Friday, December 14, 2007

God bless the diocese of Chichester!

A nice woman from Church House in Hove phoned today to say that they had heard (I know not how) that we had had a new addition to the family and they were giving us a grant of £150 (from a "Welfare Fund", it turns out) which is jolly kind of them.

Glad the diocese is supporting the filling of the earth (Genesis 1:22), a commandment which as far as I'm aware has not been repealed.

I guess its good if prospective vicars can bring their own Sunday school with them. I wonder if my job prospects would improve if we invest in a labradore too?

Monday, December 10, 2007

The First Christmas Presents

I’m glad to say that the good people of Holy Trinity, Eastbourne seem quite happy with a bit of interpretative maximalism. No grammatical-historical reductionistic obsessions for us!

I spoke at the all age service yesterday on the significance of the “wise men”’s gift. Mrs Lloyd tells me that I inadvertently said there were 3 wise men, for which, of course, I apologise, since the Word of God doesn’t say so. I was trying hard not to call these philosopher / astrologer "magi" types kings too.

I suggested that gold implied that Jesus is a king (vv2, 6 and the star as a sign of a ruler in the Bible), frankincense (incense used in Old Testament temple worship) that Jesus is a priest and that myrrh points forward to his death. My points were further expounded in ‘We Three Kings of Orient Are’.

Born a King on Bethlehem's plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to rein

Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Pray'r and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

I must admit that I’m not entirely sure that all those ideas were in Matthew’s mind and I fear there may have been a bit of “right doctrine, wrong text”. The gifts may just be choice Eastern products fit for a king, but I had published my title and we’d paid to download images of gold, incense and myrrh from iStockPhoto, and it seemed to make such a neat talk and....

Calvin is dismissive of the idea that each of the gifts has a special significance:

Their presents show whence they came: for there can be no doubt that they brought them as the choicest productions of their country…. Almost all the commentators indulge in speculation about those gifts, as denoting the kingdom, priesthood and burial of Christ…. I see no solid ground for such an opinion. It was customary, we know, among the Persians, when they offered homage to their kings, to bring a present (p137) in their hands. The Magi select those three for the produce of which Eastern countries are celebrated….” (Harmony of Matthew, Mark and Luke, pp137-138)

Nevertheless, the Magi no doubt would have thought long and hard about what to give Jesus and Matthew does bother to tell us what the gifts were. And anyway, given God’s sovereignty and the inspiration of Scripture, we need not limit our interpretation to the intentions of the human actors or authors.

Myrrh is mentioned in connection with the crucifixion (Mk. 15:23) and burial of Christ (Jn. 19:39) but it is also associated with kings (Ps. 45:8, where incense is also mentioned; Song 3:6, where King Solomon is in view) and France (Tyndale NT Comm.) says that in the Old Testament it is a symbol of joy and festivity (Pr. 7:17; Song 5:5).

Isaiah 60:6 prophecies that “all from Sheba will come bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the LORD” and it is interesting to note that in 1 Kings 10:1-13 the Queen of Sheba gives gifts of gold and spices to Solomon the Davidic King.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Jesus Our Castle

The youth group are having an indoor bouncy castle tonight. The text for the talk: "he [God] is my fortress" (Psalm 62:2).

(1) God is a "fortress" for his people (vv6-7) - a place of security and safety, defence, refuge (vv7,8), a (mighty) rock (vv2, 7) - strong, stable, "never be shaken" (vv2, 6) "salvation" (vv1-2), rest (v1) - ultimate salvation, eternal rest

(2) God "alone" is a dependable fortress (v2, v5, v6) - no one and nothing else can give us ultimate satisfaction / "rest" (v1, 5) - always dissatisfied till we find our satisfaction in God - people are weak and will die and sometimes let us down (v9) - riches cannot satisfy or save and are unreliable (v10) - God's strength and love and justice are the certainties in life (vv11-12)

(3) "So trust in God at all times;" (v8)

"pour out your heart to him" (v8) - you can bring any problem or situation to God. He understands and can cope with anything.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Red or white?

Calvin says it is a thing indifferent whether we use red or white wine in the Lord's Supper, which should be left to the church's discretion (Institutes IV.XVII.43, p1420).

I wonder if anyone has ever actually advocated using white wine?

The symbolism of red, the colour of blood, seems so natural and obvious that it would be a shame to miss it.

Half-baked thoughts

Presumably half-baked thoughts are better than no thoughts. But there are probably some foods I would rather have raw than half-baked. More thought needed. Perhaps a mid-morning snack first...

Jesus' body & God's words - sacraments?

As it’s a Thursday I’m struggling away at Calvin’s doctrine of the Supper again – partly with a view to thinking about whether or not the Bible may usefully be called sacramental.

I’m not sure I really get all this but this little bit of Calvin’s interaction with Lombard has got me thinking:

But the foolish imagination, of which Lombard was the author, that eating Christ’s flesh is the sacrament, has perverted their minds. Here are his words: “The sacrament and not the thing are the forms of bread and wine; the sacrament and the thing are the flesh and blood of Christ; the thing and not the sacrament, his mystical flesh.” Again a little later: “The thing signified and contained is Christ’s proper flesh; signified and not contained, the mystical body.” I agree with his distinction between the flesh of Christ and the effective nourishment which inheres in it; but his pretending it [the flesh and blood of Christ?] to be a sacrament, and even one contained under bread, is an error not to be endured. (Institutes 4.17.33, p1406)

It seems to me that there’s an important question here about what constitutes the real “thing” and where it is to be found. There could be a problem about describing the sacrament in contrast to the thing. The sacrament broadly conceived surely involves a union of the thing signified (the real substance) and the signifier. The more narrow use of sacrament refers only to the outward sign making a distinction between the sacramental sign and the substance of which it speaks.

For example, could Jesus’ human body be called a sacrament? In a fairly weak sense that it is a created thing that somehow significantly mediates the divine, surely so. There is a union of the divine and the human in Jesus. But in the case of Jesus’ human body, what you see (the sign) is the real thing: the substance of the human body of the God-man Jesus. Lombard wrongly seems to imagine some third thing called “the mystical body”.

The case is very different in the case of the bread of the Lord’s Supper: it is the sign or sacrament (narrowly understood) of the body of Christ, not that physical body itself, which is now seated at the Right Hand in glory. Yet the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (broadly understood) offers the true Christ (including his body) to be received spirituallu by faith.

A problem with thinking about the words of the Bible as sacramental is that it might lead one to suppose that the real action is elsewhere: that these words only point towards the true Word of God which is somehow beyond these words. One can see why liberals would see this as an attractive way of downgrading the words while still retaining them (just as we use bread in the Supper but we don’t confuse it with Jesus’ body). Granted the written words are given to lead us to the Living Word, they are nevertheless themselves the real words of God, not just signs of those words.

I guess the issue is more complicated however when one speaks of Bible translations. They would seem to be pointers to the words of God, rather than his very words – secondary signs.

The ink markings on the pages of our Bibles could be said to be the form and not the thing of the words of God, rather as the bread is not the physical body of Christ.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Third Province Movement

I guess I should be a more faithful reader of the church newspapers that pad onto my doormat every week, but I'd not come across The Third Province Movement website until today. Bishop Wallace Benn and Roger Beckwith are patrons of it.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Free Images for my sermons

Does anyone have any tips for good places to find free images on-line for use in talks?

I’m particularly interested in some gold, frankincense (or even just plain incense, whatever the difference is) and myrrh, if anyone can tell me how I can lay my hands on them in the next few days.

Though it may be better simply not to bother with the old power-point, I guess. I could always start decorating old cereal packets or something. The joy of giving all-age talks!

I’ve had a look at a few of the sites listed on the Wikipedia Public Domain Image Resources page, but I imagine this would be a great way to waste lots of time.

Two Little Boys

Here's a copy of my handout for a sermon preached yesterday on Zechariah's song from Luke 1:57-80 entitled A Song For Christmas: Two Little Boys - the boys in question being John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ, of course.

A new born baby boy – a proud father

“What then is this child going to be?” (v66)

Significance (of John) in the light of the big picture of:

(1) What God is doing:

God Himself is coming (v68, v76, v78)

A Saviour from the line of King David (v69)

To redeem (v68), rescue (v74), save (v69, v71) and forgive (v77) his people

(2) Why God is doing it:

Mercy (v72, v78) – undeserved love

Fulfilling His promises (v70, vv72-73)

(3) How we (and John) fit in:

John the Baptist’s unique role: Are we ready? Be prepared! (v76)

Two Little Boys: John points us to Jesus

Accept what He offers: light, life, peace (vv78-79), security (v69, v71, v74), freedom (v68)

Serve Him without fear (v74)

Here are a few more jottings as a Word document.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Another blog to read

I've noticed my fellow Eastbourne curate, Rev'd Glen Scrivner is blogging away at

Aren't you glad I'm using my paternity leave wisely?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Get 'em when they're born

Visiting Mrs Lloyd and our firstborn in hospital this morning, it was a bit like being on a beech in Tenerife as people came and touted their wares at us. Would we like to have his photo taken there and then? Someone else would make a framed cast of the boy’s hand and foot print, for a hefty fee. We were also given a Bounty Bag of Newborn “Essentials” (!). No Bounty bars, unfortunately, but I was surprised that there was an official form for registering for Child Benefit amongst all the glossy junk mail.

The pack also contained a flyer for naming ceremonies with who will do you all manner of ceremonies in venues of your choice or flog you a script and let you get on with a DIY option. They could even train you to do ceremonies too!

If there really is a market for such things, I wonder if the church isn’t missing a trick here? Maybe we should be promoting Thanksgiving and Naming Ceremonies to new parents? Maybe the C of E could cut a deal to get its bumph in the Bounty Bag or local arrangements could be made with hospitals?

Someone also told me that when you go to register a death in Eastbourne there’s a poster up advertising funeral ceremonies.

I wonder how many people opt for these new fangled civil ceremonies with their practical atheism or pick n mix spirituality and how much of a loss they really are in terms of evangelistic opportunities.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanks be to God!

for the safe arrival of Jonathan Obadiah Andrew Lloyd at 1:03pm today, at Eastbourne District General Hospital, weighing 8 pounds and 6 ounces. Mother, baby and father are doing well, though we could all do with a good long sleep and something to eat (or drink).

I've put up far too many repetitious photos on my photos blog.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


My arm has been twisted for an item for the church magazine (HT Today) for the re-launched January edition. I'm hoping something like this may get me off the hook: (Thanks to Ruth Field for jogging my memory on these).

I’m not much of a one for making New Year’s Resolutions. Partly because I reckon I’d break them in the first twenty-four hours, so it seems easier not to make any at all. But I guess we shouldn’t let the possibility of defeat cause us to give up the fight altogether before we’ve even begun.

It’s sometimes said that if you aim for nothing in particular, that’s exactly what you’ll achieve! So maybe some resolutions would help us to strive for something, to make some efforts. One of my resolutions for this year is to make another resolution next year.

So what should our resolutions be? Even asking ourselves what our goals (or perhaps just our “aspirations”) for 2008 ought to be could do us good. Perhaps we might even dare to hope (and pray) this New Year for something more significant than losing a few pounds. We could take the beginning of the year as the opportunity for a spiritual health check.

If we need inspiration for some New Year’s Resolutions, we could do a lot worse than look to Jonathan Edwards. Not the Olympic triple-jumper turned TV-presenter, but Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), possibly the greatest American theologian ever.

Edwards was in to resolutions in a big way. He wrote 70 before between the ages of 19 and 20. He introduced them, saying:


And resolved to read over them once a week.

Here are a few of my favorites.

5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.

6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

7. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

And if, like me, you ever find yourself growling at your computer, you might consider this one:

15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings [and I guess, we might add, objects!]

28. Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

31. Resolved, never to say any thing at all against any body, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind, agreeable to the lowest humility, and sense of my own faults and failings, and agreeable to the golden rule [of doing to others as we would have them do to us]

52. I frequently hear persons in old age, say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.

55. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to act as I can think I should do, if, I had already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell torments.

Even if Edwards seems at times to set impossibly high standards, perhaps he might inspire us to think that we could do better.

Edwards knew he was always a sinner and couldn’t keep his own resolutions. He resolved to repent as soon as he realised he’d failed. He also resolved to count up the number of times he broke a resolution every week to see if the number went up or down. A broken resolution could serve us well if it drives us back to God’s undeserved love in Christ.

Further reading:

Jonathan Edward’s resolutions can be found online in various places, including:

For an introduction to Edwards, you might try John Piper, God’s Passion For His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (IVP, 1998).

There is a solid evangelical biography by Iain Murray (Banner of Truth, 1987). Perhaps the best biography (fat but surprisingly readable) is by George Marsden (Yale University Press, 2003).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Church Website Tips?

Our church website at:

badly needs improving.

We don't really have anyone in the church with the time and whizzy know-how to make it happen, as far as I'm aware.

So I've agreed to look into the options, including paying someone to set it up for us. Ideadly it would be something that the office could then manage and keep up to date.

We're due to invest in an MP3 recorder when we upgrade the sound system a bit, so hopefully audio sermons can be online in the not too distant future.

We do have a church copy of Dreamweaver.

Any tips / suggestions? Reccomendations of website designers?

Loves and hates of church websites?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Preaching Plans (Jan-Apr '08)

Here are some first thoughts on what I might preach on in January - April 2008:

13 Jan AM – Famous “Anglican” Texts: Now I Can Die Happy! (Luke 2:21-40)

20 Jan PM – When God Pitched Up (John 1:1-18)

10 Feb AM – Famous “Anglican” Texts: Sing to the Lord a New Song (Psalm 98)

24 Feb PM – A Spotlight on the True Light (John 1:6-34)

9 Mar AM - Famous “Anglican” Texts: Jubilate! (Psalm 100)

20 Mar – The Meal Jesus Gave Us (Luke 22:7-38)

(Maundy Thursday meal)

23 Mar PM – The Difference the Risen Jesus Makes (John 20)

(Easter Sunday)

20 Apr PM – Come and see (John 1:35-51)

27 Apr AM – Article 1 of C of E continued: “… God, everlasting, without body, parts, or passions; of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness;”

I need to find a reading for that last one: I feel a bit guilty about preaching from the 39 Articles rather than the Bible!

* * *

It is great to have my pick of what to preach on, but a series of sermons once a month has its challenges!

It would be great not to have to decide what to preach on next time untill I've seen how the last one went. How many sermons do we want on John 1:1-18? I don't know.

* * *

I'd like to preach a couple of sermons on the Lord's Prayer at some point and maybe I might set myself a title like "Tips for Parents" to allow myself to think about how to be a dad.

* * *

I'm not sure really why we publish a programme card. Does anyone really choose to come to church or not on the basis of the passages and the little titles? Or the preacher? And if they do, is that a good thing?

The titles seem a bit of a joke anyway since I've no idea what I want to say about these texts now, really, and in 5 months time and after some serious work on the passages, I might find my titles are totally off target. Maybe they should just be seen as advertising and need have little resemblance to the finished product!

John's Gospel: Beginning at the Beginning

I'm planning a long series on Sunday evenings in John's Gospel. I preached last month from the "last page" of the Gospel on John's purpose in writing: that those who (unlike "Doubting" Thomas) have never seen the Risen Jesus might believe that he is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing they might have life in his name.

Yesterday I began at the beginning of the Gospel.

Here's my handout:

John 1:1-5 – Beginning at the beginning…

The purpose of John’s gospel (20:31)

that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

The prologue of John’s gospel (1:1-18)

an overture / trailer – introduces themes developed later

simplicity & depth - inexhaustible

“In the beginning…” (John 1:1 / Genesis 1:1)

“was the Word”

Word = Light (vv4-5, 7-9) = Jesus (v14, v17)

Logos / Reason – but a person (he) not a thing / Force (it)

Word of God – reveals / expresses God

agent of God in creation – “God said, let there by light…”

God acts powerfully by his Word - saves / judges

Word of God – gospel – good news

“and the Word was with God”

distinct from God – Jesus ≠ Father

behind the scenes: the private life of the Trinity

relationship at the heart of the universe (v18)

“and the Word was God”

not a god / divine but God

of one substance / essence co-eternal with the Father

--> a greater vision of Jesus: don’t underestimate him

--> to know God, look to Jesus since Jesus is God

--> Jesus makes sense of life

--> Jesus is the Maker: trust him give Life

There are some jottings in a Word doucument here.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Prayers for Sea Cadet Parade

Having had a look at B.R. 426 Pray With The Navy (Chaplain of the Fleet, Ministry of Defence, 1965) and The Book of Common Prayer (where the extra prayers for use at sea tend to focus on storms and battles), I've come up with the following for tonight's Parade and Trophey Night at the Eastbourne Sea Cadet Unit, where I'm expecting a great display:

Living and true God,

we give you thanks for all the achievements we celebrate this evening,

and we pray for your blessing on the whole Sea Cadet Corps

and especially on this unit.

Eternal Lord God,

who alone rules the raging of the sea,

we pray that you would graciously prosper your servant, Elizabeth our Queen,

and protect all who go down to the sea in ships,

especially those who defend our coasts and waters.

Help us so to accept and trust the Lord Jesus Christ as our Captain

on our earthly voyage, in this brief mortal life,

that you might bring us at last to the rest and safety of your everlasting haven.

And the peace of God which passes all understanding,

keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God,

and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord,

and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be with us, and all whom we love and pray for,

now and always. Amen.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Given Signs

An interesting observation and suggestion from Revd Dr Peter Leithart:

Many translators and interpreters of Augustine's de doctrina Christiana translate "signa data" as "conventional signs." But there's something to be said for taking the phrase literally (as some commentators do).

The difference between naturalia and data, Augustine says, is that the latter occur by the will of a sign-user while the former do not. Given this voluntarist emphasis, it makes sense to translate "signa data" not as "conventional signs" but "given signs."

This is a pleasant thought, since it brings linguistic exchange into the realm of gift-reception-return. To speak is to give; to hear is to receive; to speak back is to show gratitude.

Can ungrateful people carry on a conversation?

May the elements of the Lord's Supper not be thought of as at least partly conventional or given signs? Leithart's analysis of words suggests that it would be fitting to think of the Supper (which is after all a kind of visible word) as a gift sign, to be recieved with gratitude and calling for a response.

Preacher's Disclaimers

As I contemplate preaching on the prologue to John’s gospel on Sunday, I want to issue all sorts of disclaimers. Of course I don’t really get it all. The Trinity is mysterious. There are depths here that I can’t understand or explain.

And more generally there is a dreadful responsibility to preaching. The preacher hopes that his hearers wont write off Jesus because the preacher was dull, that they wont think some doctrine nonsense because the preacher mucked up his description.

Yet you’ve got to just pray, do your best, and pray again. Unfortunately, or fortunately, sermons can’t really have small-print apologies, or at least not every week.

Here’s Calvin on his inability to fully explain the Lord’s Supper:

… - if one may reduce to words so great a mystery, which I see that I do not even sufficiently comprehend with my mind. I therefore freely admit that no man should measure its sublimity by the little of my childishness. Rather, I urge my readers not to confine their mental interest within too narrow limits, but to strive to rise much higher than I can lead them. For, whenever this matter is discussed, when I have tried to say all, I feel that I have as yet said little in proportion to its worth. And although my mind can think beyond what my tongue can utter, yet even my mind is conquered and overwhelmed by the greatness of the thing. Therefore, nothing remains but to break forth in wonder at this mystery, which plainly neither the mind is able to conceive nor the tongue to express. Nevertheless, I shall in one way or another sum up my views; for, as I do not doubt them to be true, I am confident they will be approved in godly hearts. (Institutes, 4.17.7, p1367-8)

"just as"

Reading the Ford-Battles edition of Calvin's Institutes, I have to remind myself that it seems "just as" often seems to mean "kind of like in some way or ways" rather than "just and precisely as in every respect". I imagine one could get into hot water pretty quickly, for example, if one pressed this "just as":

... by true partaking of him [Jesus], his life passes into us and is made ours - just as bread when taken as food imparts vigor to the body. (Institutes 4.17.5, p1365).

Right, enough distracting myslef from typing out the Instiutes. Back to it...

When do we eat The Bread of Life?

(1) The Lord Jesus Christ gave his body to be the bread of life once for all on the cross.

(2) We are continually offered the crucified and living Christ as spiritual bread in the gospel and we receive Christ with all his benefits in by faith in the Word of God.

(3) The gospel is sealed to us in the Lord’s Supper when we receive bread as an outward sign of Jesus body broken for us and his life given to us as spiritual food. We again receive Christ and all his benefits spiritually by faith.

Here is Calvin saying similar things:

It remains for all this [the saving work of Christ] to be applied to us. That is done through the gospel but more clearly through the Sacred Supper, where he offers himself with all his benefits to us, and we receive him by faith. Therefore, the Sacrament does not cause Christ to begin to be the bread of life; but when it reminds us that he was made the bread of life, which we continually eat, and which gives us a relish and a savor of that bread, it causes us to feel the power of that bread…. it [Christ’s body] is offered to us to eat, when it makes us sharers in him by faith. Once for all, therefore, he gave us his body to be made bread when he yielded himself to be crucified for the redemption of the world; daily he gives it when by the word of the gospel he offers it for us to partake, in as much as it was crucified, when he seals such giving of himself by the sacred mystery of the Supper, and when he inwardly fulfils what he outwardly designates. (Institutes 4.17.5, Ford Battles edition p1364)

The Supper might seem unnecessary and dispensable since it communicates to us the same Jesus we already had by believing the Word of the gospel. But the outward signs are important. They are adapted to the fact that we are bodily creatures. The Supper is a ritual enactment of the gospel by which the promises of the gospel are dramatically offered to us. We make a conscious public declaration that we are appropriating Christ. We cast ourselves for all to see as Jesus hungry beneficiaries. Our faith is strengthened and we are assured that God gives us what he signifies to us in the Supper. The Supper is a formal communal affirmation of our union with Christ and with one another in the gospel.

To say that we don’t receive Christ in the Supper since we always receive him by faith is a bit like saying we don’t go to church to worship since we worship all the time with our whole lives not just when we sing. There are things about formal, public, special, corporate / communal / gathered worship that are important and distinctive. Receiving the Lord’s Supper isn’t exactly the same as reading the Bible and listening to a sermon (though both offer Christ to us) and nor is reciting the creed together in church on a Sunday the same as a silent prayer on the bus or witnessing to your neighbour (though all are worship). We need to receive the Supper to feed on Christ just as much as we need to “go to church” to worship, though we can receive Jesus without the Supper and we can worship without Sunday services.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I was interested to see that The South American Mission Society (SAMS) has announced that it is in merger talks with The Church Mission Society (CMS UK).

I could be totally wrong about this, but in my mind SAMS has a more evangelical flavour than CMS? I had a quick browse on their websites and whilst CMS has some stuff about vision and values, I couldn’t see a doctrinal basis for either organisation.

Does anyone know anything about the theological stance of these two societies?

A quick hunt on the Crosslinks (the old "Bible Churchman's Missionary Society") website (Ethos statement page) revealed the original Basis of the Society and a modernised Statement of Faith. I guess even the fact that a doctrinal basis pops up easily out of their website is significant.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Psalm 95 sermon

The handout for my sermon today on Psalm 95 (which is here as a Word document) would have looked something like this, if the church office computer hadn't decided it was junk (mail)!

Famous Anglican Texts (2): Psalm 95 (page 602)

O Come, Let Us Sing To The Lord

(1) An Invitation / Command: Worship With Joy

What to do: vv2-3, v6

Joyfully sing & shout humble, confident, thanksgiving & praise to God

Why to do it: vv3-5, v7a

Because God is our supreme great LORD, Rock, Saviour, King, Creator, controller, Shepherd

(2) A Warning / Command: Obey God’s Voice Today

What not to do: v7b-8

Don’t harden your heart to God’s Word

Why not to do it: vv9-11

Because God’s angry judgement against his people could cut you off from his rest

(OT context: Massah & Meribah = Rephidim, Exodus 17:7)

(NT application: Hebrews 3-4)

Here are some notes for the sermon as a Word document.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Romsey 1 Pathfinder Camp 2008

Our CPAS camp for 11-14s based at Hampshire Collegiate School in Romsey is planned for Saturday 2nd - 9th August 2008.

It should be fantastic fun and a great opportunity to learn about Jesus. Bookings open in the new year.

There may be space for a few new leaders. Its a brilliant way to serve and grow.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Calvin on Supper in LCC Theological Treatises

I haven't been entirely wasting my Thursdays. I've been spending them typing out large chuncks of Calvin!

Here are some notes on Calvin's doctrine of the Lord's Supper from the Library of Christian Classics Theological Treatises (Word document, 19pp, 8300wds).

Now its the turn of The Institutes to be typed out. Then the commentaries. Then whatever's left, and myabe even some other people's books.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Glory and Beauty in NT worship?

It is interesting to note that Exodus 28 repeatedly points out that the priestly garments are given "for glory and for beauty" and are to be skillfully made in a variety of spelendid colours.

Granted that the Lord Jesus Christ is our supreme and final High Priest and that the Old Covenant is fulfilled and the ceremonial law radically changed, how do the OT cultic laws regulate New Testament worship today?

Of course there is great glory and beauty to the New Covenant and all of it is fulfilled in Christ (2 Cor 3 springs to mind), but what are the implications for our church buildings, our clothing and our collective public worship today? Is it still appropriate to look for glory, beauty and skill on a Sunday morning?

Surely such things are not necessarily Judaizing returns to the Old Covenant shadow-lands? The Book of Revelation would suggest such symbolism in heaven and in the New Creation too. So why not a little foretaste of heaven coming on earth too?

It feels quasi-Marcionite to say that the OT no longer regulates public worship and semi-Gnostic to say that simple invisible spiritual worship is best.

Ritual, buildings and clothes would seem inevitable. Neutrality would seem impossible.

So what should it look and sound and feel and smell like?

Pictures, please

Mrs Lloyd and I have been reading through Exodus together and we could do with some lovely coloured pictures, please. We'd like a labeled diagram of a priest (Ex 28). And surely someone must have made a model of the tabernacle and all its kit for teaching purposes (Ex 25-27).

Mrs Lloyd wanted to know what an Ephod is, and I'm very sorry to say that the IVP Bible Dictionary, to which I directed her, doesn't seem to have an entry for it.

I'm glad to say there is an entry for the Urim and Thummim though it does say: "Almost everything about this provision [for giving guidence, esp. to the leaders of the people] remains unexplained. The words Urim and Thummim have recieved no satisfactory etymology..." (p1219)

I need to gen up on my gems too (Ex 28:17-20). And I couldn't really have picked out "filigree" either, though now I am much the wiser: my dictionary tells me its "ornamental work of fine wire formed into delicate tracery" or some such.

The things they don't teach you at vicar factory!

Update: Thanks to Ros for mentioning that she heard about this at vicar factory:

I was rather hoping for something free on the interweb somewhere, though?

The guys at the Temple Insitute are wasting a lot of time, money and effort re-creating stuff for the temple they expect to see rebuilt in Jerusalem, when they should be trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ and making him known, but nevertheless, they've got lots of pictures and some interesting stuff at:

A few more labeled diagrams would have been helpful.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The because approach: innovationg church for all

In our local Christian book shop I just stumbled across a book I didn’t know existed: The because approach: innovating church for all by Rev’d Andrew Baughen, Vicar of St James, Clerkenwell (Milton Keynes, Authentic Media, 2005). I don’t remember ever hearing a mention of it at vicar factory.

John Stott “heartily” recommends it as having solid theory and experience leading to a realistic plan, passionately committed to Christ, the gospel and the local church. He says: “I cannot imagine that any individual or group could study it without being profoundly challenged and inspired”.

My own Bishop, Wallace Benn, says: “This is exactly the kind of book we need right now…. This is a superb book that should be read by all concerned about the mission of the church.” So I guess I ought to have a look at it!

Rico Tice said: “This book cuts you open. I found it confronted me with the realities from the Bible, from my local church and from the culture. Page after page provokes carefull reflection.”

Chris Green said: “I am thrilled with The Because Approach: gospel driven, evangelistically passionate, warm hearted, culturally relevant, and – above all – practical and achievable stratergies for us to be the people Christ wants us to be.”

Its recommended by Chris Wright, Christopher Ash and The Bishop of London too, amongst others.

On page 1 Andrew Baughan notes lots of debts including to Bill Hybels of Willow Creek, Rick Warren, Nicky Gumbell and Tim Keller of Redeemer Church, Manhattan.

The book is about the local church as God’s hope for the world with the promise that Christ’s church will prevail. The book suggests a six-fold strategic review for each local church.

The six steps (and main chapters of the book) are:

(1) Preparation

(2) Relationship building

(3) Respect Building

(4) Relevance building

(5) Response building

(6) Participation

Within each chapter there’s a section on Scripture, Setting and Solution followed by a study guide. Each section begins “Because…” and the chapter close with an “Expert Witness”, Mark Greene, Paul Perkin, Nicky Gumbell, Rico Tice & J. John

There’s a website at which looked pretty rudamentary when I looked at it. Could be a problem at my end!

Monday, October 22, 2007

How To Lead The Prayers

Here's a helpful little memo from John, our vicar, with some pointers on how to lead the intercessions in Sunday services.

First of all, a big thank you for contributing to this important ministry.

I would like to share with you 4 guidelines, which I trust will enable this ministry to be even more effective.

  1. Intercessions should be intercessions – i.e. prayers for the church and the world, not meditations or mini sermons!

  1. They should last no more than 5 minutes. Time yourself beforehand, saying the prayers in an unhurried fashion – not gabbling through them at a rate of knots, in order to keep within the time limit!

  1. If asked to pray at a Family Service, with children present – make sure the intercessions are even briefer – i.e. less than 5 minutes. Also make them simple and child-friendly, not using long words that would be unintelligible to small children.

  1. Get to the lectern during the previous item (creed / Lord’s Prayer), so that you are ready to pray immediately, without a hiatus in the service.

I hope the above is helpful,

Once again, many thanks

John Cheeseman

(on behalf of the staff team)

Holiday Club

We're planning a Holiday Club for Primary School Age Children (5-11 year olds) in the Easter / Spring holidays from Tuesday 15th April - Friday 18th April 2008, 9:30am -12pm. There'll be a families event on Saturday 19th April and a special holiday club service on Sunday 20th at 10:30am.

Please pray for the club and for the core team. Volunteers welcome!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Holy Trinity, Eastbourne Facebook Group

Cos we is such a techy savy with it church, wot we need is:

No more noticesheets. Well, not quite, but perhaps oneday.

I think I noticed in the Church Times by the way that if you have more money than sense your church can buy a piece of whizzy kit called "Gabriel" which will Blueberry the notices to everyone on a Sunday morning. Amazing.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Halloween: Trick or Treat?

Here are some jottings (in a Word document) for 'Listen and Lunch' talk I gave today entitled Halloween: Trick or Treat? I agued that on the whole its a bad thing. It probably has unwanted comercialism and trick or treat is antisocial. Above all, it might encourage wrong attitudes to Satan and evil, either leading people to trivialise and understimate evil or, possibly in a few cases, to be fascinated by the devil and be drawn into the occult.

Happy Birthday, Mrs Lloyd!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Perspectives on Love & Holiness in OT

Rev’d Dr James Robson gave his excellent Tyndale House paper on ‘Forgotten Dimensions of Holiness’ in the Oak Hill Masters Seminar this week. He argued that it can be shown from the text of the Bible that love is a dimension of or is linked to God’s holiness in the Old Testament, though some texts might not make it seem so. Yahweh’s holiness and love are shown through his self-disclosure, his saving activity (including his hearing of prayer) and his presence. This rightly takes account of narrative and contexts as well as including word studies and depending on explicit statements.

All this seemed impressive and true, and fits in with a few systematic perspectives. For example, by the time one has said that God is simple and that all things are related, it is unsurprising to say that love and holiness are related or even that they are perspectives on one another. Interesting that the Old Testament should make this so obvious. The question is exactly how they are related. There is some danger in saying everything in that one will end up saying nothing. God’s holiness needs to be sharply defined if it is to be distinguished from other aspects of his character (and likewise with love). If holiness is simply seen as the Godness of God or that which makes God unique and separate then not much has been said.

In other words, the systematican will want to ask both how are we to distinguish God’s holiness and his love and how we are to relate them.

A few random vaguely relevant thoughts:

All the attributes of God are strictly incommunicable. No one is powerful as God is powerful, for example.

All talk about God is analogical. Love is not the same in God as it is in the rest of experience.

I think James suggested that interestingly in the economy of revelation there is a sequence that we know God’s holiness first and other things are holy since they are declared so by God or are somehow related to him. With Fatherhood, human fathers play a much greater part in the order of our knowing. Perhaps. God is always the prototype and standard. I reckon if you took holiness to mean specialness or set apartness, or even purity / cleanness, this would be much less obvious since we can think of human or creaturely analogues which we could and often do know before knowing much of God or having a Word from him.

Having said that, James rightly argued that we must first of all be attentive to the language and narrative in which God has chosen to reveal himself. Systematic questions of how we might categorise and integrate or summarise all this in various ways are secondary, even if necessary, and indeed influencing our first reading of the Bible. The old virtuous hermeneutical spiral agaisn.

The systematician can be encouraged that the Bible seems to speak in a way which is wonderfully appropriate to the simplicity of God and perspectivalism. The attributes and actions of God are not hermetically sealed by flow from his nature and though each has a “core” they flow into one another. The picture is clear at the centre but the colours at the edges are beautifully run into each other. Indeed, that’s something like how words (including the language of Scripture) work, having a semantic range and being defined by usage and difference from other words.

No single attribute of God is to be totalised or used to exclude others. Even God’s wrath is loving and his love is wrathful. One might even say that God is wrath with respect to sin but a distinction could be made here since God is not wrath in the inner Trinitarian life considered without respect to creation. Yet creation and therefore wrath is in a way “necessary” given who God is and chooses to be, but that is another story.

It was good to hear a systematically informed biblical scholar using arguments about the immanent Trinity, simplicity and analogical language, and obviously knowing his Hebrew and his Bible a billion times better than I! No surprise there either. Here’s to such conversations at Oak Hill and elsewhere.

Rt Revd Dr N T Wright

It was great to be with Bishop Tom at Oak Hill College last week. He preached an excellent sermon in the packed-out chapel on “If they will not believe Moses and the Prophets they will not believe even though someone rise from the dead” from the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man in Luke. I’d be delighted to be able to preach like that. The sermon was clear, faithful and well applied. The saying was placed in the context of Luke and of a Biblical worldview and understanding of the history of salvation. Not sure Dr Wright and I would agree on what Fair Trade and ecology should look like but that is a questionable quibble about half a sentence. The sermon was wonderfully world affirming and showed a full orbed understanding of God saving individuals from his judgement but also transforming communities and putting the whole world to rights. We were called to get on board with what God is doing, and invited to help out in the Diocese of Durham, I think.

Dr Wright then gave a lecture on an overview of a few thoughts on Acts. His new book, Acts For Everyone, may or may not be ready for Christmas stockings. Surprised by Hope, on eschatology and something or other (ethics, was it?) sounds good.

In his lecture, Wright could have been James Jordan! Paul’s Shipwreck is his cross but he is saved through it. He expects to be justified / vindicated before Caesar.

The Purpose of Acts

Wright tentatively suggested that Acts was prepared for Paul’s trial before the Emperor. Wright said this was something of an old theory. Though I wrote an essay on the purpose of Luke-Acts in 1999, that was partly a new view on me, I think. Certainly others say that Acts is an apologia to the Romans or a defence of Paul, but Wright’s theory seems nicely to explain the very specific cliff-hanger ending and give the document a realistic situation in life. I don’t remember reading that it was prepared particularly for Paul’s trial before the Emperor, but I’m probably mistaken. Much of the material might seem pretty irrelevant to the Emperor.

Obviously Luke-Acts has other bigger purposes too and seeing Luke-Acts as a literary whole might be one problem for an exclusive form of this theory since Luke’s gospel preface suggests another (not necessarily unrelated) aim.

Thanks be to God for...

For Mrs Lloyd, a week of study leave / retreat, for trains, the underground, for mobile phones, money, Oak Hill college, libraries, books, Calvin, cleaning, admin. and catering staff, chapel, the Bible, fellowship in the gospel, friends, catching up, laughter, sausages, coffee, Brains SA, family, weddings, sleep, generosity, liturgy, the Book of Common Prayer, the Lord’s Supper, MP3 players, the greatness of God, alert minds, friendly disagreements, work to do, sunshine, countryside, home comings, the prospect of Sunday.

DP's portrait

The Rev’d Prof Dr David Peterson’s portrait is now up at Oak Hill with the other former Principals.

One can play spot the difference.

Like some of the others DP is holding a book. Like one of the others it is open. Unlike the others it is not the Bible but his own book, Hebrews and Perfection. Like the others his has a clerical collar on. Unlike the others he is not wearing a surplice but an academic gown. Unlike the others he is not in the chapel but in the library.

What signals are being deliberately and unintentionally communicated here, do you think?

Oak Hill primarily as academic institution not churchy?

Gideons Needed at Oak Hill

In the college guest room there was no Bible. But its okay, there was a copy of Witness to the World: The History of Oak Hill College. Ideal if one couldn’t sleep. But I do think we should put in a request for Bibles to the Gideons. The room could do with a few pictures while they are at it. Don’t know if that’s something the Gideons can help with? Maybe if the Gideons want to stick to Bibles, some for chapel, the studies and the library would help too. (From memory, there aren’t as many multiple copies of ESV, NIV, KJV, ASB etc. in the library as there could be).

Bishop's Theological College

Bishop Tom mentioned that Bishop Lightfoot of Durham, the 19th Century New Testament Scholar, (?) had adapted his home, Auckland Castle (?) into a kind of theological college. I wonder how this sort of thing might fit with the Hind Report if Bishops did it today. It would certainly be good for Bishop’s to take seriously their charge to teach the true faith and drive away false doctrine, including to and from their clergy. The Bishop of Chichester was good enough to host our pre-ordination retreat in The Palace in Chichester. I wonder if Bishop George Bell House in Chichester will have these aims in its founding documents?

Sin Bin

From my train window I notice the Chewing Gum Action Group telling us of the “Sin Bin” and warning us to bin our gum to avoid a fine of up to £80. Thanks. A similar poster carries the words, “Guilty Not Charged”. Surely there is a sermon illustration here. What does our culture regard as sins and crimes? I’ve not spotted any such posters about adultery or abortion lately, nor on the spot fines for disrespect to parents or false worship.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Calvin called to the ministry?

Calvin speaks of: “my ministry, which I feel assured is supported and sanctioned by a call from God” (LCC, Calvin Theological Treatises, ‘Reply to Sadolet’, p222)

This is particularly interesting because he wrote it in Sept 1539 while he had been ejected from the public ministry at Geneva. So perhaps it is likely that he has in mind the feeling of some kind of internal call rather than a public, official, legal, formal, ordination / call, though he does go on to speak of his offices as doctor then pastor and of a “legitimate vocation”.

Though one should also remember Calvin’s desire to evade public ministry that he might devote himself to private study. In the way he had to be constrained to ministry he stands in the tradition of the likes of Augustine and Gregory N.

Calvin says he can no more throw away his charge for the Geneva church than he can his own soul! Even if he wanted to get out of it, he would still be bound, he says, since his charge was unlawfully removed. (p223)

Anglican Episcopacy

Off the top of my head, I don't think it takes too much imagination to argue that the historical Anglican position (of Cranmer et al.) is that Bishops are deacons (still) and elders (presbyters). Bishops are senior presbyters with a super-local ministry especially connected to providing ministry in the church and safeguarding sound doctrine, rather like Timothy and Titus in the New Testament.

The language is confused but there are thus basically 2 orders of ministry:
(1) Deacon
(2) Elder (a) presbyter pastors (b) presbyter bishops.

Bishops are seen as a good ancient idea not essential to the unity or existence of the church.

Archbishop Usher’s reduced episcopacy is consistent with this and should not be thought un-Anglican, though it would be a dramatic change to the structures as they now operate.

Bishops are meant to act collegiately in fellowship with one another and with their local presbyters. The monarchical tyranny of some Bishops is not required by the historic formularies.

As well as the Formularies (Prayer Book, Ordinal, Articles) and the Books of Homilies, I think Ministry In Three Dimensions and Roger Beckwith, Elders in Every City might be worth looking at on this subject. Maybe even Christopher Cocksworth, Being A Priest Today.

Calvin on Word and Spirit

The great man would be a great help to many charismaniacs and quasi- or soft-charismatics.

He say:

“Chrysostom then rightly admonishes us to reject all who under the pretence of the Spirit lead us away from the simple doctrine of the gospel; for the Spirit was promised not to reveal new doctrine, but to impress the truth of the gospel on our minds…. When they boast so extravagantly of the Spirit they inevitably tend to sink and burry the Word of God to make room for their own falsehoods.” (p230)

So, no new revelation? No new or extra or different words from the Lord about what to do. Just live according to his already given sufficient word and God’ll be well pleased. That’s enough to be getting on with without having pictures from the Lord, thank you very much.

I love Calvin

Just in case it hasn't come accross, I'd like to say how wonderful I’m finding reading big blocks of Calvin again. Its years since I spent lots of time with the Institutes and I’d never read the theological treatises in much detail. All the time I keep finding good things well said about things I am interested in and much of it quite surprising. Calvin was not a modern English conservative evangelical of a certain sort, I am finding. Surprising.

Good ceremonies

It is true that Calvin didn’t want too many ceremonies or too Jewish ones, or ones people had dreamed up, but he did think ceremonies were essential and one must have as many as the circumstances dictate.

“There are three things on which the safety of the Church is founded and supported: doctrine, discipline, and the sacraments; and to these fourth is added ceremonies, by which to exercise the people in offices of piety.” (p232)

Religion good!

Just to say that Calvin thinks “religion” or rather right religion, our duty towards God, which is what he means by it, is a good thing. (E.g. LCC, Calvin’s Theological Treatises, ‘Reply to Sadalet’, p235)

Calvin & Leithart on 'Visible Words'

Peter Leithart has (rightly in my view) criticised the Calvinistic tag of the sacraments as “visible words”. He suggests that taken on its own it can imply (a) that the sacraments are intended primarily like words to communicate information to us and (b) that the sacraments are principally to be looked at.

I guess Leithart would agree that Calvin’s writings properly understood answer these criticisms. Calvin repeatedly and strongly attacks the Roman Catholics who stupidly gaze at the elements without understanding. And he also attacks the holding up and carrying around of the elements. They are not to be looked at but to be taken and eaten by all believers, he stresses.

Having said all that, I think Leithart is right that some tag such as “edible words” or “tangible words” might be better in this respect.

It is also worth saying that both words and sacraments do far more than communicate information or state propositions. Again, I think this is something that Leithart and Calvin could agree on, but perhaps a shift of emphasis from Calvin is helpful. Calvin is very big on knowledge and so on, though admittedly a relational emotion engaging personal sort of knowledge, not just an intellectual abstraction of info. Again Calvin’s anti-medieval-Roman Catholicism helps to account for the stress on doctrine since the RC church had gone so wrong in its doctrine of the Supper and said that understanding it and preaching the Word were comparatively unimportant. Calvin is centre-staging the neglected.

Calvin "prayed to" and "revered" the dead

I was amazed to see this in Calvin:

“O Philip Melanchthon! for I appeal to you who live in the presence of God with Christ, and wait for us there until we are united with you in blessed rest.” (LCC, Calvin’s Theological Treatises, ‘The clear explanation … concerning the true partaking of … the Holy Supper’, p258)

Though in fact Calvin seems to be appealing more to Melanchthon’s writings, but it is still striking that he should address a dead man like this, even if only for a rhetorical flourish.

On p265 Calvin adds that Tileman Heshusius should “revere as sacred” the memory of Philip Melanchthon.

Dove & Bread; Spirit & Body

Calvin makes the good point that when the Spirit appears as a dove, He is truly and essentially present but not in a local physical manner as if the dove is turned into the Spirit. Likewise with the bread of the Lord’s Supper, Christ’s body is truly and essentially communicated by the Spirit but not physically or locally. (LCC Calvin’s Theological Treatises, ‘The clear explanation … concerning the true partaking of … the Holy Supper’, p270)

Civilization at Oak Hill

It was marvellous that yesterday after supper in hall at Oak Hill, port and a selection of cheeses were freely offered round. This has apparently become a weekly tradition on Tuesday night thanks to some very generous first years. Some innovations are for the better. One could almost have been back in Oxford – except there would have been a big old fee to join an exclusive cheese and wine society!

Covenantal Objectivist themes in Calvin

You might say there is a kind of covenantal objectivism or even ex opera operato in Calvin. Those who eat and drink the bread and wine unbelievingly still receive a sacrament visibly to their judgement, though they do not receive the very body and blood of Christ to their comfort and growth in grace. Just by being done the sacraments always do something both to believer, covenant breaker and unbeliever.

This sort of thing:

“It is long since I accurately explained what Augustine means by a twofold (p280) eating, namely that while some receive the virtue of the sacrament, others receive only a visible sacrament; that it is one thing to take inwardly, another outwardly; one thing to eat with the heart, another to bite with the teeth. And he finally concludes that the sacrament which is placed on the Lord’s table is taken by some unto destruction and by others unto life, but the reality of which the Supper is the sign gives life to all who partake of it. In another passage, treating in express terms of this question, he distinctly refutes those who imagined that the wicked eat the body of Christ not only sacramentally but in reality. To show our entire agreement with this holy writer, we say that those who are united by faith, so as to be his members, eat his body truly or in reality, whereas those who receive nothing but the visible sign eat only sacramentally. He often expressed himself in the very same way. (De civit. Dei, 21, ch 25; Contra Faust. Bk 13, ch 13; see also in Joann. Ev. Tract. 25-27)” (LCC Calvin’s Theological Treatises, ‘The clear explanation … concerning the true partaking of … the Holy Supper’, p281)

There is a sense in which Judas ate the bread of the Lord against the Lord whereas the other apostles ate the bread of the Lord (Augustine, in Joann. Ev. Tract 59)

I was also interested to see that when Calvin speaks Heshusius’ argument about the Spirit dwelling in Saul he distinguishes between “the sanctification proper only to the elect and the children of God, and the general power which is proper even to the reprobate.” (p285)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Calvin on tradition and change

Here’s an interesting quotation from Calvin for those considering introducing change in their churches. Calvin seems to be saying they only changed the old traditions where they thought Scripture absolutely required it. It seems he thought some indifferent things could be, indeed should be, retained.

“… let there be an examination of our whole doctrine, of our form of administering the sacraments, and our method of governing the Church; and in none of these three things will it be found that we have made any change in the old form, without attempting to restore it to the exact standards of the Word of God.”

(LCC Calvin’s Theological Treatises: The Necessity of Reforming the Church, p187)

Calvin seems to be denying any change for change’s sake or any view that novelty in itself is a good thing.

Calvin saw some ceremonies and wicked and some others as vain or useless. He did however say that he got rid of some ceremonies that though not evil in themselves had become an occasion for evil as “the vulgar” gaze “upon them in stupid amazement” (p204).

Later he says:

“… we are by no means averse to the reverent observance of whatever rules are fitted to ensure that all things be done decently and in order; nor, in regard to every single observance which we have abrogated, do we refuse to show cause why we were required to do so.” (p210)


“… laws enacted with a view to external policy ought to be carefully obeyed…” (p211)

Much of this whole debate depends on ones use of the Regulative Principle of Public Worship.

Calvin on the "feel" and goal of worship

Is your church aiming for this on a Sunday?

“… certainly we exhort men to worship God in neither a frigid nor a careless manner; and while we point out the way, we neither lose sight of the end, nor omit anything which is relevant to the matter. We proclaim the glory of God in terms far loftier than it was wont to be proclaimed before; and we earnestly labour to make the perfections in which his glory shines better and better known. His benefits towards us we extol as eloquently as we can. Thus men are incited to reverence his majesty, render due homage to his greatness, feel due gratitude for his mercies, and unite in showing forth his praise. In this way there is infused into their hearts that solid confidence which afterwards gives birth to prayer. In this way too each one is trained in genuine self-denial, so that his will being brought into obedience to God, he bids farewell to his own desires. In short, as God requires us to worship him in a spiritual manner, so we with all zeal urge men to all spiritual sacrifices which he commends.”

(LCC Calvin’s Theological Treatises, ‘The Necessity of Reforming the Church’, p187)

Warmth, care, preaching, the glory of God, relevance, eloquence, reverence, homage, gratitude, praise, confidence, prayer, self-denial, training, obedience, transformed desires, spiritual worship and sacrifices. What could be better?

Shadows in their place

The Old Testament types and ceremonies are shadows. They helpfully foreshadowed Christ. In the presence of his absence they were helpful outlines. If reintroduced today wholesale they would be unhelpful shadows casting darkness on the light of his presence.

Anglican & Reformed RP

(With a nod in the direction of John Frame's excellent article...)

The common perception is that there is a stark and unbridgeable difference between Anglicanism and Calvinism with regard to the Regulative Principle of Public Worship, but this need not be so. This shows how some Puritans could for a time continue to operate within the Church of England. Anglicans are generally thought to hold that “what is not forbidden is permitted” in public worship whereas the Reformed tend to think that “what is not required is forbidden”. This thesis argues along with John Frame that a form of the Regulative Principle can be retained and (going further than Frame) that it is compatible with Anglicanism, once it is realized how God regulates public worship, and indeed the whole of life. Once one is committed to the sufficiency of Scripture and sees the whole Bible as regulating by examples and patterns rather than just by New Testament commands, one has moved significantly from some strict and narrow Reformed understandings of the Regulative Principle. If there is no neutrality, the Bible, rightly understood, must tell us how to make all decisions, including those about public worship and sometimes using sources and instruments other than Scripture itself (such as tradition, reason and experience). Calvin was willing to appeal to “natural reason”, for example, in arguing that prayers should be in a language people can understand. This is consistent with the Reformation principle of the supreme final authority of Scripture which should not be absolutised into a crude form of sola scriptura, as if nothing else need be considered. If Scripture gives examples of men rightly inventing festivals (such as the Feast of Purim in Esther 9) and encourages the making of wise decisions, one has embraced both a form of the Regulative Principle and of the Anglican principle.

Exemplary Analogies: An Argument

Michael Jensen’s comment on one of the posts below prompted me to think about this a bit more, by means of an analogy or example or two.

Do analogies prove anything?

Perhaps not. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be interesting, helpful and suggestive.

However, it is possible to imagine analogies so deep and prevalent that they amount to making a case.

For example, if baptism is like circumcision in many many ways and circumcision is given to children, one might think that baptism is likely to be given to children too.

An analogy might suggest a pattern of thinking and an expectation. It might suggest a burden of proof.

One might expect, for example, to see specific confirmation of women’s baptisms since they might not seem so obvious as children’s baptisms given that baptism is the new circumcision.

Maybe its even true to say something like all thinking, arguing and speaking is analogical. Certainly all God-talk is.

Think of Jesus the Word / Bread

Calvin is very clear that when we take communion we should think of Christ who is in heaven and not of the bread. Sure. Good point. Yet, Jesus has given us the bread. He is given to us as we eat the bread. So surely he wants us to think about the bread? The bread matters.

Just like the words of the Bible: sure, we should think of Christ, not the words as if they were independent ends in themselves.

Sure, it would be perverse to be fascinated by the variety and colour of bread or the colour of the ink, or the font of the text, but these are probably unusual mistakes (at least in theory). No one advocates this.

It is precisely in the words of the Bible and in the giving of the bread that Christ is given to us. We can hardly attend too much to the words of the Bible or the act of communion, though in both cases we may think too much of the physical object of book and bread.