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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Brief Commentary on the Catechism of 1662, Part Two

A Brief Commentary on the Catechism of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer: Part Two


by Charlie J. Ray


[To see the previous installment click on Part One. Click here to see the Catechism.]





Question. What did your Godfathers and Godmothers then for you?

Answer. They did promise and vow three things in my name. First, that I should renounce the devil and all his works, the pomps and vanity of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh. Secondly, that I should believe all the Articles of the Christian Faith. And thirdly, that I should keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of my life.



Question. Dost thou not think that thou art bound to believe, and to do, as they have promised for thee?

Answer. Yes verily: and by God's help so I will. And I heartily thank our heavenly Father, that he hath called me to this state of salvation, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. And I pray unto God to give me his grace, that I may continue in the same unto my life's end.



Firstly, you will note that the assumption of the Catechism is that of infant baptism. The person learning the Catechism is now being instructed in the Christian faith as understood from the Reformed Anglican perspective. The child is now at an age of maturity whereby he or she is able to understand the Scriptures and the “Articles of the Christian Faith.” The “Articles of the Christian Faith” refers to the Apostles Creed. The Latin word “credo” means “I believe”. Some Christians have made the claim that there is no creed but the Bible. Unfortunately, the Bible must be interpreted properly (2 Timothy 2:15) and the Bible must be believed (2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Romans 10:8-13). Creeds and confesssions of faith are systematic summaries of what we as Christians agree that the Scriptures teach. A credible profession of conversion and of true Christian faith therefore consists of repentance and of having a basic understanding of the most simple and basic Christian doctrines (Jude 1:3-4; Ephesians 4:4-6). Even churches with no creeds or confessions in writing have spoken or “oral” confessions of faith and definite doctrinal beliefs which are expressed in the preaching and teaching ministry of that local congregation.



The first answer in the catechism can be divided into three parts: 1) Repentance and conversion. 2) True profession and belief in Christian doctrine. 3) Living the Christian life in accordance with God's revealed will in the moral law.



Beginning with repentance and conversion it is obvious that the child at baptism is unable to do any of these things for himself or herself. So the godparents (the two natural parents and one other godparent: see the rubric at the Publick Baptism of Infants) promise to teach the child as he or she matures the following principles of repentance: 1. Renouncing the devil and all his works. This part of the answer acknowledges that the devil is an actual adversary of the Christian and that he must be resisted and rejected. Scriptural support for this view can be found in these verses: James 4:7; Ephesians 4:27; 1 Peter 5:8; Ephesians 6:11; 1 John 3:8-9. 2. Renouncing the pomps and vanity of this wicked world. Scriptures: Isaiah 13:11; Ecclesiastes 1:2. 3. Renouncing all the sinful lusts of the flesh: Romans 7:5; Romans 8:3-4.


As has been previously stated, at baptism infants are professed to be regenerate because of the faith of the parents and the godparents who are obligated to bring the child up in the faith. Regeneration is promised to the children of believers, although this is not an obligation on God's part and therefore not every child who is part of the external covenant and the visible church is truly regenerate. This will prove itself as the child grows older and gradually grows in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:17-18) at which point it becomes obvious whether or not the child is regenerate and is being converted and sanctified in the truth (John 17:17). All elect infants are regenerated instantly at their baptism (John 3:3-8; Titus 3:5-7; Ephesians 1:4-5, 11). This regeneration of the soul provides the fertile soil in which the Gospel seed is planted and brought forth into fruition. The Dutch Reformed theologian, Herman Hoeksema, helps clarify this doctrine:



. . . We know very little of an infant's life, but it is certain that long before what is usually considered the age of discretion there can be and is a decided influence of the Word of God upon the covenant child.



According to our conviction, it is especially for this reason that children of the covenant are regenerated from earliest infancy. Why should God, according to the rule of the covenant, bring little children under the influence of the preaching of the word from their earliest infancy if they are not regenerated? The dead certainly cannot use means, and there is no proper reaction to the preaching of the word by those who are spiritually dead. Only those who are living are capable of using the means that the Holy Spirit provides for the working of faith and for the development and upbuilding of that faith. We believe that as a rule the elect children of the covenant are regenerated from earliest infancy. As the child grows up in the sphere of the covenant, he gradually comes to conscious faith, receives the promise, and assumes his part of the covenant . . . [Herman Hoeksema, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 2, 1st Edition, 1966, (Grandville: Reformed Free Publishing, 2005), pages 312-313.]



For those concerned about the false assurance of salvation based on membership in the visible church and receiving the external sign of baptism, Hoeksema offers a needed qualification:



When the child of the covenant reaches the age of discretion, having always walked in the way of the covenant, he is not and cannot be expected to be conscious of any sudden or remarkable change or conversion in his life. To be sure, the change that we call conversion must surely take place. The covenant child must be conscious of true conversion, which consists of the mortification of the old man and the quickening of the new man. He must be conscious of a sincere sorrow of the heart that he has provoked God by his sins. . . This entire change is wrought through the preaching of the word.



The preaching of the word in the sphere of the covenant must be both distinctive and upbuilding. It cannot proceed from the assumption that all the children of the covenant, that is, all those who are born in the sphere of and under the covenant are elect and regenerated. The theory of presumptive regeneration, according to which it is presumed that all of the children born under the covenant are regenerated, is certainly not scriptural. [Ibid., 313-314].



Although this seems redundant, the doctrine of conversion needs to be stated in the affirmative. The Catechism says that the child is regenerate and so does the baptismal service in the 1662. But both the Catechism and the Baptismal Service must be interpreted via the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion and not the other way around.

The conclusion of the Public Baptism of Infants says:



Then shall the Priest say,

SEEING now, dearly beloved brethren, that this Child is regenerate, and grafted into the body of Christ's Church, let us give thanks unto Almighty God for these benefits; and with one accord make our prayers unto him, that this Child may lead the rest of his life according to this beginning.



What most critics tend to overlook—and most Anglo-Catholics as well—is that this proclamation of regeneration is not a matter of stated fact but is rather an expression of faith based on the prayers petitioning God's grace to regenerate the child:



Then shall the Priest say,

O MERCIFUL God, grant that the old Adam in this Child may be so buried, that the new man may be raised up in him. Amen.

Grant that all carnal affections may die in him, and that all things belonging to the Spirit may live and grow in him. Amen.

Grant that he may have power and strength to have victory, and to triumph, against the devil, the world, and the flesh. Amen.

Grant that whosoever is here dedicated to thee by our office and ministry may also be endued with heavenly virtues, and everlastingly rewarded, through thy mercy, 0 blessed Lord God, who dost live, and govern all things, world without end. Amen.

ALMIGHTY, everliving God, whose most dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of our sins, did shed out of his most precious side both water and blood; and gave commandment to his disciples, that they should go teach all nations, and baptize them In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Regard, we beseech thee, the supplications of thy congregation; sanctify this Water to the mystical washing away of sin; and grant that this Child, now to be baptized therein, may receive the fulness of thy grace, and ever remain in the number of thy faithful and elect children; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [Ibid.]



Notice that the prayers ask for God to “grant” what is prayed for. That is a decidedly “Augustinian” form of prayer. It completely refutes the semi-pelagian or pelagian view that humans are born without original sin and have an innate power over sin. Only God can regenerate a soul in an adult or an infant and that regeneration is an immediate and direct action by the Holy Spirit given to whom God will give it (John 1:12-13; 3:8; Titus 3:5).














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Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer

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