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The vocation of the minister in Reformed churches is a vocation that is considered of crucial importance. That is why Reformed ministers must go through such a rigorous process to be licensed and ordained. That is why a Master of Divinity from Reformed seminaries is such a rigorous degree that includes numerous classes in Hebrew, Greek, Systematic Theology, preaching, and History (at a minimum).
This attitude of the office of minister or pastor has degraded in contemporary evangelical circles. The pastor can be someone with little to no theological training. In those circles, what is utmost important is how the person relates to people. It was Machen who stressed the importance of the minister knowing the Bible. More than knowing the Bible story, but knowing the small parts that were at work, the minister was called to be a specialist. It is the one thing they owe their congregation, to be a specialist in the Bible. Is that how you see your pastor? Is that how your pastor sees himself? (more…)
John Calvin was not the only person involved in Geneva during the time of the Reformation. Recall the timeline of the relationship between Calvin and Geneva. Calvin begins his work, for the first time, in Geneva in 1536. It was the guilt trip from William Farel that secured Calvin initially in Geneva. Farel in his persuasive effort was described by Calvin as, “working with incredible zeal to promote the gospel, bent all his efforts to keep me in the city.”
Together they ambitiously set out to reform the city. Initially, they wrote a confession of faith that was adopted by the city council. Later that year (1537) however, they fought the council leaders over a variety of issues. One issue was the council wanting Calvin and Farel to use unleavened bread for the Communion service. Calvin refused for a number of reasons and instead of complying with the council decided not to administer communion for the Easter service. A great debate followed and both were told to leave Geneva. After a series of events both ended up in different cities. (more…)
I have been teaching a class on Reformed worship and the formulations of Presbyterian liturgies. This class will have to have the story of Calvin and Geneva to make sense of how some of these liturgies were made. A source on the life of John Calvin I found helpful and well-written is John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor by Robert Godfrey. Clearly there is more read than can be taught in a single Sunday School class. Thus for this post I wanted to highlight the work ethic of Calvin. It was a work ethic that would serve as an example of how much we can do in a week. (more…)
I have written in the previous two posts about the progression in Geneva in the formulation of their worship. In this post I want to provide the basic outline of Calvin’s Liturgy in Geneva according to Eutaxia; Or the Presbyterian Liturgies Charles Washington Baird then add commentary.
Prior to Calvin, Farel came through and purged all forms of suspicious worship. Calvin initially planned on staying only one night. However, he was talked into staying by Farel to assist in reforming the church in Geneva. “It was his duty before God” according to Farel. If it was up to Calvin, he would have studied somewhere in some obscure location in privacy. Calvin portrays Farel’s most convincing words when he writes:
Then Farel, who was working with incredible zeal to promote the gospel, bent all his efforts to keep me in the city. And when he realized that I was determined to study in privacy in some obscure place, and saw that he gained nothing by entreaty, he descended to cursing, and said that God would surely curse my peace if I held back from giving help at a time of such great need. Terrified by his words, and conscious of my own timidity and cowardice, I gave up my journey and attempted to apply whatever gift I had in defense of my faith. (Church History One Hundred One, William M. Ramsay, 2006, Westminster John Knox Press, p. 57) (more…)
In the last post I wrote about that prior to Calvin in Geneva there was William Farel. Farel was instrumental in cleansing Geneva from all the remaining superstitious traditions of Rome but he wasn’t equipped to be the person to replace their forms of worship. Calvin, however, was equipped and in a very methodical and thoughtful manner put together a liturgy and Order of Worship that would remain influential for the Reformed tradition for centuries. In this post I will show that while Calvin wanted to return to a historic pure form of worship he was still a pastor that was mindful of the fragile souls in his ministry. (more…)
Liturgy and worship is something that always draws controversy. Bring up the discussion of liturgy and worship with two people and you will have two opinions. Include in that discussion a congregation and the conversation just became unmanageable. Sometimes members of a Reformed church will simply claim “RPW”, as if that settles the discussion. The regulative principle of worship given in WCF 21.1 and Catechism on 2nd Commandment…most notably in the Heidelberg. (more…)