Luke 19:41; 24:47: John 3:16; Acts 17:30; Rom. 11:32; 1 Thess. 5:9; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). Pelagians infer from these verses that God’s actual intention is to save all people individually, and therefore that there is no preceding decree of reprobation. But that is not what these verses teach. They do say, however that it is the will of God that all the means of grace be used for the salvation of the reprobates. Now, these means of grace do not as such flow from the decree of reprobation. They can be abused to that end; they may serve to render humans inexcusable, to harden them, and to make their condemnation all the heavier–like the sun, which may warm but also scorch a person. Yet in and by themselves they are not means of reprobation but means of grace with a view to salvation.164
So, whereas election and reprobation may culminate in a final and total separation, on earth they continually crisscross each other. This indicates that in and by itself neither of the two is a final goal, and that in the mind of God they were never a final cause. Both are means toward the attainment of the glory of God, which is the ultimate goal and, therefore, the fundamental ground of all things. Accordingly, the beginning and the end, the reason and purpose of all that is, is something good. Sin and its punishment can never as such, and for their own sake, have been willed by God. They are contrary to his nature. He is far removed from wickedness and does not willingly afflict anyone. When manages to overrule evil for good (Gen. 50:20) and makes evil subservient to the salvation of the church (Rom. 8:28; 1 Cor. 3:21- 23), the glory of Christ (1 Cor 15:24ff; Eph. 1:21-22; Phil. 2:9; Col. 1:16), and the glory of Gods name (Prov. 16:4; Ps. 51:4; Job 1:21; John 9:3; Rom. 9:17, 22-23; 11:36; 1 Cor. 15:28). he does it, it is not because, deep down, he wants to. They can therefore have been willed by God only as a means to a different, better, and greater good. There is even a big difference between election and reprobation. Whatever God does, he does for his own sake. The cause and purpose of election, accordingly, also lies in God. The truth is that in the work he accomplishes as a result of election, he takes great delight. In that work his own perfections are brilliantly reflected back to him. The new creation is the mirror of his perfections. But what he does in keeping with the decree of reprobation is not directly and as such the object of his delight. Sin is not itself a good. It only becomes a good inasmuch as, contrary to its own nature, it is compelled by God’s omnipotence to advance his honor. It is a good indirectly because, being subdued, constrained, and overcome, it brings out God’s greatness, power, and justice. God’s sovereignty is never more brilliantly manifested than when he manages to overrule evil for good (Gen. 50:20) and makes evil subservient to the salvation oft he church (Rom. 8:28; 1 Cor. 3:21-23), the glory of Christ (1 Cor 15:24ff; Eph. 1:21-22; Phil. 2:9; Col. 1:16), and the glory of Gods name (Prov. 16:4; Ps. 51:4; Job 1:21; John 9:3; Rom. 9:17, 22-23; 11:36; 1 Cor. 15:28).
Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids: Backer Academic, 2004), 2:393- 399. [Italics original; square bracketed inserts original; footnote values and content original; and underlining mine.]
153J. Calvin, CR, XXXVII, 289ff.
154J. Calvin, Institutes, III.xxiii.7.
155J. Calvin, “De aeterna praedest.,” CR, XXXVI, 316 (Reid, 124).
156J. Calvin, Institutes, III.xxiii.2; idem, CR, XXXVI, 366 (Reid, 184).
157Admonitio de libro de Praedestione et Gratia, et subsequente epistola Ferrandi ad Egyppium, PL 65, col. 843A. Ed note: Bavinck cites this as Augustine, De praed. et gratia, 16. Migne indicates that the author is uncertain but places it in the oeuvre of Fulgensius, North African bishop (462-527) and devotee of Augustine’s theology.
158See above, pp. 237-40 (#208).
159J. Calvin, CR, XXXVI, 310, 361 (Reid, 117, 179).
160J. Calvin, ibid., 366 (Reid, 184); U . Zwingli, Op., VIII, 21; T. Beza, Tractationum theologicarum, I, 197; P. M . Vermigli, Loci communes, c. 1; Westminster Confession, according to E. E Karl Muller, Die Bekenntnisschriften der reformierten Kirche, 552; Canons of Dort, I, 12, 14.
161Helvetic Confession, according to E. E K. Muller, Bekenntnisschriften, 181; J. Piscator, Aphorismi
doctrinae christianae maximam partem ex Institutione Calvini excerpti (Oxoniae: Ioh. Lichfield and Hen. Curteine, 1630), 223; J. Zanchi(us), Op. theol, II, 497ff
162A. Polanus, Syn. theol, 251; W Twisse, Vindiciae gratiae, I, 273ff.; W. Perkins, Works, I, 769; E Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, IV, 14; Synopsis purioris theologiae, XXIV, 50; A. Comrie, and N. Holtius, Examen van het Ontwerp van Tolerantie, VII, 445; H . Heppe, Dogmatik der evangelischreformierten Kirche, 132.
163M . Becanus, Theologiae scholasticae, I, tr. 1, c. 14, qu. 3, nn. 12-20.
164Synopsis purioris theologiae, XXIV, 54ff, H . Heppe, Dogmatik der evangelisch-reformierten Ktrche, 134-35.
Long Ago and Far Away : Anglican Church League, Sydney, Australia
Long Ago and Far Away
Thomas Cranmer, author of the Prayer Book – by Allan Blanch
(written to mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.)
Although to many of us it may all seem long ago and far away, we should thank God for Thomas Cranmer as we observe the 500th anniversary of his birth on 2nd July, 1489. To this day we benefit from his work.
Cranmer was the son of a village squire in Nottinghamshire. He excelled with the longbow and was a master horseman from his youth. Following a harsh early education he went up to Jesus College, Cambridge, then newly founded. After taking the M.A. degree he married Joan, a Cambridge girl. When she died in childbirth he was restored to his fellowship at Jesus College and ordained. His subsequent B.D. and D.D. degrees were the fruit of painstaking and assiduous study.
He longed to pursue the quiet reflective life of a scholar but was suddenly summoned to become Archbishop of Canterbury in 1533. Later he said, “there never was man came more unwillingly to a bishopric than I did to that.”
We may identify three particular reasons to honour the memory of Thomas Cranmer: he was a man of the Bible, a preaching theologian and a superb liturgiologist.
A MAN OF THE BIBLE
As a University examiner in Divinity he refused to pass candidates who were not competent in the Bible.
From 1534 he worked with others for the authorization of an English Bible (possession of even part of which had carried the death penalty) and rejoiced when the Great Bible appeared in 1540. It is sometimes called “Cranmer’s Bible” because he wrote a Preface to it. He encouraged its purchase, saying “let us think (it) a better jewel in our house than either gold or silver,” for “in the scriptures be the fat pastures of the soul.”
A PREACHING THEOLOGIAN
With his fellow reformers Cranmer was eager to promote biblical preaching and especially the doctrine of justification by faith alone through the grace of Christ. Clergy were unskilled in preaching so Cranmer wrote some sermons which appeared in 1547 among the twelve Homilies – officially published sermons to be read in church.
His treatment of justification spread over three sermons: Of Salvation, Of Faith, and Of Good Works. “This is the ordinance of God, that they which believe in Christ should be saved without works, by faith only, freely receiving remission of their sins… and therefore wholly to ascribe the merit and deserving of our justification unto Christ only, and his most precious blood-shedding,” he wrote.
Faith, he said, “is not only the common belief of the Articles of our faith, but it is also a true trust and confidence of the mercy of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and a steadfast hope of all good things to be received at God’s hand.”
Further, “as soon as a man hath faith, anon he shall flourish in good works, for faith itself is full of good works, and nothing is good without faith.”
Though not as good a preacher as Latimer, Cranmer’s work was full of scripture and clear teaching, lit up by some vivid expressions and pungent contemporary application.
Naturally, Archbishop Cranmer wanted church services conducted in English, instead of Latin, to accompany good preaching and the English Bible. He began with a Litany in 1544 which included a petition for deliverance “from the tyranny of the Bishop of Rome and all his detestable enormities, from all false doctrine and heresy…”
Gordon Rupp’s comment that “to describe Cranmer’s Litany as a lovely service would indeed be rather like describing the Day of Judgement as a pretty sight” is somewhat exaggerated, for if it was probing it was also pastoral.
Whereas many Latin service books had been in use, Cranmer and others drew all services together in one volume, the Book of Common Prayer of 1549, all in English. Neil and Willoughby said of this, “perhaps insufficient justice is done to the compilers of the 1549 Prayer Book in the failure to recognise adequately the admirable historical temper which could patiently sift out and retain forms of prayer worthy of perpetuation…”
Cranmer achieved this although the book had a bad reception, being too ambiguous. Calvin wrote to him, “do not imagine that you have reached the goal.”
With the 1552 Book of Common Prayer, the high-water mark of English liturgiology was reached. It was full of scripture and upheld the Bible’s authority. It was for common prayer, involving the congregation. The Order for the Lord’s Supper taught that the grace of God in the sacrament is in the life of the believer not (as the Mass taught) in the bread and wine. The high points of the service were the (prescribed) sermon and the reception, not the consecration by the priest.
The words of administration were, “Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee and feed on him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving” and “Drink this in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for thee, and be thankful.”
It was for the doctrine and principles contained in this Prayer Book that Cranmer was executed under Queen Mary. He suffered agony and anguish in doubts and compromises before his final resolute march, deathly pale, to the stake outside Balliol College, Oxford, on a wet and blustery Saturday in March 1556.
The 1662 Book of Common Prayer, for so long the only one used by Australian Anglicans, saw very few changes after 1552. But An Australian Prayer Book’s Second Order of Holy Communion generally follows the sequence, if not the theology, of the pre-Reformation rite. It allows the inclusion of items excluded by Cranmer such as the Agnus Dei. The Agnus Dei (“O Lamb of God… have mercy upon us… O Lamb of God… grant us Thy peace”), occurring at the time of the consecration of the sacramental elements, was omitted after 1549 to help remove any idea of prayer to the Son of God under the forms of bread and wine.
Nobody would suggest that Cranmer’s liturgical patterns are sacrosanct or beyond improvement, any more than we would advocate the preaching of prescribed homilies. But when we see liturgical movements back towards medieval patterns, and when we occasionally hear sermons (some based on Old Testament texts) which make no mention of the Son of God and Saviour of the world, we might well reconsider with fresh appreciation the Christ-centred, biblical and reformed heritage of theology and liturgy left us, at great cost, by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer.
Interesting, but very poorly done by a Romanist. We hope his book argues better than this worn-out jibe.
Monday, September 27, 2010
The Anglican Way
by Gerald Bray
The English Reformation produced the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion as its foundational documents. Both represent the more Reformed (as opposed to Lutheran) phase of the English reformation, though they are closer to patristic and medieval traditions than most Reformed documents are.
Archbishop Cranmer believed that he had to reform the worship, doctrine, and discipline of the church. The Prayer Book represents reformed worship, and the Articles contain reformed doctrine. Yet Cranmer’s reformed discipline failed to gain parliamentary approval, and that failure was a factor that led to the rise of puritanism.
The first Book of Common Prayer appeared in 1549. It contained services for daily worship, both morning and evening, and forms for the administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, along with other ceremonies that were used less often. The services were full of biblical phrases and imagery, and English people absorbed a considerable knowledge of Scripture from the Prayer Book, which was often repeated and easily memorized. The most important service was the one for the Lord’s Supper. Cranmer used traditional medieval English liturgies like the Sarum rite (“Sarum” is Latin for the town of Salisbury, in southern England), a liturgy drawn from Norman, Anglo-Saxon, and Roman traditions in the eleventh century. Cranmer restructured the old liturgies, however, in order to bring out the centrality of justification by faith alone. The communicant’s attention was directed away from the consecration of the bread and wine, which recalled the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, and refocused on his spiritual state, in line with Reformed teaching.
In order to reach the widest audience with the least resistance, Cranmer was careful not to break too obviously with tradition, and although the doctrines of the Reformers were clearly stated in the Prayer Book, traditionalist Catholics could still use the new rites. Cranmer had to move on, and in 1552, with some help from Martin Bucer and John Knox, he brought out a much more radically Protestant Prayer Book. What this meant can be seen in the revision of the words used in the administration of Holy Communion. In 1549, the minister said: “The body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for thee preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life.” This did not make it clear whether the bread being given to the recipient was transubstantiated or not. But in 1552 the words were changed to: “Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving.” Here what the communicant received was bread, and he was told to reflect on the presence of Christ in his heart.
In 1559, the 1552 Prayer Book was brought back after Queen Mary banned it, with some modifications. In the example given above, both sentences were included, making the words of administration very long. This was a concession to traditionalist sentiment, but it was Protestantism that predominated, and when the Prayer Book was revised again in 1662 this was reinforced. American readers need to realize that, although the 1662 Prayer Book is the classic Anglican form that is still used in England, it was replaced in the United States (in 1786) by a form that was closer to the 1549 book. As a result, the American Episcopalian liturgical tradition is more “catholic” and “high church” than its English counterpart.
Until the liturgical reforms of the mid-twentieth century, most Anglicans used the 1662 Prayer Book as a matter of course. Its language and its doctrines penetrated deep into the psyches of the English-speaking peoples, and its power to win souls for Christ is widely attested. Charles Simeon, the great evangelical leader of the early nineteenth century, was converted by reading it in preparing himself to receive communion. The warnings against unworthy reception that the Prayer Book contains went straight to his heart. Simeon repented as the Prayer Book urged him to do, and he gave his life to Christ. In Africa and Asia today, the strength of the Anglican churches there is partly due to the translations of the 1662 Prayer Book, which do not sound archaic in the way that the original English version now does. Tragically, it seems that the current spiritual lethargy of Anglicanism in the English-speaking world is connected to the demise of the Prayer Book since the 1960s. However, there is still a faithful remnant that keeps its witness alive, both in the traditional 1662 form and in modern-language adaptations, and there are signs that a spiritual renewal may be developing that will influence the Anglican Communion in the next generation.
The Thirty-nine Articles are usually printed with the 1662 Prayer Book, but they have a different history. There were forty-two of them in 1552, when Archbishop Cranmer gave them to the church. A revision was made in 1559–63 by some of Cranmer’s disciples, and the number was reduced to thirty-nine, though this was not achieved simply by leaving three of the older articles out. They were rearranged, expanded in some places, and abridged in others, though it must be said that Cranmer’s articles on the millennium, originally designed to counter the Anabaptists, were omitted in the 1563 version. The Articles were given official status by King Charles I in 1628; since then they have been the accepted doctrinal standards of the Church of England. Other Anglican churches have received them to a greater or lesser degree, sometimes with revisions, as happened in the United States (1801). But not all Anglican churches recognize them, and it has to be said that most Anglicans today are scarcely aware of their existence. Even the clergy have seldom studied them, and only evangelicals now take them seriously as doctrine.
The Articles are not a comprehensive systematic theology in the way that the Westminster Confession is, but they do address questions of theological controversy in a systematic way. In that sense, they are more advanced than earlier Protestant doctrinal statements. They start with the doctrine of God, go on to list the canon of Scripture, and then get into more controversial subjects. Justification by faith alone is clearly stated, and there is also a clear defense of predestination. The sacraments are numbered as two only, and they are defined as witnesses to the Gospel. Towards the end there are articles defining the powers of the civil magistrate, along with one that sanctions the two books of Homilies, collections of sermons in which the doctrines of the Articles and Prayer Book are more fully expounded. The Homilies are almost unknown today, but they have recently been reprinted, and this may lead to a renewal of interest in them.
The Westminster divines realized that the Articles were products of their time and needed supplementing even in the mid-seventeenth century, and few voices would dissent from that judgment today. What the Articles say is fair enough, but they need to be developed further if their doctrine is going to be appreciated and used in the modern church. Whether this can be done in the current state of the Anglican Communion is doubtful, but the Articles remain a touchstone of Reformed Anglicans, and perhaps their brief and judicious statements will one day gain them greater acceptance within the wider Reformed community.
Some excellent and seminal points re: covenant theology.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
We are deeply read in the Presbyterian, Reformed, Anglican, and Lutheran traditions. As such, we read the Bible assiduously as those traditions direct.
We loathe the Anabaptists, Revivalists, and Methedobaptocosltist-Yappers, the vast majority of American religionists.
We are 1662 BCP-men here, 24/7/. We lament, yeah, "loathe" American religion, although--in Anglicanism-we might be dubbed "low Churchmen."
The "high churchmen" can putz around the altar with their varied pieties, but we are committed to the old BCP.
My home church, an High Church tradition, still adheres to the Creedal and Confessional tradition (39 Articles). http://marinerschurchofdetroit.org/
2. We get a different read and sense from the Africans, Far Easterners and South Americans. They actually believe God's Word...wow, a difference compared to the Westerners. They actually believe the Creeds in the MP, EP, Holy Communion and the Quinquevult. Can we trust the Westerners, including the ACNA? We do not think so. The Western ACNA Bishops have been trusted in institutions of unbelief.
3. We get no info from our favourite windbag and journalistic advocate for ACNA...whala, for the windbag....David Virtue at Virtue at http://www.virtueonlineline.org/. We like David, but he is a windbag who covers up stories as a journalist.
4. 1 Samuel and the context of the rise of David and the fall of Saul. (1 Samuel 16-31). David was anointed a king (16.1-13) while a distressing spirit disturbs Saul (16.14-23). David is handsome, valourous and prudent. In 1 Samuel 17, he is willing to withstand Goliath.
5. Do we have modern Davids? Or shrinking violets? We look in vain and see "sell-outs."
Eternal God, give us faith and strength like King David of old. Without Thy perpetual mercy, David would have wilted like a flower. Without Thy perpetual mercies as we have prayed in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Sundays, Thou didst give David faith and victory. Give us the same faith as Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel and David, that Thy Church may persevere in Thy truth, through Christ, Amen.
A day to salute--overall--a faithful seminary in the Reformed tradition. None of them understood Anglican doctrine, worship and piety, but they kept alive a very important perspective and doctrine, the Westminster tradition.
We salute WTS for this.
Eternal God, Thou hast kept Thy word of promise through the Edenic, Noahaic, Abrahamic, Sinaitic and Newer Covenants to "be our God," to us and our children. Despite the vast defections and manifold sins of wickedness of ourselves and our peoples--including so-called Anglicans--yet, Thou hast been faithful...even in the wilderness and Babylonian Captivity. Thou art always faithful. Zacharias, like Mary, saw Thy historic fidelity in this evening's lection. Help us to arise above the infidelities of our times--including Anglican Bishops. O God, this nation is awash with Anabaptistic-Pentecostalists who appear to have no knowledge of the Abrahamic Covenant--they have cast it off, if they even know of it. Even R.C. Sproul, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and Ref21 make common cause with those who oppugn, impugn and dismiss Thy covenant with Abraham. Strengthen Thy remnant, merciful Sovereign. Strengthen our arms for war that we may tower above that "of teachers" (Ps.119.99-100), several who--bishops included--have deserted, fled and left us as orphans. But, Thou, O God, hast not deserted. Thy Son has prayed for us in John 17. Nor has our our faithful High Priest deserted us, Christ Jesus, who is ever the same and ever faithful...forever, through all generations. It is through HM, our Saviour, in Whom we explicitly and exclusively trust, that we pray, Amen.
We close as a responsorial to Luke 1.67ff with the Nunc Dimittis by Stanford. We depart in peace, "according to Thy Word." Not a Pope's, Bishop's or any other's word, but HM's Word. Simeon had it right (Luke 2.29-32). We Prayer Book Anglicans repair to God's Word and biblical responsorials to it.
Many of us have been deserted by bishops, presbyters and deacons. Good lesson--depend on HM.
Also, for "new joins, we begin EP or Evensong with a Psalm at the beginning and end. Psalm 88 and 89 tonight, using the chants from St. Paul's, London, UK, a set we continue to commend for Heritage Anglicans. Of course, we sang the 25th day for Psalms, 119.73-104. As historic Anglicans, we are Psalm-singers.
Almighty and most merciful Father, Thy judgments against Thy people are fair, accurate, just, honourable, instructive, humbling and encouraging. We live in a land of Anglican defections, derelictions, defamations, disorders, dysfunctions and the tolerations of such--by leaders and by languishing congregations of indifference. Thy worship has been weakened and polluted. Ever spare us, good LORD. Strengthen the remnant that remains faithful. "Cunning and deceit" are on every hand and everywhere. Help us and make speed to help us as Thou, alone, dost for for us in the Captivity. We bless Thee for Hosea and your perpetual mercy to him. Help us to stand stedfast as he did in the 8th century BC. Through Christ alone we pray and through His Majesty's name, birth, life, death for us, and resurrection for our justification, Amen.
We always use Stanford's Magnificat--here in eastern NC--for the response. The words are given in the text. Ever true, no matter how dark, HM's covenanted mercies are to His people "throughout all generations." His mercy is to "Abraham's seed, forever." An assured comfort!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
This Lutheran Pastor has used an excellent phrase: "Liturgical Antinomians."
Such a description aptly fits most of contemporary worship in the 21st century.
A careful review of God's character and presence in the Scriptures will highlight transcendance, awe, reverence, holiness, glory and more. Instruction from Exodus and Leviticus will show that one does not approach God in cavalier, self-willed, and a good-ole-boy piety. That is what informs most contemporary evangelical worship (mainline Protestants--at this point--cannot be termed "true churches" although slight emanations of light occur there).
Confessional Lutherans have a liturgy that is biblically informed and literate. Classical Anglicans do also (we remit the 1979 Book of Common Prayer to the shelf as a reference tool, not a Prayer Book). In fact, the 1662 BCP has no competitors, liturgically. Classical Presbyterians have an impoverished liturgy, having faltered on this point in the 17th century. Most of the rest are liturgical antinominians, e.g Methodobaptacostals.
A hat off to the Lutheran Pastor.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Todays lections in Daniel with this as a responsorial is fitting. How shall Anglicans commend their doctrine, worship and piety if they do not practice it? Let Anglican clerics take note. How many Anglican clergymen are following the 1662 BCP, lections, and varied Canticles and Psalms for singing? Pray tell, how many?
This is our patrimony, including the sufficiency, sovereignty and supremacy of Sacred Writ. Cranmer surely wanted the Word of God to suffuse his benighted nation. That storyline still preaches.
Anglican clerics and churchmen will recognize the words in the Te Deum.
For the Non-Anglicans, here are the words followed by the rendition from Westminster. Interestingly, Bible-believing charismatics are writing and expressing interest. Show em' the Bible and they--rightly--will follow. Buck up, all hands, and learn the words.
We praise thee, O God :
we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee :
the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud :
the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubin and Seraphin :
continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy :
Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty :
of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles : praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets : praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs : praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world :
doth acknowledge thee;
The Father : of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honourable, true : and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost : the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory : O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son : of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man :
thou didst not abhor the Virgin's womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death :
thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God : in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come : to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants :
whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints : in glory everlasting.
O Lord, save thy people :
and bless thine heritage.
Govern them : and lift them up for ever.
Day by day : we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name : ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord : to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us : have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us :
as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted :
let me never be confounded.
The Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity.
O LORD, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Recasting in my mind Genesis through Judges over the last month. Sickening failures of every leader who might be elevated, e.g. Noah, Abraham, etc. Joshua included.
Every one of these Churchmen was born dead in their sins and trespasses. Perhaps Moses and Joshua get better press. The entire cast is under review. Our need and desire for "heroes" may well be met by these stalwart Churchmen. We might do the same for our great forbears in the English Reformed tradition. But, lest we forget. It has been HM's mercy and grace alone that permitted and grants the gift of faithfulness. Our natural proclivity to idolatry--even as justified Churchmen--warns us.
Anything they may have done was undergirded, initiated, and supported by HM.
All braggarts need to check their arrogances, boast and pompous show at the door.
The collect notes that. Thump! Succinctly, our Collect rightly gets at it: "...and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour..."
Now, magnify His manifold mercies. Had His mercies not have stood, oh my...have you read Judges lately?
Or, have you considered the ACNA-mishmashers? The latter give us good reason to plead:
O LORD, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Second Collect for Evensong gets at the same point. Whence come the anti-Augustinianism these days? We have absolutely nothing, nada, zero, apart from the promised mercies of HM.
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.
Christ's Churches rest on HM's mercies, nothing more and nothing less.
From yours truly, an Anglican in the Babylonian Captivity.