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David VanDrunen writing on justifying faith writes a lucid and clear article (found here) to help understand the contrasting Paul makes between works and faith versus faith and reason. Starting out with a quick over view of Romanism and NPP he then begins a quick but sufficient exegetical discussion of the Pauline use of Habakkuk 2:4 (more…)
Dr Clark has brought back his blog Heidelblog at http://heidelblog.net. I highly recommend for anyone who would be interested in reading more on Reformed Theology.
The only men evangelicals recognized as having some authority were the prophets and apostles who wrote the Bible…to put it another way, the only legitimate authority in this world was God’s, a presumption that made rebellion against a king alright but posed a few dilemmas when the ox being gored was headship in the home. – p. 115
Bible-onlyism threaten all earthly authorities, but ironically it made the individual sovereign. – p.115
I have been dialoging with a friend who believes that children should take Communion before they’ve made any profession of faith. I’ve tried to listen to the arguments and the reasoning from Scripture. There are a many hurdles that prevent me from embracing this doctrine. In this post I will discuss one that is not the primary but significant reason. I can see how Calvin must have felt over splits in the church over the Supper. An event that is supposed to bring union however causes division is very sad. Yet it is important to have a consistent theology that comes out of our Holy Scripture.
The challenge is based in how we regard the Supper as the body and blood of Christ. The debate goes back to Radbertus and Retramnus in the Medieval Church (circa 860). Transubstantiation, Consubstantiation, Memorial? The Reformed response has been to deny all but to embrace the tension by recognizing the distinction between “accidents” and “substance”. A quick review of this old debate will be helpful.
The debate/conflict between Radbertus (d860) and Retramnus (d868) was in regards to the presence of Christ in the Supper. Radbertus who was well read in Scripture and the classics wrote a significant amount. His most famous work “The Body and Blood of the Lord” was the first treatise on “the Lord’s Supper”. Later the Lutherans would reprint this work as part of their case against the Zwinglians.
In short the argument of Radbertus was:
- at consecration Christ’s humanity is made miraculously present in the Supper.
- at consecration a miracle happens
- strongly emphasized sacrementum with mystery
- Christ is God and he becomes the Supper. Whoever eats worthily will have eternal life.
- The elements do not change in corporeal appearance and taste
- The miracle changes not the accidents (things that can be changed but do not change what the object is. (Example you can have a red car or a blue car, the color changes but you still have a car))
- The miracle also changes the substance (what makes an object what it is)
- The faithful can perceive the change not with the senses but spiritually.
- The purpose of the supper is to transform the Christian spiritually.
- Only the faithful can actually partake, everyone else just eats.
- Christ is eaten through faith, this later would be the argument for transubstantiation.
- Even though this mystery occurs the lamb remains alive and whole. He is truly sacrificed each day in the mystery. In the 860s it is the beginning of the Eucharistic sacraments.
- Hoc est corpus meum – this is my body. argued for a complete ontological identity between the body and the elements of the Eucharist.
Retramnus wrote at the request of Charles the Bald. 1 book with 101 paragraphs. In 843 he wrote De Corpore at Sanguine (same name but different book). A summary of points of his argument:
- Radbertus is eliminating the sacrament and making it the thing signified.
- The body that Christ was born with and resurrected with is at the right hand of the Father. This is the body we feed on by faith but that body is represented to us in a figure in the elements that are not substantially changed at consecration.
- the figure is a kind of overshadowing that reveals its intent under a veil. Truth however, has no veil.
- Truth is a representation of clear fact not obscured by shadowy images. If the mystery of the sacrament is not performed by any figurative sense it’s not a mystery.
- If the sacrament is a mystery then there must be a figure.
- Exhibits one thing externally to the senses but proclaims one thing different to the mind of the faithful. Christ’s body is revealed.
- At consecration something does happen – Retramnus says the elements become the body of Christ figuratively. It is literally bread and wine but they become to the soul Christ’s body and blood.
- He wasn’t trying to remove Christ but ensure his presence.
- If transubstantiation is true then there is nothing because faith is not operating and faith is the essence of the Supper. By definition faith is not sight, if it’s not faith it’s not a sacrament.
- Radbertus has put the presence of Christ in jeopardy.
- Appeal to baptism as a parallel. No one said baptism is transubstantiated the power comes from the Holy Spirit operating through the water. He’s not in it but operates through it. If its transubstantiated its not a sacrament. If it remains unchanged it is a sign and not the thing. They are not drinking and eating the body of Christ by faith.
- It is admittedly a mystery, part of being a mystery is that an explanation is not attainable or needed.
- If you try to explain the “how” you will erase the mystery. If this is true then how could the disciples eat the body as Christ was standing there?
- Only the Spirit could feed the soul with the body of Christ.
- Identification of the sign with the thing signified.
The Reformed view is that you are eating the body of Christ by the Spirit through the elements. As discussed above, faith in an integral part of the Supper. If those who hold to Paedo-Communion want to embrace transubstantiation then they are not Reformed and there is a different discussion all together. However, if they want to remain in the Reformed community it appears there is the big problem in regards to faith and its role in the Supper. The Reformed view is that we are only able to partake in the real body of Christ our Lord by faith. Therefore children who do not have faith are not feeding on the body and blood of our Lord. If the child is not feeding on the body and blood of Christ then the discussion needs to include a description of what is happening to the non-believer who partakes of the Supper.
In summary, a significant short coming of the paedo-communion position is that they have ignored the role of faith for those who participate in the Supper in order to partake in the blood and body of Jesus Christ our Lord.
A COMPLETE SUMMARY OF CHRISTIANITY
(SUMMA TOTIUS CHRISTIANISMI)
trans. William Whittingham (1575)
revised by R. Scott Clark (2002).
The question of God’s eternal Predestination is not curious, or unprofitable, but of great importance, and very necessary in the Church of God.
THE FIRST CHAPTER.
1. In De bono perseverantiÃ¦ (On the Good of Perseverance), Augustine, chapter 14, says, that they who opposed him as adversaries in this question, alleged that the doctrine of predestination hindered the preaching of God’s word, and caused it to be unprofitable. As if (he says) this doctrine had hindered the Apostle Paul to do his duty: who so oftentimes does commend unto us, and teach Predestination, and yet never ceases to preach the word of God. Also says moreover: As he that has received the gift, can better exhort and preach: so he that has received this gift, does hear the Preacher more obediently, and with greater reverence, etc. We do therefore exhort and preach, but they only which have ears to hear do hear us quietly, and to their comfort: and in those that have them not, this sentence is fulfilled, that hearing with their ears they do not hear, for they hear with the outward sense, but not with the inward consent. Now why some men have these ears, and others not, it is, because it is given to some to come, and to others not. Who knew God’s counsel? must that be denied which is plain and evident, because that cannot be known which is hid and secret? Again in the 15th chapter, I pray you (says he) if some under the shadow of predestination give themselves to slothful negligence, and as they are bent to flatter their flesh, so follow their own lusts, must we therefore judge, that this which is written of the foreknowledge of God is false? Now surely this is very handsome, and to the purpose, that we shall not speak that which by the Scripture is lawful to speak. Oh we fear (say you) lest he should be offended, which is not able to understand, and take it. And shall we not fear (say I) lest whiles we hold our tongue, he that is able to take the truth, be taken and snared with falsehood and error? Also in the 20th chapter of the same book he writes in this sort, If the Apostles, and Doctors of the church which came after them, did the one and the other, both teaching the eternal election of God purely and truly, and also retaining the faithful in godly life and manners: What moves our adversaries (seeing they are overcome with the manifest and invincible truth) to think they speak well, saying, although this doctrine of predestination be true, yet it ought not to be preached to the people? Nay, so much the rather it is good to be thoroughly preached, that he that has
>This is based off the book The Message of Acts by Dennis Johnson PhD.
In the book of Acts we see so many unique events. Sometimes they are unique only to the book of Acts. The question is how are we to discover and apply the message of Acts in light of these events? Here are some guidelines to keep in mind while studying Luke’s second book of Acts: