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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, February 15, 2013

Dr. R. Scott Clark: Implicit Faith and the Cult of Personality | The Heidelblog

 It would appear that irrationalism and skepticism take precedence over explicit faith.  The "Reformed" churches, according to R. Scott Clark, advocate a similar doctrine to the same doctrine of implicit faith espoused by Rome:

The connection with superstar pastors is this: when evangelicals make the transition to the Reformed confession it is not uncommon for them to go through a period of implicit faith. On this question, however, the difference between Rome and the Reformed is that we are not (or should not be) content with implicit faith. I mean to say that when Christians begin consciously to adopt the Reformed faith it is usually through the influence of some visible teaching figure. People begin to see that the theology, piety, and practice they’ve accepted hitherto is inadequate. When they see the doctrines of free acceptance with God through faith alone in Christ alone, his sovereignty in salvation, covenant theology, Christian liberty, orderly and reverent worship, Word and sacrament ministry as a means of grace and the other doctrines and practices that distinguish the Reformed confession from broad evangelicalism they only see a part of the elephant, as it were.   Implicit Faith and the Cult of Personality | The Heidelblog
 Of course, this "implicit faith" that R. S. Clark speaks of is Arminianism.  Most Reformed denominations no longer require the study of a catechism prior to an adult or child becoming a communicant member of a local congregation.  Most Reformed congregations do not require catechesis for membership.   As long as someone makes a valid profession of faith--whatever that is--they can be accepted as members after an "inquirers" class.  It is indeed odd that Clark would concede to ignorance and implicit faith when nowhere do any of the Reformed standards espouse that view.  I guess this is an "exception" he takes with his self-avowed commitment to Reformed confessionalism?

It seems to me that there is no such thing as "implicit faith."  The wording of the Roman Catholic doctrine implies believing the ecumenical creeds while other doctrines are consider adiaphora until one becomes a Catholic:

Thomas (Aquinas) wrote:
Therefore, as regards the primary points or articles of faith, man is bound to believe them, just as he is bound to have faith; but as to other points of faith, man is not bound to believe them explicitly, but only implicitly, or to be ready to believe them, in so far as he is prepared to believe whatever is contained in the Divine Scriptures. Then alone is he bound to believe such things explicitly, when it is clear to him that they are contained in the doctrine of faith (Summa Theologiae 2a2ae 2.5).  (Clark).
It seems to me that a person should not be called a "Christian" based solely on some vague profession of faith but rather on his or her subscription to a basic doctrinal statement, namely a solid Reformed catechism and/or confession of faith.  That would mean the Larger Catechism for adults and the Shorter Catechism for children in regards to the Westminster Standards.  In the Dutch Reformed churches it would mean the Heidelberg Catechism.  Anglicans might do better to require subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion as well as the Catechism of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

Accepting untaught persons into membership as "implicit" Christians is a bit much, in my opinion.  Of course, even after accepting someone into membership there is no guarantee that the person will continue to grow in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ and the Reformed understanding of Scripture.  But we can say that at least they understand the doctrines of grace if they have been catechized properly prior to being accepted as a communicant member.

The other issue is that laypersons have some input into what is taught in the church and denomination.  For that reason alone membership and admission to the Lord's table should be restricted to those who are in agreement with Reformed teaching, including infant baptism and the doctrines of sovereign grace.  Separation is necessary in order to maintain the Reformed distinctives (2 Corinthians 6:17).


5 comments:

Jack Miller said...

Charlie,
Your take away as to what you claim Clark is advocating is the opposite of the point he is making. I'm astonished that you could come to your conclusion. Because Dr. Clark acknowledges that some, coming to the Reformed tradition from the Evangelical world, fall into a kind of 'implicit faith' towards pastor personalities that that somehow means he is approving of it or claiming implicit faith is necessarily a part of Reformed belief and practice?! Please...

This causes me to wonder if your bias clouds your ability to follow even a simple line of reasoning.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Regardless of what he intended to say, the fact is Reformed churches these days do not practice catechism when accepting adults into communicant membership. Clark seems to advocate something similar since he calls that "implicit" faith.

I have asked several conservative Presbyterian pastors if they use the catechism when accepting new members. I have yet to find one who does.

Jack Miller said...

Charlie wrote: the fact is Reformed churches these days do not practice catechism when accepting adults into communicant membership.

Me: I agree (as would Clark) that by-in-large this is, sadly, a true statement.

Charlie: Clark seems to advocate something similar since he calls that "implicit" faith.

Me: That's the complete opposite of what Clark is advocating in his post. He laments the drift toward what he is labeling "implicit faith" in Reformed churches and advocates confessing according to the Word of God. Clark writes,

We believe these things not, in the first instance, because they are taught by the church but rather because they are taught by Scripture. The church confesses them because Scripture teaches them. We confess the faith with the church and in the church and even under the ministerial authority of the church as she confesses God’s Word.

He advocates teaching the catechisms and confessions and his URC church practices that.

Again, one has to go through contortions of reasoning to come to any other conclusion regarding his post.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Clark is an irrationalist. He can claim to hold to strict subscription on the one hand while allowing exceptions on the other. The fact is not even his denomination practices catechism prior to accepting communicant members. It's done afterwards like the other denominations.

Sorry, but I don't trust RSC as far as I could throw him. He's proven himself to be a dissimulator too many times.

The same can be said of the so-called Clarkians like Sean Gerety. I'm learning that they don't even follow Clark as close as they pretend.

Charlie J. Ray said...

GHC, that is.

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