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

Unscientific Musings on Baptismal Regeneration

A few quick, unscientific and responsive musings on "baptismal regeneration..." offered quickly and in response to a FB friend from another thread.

(1) If by Reformed Anglicans, you mean men the Rev. or Mr. Augustus Montague Toplady, author of "Rock of Ages,' or men like Rev. Gorham (1850 ruling, Rev. Gorham v. Bp. Philpott of Exeter, in which Canterbury "sided" with Gorham and in which the hot-headed high-schooler bishop got "schooled" on the historic view of the Church of England...and Philpott was "hot"), "yes and no" on baptismal regeneration. Generally, yes, but not necessarily always. It's a lawyerly answer of "yes and no." But, as the old Reformed Episcopalians and Anglican/English evangelicals held (like the Confessional Scottish Presbyterians who "later" embraced the "earlier" Englishmen's view and Confession, that old and august Westminster Confession of Faith), regeneration is "not so necessarily connected to baptism" that it must occur at baptism. Old Reformed Episcopalians were especially sensitive to this point (but the new RECers and Bishops can't be trusted any longer).  But back to the point. That is, like James Packer, the famous Anglican theologian, regeneration may occur later in life. For Dr. Packer, it was during college and after due diligence and attendance on his family's part in an Anglican parish with that "old 1662 Book of Common Prayer." Or, for Rev. John Newton, that grand author of "Amazing Grace" and "Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken," it was in later years after a besotted and wicked life as a slave trader. Or, like the famed preacher, the Rev. Charles Simeon, of Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge. In Rev. Simeon's case, as an unconverted and pompous aristocrat, his regeneration, conversion and justification before a holy God came as he read the Book of Common Prayer prior to a divine service. Or, like Martin Luther when he gained his insights to Romans 1.16-17. Or, like John Calvin too around age 26ish or so. Or, like St. Paul. Or, like the brothers of the Sovereign Redeemer. And on and on. Or, it may occur with infants and children as Jesus taught. John the Baptist was one such example of one converted while in the mother's womb (Luke 1.15). Or, as the Psalmist exclaims, conversion occurs while in the mother's arms, e.g. cf. Psalm 71, inter alia. I, for one, claim to have been a converted infant or child.  I can never remember "not believing."  For others, it is different. On the other hand, baptism does nothing to or for reprobate children. It did nothing for Esau or Ishmael. Where a healthy respect for God's sovereignty, election and predestination exists, profound caution and care exists alongside embracing the covenant promises. Once Cranmer decisively embraced the predestination without the semi-Pelagian and Romanist caveats, he adopted the "cautious view." I would refer you to Dairmaid McCullough's "Cranmer." I don't have the page number readily at hand. The Reformed Episcopal Church, old Evangelical Anglicans, old Presbyterians and others proceeded with these cautions. I doubt American Episcopalians have these sensitivities as the old Churchmen did. The Arminian, semi-Pelagian types, e.g. some of the so-called high schoolers, believed in "head-for-head" regeneration...which then, true to form, could be ditched or lost. Or, `ya got and ya' can lose it. That's Greek, Roman, Lutheran, Wesleyan, and Pentecostalist. Some Lutherans necessarily must run down this road. As soon as "head-for-head" regeneration is postulated, one slips in the `ya-got-it-`ya-can-lose-it-view. Sober views of Romans 9 cures presumptions. (2) Yes, some Tractarians hold to "cannibalistic, carnal and Capernaitic views" of eating bones, masticating flesh, hair, drinking blood and more. Like the Greeks and Romanists, they dance around it, feign agnosticism and refuse to face the literality of their take on John 6. It's like, in spirit, the pious claims to praying to saints. It's "necromany" and that's not an overstatement. It can go by no other name. I heard one Anglo-Catholic go ballistic when I told him that. Too bad. Tough. "Just name it and claim it" was my response. In other words, these Anglicans are not Cranmerian nor Calvinistic.

I post this hymn from that old "Reformed Anglican," or, "Calvinistic Anglican, the Rev. John Newton, entitled "Day of Judgment, Day of Wonders!" It is appropriate to Advent or at other times of the heavy Bible readings...readings that characterize apostolic Churchmen. Regarding your first question, "Baptismal Regeneration," quite evidently and quite obviously, Mr. Newton puts forward the "evangelical call" which would have included "baptized Anglicans," the majority report and majority grouping in England in 1774 when the hymn was crafted.

It is sung to the tune of St. Austin, 

If Rev. Mr. Newton believed in “head-for-head” regeneration, like the Romans, Greeks and Lutherans, there would be no need to sing this about, for, before and by congregants. Here are the four vintage and classic verses:

1. Day of Judgment, day of wonders!
Hark! The trumpet’s awful sound,
Louder than a 1000 thunders,
Shakes the vast creation round.
How the summons,
Will the sinner’s heart confound.

2. See the Judge, our nature wearing,
Clothed in Majesty divine,
You who long for His appearing,
Then shall say, “This God is mine!
Gracious Saviour, own me in that day as thine!”

3. At His call the dead awaken,
Rise to life from earth and sea,
All the powers of nature shaken,
By His looks, prepare to flee.
Careless sinner, “What will become of thee?”

4. But to those who have confessed,
Loved and served the Lord below,
He will say, “Come near, ye blessed,
See the kingdom I bestow,
You forever shall my love and glory know.”

Or, put more narrowly, election cuts across the wide lines of those upon whom/to whom the baptismal waters, sign and seal have been applied. Also, conversion and justification may occur without the sign and seal too.  Cautions, again.

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