Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Off to Wales

We're off for another long hot journey with the boy, but minus Caleb the dog, who is sadly in kennels. We drive to my parents' home in Cardiff tonight (where the interweb and mobile phones continue to work).

Tomorrow Mrs Lloyd is having her first day off from looking after the boy and we are off to the beech, then out for supper in Whitchurch.

D.v. I will marry my sister on Friday at 1pm at the Parish Church of St Mary's a few minutes walk from my parents'.

Post contains spoilers!

We are singing Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah and I will preach on love from 1 Cor 13, Jn 15 and 1 Jn.

Real love is unconditional and permenant and does not depend on loveliness.

Real love is impossible to us. We need God's forgiveness and help.

Jesus loves us, as unlovely as we are, died for us to forgive us and be our example and help.

Copies of 2 Ways to Live available!

I am thinking of quoting the Beatles ("When I'm 64...") and Shakespeare ("Love is an ever fixed mark...").

As its my first wedding with 100s of non-Christians, I'd value your prayers, please.

Full audio available afterwards d.v..

Back to Eastbourne on Sunday to go to Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in London on Monday!

True, Good, Beautiful

The Christian faith is true, of course. Right. Good. But how wonderful too that it is good and beautiful. It works.

Edwards on Preaching

Some quotes from Revd Jonathan Edwards culled from Revd Dr Steve Jeffery:

If it be so, that true religion lies much in the affections, hence we may infer, that such means are to be desired, as have much of a tendency to move the affections. Such books, and such a way of preaching the Word, and administration of ordinances, and such a way of worshiping God in prayer, and singing praises, is much to be desired, as has a tendency deeply to affect the hearts of those who attend these means.

The affections are no other than the more vigorous and sensible exercised of the inclination
and will of the soul.

Holy affections are not heat without light; but evermore arise from some information of the
understanding, some spiritual instruction that the mind receives, some light or actual
knowledge.

God, in his Word, greatly insists upon it, that we be in good earnest, fervent in spirit, and our
hearts vigorously engaged in religion.

I am bold to assert, that there never was any considerable change wrought in the mind or
conversation of any one person, by anything of a religious nature, that ever he read, heard or
saw, that had not his affections moved.

The Holy Scriptures do everywhere place religion very much in the affections; such as fear,
hope, love, hatred, desire, joy, sorrow, gratitude, compassion and zeal.

He whom God send into the world, to be … the perfect example of true religion and virtue, for
the imitation of all … was a person who was remarkably of a tender and affectionate heart;
and his virtue was expressed very much in the exercise of holy affections.

‘The religion of heaven,’ where there is doubtless true religion, ‘consists very much in
affection; and therefore undoubtedly, true religion consists very much in affection.’

‘The nature and design of the ordinances and duties, which God hath appointed, as means and
expressions of true religion’ appear to be designed to stimulate the affections.

‘Tis an evidence that true religion, or holiness of heart, lies very much in the affection of the
heart, that the Scriptures place the sin of the heart very much in hardness of heart.
By a hard heart, is plainly meant an unaffected heart, or a heart not easy to be moved with
virtuous affections.

The OT retired?

"The Old Testament is not the Word of God Emeritus!"

Douglas Wilson, The Blenheim Lectures, 'The Gospel and Your Government'

The GREAT commission

When we consider the greatness of the great commission we need not worry about overdoing the depth and extent of gospel mission.

The truth, the whole truth and...

A partial truth represented as the whole truth is untrue.

Wedding & Marriage

Your marriage is infinitely more important than your wedding.

Your wedding day lasts 24 hours, your marriage might last 24 years, 48 years, longer.

Your wedding is only for the sake of your marriage.

Think of the thought, time, effort, money, energy, talk and work you have put into your wedding day. Will you put even more effort into your on-going marriage? If you don't it will be a tragedy and your marriage will fail to be all that it could be.

I hope your wedding day is fantastic, brilliant, "perfect". But I don't hope its "the best day of your life". What about the next day? I hope married life just gets better and better, though there will be difficulties and struggles all the way.

Marriage is for better or for worse, but try to make it better.

Do it today

You are only likely to die well if you live well.

A man cannot be a selfish slob every day in the trivial tiny things and then expect to play the hero and through himself under a train on the great day of crisis. Humble self sacrificial responsibility authority and initiative must begin today.

Application

"All this may sound grand and theological. Let us proceed to particulars. Let us leave off preaching and proceed to meddelling!"

:)

Revd Douglas Wilson, Blenheim Lectures, 'The Gospel and Your Family'

Eggs and omelets

You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. But you can break many eggs without making an omelet!

Jesus my little helper

Jesus is not a pill or a 12 step programme or an invisible therapist. But take him as your King and he will begin to put your life back together and use it for his kingdom.

Don't make her no 1

If you put your wife first, you rip her off. Put Jesus no 1 and then you will be more able to love your wife as you should. Wives make terrible idols but great lovers. Serve your wife, but above all, serve Jesus. He will help you to serve her.

Murderous judgements

Abortion is a suicidal frenzy. The wrath of God is coming against it. But abortion itself is also a judgement of God. Is that not obvious? How could it be otherwise? These people are so mad that they will murder their own babies and God will let them do it. He will give them over to it. They must be under the judgement of God. (See Romans 1).

On the first day

It really matters that Sunday is the first day of the week. Sabbath rest and the resurrection of Jesus the Christ sets the agenda for the week. Going to work on Monday morning is not the heartbeat of life. Sunday morning is the first thing. We must keep it primary. Church is not a weekend club activity. Day One!

BCE / CE

BCE - Before the Common Era? Heaven forbid! Before Christ's Empire. Amen.

CE - The Common Era. No. Christ's Empire. Praise Him!

The Blenheim Manifesto

In the Blenheim Lectures, Rev'd Douglas Wilson sets out what the Federal Vision (FV) should mean for the UK. He addresses the gospel and your church, family and nation and then gives 2 autobiographical sketches about his ministry. The 5 talks are available for free MP3 download or can be purchased on CD.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Emphasis

Revd Prof John Frame has pointed out the danger and weakness for criticising someone or something for their emphasis.

To do so assumes that the author has claimed to be comprehensive or definitive, or that we know the whole.

There can be many reasons for an emphasis arising from speakers or hearers (needs, interests, aptitudes, temperament, times).

For example, an Old Testament scholar who rights three 800 page books on Obadiah may not be overemphasising it. A preacher who only ever preached from Obadiah to his regular congregation would be.

Far better to take each point on its own and say why it is wrong if we want to criticise something.

The New Perspective on Paul

Some of the comments I made below regarding the so-called Federal Vision (FV) could equally be made about the so-called New Perspective on Paul (NPP) with which FV has sometimes been associated.

We must distinguish between E. P. Sanders, Jimmy Dunn, Tom Wright and others, and them and FVers.

I hold firmly to, preach and regularly defend the Reformation and post-Reformation "sola"s of salvation in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, to the glory of God alone and to sola Scriptura, but I think there are things to learn from NPP, not least a more corporate understanding of salvation.

Go for the corporate and you get the individual thrown in. Stick with the individual and you may never get the corporate.

We may also distinguish:

(1) What Paul meant

(2) What Luther said

And debate whether or not (2) necessarily follows from (1). I think it does! But Luther was not Paul.

There is some value in trying the read Paul as a Jew against the background of Second Temple Judaism with reference to Inter-testamental and 1st Century literarture. But in so doing, no one need sell out on the Reformation, go over to Rome or give up on the gospel.

Learning from New Frontiers

I have some issues with New Frontiers. I am more or less a cessationist.

But I must say I was blessed to attend The Gate Way Church in Leeds on Sunday morning. They are Reformed Bible-believers. The worship was lively and encouraging. The youth band did a very good job, I thought, with the A-team away. The welcome was excellent. The coffee and biscuits good. The meeting was well "ancoured" (that means "led"). The sermon was long. I didn't hear it as I was in creche. It contained an excellent introduction to John 7 and the significance of the Feast, according to Mrs Lloyd, and can be heard online. The children's talk, on Saul going into a cave for a wee was fantastic and I plan to copy it. Delivery amazing.

I was impressed by 3 different coloured T-shirts: "Steward"; "Welocme. New? Speak to me"; "Children's Worker". The registration system for kids and their Guardians was great.

I don't agree with them but they are brothers with lots to teach us. They do their thing brilliantly. We need to work together and respect one another as fellow-labourers in our Master's Vineyard.

The Federal Visions

One of the many things that one could say about the so-called Federal Vision (FV) is that there is some disagreement amongst proponents on the Federal Vision. There is not one set FV dogma or detailed blueprint but a conversation, a group of concerns, questions and suggestions.

As far as I know, no FVer has ever said that the FV is the be all and end all.

No doubt there are dangers in the FVs as there are in all things but under God I think there are some things that might be learnt from some FVers. Even if you don't like all their answers, you might find some of their questions stimulating. I would say, "don't panic". FV does not equal RC and need not lead in that direction. Just as FV is not the gospel neither is it Another Gospel!

I'd suggest this Joint Statement is an excellent place to start in getting a grip on some of the things that FVers have said in the US and which we may see more of in the UK.

Our Father

Recently I preached 4 sermons on The Lord's Prayer. I haven't opened it, but if I had had it at the time, I certainly would have read Rev'd Richard Coekin's new book, Our Father:Enjoying God in prayer (IVP, 2009), which is due out on 17th July and was handed out free to the lucky customers at EMA.

Get some tissues

Sit down and go and watch this video - it takes less that 7 mins.

Wipe your eyes.

Now tell me that you believe in abortion?!

Pray:

Sorry that we are not grateful for our children as we should be and that we fail to care for them and love them as we might. Sorry that we tolerate their murder.

Thank you for Eliot and for the Lord Jesus, that he said, "let the little children come to me and do not hinder them because to such as these belongs the Kingdom of Heaven."

Please bless and help Eliot's family and frieds and all who mourn. Be with those who know the pain of loss or who have never received the gift of children for which they long.

Loving heavenly Father, God of life and death, have mercy upon us.

Murder

In addition to being a murder, a murder is always:

(1) A suicide - since we kill our humanity in killing others

(2) Regicide - since human beings are to be Rulers of creation

(3) Deicide - since human beings are made in the image of God

Murder is very bad and very silly.

I'm back for a moment

Tommorow I'm off to Wales to marry my sister.

But that's nothing. My Father in law married 2 of his sisters. His brother married his mother. And yet his father and mother married after he was born.

He is married to Janet Claydon but he also married another Janet Claydon (who is unrelated) to his cousin.

Or something like that.

Friday, June 26, 2009

AWOL

I am off to a wedding in the grim North, where I don't believe they have the interweb. Back on Mon.

Piper

I don't agree with him on a number of things, but Rev'd Dr John Piper is undoubtedly a great great godly able wise winsome man and pastor-theologian, is he not?

No murder

Murder is unlawful killing - killing that is not authorised by God, that is contrary to his law.

Some forms of killing are good - the execution of some criminals by the state, for example.

The murder of the unborn child. Life begins at conception. The Bible proves that in the womb a child can be a believer in covenant relationship with God. We should work on the assumption that the children of believers are believers.

Some facts and statistics. You can see their heartbeat and little fingers. Many women have abortions, some have multiple abortions. Many babies are murdered in this way. God will not hold us guiltless.

Abortion has been introduced by stealth. We have a system of abortion on demand.

My wife was more or less offered an abortion when she went to the GP to say she was pregnant with our son: "what do you want to do now / do you want to have the baby?"

Viable babies are aborted.

Disabled people are not worthless and better off dead.

Rape is awful but two wrongs don't make a right.

Abortion is not the woman's right to choose. What about the Father? What about the child? What about God? Society? etc.

Some so called feminist Christians celebrate abortion as the liberation of women. Better for them to have a mill-stone strapped to them and to be thrown into the depths of the sea.

Abortion is a gross sin and a terrible crime which should be illegal.

Abortion is not some kind of unforgivable sin. God is rich rich rich in mercy.

Christians must stand against abortion, loving mothers and babies. They should provide information and help including adoption e.g. for children born as a result of fathers raping their daughters.

The only circumstance in which an abortion is acceptable is if the mother's life is at risk. Even then it is not required.

No suicide. God is the Lord of Life. He gives and he takes away. Blessed be his name.

No character assasinations.

We often murder people in our hearts.

Repentance is a kind of lawful death to self. For the murdered and the murderer there is the hope or terror of resurrection.

Jesus was murdered but he rose again and is the Lord of Life and death.

Williams on Ridley on Supper

The Theologian has done us an excellent service by making Dr Garry Williams' Protestant Truth Society Lecture on Nicholas Ridley's death and doctrine of the Lord's Supper available.

Learned, funny, careful, pointed, applied, interesting.

The talk warms the heart and educates.

Since Ridley's doctrine of the Supper is virtually indistinguishable from Calvin's the lecture serves as a good guide to Calvin's doctrine, which I would claim is Biblical.

When some evangelicals seem to have no idea what the Supper is for nor much desire for it, I think there is much to learn here.

No ping-pong on the Lord's Table, for Ridley or Williams.

Spiritual eating

Medieval Roman Catholic theology claimed that one can "eat" the Mass spiritually by desiring it without actually consuming the elements. This is not so far away from some Evangelicals who think that the whole point of the Supper is thinking about Jesus such that one almost might as well just think about Jesus and not bother too much with this bread and wine business. We must not forget the importance of eating if we would not be Gnostics or Papists.

What is the gospel? (updated)

That old chestnut!

But what question is more important?

I want to always stay interested and excited above all by God and the gospel so its worth thinking about again.

The gospel is best summarised in one word as JESUS.

In 4 words, the gospel is JESUS CHRIST IS LORD.

JESUS is the second person of the Triune Godhead, the living and true God who is and was and is to come. He is eternally begotten of the Father and was incarnate, made man in Palestine 2000 years ago. He lives for ever as the God-Man. Jesus is uniquely and infinitely worthy and wonderful. He is the Saviour from sin. He offers you rescue from the penalty, power and ultimately even the presence of all sin, rebellion and wrong. He rescues us from the holy anger of God, the wrath which is to come.

He is the CHRIST, the Messiah, God's annointed Son in whom he is well pleased, the chosen, marked out, long expected, special rescuer king who fulfills all God's plans and purposes. He is the crucifed and risen one. He puts our sin to death and raises us to wonderful new life. He is our prophet (who tells us truth about God), priest (who makes us right with God) and king (who rules us for and as God). He is the Proper Man, the Second and Last Adam. He is the fulfillment of all we are and long to be in our better moments. He is right where we are wrong. He is able to rule and subdue and fill and glorify, beautify and mature us and our world, which is his world.

He is the LORD, the creator, master, ruler, king, judge, decider. He chooses rightly, rules wisely, governs kindly. He is the kind of king we want and need. He is Yahweh, the covenantal God of Israel, personal and faithful.

The Gospel can be understood by considering the eternal nature and relations, incarnation, life, teaching, death, resurrection, exaltation, reign and return of Jesus the Messiah.

The GOSPEL is good news, an announcement, proclamation. It is God's offer of peace to rebels. It is our comission in his army. It is his installation of a new king. It launches a wonderful new epoch and age. It is a reality demanding a response, a command, a promise, a call. We must get on board with what God has done, is doing and will do or we will be left behind.

Penal substitutionary atonement is at the heart of the gospel since without it I face condemnation. Justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone, on the basis supremely of Scripture is the delicious abundant fruit of the gospel.

The gospel includes personal salvation, but it is also much more. The Gospel includes the glory of God and the transformation of the world by the Word of God in the power of the Spirit. Jesus is Lord of my heart and church and home and government and the whole universe.

Can you do better? Any changes?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Is Doug Wilson a heretic?

I liked this comment I saw on You-Tube:

So the OPC, PCA, and RPCUS declared Doug Wilson a heretic (even if it's not true on all fronts, bear with me). This means that 3 denominations comprising a total of  roughly 385,000 members think Doug Wilson's views are heretical. In a world with 2,100,000,000 Christians, this means that effectively .018 % of the Church has excommunicated Wilson. A Great Ecumenical Council to be sure, but I'll wait to hear from the other 99.982% of of the Church. I'll post when they give me a call.


Good point even if you don't buy the numbers!

John Piper on Doug Wilson

Thanks to Ros for this. A very well spent 4 mins. Do watch Piper on Wilson.

Piper will tell you that what Wilson says is true, risky and compelling. Wilson gets the gospel right, believes the Bible and is a proper Reformed fella with a way with words. Piper wants to give Wilson a platform and hear what he has to say. Amen?

Perhaps Wilson might like to speak at EMA sometime soon, as Piper has, since people there are apparently interested in The Federal Vision? :)

About this blog

This is my personal weblog. Thanks for stopping by. There's no real reason why you should be interested in it, but if you are:

I wouldn't want you to assume that this blog represents what is most important to me or what my ministry is like. Here is some stuff that for whatever reason I have seen, heard or written and thought might as well live here.

Nothing on this blog has been endorsed by my church, employers, bosses, Bishops, wife, kid, cat, dog or anyone else unless otherwise stated!

I sometimes use this blog to think out loud or ask questions. Sometimes my tongue may be in or near my cheek. I may not be sure of some things. Thinking is allowed. I reserve the right to change my mind. Writing helps me to think.

I hope something here may be of some help to someone sometime.

If you think I've gone very wrong, I'd be grateful for a comment or email - marc underscore lloyd at hotmail dot com should reach me.

I'm not mad on annonymous comments.

Let's be nice! Let's not assume we can see into other people's hearts or minds.

I read every comment on this blog, but I can't promise a full response because of the pressures of work, time and energy.

Regarding the MyLibraryThing tool, most of the books I own with ISBN numbers that appear on Library Thing are listed. Of course, just 'cos I own a book doesn't mean I've read it or agree with any or all of it or would buy it again or think you ought to read it or any such thing.

But then you would have assumed all this anyway, wouldn't you?

My theological commitments

I could probably write quite a few words about my theological commitments, those which I hold most dear, and various opinions to which I'm sympathetic to varrying degrees. Best, perhapsm to keep it brief here and give a few headlines.

If I had to summarise the gospel and what is most important to me in 4 words I would certainly say:

JESUS CHRIST IS LORD.

I try to be committed to the Triune God, the Lord Jesus, his gospel and word and people and world and work and so on. I want to be nice and thought-through and kind.

Two Ways to Live gives a good summary of the basic message of the Bible for the individual, in my view.

I am a Reformed Conservative Evangelical Anglican Catholic Protestant Christian. Again, I could go on about what I mean by those things.

At my ordinations I made the Declaration of Assent included in Common Worship (p.xi) and meant it.

I believe the Bible and the ecumenical creeds, since they say what the Bible says and are supported by the ancient and overwhelming witness of the church.

I want to try to understand the Bible more and more richly and deeply in all its fullness and range.

I would happily sign-up to the UCCF, Evangelical Alliance, CPAS doctrinal statements etc.

I believe in reason and doctrine and think the tools of Scholasticism are often useful. We must distinguish.


I like the 39 Articles of Religion and the Book of Common Prayer.

I am in favour of the Old Testament and the sacraments. I approve of the church and I like creation. I think the gospel will win. Children are a blessing. Liturgy is good. I would like to know the Psalms off by heart.

I want to have fellowship with all that those people Jesus has fellowship with and be willing to learn from others, including those with whom I might disagree.

I hope that helps you to understand a little of where I am coming from, if for some reason you are interested.

Every blessing!

John Dickson on promoting the gospel at EMA

Every Christian should promote the gospel by living, giving, praying and speaking.

How and when does the Lord expect us to speak up for him?

A) Some to be evangelists - specially gifted gospelers in localities and districts to be identified

B) All to declare his praises - praise as proclamation in church

C) Each to give an answer - on the basis of allegiance to Jesus and in the right manner

Practical tips and insights included.

David Jackman on Ps 86 at EMA

A prayer under pressure.

How to lay hold of God at times of personal need.

Key verse: v11 - pivot, chief request: "unite my heart" - a single focus / direction / control-centre / goal / concentration, God is one, the unique authority, only God can engage all our powers and capacities

Distinguish petulance and perplexity. Take both to God.

Word affects walk (way) and worship

vv1-7: A cry for help

We are needy but not unworthy since depending on God's faithfulness and character not our merit we live with faithful covenant loyalty.

Some Christians have a joy so deep they have difficulty ever allowing it to surface!

vv8-13: A celebration of faith

vv14-17: An application of the remedy

Not just grit your teeth and get on with it but grit your teeth and go to the Lord with it.

With our self-confidence we are like a mad-man with a knife. The more we grasp it the more it hurts us. We need to drop it and look to the Lord (Spurgeon).

Carson on Prayer at EMA

We must attend to "our familial and ecclesiastical priestly tasks".

5 Biblical polarities:

(1) Brief & lengthy prayers

Bullet prayers [= Arrow prayers, I think. Trust the Americans!]

(2) Desperate & steady prayers

(3) Private & public prayer

(4) Corporate Covenant renewal [esp. Lord's Table where beg for the presence of God in blessing OR judgement] & special requests

(5) Acceptable & unacceptable prayers (antithesis)

cf. Nursery rhyme memorization & Bible memorization of Carson's 1 year old daughter. 1 Cor 13 - "when I was a child..."!; Ps 8 etc.

Carson almost chanted Ex 34:6ff.

"Do you see?!"

Good stuff.

EMA today

Had an excellent time at EMA today. So glad I went at the last min. Caught up with many lovely friends. Smiled across the room at people. Good singing. Encouraged and helped.

Excellent dense exposition, exegesis and application from the Psalms by Revd David Jackman. I may steal that sermon myself!

Revd Prof Don Carson very good on 5 Biblical polarities about prayer. Illuminating interview. Many personal applications from Prof Don's life. Witty. Good old Don's dad The Ordinary Pastor.

Revd Dr John Dickson a revelation: learned and right about evangelism: how and when to speak about Jesus. Not just an author of great books for teenagers! A bit mixed up on prophecy in the NT church.

Hopefully I'll post some headings in due course. I think you'll be able to listen online and order talks in time.

No time to look at the bookstall. New ed. of Valley of Vision Puritan Prayers is a must buy. New Word Alive sounds great. Some info on Passion for Life I missed while having soup and soggy bread roll for lunch.

Good journey back with the Vicar. Needed drugs when I got in - face very swollen and painful. Sadly couldn't eat the very promising Millionaire Shortbread!

Don Carson on The Federal Vision (updated)

Rev'd Professor Don A. Carson commented carefully and very helpfully on The Federal Vision (FV) or High Church Presbyterianism at the Evangelical Ministry Assembly (EMA) at St Helen's, Bishopgate today. The FV was also discussed in questions with Carson at New Word Alive this year, I believe.

I suggest you listen to it in full when the recording becomes available (online or to buy, I think).

I paraphrase from memory.

In the "On the Record off the Cuff slot", Rev'd Richard Cunningham asked Carson if engagement with the FV is a "99" moment analogous to the times when the captain of the British Lions called on his team to all run up and punch their opposite numbers amongst the Springbox!

Carson seemed to think not. He said that he thought such moments came rarely if ever and that such things should only be done in a spirit of brokenness, if they must be done.

A fair ammount of the hour long interview was given over to the topic and to my mind it felt like the main issue of substance tackled. Unity with Charismatics and the emerging church were also discussed. I imagine most of those present had not heard of the Federal Vision which is quite a small movement in the States and a little elsewhere. Tiny to non-existent in the UK.

Carson identified 2 main points about the FV:

(1) The issues themselves where the questions are nuanced and the answers complex.

We must be careful in our treatment of the movement which has strengths and powerful things things to teach us.

Rev'd Douglas Wilson is the most able / best advocate of things FV. He has written lots of fine stuff and is tremendously gifted. [You can find largely positive reviews of a couple of Wilson's books in The Briefing from this last year or so. I believe Wilson is due to speak at a John Piper / Desiring God conference on Calvin and the glory of God in Sept '09].

Carson didn't really go into the issues beyond what is mentioned here.

(2) The way the issues have been presented and advocated.

We must not assume we know the motives of others.

Young people tend to like the kind of tough minded clarity that some of the FV offers. It may be especially attractive to Evangelical Anglicans.

The best established teachers may not make the FV the be all and end all but students often pick up on their teachers' interests and enthusiasms even if they are not that important in themselves or to their teachers. Carson commented that the main thing he had learnt as a teacher is that students don't learn what he teaches them!

Some FVers may be like one string violins taken up with one or two issues.

Some of the younger FVers especially may have gone a bit OTT or expressed things badly etc.

Some young FVers may be going through a growing up experimental phase.

It may be that some FVers have noticed weaknesses in some contemporary evangelicalism (e.g. about baptism) and over reacted. Such movements can be the unpaid debts of the church.

We must keep the main things the main things and keep the (richly understood) gospel and evangelism central and controlling to everything, rather than, say, Christian education and baptism, though of course the issues are all related.

The gospel must not be simply assumed. We need to continue to be interested and excited about that above all. Neglecting evangelism is a danger.

We want to stick to historical Reformed orthodoxy in so far as it is Biblical and so on.

Like e.g. Young Earth Creationism we must not make the FV a touchstone of soundness, unity or fellowship.

I agree with all that and think we all need to hear it, FVers, sympathisers and opponents alike.

I might also have mentioned Rev'd Dr Peter Leithart PhD(Cantab) as a brilliant FVer. Rev'd James Jordan of Biblical Horizons has been a major influence. I think their writings repay very careful and thoughtful reading.

Obviously, as a Baptist, Carson disagrees with some of the FV stuff on baptism and I guess he thinks that baptism should always be tied to personal conversion from a life of sin and a more or less articulate declaration of individual faith. He thinks there are dangers in speaking too highly of baptismal efficacy and of kinds of presumptive regeneration which he sees as problematic historically e.g. in Holland. These latter point, of course, FVers would grant, but Carson did not address the possibility of infant faith in his brief comments nor the other arguments for infant baptism that are well known for example to the readers of the Westminster Confession or the Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Food for thought and on-going healthy discussion, I think. No punch-ups called for, then?

Ironically, I think opponents of the FV sometimes make FV a primary dividing issue by saying it is a heretical other gospel to be hated and stamped out whereas it seems Carson would prefer to say just that it is wrong and dangerous in certain respects, whatever might be going for it. I think this is a vital distinction and I imagine most FVers would grant that in many ways it is a 2nd or 23rd order issue.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Value for Money Conference?

Christians sometimes complain about Christian events being expensive.

Compare The Spectator Inaugural Day Conference 'Paths Back to Prosperity' Tues 15th Sept, Church House, Westminster. Eminent line-up. Refreshments, lunch and day documents included.

Early bird booking price: £343.85

If the event were put on by Christians, that would be more likely to be the cost of the whole event than of one ticket! It better be an amazing lunch!

Preaching Ecclesiastes (plans)

I'm wondering about perhaps preaching Ecclesiastes on Sunday mornings when I finish my current series on the 10 Commandments. We learnt about honouring our parents on Father's day, by the providence of God or the contrivance of the Vicar, or both, but certainly not the careful planning of the curate.

Any thoughts? Tips? Resources? Esp. free online stuff?

I'm wondering how many sermons to go for. 3 might be good for the main thrust. But I'd like to get into some of the detail so I reckon maybe 6? Would 12 be too much for people / a bit samey / not a healthy balanced diet? (I'm preaching a long sermon series on John in the evenings. The Vicar is doing Philippians in the mornings and Amos in the evenings at the mo.)

At the moment I have Derek Kidner (IVP BST), Jeffrey Meyers and Barry Webb, Five Festal Garments on my shelf. I'm thinking of getting a couple more. I need one big technical commentary for help on details. I'm wondering about maybe Tremper Longman, Charles Bridges, Michael Eaton, James Limburg and or Craig Bartholomew. Any others?

The person to ask about all this is Dr Thomas Renz, of course, but it seems a bit cheeky to email him about it. He can't be expecting to bother with every former student who wants to know anything about the OT after all. He might have better things to do. Like write books about Old Testament Wisdom literature, for example....

Notes on the Apostles' Creed

Please feel free to comment or email me if you might be able to use some notes (introduction, Q&As, tips etc.) on the Apostles' Creed which I originally prepared for our homegroup leaders. I could send you a Word document with a couple of pages each of 10 studies.

I might one day get round to editing them and putting them up on line but it doesn't seem the most pressing or important thing to do right now.

Camp Themes

I run a Christian summer camp for 11-14 year olds. Each year we have a theme which is intended to add a bit of fun and creativity into the proceedings.

This year its spies.

Some previous years / other ideas include:

The Wild Wild West

Under the Sea

In the jungle / animals

Olympics / sports

Around the world in 8 days

Music

Musicals

Movies

Fairy tales

Superheros

Any other suggestions?

If we were really organised, we might have a 4 year plan that was repeated and honed, but it might get a bit dull for some of the old-hand leaders who love a new challenge!

Where to look when...

Perhaps the Gideons should consider adding the following entry to the "Where to look when..." section they have at the beginning of their Bibles:

... facing dental surgery Psalm 81:10

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Purposes of Marriage

According to The Prayer Book, those getting married should duly consider the causes for which Matrimony was ordained:

(1) Children / Procreation - parents - "First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy name."

(2) Chastity / Purity - lovers - "Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body."

(3) Companionship / Partnership - friends - "Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Live Long and Prosper

John Frame notes that Dt 5:16 contains the Star Trek benediction. (Doctrine of the Christian Life, p575, footnote 1)

Leithart also quotes this provenance:

"Live long and prosper” predates Star Trek by decades - it was the greeting of Rip Van Winkle in a play that ran for nearly a century;

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lord of Creation

The details of John 6:16-21 might remind us of Genesis 1:2: darkness, disorderly waters and wind (/Spirit).

Jesus is the Lord of Creation.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sharnford Farm

The Lloyd family highly recommend a trip to Sharnford farm in Eastbourne.

It's free to wander round and we saw chickens, ducks, cows, donkeys, goats, pigs, ponies, lambs and a dog and a rabbit. There's a little kiddies play area. Jono very much enjoyed "driving" the tractor and there are a couple of lakes in which one can fish for a small fee.

The place is mainly a fruit farm where you can pick your own, but that sounds a bit like hard work to me.

Service in the coffee shop was friendly and helpful and the prices were reasonable. I very much enjoyed my tea and warm cheese scone, although I can't imagine Weight Watchers would approve (11/29 points for the day blown, I reckon). I chose that as the healthy option against sponge cake with cream and fruit.

In the shop we grabbed some salt beef for lunch, some frozen breaded mushrooms, curried fruit relish and fig relish. There was an interesting selection of frozen fruit and veg as well as a butchers and some baked stuff.

Shame dogs are only allowed in the car park!

There must be worse ways to spend an hour or two.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Moore College Course in Eastbourne

Please get in touch if you're interested in starting the Moore College Correspondence Course through the Open Bible Institute based in Eastbourne. We are just starting Module 1: Introduction to the Bible and can provide tutorials / seminars and invigilation for exams, though the quiz is optional.

Just getting wet?

Some evangelicals sometimes speak of baptism as if it were just getting wet.

Calvin would not have agreed.

In the Catechism of the Church of Geneva (1545) we read:

Minister: But do you attribute nothing more to the water than to a mere symbol of ablution?

Child: I think it to be such a symbol that reality is attached to it. For God does not disappoint us when he promises us his gifts. Hence both pardon and newness of life are certainly offered to us and received by us in Baptism.



Strong stuff! I imagine Calvin would not be allowed to explain baptism in many of our churches!

All symbolic, not all instrumental

Calvin gives us an important principle that we can use when considering the oft-made claim that everything is somehow 'sacramental'.

Calvin distinguishes a broader category of things or actions that are symbolic (e.g. some annointings with oil, such as of the sick) from a narrower subset which are also instrumental. Sacraments proper belong in the instrumental category.

For example, everything is symbolic: it carries the marks of its creator. Everything speaks to us of God. But the Bible is the instrument in or by which God has promised to speak in a special sense.

All bread is symbolic of daily nourishment, of human work blessed and so on. But it is the sacramental bread of the Lord's Supper that speaks to us of the death of Christ and much more, spiritually communicates Christ to us as an instrument to which God has attached his promise of the work of the Spirit when we receive it by faith.

See further Institutio 1536 V.46, CO 1:178B; Inst 1536:159 cited in Zachman Image and Word p319

Free use of symbols and ceremonies

According to Zachman:

According to Calvin, both the apostles and Jesus were rather free in their use of such symbols and ceremonies, as when Jesus at times uses dust and spittle, at other times just a touch, or the apostles heal by word or touch, as well as by oil. (Image and Word etc. p319)


Granted that Jesus and the Apostles had the authority to institute ceremonies and symbols which we do not have, and wisdom which we cannot fully achieve, is it not still reasonable to take their actions as a model for our own? At least their actions show the lawfulness of symbols and ceremonies, even ones for which there is little explicit commandment in the Word of God, and not just in an entirely Old Testament context since Jesus is bringing in the Kingdom.

[State] schooling 'does not work for us'

Some home education stories from the BCC.

The Today Programme also reported that 20 000 children are registered with their local authority as home educated whereas it is thought that over 40 000 are taught at home.

Presently parents have a duty to educate their children and local authorities can intervene if it is thought a child is at risk. This seems to me to be an adequate system.

There have been calls to require parents to register as homeschoolers and to be subeject to inspections at home.

Education is essentially the responsibility of parents, not the state. Parents may choose to band together with other parents, even to form a school, or to make use of a pre-existing school but their responsibility is inalienable.

I would question both the right and the competence of the state to intervene. State education, the health service, in fact, all public services, MPs expenses and the nation's finances hardly suggest that one should trust Gordon with the most precious thing we have: our children.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"I have an omnipotent comb"

In a sermon on John 6 from 1992, Tim Keller argues that Jesus has a divine, omnipotent comb! Life is never so tangled and messy that Jesus can't sort it out and beautify it. He can straighten us out.

The kind of thing we wouldn't dare to write

Psalm 78:65

New Moses, Better Jonah

Tom Wright points out that John 6 is all about the Exodus. Jesus provides manna in the desert. He is the New Moses (v14; cf. Dt 18:15) leading his people across the river to the promised land in vv16-25 (John For Everyone).


The incident of Jesus walking on the water is also something of the opposite of Jonah story. They throw Jonah overboard and the storm ends; they take Jesus into the boat and the storm ends. Jesus is the Greater Jonah, God’s obedient messenger.

We need the rain

J. C. Ryle says:

“Winter as well as summer, cold as well as heat, clouds as well as sunshine; are all necessary to bring the fruit of the Spirit to ripeness and maturity. We do not naturally like this. We would rather cross the lake with calm weather and favourable winds, with Christ always by our side, and the sun shining down on our faces. But it cannot be like this. This is not the way that God’s children are made ‘partakers of his holiness’ (Heb. 12.10). Abraham, and Jacob, and Moses, and David, and Job were all men of many trials. Let us ne content to walk in their footsteps, and to drink of their cup. In our darkest hours we may seem to be abandoned, but we are never really alone....

"Let all true Christians take comfort in the thought that their Saviour is Lord of waves and winds, of storms and tempests, and can come to them in the darkest hour, 'walking upon the sea'. There are waves of trouble far heavier than any on the Lake of Galilee. There are days of darkness which try the faith of the holiest Christian. But let us never despair if Christ is our friend. He can come to our aid, at a time we thought impossible, and in ways that we did not expect. And when he comes, all will be calm."

(Expository Thoughts on John 6:15-21, The Classic NT Comm., p99f)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Friends of St Ebbe's on Monday

I'm toying with going to the Friends of St Ebbe's meeting on Monday at 7pm in St Andrew's Undershaft, although its rather a long way to go for the evening.

Is anyone else going?

Do you fancy meeting up for a drink before hand? Say 5:30pm in the City somewhere?

On creeds

Creeds do not, of course, have the unique authority of the Scriptures, which are God’s words written. Creeds are more or less helpful human summaries of Bible-truth and as such they are fallible and always subject to correction from the Word of God. We believe the Apostles’ Creed not just because it is old or approved of by the Church but because it faithfully summarises some of the key teaching of the Bible.

Good creeds can be a useful teaching aid. They can promote Christian unity on the basis of the truth and help to pick out what the most essential core beliefs are, whilst on other things we may agree to differ. Using a creed like this reminds us of our fellowship with Christians down the centuries and around the world who have professed the same faith, often using these very words (or translations of them). Creeds also help to combat false teaching since heretics will often claim to believe the Bible but then deny what it teaches. Creeds can crystallise and clarify the issues at stake. Heretics will often reject creeds that teach what the Bible teaches while continuing to insist that they believe the Bible.

Monday, June 08, 2009

How to be happy

Or The Secret of Happiness.

D.v. I'm going to be giving an evangelistic talk with some such title in Oct / Nov. Any tips (including the best title) gratefully recieved.

I might end up with one of the Bible's "blessed"s.

Preaching Proverbs

If you are or are thinking of preaching or teaching the book of Proverbs, I suggest you get over to the Sussex Evangelical Ministry Seminars website and listen to Revd John Woods' excellent seminar on said subject, which he delivered this morning. If you go to the Lancing Tabernacle website you can apparently find 27 sermons on Proverbs that John preached in 2006. John also commended some thematic sermons by Revd Dr Tim Keller. He mentioned that Revd Vaughan Roberts is also due to do some preaching on Proverbs soon I believe.

Maybe some more nuggets sometime if I get round to blogging some of my notes.

Calvin Conference

I've just filled out the booking form for The John Owen Centre's Calvin Conference Examining Calvin's life and theology and its relevance for Christian living today (Mon 14th - Tues 15th Sept).

It only costs £50 including meals, with discounted day bookings available.

I'm especially interested in it as I'm about to write a chapter for the PhD on Calvin's doctrine of the Lord's Supper.

Anyone else going?

Anyone want to offer me a bed in London - the more accessible it is to London Theological Seminary in Finchley the better!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Happy Trinity Sunday!

In a post prompted by Mr Daniel Newman on the Facebook, a very happy Trinity Sunday!

In celebration, here is the Athanasian Creed, which the Prayer Book directs should be said today (as well as on some other festivals).

Written in Latin this creed was used in the West since the 6th Century. It is not now thought to have been written by Athanasius the Great of Alexandria (c. AD 293 – May 2, 373) who defended orthodoxy at the Council of Nicea in AD 325.

1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;
2. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
3. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
4. Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.
5. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.
6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.
12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.
13. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.
14. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.
15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;
16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
17. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;
18. And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.
19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;
20. So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords.
21. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.
22. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.
23. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
24. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
25. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.
26. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.
27. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
28. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
29. Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
30. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.
31. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the world.
32. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.
33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.
34. Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.
35. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God.
36. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.
37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;
38. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;
39. He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;
40. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;
42. and shall give account of their own works.
43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
44. This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Camp Training Day

Someone asked me the other day what we do on our camp training day. I imagine its pretty standard but for what its worth, here's our plan (some names have been removed to protect the innocent; sorry about some of the ugly formatting):

What do you do at yours?

10am Arrivals, Name labels (Marc Lloyd) & Coffee etc. (JC)

10:15am Welcome, opening prayer, introductions, notices, apologies etc. (Marc Lloyd)


10:30am Bible teaching and prayer (Marc Lloyd)


11am Our aims, vision, ethos, values, ways of working etc. (Marc Lloyd)


11:15am Coffee break (JC)


11:30am A typical year, week, day (ZS)
Training day, camp, follow-up, reunion, next year – all essential

11:45am Making the most of our spy theme (HW)

Word association game for “spies” etc.
Costumes, props, music, activities, names, games etc.


12pm How to lead a Colossians dorm Bible study (HW)

With distribution of Bible Study preparation assistance notes


12:30pm Personal work and the Two Ways to Live gospel outline (KMacD)

With distribution of Two Ways to Live booklet (Marc Lloyd).


1pm Lunch (JC)


1:45pm Making the most of dorm time (JT)


2:15pm Working with 11-14 year olds: what makes Pathfinders tick? (DR)


2:45pm A word from the treasurer (Mrs Lloyd)

With distribution of expenses claim forms and donation forms


3pm Afternoon tea break (JC)


3:15pm Time in dorm groups (led by overall dorm leaders)

Get to know one another

Allocate Dorm Bible studies

Discuss Dorm time

Look at members’ forms

Pray for one another and individual members


3:45pm Child protection (JC)


4pm Admin: Any changes to the camp handbook? (Marc Lloyd & those responsible for particular areas or jobs)

Maybe a word about food on camp and the kitchen (JC)

Lifeguarding

First aid

Who is bringing a car and how many Pathfinders could you take in it?

Minibus drivers?

Who can bring what to camp? (e.g. laptop, PowerPoint data projector, sports equipment)

Who can play an instrument / sing?

What other stuff could you help with?


4:30pm Time in “teams” / sorting stuff out with individuals / groups (led by those responsible for those things)

Q’s workshop - arts and crafts (HL)

Music (DM)

Onsite activities

Speakers to chat with Marc


5pm Any questions, any other business? (Marc Lloyd)


5:15pm Prayer time (Marc Lloyd)


5:30pm You are free to go if you need to!


Evening Meal – hopefully a barbeque (JC)


Camp Values

I'm going to try to say something as a vision for camp at our training day tomorrow. Here are my jottings:

Our aims, vision, ethos, values, ways of working etc.


THANK YOU! WOW! Here we go…!


The Best Week of the Year! SERIOUS FUN!


Case studies… Some real dreams:

- the member who comes to Christ

- the member who takes strides forward

- the family that’s turned around

- the leader who is transformed

- the church that flourishes


COMMITMENTS:


Jesus, Gospel, Glory of God


Bible,


Prayer,


Power of the Spirit,


Members,


Churches,


Families,


One another, Service, Self-sacrifice, Gospel unity


Growing as leaders,


Camp, Safety, Reputation,


All year round, Long term?


AIMS:


Mission, Maturity, Ministry;


Evangelism, Nurture, Service


WAYS OF WORKING:


CPAS, Overall leader, planning team, adjutant, dorm leaders


EXPECTATIONS OF LEADERS:


Try to be godly, humour, responsibility, prepared flexibility


LET US PRAY… Sorry, Thank you, Please


Introducing the 10 Words

D.V. I will give a talk each day on camp to the leaders on one of the 10 commandments. At our training day tommorow I plan to give an introduction to the 10 words. Here are some jottings:

The 10 Commandments (0): Introduction

Ex 20 & Dt 5

Vital & foundational importance - The special status of the 10 words (Ex 31:18; 40:20) as the Constitution of Israel


Neglected, controversial & misunderstood


Our attitudes to “Law” cf. God’s fatherly wisdom


Fulfilled not abolished – not under Law? In what sense?


Dangers of irrelevance, “spiritualisation”, “legalism”


What the 10 Words can do for us: (1) reveal God’s standards (2) reveal our sin (2) reveal the Saviour etc.


Christ and the Commandments: he fulfilled them, his law…


Specific & broad applications – perspectives – all & one


V1: God’s authoritative words not 10 helpful suggestions


V2: In the context of personal covenant relationship


They are already God’s redeemed people they do not become God’s people by keeping the commandments


Salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone supremely according to God’s Word alone


Good works necessary for salvation?


Obedience is a grateful response to the grace of salvation


These commandments as promise – you shall not


Home

Amazon have kindly informed me that Marryline Robinson's Home (Virago Press) has won the Orange Prize for Fiction (by a woman published in the UK). Since I very much enjoyed Gilead I've ordered a copy. Here's a bit of blurb:

Reviews from Amazon.Co.Uk website:
'Her fiction attends with rapt attention to the "dear ordinary" breathing fresh air into the long-standing debates of American Protestantism' Kasia Boddy, DAILY TELEGRAPH 'A quietly moving novel of faith and forgiveness.' Amber Pearson, DAILY MAIL 'So finely wrought as to make the work of her more productive contemporaries seem tawdry by comparison ... The cadences of her prose have a resonant authority more like that of a great music rather than language. The effect is utterly haunting. The bad news is that is makes all other writing seem jejune for ages afterwards' Jane Shilling, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 'This is certainly a novel about faith and love. However, it is also a meditation on doubt and fear ... There is both a subtlety and a simplicity about her most powerful themes. She asserts the elusiveness of perfection, the foolishness of sever self-judgement and the unavoidable necessity of having to suffer in order to love ...The beauty of HOME is that it does not offer the counterfeit currency of certainty but proffers the under-valued coin of hope. That is its glory, too' HERALD 'Compelling' OBSERVER 'One of the saddest books I have ever loved' Sarah Churchwell, GUARDIAN

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Moore College Blogs

The Blogging Parson, The Revd Dr Michael Jensen has an impressive blogroll on Moore College faculty, students and graduates that I'm sure would be well worth a look, though I've not explored it myself.

Confirmation

I've noted before some of the very negative things that Calvin sometimes said about confirmation. He was worried that it undermined baptism. However, he apparently argues in his commentary on Hebrews of 1549 that "the teachings of baptisms, and of the laying on of hands" refers to the rite of blessing catechumens, something rather like our confirmation.

see Zachman, Image and Word etc. p317

Regulative Principles in Practice

Zachman comments that “… in the third edition of the Institutes of 1543, Calvin completely changes his position in the symbol of the laying on of hands.” (Image and Word etc. p315) Previously Calvin had rejected the practice since it not (explicitly) commanded in the New Testament but he later advocated it since the uniform custom of the Apostles means it is effectively commanded.

When God Seems Far Away

Calvin says:

... when every access to God seems closed up against us, nothing is more useful that to recall to mind, that he has adopted us from our very infancy, that he has also testified his favour by many tokens, especially that he has called us by his Gospel into a fellowship with his only-begotten Son, who is life and salvation; and the, that he has confirmed his favour both by Baptism and the Supper. When, therefore, these things come to our minds, we may be able by faith to break through all impediments.

Commentary on Jonah 2:4, Calvin Trans soc / Baker pp80-81

Cavin on Image and Word

From Zachman's Conclusion:

Far from replacing images with words, Calvin combines image and word in all aspects of our lives with God and with others. We must hear the Word of God if we are rightly to behold the symbols in which the invisible God becomes somewhat visible; but we must also behold with our eyes the goodness of God that the Word declares to us, so that the truth of that Word might be confirmed for us. Calvin will accentuate the visibility of divine self-revelation by describing the Word of God itself as a living image of God, in which the hidden thoughts of God might be beheld, even as human thoughts are represented in the language we use. When Calvin encounters a symbol in Scripture to which no Word of God is attached, such as the sacrifices of the patriarchs, or burial rites, or the exodus itself, he will nonetheless uphold the meaning and necessity of these symbols, which the godly are to consider and contemplate.


Calvin’s concern to see the self-revelation of God in terms of the combination of the Word of God that we hear and the living images of God that we behold places him squarely within the broarder catholic tradition from the time of the orthodox theologians of the early Church to his own day. Calvin combines proclamation and manifestation in an exemplary way…. Calvin also holds together the revelation of God in the truth of the Word with the manifestation of the goodness of God in the beauty of God’s works, in a way that anticipates Hans Urs von Balthasar’s attempt to do the same in our own day. We are led to union with the fountain of every good thing in God only when we hold together the proclamation of that goodness in the Word of God with the manifestation of that goodness in the beauty of the living images of God.

We have also seen that an unresolvable tension lies at the heart of Calvin’s discussion of the living images of God. Calvin insists that the symbols instituted by God truly offer and present the reality they represent, and therefore are instruments God uses to descend to us. However, he also claims that the reality being represented in these symbols must be sought in heaven, and encourages the godly to use divine symbols as ladders and vehicles by which they might ascend to God. Calvin creates this tension in order to keep the godly from confining God to the symbols of divine self-manifestation, so that we might be led from the image that we see to the God whom we do not yet see. This tension is compounded by the various reasons Calvin gives for the rejection of images of human institution in the worship of God. On the one hand, Calvin contrasts the “dead images” that humans create, which are only the image of absent things, with the “living images” instituted by God, which truly present the reality they represent. On the other hand, Calvin rejects the use of images in worship on the basis of the invisible nature of God, which cannot be represented in any symbol or image. He can at times so insist on the essential invisibility of God that he appears to undermine his whole understanding of divine self-manifestation in symbols and living images. Again, he creates this tension in order to maintain the dialectical relationship between the visibility and invisibility of God, and the presence and absence of God, which he thinks is maintained by images of divine creation but not by images of human divising. This tension is meant to lead us from the vision of God in a mirror, enigmatically, to the beholding of God face-to-face so that we never rest contented with the present state of our vision but press on to the clear vision we shall enjoy on the Last Day.

Let each of us awaken himself from his lethargy, that we may now be satisfied with spiritual felicity until God, in due time, bring us to his own immediate presence, and cause us to enjoy him face to face (Comm on Ps 17:15)

(Image and Word etc. p437-440)