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: http://www.amazon.com/Book-Common-Prayer-Biography-Religious/dp/0691154813/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1417814005&sr=8-1&keywords=jacobs+book+of+common+prayer. January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Cranmer-English-Reformation-1489-1556/dp/1592448658/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420055574&sr=8-1&keywords=A.F.+Pollard+Cranmer. February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at: http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Cranmer-Jasper-Ridley/dp/0198212879/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1422892154&sr=8-1&keywords=jasper+ridley+cranmer&pebp=1422892151110&peasin=198212879
Monday, August 31, 2009
Formula of Concord. 111.12-IV.15
We treat the Formula of Concord, 111.12-IV.15. This is quintessential Lutheran teaching at its finest. The righteousness imputed to us is Christ's according to two natures, one Person. It is His very righteousness, life and active obedience that is reckoned, ascribed, imputed and put to our account with forensic and objective precison and power. We recently posted the lamentable exchange between Senator Kennedy and the False Gospeller in Rome...the No-Gospel Man, Benedict XVI. In the FC (Formula of Concord), this justification proceeds not on the basis of our works at all. We have none. The justified sinner who believes will by a "living and true" faith do good works. It is excellent to see these Lutheran divines at work. We only wish the Elizabethan, Jacobean and Caroline divines had done similarly, to wit, taking this document and raising it to Confessional status, minus some places--again, "some" places. Good works certainly will follow from those "servants of Christ" who thankfully understand their justified status and who "love righteousness." We are coming to the view that the ACNA Bishops should be quarantined--seeing that they still have grievous illnesses and infections--and sent to "rehabilitative, monastic settings" for an education. Who's holding them accountable, like Jack Iker and others? Reformed Churchmen are unwise who do not engage the FC. Powerfully and clearly enunciated. This is the faith of the True Catholic Church.
Antitheses: Contrary Doctrines Rejected.
12] Therefore we reject and condemn all the following errors:
13] 1. That Christ is our Righteousness according to His divine nature alone.
14] 2. That Christ is our Righteousness according to His human nature alone. U
15] 3. That in the sayings of the prophets and apostles where the righteousness of faith is spoken of the words justify and to be justified are not to signify declaring or being declared free from sins, and obtaining the forgiveness of sins, but actually being made righteous before God, because of love infused by the Holy Ghost, virtues, and the works following them.
16] 4. That faith looks not only to the obedience of Christ, but to His divine nature, as it dwells and works in us, and that by this indwelling our sins are covered.
17] 5. That faith is such a trust in the obedience of Christ as can exist and remain in a man even when he has no genuine repentance, in whom also no love follows, but who persists in sins against his conscience.
18] 6. That not God Himself, but only the gifts of God, dwell in believers.
19] 7. That faith saves on this account, because by faith the renewal, which consists in love to God and one's neighbor, is begun in us.
20] 8. That faith has the first place in justification, nevertheless also renewal and love belong to our righteousness before God in such a manner that they [renewal and love] are indeed not the chief cause of our righteousness, but that nevertheless our righteousness before God is not entire or perfect without this love and renewal.
21] 9. That believers are justified before God and saved jointly by the imputed righteousness of Christ and by the new obedience begun in them, or in part by the imputation of Christ's righteousness, but in part also by the new obedience begun in them.
22] 10. That the promise of grace is made our own by faith in the heart, and by the confession which is made with the mouth, and by other virtues.
23] 11. That faith does not justify without good works; so that good works are necessarily required for righteousness, and without their presence man cannot be justified.
IV. Good Works.
STATUS CONTROVERSIAE. The Principal Question In the Controversy concerning Good Works.
1] Concerning the doctrine of good works two divisions have arisen in some churches:
2] 1. First, some theologians have become divided because of the following expressions, where the one side wrote: Good works are necessary for salvation. It is impossible to be saved without good works. Also: No one has ever been saved without good works. But the other side, on the contrary, wrote: Good works are injurious to salvation.
3] 2. Afterwards a schism arose also between some theologians with respect to the two words necessary and free, since the one side contended that the word necessary should not be employed concerning the new obedience, which, they say, does not flow from necessity and coercion, but from a voluntary spirit. The other side insisted on the word necessary, because, they say, this obedience is not at our option, but regenerate men are obliged to render this obedience.
4] From this disputation concerning the terms a controversy afterwards occurred concerning the subject itself; for the one side contended that among Christians the Law should not be urged at all, but men should be exhorted to good works from the Holy Gospel alone; the other side contradicted this.
Pure Doctrine of the Christian Churches concerning This Controversy.
5] For the thorough statement and decision of this controversy our doctrine, faith, and confession is:
6] 1. That good works certainly and without doubt follow true faith, if it is not a dead, but a living faith, as fruits of a good tree.
7] 2. We believe, teach, and confess also that good works should be entirely excluded, just as well in the question concerning salvation as in the article of justification before God, as the apostle testifies with clear words, when he writes as follows: Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin, Rom. 4:6ff And again: By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast, Eph. 2:8-9.
8] 3. We believe, teach, and confess also that all men, but those especially who are born again and renewed by the Holy Ghost, are bound to do good works.
9] 4. In this sense the words necessary, shall, and must are employed correctly and in a Christian manner also with respect to the regenerate, and in no way are contrary to the form of sound words and speech.
10] 5. Nevertheless, by the words mentioned, necessitas, necessarium, necessity and necessary, if they be employed concerning the regenerate, not coercion, but only due obedience is to be understood, which the truly believing, so far as they are regenerate, render not from coercion or the driving of the Law, but from a voluntary spirit; because they are no more under the Law, but under grace, Rom. 6:14; 7:6; 8:14.
11] 6. Accordingly, we also believe, teach, and confess that when it is said: The regenerate do good works from a free spirit, this is not to be understood as though it is at the option of the regenerate man to do or to forbear doing good when he wishes, and that he can nevertheless retain faith if he intentionally perseveres in sins.
12] 7. Yet this is not to be understood otherwise than as the Lord Christ and His apostles themselves declare, namely, regarding the liberated spirit, that it does not do this from fear of punishment, like a servant, but from love of righteousness, like children, Rom. 8:15.
13] 8. Although this voluntariness [liberty of spirit] in the elect children of God is not perfect, but burdened with great weakness, as St. Paul complains concerning himself, Rom. 7:14-25; Gal. 5:17;
14] 9. Nevertheless, for the sake of the Lord Christ, the Lord does not impute this weakness to His elect, as it is written: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, Rom. 8:1.
15] 10. We believe, teach, and confess also that not works maintain faith and salvation in us, but the Spirit of God alone, through faith, of whose presence and indwelling good works are evidences.
Ref21. Dr. Ferguson. 4.1.5 - 4.1.21 - Blogging the Institutes
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Calvin's teaching has never been for shrinking violets, nor is John Calvin himself thought of as "soft." He uses strong language about those who are enemies of the gospel ("pigs," "dogs").
Separation from the visible church is, therefore, to be considered only when it actually ceases to be the visible church--for in its very nature its sanctity is mixed with ongoing sin and failure. Thus, when the Prophets, the Apostles, and the Savior himself are considered, we learn a biblical balance of commitment to truth with commitment to the imperfect community. It is inexcusable for an individual to abandon the church so long as it remains a real church Forgiveness is always a watchword in church life. Calvin strikingly points out the significance of words many of us recite every Lord's Day: "I believe in the holy catholic church, the forgiveness of sins . . ." The former (church) is the context in which the latter (forgiveness) is realized. The very forgiveness by which we enter the church is the forgiveness in which we are ever and again sustained.
The Lawman Chronicles: The Kennedy-Benedict Letters: The Deadly Dance Around Repentance
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Senator Kennedy writes a letter to the Antichrist in Rome, citing his good works as a legislator, yet amidts what appears to be manifold uncertainties. It has the strong odour of uncertainty and a plaintiff quality. What may expect from "His Holiness?" No Gospel "at-tall" as Grandmum from Canada would say. No Gospel "at all."
Charles Hodge, John Williamson Nevin, and Bishop Ridley on the Lord's Supper
Dr. Hodge is to the left and Dr. Nevin to the lower right.
As an aside, at Princeton Seminary, I might add that Dr. Hodge was a classmate and good friend of Bishops John Johns (Virginia) and Charles McIllvaine (Ohio), evincing a fraternal and Johannine-theology towards them without a compromise of his own perspectives.
A model for our times, Dr. Hodge, aside from his premiere and still-must-read-3-Volume-Systematic Theology for moderns, affords us leadership from the grave.
This also will provide insights for our Confessional Lutheran readers. This will have little interest to Baptists, or worse, the Charisphilic huffer-puffers and enthusiasts.
This issue, the LORD's Supper, was a hill which Bishop Ridley was forced to defend and it was a hill on which he died, in burning flames, 16 October 1555. He did not run into battle like rash enthusiasts and rude hotheads (as we find today). He did not turn a blind eye or deaf ear to the issue like revivalist evangelicals and anti-Reformation and Gnostic Anglicans. Rather, Dr. Ridley went prepared by way of careful biblical exegesis, relentless if not at times humourous logic, wide reading in patristics (an Anglican characteristic), and the refinements that come from extensive debate. It was a fight that did not mar his testimony and, despite his differences with the Antichrist of Rome, he continued to provide food, sustenance, care and abiding respect for "Mother Bonner," the mother of his enemy, Dr. Bonner, Bishop of London who would preside at the trial examinations of Ridley. (Bp. Bonner of London is to the right.) Dr. Ridley insisted that "Mother Bonner" sit at the head of the table, even when members of the House of Lords dined in his quarters.
This doctrine of the LORD's Supper was not and is not an "isolated doctrinal island," but had and has connections to the wider orbit of theology, then as now.
We are thankful for Dr. Matthison's contribution of primary sources on this intra-mural Presbyterian debate.
Charles Hodge vs. John Williamson Nevin on the Lord's Supper
August 31, 2009 @ 7:50 AM
Posted By: Keith Mathison
In 2002, I published a book entitled Given For You: Reclaiming Calvin's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper. On page 136, I made the following statement:
One of the most fascinating theological debates to occur in nineteenth-century antebellum America was the eucharistic debate between John Williamson Nevin and Charles Hodge that resulted from the publication of Nevin's book, The Mystical Presence.
Nevin's book was published in 1846. In April 1848, Hodge responded in a review published in the Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review. In September 1850, Nevin published a 128 page response to Hodge in the Mercersburg Review.
Since all of these documents are now available for free online, I thought it might be helpful to those interested in the debate to provide the links in one location. In order to read this important debate, just click on the links below:
Nevin - The Mystical Presence
Hodge - 1848 Book Review
Nevin - 1850 Response to Hodge Review
It may also be helpful to those interested in the subject to note a similar discussion that took place in the Southern Presbyterian Church. In 1876, the Southern Presbyterian theologian John Adger published an article titled "Calvin Defended Against Drs. Cunningham and Hodge" in the Southern Presbyterian Review. That article is also now available online. The links to Adger's article and to the relevant essays by Cunningham and Hodge to which he is responding are listed below.
Cunningham - 1862 Essay
Hodge - 1871 - 73 Reformed Doctrine of the Lord's Supper (Systematic Theology, Vol. 3)
Adger - 1876 Article [Adger's article is the sixth article in the list]
For a good introduction to Calvin's view in his own words, see his Short Treatise on the Lord's Supper.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Brown - The English Puritans
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This is a scholarly work published by John Brown, D.D., 1910, published by Cambridge Press. As you may tell, we are not so much a news network, as a working blogsite for dedicated and serious Warriors in the Church Militant and Expectant, men and women who are officers and gentlemen. Although on occasion, we can get bit out of the box, due to residual sin.
Reasonable Christian: Charismatics and Pentecostals Jump on Board the New Perspectives Bandwagon: A New Wind of False Doctrine
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The Old High Churchman: A Conservative Reformation - Part IV
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This appears to us a very fair assessment of the XXXIX Articles in their context, minus some tweaks--it would appear.
Helm Deep: Providence and Puritanism
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Chapter Five of the Westminster Confession is a light shining in the darkness. Warfield's assessment of the Assembly and Confession is quite sober and solid.
Helm Deep: September (Assessing N.T. Wright)
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Professor Helm will be assessing Bishop N.T. Wright. We'll post them as they come online.
Creideamh: Four Voices in a Greek Prison
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37But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.” 38The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. 40After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left.
Why I am a High Churchman. Epitome. Formula of Concord. 11.16-111.11
Epitome. Formula of Concord. 11.16-111.11
16]As to the expressions of ancient and modern teachers of the Church, when it is said: Deus trahit, sed volentem trahit, i. e., God draws, but He draws the willing; likewise, Hominis voluntas in conversione non est otiosa, sed agit aliquid, i. e., In conversion the will of man is not idle, but also effects something, we maintain that, inasmuch as these expressions have been introduced for confirming [the false opinion concerning] the powers of the natural free will in man's conversion, against the doctrine of God's grace, they do not conform to the form of sound doctrine, and therefore, when we speak of conversion to God, justly ought to be avoided.
17] But, on the other hand, it is correctly said that in conversion God, through the drawing of the Holy Ghost, makes out of stubborn and unwilling men willing ones, and that after such conversion in the daily exercise of repentance the regenerate will of man is not idle, but also cooperates in all the works of the Holy Ghost, which He performs through us.
18] 9. Also what Dr. Luther has written, namely, that man's will in his conversion is pure passive, that is, that it does nothing whatever, is to be understood respectu divinae gratiae in accendendis novis motibus, that is, when God's Spirit, through the Word heard or the use of the holy Sacraments, lays hold upon man's will, and works [in man] the new birth and conversion. For when [after] the Holy Ghost has wrought and accomplished this, and man's will has been changed and renewed by His divine power and working alone, then the new will of man is an instrument and organ of God the Holy Ghost, so that he not only accepts grace, but also cooperates with the Holy Ghost in the works which follow.
19] Therefore, before the conversion of man there are only two efficient causes, namely, the Holy Ghost and the Word of God, as the instrument of the Holy Ghost, by which He works conversion. This Word man is [indeed] to hear; however, it is not by his own powers, but only through the grace and working of the Holy Ghost that he can yield faith to it and accept it.
III. The Righteousness of Faith Before God.
STATUS CONTROVERSIAE. The Principal Question In This Controversy.
1] Since it is unanimously confessed in our churches, in accordance with God's Word and the sense of the Augsburg Confession, that we poor sinners are justified before God and saved alone by faith in Christ, and thus Christ alone is our Righteousness, who is true God and man, because in Him the divine and human natures are personally united with one another, Jer. 23:6; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21, the question has arisen: According to which nature is Christ our Righteousness? and thus two contrary errors have arisen in some churches.
2] For the one side has held that Christ according to His divinity alone is our Righteousness, if He dwell in us by faith; contrasted with this divinity, dwelling in us by faith, the sins of all men must be regarded as a drop of water compared to the great ocean. Others, on the contrary, have held that Christ is our Righteousness before God according to the human nature alone.
Affirmative Theses. Pure Doctrine of the Christian Churches against Both Errors Just Mentioned.
3] 1. Against both the errors just recounted, we unanimously believe, teach, and confess that Christ is our Righteousness neither according to the divine nature alone nor according to the human nature alone, but that it is the entire Christ according to both natures, in His obedience alone, which as God and man He rendered to the Father even unto death, and thereby merited for us the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, as it is written: As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous, Rom. 5:19.
4] 2. Accordingly, we believe, teach, and confess that our righteousness before God is (this very thing], that God forgives us our sins out of pure grace, without any work, merit, or worthiness of ours preceding, present, or following, that He presents and imputes to us the righteousness of Christ's obedience, on account of which righteousness we are received into grace by God, and regarded as righteous.
5] 3. We believe, teach, and confess that faith alone is the means and instrument whereby we lay hold of Christ, and thus in Christ of that righteousness which avails before God, for whose sake this faith is imputed to us for righteousness, Rom. 4:5.
6] 4. We believe, teach, and confess that this faith is not a bare knowledge of the history of Christ, but such a gift of God by which we come to the right knowledge of Christ as our Redeemer in the Word of the Gospel, and trust in Him that for the sake of His obedience alone we have, by grace, the forgiveness of sins, are regarded as holy and righteous before God the Father, and eternally saved.
7] 5. We believe, teach, and confess that according to the usage of Holy Scripture the word justify means in this article, to absolve, that is, to declare free from sins. Prov. 17:15: He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the righteous, even they both are abomination to the Lord. Also Rom. 8:33: Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
8] And when, in place of this, the words regeneratio and vivificatio, that is, regeneration and vivification, are employed, as in the Apology, this is done in the same sense. By these terms, in other places, the renewal of man is understood, and distinguished from justification by faith.
9] 6. We believe, teach, and confess also that notwithstanding the fact that many weaknesses and defects cling to the true believers and truly regenerate, even to the grave, still they must not on that account doubt either their righteousness which has been imputed to them by faith, or the salvation of their souls, but must regard it as certain that for Christ's sake, according to the promise and [immovable] Word of the holy Gospel, they have a gracious God.
10] 7. We believe, teach, and confess that for the preservation of the pure doctrine concerning the righteousness of faith before God it is necessary to urge with special diligence the particulae exclusivae, that is, the exclusive particles, i. e., the following words of the holy Apostle Paul, by which the merit of Christ is entirely separated from our works, and the honor given to Christ alone, when the holy Apostle Paul writes: Of grace, without merit, without Law, without works, not of works. All these words together mean as much as that we are justified and saved alone by faith in Christ. Eph. 2:8; Rom. 1:17; 3:24; 4:3ff.; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 11.
11] 8. We believe, teach, and confess that, although the contrition that precedes, and the good works that follow, do not belong to the article of justification before God, yet one is not to imagine a faith of such a kind as can exist and abide with, and alongside of, a wicked intention to sin and to act against the conscience. But after man has been justified by faith, then a true living faith worketh by love, Gal. 5:6, so that thus good works always follow justifying faith, and are surely found with it, if it be true and living; for it never is alone, but always has with it love and hope.
Ordination Sermon by the Rev. Prof. John Murray
August 18, 2009
"Now first of all there is this duty of preaching or teaching the Word. You are to labor in the Word and doctrine. And in connection with that function I want to mention three things."First, do not burden yourself and do not allow others to burden you with other business so that you are deprived of the time and energy necessary to prepare adequately for your preaching and teaching administration. The Word of God indeed, in all its nchness and in all its sufficiency, is in your hands. It lies before you. But in order that you may discover the richness of that Word and bring forth from its inexhaustible treasure for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for the instruction which is in righteousness, there must be the blood and toil and sweat and tears, the earnest labor, and the searching of that Scripture, and in application to its proper understanding, so that you may be able to bring it forth in a way that is relevant in your particular responsibility."
"Now second, you have the pastoral care. That is an all important aspect of a minister's responsibility and privilege."There are likewise three things that I want to mention in connection with that particular function, and the first is this: Shepherd the church of God. I personally cannot understand those men who have been called as pastors of churches who neglect the pastoral care of the people committed to their charge. I cannot understand it. And I'm not expected to understand it, because it is part of the mystery of that iniquity which too frequently has overtaken those who have been called into the ministry.You do not get your sermons from your people, but you get your sermons with your people. You get your sermons from the Word of God, but you must remember that the sermons which you deliver from the Word of God must be relevant. They must be practical in the particular situation in which you are. It is when you move among your people and become acquainted with their needs, become acquainted with the situation in which they are, become acquainted· with their thoughts, become acquainted with their philosophy, become acquainted with their temptations, that the Word of God which you bring forth from this inexhaustible treasure of wisdom and truth will be relevant and will not be abstract and unrelated."Second, in connection with this very same subject of pastoral care I charge you to be ready always to give an audience to your people. I mean an audience to them as individuals, or an audience to them as families. Be in such a relation to them that they will make you their confidant, and take good care that you will be their confidant, and take good care that you will be their confidant. And as you will be their confidant, they will pour out to you the bitter experiences of their heart, the bitter expenences of their souls, of their lives. I charge you, my very dear friend, to be the instrument of dispensing, I say the instrument of dispensing the 'oil of joy for ourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness' to those who are broken in heart and weary in the body."Now there is more, of course, involved in that ministration of comfort to the people of God in the temptations and the trials which necessarily overtake them in this life. You must also bring the counsel of God, the whole counsel of God, to bear upon them where they are. And it is just as you bring that whole counsel of God to bear upon them in your pastoral visitation, that you bring it to bear: upon them where precisely they are. Remember that there are many who, in accordance with the address which you have heard already tonight, are going astray or are on the verge of going astray, or perhaps have always been astray. And remember the inestimable privilege that is yours, to convert the sinner from the error of his ways, to save a soul from death, and to hide a multitude of sins. 'Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and doctrine.'"Now thirdly and finally, I charge you to remember that you are the servant of Christ in this pastoral care which you will exercise. Oh, be friendly 'to your people, and be humble. Be clothed with humilityt for 'God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble.' Be clothed with humility in the pastoral visitations and the pastoral duties that you discharge because, if you are not humble, you will not only be offensive to God, but you will soon become offensive to all discerning people. Be friendly, be humble, realize your own limitations and be always ready to receive from those who are taught in the Word as they communicate unto you who teach. But remember that you are the servant of Christ and do not seek to please men, for if you should seek to please men, you are not the servant of Christ. And again, I repeat in that very same connection: Don't be afraid to reprove, don't be afraid to rebuke, just as you may not be afraid to exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine."I give you these charges, in the humble expectation and the hope that you will become an example, that you will be an undershepherd, realizing at all times, that you will one day give an account to the great Arch-shepherd who himself gave, as the Shepherd of his sheep, His life, 'that they might have life and have it more abundantly.'
"And I charge you, in constant dependence upon the Holy Spirit to be the minister, the administrator in Christ's name, of that life which is nothing other than life everlasting."
- A charge to Wayne F. Brauning, DMin 1993, at his ordination and installation as pastor of the Fifth Reformed Presbyterian Church, Phila., PA on October 13, 1960 by John Murray, prof. of systematic theology at Westminster.
What Baptists Can Learn From Calvin | Christian History
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This article should have a counterpoint--what can Anglicans learn from Calvin? In better days, they did. Today they "can't;" they are "disabled" readers "in wheelchairs" to their loss.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Interview with Darryl Hart Part II « Letters from Mississippi
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Darryl Hart is an historian on Amerian religon with some excellent work on fundamentalists, evangelicals and Confessional Christians--he is the latter and teaches at Westminster Theological Seminary, a home, a bastion of solid, premier and first rate world scholarship.
Celebrating the Legacy of John Calvin, Part 1 « The Chief End of Man
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A three-part tribute and summary of the work and impact of John Calvin.
The Gospel Lection. Twelfth Sunday after Trinity. Mark 7.31-37
Almighty and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire, or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
The Gospel. St. Mark 7. 31-37.
JESUS, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.
We have a story of Christ healing a deaf and dumb man in Matthew’s Gospel, 15.29ff., and the parallel Gospel lection of Mark, 7.31-37. Jesus has returned from the region of Tyre and Sidon via the Decapolis (deka poleis, ten cities), a tract from ancient Phoenica to areas southeast of the Sea of Galilee. See map. The area contained admixtures of Greek, Roman and Semitic influences and cross-pollinations. In this context, we aren’t or wouldn’t be surprised at the polyglot capabilities of our Lord and His apostles.
While Matthew relates a wider set of miracles and healings, Mark zeroes in on one, the story before us. The selectivity gives vividness to the Person of the Son of God, God of God and Light of Light, yet born of the Virgin Mary. The Nicene Creed we shall confess in the Administration of Holy Communion which ever is evident in all Gospel narratives .
The instruction of the ancient Creeds is never far from our thoughts. The Gospel lesson shows us that every miracle evinces Majesty in His Person shining effulgently. Fully God and fully man, yet without sin, in One Person in two nature.
The man is deaf and dumb. Jesus “lays his hands” on him, a solemn, visible act often performed by Christ. It is apparent that people had come to expect this from Jesus and that He had been accustomed to the practice. It was a solemn, visible, and an outward act teaching about His spiritual power. There was no need for this; Jesus could have done the miracle without the visible sign or symbol; His mere Word alone created the heavens and earth (John 1.1-5).
But Jesus teaches us here, by sign and act, that His Person and Office governs tongues and ears. Jesus touched the man’s tongue and ears in what, to us in the West, appears to be a bizarre and unusual event. He makes it clear that we get all “hearing and speaking,” in normal conversations, from His hand. Spiritually speaking, this is true as also. He puts His hand on our dumb tongues and deaf ears.
Our Gospel tells us that Jesus lifted His eyes to heaven and sighed. Here we learn of Jesus’ strong emotion of compassion and His strength of feeling for this smitten creature. This compassion informs His ministry.
Mark inserts an Aramaic word and translation, Ephphatha , that is, Be opened (effatha, o estin, dianoixhti).
This is a note of an eye-witness. It might have been omitted for editorial reasons or for mere simplicity. The Aramaic was not necessary, but Mark added it. It is added to show the power of His Command.
The Greek translation, be opened, is an aorist passive imperative. The aorist tense in the imperative mood emphasizes the staccato-like, punctiliar, and command authority of our Sovereign Redeemer. The passive demonstrates that the literal and spiritual tongues and ears were the object of the action. In no way, did the man effectuate the healing.
Dianoigw is often used in the sense of opening the ears to a report, such as at Luke 24.32. And they said to one another, `Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while he opened the Scriptures to us? The opening of the understanding and heart is governed by election and predestination, e.g. Acts 16.14. This also was and is under Christ’s Reign.
It is a good and fair deduction that the man was spiritually and intellectually transformed by the healing. That is not made explicit except that the account tells us that, contrary to a post-op order by Jesus, the people began to hike His name and fame around…understandably, but disobediently as well. Jesus was restraining and retarding an undue advance until His time had come. Mark, as a Gospel, contains this aspect somewhat more clearly than the other Gospel. (Luke 9.51 captures the determinative moment when Christ openlyheaded to Jerusalem for the purpose of His Incarnation, death on the Cross and the salvation of sinners. He set His forehead like a flint towards Jerusalem.)
We learn what our Collect for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity teaches.
Christ is more ready than we are to pray or come to Him. He is wont to give, in our quaint language, that is, Christ desires to give us good things. But like deaf and dumb creatures, we know that our consciences are terrified by the Law. We know it. We are not worthy to ask anything, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ alone, our LORD, a Reformation recovery. We do well to pray this on the morrow with understanding and faith. May we live with this comfort and solid assurance. The healed man would agree.
Almighty and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire, or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
A closing hymn, "The Old 100th," arranged by Ralph Vaugh Williams and played by Diane Bish.
 There is absolutely no room for the invocation of saints. Article XXII, “The Romish Doctrine…the invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.” We are thankful that Archbishop Thomas Cranmer expunged the invocation of saints in our Reformation Prayer Books. We are thankful for those bold Churchmen who carried the day until the atavistic, retrograde and romanticistic movement of the Tractarians.
A Psalter Lection for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity: Psalm 76 by St. Augustine
The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity.
A Psalter reading for this Sunday.
In Judah is God known; his Name is great in Israel. St. Augustine on Psalm 76.
1. The Jews are wont to glory in this Psalm which we have sung, saying, "Known in Judaea is God, in Israel great is the name of Him:" and to revile the Gentiles to whom God is not known, and to say that to themselves alone God is known; seeing that the Prophet saith, "Known in Judaea is God." In other places therefore He is unknown. But God is known in very deed in Judaea, if they understand what is Judaea. For indeed God is not known except in Judaea. Behold even we say this, that except a person shall have been in Judaea, known to him God cannot be. But what saith the Apostle? He that in secret is a Jew, he that is so in circumcision of the heart, not in letter but in spirit.  There are therefore Jews in circumcision of the flesh, and there are Jews in circumcision of the heart. Many of our holy fathers  had both the circumcision of the flesh, for a seal of the faith, and circumcision of the heart, for the faith itself. From these fathers these men degenerating, who now in the name do glory, and have lost their deeds; from these fathers, I say, degenerating, they have remained Jews in flesh, in heart Heathens. For these are Jews, who are out of Abraham, from whom Isaac was born, and out of him Jacob, and out of Jacob the twelve Patriarchs, and out of the twelve Patriarchs the whole people of the Jews.  But they were generally called Jews for this reason, that Judah was one of the twelve sons of Jacob, a Patriarch among the twelve, and from his stock the Royalty came among the Jews. For all this people after the number of the twelve sons of Jacob, had twelve tribes. What we call tribes are as it were distinct houses and congregations of people. That people, I say, had twelve tribes, out of which twelve tribes one tribe was Judah, out of which were the kings; and there was another tribe, Levi, out of which were the priests. But because to the priests serving the temple no land was allotted,  but it was necessary that among twelve tribes all the Land of promise should be shared: there having been therefore taken out one tribe of higher dignity, the tribe of Levi, which was of the priests, there would have remained eleven, unless by the adoption of the two sons of Joseph the number twelve were completed. What this is, observe. One of the twelve sons of Jacob was Joseph....This Joseph had two sons, Ephraim and Manasse. Jacob, dying, as though by will, received those his grandsons into the number of sons, and said to his son Joseph, "The rest that are born shall be to thee; but these to me, and they shall divide the land with their brethren."  As yet there had not been given nor divided the land of promise, but he was speaking in the Spirit, prophesying. The two sons therefore of Joseph being added, there were made up nevertheless twelve tribes, since now there are thirteen. For instead of one tribe of Joseph, two were added, and there were made thirteen. There being taken out then the tribe of Levi, that tribe of priests which did serve the Temple, and lived by the tithes of all the rest unto whom the land was divided, there remain twelve. In these twelve was the tribe of Judah, whence the kings were. For at first from another tribe was given King Saul,  and he was rejected as being an evil king; after there was given from the tribe of Judah King David, and out of him from the tribe of Judah were the Kings.  But Jacob had spoken of this, when he blessed his sons, "there shall not fail a prince out of Judah, nor a leader from his thighs, until there come He to whom the promise hath been made."  But from the tribe of Judah there came Our Lord Jesus Christ. For He is, as the Scripture saith, and as ye have but now heard, out of the seed of David born of Mary.  But as regardeth the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, wherein He is equal with the Father, He is not only before the Jews, but also before Abraham himself;  nor only before Abraham, but also before Adam; nor only before Adam, but also before Heaven and earth and before ages: for all things by Himself were made, and without Him there was made nothing.  Because therefore in prophecy hath been said, "there shall not fail a prince out of Judah," etc.:  former times are examined, and we find that the Jews always had their kings of the tribe of Judah, and had no foreign king before that Herod who was king when the Lord was born. Thence began foreign kings, from Herod.  Before Herod all were of the tribe of Judah, but only until there should come He to whom the promise had been made. Therefore when the Lord Himself came, the kingdom of the Jews was overthrown, and removed from the Jews. Now they have no king; because they will not acknowledge the true King. See now whether they must be called Jews. Now ye do see that they must not be called Jews. They have themselves with their own voice resigned that name, so that they are not worthy to be called Jews, except only in the flesh. When did they sever themselves from the name? They said, "We have no king but Caesar."  O ye who are called Jews and are not, if ye have no king but Caesar, there hath failed a Prince of Judah: there hath come then He to whom the promise hath been made. They then are more truly Jews, who have been made Christians out of Jews: the rest of the Jews, who in Christ have not believed, have deserved to lose even the very name. The true Judaea, then, is the Church of Christ, believing in that King, who hath come out of the tribe of Judah through the Virgin Mary; believing in Him of whom the Apostle was just now speaking, in writing to Timothy, "Be thou mindful that Jesus Christ hath risen from the dead, of the seed of David, after my Gospel."  For of Judah is David, and out of David is the Lord Jesus Christ. We believing in Christ do belong to Judah: and we acknowledge Christ. We, that with eyes have not seen, in faith do keep Him. Let not therefore the Jews revile, who are no longer Jews. They said themselves, "We have no king but Caesar."  For better were it for them that their king should be Christ, of the seed of David, of the tribe of Judah. Nevertheless because Christ Himself is of the seed of David after the flesh, but God above all things blessed for ever,  He is Himself our King and our God; our King, inasmuch as born of the tribe of Judah, after the flesh, was Christ the Lord, the Saviour; but our God, who is before Judah, and before Heaven and earth, by whom were made all things,  both spiritual and corporal. For if all things by Himself were made; even Mary herself, out of whom He was born, by Himself was made....
2. "Known in Judaea is God, in Israel great is the Name of Him" (ver. 1). Concerning Israel also we ought so to take it as we have concerning Judaea: as they were not the true Jews, so neither was that the true Israel. For what is Israel said to be? One seeing God. And how have they seen God, among whom He walked in the flesh; and while they supposed Him to be man, they slew Him?..."In Israel great is His Name." Wilt thou be Israel? Observe that man concerning whom the Lord saith, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom guile is not."  If a true Israelite is he in whom guile is not, the guileful and lying are not true Israelites. Let them not say then, that with them is God, and great is His name in Israel. Let them prove themselves Israelites, and I grant that "in Israel great is His Name."
3. "And there hath been made in peace a place for Him, and His habitation is in Sion" (ver. 2). Again, Sion is as it were the country of the Jews; the true Sion is the Church of Christians. But the interpretation of the Hebrew names is thus handed down to us: Judaea is interpreted confession, Israel, one seeing God. After Judaea is Israel. Wilt thou see God? First do thou confess, and then in thyself there is made a place for God; because "there hath been made in peace a place for Him." So long as then thou confessest not thy sins, in a manner thou art quarrelling with God. For how art thou not disputing with Him, who art praising that which displeaseth Him? He punisheth a thief, thou dost praise theft: He doth punish a drunken man, thou dost praise drunkenness. Thou art disputing with God, thou hast not made for Him a place in thy heart: because in peace is His place. And how dost thou begin to have peace with God? Thou beginnest with Him in confession. There is a voice of a Psalm, saying, "Begin ye to the Lord in confession."  What is, "Begin ye to the Lord in confession"? Begin ye to be joined to the Lord. In what manner? So that the same thing may displease you as displeaseth Him. There displeaseth Him thy evil life; if it please thyself, thou art disunited from Him; if it displease thee, through confession to Him thou art united....
4. "There He hath broken the strength of bows, and the shield, and the sword, and the battle" (ver. 3). Where hath He broken? In that eternal peace, in that perfect peace. And now, my brethren, they that have rightly believed see that they ought not to rely on themselves: and all the might of their own menaces, and whatsoever is in them whetted for mischief, this they break in pieces; and whatsoever they deem of great virtue wherewith to protect themselves temporally, and the war which they were waging against God by defending their sins, all these things He hath broken there.
5. "Thou enlightening marvellously from the eternal mountains" (ver. 4). What are the eternal mountains? Those which He hath Himself made eternal; which are the great mountains, the preachers of truth. Thou dost enlighten, but from the eternal mountains: the great mountains are first to receive Thy light, and from Thy light which the mountains receive, the earth also is clothed. But those great mountains the Apostles have received, the Apostles have received as it were the first streaks of the rising light....Wherefore also, in another place, a Psalm saith what? "I have lifted up mine eyes unto the mountains, whence there shall come help to me."  What then, in the mountains is thy hope, and from thence to thee shall there come help? Hast thou stayed at the mountains? Take heed what thou doest. There is something above the mountains: above the mountains is He at whom the mountains tremble. "I have lifted up," he saith, "mine eyes unto the mountains, whence there shall come help to me." But what followeth? "My help," he saith, "is from the Lord, who hath made Heaven and earth."  Unto the mountains indeed I have lifted up eyes, because through the mountains to me the Scriptures were displayed: but I have my heart in Him that doth enlighten all mountains....
6. "There have been troubled all the unwise in heart" (ver. 5)....How have they been troubled? When the Gospel is preached. And what is life eternal? And who is He that hath risen from the dead? The Athenians wondered, when the Apostle Paul spake of the resurrection of the dead, and thought that he spake but fables.  But because he said that there was another life which neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it gone up into the heart of man,  therefore the unwise in heart were troubled. But what hath befallen them? "They have slept their sleep, and all men of riches have found nothing in their hands." They have loved things present, and have gone to sleep in the midst of things present: and so these very present things have become to them delightful: just as he that seeth in a dream himself to have found treasure, is so long rich as he waketh not. The dream hath made him rich, waking hath made him poor. Sleep perchance hath held him slumbering on the earth, and lying on the hard ground, poor and perchance a beggar; in sleep he hath seen himself to lie on an ivory or golden bed, and on feathers heaped up; so long as he is sleeping, he is sleeping well, waking he hath found himself on the hard ground, whereon sleep had taken him. Such men also are these too: they have come into this life, and through temporal desires, they have as it were slumbered here; and them riches, and vain pomps that fly away, have taken, and they have passed away: they have not understood how much of good might be done therewith. For if they had known of another life, there they would have laid up unto themselves the treasure which here was doomed to perish: like as Zacchaeus, the chief of the Publicans, saw that good  when he received the Lord Jesus in his house, and he saith, "The half of my goods I give to the poor, and if to any man I have done any wrong, fourfold I restore."  This man was not in the emptiness of men dreaming, but in the faith of men awake....
7. "By Thy chiding, O God of Jacob, there have slept all men that have mounted horses" (ver. 6). Who are they that have mounted horses? They that would not be humble. To sit on horseback is no sin; but it is a sin to lift up the neck of power against God, and to deem one's self to be in some distinction. Because thou art rich, thou hast mounted; God doth chide, and thou sleepest. Great is the anger of Him chiding, great the anger. Let your Love observe the terrible thing. Chiding hath noise, the noise is wont to make men wake. So great is the force of God chiding, that he said, "By Thy chiding, O God of Jacob, there have slept all men that have mounted horses." Behold what a sleep that Pharaoh slept who mounted horses. For he was not awake in heart, because against chiding he had his heart hardened.  For hardness of heart is slumber. I ask you, my brethren, how they sleep, who, while the Gospel is sounding, and the Amen, and the Hallelujah, throughout the whole world, yet will not condemn their old life, and wake up unto a new life. There was the Scripture of God in Judaea only, now throughout the whole world it is sung. In that one nation one God who made all things was spoken of, as to be adored and worshipped; now where is He unsaid? Christ hath risen again, though derided on the Cross; that very Cross whereon He was derided, He hath now imprinted on the brows of kings: and men yet sleep....
8. "Thou art terrible, and who shall withstand Thee at that time by Thine anger?" (ver. 7). Now they sleep, and perceive not Thee angry; but for cause that they should sleep, He was angry. Now that which sleeping they perceived not, at the end they shall perceive. For there shall appear the Judge of quick and dead. "And who shall withstand Thee at that time by Thine anger?" For now they speak that which they will, and they dispute against God and say, who are the Christians? or who is Christ? or what fools are they that believe that which they see not, and relinquish the pleasures which they see, and follow the faith of things which are not displayed to their eyes! Ye sleep and snore,  ye speak against God, as much as ye are able. "How long shall sinners, O Lord, how long shall sinners glory, they answer and will speak iniquity?"  But when doth no one answer and no one speak, except when he turneth himself  against himself?...
9. "From Heaven Thou hast hurled judgment: the earth hath trembled, and hath rested" (ver. 8). She which now doth trouble herself, she which now speaketh, hath to fear at the end and to rest. Better had she now rested, that at the end she might have rejoiced. Rested? When? "When God arose unto judgment, that He might save all the meek in heart" (ver. 9). Who are the meek in heart? They that on snorting horses have not mounted, but in their humility have confessed their own sins. "For the thought of a man shall confess to Thee, and the remnants of the thought shall celebrate solemnities to Thee" (ver. 10). The first is the thought, the latter are the remnants of the thought. What is the first thought? That from whence we begin, that good thought whence thou wilt begin to confess. Confession uniteth us to Christ. But now the confession itself, that is, the first thought, doth produce in us the remnants of the thought: and those very "remnants of thought shall celebrate solemnities to Thee." What is the thought which shall confess? That which condemneth the former life, that whereunto that which it was is displeasing, in order that it may be that which it was not, is itself the first thought. But because thus thou oughtest to withdraw from sins, with the first thought after having confessed to God, that it may not escape thy memory that thou hast been a sinner; in that thou hast been a sinner, thou dost celebrate solemnities to God. Furthermore it is to be understood as followeth. The first thought hath confession, and departure from the old life. But if thou shalt have forgotten from what sins thou hast been delivered, thou dost not render thanks to the Deliverer, and dost not celebrate solemnities to thy God. Behold the first confessing thought of Saul the Apostle, now Paul, who at first was Saul, when he heard a voice from Heaven!...He put forth the first thought of obedience: when he heard, "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest," "O Lord," he saith, "what dost Thou bid me to do?"  This is a thought confessing: now he is calling upon the Lord, whom he persecuted. In what manner the remnants of the thought shall celebrate solemnities, in the case of Paul ye have heard, when the Apostle himself was being read: "Be thou mindful that Christ Jesus hath risen from the dead, of the seed of David, after my Gospel."  What is, be thou mindful? Though effaced from thy memory be the thought, whereby at first thou hast confessed: be the remnant of the thought in the memory....
10. Even once was Christ sacrificed for  us, when we believed; then was thought; but now there are the remnants of thought, when we remember Who hath come to us, and what He hath forgiven us; by means of those very remnants of thought, that is, by means of the memory herself, He is daily so sacrificed for us,  as if He were daily renewing us, that hath renewed us by His first grace. For now the Lord hath renewed us in Baptism, and we have become new men, in hope indeed rejoicing, in order that in tribulation we may be patient:  nevertheless, there ought not to escape from our memory that which hath been bestowed upon us. And if now thy thought is not what it was,--for the first thought was to depart from sin: but now thou dost not depart, but at that time didst depart,--be there remnants of thought, lest He who hath made whole escape from memory....
11. "Vow ye, and pay to the Lord our God" (ver. 11). Let each man vow what he is able, and pay it. Do not vow and not pay: but let every man vow, and pay what he can. Be ye not slow to vow: for ye will accomplish the vows by powers not your own. Ye will fail, if on yourselves ye rely: but if on Him to whom ye vow ye rely, ye will be safe to pay. "Vow ye, and pay to the Lord our God." What ought we all in common to vow? To believe in Him, to hope from Him for life eternal, to live godly according to a measure common to all. For there is a certain measure common to all men. To commit no theft is not a thing enjoined merely upon one devoted to continence,  and not enjoined upon the married woman: to commit no adultery is enjoined upon all men: not to love wine-bibbing, whereby the soul is swallowed up, and doth corrupt in herself the Temple of God, is enjoined to all alike: not to be proud, is enjoined to all men alike: not to slay man, not to hate a brother, not to lay a plot to destroy any one, is enjoined to all in common. The whole of this we all ought to vow. There are also vows proper for individuals: one voweth to God conjugal chastity, that he will know no other woman besides his wife:  so also the woman, that she will know no other man besides her husband. Other men also vow, even though they have used such a marriage, that beyond this they will have no such thing, that they will neither desire nor admit the like: and these men have vowed a greater vow than the former. Others vow even virginity from the beginning of life, that they will even know no such thing as those who having experienced have relinquished: and these men have vowed the greatest vow. Others vow that their house shall be a place of entertainment for all the Saints that may come: a great vow they vow. Another voweth to relinquish all his goods to be distributed to the poor, and go into a community, into a society of the Saints: a great vow he doth vow. "Vow ye, and pay to the Lord our God." Let each one vow what he shall have willed to vow; let him give heed to this, that he pay what he hath vowed. If any man doth look back with regard to what he hath vowed to God, it is an evil. Some woman or other devoted to continence hath willed to marry: what hath she willed? The same as any virgin. What hath she willed? The same as her own mother. Hath she willed any evil thing? Evil certainly. Why? Because already she had vowed to the Lord her God. For what hath the apostle Paul said concerning such? Though he saith that young widows may marry if they will:  nevertheless he saith in a certain passage, "but more blessed she will be, if so she shall have remained, after my judgment."  He showeth that she is more blessed, if so she shall have remained; but nevertheless that she is not to be condemned, if she shall have willed to marry. But what saith he concerning certain who have vowed and have not paid? "Having," he saith, "judgment, because the first faith they have made void."  What is, "the first faith they have made void"? They have vowed, and have not paid. Let no brother therefore, when placed in a monastery, say, I shall depart from the monastery: for neither are they only that are in a monastery to attain unto the kingdom of Heaven, nor do those that are not there not belong unto God. We answer him, but they have not vowed; thou hast vowed, thou hast looked back. When the Lord was threatening them with the day of judgment, He saith what? "Remember Lot's wife."  To all men He spake. For what did Lot's wife? She was delivered from Sodom, and being in the way she looked back. In the place where she looked back, there she remained. For she became a statue of salt,  in order that by considering her men might be seasoned, might have sense, might not be infatuated, might not look back, lest by giving a bad example they should themselves remain and season others. For even now we are saying this to certain of our brethren, whom perchance we may have seen as it were weak in the good they have purposed. And wilt thou be such an one as he was? We put before them certain who have looked back. They are savourless  in themselves, but they season others, inasmuch as they are mentioned, in order that fearing their example they may not look back. "Vow ye, and pay." For that wife of Lot to all doth belong. A married woman hath had the will to commit adultery; from her place whither she had arrived she looked back. A widow who had vowed so to remain hath willed to marry, she hath willed the thing which was lawful to her who hath married, but to herself was not lawful, because from her place she hath looked back. There is a virgin devoted to continence, already dedicated to God; let her have  also the other gifts which truly do adorn virginity itself, and without which that virginity is unclean. For what if she be uncorrupt in body and corrupt in mind? What is it that he hath said? What if no one hath touched the body, but if perchance she be drunken, be proud, be contentious, be talkative? All these things God doth condemn. If before she had vowed, she had married, she would not have been condemned: she hath chosen something better, hath overcome that which was lawful for her; she is proud, and doth commit so many things unlawful. This I say, it is lawful for her to marry before that she voweth, to be proud is never lawful. O thou virgin of God, thou hast willed not to marry, which is lawful: thou dost exalt thyself, which is not lawful. Better is a virgin humble, than a married woman humble: but better is a married woman humble, than a virgin proud. But she that looked back upon marriage is condemned, not because she hath willed to marry; but because she had already gone before, and is become the wife of Lot by looking back. Be ye not slow, that are able, whom God doth inspire to seize upon higher callings: for we do not say these things in order that ye may not vow, but in order that ye may vow and may pay. Now because we have treated of these matters, thou perchance wast willing to vow, and now art not willing to vow. But observe what the Psalm hath said to thee. It hath not said, "Vow not;" but, "Vow and pay." Because thou hast heard, "pay," wilt thou not vow? Therefore wast thou willing to vow, and not to pay? Nay, do both. One thing is done by thy profession, another thing will be perfected by the aid of God. Look to Him who doth guide thee, and thou wilt not look back to the place whence He is leading thee forth. He that guideth thee is walking before thee; the place from whence He is guiding thee is behind thee. Love Him guiding, and He doth not condemn thee looking back. 
12. "All they that are in the circuit of Him shall offer gifts." Who are in the circuit of Him?...Whatever is common to all is in the midst. Why is it said to be in the midst? Because it is at the same distance from all, and at the same proximity to all. That which is not in the middle, is as it were private. That which is public is set in the middle, in order that all they that come may use the same, may be enlightened. Let no one say, it is mine: lest he should be wanting to make his own share of that which is in the midst for all. What then is, "All they that are in the circuit of Him shall offer gifts"? All they that understand truth to be common to all, and who do not make it as it were their own by being proud concerning it, they shall offer gifts; because they have humility: but they that make as it were their own that which is common to all, as though it were set in the middle, are endeavouring to lead men astray to a party, these shall not offer gifts...."To Him terrible." Let therefore all men fear that are in the circuit of Him. For therefore they shall fear, and with trembling they shall praise; because they are in the circuit of Him, to the end that all men may attain unto Him, and He may openly meet all, and openly enlighten all. This is, to stand in awe with others.  When thou hast made him as it were thine own, and no longer common, thou art exalted unto pride; though it is written, "Serve ye the Lord in fear, and exult unto Him with trembling."  Therefore they shall offer gifts, who are in the circuit of Him. For they are humble who know truth to be common to all.
13. To whom shall they offer gifts? "To Him terrible, and to Him that taketh away the spirit of princes" (ver. 12). For the spirits of princes are proud spirits. They then are not His Spirits; for if they know anything, their own they will it to be, not public; but, that which setteth Himself forth as equal toward all men, that setteth Himself in the midst, in order that all men may take as much as they can, whatever they can; not of what is any man's, but of what is God's, and therefore of their own because they have become His. Therefore they must needs be humble: they have lost their own spirit, and they have the Spirit of God....For if thou shalt have confessed thyself dust, God out of dust doth make  man. All they that are in the circuit of Him do offer gifts. All humble men do confess to Him, and do adore Him. "To Him terrible they offer gifts." Whence to Him terrible exult ye with trembling:  "and to Him that taketh away the spirit of princes:" that is, that taketh away the haughtiness of proud men. "To Him terrible among the kings of the earth." Terrible are the kings of the earth, but He is above all, that doth terrify the kings of the earth. Be thou a king of the earth, and God will be to thee terrible. How, wilt thou say, shall I be a king of the earth? Rule the earth, and thou wilt be a king of the earth. Do not therefore with desire of empire set before thine eyes exceeding wide provinces, where thou mayest spread abroad thy kingdoms; rule thou the earth which thou bearest. Hear the Apostle ruling the earth: "I do not so fight as if beating air, but I chasten my body, and bring it into captivity, lest perchance preaching to other men, I myself become a reprobate."  ...
[A closing exhoration-prayer by Augustine] Turn we to the Lord God, the Father Almighty, and with pure hearts offer to him, so far as our meanness can, great and true thanks, with all our hearts praying his exceeding kindness, that of his good pleasure he would deign to hear our prayers, that by his Power he would drive out the enemy from our deeds and thoughts, that he would increase our faith, guide our understandings, give us spiritual thoughts, and lead us to his bliss, through Jesus Christ his Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with him, in the Unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Epistle Lesson. Twelfth Sunday after Trinity
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire, or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle. 2 Cor. 3. 4-11.
SUCH trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
Paul speaks of the Law and Gospel in this Epistle lesson, of which he is confident, boasting not of himself, but of God’s all-sufficient and redeeming grace under both adminstrations of the gracious covenant. Everything is of free grace. He disclaims any merit. Our collect for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity gets at the doctrine and ethos of it, pointing to the “merits and mediation” of Christ alone. (We say alone because Cranmer excised any invocation of others in the Church Triumpant.)
There is no preparationism, inclination or retention of ability to respond to the Law and Gospel apart from the Reign and Blessing of Christ. We continue to be impressed by the unified consensus to and on this point in the magisterial Reformation traditions: Lutheran, Reformed and Confessionally Anglican.
Paul’s own life, itself, is abundant evidence, to wit, that he was grossly impaired and wickedly twisted in mind, heart and affections until subdued by an Omnipotent Hand. The True Catholic Churches of the Reformation Churches embrace this.
He was subdued while still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord (Acts 9.1). He was no saint.
The Letter and Spirit are dealt with by St. Paul. The "letter" is the Law and outward preaching apart from the life-giving Gospel. The "Spirit" is the Gospel and living doctrine, which works effectually in those who believe (1 Thes.2.13).
Both testaments have an external and internal dimension. The law, moral and ceremonial, condemned men, to wit, illustrating their gross impairments and imperfection. The law pointed them to the Redeemer and His promises alone. The reading and hearing of the Law is the occasion of delivering the death sentence. The Perfect Judge has dropped the gavel. If un-believed, the Gospel also comes as Law and condemnation, an odour of death to the unbeliever who despises the promises because he hasn’t heard the law. The Law, under both Testaments, delivers the painful announcement. The Gospel, under both Testaments, delivers the "Good news!"
Indeed, the Older Covenant had a lead focus on law, but the Gospel, grace, and salvific promises abound under the Reign of Christ during the period of Moses. Glorious things, events, deliverances and miracles are evident with the majesty and glory of the Ruling Redeemer, e.g. Exodus 33-34, 40, Isaiah 6 as hasty clues. The saving Gospel comes in both Testaments.
The law is engraved on “stones,” as it were in both Testaments. It remains external to the unbeliever. The Sermon on the Mount comes as Law and condemnation. The Gospel comes in Spirit-power in both Testaments, “circumcising hearts” and giving “new birth,” to use counterpointed but complementary expressions.
The law demands justice and perfection that no one has or can fulfill. This is why Romish fictions must be tossed. This is why Anglo-Papists longing for acceptance with Rome must be tossed.
The Gospel, on the other hand, comes announcing a fulfilled justice and a perfect life, from Incarnation, Death, Life, Burial, to the Resurrection, accomplished outside ourselves by Christ Jesus, but imputed to us freely, effectually and to eternity to come. The Gospel can come as Law bringing death. The Law can and does bring promises, life and forgiveness.
The collect captures it. We dare not ask for mercy and grace, but for the solitary, sovereign and effiaceous merits of our one and only Advocate, Christ Jesus.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Ref21: Dr. Lucas Commends Gordon's Calvin
We think Cranmer, Ridley and Bucer were on the same fence with Calvin on the LORD's Table which resulted in the Elizabethan Compromise, the Canterburian via media between Zurich and Wittenburg, not Canterbury and Romanism.
See Dr. Lucas' high commendation of Gordon's Calvin at http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2009/08/bruce-gordons-calvin.php.
Bruce Gordon's Calvin
Posted by Sean Lucas
In this five-hundredth anniversary of Calvin's birth, booksellers have flooded the marketplace with all things John Calvin. Of all the books published in this anniversary year, the one that stands head-and-shoulders above the rest is Bruce Gordon's Calvin. In fact, it is not too much to claim that what George Marsden did for Jonathan Edwards, Gordon did for Calvin: produce a well-written biography, rich in primary and secondary source material, which actually penetrates to the man himself. This is a high achievement.
Gordon's achievement is manifold. First, as a scholar of Reformation-era Europe, he successfully situates Calvin in the web of relationships that dominated the sixteenth century. For example, we learn that not only that William Farel and Calvin's relationship was important in 1536, but how that relationship developed over time, how it created difficulties for both men, and how loyalties to other players (Bucer, Viret, Bullinger) complicated their long-standing friendship. Likewise, we come to understand how Calvin's developing relationships with Bullinger and Melanchthon, driven by his own sense of a trans-European Reformation, impacted his public theology and pastoral sensibilities.
Next, not only does Gordon describe the relational Reformation, but he also shows how political developments in France created complexities for Calvin. Like the Apostle Paul with his fellow Jews, Calvin longed for the conversion of his fellow Frenchmen. However, the progress of the Gospel, reformed according to God's Word, was tied to the messy political situation within France. Though he attempted to woo French nobility to the Reformed faith, he also was increasingly frustrated with the leadership's willingness to dally with Roman Catholicism and unwillingness to separate and establish a fully Reformed church. What Calvin did not reckon with, and what Gordon wonderfully pictures, were the political complexities within France itself.
Moreover, Gordon probes Calvin's mindset in ways that are both fair to Calvin and realistic. When Calvin became angry or displayed arrogance, Gordon never rationalizes it away. For example, in an exchange with Bullinger, Calvin penned "an angry reply" in which he told Bullinger that to defend Jerome Bolsec "is the extreme of absurdity" (p. 207). While most of us would skip over that comment, Gordon explores how Calvin's passion and anger often would drive him to rhetorical excess. The result is a critically sympathetic portrait that is more real to life than any other Calvin biography in print.
Finally, Gordon helpfully summarizes vast tracts of Calvin's theology. For example, Gordon devotes an entire chapter to a summary of Calvin's commentary on Romans, which provides a pathway for probing his theological development (chapter seven, pp. 103-120). He explores the sacramental controversies with Wittenburg and Zurich as well as the compromises that led to the 1549 Consensus Tigirinus (pp. 161-180). His chapter dealing with Calvin's controversy with Servetus was masterfully done (pp. 217-32), not only for exploring the theological dimensions, but also for outlining the political realities. And throughout, Gordon demonstrates what historian Philip Benedict also observed: namely, that the key dividing line in the Protestant Reformation was between the Swiss Reformed and the German Lutherans and centered on the Lord's Supper. Calvin heroically tried to straddle that dividing line theologically and politically, ultimately with little success.
I hope that this book receives wide notice, not only among Reformation specialists and theological students, but especially among educated laypeople. Many of our people in Reformed and Presbyterian churches are woefully ignorant of Calvin's contribution; the few that know something about him are as likely to idolize him as to understand him. Bruce Gordon's Calvin is a marvelous corrective to both faults: informative, accessible, and realistic, it is the book to give to interested church members. And read with the eyes of faith, Gordon helps us move from seeing Calvin as a hero to seeing the True Hero, Jesus himself, whom Calvin loved and served.