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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

Friday, November 20, 2009

Isn't the Reformed Faith Grand?

 
 
The term "Reformed" has taken on different shades of meaning since the time of the Reformation. When "Reformed" was a term actually used in common parlance in Calvin's time, it meant more than TULIP which we all know came later at the Synod of Dordt. Though the fixed parameters of Covenant theology did not reach a full-orbed status until the Westminster Assembly. The concepts were inchoate at the time of Calvin and Beza. To be sure, the Reformed faith certainly includes the commonly called 5 points of Calvinism, an understanding of the incomprehensible God and man's radical corruption. These features find a home in Luther's thought as well. However is it more than just 5 points?

I maintain in the good Princeton tradition (B.B. Warfield, Charles Hodge, et. al.) that Reformed theology is a system. If one item be accepted then the others logically follow. I am only 37 years old, and yet I see some weeds in the gardens of the younger "neo-Calvinists." Let me first say though that I am thankful for the surge in Reformed interest amongst these 20 something Calvinists. They need much guidance though. They must understand Covenant Theology. They need to see that the Reformed faith is a cohesive set of doctrines. Doctrines that have stood the test of time. Doctrines articulated in the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Larger and Shorter Catechism - the Heidelberg Catechism, the "three forms of unity" et. al. Covenant Theology is the legacy of the famous Princeton tradition. (Princeton Seminary before its being taken over by liberalism and modernity) The Covenant of Redemption (pactum salutis), the Covenant of Works (Law), the Covenant of Grace (Gospel) form a glorious strand back through the Old Princeton Tradition, Calvin, Beza, Luther, Augustine, many of the Church Fathers and yes back to Paul and the other Apostles. We carry a trust. We pass it along to others. We zealously guard it. We are not innovators but heralds of the truth of God's unchanging Word.

The title of this note comes from something Dr. J.Gresham Machen said on his death bed. Machen the last of the great Princeton theologians. He left Princeton willingly, and his "prophecy" of the demise of that great institution did come to pass, sadly. Machen took a stand. He loved Reformational truth not because he wanted to be Reformed, rather he saw that it flowed from Sacred Scripture. All modern innovations, whether they be Theonomy or Federal (Covenant) Vision (View) - very deceptive title, are just that. They are innovations that once again threaten the faith once delivered to the saints. May the "neo-Calvinists" of our day not eschew the great confessions of faith. They are not Scripture and they are not infallible. However, we Reformed folk have a great heritage, and we do well to follow it. Machen knew this and he said to a friend standing by his death bed at a hospital in North Dakota. Machen could barely breath. He was dying. Pneumonia ravaged his lungs. Yet he spoke to Pastor Allen of a vision of he had of being in heaven.

Machen whispered to his friend with what bit of air he could muster, "Sam, it was glorious, it was glorious," he then added a bit later these amazing words. "Sam, isn't the Reformed faith grand?" He of course later sent the famous telgram to John Murray, "I'm so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it." Christ's active obedience is something the FV and NPP folks better take heed to as they push aside and silence this work of Christ's perfect life, imputed to our account. Law and gospel run concurrently through both Testaments. That is our message. It was the message of Machen, Warfield, Hodge, Owen, Cranmer, Ridley, Calvin, Beza, Luther, Augustine, clear to the apostles and Christ. Our message is not to put the judicial laws of the O.T. which were abrogated, back into power in D.C. Our message is Christ. The cry of every parishioner to their pastor is, "Sir, we would see Jesus." I think - I know - you will that God's Lawhas a primary purpose. To condemn us and drives us to the gospel which is in Christ, and find that when you get their that Christ is the gospel. That the goal of the Christian life is a Person. We should desire no more than Christ. He is plenty sufficient.

The Reformed faith is grand! Even for many more reasons than stated. Covenant theology comes from God's Word. It has found a perfect home in the various Reformed Confessions. Confessions that inform our doctrine as a whole, our liturgy, and our piety. I hope that the young, restless and Reformed reject modern innovations and simply pass the torch of true confessional Reformed orthodoxy to the next generation. Also that they would see that Covenanting is a horizontal activity. They must see the error of believing that isolation and independence are good things. The covenant community of believers. The great Sola (i) (us) of the Reformation, that we were created for fellowship The preached Word. The sacraments rightly administered. As Dorothy Sayers stated, "The dogma is the drama."
 
1662 Book of Common Prayer
 

The Twenty-third Sunday after Trinity.
 
The Collect.
 
O GOD, our refuge and strength, who art the author of all godliness; Be ready, we beseech thee, to hear the devout prayers of thy Church; and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain effectually; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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