Thursday, April 30, 2015

39 Articles Course Notes - Articles 32-39

Article 18- : The Church
Articles 32-36: The Disciplines of the Church
Articles 37-39: Christians and Civil Society

Article 32: Of the Marriage of Priests

Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, are not commanded by God's Law, either to vow the estate of single life, or to abstain from marriage: therefore it is lawful for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion, as they shall judge the same to serve better to godliness.

Clerical celibacy a late requirement . The Apostle Peter himself married. Clement of Alexandria mentions married priests and the 5th Century historian Socrates refers to married bishops in the East. The Council of Gangra in 324 anathematised those who separated themselves from married priests and the Council of Nicea in 325 rejected a rule of clerical celibacy. Pope Gregory the Great tried to impose clerical celibacy. The Councils of Carthage (end of 4th C), Toledo (691-2) and Arles (early 5th C) required some clerical celibacy but as late as the 11th C married clergy were still common in the Western Church. Pope Gregory VII issued a decree in 1074 forbidding the laity to receive ministry from married priests and in the English church an absolute rule of clerical celibacy was imposed from 1102. The first Lateran council in 1123 required clerical celibacy in the whole western church. Irish clergy including abbots were usually married with children right up to the Reformation. 24th session of the Council of Trent in Nov 1563 upheld clerical celibacy. Clerical celibacy helped preserve the finances of the church. Clerical celibacy in England ended in 1547/9?. Archbishops Cranmer and Parker had both married. By the time of Mary I perhaps 1/3 of the English clergy had married.
1 Cor 9:5; 1 Tim 3:2, 12; Titus 1:5-6. Philip the deacon married (1 Cor 16:19)
Cf. Article 20 – the church has no power to command anything contrary to God’s word written
On celibacy: Mt 19:1-12; 1 Cor 7:1-9

Article 33: Of excommunicated Persons, how they are to be avoided

That person which by open denunciation of the Church is rightly cut off from the unity of the Church, and excommunicated, ought to be taken of the whole multitude of the faithful, as an Heathen and Publican, until he be openly reconciled by penance, and received into the Church by a Judge that hath the authority thereunto.

Exclusion of people from Israel: Gen 17:14; Ex 12:19; Lev 7:20; Ez 10:8
Lk 6:22; Jn 9:22; 12:42; 16:2
Mt 18:15-18; 1 Cor 5; 1 Tim 1:19-20; Rm 16:17; 1 Cor 15:33; 2 Cor 6:14, 17; 2 Thess 3:6, 14; 2 Jn 10-11; Tit 3:10-11
The Book of Common Prayer – rubric before Communion; in Communion service, after creed; burial service not to be used for the excommunicated; Commination service
Canon B16
Cf. boycotts and sanctions

Article 34: Of the Traditions of the Church

It is not necessary that the Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's Word. Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the Traditions and Ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, (that others may fear to do the like,) as he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren.

Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish, Ceremonies or Rites of the Church ordained only by man's authority, so that all things be done to edifying.

Cf. Articles 6, 20, 21. The supreme authority of Scripture. A limited authority of the church – a desire for unity especially at the national level. Diversity allowable. See The Book of Common Prayer, ‘On ceremonies’. The close links between church and state in Reformation England - order of the church backed up by the state – Rm 13:1-7; 1 Pt 2:13-14. Weak brethren, 1 Cor 8:1-13; Rm 14:13-23. Principle of edification: 1 Cor 14:26.

Article 35: Of the Homilies

The Second Book of Homilies, the several titles whereof we have joined under this Article, doth contain a godly and wholesome Doctrine, and necessary for these times, as doth the former Book of Homilies, which were set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth; and therefore we judge them to be read in Churches by the Ministers, diligently and distinctly, that they may be understanded of the people.

Of the Names of the Homilies

1 Of the right Use of the Church.
2 Against Peril of Idolatry.
3 Of repairing and keeping clean of Churches.
4 Of good Works: first of Fasting.
5 Against Gluttony and Drunkenness.
6 Against Excess of Apparel.
7 Of Prayer.
8 Of the Place and Time of Prayer.
9 That Common Prayers and Sacraments ought to be ministered in a known tongue.
10 Of the reverend Estimation of God's Word.
11 Of Alms-doing.
12 Of the Nativity of Christ.
13 Of the Passion of Christ.
14 Of the Resurrection of Christ.
15 Of the worthy receiving of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ.
16 Of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost.
17 For the Rogation-days
18 Of the State of Matrimony.
19 Of Repentance.
20 Against Idleness.
21 Against Rebellion.

According to Jelf, at one time during the Reformation as many as 8000 parishes lacked preaching ministers. 1st Book of Homilies published in 1547 under Elizabeth I. 2nd Book of Homilies published in 1563. (Homily against rebellion written by Archbishop Parker added in 1571).

Article 36: Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers

The Book of Consecration of Archbishops and Bishops, and Ordering of Priests and Deacons, lately set forth in the time of Edward the Sixth, and confirmed at the same time by authority of Parliament, doth contain all things necessary to such Consecration and Ordering; neither hath it any thing, that of itself is superstitious and ungodly. And therefore whosoever are consecrated or ordered according to the Rites of that Book, since the second year of the forenamed King Edward unto this time, or hereafter shall be consecrated or ordered according to the same Rites; we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered.

A reference to the Ordinals of 1550 & 1552. The second year of Edward’s reign was 1548-9. Some had questioned its validity since it was repealed by Mary. As the preface to the ordinal says, to be ordained it was thought necessary to be called, tried, examined, known to have the necessary qualities and then by prayer with the imposition of hands be approved and admitted to office. Acts 6:6; 13:3. The 1552 Ordinal was replaced by the Ordinal attached to the 1662 Prayer Book. Canon A8.

Article 37: Of the Civil Magistrates

The Queen's Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and other her Dominions, unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign Jurisdiction.

Where we attribute to the Queen's Majesty the chief government, by which Titles we understand the minds of some slanderous folks to be offended; we give not our Princes the ministering either of God's Word, or of the Sacraments, the which thing the Injunctions also lately set forth by Elizabeth our Queen do most plainly testify; but that only prerogative, which we see to have been given always to all godly Princes in holy Scriptures by God himself; that is, that they should rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Temporal, and restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evil-doers.

The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England.

The Laws of the Realm may punish Christian men with death, for heinous and grievous offenses.

It is lawful for Christian men, at the commandment of the Magistrate, to wear weapons, and serve in the wars.

Canon A7 Of The Royal Supremacy
Authority of kings: Prov 8:15, 17; Rom 13; 1 Pt 2:13-15
On Peter: Mt 16:18.
Christ and Peter paid taxes to the king (Mt 17:24-27).
Cf. private vengeance taking and public roles
Just War

Article 38: Of Christian Men's Goods, which are not common

The Riches and Goods of Christians are not common, as touching the right, title, and possession of the same; as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast. Notwithstanding, every man ought, of such things as he possesseth, liberally to give alms to the poor, according to his ability.

Against some radical protestant groups. Acts 2:44-45; 4:32. Laws against theft and coveting and the encouragement of almsgiving assume property rights. Acts 5:4.
Dt 15:11; Prov 19:17; Is 58:7; Mt 10:42; 25:35-40; Mk 9:41; 1 Thess 5:14; Heb 13:16; Jam 2:5

Article 39: Of a Christian Man's Oath

As we confess that vain and rash Swearing is forbidden Christian men by our Lord Jesus Christ, and James his Apostle, so we judge, that Christian Religion doth not prohibit, but that a man may swear when the Magistrate requireth, in a cause of faith and charity, so it be done according to the Prophet's teaching in justice, judgment, and truth.

Again against some radical protestant groups. The Article has in mind Mt 5:33-37 and James 5:12. Dt 6:13; 10:20; Ps 22:25; 63:11; Ex 22:10-11; Jer 4:2; Heb 6:16; Mt 26:63; Rm 9:1; Gal 1:20. Examples of oaths in the Bible: Christ said, “Amen, Amen…” (Jn 3:3, 5, 11 etc.) 2 Cor 1:23; Gen 22:16; 24:3; 21:23; 1 Sam 18:3; 20:12-17, 42; Judges 11:29-40. Jerome said, “Every Christian man’s word should be so true, that it should be regarded as an oath.”
Oaths of allegiance and canonical obedience – see Canon C13 and 14

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Acts 4:1-22

Some points from The Revd Paul Williams from a sermon at All Souls', Langham Place:

What gave Peter and John courage?

(1)   The power of the Holy Spirit (v8)
(2)   The authority of Jesus (v10)
(3)    The confidence of the resurrection (v10)
(4)   The uniqueness of Christ (v11f)


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

How to understand the Christian faith more deeply

Church historian Mark Noll writes:

“The experience that prompted the deepest reflection on the nature of Christianity in my own life as a Christian was regular celebration of the Lord’s supper” (52)
John Piper comments:

Pondering and experiencing the presence of God in the Lord’s Supper was a bridge to the nature of the Christian faith that Noll’s exposure to world Christianity was making clearer. The Lord’s Supper is a kind of incarnation — a kind of translation — of divine reality into the particularities of the physical, cultural, personal, human present. And so is all of Christianity — first manifest in the incarnation of Christ, and then in the missionary expanse of the church into one culture after the other.

From Every Tribe and Nation: A Historian’s Discovery of the Global Christian Story (Baker Academic, 2014).

Monday, April 13, 2015

Richard Hooker on the infalibility of God's Words

Richard Hooker has sometimes been regarded as the father of Anglican theology. It is worth remembering his view of the perfection of God's words:

God himself can neither possibly err, nor lead into error. For this cause his testimonies, whatsoever he affirmeth, are always true and  most infallible certainty. Yea further, because the things that proceed from him are perfect without any manner of defect or maim; it cannot be but that the words of his mouth are absolute and lack nothing which they should have for performance of that thing whereunto they tend.

Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity II.VI.1 quoted in Ovey & Strange, Confident (Christian Focus) p116

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Doctrine of Scripture

A handout intended for a church weekend away

The Book of Common Prayer Collect for the 2nd Sunday in Advent

The necessity of Scripture

If we as sinful and limited creatures are to know God, he must reveal himself in a way that is suitable for us

                General revelation – the partial revelation of God in the skies (Ps 19:1-6)

Romans 1:20

                Special revelation – the perfect revelation of God in the Scriptures (Ps 19:7-11)


The nature of Scripture

                What the Bible says about the Bible

                What the Bible says, God says

                The Bible reflects the character of God, it’s author (e.g. truthful, reliable)

                God creates by speaking – Gen 1:3-4, 6-7 etc. – the creative power of the Word of God

The Bible is God’s written word – God’s words preserved for his people – God speaking to the church in every generation

Words do things – God acts powerfully by his word – Ps 29:5, 8

“For us” – God personally addressing us

Our attitude to God’s word should be the same as our attitude to God– though we don’t worship the Bible – the Bible is not God but it is God speaking

John Calvin (on 2 Tim 3:16-17): “…we owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it.”

                Is 66:2
The Bible is God’s words in human words – not magic words – not some kind of divine language!

                God spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of his servant David – Acts 4:25

Fully God’s word, fully human words – cf. Jesus – humanity need not take away from divinity

God is the Lord of language and people and history etc. He can shape a Paul to write Paul’s letters

Inspiration – not just inspiring – expired – God-breathed / Spirited - 2 Tim 3:16

                “Men wrote as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” – 2 Pt 1:21

                Verbal inspiration – the actual words are inspired, not just the ideas

Given in a variety of ways e.g. dreams, visions, oracles, cf. Luke 1:1-4 & Quran

                Scripture is suitable for us, it is adapted to our nature and capacity – God’s baby-talk

The truthfulness of Scripture

                Infallible / Inerrant – without error - The Bible is true in all that it teaches / affirms

God is truthful (Num 23:19; Tit 1:2; Heb 6:18) and trustworthy so God’s word is truthful (Jn 17:17) and trustworthy

                Rightly understood, of course! – e.g. “There is no God” (Ps 14:1); Job’s Comforters; Prov 26:4-5

Not to be understood literalistically e.g. are parables “true”?; ordinary ways of speaking: approximations – 5000 men; not necessarily word of word quotations; descriptions of how the world appears e.g. sunset; see Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Hermeneutics & Application

No contradictions but different complimentary perspectives

Grudem: “… there are many evangelical Bible scholars today who will say that they do not presently know of any problem texts for which there is no satisfactory solution…. The present writer, for example, has during the last twenty years examined dozens of these “problem texts” that have been brought to his attention in the context of the inerrancy debate. In every one of these cases, upon close inspection of the text a plausible solution has become evident.” Systematic Theology, p99

The authority of Scripture

What teachings of Scripture are most ignored or attacked today?
What teachings of Scripture do you find it hardest to embrace / obey?
Are you willing to change if you are convinced of something from the Bible? Even if you disagree with it and it seems weird or hard or other people aren’t persuaded and obedience will be costly and… ?

                The supreme authority of Scripture e.g. trumps reason, experience, tradition, anything else

“Scripture alone”? – sola Scriptura not solo Scriptura – the supremacy and final authority of Scripture doesn’t mean that Scripture is the only source of knowledge

                The Bible as court of appeal

                Is it a circular argument to say:
(1)    The Bible is the Word of God and tells us it is the Word of God
(2)    We must believe the Word of God because God’s Word is true
(3)    The Bible is to be believed as the truthful Word of God

God speaking Scripture is the ultimate authority – what greater authority could there be?

An ultimate authority must be its own authority otherwise something else is the ultimate authority

Other arguments for the truthfulness of Scripture are a bit like using a torch to look at the sun!

A way out of a circular argument: The Lord Jesus’ attitude to the Bible

                Jesus believed the Old Testament is the Word of God – Mt 5:18

Jesus refers to OT events without any apparent doubt that they happened exactly as recorded and he bases much teaching upon these accounts: 

What people or events etc. from the Old Testament does Jesus refer to in the following passages?

(1) Lk 4:25-6 (2) Lk 6:3-4 (3) Lk 6:23, 26 (4) Lk 10:12 (6) Lk 11:29-32 (7) Lk 11:51 (8) Lk 13:28 (9) Lk 13:34 (10) Lk 17:26-32

                Mt 19:4-5 – quotes the words of Gen 2 as the word of the Creator

Scripture cannot be broken – Jn 10:34 / must be fulfilled - Lk 4:21; 7:27; 18:31-3; 21:22; 22:37; 24:25-7, 44-7;  Jn 13:18; 15:25; 17:12 

                In his many discussions with others, “It is written [in the Scriptures]” settled a matter for Jesus

                Jesus argued from the exact words / tenses used in the Bible – Jn 10:34; Mk 12:26

                Jesus authorised the Apostles to write the New Testament – John 14:25-26; 15:27

                The Apostles wrote with authority – 2 Cor 14:37-38; 2 Thess 3:6, 14-15; 1 John 4:6

                1 Tim 5:18 quotes Jesus’ words from Lk 10:7 as Scripture
                Peter recognised Paul’s writings as Scripture – 2 Pt 3:16

Reasons to trust the Bible

How might you persuade a sceptical friend about the truthfulness of the Bible?

                C. H. Spurgeon: “Defend the Bible? I would sooner defend a lion!”

                As above: It is God’s word! Jesus believed it

                It speaks with its own convincing power (self-authenticating) – read it and see!

                The Holy Spirit witnesses to it in our hearts and in the church

                The church has always believed it (Tradition)

                When we can check it, it proves to be right e.g. archaeology

                The Bible makes psychological and philosophical sense e.g. the human condition

                The life-changing power and influence of the Bible

Arthur Pink said: The influence of the Bible is worldwide. Its mighty power has affected every department of human activity. The contents of the Scriptures have supplied themes for the greatest poets, artists and musicians which the world has yet produced, and have been the mightiest factor of all in shaping the moral progress of the race.”

WW2, Remote Pacific Island, GI meets islander who can speak English carrying a Bible

According to The Guinness Book of World Records, since 1815 the Bible has sold approximately 2.5 billion copies and has been translated into more than 2,200 languages or dialects.

The remarkable unity of the Bible (written over ?2000 years by ?40 different writers)

The remarkable artistry of the Bible – only God could have written such an amazing book!

                The remarkable preservation of the Bible (compared to other ancient documents)

The clarity of Scripture

                What passage of the Bible do you find most unclear / difficult to understand?!

God is a competent communicator – he can speak clearly to us

                The Bible is clear enough for the church to understand it adequately (not necessarily fully)

                Clear in essentials – for salvation, for Christian living

                It is meant to be obeyed so it must be understandable

                It is meant to be taught even to children – Dt 6:7

Tyndale: “I defie the Pope and all his lawes. If God spare my life, ere many yeares I wyl cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scripture, than he doust.” (Quoted in John Foxe, Acts and Monuments / Book of Martyrs)

                Clarity is not the only thing the Bible is aiming at! Prov 25:2

                Some passages of Scripture are hard – Peter on Paul – 2 Pt 3:16

                We need the help of the church, the power of the Spirit, use of “means”, study etc.

                The problem is with us not the Bible!

The sufficiency of Scripture

                2 Tim 3:16f – thoroughly equipped for every good work

For the purposes God intends (see below), for salvation, for life and godliness

The relevance and applicability of Scripture

                God speaks his Word today – “The Holy Spirit says…” not “The Psalmist said…” – Heb 3:7

                “for us” - 1 Cor 10:6, 11; Rom 15:5

The purposes of Scripture: The Bible in the Christian Life

God’s word governed Adam and Eve’s life in the Garden. The original sin was disbelieving and disobeying the Word of God

2 Tim 3:15-17

A light for our path Ps 119:105 – that we should walk in the light of it, for obedience

                Scripture testifies about Christ – Lk 24:25-27, 44-46

Jn 5:39-40 –– the Bible is the handmaiden / servant of Christ (Bavinck)

                A mistake to pit the Bible, Jesus or the Spirit against one another

The Bible as the book of the covenant – the record of the covenant between God and his people, his means of relating to them

We work away at the meaning of the Bible and God helps us to understand it – 2 Tim 2:7 – The Spirit illuminates and applies the Bible he has caused to be written

The effects of Scripture: what it can do for you

The Bible is the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17) – the only offensive weapon, the means by which he works in the world

The Bible as a means of resisting the devil – Jesus’ temptation Mt 4:4, 7, 10

                The Bible as (essential) food to the soul – Mt 4:4

                Ps 119:9 – how to live a pure life

Ps 19:7-11

Coronation service

                Sweet (v10) – is that your experience?

                Delight – Ps 1:2; 119:97

                Mary Jones lived from 1784 at the foot of the Cader Idris mountain, in Gwynedd

the Kimyal people of Indonesia receiving the NT in 2010 -

                The Word of God as living and active – Heb 4:12 – performs heart surgery!

                The effectiveness of Scripture - Is 55:10-11 – God’s word always achieves his purposes

“Using” and benefiting from Scripture


The Holy Spirit

According to its purposes (above) – with a willingness to obey

Principles of interpretation e.g. context, the story of redemption, harmony, the hard in the light of the easier, how the Bible writers uses words, genre

In the fellowship of the church

What do you find are the biggest challenges in reading / using the Bible?
What most helps you?
What tips would you give?
Are there resources you’d recommend?

(1) Private Bible memorisation
Meditating / reflecting on / praying (in the light of) Scripture
(2) Family / household Bible use
(3) Small groups
(4) Church

Further reading / resources:

Marc Lloyd, "What the Bible Says, God Says: B. B. Warfield’s Doctrine of Scripture," Ecclesia Reformanda 1.2 (Oct. 2009): 183-210 – available free at - 7 sessions by Dr Steve Jeffrey

The Westminster Confession of Faith (available online) chapter 1 – good summary of the doctrine of Scripture

Bible gateway website – audio Bibles – variety of Bible translations – more literal e.g. English Standard Version, New American Standard Version; free-er paraphrases e.g. New Living Version, Good News Bible (more simple English), The Message

Bible memorisation cards – Navigators, NavPress

Bible reading plans e.g. Robert Murray McCheyne, Don Carson, For The Love of God – or make your own using James Oakley’s Bible reading plan generator – or just keep a note of what you’ve read for the sake of balance -

Music – The Psalms, Sovereign Grace Music, Matt Searles, Mark Peterson songs from Philippians, Seed Family Worship (uses the exact words of Scripture)

Bible reading notes e.g. Explore (Good Book Company) – apps – some notes contain the text of Scripture, useful e.g. for taking on the train

IVP Bible Dictionary, Bible Commentary, Dictionary of Theology, Atlas etc.

Commentaries e.g. Tyndale, The Bible Speaks Today, For You series, Ryle expository thoughts (old)

Sermons including online e.g.

Evangelical publishers and book sellers e.g. 10 of Those, Good Book Company, Day One, Christian Focus / Mentor, Evangelical Press

*** Tim Ward, Words of Life (IVP) *** Best single recent book on the doctrine of Scripture

John Frame, The Doctrine of the Word of God

Roger Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon in the New Testament Church – Jesus believed our Old Testament

John Wenham, Christ and the Bible – Jesus’ attitude to the Scriptures

Andrew Wilson, Unbreakable: What the Son of God Said About the Word of God (recent, only 78 pages)

A Bible overview e.g. Vaughan Roberts, God’s Big Picture or Graham Goldsworthy, Gospel and Kingdom

Andrew Sach (& others), Dig Deeper, Dig Even Deeper, Dig Deeper into the Gospels (Bible study “tools”)

Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart, How To Read The Bible For All It’s Worth

Christopher Ash, Bible Delight: Psalm 119 for the Bible teacher and hearer

Michael Ovey & Daniel Strange, Confident: Why We Can Trust The Bible

F. F. Bruce, New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? – on ancient manuscripts etc.

Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels

Hymns relating to the doctrine of Scripture:

Lord Thy Word Abided
How Sure the Scriptures Are
Speak O Lord
Your Word is a Lamp
King of Kings, Majesty
God has Spoken
How Firm a Foundation
Now in Reverence and Awe
Powerful in making us wise to salvation / God-breathed to teach us, living to shape us (Christopher Idle)