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Wednesday, April 19, 2006 

Topics: Theology

Reading: Hebrew vocab
Enjoying: Minnesota Spring & impending T'Wolves game
Listening: Horton's sermon "The Promise Driven Life" Download here

A bunch of things that should have gone up days ago, but are just now getting dealt with. In this ish, a bit about a sermon by Dr. Michael S. Horton, the justification controversy in the OPC (yeah you know me), Dr. Scott McKnight thinks up some new brew on the Reformation, and a bit about Calvin's liturgy of the Eucharist. All that and more after the jump.

Horton's Sermon
Turns out Dr. Horton was preaching at Escondido URC on August 21st of last year (so was I), and the sermon is up for download. Entitled "The Promise Driven Life," its taken from Genesis 15 and Romans 4. Vintage Horton - the only thing missing is, "77% of evangelicals think that man is basically good, and 87%..." His views of faith, mentioned here, and the Christian life stand out in stark contrast from some of the views we've talked about elsewhere. A refreshing, encouraging exhortation. Definitely worth your time (download above).

OPC Justification Report

The Orhtodox Presbyterian Church has come out with their study regarding justification. In their previous (2004) statement, they forcasted:
The Assembly erected a study committee of seven “to critique the teachings of the New Perspective on Paul, Federal Vision, and other like teachings concerning the doctrine of justification and other related doctrines, as they are related to the Word of God and our subordinate standards, with a view to giving a clear statement to the presbyteries, sessions and seminaries, and report back to the 72nd GA.” Dr. William B. Barcley, Dr. L. Anthony Curto, Dr. Sydney D. Dyer, Dr. John V. Fesko, Dr. Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., The Rev. Alan D. Strange, and Dr. David M. VanDrunen (Convener) were elected to this committee.
With the heavy hitting names on the list, as well as the thoroughness (91 pg.; 800K worth of fonts and text) this study will provide, there will probably be a large impact from the document. While the paper can be downloaded from the site, it is loosely password protected. It will not be technically endorsed by the OPC until the 73rd GA can approve it.

Responses to the document have already begun. Links to parties who disagree will hopefully be updated here.
Leithart responds to Justification Document

(to be updated as apropos

Is the Reformtion Over...Again? Still? Was it ever?
Can you hear that? Its the sound of the Jesus Creed moving ever closer to the Jesus Feeling. Dr. McKnight of the vanishing-like-the-glory-on-Moses'-face Jesus Creed presents more of his "purple theology" (!) to note that
A purple theology believes that to one degree or another the Reformation is over. By that it means that the Reformation’s summons of the Church to return to the Bible (sola scriptura) and to faith as the sole means of justification (sola fide) and to grace alone as that which saves us (sola gratia) has done its job. Those are no longer the central issues... And there is always one sola many have forgotten: Is there a time for the post-Reformation folks to admit that they forgot the sola ecclesiam (the church alone)?
Dr. McKnight then goes on a bit about the many journeys several individuals have made: to Catholicism, to Orthodoxy, over to Protestantism, back to wherever. It is difficult to take such claims seriously. To say that sola Scriptura and sola fide are no longer the central issues makes me wonder where he has been. What about the struggle for Scripture in the '70s and '80s? What about the current FV and NPP debates concerning justification? One is of course allowed to disagree with the magisterial Reformers that justification is in fact not the article upon which the Church stands or falls, but to do so without offering anything in terms of an argument makes it sound like Dr. McKnight never quite understood whatever Reformation it is he is throwing away.

Sola ecclesiam? What churches is he running in? While Dr. McKnight is busy painting word pictures of purple-theological-life-canvases, whether or not the Reformation exists is quite beyond the point. "The Reformation" is a construct, a matrix, used to tag all the people protesting Rome. That is where the rubber meets the road here, is in the protest. The protest has never been, "We're going to take our Luther and Calvin and go sit in the corner until you papists play nice." Instead, the cry of the Protestants is, "Please, for the love of Christ, come back to the Church! We will continue to believe the cardinal doctrines, we will continue to administer the sacraments, and we will continue to be the Church; but Rome, for the love of Christ (alone!), come back!" Dr. McKnight's real problem is that Reformed Protestants are taking sola ecclesiam too seriously - there is no other Church.[1]

Covenant Seminary Resources
Covenant Seminary, the PCA flagship in St. Louis, MO, has a load of online resources in the form of audio lectures/sermons, pdf docs, and worksheets and syllabi. All free for downloading, and you can search. For instance, you could search Bryan Chapell on Preaching, if you wanted to.

Calvin on the Eucharist
In my studies on Reformed liturgy and worship, here's some gleanings from Calvin.[2] If more of this attitude was employed in more churches, perhaps God might be pleased to give grace on our hard hearts. (BTW, Dr. McKnight, pay attention for some serious ecclesiology.)

Service of the Word and Sacrament [after the second ringing of the great bell of St. Pierre, called Clemence]

Psalm #60 "O God, YOu Have Cast Us Out"


Confession of Sin

Psalm #28 "O God You Are My Fortress" [approximately 1546 - 62: Decalogue]

Minister's Extempore Prayer for Illumination-Sealing

Biblical Text and Sermon-Exposition


Confession of Faith [Apostles Creed]

Singing the Decalogue [after 1562]

Scripture and Exhortation


Thanksgiving Prayer

Song of Simeon [probably at least by 1546]

[In Strasbourg a collection for the poor was probably taken on the day the Lord's supper was celebrated, most likely at the door as the congregation departed. Calvin's teaching on the supper included an alms offering but it was probably not practiced in Geneva until 1568.]

What follows is what Calvin said to his congregation during "Scripture and Exhortation":
[upon reading I Corinthians 11:23 - 29] We have heard, my brethren, how our Lord observed His supper with His disciples, from which we learn that strangers, those who do not belong to the company of His faithful people, must not be admitted. Therefore, following that precept, in the name and by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ I excommunicate all idolaters, blasphemers, and despisers of God, all heretics and those who create private sects in order to break the unity of the church, all perjurers, all who rebel against father or mother or superior, all who promote sedition or mutiny, brutal and disorderly persons, adulterers, fornicators, thieves, ravishers, greedy and graspy people, drunkards, gluttons and all those who lead a scandalous life. I warn them to abstain from this holy table, lest they defile and contaminate the holy food that our Lord Jesus Christ gives to none except those who belong to His household of faith.

Moreover, in accordance with the exhortation of St. Paul (I Corinthians 11:28) let each one examine and prove his own conscience to see whether he truly repents of his faults and grieves over them, desiring to live henceforth a holy life according to God. Above all, let him see whether he has his trust in the mercy of God and seeks his salvation, wholly in Jesus Christ and, renouncing all hatred and rancor, has high resolve and courage to live in peace and brotherly love with his neighbors.

If we have this witness in our hearts before God, never doubt that He claims us as His children, and that the Lord Jesus addresses His word to us, to invite us to His table and to give us this holy sacrament that He imparted to His disciples.
Calvin goes on like this for some pages yet, but I wanted to stop and emphasize the amount of preparation that went into partaking. The excommunication (especially in light of the Libertines) would have been amazing. Also, there is a good chance that an individual excommunication, where the church anathemizes a certain someone, would be much more understandable given a weekly monthly excommunication of this sort. Also, as the people are urged to join the minister in expelling the sins in their own heart, and then brought to repentance and faith in Jesus, it is easy to see how conversions (not regeneration) would have occured often in Geneva.

Not in any way to be dogmatic about this, but it does give food for thought.

I get to go to the T'Wolves game tonight.
It won't be much of a contest, and the playoffs are beyond us, but it should be fun, and I get to spend the time with my wife.

Ok. That is all.

[1]This is not at all to say that many Catholics and Orthodox won't be heaven - there will be scores of them. Similarly, millions of Protestants will be told to "Depart, for I never knew you." All this is to say that Rome and Constantinople do not bear the marks of the true church according to Scripture. Back

[2]John Calvin: Writings on Pastoral Piety ed. E.A. McKee (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2001) pp. 111 - 34. Back




Transplanted from the artic blight of Minnesota to the sunny paradise of SoCal, I am attending school and learning to say "dude." I like to think of myself as equal parts surf rash, Batman, heavy metal, Levinas, poetic license, and reformational. Other than creating blund blogs, I enjoy reading, sporting, and socializing with serious and funny people.
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