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John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
A Christian who lacks joy is an odd creature. The reason it is so odd is because by definition a Christian has joy. A Christian is a possessor of eternal life and that entails joy. How can someone who was dead now be alive and not have joy over a new life? Understandably, it seems odd and out of place. How can a person know they have eternal life? The answer could be simply stated: Do you know the Gospel and believe it? Even in that answer there are implications. In this post I want us to consider a few those as referenced in John 17:3: (more…)
In the book, Scripture and Worship, Muller and Ward analyze some of the exegetical background of the confession and debates surrounding the writing of the Directory of Public Worship. They also argue against suggestions that the confessions and catechisms were a rejection or distortion from the original thought of the Reformers. How can this be measured? The most fruitful way is in tracing the exegesis of Scripture between the Reformers and the generation of Reformed Orthodoxy, the context the Westminster Standards were created in.
The first essay focusses on comparing Annotations upon all the books of the Old and New Testament, a two volume exegesis of the entire Bible with over 2,400 pages, (English Annotations) with the Westminster Standards. It is important to note first of all that there is no official relationship between the two works. Cornelius Burgess (one of the major members of the Assembly) argued against associating the Annotations with the Westminster Assembly. It is true that some of the members who compiled the Annotations were members of the Westminster Assembly, but the Assembly never ordered the work, nor did it review the finished product. (more…)
In Dogmatics Vol 1., p 98 Vos answers the question, “At what points is the doctrine of predestination or election related to the rest of Reformed doctrine as a whole?” In other words “What other areas in Reformed theology are connected or impacted from the doctrine of predestination?” Vos answers with five points: God’s Sovereignty, Human Inability, Mystical Union with Christ, and the Perseverance of the Saints.
First, the doctrine of predestination or election is a direct consequence of the Reformed concept (shaped by Scripture) of God’s sovereignty. During the period of the Reformation, one came to the doctrine of predestination one of two ways. Either starting with man and his salvation (Luther) or starting from the doctrine of God (Calvin and Zwingli). Starting with God, Calvin held that the creature, even at it’s highest importance, is still subordinate to God. Vos argues that to deny the doctrine of predestination is ultimately to deny the sovereignty of God. To deny the sovereignty of God is to go against the clear teachings of Scripture. (more…)
When the subject of the covenant God made with Moses (The Mosaic Covenant) comes up it raises a number of questions. Questions such as, “What was the purpose of the Mosaic covenant?” “What purpose does the Mosaic covenant have for New Testament Christians?” or “How are we to understand the function of the Mosaic covenant in relation to the work of Jesus?” I hope to explore some of these questions and use/recommend the book The Law is Not of Faith Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant to facilitate the discussion.
At the start it should be stated that I do not find that there was an overall consensus on this subject. J.V. Fesko, in his chapter, quotes one of the Westminster Divines Anthony Burgess (d. 1664) speaking to this
“I do not find in any point of divinity, learned men so confused and perplexed (being like Abraham’s ram, hun in a bush of briars and brambles by the head) as here.” (Law is Not of Faith, 25)
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…)