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
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
For 16th century-Protestants and humanists, Olympia Morata was much more than a simple portrayer of her times. In De poetis nostrorum temporum (On the Poets of Our Times, 1551) Italian humanist Lilio Gregorio Giraldi wrote: “Among them is Olympia Morata, a girl gifted beyond her sex. Not content with her original language, she has perfected her knowledge of Latin and Greek letters, so much that she appears to be a wonder to almost everyone who hears her.” Her epitaph called her “a woman whose genius and singular knowledge of both languages [Latin and Greek], whose probity in morals and highest zeal for piety were always held above the common level.”
Those words would have been the joy of her father, Fulvio Pellegrino Morato, who had raised her from the youngest age in the love and knowledge of both classical literature and the Protestant faith. We don’t know much about his life. A native of Mantua, a northern Italian city, he was for some time exiled from Ferrara, Olympia’s birth-place, maybe for religious reasons. We know that, as he taught Latin and Italian literature, he introduced his students to the writings of John Calvin and other Reformers.
Fairly well-known in humanistic circles, particularly after the publication of his essay on the rhymes used by Dante and Petrarca, Fulvio had found immediate popularity, especially with women, with his book, On the Meaning of Colors and Flowers, published in Venice in 1535. Today, he is remembered mostly for his most cherished and laborious work—the careful upbringing and education of his daughter Olympia.
For more, see:
Reformation Italy » Archive » Olympia Morata: Champion of the Reformation
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Anabaptists refuse to review Mike Horton's new Systematic Theology. Modern Anglicans won't review it either--it would require too much thinking.
'RECOVERING THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION'
The following is a transcript of Dr. Mouneer Anis's talk that he delivered at the Mere Anglicanism Conference in Charleston, SC this past week.
January 23, 2011
BISHOP MARK LAWRENCE: Well I am jealous for his time so I will be very brief. Archbishop Mouneer Anis, Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Bishop of the Diocese of Egypt in North Africa and the Horn of Africa, was called by God from being a physician of the body to being a physician of the soul. And if there is any one that has his finger on the pulse of the Anglican Communion better than Archbishop Mouneer Anis I do not know him. Thank God he also has his stethoscope on the heart of the Anglican Communion. I just hope he finds the medicine of eternity soon that he can administer to it, but he will minister a healing balm to us today because God has gifted him as a physician of the soul for those of us who profess and call ourselves Christians and God has grafted into this thing we call Anglicanism. So I am not going to take any more of his time. Archbishop Mouneer:
ARCHBISHOP MOUNEER ANIS: Thank you Bishop Mark for your welcome and your warm welcome here for me and Nancy. We enjoyed the time with you when you came and visited us and led the retreat for the clergy in the desert of Egypt and we enjoyed also Allison talking to the wives of the clergy. And for those who don't know, the Diocese of South Carolina and the Diocese of Egypt are companion dioceses, so it is a special joy to be here in South Carolina.
I know some of you asked many questions about the bombings in Alexandria, and I want to tell you that this is the second year it happened. The first year it happened on the 6th of January 2010 as people were [Coptic Orthodox] coming out of their Christmas Eve service on the 6th, and a man killed eight of them by gun. And this year they were in the New Year's Eve, just 20 minutes in 2011, and as they were coming out of the church, this bombing took place. It shaked the nation, not only the Christians, but also the very moderate Muslims as well, were very much shaken, because this is not something we are used to. We are used to being a very peaceful country. People can go round without any fear. But the threats that come to the church - that bombing like this is going to happen - is actually disturbing many Christians. And we - I want to tell you that something good may come out of this. Many moderate Muslims condemned this attack, and they started to see the rights of the Christians and speak about the rights of the Christians. So I want you to pray that something good will come out of this.
Along the history, Egypt is famous for this shedding of blood; especially the church. In fact the church in Egypt was founded on the blood of the Martyrs. The first one of them is St. Mark himself, whose blood baptized the city of Alexandria. So pray for us, and we are not afraid. We are ready to die, for the sake of Christ, in Egypt and pray that something good will come out for the church and out of this.
When I thought of this topic 'Recovering the Word of God for the Anglican Communion', I felt that I should talk about the following areas. So four areas I would like to talk about : 1. The importance of the Word of God as we see it in the Bible; 2 The importance of the Word of God as affirmed by the early Anglican Reformers in the 39 Articles and Lambeth Resolutions; 3. Where we have fallen as Anglicans; and 4. How we recover the importance of the word of God for the Anglican Communion today.
1. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WORD OF GOD AS WE SEE IT IN THE BIBLE
The writer of the letter of Hebrews, when describing the word of God, he wrote these words:
"For the word of God is alive, active, sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." [Hebrews 4:12]
Note here that the Word of God is described as 'living', 'active', 'sharp', 'it penetrates' and 'it judges'.
It is living means that it continues to speak to us every day, at every age, and in every situation. It continued to speak, it is alive, it is a living word.
It is 'active' and this means that it works in us, it transforms us, exactly like the yeast working in dough which causes growth. So the word of God grows growth of the church.
It is a sharp double-edged sword - it is similar to the sword that comes out of the mouth of God in the Book of Revelation, you know the Book of Revelation puts this image of God with a sword coming out of his mouth. It is like this because it is the Word of God. This means that it does not change and it is decisive and honest. In Egypt we have a saying that describes the word of a person who keeps his or her word as a sword. So we say "This man - his word is like a sword." It means he does not, or she does not, change his or her word - keeps it - he cannot say lies - he speaks the truth all the time. And that is perhaps the idea about describing the Word of God as a sharp double-edged sword.
'It penetrates' means that it can reach to the deepest and most hidden part of our soul and spirit.
'It judges' and discerns the thoughts of our hearts. It helps us to discern, if the thoughts of our hearts are Godly or not. Jesus in the parable of the farmer sowing the seeds described the Word of God as seeds which when accepted by the good hearts brings forth fruits of eternal life. Indeed the Word of God helps us to know Jesus and his plan for our salvation.
There is an Egyptian prostitute in the 5th Century, who converted and became a hermit. Her name is Mary. She said these words: "When I think from what evils the Lord has freed me, I am nourished by incorruptible food and cover my shoulders with the hope of my salvation. I feed upon and I cover myself with the Word of God which contains all things."
Also the Book of Acts tells us that whenever the Word of God was preached the church grew. So, it is written like this in Chapter 6:
"So the Word of God spread, the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith." [Acts 6:7]
Therefore I hope and pray that this paper would encourage all the faithful within the Anglican Communion to give the Word of God the most important place in teaching, preaching, worship, and theological studies.
2. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WORD OF GOD AS AFFIRMED BY THE EARLY ANGLICAN REFORMERS IN THE 39 ARTICLES AND THE LAMBETH RESOLUTIONS
Now I would like to speak about the importance of the Word of God as affirmed by the Early Anglican Reformers. We all know that the Church of England, the historical mother church of the Anglican Communion played a key role in the Reformation. This role focused on making the Word of God available in languages of the people. John Wycliffe, the morning star of Reformation started the movement of translating the Scriptures into English, the language of the people, two hundred years before Martin Luther led the Reformation. It was the recovering and understanding of the Scriptures that opened the eyes of the Reformers to see what was wrong in the practices of the church. Today the Scriptures are available in many languages and millions of copies are printed every year.
However, we need to recover its centrality and authority within our Anglican Communion in order to see what is wrong in the life and practice of the church and how we can correct it. One may ask: 'Are we under God's authority or the authority of the Scriptures?' Of course we are under God's authority; that is why we take his words as authoritative commandments which guide our lives and reveal him and his mind to us.
My brothers and sisters, we need another Reformation within the Anglican Communion. Isaiah wrote these words:
"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you." [Isaiah 60:1-2]
I read these words and hear them as if they are for our Communion today.
When we look at our history, we find that the Word of God was at the heart of the Anglican Reformation. The authority of the Word was put higher than any other human authority, such as the Popes. Reformers like Thomas Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley and William Tyndale were ready to be burned at the stake in order not to go against the Word of God. Cranmer in particular was so keen for ordinary people to read the Bible. For this reason the first and the second book of Common Prayer were very much Bible-centered. He also encouraged the people to read the Bible as he wrote these words:
"Here may all manner of persons, men, women, young, old, learned, unlearned, rich, poor, priests, laymen, lords, ladies, officers, tenants and mean men, virgins, wives, widows, lawyers, merchants, artificers, husbandmen and all manner of persons of what estate or condition soever they be, may in this book learn all things that they ought to believe, what they ought to do, and what they should not do, as well concerning Almighty God as also concerning themselves and all others."
Richard Hooker came to affirm that the Scriptures contain everything necessary for salvation. He also stated that Christ is the focus of the Bible message. In Hooker's teaching, Scripture comes first, reason comes second, and the voice of the church, the tradition comes third. In other words, people need to examine human reason and traditions of the church in the light of the Word of God.
This understanding helps the Church to make its message and mission relevant to the time and culture in which she lives, while remaining faithful to the Biblical truth. This faithfulness to the Biblical truth led the Anglican Communion to make its motto: 'The truth shall make you free'. What a great motto. We are set free when we know Jesus through the Word of God. However, Jesus puts a condition for receiving and enjoying this freedom. He said:
"If you abide in my Word, then you are truly my disciples and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make us free." [John 8:31-32]
So it is not just a motto on the air, it is something linked with abiding with the Word of God and knowing him as our saviour. I want to come back to this point later, but here I want to affirm that the source of this truth is the Word of God.
As we read the 39 Articles of Religion we see that Scripture is quoted to affirm what Anglicans believe. Practices that are not supported by Scripture are rejected. For example Article Six states:
"Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not be required of any man."
Some who seem to want to reform the Anglican Communion by accommodating it to culture have neglected this Article by proposing that something be required in addition to Scripture, namely the submission to supposedly popular norms of modern culture, especially regarding sexuality. But see the Article itself, it says "whatsoever" - it is not read 'therein' - it is "whatsoever" in the Scripture. If it is not written in the Scripture, it cannot be accepted as a norm; is not to be imposed on the Anglican faithful.
Article Twenty says this:
"The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything that is contrary to God's Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another."
So the church has the authority to interpret, but the church does not have the authority to change the Word or to interpret in a way that is different from the Word of God.
When we look at Lambeth Resolutions, we find many references to the vital importance of the Word of God in forming us as Anglicans. At this point I will share with you some of these Resolutions.
Lambeth Conference 1888, Resolution 11.1 - "The Holy Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament as "containing all things necessary to salvation" and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith."
Lambeth Conference 1920: Resolution 9 and Article VI - "We believe that the visible unity of the Church will be found to involve the Whole-hearted acceptance of the Holy Scriptures as the record of God's revelation of himself to man and as being the rule and ultimate standard of faith".
Reading this resolution in particular one would say that is the very reason we are not united in the Anglican Communion because we are different; our position is different in regard to the Word of God.
Lambeth Conference 1930: Resolution 3 says this: "We affirm the supreme and unshaken authority of the Holy Scriptures as presenting the truth concerning God and the spiritual life in its historical setting and in its progressive revelation both throughout the Old Testament and in the New"
Lambeth Conference 1958 Resolution 3 "This conference affirms that Jesus Christ lives in his Church through the Holy Spirit according to his promise and that the Church is therefore both guardian and interpreter.."
And it is speaking about 'the' Church, it means that the whole church of Christ, not only the Anglicans. In fact, it is the Anglicans, the Roman Catholics and the others, - "The Church" - "The Body of Christ"]
"..is therefore both guardian and interpreter of Holy Scripture; nevertheless the Church may teach nothing as 'necessary for eternal salvation' but what may be concluded and proved by the Scriptures."
The interpreter, the whole Church, does not place herself above the Scriptures. The Scriptures interpret us, rather than we interpret the Scriptures. We are never above the Scriptures, we interpret, we are the servants - who interpret, who read together, who interpret together.
Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution III.5.b. "In agreement with the Lambeth Quadrilateral and in solidarity with the Lambeth Conference of 1888 affirm that the Holy Scriptures contain all things necessary to salvation and are for us the rule and ultimate standard of faith and practice."
I am so glad that 1998 affirmed 1888 - the same thing.
The Lambeth Conference 2008 - did not make any resolutions. [laughter, lots of laughter] but recorded a summary of the bishops' discussion in what was called 'Indaba' - and NO ONE knows what is the meaning of Indaba [lots of laughter] except Africans, [laughter] like me [laughter]. Indaba means to listen to two sides and make a decision, not just listen and listen and listen and listen [laughter]. This means that what is recorded does not have the same moral authority like the other Lambeth Conferences Resolutions.
Lambeth Conference 2008 Section G in the Summary, [pg. 134], in this summary, we read this: "God's Living Word, incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth and revealed in Holy Scripture, challenges and transforms us in ways that can be full of joy and at other times quite unsettling, even as our context influences our interpretation of Holy Scripture. We affirm that the Scripture also addresses our contexts with both judgment and consolation, with conviction and with grace. The Word of God has always held a primary and cherished place in the churches of the Anglican Communion. So shall it always be."
The Anglican Covenant includes many sections worth mentioning here, especially Section 1.2.2: "to uphold and proclaim a pattern of Christian theological and moral reasoning and discipline that is rooted in and answerable to the teaching of the Holy Scriptures and the catholic tradition."
In regard to the interpretation of the Scriptures and the authority of the Church, the Lambeth Conference 1978 Resolution 11 says this: "The Conference advises member churches not to take action regarding issues which are of concern to the whole Anglican Communion without consultation with a Lambeth Conference or with the Episcopate through the Primates' committee and requests the Primates to initiate a study of the nature of authority within the Anglican Communion"
Lambeth Conference 1998 Res III.6.b states this: "That the Primates' Meeting under the presidency of Archbishop of Canterbury includes among its responsibilities positive encouragement to mission, intervention in cases of exceptional emergency which are incapable of internal resolution within Provinces and giving of guidelines on the limits of Anglican diversity in submission to the sovereign authority of Holy Scripture and in loyalty to our Anglican tradition and formularies".
3. WHERE WE HAVE FALLEN AS ANGLICANS
This means my brothers and sisters that within the Anglican Communion we already have what we may call, we may call, a Conciliar body which is the Lambeth Conference, a gathering of bishops and Primates. This body represents all the faithful within the Communion and is capable by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in consultation with ecumenical partners to express the mind of the Communion regarding the interpretation of controversial issues.
Unfortunately, the Lambeth Conference resolutions are not binding. In other words the Lambeth Conference as well as the Primates Meeting does not have the executive authority of a Conciliar Council. It sounds from all I mentioned - all these Resolutions and Articles - that the Anglican Communion is a very Biblical Communion founded on the Word of God, formed by it, and our practices are examined by it. It also gives the impression that we are committed to read and interpret the Scripture together as Communion and with our sister churches in order to define the limits of Anglican diversity in submission to the sovereign authority of the Holy Scriptures. But the question is: 'Are we really doing this?' I honestly think that we are far from it. In fact if we followed what we and our predecessors decided since 1888 we would not be an impaired and dysfunctional Communion today.
4. HOW DO WE RECOVER THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION TODAY?
How can we recover from this state of dysfunction? How do we recover the Word of God as our ultimate standard of faith? How can new Anglican generations grow in a healthy, strong, united and effective Communion?
We find the answer in Christ's Word to the church of Ephesus:
"Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent, and do the first works or else I will come to you quickly and I will remove the lampstand out of this place except if you repent." [Revelation 2:5-8]
So Repent is repeated twice here. So we as an Anglican Communion need to do three things:  Remember from where we have fallen, and  we need to Repent; and  we need to do things we did at first when the Anglican or the Church of England started at the time of Thomas Cranmer.
 Remember from where we have fallen First we need to know from where we have fallen. We have fallen when some of the churches of the Communion lost confidence in the Word of God and its authority. This leads to neglecting the study of the Bible and the Biblical teaching which further leads to Biblical illiteracy. This Biblical illiteracy produced a generation of clergy and laity in those churches who do not believe in the essentials of faith, like: the virgin birth, divinity of Christ, crucifixion, the resurrection, salvation by faith, and eternal life, as defined in the three creeds: the Apostles creed, the Nicene creed and the Athanasian creed.
For some, the Bible became an ancient book of wisdom, like other ancient religious books. The Scripture become like a hermeneutical supermarket [laughter] where you pick what you like and leave out what you don't like. The motto which I mentioned at the beginning 'The truth shall make you free' became meaningless, because Jesus Christ became a truth among many truths, not 'THE TRUTH'. Revelation ends with a harsh judgment on those who add or those who take away from the Word of God.
We have also fallen when we lost the Conciliar concept that characterized the early church and the early days of the Anglican Communion. The individualistic and hedonistic spirit of our world today has penetrated the Communion deeply. This encouraged some churches to interpret the Scriptures without listening to and consulting with the other churches within the Communion. The interpretations that are produced by Lambeth Conferences have only a moral authority and are not binding.
In fact the trace of Conciliar concept that was there in the Lambeth Conferences of bishops and Primates was diluted and almost completely lost at Lambeth 2008.
The absence of conciliarity and the individualistic interpretation of the Scriptures led the Episcopal Church in the USA and the Anglican Church of Canada to take decisions in the light of what is prevalent and accepted in the culture; not in the light of the teaching of the Scriptures and what is accepted by the rest of the Communion. In other words these provinces allowed their cultures to influence the interpretation of the Scripture instead of allowing the Scripture to address the culture. In other words the contemporary cultural norms are given more authority than the Scripture.
In order to be fair, I must be self-critical too. Some churches in the Global South, especially in my continent of Africa, also suffer from shallowness of Biblical knowledge; not because of lack of confidence in the Scriptures, like in the West, nor in the intentional neglect of it, but because some of these fast-growing churches in Africa do not have the resources to equip enough clergy and Bible teachers in order to meet the needs of the church growth. Moreover there is more focus on praise and worship rather than the teaching of the Scriptures. This has made Africa vulnerable to the emerging heretical sects like the 'prosperity gospel', Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormonism. It is also worth mentioning that the Bible is not as yet available in some tribal languages even within my own diocese.
 We need to Repent Secondly, having said all this, we can clearly say that the need of repentance is absolutely crucial. Consider the great need of resources in Africa and the huge amount of money spent in lawsuits between churches in the United States. Indeed we need to repent.
 We need to do things we did at first How do we recover the Word of God for our Anglican Communion today? After we repent, we need to do the things we did at first when the Anglican Communion started.
We need to regain the trust in the Scripture, as it contains everything necessary for salvation. In order to have this trust back, we have to be open to the work of the Holy Spirit that inspired the people of God to write the Scripture in the first place. We also need to prayerfully read, study and make every effort to live out God's Word.
It is important to start Biblical literacy programs, and I want to say this is very, very important. It is important to start Biblical literacy programs for all ages in every province. Let us start with our children in Sunday Schools. The new generations widely use computers and the Internet in education, communication and entertainment and therefore and therefore it is necessary to develop computerized programs and curricula that can help the young people to learn the Word of God in a way that is interesting to them.
The use of drama as a way of teaching the Bible is very effective in areas where computer technology is not available or where illiteracy is a problem. When Temple Gardiner came to Egypt in 1800 and he found that there are many people who are illiterate - he wanted to teach them the Bible. He started to think, and write plays and drama to dramatize the Bible and that was a very important tool at that time.
We need to use the gifts of our laity and train them as Bible teachers so that they may teach others. It is worth mentioning that the Diocese of Singapore already started a few months ago a very ambitious program to teach lay people to teach the Bible.
We also need to support the existing Biblically-sound theological schools and establish new ones in order to equip orthodox church leaders.
It is also important to translate the Bible in order to make it available to the tribes which do not have the Bible in their own language.
The Anglican Communion needs to give the Lambeth Conference and the Primates' Meeting a Conciliar authority in matters of faith and order, including the area of interpretation of the Scriptures. The principle of: 'What affects all, should be decided by all' is crucial to avoid further crisis.
The Windsor Report, Section B, speaks about Authority of Scripture. It says this:
"The current crisis which constitutes a call to the whole Anglican Communion to re-evaluate the ways in which we have read, heard, studied and digested the Scripture. We can no longer be content to drop random texts into arguments, imagining that the point is thereby proved, or indeed to sweep away sections of the New Testament as irrelevant to today's world, imagining that problems are thereby solved. We need mature study, wise and prayerful discussion and a joint commitment to hearing and obeying God as he speaks in Scripture, to discovering more of the Jesus Christ to whom all authority is committed and to being open to the fresh wind of the Spirit who inspired Scripture in the first place. If our present difficulties force us to read and learn together from Scripture in new ways, they will not have been without profit."
My brothers and sisters, I am aware that during the current crisis within the Anglican Communion it will be extremely difficult to develop a joint effort across the Communion in order to carry out these suggestions to read and interpret together - because there is no trust, at all. What is happening caused no trust. And already provinces are taking actions and going away completely from the norm of the Anglican tradition. So it is very difficult to do this.
We have to first sort out the crisis in order to regain the trust between the churches of the Communion and its Instruments. However, the Global South and other orthodox dioceses all over the world should start today if we want to rescue and revive our beloved Communion.
Finally, I would like to remind myself, and you, with the words of the Apostle Paul to the Apostle Timothy his disciple:
"What you heard from me keep as a pattern of sound teaching with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you - guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us." [2 Timothy 1:13-14]
Thank you so much. [Applause]
---Virtueonline is grateful to Titusonenine for the transcript of Dr. Mouneer's speech
Monday, January 24, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
E D I T O R I A L
One of the nice things about the Archbishop of Canterbury is that you never
quite know what he is going to do next. Ever since the consecration of a
practising homosexual bishop in the United States, people across the Anglican
Communion have been asking him to take a firm lead to resolve the crisis. For
seven long and lean years, the Archbishop has replied that Anglicanism is a
loose church and that unlike the pope, he has no authority to make binding
pronouncements or to pass judgement on anybody. Then all of a sudden, we
find him speaking urbi et orbi to the ‘bishops, clergy and faithful of the
Anglican Communion’, not telling them what to do exactly, but making it
pretty clear what the way forward ought to be. The style of address comes
straight from the Vatican, which may cause some confusion among those
Anglicans who are not used to receiving missives from that quarter. Many
Evangelicals for example, will be wondering why the letter seems to be directed
to them more than to others. Do the unfaithful members of the church not get
a look-in as well? ‘Bishops’ and ‘clergy’ will cover some of them, no doubt, but
surely not all! Of course, by ‘faithful’, the Archbishop means simply ‘lay
members of the Anglican church’ but confusion arises because we use the word
in a different way and find this usage somewhat disconcerting.
This may seem like a trivial matter to some, but it points to an underlying
difference of ecclesiology that has more than a little bearing on the current
Anglican crisis. In a very real sense, the troubles we face are all about being
faithful—the question is being faithful to what? This not only goes
unanswered; it goes unaddressed, because if the Archbishop’s use of the word
is accepted, it becomes difficult to know what to ask. If someone were to
approach you and inquire whether you are a Christian or not, would you
reply: ‘Yes, I am a member of Christ Church, Canterbury’? More importantly,
what would you make of someone who did give that kind of answer? If you
were asked when you became a Christian, would you say: ‘I became a
Christian when I was baptised’? How would you react if someone said that to
you? Put the matter like this and it soon becomes clear what the differences
between Evangelicals and those of the Catholic tradition essentially are. We do
not reject baptism or church membership, but neither do we think that such
things determine our standing in the sight of God. What matters to us is that
a person who calls himself a Christian is born again by the Holy Spirit and
possesses the mind of Christ as this is revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures. If
those things are in place, then the rest can be worked out in a variety of
different ways. But if they are not present, then all the external validation in
the world will not suffice to make a person Christian. This is why we do not
use a word like ‘faithful’ to mean simply ‘church member’ and why we cannot
build our spiritual fellowship on the basis of a common participation in the
sacraments, important as that is.
A real Christian is not someone who has been baptised with water but
someone who has been born again of the Holy Spirit, which is a very different
thing. Baptism proclaims the new birth but is not a substitute for it, nor is it
the means by which spiritual rebirth is achieved. One of the arguments used by
the pro-homosexual lobby in the United States is that because they are part of
the ‘baptised community’ they have every right to bring their unique gift to the
table of fellowship and share it with the rest of us. By rejecting that, it is we
who are dividing the church and cutting ourselves off from the voice of the
‘spirit’. If that is the sort of construction that can be put on baptism, then
Evangelical Christians have no choice but to disagree. As far as we are
concerned, those who live in the Spirit must be filled with the Spirit, and those
who are filled with the Spirit must live according to the Bible and the orthodox
rule of faith which it proclaims.
That this is not the sort of church the archbishop has in mind can be seen from
the next line, where he moves on to consider the Holy Eucharist, in which our
‘unity in and through the self-offering of Jesus is reaffirmed and renewed as we
pray for the Spirit to transform both the bread and wine and ourselves, our
souls and bodies.’ Here we see a confusion between spirit and matter which
Anglicans repudiated at the time of the Reformation. Article 28 could not be
more clear about this:
Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in
the supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant
to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a sacrament,
and hath given occasion to many superstitions. The body of Christ is
given, taken and eaten in the supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual
manner. And the mean whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten
in the supper is faith.
What is a transformation of the bread and wine if it is not a kind of
transubstantiation? Once again, there will be those who will say that this is
mere quibbling over words, and sixteenth century words at that, but this is not
so. At the heart of the argument is the nature of Christian fellowship, which
the Eucharist is meant to express but which it cannot create. If there is evidence
that a church member is not living according to the Word of God, and if that
is brought to public attention and censured, then the person concerned must
be excommunicated, because he does not share the beliefs that those who
partake of the sacrament are expected to profess. This is the fundamental
problem we have with the American Episcopal Church. As an official body it
has not merely stopped struggling against the world, the flesh and the devil, but
has invited them in to sit down and share in the feast of the redeemed. Those
who object—and there are many faithful witnesses inside the Episcopal Church
who have done so—are either sidelined or silenced. It is they who are
excommunicated, not those who have jettisoned orthodox Christianity and
covered their apostasy by performing traditional rituals. We need not doubt
that the Episcopal leadership has been canonically elected and has followed all
the correct procedures, but the evidence of the church’s public teaching makes
it clear that it has long since distanced itself from the substance of the matter.
This brings us to the most depressing thing about the Archbishop’s Pentecost
letter, which is that it says nothing at all about the content of Christian belief
and its fundamental importance for Christian fellowship. Instead it
concentrates on emotive words like ‘pain’ and ‘conscience’ which are elevated
to the status of objective categories that determine everything else. As the
archbishop sees matters, it is not false teaching but the pain caused by the
exercise of different (and mutually conflicting) consciences that has caused the
current problem, and there is really no way of dealing with that in any very
effective manner. Once again, Evangelicals have to dissent from this analysis,
not because we want to cause pain and certainly not because we do not have a
conscience, but because neither of these things gets to the root of the problem.
It is true that Martin Luther is supposed to have appealed to his conscience
when he stood up to defend his ‘heresies’ in front of the authorities of church and state at the Diet of Worms, but we must remember what the words
attributed to him actually are: ‘My conscience is captive to the Word of God.’
There is the rub. It is not enough to have a conscience and act according to it.
If my conscience is not subject to the Scriptures, then it is wrong. I may be
respected for following it, and of course being wrong is not a crime, but I am
still not doing the right thing. Nor can the pain I would feel at being
excommunicated be invoked as a reason for those whose duty it is to uphold
the truth not to proceed along that path. This is why faithful members of the
Anglican Communion cannot regard themselves as being in fellowship with the
American Episcopal Church as a corporate body. It is not for us to judge where
its individual members stand in the sight of God, and none of us would ever
dream of calling ourselves ‘perfect’, as the archbishop seems to fear at one
point in his letter. Of course we all need to repent. And yes, there are many
faithful soldiers and servants of Jesus Christ left inside the Episcopal Church
whom we must do our utmost to help and comfort in their time of need. What
we are talking about here is not that, but something else—the open and public
affirmation of false doctrine as the official policy of that church.
The great weakness of the Windsor Report, and one that continues to afflict the
approach taken at Lambeth, is the inability to appreciate the fundamental
difference between the approval given to homosexual behaviour in North
America on the one hand, and the ‘intervention’ by other provinces on the other.
The American Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada have
made public statements affirming the legitimacy of homosexual acts, thereby
making them part of their official teaching. They have approached the rest of
the Anglican Communion demanding to be accepted, which in practice means
that every other Anglican church is being asked not only to ratify this teaching
in North America but to regard it as acceptable for Anglicans everywhere. After
all, if the American Episcopal Church is in communion with the Church of
Tanzania (say), how can the Tanzanians legitimately exclude an American
bishop who is also a practising homosexual without breaking that communion?
The onus of schism would lie with them, not with the Americans, and in this
way false teaching would find itself at home in the worldwide church.
The ‘intervention’ which was so strongly censured by the Windsor Report, is
very different from this. No Anglican province advocates it as a matter of
policy, nor does it form part of anyone’s official teaching. Those who have
intervened have done so at the invitation of people in North America who had
already broken with their own church, so it is not even clear that they have
infringed anyone’s jurisdiction. Furthermore, far from pressing this sort of
thing on the rest of the Communion, the interventionists have done all they can
to re-establish an Anglican presence in North America which they can
recognise as the legitimate ecclesiastical authority there. By failing to
distinguish between a settled policy and an emergency reaction, the Windsor
Report and the Lambeth authorities have shown that they do not know the
difference between what is primary and what is secondary. No wonder their
proposed covenant is in such trouble. Who would entrust decision-making to
people who have shown themselves incapable of understanding what is really
It is interesting, if somewhat odd, that the archbishop cites the case of infant
baptism as an example of how we should handle our differences. He claims
that there are many Anglicans who reject infant baptism, but argues that
because it is the official policy of the church, such people should not be the
Communion’s accredited representatives, particularly in ecumenical settings
where they are expected to toe the official line. On that basis, he suggests that
the American Episcopal Church, and unnamed others who have also transgressed the Anglican norm, should not be asked to sit on such bodies, although their private eccentricities can still be tolerated just as we tolerate those who reject infant baptism.
The parallel is somewhat strange but it is instructive. Anglicans who reject
infant baptism know that they are a minority voice and they seldom try to
change the church’s official policy. If they feel strongly about it, they leave and
go elsewhere. Most of us respect them for that and continue to regard them as
fellow Christians, because we do not believe that the issues involved touch the
heart of the faith. Could we perhaps tolerate differences of approach to
homosexuality and especially to homosexual practice in a similar way? In
countries where same-sex ‘civil partnerships’ are legal there will always be
problems in trying to impose a strict discipline on church members and
differences of approach and practice are bound to arise. To that extent there is
already a degree of tolerance which will probably continue, if only because it
is almost impossible to do anything else. Nevertheless, if infant baptism is
taken as some sort of guide, there is nothing dishonourable about expecting
those who find their dissenting status intolerable to leave and join a
homosexual church instead. They could then restrict its membership to people
who share their views (as Baptists often do) and get on with making their own
particular witness to the world. What we cannot do is change the Christian
faith in order to keep them on board. Here the parallel with infant baptism,
such as it is, breaks down. Differences over baptism do not affect any
fundamental Christian doctrine and Evangelicals can live quite happily with
variations in practice. Homosexual behaviour is different, because it is morally
and spiritually wrong in itself. A Baptist church can be perfectly orthodox, but
a homosexual one would have to be classified with the Unitarians, Jehovah’s
Witnesses or Mormons—in other words, not orthodox Christians at all. We
have no desire to persecute them and do not think that we are better people
than they are, but we do not recognise them as fellow believers in Christ, even
if they themselves claim to be such.
No-one should pretend that the task of disciplining and reshaping the Anglican
Communion will be easy. As the recent invitation to Mrs Schori, the presiding
bishop of the American Episcopal Church, to preach and preside at a eucharist
in Southwark Cathedral shows, there are gospel-free zones in the Church of
England barely more than a stone’s throw away from Lambeth Palace. The
archbishop needs our prayers and support in dealing with this problem, as do
all those who have a voice in proclaiming the truth of God’s Word in and to
the church. If we are critical of them it is not because we reject their offices but
because we want them to act as the responsibility conferred on them dictates.
May God bless them and give them the courage to do what is right in this time
of decision for the Anglican Communion and for the wider Christian world of
which it rightly wants to remain an integral part.
Add some Westminster Shorter Catechism to the mix and we've recovered some adult-like maturity.
Reasonable Christian: A Short Catechism for Young Churchmen, Chiefly on the Thirty-nine Articles
A Short Catechism for Young Churchmen, Chiefly on the Thirty-nine Articles
[The following is a catechism posted at the Church Society website in the Church Association Tracts section. This has already been posted at Reformation Anglicanism and Anglicans Ablaze but I decided to post it here with appropriate links to the 39 Articles of Religion. There are pop-up links for the Scripture references as well.]
A SHORT CATECHISM FOR YOUNG CHURCHMEN,
CHIEFLY ON THE THIRTY-NINE ARTICLES.
Church Association Tract 059
BY THE REV. W. F. TAYLOR, Vicar of St. Chrysostom’s, Everton, Liverpool
The following Catechism, written by the Rev. Dr. Taylor, is in use in several schools in Liverpool, where hundreds of children are learning it. The Catechism will be found very valuable in familiarizing the minds of young people with the text of the XXXIX Articles, and furnishing them with answers in the very words of the Church to important questions now raised.
Q. (1) Who made you?
A. “God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.”—(Nicene Creed, Art. 8; Genesis 1:1, 26; Job 33:4; Hebrews 11:3.)
Q. (2) Are there more Gods than one?
A. No. “There is but one living and true God, everlasting, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness.”—(Art. I; Mark 12:32 ; Nehemiah 9:6; Jeremiah 10:10.)
Q. (3) How many Persons are there in the Godhead?
A. Three; “in the unity of this Godhead there are three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”—(Art. I; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14; John 1:1; Acts 5:3, 4.)
Q. (4) Who is Jesus Christ?
A. Jesus Christ is “the Son of God, who took man’s nature” upon Him. and “was born of the Virgin Mary; He truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried.”—(Art. II: Galatians 4:4; John 1:14; 1 Peter 3:18.)
Q. (5) Why did the Son of God become man, and suffer on the Cross?
A. The Son of God became man, and suffered in order “to reconcile His Father to us, and be a sacrifice for all the sins of men.”— (Art. II; Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Hebrews 9:26; 1 John 2:2.)
Q. (6) Where did the soul of Christ go when He was crucified?
A. The soul of Christ went to the invisible world (Hades or Hell), and to that part of it called Paradise.—(Art. III; Acts 2:27; Luke 23:43.)
Q. (7) Did Christ’s soul remain in the invisible world, and His body in the grave?
A. No; “Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again His body, and all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature; wherewith He ascended into heaven, and there sitteth, until He return to judge all men at the last day.”—(Art. IV; 1 Corinthians 15:4; Mark 16:19 ; 1 Thessalonians 4:16.)
Q. (8) Who is the Holy Ghost?
A. The Holy Ghost is the third Person of the blessed Trinity; “proceeding from the Father and the Son, and is very and eternal God.”—(Art. V; John 14:26; Acts 5:4; 1 Corinthians 2:10.)
Q. (9) What is the Rule of Faith?
A. The Rule of Faith is The Bible only or "Holy Scripture, which containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation."-(Art. VI; Isaiah 8:20; 2 Tim. 3:15; John 5:39; Deut. 12:32; Rev. 22: 18, 19.)
Q. (10) Is the Old Testament contrary to the New?
A. No. "The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man."-*. (Art. VII; Heb. 1:1, 2; Luke 24:44; Acts 26:22; Rom. 16:26.)
Q. (11) What are the three Creeds?
A. The Three Creeds are, "The Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles' Creed."- (Art. VIII.)
Q. (12) Why should we believe these three Creeds?
A. Because "they may be proved by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture."-(Art. VIII; 2 Tim. 1:13.)
Q. (13) What is original sin?
A. "Original sin is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man naturally descended from Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil."-(Art. IX; Psalm 51:5; Rom. 3:10-12; *:7.)
Q. (14) Is Man able to turn to God of himself?
A. No. "The condition of man after the fall is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God."-(Art. X; John 6:44; 15: 5; Eph. 2:1.)
Q. (15) What do we need in order to turn to God?
A. In order to turn to God, we need "the grace of God by Christ preventing us (i.e. going before us), that we may have a good will; and working with us, when we have that good will."-(Art. X; Jer. 31: 18, 19; 1 Cor. 15:10; Phil. 2:13.)
Q. (16) What is the true doctrine of Justification?
A. That "we are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings."-(Art. XI; Rom. 3:24, 25; 5:1, 9, 19; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9.)
Q. (17) What are good works?
A. "Good works are the fruits of faith, and follow after justification. They spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, so that by them a lively (i.e. living) faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by its fruit."-(Art. XII; Phil. 1:11; John 15:4, 5; Gal. 5:6.)
Q. (18) Are works done before justification good works?
A. No. Works done before justification are not properly good works, "nor are they pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ."-(Art. XIII; Isa. 64:6; Luke18:11- 14.)
Q. (19) What are works of Supererogation?
A. Works of Supererogation are "Voluntary works besides, over and above God's commandments. These cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety."-(Art. XIV; Luke 10:27; 17:10.)
Q. (20) Was the Virgin Mary, or any of the Apostles or Prophets free from sin?
A. No. "Christ alone was without sin. All we the rest offend in many things, and if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in as."-(Art. XV; Luke 1:47; 1 John 1:8.)
Q. (21) What is Election or Predestination?
A. "Election to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby He hath constantly decreed to deliver from wrath those whom He hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation."-(Art. XVII; Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:2; Rom. 8:29, 30.)
Q. (22) Can men be saved by the Law or Sect which they profess, if sincere in their obedience thereto?
A. No. "Man cannot be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, for Holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved."-(Art. XVIII; John 3:36; 14:6; Acts 4:12.)
Q. (23) What is the visible Church?
A. "The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same."-(Art. XIX; Acts 2:41, 42, 47; 1 Cor.11:23-25; 1 Tim. 3:15.)
Q. (24) What authority hath the Church?
A. "The Church hath power to decree rites and ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith; and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything contrary to God's Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another."-(Art. XX; Acts 15:2, 23; 16:4; 1 Cor. 14:26, 40; Gal. 1:8.)
Q. (25) Can any particular Church err?
A. Yes. "The Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred; so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith."- (Art. XIX; Rom. 11:20-22; Rev. 2:14, 16, 20.)
Q. (26) Are General Councils infallible?
A. No. "General Councils are not infallible, and forasmuch as they are an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed by the Spirit and Word of God, they may err, and sometimes have erred even in things pertaining to God."-(Art. XXI; Acts 20:29, 30.)
Q. (27) Why should we reject the Romish doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, (i.e. Indulgences,) Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Reliques, and also Invocation of Saints?
A. Because it is "a fond thing vainly invented, grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God."-(Art. XXII; Luke 23:43 ; Isa. 43:25; Ex. 20:4; 2 Kings 18:4; Rev. 19:10.)
Q. (28) Is it lawful for any man to take upon himself the office of public preaching, or ministering the Sacraments?
A. No. "It is not lawful for any man to take upon himself the office of public preaching, or ministering the Sacraments in the congregation, before he be lawfully called and sent to execute the same."-(Art. XXIII; Jer. 23:21; Mark 3:14; 1 Tim. 5:22; 2 Tim. 2:2.)
Q. (29) May the public worship of the Church be in a tongue not understood by the people-say in the Latin tongue? Church Association Tract 059 Page 4 of 6
A. Certainly not; for "it is plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the custom of the primitive Church."-(Art. XXIV; 1 Cor. 14:11, 19, 28.)
Q. (30) What is a Sacrament?
A. A Sacrament is an "outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ Himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof."-(Catechism; Acts 10:47; 1 Cor. 10:16.)
Q. (31) How many Sacraments has Christ ordained in His Church?
A. Two only; i.e., Baptism and the Supper of the Lord.-(Catechism; Matt. 28:19; Luke 22:19, 20.)
Q. (32) What are the five additional sacraments of the Church of Rome?
A. The five additional sacraments of the Church of Rome are, "Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction."-(Art. XXV.)
Q. (33) Why are "those five commonly called sacraments not to be counted for sacraments of the Gospel"?
A. "Because they have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, and partly are states of life allowed in the Scripture; but yet have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God."-(Art. XXV.)
Q. (34) What is meant by the "Sacrament of Penance"?
A. A sacrament in which, it is said, "Sins are forgiven, by the priest's absolution, joined with contrition, confession, and satisfaction."-(Abridg. Christ. Doc., p. 19.) [See Catechism of the Catholic Church 1423-1424].
Q. (35) Why is this doctrine to be rejected?
A. Because repentance and faith are the only conditions of forgiveness appointed by God.- (Art. XI.; Mark 1:15; Luke 24:47; Acts 10:43; 13:38; 10:21; Rom. 3:25.)
Q. (36) Were the sacraments ordained of Christ to be gazed upon or carried about?
A. Certainly not; "but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same they have a wholesome effect or operation." (Art. XXV.)
Q. (37) Are all duly ordained ministers good men, and sound in the faith?
A. By no means; for, "In the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the ministration of the Word and Sacraments."-(Art. XXVI; Matt. 7:15; 13:25-30; Acts 20:29, 30; 2 Pet. 2:1.)
Q. (38) What is the Sacrament of Baptism?
A. "Baptism is a sign of Christian profession, and also a sign of regeneration, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive it rightly are grafted into the Church; and the promises of forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed." -(Art. XXVII; Rom. 6:4; Gal. 3:26, 27; Rom. 4:11; Acts 22:16.)
Q. (39) Is Infant Baptism lawful?
A. Certainly; as "most agreeable with the institution of Christ."-(Art. XXVII; Gen. 17:10; Mark 10:14; Acts 16:15, 33; 1 Cor. 7:14.)
Q. (40) What is the Lord's Supper?
A. "The Lord's Supper is a sign of Christian love, and also a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death."-(Art. XXVIII; 1 Cor. 10:16, 17; 11:24, 25.)
Q. (41) What is Transubstantiation?
A. "Transubstantiation is the (supposed) change of the substance of bread and wine in the Supper of the Lord."-(Art. XXVIII.)
Q. (42) Why is the doctrine of Transubstantiation to be rejected?
A. Transubstantiation is to be rejected because "it cannot be proved by Holy Writ, is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions."-(Art. XXVIII; 1 Cor. 11:26; Acts 3:21; John 6:62, 63; Acts 19:26.)
Q. (43) How is the Body of Christ received and eaten in the Supper?
A. "The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith"; for, "the natural Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ are in heaven and not here."-Art. XXVIII. and Decla. Com. Service; John 6:35. 63; Acts 3:21; 1 Cor. 5:7, 8.)
[Scroll to the end of the Holy Communion service to read the instructions at the end of the service.]
Q. (44) Do such as are void of a living faith partake of the Body of Christ in the Sacrament?
A. Certainly not. "Such as are void of a living faith are in no wise partakers of Christ, but rather to their condemnation do eat and drink the sign or sacrament of so great a thing."-(Art. XXIX; John 13:27; 1 Cor. 11:27-29; Heb. 11:6.)
Q. (45) Should the minister alone drink the Cup?
A. By no means. "The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay people."-(Art. XXX; 1Cor. 10:17; 11:26.)
Q. (46) Is there any repetition or continuation of the sacrifice of Christ in the Lord's Supper?
A. No. There is neither repetition, continuation, or renewal of the sacrifice of Christ in the Lord's Supper, but only the commemoration of "the one oblation of Christ, once made and finished upon the Cross."-(Art. XXXI; 1 Cor. 11:24; Heb. 9:28; 10:10-12, 14, 18.)
Q. (47) What then are the sacrifices of Masses?
A. "The sacrifices of Masses in which it is commonly said, that the priest offers Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, are blasphemous fables and dangerous deceits."-(Art. XXXI; Heb. 10:1, 2, 11; 2 Pet. 2:1-3.)
Q. (48) Is the doctrine of Clerical celibacy according to the Scripture? A. No; for "Bishops, Priests (i.e., Presbyters), and Deacons are not commanded by God's law to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage."-(Art. XXXII; 1 Cor. 9:5; 1 Tim. 3:2; 4:1-3.)
Q. (49) Is it necessary that the Traditions (Customs) and Ceremonies of the Church be always the same?
A. No; "it is not necessary they should be in all places one; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's Word."-(Art. XXXIV; 1 Cor. 14:26, 40.)
Q. (50) Is it right for any one to break the traditions and ceremonies of the Church by his own private judgment?
A. No. He that doth so "ought to be rebuked openly, that others may fear to do the like."-(Art. XXXIV; 1Tim. 5:20; Rom. 16:17,18.)
Q (51) How should we esteem the Book of Homilies put forth by the Church of England?
A. As containing "a godly and wholesome doctrine, and necessary for these times, and therefore to be read in Churches, diligently and distinctly, that they may be understanded of the people."- (Art. XXXV; 2 Tim. 1:13; 1 Tim. 4:13.)
Q. (52) Is the Ordinal of the Church of England to be received by us? A. Most certainly; for it "hath nothing that of itself is superstitious and ungodly; and therefore whosoever are consecrated or ordered according thereto we judge to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated or ordered."-(Art. XXXVI; John 20:21-23; Luke 24:47; 2 Cor. 5:18, 19.)
Q. (53) How many orders of Ministers are there in the Church of England?
A. Three. For "it is evident to all men diligently reading the Holy Scriptures and ancient Authors, that from the Apostles' time there have been these orders of ministers in Christ's Church; Bishops, Priests (i.e. Presbyters), and Deacons."-(Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:1, 10; 5:19-22; Titus 1:5; Pref. to Ordination Serv.)
Q. (54) What is meant by the Royal Supremacy?
A. That "the Queen's majesty has the chief power in this realm of England, and other her dominions, and should rule all estates and degrees committed to her charge by God, whether they be ecclesiastical or temporal"-(Art. XXXVII; 2 Chron. 24:5; Isa. 49:23; 2 Chron. 31:2; 35:1, 2; Ezra 7:27; Rom. 13:1.)
Q. (55) Should the supremacy of the Pope be admitted?
A. By no means; for "the Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England." Nor is he the Vicar of Christ or successor of Peter, but rather is by many believed to be the predicted "Man of Sin," who should sit in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.-(Art. XXXVII; Preface to English Bible, Auth. Vere. 1611; Canons of 1606; 2 Thess. 2:3, 4.)
WHEREAS it is ordained in this Office for the Administration of the Lord's Supper, that the Communicants should receive the same kneeling; (which order is well meant, for a signification of our humble and grateful acknowledgment of the benefits of Christ therein given to all worthy Receivers, and for the avoiding of such profanation and disorder in the holy Communion, as might otherwise ensue;) yet, lest the same kneeling should by any persons, either out of ignorance and infirmity, or out of malice and obstinacy, be misconstrued and depraved: It is hereby declared, That thereby no adoration is intended, or ought to be done, either unto the Sacramental Bread or Wine there bodily received, or unto any Corporal Presence of Christ's natural Flesh and Blood. For the Sacramental Bread and Wine remain still in their very natural substances, and therefore may not be adored; (for that were Idolatry, to be abhorred of all faithful Christians;) and the natural Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ are in Heaven, and not here; it being against the truth of Christ's natural Body to be at one time in more places than one." From: Holy Communion, 1662 Book of Common Prayer.
R.C. Sproul: Five Things Christians Need (Introduction, Bible Study, Prayer, Worship, Service, Stewardship)
R.C. Sproul: Five Things Christians Need, Part 1: Bible Study
R.C. Sproul: Five Things Christians Need, Part 2: Prayer
R.C. Sproul: Five Things Christians Need, Part 3: Worship (Ed: Regrettably, Sproul is implicitly and, hence, explictly anti-liturgical. This plays better with his large Baptist constituency. While maintaining the importance of worship, his comments about form and ritual reflected R.C.'s lack of conditioning and exposure to Prayer Book Churchmanship.)
R.C. Sproul: Five Things Christians Need, Part 4: Service
R.C. Sproul: Five Things Christians Need, Part 5: Stewardship
Thursday, January 20, 2011
A Body of Divinity by Keith Mathison | Ligonier Ministries Blog
A Body of Divinity
from Keith Mathison
The last several decades have witnessed the publication of a wealth of classic theological treasures. Some of these, such as Francis Turretin’s Institutes of Elenctic Theology and Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics, are translations, making these classic works available in English for the first time. Others are reprints of volumes that have been out of print for decades, or even centuries. Publishers such as Banner of Truth, Soli Deo Gloria, Reformation Heritage Books and Christian Focus Publications’ Christian Heritage imprint have been at the forefront of this recent effort to bring back long out-of-print works.
In 2007, another of these publishers, Solid Ground Christian Books, reprinted a true classic, A Body of Divinity by Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1656). Probably best known for his work on biblical chronology, Ussher was a highly regarded puritan leader and theologian. In 1615 he drew up the Irish Articles of Religion, which were later to become a source for the divines who wrote the Westminster Confession of Faith. In 1625, Ussher was appointed Archbishop of Armagh, and he remained in this office until his death.
Ussher’s influence on the work of the Westminster Assembly went beyond the Irish Articles. According to A. A. Hodge, Ussher’s book A Body of Divinity “had more to do in forming the Catechism and Confession of Faith than any other book in the world; because it is well known that although Archbishop Ussher was not himself present in the Westminster Assembly, he was twice invited to attend and sit there, and that this book, which he compiled as a young man, was in circulation in this Assembly among the individuals composing it” (Hodge, Evangelical Theology, 165). According to Hodge, then, the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms reflect the theology of Archbishop Ussher.
If this historical relationship to the Westminster Assembly were the only significance of Ussher’s work, it would be sufficient to establish the value of studying it. Thankfully, however, A Body of Divinity is worth studying also on its own merits as a richly theological work. Written in a catechetical question and answer format, Ussher covers all of the major topics of systematic theology. Following the main body of the text, this work also includes two brief catechisms, the first a very basic introduction to the Christian faith, the other for those who have devoted more study to the doctrines of the faith.
Ussher’s Body of Divinity is a foundational text of Reformed systematic theology. For students of Reformed theology and puritan history, it is a must-read. It is also highly recommended for any Christian who desires a deeper grasp of the essential doctrines of Christianity.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
We examine Reformed Theology in conversation with other Catholics of the Reformation--Reformed and Lutheran. We are liturgical. We are committed to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer with changes. However, we must shift from adulterous, conflicted and confused Anglicanism. We are Calvinistic Anglicans, like the English Reformers. But, given the absence of serious Anglican leadership, fundamental integrity and Confessional maturity, we head to safety...we must recommend that course to others for biblical safety. We still since we adhere to a modified Thirty-nine Articles (1571), Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Irish Articles (1615), Canons of Dordt (1619), and Westminster Standards (1646). We also love the essential Lutheran Confessions but, increasingly, we're not impressed with Anglicanism anywhere.
With regret we post this, but we think it wisest for parents with children to get to an OPC, even PCA, URC, WELS or LCMS congregation. As a Reformed Churchman, the first three are preferred. We cannot, in good conscience, refer someone to a mish-mash Manglican--who knows what doctrine you get?--ACNA outfit. The ACNA is a micro-Anglican split-off from the liberal TEC, much puffed by http://www.virtueonline.org/ but without consequence we suspect.
What are the righteous to do when the foundations are shaken? Four things. 1) Get with solid believers in a Confessional Reformational Church. 2) Read the Bible widely. 3) Use the old BCP. 4) Don't listen to Anglican clerics during the homilettes, but read one of the volumes from the 55-volume Parker Society series instead while the homileteer homileticizes...much better. Then, for the years to come, during the homilies, take one of Calvin's or Luther's commentaries...preferrably Romans and Galatians. When the cleric gives his homily, read the classic instead.
Childen and grandchildren will not be catechetized in sound theology in ACNA flocks, insofar as we can see. Forget the widely liberal TEC. Go where the theology is sound and Confessional.
Friday, January 14, 2011
CHRISTIANS under the age of 25 are less likely to identify themselves as Evangelicals, even if they worship at Evangelical churches, a new report by the Evangelical Alliance (EA) suggests.
The report 21st Century Evangelicals: A snapshot of the beliefs and habits of Evangelical Christians in the UK, published by the EA and Christian Research, is based on the views of more than 17,000 people who completed questionnaires at Evangelical festivals and at churches affiliated to the EA during 2010.
Sixty-seven per cent of those surveyed aged between 16 and 24 considered themselves to be “Evangelical Christians”. This percentage increased with the age range: 87 per cent of those aged over 65 described themselves as Evangelical.
“These results could simply reveal that younger people are rejecting the name ‘Evangelical’, or that Christians start referring to themselves as ‘Evangelical Christians’ later in life,” the report states.
Andy Frost, the director of Share Jesus International, is quoted as saying that younger people “don’t understand party lines and church squabbles”, and that, for them, “the word ‘Evangelical’ has been tarnished by American political agendas.
“This generation simply want to get the job done. Evangelicalism needs to be redefined for them as Grace and Truth,” he said.
The report found that the Bible played a “significant role in the lives of Evangelicals”, and that 83 per cent of Evangelical respondents “strongly” agreed that “the Bible has the supreme authority in guiding their beliefs and behaviour.”
Of the Evangelicals surveyed, 62 per cent said that they “strongly” agreed that “sexual intercourse outside marriage is wrong”; 59 per cent said that “homosexual actions are always wrong”; and eight out of ten said that homosexual couples should not be able to have civil partnerships blessed in churches.
The report identified most uncertainty among Evangelicals over the topic of hell. A minority — 37 per cent — “strongly” agreed “that hell is a place where the condemned will suffer eternal conscious pain”. But the vast majority — 91 per cent — “strongly” agreed “that Jesus is the only way to God”.
The report found, however, that 70 per cent of Evangelicals believe “to some extent that Christians should work collaboratively with people of other faiths on community projects”. Nine out of ten agreed that “to some extent, it’s a Christian’s duty to be involved in activities that benefit the local community.”
The report found that Evangelical women over the age of 55 gave the most hours to volunteering; and men between the ages of 35 and 44 gave the least.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Why John MacArthur Is Not "Reformed"
Tuesday, March 13, 2007 at 10:17AM
John MacArthur's opening lecture at the Shepherd's Conference created two main points of contention. The first has to do with the on-going debate over eschatology (specifically the millennial question). MacArthur--who is an ardent dispensationalist--stated and defended his position. That's OK and no one is surprised or upset about that. But people are upset because MacArthur so badly misrepresented amillennialism, and because he defined "premillennialism" as though it were dispensationalism. Not true. The loud howls of protest to MacArthur's dispensationalism coming from historical premillennarians is proof. We'll talk more about this matter in the coming days.
The second point of contention is MacArthur's questionable attempt to co-opt "Calvinism" from amillenniarians and claim it for the dispensationalists. This is seen in MacArthur's remarkable claim that amillennialism is inherently "Arminian."
As I thought about drafting a response to this claim, it occured to me that it has already been done. In 1993, Richard Muller--who was my Ph.D. dissertation advisor and acknowledged by all as the leading authority on Reformed scholasticism and Calvin (Click here: Amazon.com: The Unaccommodated Calvin: Studies in the Foundation of a Theological Tradition (Oxford Studies in His)--published a short essay entitled, "How Many Points?"
In this essay, Muller demonstrates why people like MacArthur are not Reformed. MacArthur may hold to the "five points", but Muller shows why MacArthur is not "Reformed" nor a "Calvinist" in any meaningful or historical sense of those terms.
Before you read Muller's essay, please remember that the issue he's tackling is not whether those outside the Reformed churches are truly Christians (they are, if they are trusting in Christ). Muller is not saying that they have nothing good to contribute to the cause of Christ, nor any other such thing.
The specific issue Muller tackles is "who is Reformed?" And John MacArthur is not.
How Many Points?
By Richard A. Muller (and published here with his kind permission)
I once met a minister who introduced himself to me as a "five-point Calvinist." I later learned that, in addition to being a self-confessed five-point Calvinist, he was also an anti-paedobaptist who assumed that the church was a voluntary association of adult believers, that the sacraments were not means of grace but were merely "ordinances" of the church, that there was more than one covenant offering salvation in the time between the Fall and the eschaton, and that the church could expect a thousand-year reign on earth after Christ's Second Coming but before the ultimate end of the world. He recognized no creeds or confessions of the church as binding in any way. I also found out that he regularly preached the "five points" in such a way as to indicate the difficulty of finding assurance of salvation: He often taught his congregation that they had to examine their repentance continually in order to determine whether they had exerted themselves enough in renouncing the world and in "accepting" Christ. This view of Christian life was totally in accord with his conception of the church as a visible, voluntary association of "born again" adults who had "a personal relationship with Jesus."
In retrospect, I recognize that I should not have been terribly surprised at the doctrinal context or at the practical application of the famous five points by this minister — although at the time I was astonished. After all, here was a person, proud to be a five-point Calvinist, whose doctrines would have been repudiated by Calvin. In fact, his doctrines would have gotten him tossed out of Geneva had he arrived there with his brand of "Calvinism" at any time during the late sixteenth or the seventeenth century. Perhaps more to the point, his beliefs stood outside of the theological limits presented by the great confessions of the Reformed churches—whether the Second Helvetic Confession of the Swiss Reformed church or the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism of the Dutch Reformed churches or the Westminster standards of the Presbyterian churches. He was, in short, an American evangelical.
To read the rest of this essay, Click here: Riddleblog - "How Many Points?"
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Quasi-Interview with Carl Trueman on Rome as "Default"
Someone recently quoted Dr. Carl Trueman to me in this way:
“Every year I tell my Reformation history class that Roman Catholicism is, at least in the West, the default position. Rome has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity than any Protestant denomination… in the light of these facts, therefore, we need good, solid reasons for not being Catholic.” -Dr. Carl Trueman
The ultimate source for this quotation is a Reformation21 article from Dr. Trueman (link). Rather than trying to parse the quotation myself, since Dr. Trueman is still around, I asked him for his comments, which he kindly provided by email and gave me his permission to publish. The bold questions below are the questions that I posed to Dr. Trueman, but otherwise the material below the line is Dr. Trueman's response to my inquiry.
The argument I am making is essentially rhetorical at this point, aimed at evangelicals who have given up on justification by faith and the clarity of scripture. As these the reasons why Protestants could ultimately not be accommodated within the Catholic Church so, my argument goes, those who abandon these points have no real reason for continued separation. What then is left? Nothing but institutional continuity and the creeds of the early church. So these people should be honest, do the decent thing, and return to Rome, as Frank Beckwith did. And students in my class should understand that justification and clarity are vital, not just side issues. Yes -- we need good reasons not to be Catholic; and I have them.
Of course, it should be obvious that the fact I have not returned to Rome (or, for me, gone there for the first time) means that institutional/historical continuity a la Rome are of much less significance than justification and clarity. To use my arguments, as some have done, to imply the superiority of Rome to Protestantism tout court is nonsense; my argument is simply that Rome is superior to liberal Protestantism and the kind of woolly evangelicalism of those who think that scripture and justification are areas where we can agree to differ within the evangelical camp. Not so.
Now, to your questions:
Question 1: When you say "Rome has a better claim to historical continuity and institutional unity than any Protestant denomination" do you mean to embrace the idea that institutional unity and historical continuity are the marks of a true church?
Not for a Protestant. The word is central. But, if you don't think the word is clear, or that justification by faith is crucial, what's left of Protestantism?
Question 2: If we consider institutional unity as a standard, given that there were multiple apostolic sees on the Eastern side of the East-West Schism of 1054, and only Rome on the Western side of that schism, doesn't that mean that Eastern Orthodoxy is the "default position"? Likewise, since the Eastern Orthodox have not formally innovated beyond the 7th ecumenical council (contrast with the additional 14 alleged ecumenical councils of the Romans), doesn't the Eastern Orthodox church have the greater claim to historical continuity on a global scale?
Sure. But 99.99% of my students are either Western, or (as with Koreans) from a church situation determined by the Western categories of Roman or Protestant.
Question 3: Is the subject matter of Question/Answer 2 the reason that you limited yourself to "at least in the West" in the comment? If so, couldn't it similarly be said that in England the Anglican church similarly has the greatest claim to historical continuity and institutional unity?
No. Because Anglicanism breaks with Rome, theologically at least on the issue of authority, word and sacraments. So I see Anglicanism as Protestant and subject to the same strictures above.
Question 4: Is institutional unity more important than orthodoxy? If yes, then were councils like Nicaea and Chalcedon a mistake, in that they led to disunity?
Not at all. Unity is a function of orthodoxy (see Rom. 16 -- the divisive have wandered from the truth). But see my preliminary comments on the nature of my argument.
Question 5: When you speak of historical continuity, what do you mean? Do you simply mean that the differences between Rome's doctrines and the once-for-all-delivered apostolic doctrines have come to be gradually, and that the Reformation was a sudden move back to the apostolic doctrines?
I am using a virtual hendiadys, where one thing -- the Roman succession and the institutional unity it represents -- is described using two phrases, institutional and historical. Not primarily a doctrinal point.
Question 6: Do you agree that in discussing any doctrinal distinctive, the advocate for the distinctive bears the burden of establishing the truth of the distinctive? In other words, would you agree that it would be wrong to say that a dogma like the Bodily Assumption of Mary is the default position unless one can give sound reasons to reject it?
Yes. Though here you get into the differences over authority which devolve from rejection or acceptance of scriptural clarity. Reject it, you get the Pope, you get the later developments with no basis for rejecting it. Look at Newman -- he writes `Development' while a Prot, converts before it is published, and then is able to pretty much swallow everything Rome teaches and changes. He is consistent -- but thinks in a way far different to a Protestant.
Question 7: Is it fair to say that your comment to your class is intentionally provocative - aiming to be didactic in the sense of spurring the students to develop their thinking, as opposed to an attempt to strictly define a theological "default" position?
Yes. See my preliminary comment. It is designed to get people to sit up and think, to catch attention (while still, I believe, being true -- for all the reasons above). The fact that I am answering your questions indicates that I have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams!
Question 8: Do you have anything else that you'd like to say about this comment or its use by Roman apologists?
If I didn't have good reasons to be a Protestant, I would be a Catholic. But I am not. That gives some idea of how I rate the two systems. Having said that, I'd rather spend time talking to Catholic friends who think God knows the future than Socinians who call themselves evangelicals but reject the biblical understanding of God.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
For almost a century now a kind of Ecumenism has been in the air. Earnest attempts have been made towards bringing denominations together in full communion with each other, notwithstanding the interruptions and alienation caused by two world wars. Although this has not met with success (yet) it has served to highlight how deeply the dividedness of the visible church runs. It has also (but inadvertently) so publicized the presence of grievous error in the church that many who adhered to the truth about Christ and his work as laid down in apostolic scripture were obliged to examine their ecclesiastical allegiance. Upholding the principle of semper reformanda they either distanced themselves from involvement in the World Council of Churches, forming new associations, or they strove to recall their denominations to paths that had been forsaken. Sad to say, the degree of difficulty involved in doing this has been greatly increased because churches that call themselves "evangelical" minimize the importance of doctrinal truth and now groups are "emerging" from that diffuse and incoherent movement that are willing to embrace anything religious.
For more, see:
Westminster Seminary California
The latest raids have targeted grass-roots Christian groups Iran describes as "hard-liners" who pose a threat to the Islamic state. Authorities increasingly view them with suspicions that range from trying to convert Muslims to being possible footholds for foreign influence.
For more, see:
PhillyBurbs.com: Iran rounds up Christians in crackdown
Monday, January 10, 2011
Several good video clips from www.KingJamesBibleTrust.org.