Skipping Article 21 because it is of little relevance today. It was written for specific reasons, about specific churches, but it is interesting none the less, so here it is.
XXI. Of the Authority of General Councils. [The Twenty-first of the former Articles is omitted; because it is partly of a local and civil nature, and is provided for, as to the remaining parts of it, in other Articles.]
The original 1571, 1662 text of this Article, omitted in the version of 1801, reads as follows: “General Councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of Princes. And when they be gathered together, (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God,) they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of holy Scripture.”
XXII. Of Purgatory.
The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.
I completely agree with this article. Many things have been, and still are created by the church that find no Biblical foundation whatsoever. Maybe we could identify some of those things…
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”
““You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”
This was immediately met with disagreement…these pertain only to that ancient culture and they must be reinterpreted to fit our culture and our far superior political and legal system.
That was pretty much Jeffersons argument too.
The problem is that both verses harken back to the Sermon On the Mount…the most counter cultural manifesto ever written in a sacred text.
It’s radical…and it says that those who follow Jesus will be those who embrace it’s tenets of radical love and self sacrifice.
Let me say that again…radical love and self sacrifice.
That’s what I believe we’re called to a life of… just as Christ loved and died for us.
What troubled me yesterday wasn’t the wrangling over the letter of the law, that’s part of “theologizing”.
What troubled me was the neglect of the spirit of the text.
Be willing to be defrauded.
Turn the other cheek.
Love each other and the church enough settle things righteously.
Jesus modeled these things for us and as a pastor I believe I am called to model them to others…if these are the things that I indeed preach and teach.
Pastors and teachers have the greater responsibility.
I have not done it very well…and in the places where I have done it I am suffering greatly for the effort.
Jesus said that would happen too.
In another place in the book, He said this; “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”(Revelation 2:3–4 ESV)
I believe that he was speaking of the love that church had for each other…a fervent love that proved their love for Him.
It seems to me that we’ve taken our Jeffersonian scissors and systematically snipped out those places where we’re called to love sacrificially…to love the alien among us, the poor, the prisoner,the enemy, the sinner…and each other.
We’ve taken our scissors to the spirit as well as the letter.
We choose instead to protect ourselves, our traditions and our organizations.
I’m as guilty as any.
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”(Mark 8:35 ESV)
1. “When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!”(1 Corinthians 6:1–8 ESV)
I am now going to simply teach the Bible simply.
In verse one of the text in front of us, Paul basically says “How dare you do such a thing”?
He reminds the church of their identity and position…that they are positionally righteous people who will be given eschatological authority to judge the world and angels, yet they are going into unrighteous courts to settle their disputes.
He says that this should be a cause for them to be ashamed.
He then asks the real question…is there no one among you wise enough to settle a family dispute?
I say a family dispute because that’s how Paul frames it…within the church we are adopted children of the same Father, spiritual family.
The unspoken implication is that there should be those in that body who are able to mediate such matters within the family, without the aid of worldly counsel.
The fact that there wasn’t anyone in Corinth who could or would speaks volumes about the spiritual state of that church.
Paul further says that the fact that they are taking such actions is already a defeat for them…that it’s better to lose whatever was at stake than to bring this before the public courts.
This statement was nothing more than an echo of Jesus;
““You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”(Matthew 5:38–42 ESV)
Why was this such a big issue then and now?
Because when brother sues brother (or father sues sons) it is nothing less than a public denial of the Gospel.
We have been given the ministry of reconciliation through the Gospel… reconciliation of men with men and men with God.
If we cannot effect reconciliation in our own family through the Gospel without unrighteous judges, what do we really have to offer the world?
The actions of those choosing to use the secular courts to settle grievances and the inactions of those in the church that were unwilling or unable to settle these matters biblically both brought shame to the church and caused shame to be associated with the name of Christ.
So it was then, so it is today.
Make your own application.
2. Social media can bring change, but not reformation, to the church. True reformation requires a shared doctrine and practice. I’ll take change for now…
3. One of the interesting possibilities of the information age is that changes in institutions can be initiated from the bottom up instead of the top down.
4.The twin idols of the Western church…pastoral authority and ecclesiastical independence. The scriptures limit one and contradict the other…
5.If faith were anything but a supernatural gift from God I would be an agnostic at best.
6. The most fascinating thing about teaching through 1 Corinthians to me is that the root problem in all the messes that Paul addresses is that the people of God are not aware of or living in their new identity in Christ. We have the same problem today…and I think part of it is due to people not being taught who they are because it could possibly threaten existing authority structures.
7. The Gospel according to Spiderman is that “with great power comes great responsibility”. I’m sick and tired of organizations that want to wield one without embracing the other…
8. My joy meter is pretty low these days…forgive me if I’m not real edifying.
9. I thank God that my church is a consistent blessing to me…I pray the same for each of you.
10.Here’s the edification…despite all the Corinthian buffoonery, Paul still reminded them that they were “in Christ”. Despite ours, we are too.
We pray as often as we meet,
that we might “perfectly love you.”
Indeed, we have been commanded from the beginning,
to love you with all our hearts and
all our souls and
all our minds and
all our strength.
We have pledged to love,
pledged in our prayers and in our baptism,
in our confirmation and with our best resolve.
But we confess . . .
we love you imperfectly;
we love you with a divded heart,
with a thousand other loves
that are more compelling
with reservation and qualification,
and passion withheld and
We do not now come to pretend before you,
but to confess that we do not,
as we are,
love you perfectly;
we do not keep your commands;
we do not order our lives by your purpose;
we do not tilt toward you as our deepest affection.
But we would . . .
we would love you more perfectly,
by the taste of bread become your flesh,
by the swallow of wine become your blood,
by the praise of our lips and beyond our usual reasoning,
by the commandments that are not burden but joy to us,
by embracing your passion for neighbors,
by your ways of justice and peace and mercy,
by honoring the world you have made
and all creatures great and small,
by self-care that knows you as our creator.
Lead us past our shabby compromises
and our cheap devotion;
lead us into singleness of vision
and purity of heart,
that we may will one thing,
and answer back in love to your great love to us.
Free us from idolatries
and out habits of recalcitrance
tender our hearts,
gentle our lips,
open our hands,
that we may turn toward you fully
toward your world unguardedly.
Let us bask in your freedom
to be fully your, and
so trusting fully our own.
We pray through the Lord Jesus who loved you
singularly, perfectly, fully—to the end.
The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.
What authority does the Church have? What does this mean, “…ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation”?
1. What are the biblical standards and qualifications for church board members? If you answered there aren’t any, you are correct.
2. Do not use the term “vision casting” if I’m close enough to spit on you.
3.Perhaps if we judged the behaviors of those inside the church with the same measure we judge those outside we’d regain some credibility in the culture…and with God.
4.Charles Bowden on the bad reputation of vultures;“Vultures live in family groups, and are extremely benign. It’s like knowing a bunch of Quakers. They get this awful reputation because they share a trait with human beings — they eat dead things after they get warm”.
5.The problem with the church is that, as with many things, we’ve taken something organic and made it synthetic.
6. For those of you new to the blog, Charles Bowden is one of my heroes and patron saint. He has written for decades about the violence in Mexico at great cost to himself spiritually and emotionally. Now, he wants to retire from the carnage and watch birds. I feel the same way about Calvary Chapel. Neither one of us will be able to do as we wish…
7.J.I. Packer has a new book coming out. He will be criticized because it’s not a systematic theology, which his peers are demanding he produce to enter their pantheon of great theologians. It’s about his passion, which is catechizing the church. Once again, Packer teaches by example…he’s doing what God has called him to do, not what will gain him earthly commendation. I love Dr. Packer.
8.All systematics and all traditions must of necessity warp some part of scripture to make it fit. Some do so more than others.
9. I tried to emulate Bowden and put numerous bird feeders in the tree in my front yard. Unfortunately, my driveway sits in the flight path between the tree with the food and the tree they like to sit in after eating. Thus, my truck is the toilet between the front room and the dining room to my winged friends. No good deed goes unpunished…