Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Is.1.11-17, Denominational Gasbags, Presbyterian, Episcopal, & Lutheran Hymnals

No matter the degree of doctrinal, confessional, or liturgical precision, "those things" can be most precise and, yet, can be prompted by pride, greed, cynicism, self-indulgence, lovelessness, gracelessness, and absence of humility. Rather than "puff away," "Let all the earth keep silence before Him" (Hab.2.20).

This danger will always be with us. We are astounded, once again, by Isaiah 1.11-17 and one fact...the old Scots Presbyterians "used to sing this" as a liturgical text. As for contemporary music, one will never find the likes of this. 

This text will de-gas any windbag, including yours truly. Read, beware. Here's the English, Latin, Greek and Hebrew versions for meditations. Let "few" be teachers.

Here are the four versions. Further commentary will resume beneath the four versions.

King James Version:

11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.

12 When ye come to appe
ar before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?

13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.

14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.

15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

The KJV English is a pretty fair and accurate translation of the Septuagint too, although there are a few challenges. 

1:11 τι μοι πληθος των θυσιων υμων λεγει κυριος πληρης ειμι ολοκαυτωματων κριων και στεαρ αρνων και αιμα ταυρων και τραγων ου βουλομαι

1:12 ουδ' εαν ερχησθε οφθηναι μοι τις γαρ εξεζητησεν ταυτα εκ των χειρων υμων πατειν την αυλην μου

1:13 ου προσθησεσθε εαν φερητε σεμιδαλιν ματαιον θυμιαμα βδελυγμα μοι εστιν τας νουμηνιας υμων και τα σαββατα και ημεραν μεγαλην ουκ ανεχομαι νηστειαν και αργιαν

1:14 και τας νουμηνιας υμων και τας εορτας υμων μισει η ψυχη μου εγενηθητε μοι εις πλησμονην ουκετι ανησω τας αμαρτιας υμων

1:15 οταν τας χειρας εκτεινητε προς με αποστρεψω τους οφθαλμους μου αφ' υμων και εαν πληθυνητε την δεησιν ουκ εισακουσομαι υμων αι γαρ χειρες υμων αιματος πληρεις

1:16 λουσασθε καθαροι γενεσθε αφελετε τας πονηριας απο των ψυχων υμων απεναντι των οφθαλμων μου παυσασθε απο των πονηριων υμων

1:17 μαθετε καλον ποιειν εκζητησατε κρισιν ρυσασθε αδικουμενον κρινατε ορφανω και δικαιωσατε χηραν


 עֹלוֹת אֵילִים וְחֵלֶב מְרִיאִים; וְדַם פָּרִים וּכְבָשִׂים וְעַתּוּדִים, לֹא חָפָצְתִּי. 11

To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? saith the LORD; I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats.

יב כִּי תָבֹאוּ, לֵרָאוֹת פָּנָי--מִי-בִקֵּשׁ זֹאת מִיֶּדְכֶם, רְמֹס חֲצֵרָי. 12

When ye come to appear before Me, who hath required this at your hand, to trample My courts? 

יג לֹא תוֹסִיפוּ, הָבִיא מִנְחַת-שָׁוְא--קְטֹרֶת תּוֹעֵבָה הִיא, לִי; חֹדֶשׁ וְשַׁבָּת קְרֹא מִקְרָא, לֹא-אוּכַל אָוֶן וַעֲצָרָה. 13

Bring no more vain oblations; it is an offering of abomination unto Me; new moon and sabbath, the holding of convocations--I cannot endure iniquity along with the solemn assembly. 

יד חָדְשֵׁיכֶם וּמוֹעֲדֵיכֶם שָׂנְאָה נַפְשִׁי, הָיוּ עָלַי לָטֹרַח; נִלְאֵיתִי, נְשֹׂא. 14

Your new moons and your appointed seasons My soul hateth; they are a burden unto Me; I am weary to bear them. 

טו וּבְפָרִשְׂכֶם כַּפֵּיכֶם, אַעְלִים עֵינַי מִכֶּם--גַּם כִּי-תַרְבּוּ תְפִלָּה, אֵינֶנִּי שֹׁמֵעַ: יְדֵיכֶם, דָּמִים מָלֵאוּ. 15

And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide Mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood. 

טז רַחֲצוּ, הִזַּכּוּ--הָסִירוּ רֹעַ מַעַלְלֵיכֶם, מִנֶּגֶד עֵינָי: חִדְלוּ, הָרֵעַ. 16

Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes, cease to do evil; 

יז לִמְדוּ הֵיטֵב דִּרְשׁוּ מִשְׁפָּט, אַשְּׁרוּ חָמוֹץ; שִׁפְטוּ יָתוֹם, רִיבוּ אַלְמָנָה. {ס} 17

Learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

Latin Vulgate:

1.11. quo mihi multitudinem victimarum vestrarum dicit Dominus plenus sum holocausta arietum et adipem pinguium et sanguinem vitulorum et agnorum et hircorum nolui

1. 12 cum veneritis ante conspectum meum quis quaesivit haec de manibus vestris ut ambularetis in atriis meis

1.13 ne adferatis ultra sacrificium frustra incensum abominatio est mihi neomeniam et sabbatum et festivitates alias non feram iniqui sunt coetus vestri

1.14 kalendas vestras et sollemnitates vestras odivit anima mea facta sunt mihi molesta laboravi sustinens

1.15 et cum extenderitis manus vestras avertam oculos meos a vobis et cum multiplicaveritis orationem non audiam manus vestrae sanguine plenae sunt

1.16 lavamini mundi estote auferte malum cogitationum vestrarum ab oculis meis quiescite agere perverse
1.17 discite benefacere quaerite iudicium subvenite oppresso iudicate pupillo defendite viduam

Speaking of "gas bags," a wonderful text exists in Job along these lines. It comes from Elihu, the youngest interlocutor. He likens pride and windbaggery to "new wine in the stomach without an outlet," or, "the new wine that produces new gases." That is, no outlet except the mouth or backend. It's quite a graphic metaphor and powerful.

As noted above, the old Scots used Is. 1.11-17 as a liturgical text for congregational singing. As a text, it is superior, in my estimation, to the BCP’s corporate confession in the Morning Prayer. In fact, it would do the Episcopalians/Anglicans good to remove this corporate confession and sing Is. 1.11-17 for a year or two...a much-needed recalibrative event that would widen the parochialism of some enthusiasts. Of course, the corporate confession in the BCP is stellar, but it’s not “canonical scriptures.” The 1982 TEC hymnal, as previously noted, like the BCP itself and Episcopalians themselves, has defects. It, the hymnal, has some merits too. So, as far as a calendar is concerned, the Presbyterian hymnal, like Presbyterians themselves, has some defects. But, as expected, the Presbyterians do “systematic theology” and the hymnal shows it, except it is weak on “justification by faith alone.” I expect the Lutherans to be better on this. Some hubrists from two traditions (Anglicans, Lutherans) will say this: (1) Ah, those Presbyterians are "scholastics" with their Westminster Confession and all. Our destructive counter-criticism is, "Well, better to be scholastic than `unscholastic' and `unscholarly.' Are you opposed to our scholarly thinking?" Or, from another vein, e.g. Lutheran, "Ah, those Reformed are `rationalists.'" Pieper runs in this direction as do some in the LCMS, truth be told. Our forceful rebuttal is: "Well, you want us to be irrational, un-rational or anti-rational?" And yes, there are some Reformed gasbags too. Horrors yes! Mr. Sutton and theonomists were one such breed. They are un-affectionately called "The Truly Reformed," or, the "TRs." I've seen my share of those too. Thankfully, these Reformed "windbags" get called on it by their Elders. Or, for all three streams, let all the gasbags be deflated. Who can abide it? Is. 1.11-17 gets at it. This much, everyone is a wicked sinner and all must, indeed, humble themselves and be teachable. There is nothing, as Prof. J. Gresham Machen put, apart "from Christ's imputed active and passive obedience." This is why we strenuously oppose denominational gasbaggeries including extremists. Who can abide Anglican enthusiasts either? But, on this score, we offer this little gem from the Presbyterians hymnal. It focuses on the humiliation, humility and humble obedience of Christ—active and passive. When a weary, sin-dead, and sin-born sinner comes to Christ for salvation, righteousness, and deliverance, does he or she want to him some “gasbag” and “blowhard” blabbing about his denomination? Again, cautions. The Presbyterians include this grand hymn from Martin Luther, translated for the “Sabbath Hymnal,” and put to the tune Canonbury, L.M. This goes to the issue of gasbaggeries and notably denominational, corporate or individual hubris. Here is Luther’s hymn. This helps the wicked sinner learn of Christ’s “lowly” and “humble obedience.” As an aside, unlike the Episcopalian hymnal regrettably (which for most of the 700 hymns lacks this), the Presbyterians are "liturgically and corporately" correct by including an "Amen" at the end, that is, this is offered as a prayer to God. 

1. All praise to thee, Eternal Lord,
Clothed in a garb of flesh and blood,
Choosing a manger for thy throne,
While worlds on worlds are thine alone.

2. Once did before thee bow,
A virgin’s arms contain thee now,
Angels who did thee rejoice,
Now listen for thine voice alone.

3. A little child, thou art our Guest,
That weary ones in thee may rest,
Forlorn and lowly is thy birth,
That we may rise to heav’n from earth.

4. Thou comest in the darksome night,
To make us children of the light,
To make us in the realms divine,
Like thine own angels round thee shine.

5. All this for us thy love hath done,
By this to thee our love is won,
For this we tune our cheerful lays,
And shout our thanks in ceaseless praise. Amen.

One can include the Romanists, Greeks and the other stripes involved in gasbaggeries and blowharderies. Pentecostalists and The Trinity Broadcasting Network should also be included; some of those folks are the worst offenders.  We call them the "MTTs" = "More Than Thou-ers..." Concerning the Roman Catholic Church, the Greeks have forever complained of this...about Romanist puffings. As a Greek Orthodox friend recently put it, "After all, the Pope is just a man." Good grief! The LORD must take dim view of Churchmen--ourselves included--across the spectrum. Surely, grace has ruled through the ages to tolerate it all.

(Yes, I do realize we're in Trinity rather than Lent Sundays.)

But, again, we end on the reflection on the sobering, humbling, insightful and governing canonical text, Isaiah 1.11-17.

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