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 Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Robin Jordan: Anglicans Ablaze: The Curse of Trust in Man: Fatal Weaknesses in the Anglican Mission

"In demanding miracles from us, they act dishonestly; for we have not coined some new gospel, but retain the very one the truth of which is confirmed by all the miracles which Christ and the apostles ever wrought. But they have a peculiarity which we have not--they can confirm their faith by constant miracles down to the present day! "   --John Calvin

Robin Jordan of the Anglicans Ablaze blog has written an accurate critique of the Anglican Mission in America and its bishop, Chuck Murphy. You will do well to follow these developments closely, particularly if you are part of the Reformed and Evangelical side of the Anglican Communion. According to Robin, there seems to be a connection between the charismatic theology of Murphy and the adoption of outright Roman Catholic ecclesiology. But since this is essentially the position of the charismatic and pentecostal movement to begin with I cannot say that I am surprised. The charismatic/pentecostal movement ultimately does not place final authority in the Scriptures or in credal statements drawn from Scripture but in the direct infusion of the Holy Spirit in their leaders via the baptism of the Holy Spirit. For the pentecostal and the charismatic the final authority is not Scripture but the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, which is usually interpreted to mean that whatever is not "contrary" to Scripture is permissible. That is, what is normative is not Scripture but instead additional revelations, words of knowledge, tongues and interpretation, miracles, healings, etc., et. al., take on a practical equality with Scripture in actual practice.

Although the Anglican Reformation did reject the Puritan theology of the regulative principle of worship in favor of the normative principle of worship, they did not intend by this to allow for unbiblical ecclesiology or extra-biblical revelations. Instead their intention was to utilize common prayer and liturgy to instill the doctrines of grace and the five solas in the minds and hearts of the people. Learning by rote, despite modern protestations against it, is in fact a good way to promote truth. This is why even fundamentalist Baptists encourage the memorization of Scripture. Roman Catholics promoted their extra-biblical traditions by rote memorization and a continual recitation of such doctrines in the liturgy. The genius of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer was in applying this method in promoting the scriptural truths of the Bible recovered through the critical study of the original language texts of the Bible and a study of the patristics. For Reformed Anglicans the principle of lex orandi, lex credendi trumps the ad hoc approach to liturgy applied by the Puritans. It is not in fact repetition or written prayers that are wrong. It is the content of those prayers which matters most. The Anglo-Catholic Gregory Dix said that Cranmer's genius was that he had taught the doctrine of justification by faith alone through the liturgy of his reformed prayer book of 1552, which is essentially preserved in the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer.

Wayne Grudem has argued that these secondary revelations are not actually considered equal to Scripture in the charismatic movement but his argument fails. Essentially, Arminianism itself is semi-pelagian. Combine Arminianism with the doctrines and ecstatic experiences of the charismatic movement and you have all the ingredients for adding a human or man-made tradition alongside Scripture as part of the total picture of divine revelation. (Compare 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Peter 3:15-16) For Roman Catholics Tradition is divine revelation. Scripture and Tradition are equally divine revelation and are merely flip sides of the same coin. Anglo-Catholics are essentially on the same page with the Roman Catholics. When one considers the lethal combination of Anglo-Catholicism with charismatic theology such as that of Chuck Murphy and the Anglican Mission in America it is no surprise that Murphy thinks he has divine authority directly from God and can rebel against the House of Bishops in Rwanda. While Grudem and the charismatics officially deny that Tradition is equal to Scripture, in actual practice pentecostals and charismatics treat the prophetic messages of their "anointed" leaders as if those messages were in fact the very oracles of God rather than secondary level opinions that may or may not be confirmed as Grudem would have us believe. Being familiar with both Anglo-Catholic and charismatic theology, it is easy for me to see that both these views are focused on theology from below and a man-centered theology rather than theology from above which is rooted solely in a divine revelation that is encapsulated in Holy Scripture as the inspired, infallible, inerrant and true Word of God in written form. (For a critique of the charismatic view see: The Gift of Prophecy: Is It for Today?

The charismatic movement, like the Roman Catholic Church, does not ultimately seek to prove its case solely from Scripture. Instead the emphasis is on ongoing signs, wonders and miracles to confirm that their doctrines and ecstatic experiences are genuine. This explains why the vast majority of charismatic and pentecostal scholars are hostile toward Evangelicalism in general and Calvinism in particular. It was John Calvin who first challenged the Roman Catholic Church on its false premise that miracles confirmed their extra-biblical traditions. In his prefatory address to the King of France in his magnum opus, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin denounces the Papist view as unbiblical:

Nevertheless, they cease not to assail our doctrine, and to accuse and defame it in what terms they may, in order to render it either hated or suspected. They call it new, and of recent birth; they carp at it as doubtful and uncertain; they bid us tell by what miracles it has been confirmed; they ask if it be fair to receive it against the consent of so many holy Fathers and the most ancient custom; they urge us to confess either that it is schismatical in giving battle to the Church, or that the Church must have been without life during the many centuries in which nothing of the kind was heard. Lastly, they say there is little need of argument, for its quality may be known by its fruits, namely, the large number of sects, the many seditious disturbances, and the great licentiousness which it has produced. No doubt, it is a very easy matter for them, in presence of an ignorant and credulous multitude, to insult over an undefended cause; but were an opportunity of mutual discussion afforded, that acrimony which they now pour out upon us in frothy torrents, with as much license as impunity, [12] would assuredly boil dry.

1. First, in calling it new, they are exceedingly injurious to God, whose sacred word deserved not to be charged with novelty. To them, indeed, I very little doubt it is new, as Christ is new, and the Gospel new; but those who are acquainted with the old saying of Paul, that Christ Jesus "died for our sins, and rose again for our justification" (Rom. 4:25), will not detect any novelty in us. That it long lay buried and unknown is the guilty consequence of man's impiety; but now when, by the kindness of God, it is restored to us, it ought to resume its antiquity just as the returning citizen resumes his rights.

2. It is owing to the same ignorance that they hold it to be doubtful and uncertain; for this is the very thing of which the Lord complains by his prophet, "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider" (Isaiah 1:3). But however they may sport with its uncertainty, had they to seal their own doctrine with their blood, and at the expense of life, it would be seen what value they put upon it. Very different is our confidence--a confidence which is not appalled by the terrors of death, and therefore not even by the judgment--seat of God.

3. In demanding miracles from us, they act dishonestly; for we have not coined some new gospel, but retain the very one the truth of which is confirmed by all the miracles which Christ and the apostles ever wrought. But they have a peculiarity which we have not--they can confirm their faith by constant miracles down to the present day! Way rather, they allege miracles which might produce wavering in minds otherwise well disposed; they are so frivolous and ridiculous, so vain and false. But were they even exceedingly wonderful, they could have no effect against the truth of God, whose name ought to be hallowed always, and everywhere, whether by miracles, or by the natural course of events. The deception would perhaps be more specious if Scripture did not admonish us of the legitimate end and use of miracles. Mark tells us (Mark 16:20) that the signs which followed the preaching of the apostles were wrought in confirmation of it; so Luke also relates that the Lord "gave testimony to the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done" by the hands of the apostles (Acts 14:3). Very much to the same effect are those words of the apostle, that salvation by a preached gospel was confirmed, "The Lord bearing witness with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles" (Heb. 2:4). Those things which we are told are seals of the gospel, shall we pervert to the subversion of the gospel? What was destined only to confirm the truth, shall we misapply to the confirmation of lies? The proper course, therefore, is, in the first instance, to ascertain and examine the doctrine which is said by the Evangelist to precede; then after it has been proved, but not till then, it may receive confirmation from miracles. But the mark of sound doctrine given by our Saviour himself is its tendency to promote the glory not of men, but of God (John 7:18; 8:50). Our Saviour having declared this to be test of doctrine, we are in error if we regard as miraculous, works which are used for any other purpose than to magnify the name of God. (From: Prefatory Address).

It is clear enough that Calvin's remarks here apply equally well to the charismatic/pentecostal movement as it does to Roman Catholicism or even Eastern Orthodoxy. The born again believer needs nothing more than Holy Scripture to know what he believes and why he believes it (2 Timothy 3:15, 16, 17). It is Scripture alone that provides the believer with the assurance that his sins are forgiven (Matthew 26:28; Acts 26:18), the Christ died for the sins of His elect (Matthew 1:21; John 1:29; John 10:11, 15; John 15:13; Acts 20:28; 1 John 2:2; Revelation 5:9; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Ephesians 1:7), and that all the promises of God are true (2 Corinthians 1:20; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Romans 15:8; Galations 3:21-22).

To read Robins assessment of the ongoing situation in the Anglican Mission in America click here:
Anglicans Ablaze: The Curse of Trust in Man: Fatal Weaknesses in the Anglican Mission

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