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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

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Articles Covering Good Works

DH said:



  • Generally speaking your explanations of the articles sound good. Despite what you may think of me, Article XI is one of my favorite 39 Articles and I use it a lot. Would I be "bending the meaning" of the Articles if I were to say that Article XI perfectly summarizes the doctrine of faith alone by putting it into the right context -- faith is in Christ's merit that assumes righteousness. The problem I find is that every time I turn around someone has taken this doctrine and twisted it into something that was never intended that makes faith alone into antinomian individualistic form of Christianity.What about Articles XII, XIII, and XIV? You left these out but I think these are very important in helping to understand XI by condemning the medieval Roman system of merit and treasury of merit and setting the stage for clarifying the confusion over purgatory. God bless you.

I hope you'll forgive me for saying that I think you've been misled by strawman misrepresentations of the Protestant position as "antinomian." While this might have been true of certain elements of the Anabaptist or Radical Reformation, it is most certainly not true of the English or the Continental Reformers as you yourself pointed out when you cited Articles Twelve, Thirteen, and Fourteen:

  • XII. Of Good Works.
    ALBEIT that Good Works, which are the fruits of Faith, and follow after Justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God's Judgement; yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively Faith, insomuch that by them a lively Faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.
  • XIII. Of Works before Justification.
    WORKS done before the grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School-authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.
  • XIV. Of Works of Supererogation.
    VOLUNTARY Works besides, over, and above, God's Commandments, which they call Works of Supererogation, cannot be taught without arrogancy and impiety: for by them men do declare, that they do not only render unto God as much as they are bound to do, but that they do more for his sake, than of bounden duty is required: whereas Christ saith plainly, When ye have done all that are commanded to you, say, We are unprofitable servants. http://www.churchofengland.freeserve.co.uk/x39arts.htm#art12

Clearly, justification and sanctification are distinct from each other, though, as the Epistle of James points out, sanctification naturally follows after justification and without sanctification faith is dead. I think the misunderstanding flows out of Rome's confusion of sanctification with justification.

In the Roman Catholic view, justification is two-fold. The Roman view is the same as that of the Protestant view in that at initial conversion we are justified by the merits of Christ and that all of our sins are wiped out. The difference is that the Roman Catholic view holds that righteousness is inherently infused into the human heart so that we become actually righteous rather than forensically, legally "declared" righteous, which is what the Greek word literally means.

The problem is not just the view that righteousness is infused, however. The Roman church goes on to say that after baptism or conversion every sin depletes this infused righteousness. Moreover, it is similar to a battery being drained; every sin reduces the level of righteousness so that the sinner now has to make up for the loss by expiating his own sins through the sacrament of penance, the purchase of indulgences, or doing time in purgatory after death. So the problem becomes a replacing of imputation with a doctrine of infusion. The secondary problem is that one's sins after the initial infusion call for one to expiate one's own sins instead of saying that Christ paid for all of our sins, past, present, and future. This does not mean that we have a license to sin or that we don't need to repent, etc. It simply means that we don't need to expiate our sins by indulgences, penances and purgatory. Christ paid for it all by both his active obedience in living a perfect life and meriting our salvation for us and by passive obedience and dying in our place to take the curse of the law in His own body on the tree.

I can quote Richard Hooker on this point:

  • There is a glorifying righteousness of men in the world to come; and there is a justifying and a sanctifying righteousness here. The righteousness wherewith we shall be clothed in the world to come is both perfect and inherent. That whereby we are justified is perfect, but not inherent. That whereby we are sanctified, inherent, but not perfect. This openeth a way to the plain understanding of that grand question, which hangeth yet in controversy between us and the Church of Rome, about the matter of justifying righteousness.
    First, although they imagine that the mother of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ were, for his honour, and by his special protection, preserved clean from all sin, yet touching the rest they teach, as we do, that all have sinned; that infants who did never actually offend have their natures defiled, destitute of justice, and averted from God.[See Council of Trent, sess V, decree concerning original sin. 4] They teach, as we do, that God doth justify the soul of man alone, without any other coefficient cause of justice; that, in making man righteous none do work efficiently with God, but God.[Trent VI,ch 7] They teach, as we do, that unto justice no man ever attained, but by the merits of Jesus Christ.[Ibid] They teach, as we do, that although Christ as God be the efficient, as man the meritorious, cause of our justice, yet in us also there is something required.[TrentjVI ch 4,5; canons 4,9] God is the cause of our natural life; in him we live: but he quickeneth not the body without the soul in the body. Christ hath merited to make us just; but as a medicine which is made for health doth not heal by being made but by being applied, so by the merits of Christ there can be no justification without the application of his merits. Thus far we join hands with the Church of Rome. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/hooker/just.ii.html
  • Wherein then do we disagree? We disagree about the nature of the very essence of the medicine whereby Christ cureth our disease; about the manner of applying it; about the number and the power of means, which God requireth in us for the effectual applying thereof to our soul's comfort.
    When they are required to show what the righteousness is whereby a Christian man is justified, they answer that it is a divine spiritual quality, which quality, received into the soul, doth first make it to be one of them who are born of God; and, secondly, endue it with power to bring forth such works as they do that are born of him; even as the soul of man, being joined unto his body, doth first make him to be in the number of reasonable creatures, and, secondly, enable him to perform the natural functions which are proper to his kind; that it maketh the soul gracious and amiable in the sight of God, in regard whereof it is termed grace; that by it, through the merit of Christ, we are delivered as from sin, so from eternal death and condemnation, the reward of sin. This grace they will have to be applied by infusion, to the end that, as the body is warm by the heat which is in the body, so the soul might be righteous by inherent grace; which grace they make capable of increase; as the body may be more and more warm, so the soul more and more justified, according as grace shall be augmented; the augmentation whereof is merited by good works, as good works are made meritorious by it.[Trent VI, ch 10] Wherefore the first receipt of grace is in their divinity the first justification; the second thereof, the second justification.
    As grace may be increased by the merit of good works, so it may be diminished by the demerit of sins venial; it may be lost by mortal sin.[Trent VI, chs 14,15] Inasmuch, therefore, as it is needful in the one case to repair, in the other to recover, the loss which is made, the infusion of grace hath her sundry after-meals; for which cause they make many ways to apply the infusion of grace. It is applied unto infants through baptism, without either faith or works, and in them it really taketh away original sin and the punishment due unto it; it is applied unto infidels and wicked men in their first justification through baptism, without works, yet not without faith; and it taketh away both sin actual and original, together with all whatsoever punishment eternal or temporal thereby deserved. Unto such as have attained the first justification, that is to say, the first receipt of grace, it is applied further by good works to the increase of former grace, which is the second justification. If they work more and more, grace doth more and more increase, and they are more and more justified.
    To such as have diminished it by venial sins it is applied by holy water, Ave Marias, crossings, papal salutations, and such like, which serve for reparations of grace decayed. To such as have lost it through mortal sin, it is applied by the sacrament (as they term it) of penance; which sacrament hath force to confer grace anew, yet in such sort that, being so conferred, it hath not altogether so much power as at the first. For it only cleanseth out the stain or guilt of sin committed, and changeth the punishment eternal into a temporary satisfactory punishment here, if time do serve, if not, hereafter to be endured, except it be either lightened by masses, works of charity, pilgrimages, fasts, and such like; or else shortened by pardon for term, or by plenary pardon quite removed and taken away.[Trent VI, ch 14]
    This is the mystery of the man of sin. This maze the Church of Rome doth cause her followers to tread when they ask her the way of justification.
  • *****
  • You see therefore that the Church of Rome, in teaching justification by inherent grace, doth pervert the truth of Christ, and that by the hands of his Apostles we have received otherwise than she teacheth. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/hooker/just.iii.html

As to your charge that the Reformed view tends toward "antinomianism," let me quote from Hooker's Discourse On Justification once more regarding his view of "inherent sanctification." I hope you will forgive the lengthy quotes but I think that context is important. I would highly recommend that you carefully read the entire sermon, since it is highly relevant to this discussion:

  • Now concerning the righteousness of sanctification, we deny it not to be inherent; we grant that, unless we work, we have it not; only we distinguish it as a thing in nature different from the righteousness of justification: we are righteous the one way by the faith of Abraham, the other way, except we do the works of Abraham, we are not righteous. Of the one, St. Paul, "To him that worketh not, but believeth, faith is counted for righteousness.[Rom 4:5] Of the other, St. John, "He is righteous who worketh righteousness.[1 Jn 3:7] Of the one, St. Paul doth prove by Abraham's example that we have it of faith without works.[Rom 4] Of the other, St. James by Abraham's example, that by works we have it, and not only by faith.[Jas 2:18ff] St. Paul doth plainly sever these two parts of Christian righteousness one from the other; for in the sixth to the Romans he writeth, "Being freed from sin and made servants of God, ye have your fruit in holiness, and the end everlasting life.[Rom 6:22] "Ye are made free from sin and made servants unto God"; this is the righteousness of justification; "Ye have your fruit in holiness": this is the righteousness of sanctification. By the one we are interested in the right of inheriting; by the other we are brought to the actual possessing of eternal bliss, and so the end is everlasting life. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/hooker/just.iv.html

So it is plain that those who accuse the English Reformers of antinomianism are either deliberately creating a strawman or they are misreading the Articles, the Prayer Book, and the English Reformers. The Roman error lies in the idea of infusion and in the idea that justification is the same as sanctification and that we must replace the depletion of the infused righteousness. As Hooker points out, justification is not faith plus good works. Rather justification is without merits and we need no further expiation for our sins nor do we need to recharge our righteousness since we are credited with all the righteousness of Christ by legal declaration. However, as Hooker points out, we avoid antinomianism by our insistence that justification is followed by an inherent sanctification, even though our sanctification is and always will be imperfect in this life. Sanctification is the way that we show we have the righteousness of sanctification and that we have true faith that is the sole basis of our justification before God. I hope you will indulge me one last quote from Hooker on this point:

  • There is a glorifying righteousness of men in the world to come; and there is a justifying and a sanctifying righteousness here. The righteousness wherewith we shall be clothed in the world to come is both perfect and inherent. That whereby we are justified is perfect, but not inherent. That whereby we are sanctified, inherent, but not perfect. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/hooker/just.ii.html
  • ***
  • Indeed, God doth liberally promise whatsoever appertaineth to a blessed life unto as many as sincerely keep his law, though they be not able exactly to keep it. Wherefore we acknowledge a dutiful necessity of doing well, but the meritorious dignity of well doing we utterly renounce. We see how far we are from the perfect righteousness of the law. The little fruit which we have in holiness, it is, God knoweth, corrupt and unsound: we put no confidence at all in it, we challenge nothing in the world for it, we dare not call God to a reckoning, as if we had him in our debt-books. Our continual suit to him is, and must be, to bear with our infirmities, to pardon our offences. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/hooker/just.iv.html

The phrase, "pardon our offenses" is almost a direct quote from the service of the Lord's Supper. I seem to recall the service also reflects the Protestant view:

  • We do not presume to come to this thy Table, 0 merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy:
  • **
  • ...And although we be unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto thee any sacrifice, yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service; not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences,....
  • From the 1662 Book of Common Prayer http://www.eskimo.com/~lhowell/bcp1662/communion/index.html

I do hope you will take the time to read the extensive quotes and to read the entire Discourse On Justification by Richard Hooker. Hooker's view is clearly the Protestant one and completely in line with both Calvinism and Lutheranism.

In addition, I would also like to point out that Article Twenty-Two forbids prayers to the saints and calls this "repugnant" to Holy Scripture, a reference back to Article XX which says the church has no authority to require of us that which is repugnant to Scripture. Article Fourteen refers to the Roman idea that the "saints" are those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty and have done "supererogatory works" making them worthy of being called saints. This would tie in the Roman Catholic doctrine of the treasury of merits whereby we may invoke the saints to assist us with penance and restoring lost righteousness, etc. Also, Article Fourteen quotes from Jesus' statement in Luke's Gospel:

  • "Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." (Luke 17:9-10, KJV) [1]

I might also mention that Article Nineteen specifically say that the eastern churches and Rome are all in error: "As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred; so also the Church of Rome hath erred. not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith." I can only conclude that Anglo-Catholics have deliberately tried to pre-empt and subvert the Articles of Religion and the Prayer Book to their own purposes. While traditions of men and the church which are adiaphora are left to the individual churches and the liberty of conscience, those things that are "repugnant to Scripture" are forbidden. This would include transubstantiation, prayers to the saints, purgatory, infused righteousness, and a host of other doctrines of the Romish church that Anglo-Catholics have appropriated and employed in their services and ceremonies.

In fairness to the APA I intend to read the agreement about Anglican beliefs and practices again and thoroughly critique it in light of the historic documents of the English Reformation. To ignore Cranmer's work or that of Hooker, as Anglo-Catholics do, is disingenuous. However, I am extremely suspicious of their honesty, knowing that Bishop Grundorf is Anglo-Catholic and so is the parish over which he is the dean. Moreover, St. Albans' Cathedral utilizes the Anglican Missals in some of their weekly services, though not on Sunday morning worship that I know of.

Let me quote Bishop Cheney in reference to Anglo-Catholicism once more in case you missed it:

  • Two systems, the exact opposite of each other, have been struggling for supremacy within her. The Ptolemaic theory in regard to the movements of the planets around their centre, and that of Sir John Herschel, are not more utterly irreconcilable than these two systems of Theology. I stand here to-night, and I make the assertion without the fear of contradiction, that the gospel that my dear brother (who has said some hard things about me) preaches in Trinity Church, is as utterly irreconcilable with that which is preached in the cathedral on West Washington street, as these two systems of astronomy. They are utterly and wholly and radically different from each other. Now I can make discordant elements in chemistry blend together. I can take two substances that struggle in the crucible, and, by the mystic processes of the art I have learned, can make them combine in perfect peace. But here there is no possible accord. If the doctrine of justification by faith in the blood of Jesus, is the truth of God, then justification by sacraments is a lie, whose author is the Father of lies. There is no possible ground on which to stand between the two. If the one is true, the other is false. Like the Arve and the Rhone, like the Ottawa and the St. Lawrence, the same external boundaries may indeed contain them, but their waters refuse to mingle.
  • The theory of the High Church party, down at its very foundation, is that, while the Bible is indeed the inspired word of God, it is to be received by the people, only with the authoritative interpretation of the Church. In other words, if I believe that the Bible teaches me a certain truth, and yet my minister tells me that that truth is not in the Bible. I must accept the teaching of my pastor, because he is the representative of the Church, rather than the plain unvarnished statements of the Scripture that God inspired.
  • The theory of the Low Church party, on the other hand, has ever been that which Chillingworth announced long years ago--that the sole rule of faith and practice is the Bible and the Bible alone; that Scripture is to be interpreted to the Christian conscience, not by Churches, not by Councils, not by creeds, not by confessions of faith, not by doctrines of any human authority whatever, but by the Spirit of God sought in prayer.
    Between these two systems there can be no harmony.
  • To reconcile them is as impossible as to make truth and error a perfect unit But, if both these opposites had remained dormant, the work of Reform might have been indefinitely postponed.

I hope this helps you to understand why I believe that Protestants have the higher ground against Anglo-Catholics. The Articles of Religion are on our side and must be taken at face value, as the introduction to the Articles plainly says. I'm also on solid ground in saying that the Reformed Episcopal Church is not being true to the Declaration of Principles or the reasons that were given for the schism from the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1873. I think apostasy and deception creep in slowly, rather like a frog who is sitting in a pan of water that gradually comes to a boil. What really peeves me is when Anglo-Catholics try to make it appear that Protestant Anglicans are the ones who are unfaithful to the English Reformation. What Anglo-Catholics ought to do is be honest and say they don't really believe the Articles at face value. This would be the right thing to do. Even better, maybe they should follow John Henry Newman and convert to Rome? (http://www.victorianweb.org/religion/jhnbio.html). While I am not a Puritan and I don't particularly like very low church worship, I am thoroughly and complete Calvinist in my doctrine, though not in my view of ecclesiastical polity or liturgical practice. I do not believe we have to remove the vestments, the ecumenical creeds, common prayer, or the altar. But I do believe that we must stick to a literal and plain reading of the Articles and the Prayer Book. To do otherwise is to be dishonest and to equivocate.

In Christ,

Charlie


[1] The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (Electronic edition of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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