Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Just A Little Wine

When I attended seminary in St. Louis MO, I attended a great church there under Pastor Jeff Meyers. The church was filled with all sorts of talent, and one of the most memorable times was their spring banquet. It was simply wonderful. Well, I may be late discovering it, but I found this song on his site today. After the pastor taught on using fermented wine in their Eucharistic celebrations, some men in the church got together and did this. You must listen! If you are ever in St. Louis, visit Providence Church with The Rev. Jeff Meyers.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Wright on the Virgin Birth

My friend has a blog that answers Wright's Reformed critics again with evidence showing the complete opposite of what they accuse Wright of. The very thing that shapes much of Wright's Christology is the Virgin Birth! I am beginning to wonder if the Reformed didn't have an enemy, usually one on the 'inside' too, they wouldn't know what to do with all of their free time. Possibly there would be open ears to the many cries that need our immediate attention in the Church and world. It is an odd psychological phenomenon when the "abused" sometimes become the abusers. I am beginning to wonder that those who have felt like the minority in the Reformed camp and perceived the majority constantly wearing them down with political agendas and hence feeling abused are not the same ones doing the abusing of Wright and twisting what he actually says and believes or casting judgment on him because he didn't say something they wanted him to say or say it "how" they wanted him to say it. We live in strange, but exciting times.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Andrewes at Christmas

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1 TIMOTHY iii. 16.

Christmas is the feast of the great mystery of godliness when Christ was manifested in the flesh. In this sermon we get a hint of Andrewes’ great concern for unity in the Church. In Stevenson’s work Covenant of Grace Renewed he has a quote from Andrewes that is a confirmation of what kept the Church apart Eucharistically that he desires to see put to an end. Andrewes says, in response to Bellarmine,

"Do you take away from the Mass your transubstantiation; and there will not long be any strife with us about the sacrifice. Willingly we allow that a memory of the sacrifice is made there. That your Christ made of bread is sacrificed there we will never allow."

Andrewes is determined to emphasise that in the act of partaking of the Eucharist the people eat and drink the body and blood of Christ. This was how God showed forth His love for us that is celebrated at the Altar and lived out by the Church. This is why the manifestation of the character of God and his love for the world is made most clearly visible in the feast celebrated on Christmas Day.

Andrewes said, "The mystery" here mentioned is the mystery of this feast, ~ and this feast the feast of this mystery; for as at this feast, "God was manifested in the flesh." In that it is a great mystery, it maketh the feast great. In that it is a mystery of godliness, it should make it likewise a feast of godliness; great we grant, and godly too we trust would God, as godly as great, and no more "controversy" of one than of the other!

He desires the hearer to become fixed in his heart with the greatness of this mystery by understanding the efficacy of it. He does not necessarily dig too deeply into how Christ is present and what transaction makes Him present but is certain that He is present. This presence makes the Sacrament efficacious. He differentiates between a ceremony that can be displayed by anyone in the world and a mystery that is efficacious. The difference between a ceremony and a mystery is that a ceremony can signify something but does not necessarily ‘work’ something. A mystery on the other hand not only signifies, though it does do that, but especially it works its operation. This sheds some light on what Andrewes mentioned when he dealt with the Eucharist as a mystery.

"There is this difference between a ceremony and a mystery. A ceremony represents and signifies, but works nothing; a mystery doth both. Beside that it signifieth, it hath his operation; and work it doth, else mystery is it none. You may see it by the mystery of iniquity; that doth operari, 'was at work' in the Apostles' time; and it is no, way to be admitted, but that the "mystery of godliness" should have like operative force."

If a mystery does not have its work it cannot be a mystery. It is nothing more than a ceremony. The objectivity of the mystery in this sermon is evident.

He writes, "If you ask what it is to work? It is to do, as all other agents; ut assimulet sibi passum, 'to make that it works on like itself;' to bring forth in it the very same quality. This the rather, for that this day being a birth-day, and the mystery of it a birth or generation; in that, we know, the natural and most proper work is sui simile procreare, 'to beget and bring forth the very like to itself.'"

This objectivity of the mystery can be theologically deduced from the scriptures. It is my opinion that Andrewes is right to point out this very important implication that seems to be practically denied by much of the church in our day, at least in practice if not theory as well. A mere ceremonial understanding has made the use of the sacrament to become no more than something appended to the end of the service rather than the very operative means of salvation and the forgiveness of sins being applied to the recipients afresh. Kenneth Stevenson supports this when he quotes from Andrewes’ Easter Day sermon in 1612 two years after his response to Bellarmine.

"And that sacrifice [Christ’s] but once actually performed at His death, but ever before represented in figure, from the beginning; and ever since repeated in memory, to the world’s end. That only absolute, all else relative to it, representative of it, operative by it."

It is observably clear that Andrewes is in agreement with this view as he interprets the Apostle Paul in the Eucharistic passage from 1 Corinthians 11:27 where Paul writes “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.” It would be odd that one would be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord if one was not in some sense partaking of the body and blood of the Lord objectively. Hence here is the great mystery of the Sacrament.

This great mystery is not a hidden mystery and the physicality of the sacramental elements is verification that faith is more than an abstract proposition for Andrewes. Rather faith is something that is seen, handled, touched, and able to be measured to a degree. Much like the writer to the Hebrews states in Chapter Eleven of that epistle concerning those who have displayed great acts of faith. Andrewes related the visibility of the mystery of godliness to a complaint about the lack of godliness in his day.

That therefore our godliness be not only mystical but manifest, as God was. As the mystery, so the godliness of it; "great" and conspicuous, both. For that is the complaint, that in our godliness, nowadays, we go very mystically to work indeed; we keep it under a veil, and nothing manifest but opera carnis. Which maketh St. James cry, ostende mihi, "shew it me;" and St. Paul tells us, that the life of Jesus must not only be had in our spirit but manifest in our flesh. For godliness is not only faith, which referreth to the mystery as we have it directly at the ninth verse, the "mystery of faith;" but it is love too, which referreth to the manifestation.

The exercising of this godliness is united in this mystery and is fashioned by the Church whereby in her offering of the Sacrament members are initiated into the mystery of the Incarnation. This is where Andrewes becomes clear on the objectivity of the Eucharist and the work that it does in us when we partake of it. Again we find Andrewes spoke in terms of physicality and union within our nature and of those elements being offered in union with Christ. As the Eucharistic mystery accomplishes its means the humanity and divinity of Christ is applied to us and we are made partakers of it.

"By which I understand the mystery of godliness, or exercise of godliness_call it whether ye will_which we call the Sacrament; the Greek hath no other word for it but Musthrion, whereby the Church offereth to initiate us into the fellowship of this day's mystery. Nothing sorteth better than these two mysteries one with the other; the dispensation of a mystery with the mystery of dispensation. It doth manifestly represent, it doth mystically impart what it representeth. There is in it even by the very institution both a manifestation and that visibly, to set before us this flesh; and a mystical communication to infeoffe us in it or make us partakers of it. For the elements; what can be more properly fit to represent unto us the union with our nature, than things that do unite themselves to our nature? And if we be to dispense the mysteries in due season, what season more due than that His flesh and blood be set before us that time that He was "manifested in flesh and blood" for us? Thus we shall be initiate."

To be initiated into the mystery of the Incarnation is to be initiated in the Sacrament of the body and blood. Andrewes believed that something authentic happened in the dispensing of the sacraments that created a real objective living union with Christ and His Church. This is an analysis of Church life that makes for a practical theology that calls people back to a real living union who have possibly lapsed from the faith or are on the verge of doing so. There is much more that needs to be said about the objectivity of the sacraments but let it suffice for now that this understanding of the objectivity of the sacramental union between Christ, the elements and His Church is found within the theology of Andrewes’ sacramental thinking. Lossky caught on to Andrewes’ objectivity of the sacraments and how he described them as the Fathers viewed the nature of a symbol. It was no bare sign for Andrewes. Lossky points out how

"When the Fathers of the Church speak of a symbol, it is very often a matter of an ‘objective’ reality founded on a vision universally accepted by the Catholic Church. According to this conception, which is at the basis of the whole eucharistic and thus ecclesiological theology of the period of the great Ecumenical Councils, the symbol, or the sign in a strong sense of the world, or better still the image, is, so to speak, the coexistence of two realities: that of what signifies and that of what is signified. That which signifies, the image for example, participates in the reality signified. A symbolic name of Christ is an image of Christ, but an image not all in the abstract sense of a reminder, by certain conventionally recognized traits, of the existence of an abstract reality; it is an image in the concrete sense of participation in the reality of what it represents by the likeness of the representation to that which is represented."

It was this approach to sacramental ‘objectivity’ that Andrewes describes both baptism and the Eucharist. The sacraments are signs that set forth two realities, a human reality and a divine reality. It was here that Andrewes would use symbolic expressions that defined the reality of the incarnation and the hypostatic union and compared this doctrine with the ‘objectivity’ of the sacraments. Lossky is right when he said what he did about the objective reality being personal but not ‘individual’ since the sacraments do not separate men but join them together with their joining to Christ. This is what Paul seems to be getting at in places like Galatians 3:27ff; Romans 6:2ff; and 1 Corinthians 10:16, 17, 11:27-29, 12:13.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve and Crib Blessing

Collect: Eternal God, who made this most holy night to shine with the brightness of our one true light: bring us, who have known the revelation of that light on earth, to see the radiance of your heavenly glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Readings: Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)

A Blessing prayer for Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, when the Christ Child is placed in the manger.

O God of every nation: From the very beginning of creation you have made manifest your love: When our need for a Savior was great, you sent your Son to be born of the Virgin Mary. To our lives He brings joy and peace, justice, mercy and love.

The origin of the Christmas Crib (or Manger or Nativity scene -- or French crêche; Italian presepio; German krippe; Spanish nacimiento) is often attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi, who in 1223 celebrated the Feast of the Nativity in a new way that led to a new devotional practice. Saint Francis sent for his friend, Giovanni Vellita, a landowner in Greccio where Francis had a favorite hermitage. "If now it seems good to thee that we should celebrate this feast together, go before me to Greccio and prepare everything as I tell thee. I desire to represent the birth of that Child in Bethlehem in such a way that with our bodily eyes we may see what He Suffered for lack of the necessities of a newborn babe and how He lay in a manger between the ox and ass".

Saint Bonaventure, Francis's biographer, said of the scene, "Many brothers and good people came at Francis's bidding, and during the night the weather also was beautiful. Many lights were kindled, songs and hymns were sung with great solemnity so that the whole wood echoed with the sound, and the man of God stood by the manger, filled with the utmost joy, and shedding tears of devotion and compassion. By his order the manger had been so arranged that Mass was celebrated on it, and blessed Francis ... sang the gospel and preached to the people on the Nativity of Christ our King, and whenever he pronounced His name with infinite tenderness he called Him the 'little Babe of Bethlehem'". (Nesta Robeck, The Christmas Crib, Milwaukee: Bruce Publishing Company, 1956, p. 45-47)

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Andrewes: Restored in the Eucharist

Why do we go on labouring in the faith? We do so because of our hope in the second resurrection. Labour is something that leads to hope. Living in hope and labouring for hope leads to our restoring. Andrewes brings together four things laid upon the Corner Stone who is Christ. These are: 1) Christ’s rising, 2) our restoring, 3) our hope, and 4) our labour. The message is Christ’s rising that makes for our restoring for as we died in Adam we shall be made alive in Christ and raised just as He has been raised, which is our hope. This hope produces within us a labour of love for the restoring hope that Christ offered to us that was proclaimed by the Angel in the sepulchre. The first fruits of this life that we are to seek that is given by the Spirit was first received “in our Baptism, which is to us our ‘laver of regeneration,’ and of our ‘renewing by the Holy Spirit,’ where we are made and consecrate primitæ.” This is not something that happens once in Andrewes’ theology of ‘first fruits’ but something that is to be renewed and rekindled often and for him there is no better time for it than on the day of celebration of ‘first-fruits,’ Easter Sunday. This is a renewal in the life of grace. Here again is where we see the complete centrality of the Eucharistic sacrifice in Andrewes’ theology. The question is what is the means whereby we are to be consecrated anew? The answer for Andrewes is by ‘the means of the oblation of the body of Jesus.’ For Andrewes, the Eucharist is the means to restore us to life. It is renewal in the covenant of life in Christ.He said,

"The words spoken concerning He hath said it, and showed it Himself'; "He that eateth Me shall live by Me." The words spoken concerning that, are both "spirit and life," whether we seek for the spirit or seek for life. Such was the means of our death, by eating the forbidden fruit, the first fruits of death; and such is the means of our life, by eating the flesh of Christ, the first fruits of life. And herein we shall very fully fit, not the time only and the means, but also the manner. For as by partaking the flesh and blood, the substance of the first Adam, we came to our death, so to life we cannot come, unless we do participate with the flesh and blood of the " second Adam," that is Christ. We drew death from the first, by partaking the substance; and so must we draw life from the second, by the same. This is the way; become branches of the Vine, and partakers of His nature, and so of His life and verdure both. So the time, the means, the manner agree. What letteth then but that we, at this time, by this means, and in this manner, make ourselves of that conspersion whereof Christ is our first fruits ; by these means obtaining the first fruits of His Spirit, of that quickening Spirit, Which being obtained and still kept, or in default thereof still recovered, shall here begin to initiate in us the first fruits of our restitution in this life, whereof the fulness we shall also be restored unto in the life to come; as St. Peter calleth that time, the " time of the restoring of all things." Then shall the fulness be restored us too, when God shall be "all in all;" not some in one, and some in another, but all in all. Atque hic est vitæ finis, pervenire ad vitam cujus non est finis ; this is the end of the text and of our life, to come to a life whereof there is no end."
page 214 Works "Of the Resurrection."

Interview with Wright Parts IV and V

Here is Part IV

Here is Part V

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Andrewes: our scientes is without reputantes

I am reading the Easter sermons of Andrewes presently and taking note of his sacramental theology within them. There was a quote that struck me as something that I ought to put out for others to ponder. Now it may seem odd for me to post something from his Easter sermons when we are about to enter Christmastide but that is where I am in my reading presently. I'll try to put something out from his Christmas sermons later. I have already worked through them.

Here Andrewes says something for all of us that has real practical application each day we reflect on what we know. He said, "Christian knowledge is not a knowledge without all manner of account, but that we are accountants for it; that we are to keep an audit of what we hear, and take account of ourselves of what we have learned."

The sermon on Rom. 6:9-11 resonates with two major themes: 1) the knowledge of Christ’s dying to sin and being raised to life in God and 2) our account for that knowledge in our similarity of dying ourselves to sin and being raised to live unto God in Christ. The living unto God was all of His grace breathed into us and bringing us to life through repentance from sin and dead works and living unto God in Christ. Andrewes quoting St. Augustine says sine Me nihil potestis facere‘without Me you are able to do nothing.’ For Andrewes then it is this same Spirit and life that are joined to the elements that make the Blessed Sacrament. The Eucharist for Andrewes is the means of opening our eyes

to the best and surest sense we know, and therefore most to be accounted of. There we taste and there we see; taste and see how gracious the Lord is. There we are made to drink of the Spirit, there our hearts are strengthened and stablished with grace. There is the Blood which shall purge our consciences from dead works, whereby we may die to sin. There the Bread of God, which shall endue our souls with much strength; yeah, multiply strength in them, to live unto God; yea, to live to Him continually; for he that eateth His flesh and drinketh His blood, dwelleth in Christ, and Christ in him; not inneth, or sojourneth for a time, but dwelleth continually. And, never can we more truly, or properly say, in Christo Jesu Domino nostro, as when we come new from that holy action, for then he is in us, and we in Him, indeed. And so we to make full account of this service, as a special means to further us to make up our Easter-day’s account, and to set off a good part of our charge…Thus using His own ordinance of Prayer, of the Word, and Sacrament, for our better enabling to discharge this day’s duty, we shall I trust yield up a good account, and celebrate a good feast of His resurrection.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Jordan Responds to Fesko

James B. Jordan in a very gracious way responds to a paper that was given by Dr. Fesko of the OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian Church) to the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) Stated Clerk's meeting. Unfortunantly Dr. Jordan nor any other man that Fesko critiques, and mischaracterises at that gathering were there to be able to interact with Fesko's opinions. This has and continues to be one of the main problems in this debate and it gives the appearance of an unwillingness to hear the other out. The men on one side of this debate have been very willing to discuss and talk "their" views but rarely if ever get invited to do so. Some even think that the time for talking is past when it never got started to begin with. Jordan has given an excellent response here for all of you who are interested and may be concerned with this debate.

I think many people simply don't understand and Fesko's article is one such example. There was a quote that I ran across today from a blog stating the same type thing. It said, "Before one can say, "I disagree", one must be able to say, "I understand". It is axiomatic that before you level criticism you should be able to state an author's position in terms that he or she would find acceptable. That is, I think, one of the most violated principles in all of Christian scholarship in our day... When you read the commentaries and you see a difference of interpretation, you need to be able to state that author's position in such a way that he would say "that's right, that's where I'm coming from", and when you understand him that well, then you have the right to disagree." Well said!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Unchurching the Fathers

I failed to mention that the Fathers would also need to be listed as holding aberrant views of baptism and I guess the few who actually understand the faith and sacraments would unchurch them as well. One thing that is obvious to me about the Fathers' writings is that they do not shy away from speaking about their sacramental theology by using biblical langauge and imagery. They were not constantly worried about having to qualify everything to nth degree so as not to be confused with being Roman, Orthodox,or some other group that may threaten someone's system. They simply communicated things about baptism that they found in scripture.

Commenting on the phrase in the Nicene Creed, these Fathers said the following:

"We believe in...one baptism for the remission of sins" (Nicene Creed)

"They are led by us to a place where there is water; and there they are reborn in the same kind of rebirth in which we ourselves were reborn: In the name of God, the Lord and Father of all, and of our Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they receive the washing with water...This washing is called illumination, since those who learn these things are illumined within." (Justin Martyr c.155, First Apology)

"For as we are lepers in sin, we are made clean from our old transgressions by means of the sacred water and the invocation of the Lord, being spiritually regenerated as new-born babes." (Irenaeus, c. 190 Fragment 34)

"Bearing your sins, you go down into the water; but the calling down of grace seals your soul. You go down dead in your sins, and come up made alive in righteousness...The water cleanses the body, and the Spirit seals the soul. When you go down into the water, then, regard not simply the water, but look for salvation through the power of the Holy Spirit...He that is baptized with water, but is not found worthy of the Spirit, does not receive the grace in perfection." (Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures)

"Baptism, then, is a purification from sins, a remission of trespasses, a cause of renovation and regeneration." (Gregory of Nyssa, On the Baptism of Christ)

"It is at this moment that, through the words (these would be the Trinitarian words) and the hand of the priest, the Holy Spirit descends upon you. Instead of the man who descended into the water, a different man comes forth, on who has wiped away all the filth of his sins, who has put off the old garment of sin and has put on the royal robe." (St. John Chrysostom c. 390, Baptismal Instructions)

"Time would fail me were I to try to lay before you in order all the passages in the Holy Scriptures which relate to the efficacy of baptism or to explain the mysterious doctrine of that second birth which though it is our second is yet our first in Christ." (Jerome, Letter to Oceanus)

"It is this one Spirit who makes it possible for an infant to be regenerated through the agency of another's will when that infant is brought to Baptism...the water, therefore, manifesting exteriorly the sacrament of grace, and the Spirit effecting interiorly the benefit of grace, both regenerate in one Christ that man who was in one Adam." (Augustine, Epistle 98, to Boniface)

Someone may rightly be thinking, "but what of scripture, what does it say about baptism?" Let's take a look!

Mark 1:9-11 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; 11 and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased."

Romans 6:3-5 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

1 Corinthians 10:1 I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same supernatural food 4 and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless with most of them God was not pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things are warnings for us, not to desire evil as they did.Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to dance." 8 We must not indulge in immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put the Lord to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body -- Jews or Greeks, slaves or free -- and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

Galatians 3:27-28 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:39 For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him."

John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit...,

Acts 19:2-6 And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." 3 And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism." 4 And Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus." 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

Acts 22:16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.'

1 Peter 3:21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace; give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly union and concord: that as there is but one Body and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Will the Real Aberrant Please Stand Up?

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In Calvin’s Strasbourg catechism, he asks the student “How do you know yourself to be a son of God in fact as well as in name?” The answer is “Because I am baptized in the name of God the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” In his Geneva catechism, he asks, “Is baptism nothing more than a mere symbol [i.e., picture] of cleansing?” The answer: “I think it to be such a symbol that the reality is attached to it. For God does not disappoint us when he promises us his gifts. Hence, both pardon of sins and newness of life are certainly offered and received by us in baptism.”

In his discussion on baptism in the Institutes (IV.3), Calvin claims, “We must realize that at whatever time we are baptized, we are once for all washed and purged for our whole life. Therefore, as often as we fall away, we ought to recall the memory of our baptism and fortify our mind with it, that we may always be sure and confident of the forgiveness of sins.” Elsewhere, Calvin wrote, “It is a thing out of all controversy true, that we put on Christ in baptism, and were baptized on this very ground, that we should be one with him”

In his response to the Anabaptists he explains his understanding of the significance of baptism: “But as baptism is a solemn recognition by which God introduces his children in to the possession of life, a true and effectual sealing of the promise, a pledge of sacred union with Christ, it is justly said to be the entrance and reception into the Church. And as the instruments of the Holy Spirit are not dead, God truly performs and effects by baptism what He figures.” (Calvin’s Second Defense of the Faith Concerning the Sacraments in Answer to Joachim Westphal [1556], quoted in Willem Balke’s Calvin and the Anabaptists Radicals, 222)

Martin Bucer, Calvin’s mentor, wrote the following in his 1537 liturgy for infant baptism: “Almighty God, heavenly Father, we give you eternal praise and thanks, that you have granted and bestowed upon this child your fellowship, that you have born him again to yourself through holy baptism, that he has been incorporated into your beloved son, our only savior, and is now your child and heir...”

In a similar vein, the French Reformed liturgy included the pastor speaking these words to the newly baptized infant (I spoke these words to the infants I baptised every time and meant them): “Little child, for you Jesus Christ has come, he has fought, he has suffered. For you he entered into the shadows of Gethsemane and the terror of Calvary; for you he uttered the cry ‘it is finished.’ For you he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, and there for you he intercedes. For you, even though you do not yet know it, little child, but in this way the Word of the Gospel is made true, ‘We love him because he first loved us.’”

Thomas Cranmer’s prayers in the Book of Common Prayer to accompany the baptism of an infant: “Grant that this child now to be baptized, may receive the fullness of thy grace and ever remain in the number of thy faithful and elect children through Jesus Christ our Lord [3]....[Then, following the baptism:] Seeing now, dearly beloved, that this child is regenerate and grafted into the body of Christ’s church, let us give thanks unto God Almighty for these benefits, and with one accord make our prayers unto him, that this child may lead the rest of his life according to this beginning...We yield hearty thanks, most merciful Father, that it has pleased thee to regenerate this infant with thy Holy Spirit, to receive him as thine own child by adoption, and to incorporate him into thy holy church...”

Reformed Anglican, Richard Hooker: “Baptism both declares and makes us Christians.” “In baptism, besides the hand seen that casts the water, is the virtue of the Holy Ghost there, working, without hands, what here was wrought.”

The French Confession makes the same point: “We acknowledge only two sacraments, common to the whole church, the former whereof is baptism, given unto us to witness to our adoption, for by it we are grafted into the body of Christ, that being washed with his blood we might be renewed by his Spirit unto holiness of life...[I]n baptism, God gives us really and in fact that which he there sets before us; and that consequently with these signs is given true possession and enjoyment of that which they present to us.”

WCF 28.1 “Baptism is a sacrament of the new testament, ordained by Jesus Christ,[Matt. 28:19] not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible church;[I Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27-28] but also, to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace,[Rom. 4:11; Col. 2:11-12] of his ingrafting into Christ,[Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:5] of regeneration,[John 3:5; Tit. 3:5] of remission of sins,[Mark 1:4; Acts 2:38; 22:16] and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life.[Rom. 6:3-4]” This is their prooftexts! Those miscreants!

Calvin's Strasbourg catechism (cited in Old 207):

Q. Are you, my son, a Christian in fact as well as in name?
A. Yes, my father.
Q. How do you know yourself to be?
A. Because I am baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Bucer's Church Order of Cassel (cited in Old 211):
Q. Are you a Christian?
A. Yes.
Q. How do you know?
A. Because I have been baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
A bit later in the Church Order of Cassel:
Q. Are you in the Church and fellowship of Christ?A. Yes.
Q. How did you enter?
A. Through holy Baptism.

The Scots Confession (1530, John Knox):

“These sacraments, both of the Old Testament and of the New, were instituted by God not only to make a visible distinction between his people and those who were without the Covenant, but also to exercise the faith of his children and, by participation of these sacraments, to seal in their hearts the assurance of his promise, and of that most blessed conjuction, union, and society, which the chosen have with their Head, Christ Jesus. And so we utterly condemn the vanity of those who affirm the sacraments to be nothing else than naked and bare signs. No, we assuredly believe that by Baptism we are engrafted into Christ Jesus, to be made partakers of his righteousness, by which our sins are covered and remitted. . .” (Chapter 21)

Martin Bucer’s Strasbourg Baptismal Liturgy (1537). After baptism, the minister is to pray:

“Almighty God, Heavenly Father, we give you eternal praise and thanks, that you have granted and bestowed upon this child your fellowship, that you have born him again to yourself through your holy baptism, that he has been incorporated into your beloved Son, our only Savior, and is now your children and heir. Grant, most loving and faithful Father, that we in the whole course of our lives might prove our thankfulness for your great grace, faithfully bring up this your child through all the situations of life and that we with this child as well, might more and more die unto the world, and joined to the life of your Son, our Lord Jesus, daily grow in grace, that we might ever praise your and be a blessing to our neighbor, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.” (From, Old, The Shaping of the Reformed Baptismal Rite in the Sixteenth Century, p. 167)

The Second Helvetic Confession (1566)

“Now to be baptized in the name of Christ is to be enrolled, entered, and received into the covenant and family, and so into the inheritance of the sons of God; yes, and in this life to be called after the name of God; that is to say, to be called a son of God; to be cleansed also from the filthiness of sins, and to be granted the manifold grace of God, in order to lead a new and innocent life. Baptism, therefore, calls to mind and renews the great favor God has shown to the race of mortal men. For we are all born in the pollution of sin and are the children of wrath. But God, who is rich in mercy, freely cleanses us from our sins by the blood of his Son, and in him adopts us to be his sons, and by a holy covenant joins us to himself, and enriches us with various gifts, that we might live a new life. All these things are assured by baptism. For inwardly we are regenerated, purified, and renewed by God through the Holy Spirit; and outwardly we receive the assurance of the greatest gifts in the water, by which also those great benefits are represented, and, as it were, set before our eyes to be beheld.” (Chapter 20)

The 39 Articles (1571)

“Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or New Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed; Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God. The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.” (Article 26)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Third Sunday of Advent: Rose Sunday

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On the third Sunday of Advent the rose colored candle joins the two purple candles. This Sunday is called "Gaudete" Sunday. Gaudete means "rejoice" in Latin. On this Sunday we joyfully celebrate that Christmas is almost here. During the week the three candles are lit.

Collect: O Lord Jesus Christ, who at your first coming sent you messenger to prepare your way before you: grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready your way by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in your sight; for you are alive and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Text for todays Eucharist Service: Sung-Magnificat; Isaiah 35:1-10; Jas. 5:7-10; Matt. 11:2-11.

Post Communion Prayer: We give you thanks, O Lord, for these heavenly gifts; kindle in us the fire of your Spirit that when your Christ comes again we may shine as lights before his face; wo is alive and reigns now and for ever. Amen.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

+Wright Interview Part III

Since Part III just got forwarded to me, I thought I would go ahead and link it for any of you to read. I hope it helps!

Interview with Wright

If you would like to read a good interview with +N.T. Wright, go to the following site.

Part II is here.

Enjoy! Comments Welcome.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Second Sunday of Advent

Collect: O Lord, raise up, we pray, your power and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness we are grievously hindered in running the race that is set before us, your bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Cchrist your Son our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, be honour and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Isaiah 11:1-10; Rom. 15:4-13; Psalm 72:1-7 (18-19); Matt. 3:1-12

Post Communion: Father in heaven, who sent your Son to redeem the world and will send him again to be our judge: give us grace so to imitate him in the humility and purity of his first coming that, when he comes again, we may be ready to greet him with joyful love and firm faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

May the Lord who gave us this baptism purify us in our celebration today; for he can brook nothing that lacks integrity and truth. Then, through the Spirit of our baptism, united in heart and voice, we will be able to give glory to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

People of Zion, the Lord will come to save all nations, and your hearts will exult to hear his majestic voice.

The themes today are quite numerous but I was intrigued by some comments made in +Wright's _Twelve Month's of Sundays_ when he brought out the Hebrew meaning of the word delight in Is. 11:3. The word literally means 'smell.' +Wright reminds us that when Messiah comes he will judge with fine-honed accuracy. "Eyes may deceive; ears may listen to powerful voices; but the Messiah's justice will have a sense of smell, attuned by the fear of the Lord, through which wickedness will be identified and dealt with." It is from this sense of keen smell that peace will surround the people of God and the knowledge of the Lord will fill the EARTH as the waters cover the sea. We can make note of the view of God's kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Now that Christ has come in the Incarnation, Paul can call upon the Church to display the same peace incarnationally that is illustrated in the animals of Isaiah and God will bring his justice, not only to Israel, but to all the world and He fulfills all the promises given to us through the true Israelite. So, our Gospel brings us to John's ministry of preparation for the Way. Preparing involves separating much like what is discussed in Matt. 25. We separate our selves from the world's injustices that thrive on self-service and self-gratitude and serve others in the way Christ came to serve rather than be served. A noteworthy thing for us to think about as we leave the Eucharistic celebration and pray the prayers like the one above, is what the Eucharist teaches us as an ethic of sacrifice on behalf of the world. We are broken and given to the world and pour ourselves out and bring the peace of Christ to all humanity where all things that create walls of division are destroyed. This should be especially evident in the Church. But sadly, it is all too evident that the very opposite is the situation and it is difficult for the world to hear about peace in the world when peace is not as evident in the Church as it should be. We need God to come again and visit us with his Spirit to separate the wheat from the chaff so that the Church can offer peace with integrity and truth. This begins in our own lives where we give up what rights we may believe we have or the selfish desires we may seek. It is in our self-sacrifice that we prepare the way of the coming of the Lord so that when we stand before him his keen sense of smell will be filled with the aroma of his love and truth by the integrity of our service to others in behalf of his name. May we be renewed this Advent season and get busy in our sacrificial service where the waters that will cover the earth with the knowledge of the Lord will flood the Church with mercy and peace so that when we speak of the coming of God in this way and the world sees it in our lives, mercy and peace will then fill the world!

Silly Me!

I just noticed that I blogged my below entry earlier and called it Thanksgiving to Lent instead of Thanksgiving to Advent! It has been a long week indeed plus I had seen something on lent moments earlier on the net and then actually wrote Lent instead of Advent. Thanks to a friend asking me to enlighten him on the Lent reference I probably would have left it up there! I need a break! And a new brain!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

A Wonderful Thanksgiving and Intro to Advent

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Since we were not able to have Thanksgiving at the regular time we have it in the States, (due to the obvious that it is not a holiday here), we celebrated and gave thanks with my students and our neighbours today. We had a wonderful day of food, faith, and fellowship. It would be nice to be able to host all the pictures but there is no room for it. So here are a couple of us all offering thanks and and a celebrated cheers!

To all of you who are supporting us being here through prayers and finances to study and minister to the college students, we are very grateful for you in helping to make this possible. It is because of your love and desire for God's Kingdom to grow internationally that has assisted us where we are now able to minister in this part of the world. We enjoyed the day and wish many of you could have been here with us. It made our children feel like they were home again as they remember with great fondness to have the college students in our home on Sunday evenings. All the best to all of you for a very blessed Advent and Merry Christmas!

    O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity (+), be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
    --Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Societas Sanctae Crucis

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