Thursday, October 28, 2021

Calvin: John 19.30 - “It is finished.”

"He repeats the same word which he had lately employed. Now this word, which 
Christ employs, well deserves our attention; for it shows that the whole accomplishment of our salvation, and all the parts of it, are contained in his death. We have already stated that his resurrection is not separated from his death, but Christ only intends to keep our faith fixed on himself alone, and not to allow it to turn aside in any direction whatever. The meaning, therefore, is, that everything which contributes to the salvation of men is to be found in Christ, and ought not to be sought anywhere else; or -- which amounts to the same thing -- that the perfection of salvation is contained in him…

"If we give our assent to this word which Christ pronounced, we ought to be satisfied with his death alone for salvation, and we are not at liberty to apply for assistance in any other quarter; for he who was sent by the Heavenly Father to obtain for us a full acquittal, and to accomplish our redemption, knew well what belonged to his office, and did not fail in what he knew to be demanded of him. It was chiefly for the purpose of giving peace and tranquillity to our consciences that he pronounced this word, It is finished. Let us stop here, therefore, if we do not choose to be deprived of the salvation which he has procured for us."
[emphasis added]

Calvin, John. Complete Commentaries, Gospel of John

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Dog That Didn't Bark - Cranmer, Bucer, Vermigli, and Baptismal Regeneration

For those unfamiliar with Sherlock Holmes mysteries the phrase 'the dog that didn't bark' comes from one of Holmes’ cases. In the story there's been a murder and apparently the killer was able to commit that crime without the nearby guard dog barking and raising an alarm. For Holmes this was the 
crucial clue that led to the identity of the murderer. The reason the dog didn't bark was that the canine was familiar enough with the killer as to not be alarmed. This clue pointed to the owner of the dog as the killer and thus another case was solved!

In the following excerpts Rev. Arthur Roberts points out the key clue that directs us to the position held by the Church of England on baptismal regeneration, 1549-1552. But as J.I.Packer writes, 

because of the caution with which the Prayer Book and Articles were phrased back in the sixteenth century--so as not to give offense to people who believed in baptismal regeneration--an ambiguity is there.

The book containing the clue is: 

A Review of The Book of Common Prayer, Drawn Up At the Request of Archbishop Cranmer by Martin Bucer, Reg. Professor of Divinity at Cambridge
Briefly Analyzed and Abridged 
Arthur Roberts, M.A.  
Rector of Woodrising, Norfolk

The prayer book under review was the 1549 version. Martin Bucer's and Peter Vermigli's (nonextant) separate documents of criticisms and suggestions greatly helped in Cranmer's revision which led to the more Reformed 1552 BCP.

First some background laid out in the first part of the introduction, Roberts writes:

[W]hen Cranmer contemplated an improved edition of the Liturgy, he was anxious to consult the judgments of two learned foreigners, Martin Bucer and Peter Martyr. These pious and highly gifted men had been drawn over to our shores by Cranmer's importunities, and promoted through his means, to the two chairs of divinity in our two Universities – Martyr to that of Oxford, and Bucer to that of Cambridge. A high proof, undoubtedly it was, of the confidence which he reposed in their theological ability when he submitted a work of such national importance, and which he and his colleagues had so carefully compiled, to their revisal and correction; but it was more — it was a proof of his own modesty and self-distrust, and of the unfeigned anxiety he felt to retain nothing in his Liturgy but what was thoroughly scriptural and sound...

First, that it may be said to exhibit Peter Martyr's views and sentiments as well as those of Bucer; for, as Strype observes, — “Martyr agreed clearly in judgment with Bucer about the book, as he wrote to him..."

Roberts lays a bit of groundwork to enable the reader to see the clue that speaks so loudly from its silence:

II . The reader will observe that the emendations proposed by Martin Bucer in the First Prayer - book of King Edward VI. were neither few nor unimportant, but involved, on the other hand, some fundamental points of doctrine.

His concluding introductory remarks give us the clue that I am characterizing as the 'dog that didn't bark'.

III. It cannot but be regarded as a singular circumstance that not a word is said in these strictures upon that language of our Church in her Baptismal Service, which has occasioned so much controversy — especially as both Bucer and Martyr, during the time of their Professorships, delivered their minds so strongly as to the separableness of the outward sign and inward grace in infant, as well as adult, baptism; which (strong Calvinists as they both were) was of course to be expected. This circumstance, therefore, can only be accounted for by their considering our service to express nothing more than the language of charity and hope. It will be observed that, in dealing with the Confirmation Service, Bucer imagines the case of the catechumens being unregenerate, which sufficiently indicates his view of the subject. Doubtless had he so understood our formularie as divines of what are called, though not very correctly, the High - Church school, he would have taken great exception to them. As it is the men who think with him on the baptismal question may acquiesce as he in our baptismal forms though it were well, perhaps, if they were less capable of misapprehension.

Does this settle the matter among Anglicans? No way, after all we're talking Anglicans here. But in my mind this bit of actual history adds some weight to the Reformed Anglican position on baptism. 

Also see: