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.

Sinful Separations & Criminal Confusions for Supper

Calvin’s doctrine of the Supper could be described as criticising a series of illegitimate separations and confusions made by Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Zwinglians variously:


Preaching and sacrament (RC)
Understanding and action (RC)
Language and speakers / hearers (RC)
Minister and people (RC)
Bread and cup (RC)
Promise of blessing and command of eating (RC, potentially Z)
Christ and heaven / Christ and his true humanity (Lutherans)
Sign and the thing signified (Z)


God the creator and bread the creature (RC, maybe L)
The unique and only saving work of Christ and human works (RC)
Old and New Covenants (RC)
Command of God and traditions of men (RC)
Christ the priest and human ministers (RC)
Jesus’ divine and human natures (Lutherans)
Sign and the thing signified (RC, maybe L, perhaps even Z)

And so on, no doubt. His own doctrine has a wonderful union without confusion and distinction without separation.

'The Necessity of Reforming the Church'

I’ve spent my day with John Calvin’s treatise of this name, which would make good reading for Anglicans today and especially for (would-be) ministers. Its available in the Library of Christian Classics series in Calvin’s Theological Treatises. Here’s the subtitle:

A Humble Exhortation to the most invincible Emperor Charles V, and the most illustrious Prince and other Orders, now holding a Diet of the Empire at Spires that they seriously undertake the task of restoring the Church presented in the name of all those who wish Christ to reign by Dr John Calvin (p184)

You have got to love his analysis. So clear. Good distinctions. Learned. And passionate. Get’s practical and talks about what really matters. Pastoral. Concerned for God’s glory and his people’s good. Yet so pungent. The rhetoric is turned up and its strong meat. You wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of Calvin’s polemic. A serrated edge, indeed. And he tells off Luther for putting it all to rudely and harshly!

They don’t make ‘em like they used to!

Meal Theory & Food Science for Supper

What discoveries about meals and cultures made since the 16th century are relevant for our doctrine of the Supper? Can social and anthropological studies help us?

Do we know more about food and drink, bread and wine, eating and drinking, than we did then? And are those things significant? Which scientific works ought one to consult to find out what it means to eat, to ingest the bread and the wine?

Is NT worship simpler?

Calvin argues that NT worship is simpler than OT worship. By that he means gathered public collective formal church Sunday worship, by the way, in case you are still bothered about that.

I don’t know how he knows that. It must depend on arguments from silence. If your instinct is to assume continuity between the covenants rather than discontinuity then his case seems less plausible.

And is worship at the beginning of the OT not simpler than worship at the beginning of the NT? In both cases there is growth, maturing, developing, going from one degree of glory to another.

In the New Creation I’m expecting some great colours, lovely aromas, jazzy harmonies and liturgy to blow your socks off.

Which traditions & when?

When did our traditions start? 1980 choruses? 1970 homegroups? 1900 hymns? 1800 organs? 1600 doctrines? 250 robes? 33 sacraments?

The dates and contents are pretty arbitrary but the point is almost anything that you’ve done more than twice can be either praised or dismissed as a tradition.

Calvin on Electing Elders, Bishops etc.

In Calvin’s view a number clergy and the people to be served should be involved in candidates to the ministry.

In opposing the idea that Bishops (or even the Pope himself) have (or has) the sole and unilateral apostolic succession power of ordination, Calvin seemingly endorses the Early Church principle of having the people “elect” their elders (presbyter Pastor-teachers) in the sense that the magistrate and / or the people should usually have a veto on an appointment.

Calvin quotes Leo with approval:

Let him who is to preside over all be elected by all; for he who is appointed, while unknown and unexamined, must of necessity be violently intruded. (Ep. Xc)


Let regard be had to the attestation of honourable men, the approval of the clergy, and the consent of the magistracy and people. Reason permits no other mode of procedure. (Ep. Lxxxvii)

Calvin finds the same in Gregory and Cyprian.

(LCC, Calvin’s Theological Treatises, ‘Necessity of Reforming the Church’, p207)

This also has the practical advantage that the people are agreeing to follow and obey the godly teaching and example of the elder in approving him.

Calvin also explains the tradition that all the bishops of the provinces should assemble for an ordination, or if this cannot be conveniently done, “at least three… that no man might force an entrance by tumult, or creep in by stealth, or insinuate himself by surreptitious artifices. To the ordination of a presbyter, each bishop admitted a council of his own presbyters.” (p208)

Calvin is stinging, by the way, about Bishops who either through wickedness or fear keep good men out of the ministry and refuse to remove the unfaithful but rather try to unseat the godly Bible teaching ministers (p208f).

As Gregory said, Calvin says of Bishops: “those who abuse privilege deserve to lose privilege.” (p209). The Bishops must either change and appoint a different kind of man, Calvin says, or they cannot complain when they are despoiled of what is justice belonged to them. If they wish to be recognised as Bishops they must do their duty. Any man, whatever his title, who shows himself by his conduct to be an enemy of sound doctrine has lost all right to that title and office and authority. The ancient Canons of Church expressly forbid anyone to apply to a heretic so-called Bishop for ordination. Calvin is willing to face the charge that he has illegally made an incursion into the province of the Bishops (p209).

Monday, October 01, 2007

Splitting body, blood, word

In his theological treatise on the Lord’s Supper, Calvin spits blood against splitting the sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord by giving communion only in one kind.

It is possible to imagine analogous errors concerning the Word of God. For example, it would be wrong to divide the earlier Covenant from the renewed Covenant. It would be wrong to set one scripture against another. It would be wrong to preach only on certain texts or on certain doctrines and not give the people the whole word of God. This would be to deprive the people of their rights just as much as to only give them the bread and not the cup.

Augustine and Child Communion

Off the top of me ‘ed, I don’t know what Augustine’s position on child communion was or would have been, but it is interesting to note that according to Confessions 4:4, his infidel friend was converted through being baptized while unconscious. Clearly “conscious” faith is not always essentially necessary to baptism on Augustine’s view.

(cited in Lane, Calvin: Student, p53)

Calvin’s careless rushed last minute corner cutting

Perhaps there is hope for us all. Despite Calvin’s brilliance and influence for good, Lane says: “… Calvin usually wrote in extreme haste without the (relative) leisure normally available for scholarship. His need to work from memory and to cut corners for some of his errors [in the use of the Fathers and the Medievals]. Jean-Francois Gilmont lists some of the distractions that Calvin faced as he sought to write and shows how he was inclined to write in haste and at the last minute. He didn’t normally correct his proofs and was careless in revising texts. Such a practice would be reprehensible today but was more acceptable in his own time…. Calvin wrote not as a detached scholar but as a polemicist in the heat of battle. His concern was not to present a balanced and objective account of the fathers but to cite them in his support. This may distinguish Calvin from present-day scholarship; it did not distinguish him from his contemporaries.” (Lane, Calvin: Student of the Fathers, pp52-53).

I’m not sure we live in an age of such great objectivity or that that stuff would be so bad, especially not in a busy pastor-theologian.

Calvin & A Speech Act View of the Supper

Calvin’s point that: “… the promises of the Lord do not extend beyond the use he has left us” of and in the Supper coheres well with a speech act account of language which locates meaning in interaction and communication by describing intent and action. (LCC Calvin’s Theological Treatises, ‘Treatise on the Lord’s Supper’, p163) Just as you must use the Supper in the way God intended, so you cannot rip his promises out of context and put them to wrong uses.

Body Unnecessary?

Here’s a statement from one of Calvin’s Theological Treatise (though there is some question whether or not it is actually by him) which I find puzzling:

“In the preaching of the Word, the external minister holds forth the vocal word, and it is received by the ears. [Acts 16:14] The internal minister, the Holy Spirit, truly communicates the thing proclaimed through the Word, that is Christ, to the souls of all who will, so that it is not necessary that Christ or for that matter his Word be received though the organs of the body, but the Holy Spirit effects this union by his secret virtue, by creating faith in us, by which he makes us members of Christ, true God and true man.” (LCC, Calvin’s Theological Treatises, ‘The Ministry of Word and Sacraments’,p173, emphasis added)

Does Calvin really think we receive Christ separately from Word and Sacrament by the Spirit? It would seem the two must be held together and that we receive Christ precisely with our ears and minds as we believe his Word? Perhaps I have misunderstood.

Maybe Calvin wants to say that both for Word and Sacrament there is unity and distinction. Christ is not enclosed by or locally present in his written Word any more than he is in the bread, perhaps?

The questions of with what faculty Christ is received, in what form and manner seem to me to me important ones. Perhaps they are relevant to how a child or a mentally handicapped person, or someone who has never heard the Gospel (!) might or might not receive Christ.

Watch out for naughty Ford-Battles

Professor Tony Lane DD(Oxon) warns against “the indexes to the McNeill / Battles translation of the Institutes. These are indexes to the notes in this edition, not to Calvin’s text…. Also, no distinction is made between Calvin’s own biblical and patristic references and those of the editors. The biblical references in the text may or may not go back to Calvin and some of Calvin’s own references are dropped. Calvin’s marginal patristic references are usually (but not always) found in the footnotes, but these notes make no distinction between the references given by Calvin and those of the editors. In short, this edition is highly misleading as an indicator of which biblical and patristic references Calvin himself cited.” (John Calvin: Student of the Church Fathers (Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1999), pxiii)

This seems a great shame in the standard scholarly edition of the English translation of Calvin’s Institutes.

I don’t think there is anything better available? I don’t know where we are supposed to go (except to Lane) to find out which is which? How did he tell? Are there Latin and French editions only where the distinctions are made clear? What of Beveridge’s older English version?

The most important modern work of theology deserves a near perfect edition. Who will make this their life’s work?

Word and Supper in Calvin

Calvin says that the Supper depends on the Word (meaning something like the command of Christ, the Bible and its preached doctrine believed and understood).

He also says that the Supper is a visible Word of God.

Confusing, eh?

Perhaps the Supper is seen as a second subordinate word that says the same things in a special way.

Calvin on child communion

Calvin did not support child communion. I guess one of the reasons for this is his context: he was rejecting a certain type of Roman Catholicism in which understanding the Lord’s Supper was pretty irrelevant and unnecessary. As long as the priest said the hocus pocus it didn’t matter whether he understood it or not and if it was mumbo jumbo to the people. In reaction against this, he says:

… the chief thing which the Lord recommends to us, is to celebrate this mystery
with true intelligence….

(Calvin’s Theological Treatises, LCC edition, ‘Treatise on the Lord’s Supper’, p161)

This having been said, it is clear why Calvin would not be drawn to communion for children who do not have (adult) intelligence.

On the same page, Calvin very highly (and rightly) emphasizes the doctrinal aspect of the Supper.

… the devil introduced the manner of celebrating the Supper without any
doctrine…. the substance of it all consists in the doctrine…. … to such an
extent, that the mass, which takes the place of the Supper in the popish Church,
when strictly defined, is nothing but apishness and buffoonery…. the sacraments
take their virtue from the Word, when it is preached intelligibly…. For the
proper and chief substance of the Supper is lacking [in the mass], that the
mystery be well explained to the people, and the promises clearly recited,
instead of the priest muttering to himself apart without sense or reason.

Of course, while the doctrine is essential and important, so are the actions and the objects: you need to eat bread and drink wine to celebrate the Supper, as well as hear words, understand teaching and believe sermons, as Calvin of course would have said, though this quote might not make it sound too much like it.

On study leave / retreat at Oak Hill

Its lovely to be back at Oak Hill for the week, though sadly without Mrs Lloyd.

My room is much better than our flats here!

Nice to see everyone again.

No real changes spotted so far - except there are lots of strange people. And more windows in the dining room. Most sadly the "Be Right and Persist" crest is gone somewhere, which is a scandal.

Very much looking forward to the Eucharist on Thurs AM with Revd Dr Principal Ovey presiding and Rt Revd Dr Tom Wright, the Bishop of Durham, preaching.

Obviously working hard. Wrote some excellent blog posts today on Calvin etc. but sadly they are stuck on my lap top at the moment.

Right, back to the books now. Overtime, eh?