Fidelity to Christ in the Life of the Leader: A Brief Essay on Christian Leadership.

Introduction

           Biblical leadership is the step above in the Christian life. Paul highlights the necessity of outstanding personal character for pastoral leadership in his first letter to Timothy. If a person thoughtfully examines themselves in the light of Paul’s comments, they can very quickly become discouraged at their adequacy for the task of leadership. There are many leadership images in scripture. In the Old Testament (OT), two images of leadership would be shepherd and conflict mitigator. In the New Testament (NT), servant and overseer are two good examples. These images can leave a person feeling inadequate. Reassurance comes from viewing the examples of leadership in scripture. There are negative examples of leadership in scripture, like Solomon, a man gifted with the best of everything by God, yet he still worshiped idols. A positive example would be Peter, who, though a man with faults, God used to powerful purpose in the early church. Examining the images and examples helps the leader understand God’s principles for leadership. When all the leadership principles are examined, they show Christ to be the perfect example of leadership. When followed, these biblical principles make a successful leader; more than making a successful leader, the principles define what success looks like for a Christian leader: leadership in Christianity is not glamor, not notoriety; instead, it is always fidelity to Christ and his character.

Leadership Images

           All images of leadership point to Christ because he is the perfect leader. In order to draw out correct biblical principles for leadership from the images, they must be viewed through the life of Christ.

Shepherd (OT)

            Shepherd is probably the most well-known image of leadership in all the Bible. Psalm 23 salutes the good shepherd as he tenderly and sternly cares for the sheep. The idea of the rod that the shepherd caries is for the defense and the correction of the sheep. God often took shepherds, like Moses and David, and made them leaders of his people. A shepherd is one that will care for and defend the sheep.

Conflict Mitigator (OT)

            Solomon started his leadership with gusto as he resolved a conflict between two mothers over a baby (1 Kings 3:16-28). Indeed, one of the great images of leadership is the conflict resolver. Moses appointed leaders to help him in this role (Numbers 11:16-30). Every leader in the Bible had to resolve conflict at one time or another. This job of conflict resolution tests the leader’s fidelity to justice and fairness.

Servant (NT)

          The dominant image of leadership throughout scripture, and certainly in the NT, is servant leadership. Jesus exemplified this kind of leadership by washing the disciple’s feet (John 13:1-17). The servant-leader finds joy in serving and using the service to point people to Christ. John wrote, “we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete (1 John 1:4, ESV). John’s joy was to serve his readers by pointing them to Christ.

Overseer (NT)

The word overseer shows up six times in the ESV translation. It is the Greek word ἐπισκόπους[1] which means, according to Louw and Nida, “one who serves as a leader in a church … it is important to try to combine the concepts of both service and leadership.”[2] The overseer is someone that embodies all the good traits of leadership. Where the overseer fails, it often leads to ruin for many.

Leadership Examples

Solomon Negative

Solomon is not the most negative example of leadership in the OT. For instance, Ahaz murdered his sons by burning them alive to a false god (2 Chronicles 28:3). Nevertheless, though Solomon did many outstanding things as a leader, he failed to transfer that leadership because he took his eyes of God. Dockery published a story by Tommy Thomas about Steve Hayner transferring leadership at the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. In short, it took ten months for Hayner to transfer leadership to the new leader.[3] Solomon did not leave a legacy of leadership. He is an example of the ruin that can happen when the overseer fails. Solomon had run afoul of the problem, “his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God” (1 Kings 11:4, ESV). A leader today can learn from Solomon and understand the centrality of true worship in leadership.

Peter

Peter is a leader that gives other leaders hope. Peter was not perfect; he denied Christ (Mark 14:68), he was rebuked by Paul for being hypocritical (Galatians 2:11), and yet the Lord used him decisively leadership in the early church and as an author in the NT. Why is Peter a success story and Solomon a negative one? One single thing, Peter, even in his failings, never turned his heart away from God. When Peter failed, he admitted it and kept moving forward. Peter lead by trusting God with the outcome. Where Solomon got distracted with women (1 Kings 11:1–8), Peter turned to deeper study, prayer, and exposition of the word of God (Acts 6:4). Today, leaders can be led away by TV, sports, food, ETC.  Comparing Solomon and Peter clarifies the need for a heart of true worship for God and God alone.

Leadership Principles

           The images and examples already briefly discussed point to the necessity of fidelity to Christ and his character in the leader’s life. Gangel sheds light on the idea of fidelity to Christ, saying, “[l]eadership requires deep conviction in God’s will for both leaders and followers”[4] John Calvin sums up Paul’s leadership instructions to Timothy with these words, “only those are to be chosen who are of sound doctrine and of holy life, not notorious in any fault which might both deprive them of authority and disgrace the ministry.”[5] Indeed these three can be said to sum up all the principles for leadership. Sound doctrine means a pure pursuit of the word of God to know the truth. A holy life is a life informed by the word of God. Avoiding being “notorious,” as Calvin put it, is a natural outpouring of a leader who desires to live a life of example and avoid allowing the enemy to hurt the sheep. Again, the difference between Solomon and Peter highlights the need for these elements in a leader’s life. Through his faults, Peter pursued sound doctrine, lived a life desiccated to God, and was not “notorious.” While on the other hand, Solomon started right, but wealth, women, and celebrity lead him from a holy life to evil things.

Conclusion

          The leader is a shepherd; he makes it his business to know God’s will and guild people to that end. The leader is a conflict resolver, like Christ, who ended the conflict between the elect and God. The leader is a servant; they lead by caring for others, like Christ, who died for those that are his. The leader is an overseer; they take responsibility for moving forward within the will of God. Solomon and Peter are good examples of leaders that lead for better and for worse. The critical difference between them was their fidelity to Christ/God and his character. Solomon can warn leaders that having a heart that steers away from God will only lead to disaster. At the same time, by seeing Peter’s life, leaders can be encouraged that God can and does use imperfect people to lead. The measure is a leader is not perfection but rather his heart of worship for the true God that overflows into the pursuit of sound doctrine, holy living, and keeping his character clean.

 

Foot Notes:

[1]. Kurt Aland et al., Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th Edition. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012), Ac 20:28.

[2]. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 541.

[3]. David S. Dockery, ed. Christian Leadership Essentials: A Handbook for Managing Christian Organizations. (Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2011), 321

[4]. Kenneth O. Gangel, 1991. “Biblical Theology of Leadership.” Christian Education Journal 12 (1). 20.

[5]. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 1, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 1063.

 

Bibliography

Aland, Kurt, Barbara Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, and Bruce M. Metzger. Novum Testamentum Graece. 28th Edition. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012.

Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2. Edited by John T. McNeill. Translated by Ford Lewis Battles. Vol. 1. The Library of Christian Classics. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011.

Dockery, David S., ed. Christian Leadership Essentials: A Handbook for Managing Christian Organizations. Nashville, TN: B & H Academic, 2011.

Gangel, Kenneth O. 1991. “Biblical Theology of Leadership.” Christian Education Journal 12 (1): 13–31. https://search-ebscohost-com.lopes.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0000842419&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. New York: United Bible Societies, 1996.

 

 

Doctrine of the Church: Authority in History, the Reformation, and Today

Introduction

Authority has been a discussion in church history throughout the years. Early churches were often regional with the bishop of the region having a vast amount of power. Later the church became more centralized until the clergy oversaw and had authority over every aspect of the spiritual and sometimes governmental aspects of the laity’s lives. The reformation at its core was a change in these power structures. The disruption of a centralized power resulted in war and blood in the streets. Out of the chaos, denominationalism grew into the primary expression of Christianity in the world today. Each denomination handles the issue of authority differently; however, they all share, even the Roman Church, marks of the decentralization of power that happened in the reformation: local autonomous churches most of all bear this reformation mark.

Major Theological Components of Authority

The topic of authority is indeed a very early subject in the church. Ignatius, of the earliest writers, says, the “bishop [is] one who beyond all others possesses all power and authority”[1] and to oppose the bishop makes one “utterly without God, an impious man who despises Christ.”[2] In Ignatius’ time, the canon was not fully understood, so the bishop would outline the expected texts for his people, authorize who could administer the ordnances, and be the final authority on membership. Fast forward about 300 years, and Augustine, responding to Faustus, gives a glimpse of how he views the authority of the scripture and the church together. Augustine says, “you forthwith deny that Matthew wrote the narrative, though this is affirmed by the continuous testimony of the whole Church.”[3] Augustine seems to view the church as complementary to the scriptural authority, or perhaps coequal. Near the same time Augustine is writing, the foundations of the Papacy were being laid by a man named Leo. Shelley explains, “Leo [in] his entrance into office he extolled the “glory of the blessed Apostle Peter … in whose chair his power lives on and his authority shines forth.”[4] Patterson agrees with that “Leo I launched the medieval papacy.”[5] Throughout the middle ages “the hierarchical government of the Western church imitated secular imperial structures.”[6] The clergy, overseen by the pope, were the supreme authority in all matters of faith for the laity. Aquinas gives a picture of how doctrine worked in this time, “just as the Pope is said to absolve a man when he gives absolution by means of someone else: [the priest].”[7] At this point the church claims all authority over the laity, even the power to forgive sins, and sole authority to interpret scripture.

Components of Reformation and Modern Denominations

The authority to forgive sins and how that authority was used was a spark in the heart of a German monk, soon to turn reformer, Martin Luther. The 95 Theses that Luther nailed to the church door is dominated by the idea of indulgences. Not a new topic in Luther’s day, but one that the reformer Luther addressed. Luther’s primary issue can be summed up as, who can forgive sins but God, and when did God sell that forgiveness? Just four years after nailing the theses to the door Luther is excommunicated from the church. Geoffrey gets right at the heart of the reformation stating, “it quickly became apparent that the protest involved a drastic rethinking of the way in which Christ’s authority is exercised.”[8] The fact that the reformers like Luther, Calvin, and Tyndale, immediately began translating the Bible into the vernacular shows they believed the authority was on the scripture for each person to see. The visible argument of the reformation might have been justification, but the true separation between Rome and the Reformers was the issue of authority. Luther attacked the church’s power structures themselves, removing the divide between the clergy and the laity, declaring all Christians priests, and removing 5 of the 7 sacraments, keeping two, Baptism and the Eucharist. The only two sacraments instituted in scripture. In some ways, this freedom that came was a disaster. The reformers fought over what and how the scripture prescribed the sacraments and all of Europe ended up in what is called the 30-year war, Christians killing each other in the streets. The war can be attributed to the issue of authority. The reformer’s ideas left a power vacuum. Even as late as the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1600s, the Christians were still enforcing worship with governmental authority. But it was the sons of the pietists that won in the end. The congressionalist took the pietist’s principles of separation of church and state and founded independent congregations all over Europe and the new colonies. Slowly distilled into the world, the denominations emerged, each with slightly different authority cultures. State churches like the Anglicans, some with presbyteries like the Presbyterians, and some fiercely independent like the Baptists. Even the Roman Church evolved, allowing its members to access scripture and removing its anathematization of the other groups.

Major Theological Components in Ministry

Baptists fiercely guard their independence, even within the Baptist community. Each church is usually autonomous and a member of the coalition by its own choice. This means that while there are shared principals each church has its own distinctives. Theologically a church must be ready to define its own theology and, or, accept a historical confession. For example, a Reformed Baptist church might hold primarily to the 1689 London Baptist Confession (LBC), while a more traditional Baptist church might use the Baptist Faith and Message. There are also different leadership models, single pastor, a multiplicity of elders, elders and deacons, ETC. In almost all cases, pastors, elders, deacons require approval by the congregation. Each church will have bylaws that define how the approval process works. In the case of this Reformed Baptist, the leadership model is a plurality of elders. The elders are selected by the congregation. These elders administer the church membership, ordinances, and care for the flock. Theological distinctives are confessed in the LBC.

Conclusion

The LBC says, “The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.”[9] Indeed, throughout history, no matter how humans organized their church, the church of God has relied on the scriptures as authoritative matters of faith. The reformations primary impact was freeing the biblical text from the church and giving it to the reader. No place more exemplifies this freeing than the local church, where arguments happen, people see one thing or another, and doctrinal distinctives are rediscovered with every generation. The people of God will always be able to move forward because of the power and authority contained in holy scripture.

 

References:

[1]. Ignatius of Antioch, “The Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians,” in The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 1, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), 69.

[2]. Ibid.

[3]. Augustine of Hippo, “Reply to Faustus the Manichæan,” in St. Augustin: The Writings against the Manichaeans and against the Donatists, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. Richard Stothert, vol. 4, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1887), 325.

[4]. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 137.

[5]. Kendell H. Easley and Christopher W. Morgan, eds. 2013. The Community of Jesus: A Theology of the Church. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic. 163.

[6]. Ibid.

[7]. Saint Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Theologica, ed. Mortimer J. Adler, Philip W. Goetz, and Daniel J. Sullivan, trans. Laurence Shapcote, Second Edition., vol. 17, Great Books of the Western World (Chicago; Auckland; Geneva; London; Madrid; Manila; Paris; Rome; Seoul; Sydney; Tokyo; Toronto: Robert P. Gwinn; Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1990), 574.

[8]. G. W. Bromiley, “Authority,” ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988), 367.

[9]. R. C. Sproul, ed., The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2015), 2478.

 

Bibliography

Bromiley, Geoffrey W., ed. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised. Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988.

Easley, Kendell H, and Christopher W. Morgan, eds. 2013. The Community of Jesus: A Theology of the Church. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic.

Roberts, Alexander, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, eds. The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. Vol. 1. The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885.

Schaff, Philip, ed. St. Augustin: The Writings against the Manichaeans and against the Donatists. Vol. 4. A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1887.

Shelley, Bruce L. Church History in Plain Language. Updated 2nd ed. Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995.

Sproul, R. C., ed. The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2015.

 

Jesus Christ as the New Covenant is the Foundation, Prize, and Proclamation of the Church

Understanding of the Work of Christ

The relevance of his nature as fully God and fully man

The Hypostatic Union is the knowledge that Jesus exist as two natures. Some, like Athanasius, thought that “the Nicene [creed] is sufficient, as against the Arian heresy, so against the rest.”[1] Yet, over 200 years it was refined and hedged into the understanding that “[t]he union of the divine and human nature in Christ is a permanent state resulting from the incarnation, and is a real, supernatural, personal, and inseparable union.”[2] Athanasius, appealing to the authority of “[the Catholic Faith [that] was published,”[3] cited the Nicene creed that, Jesus “came from the heavens for the abolishment of sin.”[4] Since only God can live perfectly and only humans can have sin Jesus must have both. A human nature to bear the sin and a divine nature to be the perfect law keeper.

His life

            His life is where he, again as Athanasius said citing of the creed, “fulfilled the Economy according to the Father’s will,”[5] This “Economy” is that sinless life that the author of Hebrews references when he said that he was “tempted as we are, yet without sin.”[6] In this he passed the test that the whole human race had failed in Adam. A test that humans were never intended to pass, it was always to be his victory, because the purpose of all creation is Christ as the visible manifestation of the Godhead.[7]

His death, resurrection, ascension

            In death he became the “propitiation by his blood”[8] because God “made him to be sin who knew no sin.”[9] The divine nature in Christ cannot become sin because God cannot sin.[10] This necessitated Christ’s human nature and it is that nature which in the garden cried, “not my will, but yours, be done.”[11] The resurrection then vindicates his sinlessness and declares that he has the right to claim lordship. The inspired Apostle Paul wrote that by the resurrection Christ was, “declared to be the Son of God.”[12] Since death could not hold him all those that are in him are free of deaths sting. Just as the first Adam brought death to God’s people the second brought life to all God’s people.[13] In ascending he took his place as King, Prophet, and High Priest. The most immediate need for the sinner is perhaps his ever-living intercession as High Priest. The ascension was also to make way to send the Spirit.

The sending of the Spirit

            The Spirit is the seal and presence of Christ for the church. Where Jesus said I will build my church, Holy Spirit acts in perfect unity with this decree by empowering, sealing, sanctifying, and teaching believers. This work of the Spirit unifies all believers into one catholic (universal) church.

His return

            The method of Christ’s return is debated however, one thing that cannot be debated is his status as final judge. Paul writes, God “has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed.”[14] This man is Jesus.

The Kingdom

            Jesus’ first and continuing message was that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”[15] From the very beginning in the protoevangelium,[16] in Moses,[17] by the Psalmist,[18] and in the prophets[19] the Kingdom had been promised to come. In the words of Jesus, it had come, it was now. What then had happened with Jesus that made the transition from future to now? David and Isaiah explain that the Kingdom of Heaven is the rule of Christ when Christ’s enemies are his foot stool[20] and the government rests on his shoulders, [21] then Kingdom is at hand. Jesus proclaimed this reality with his final words, “it is finished.”[22] In a very real sense the kingdom had come and yet there remains a fulfillment to be seen as noted by the Apostle Paul when he points to a coming day when “he will judge the world.”[23]

            The Church and the Kingdom of God

What is the Church?

            Allison excellently sums up the church as “the people of God who have been saved through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and have been incorporated into his body through baptism with the Holy Spirit.”[24] For this exercise, it will work to think about the church as the people of God from all time and in all places. This is the reason Athanasius calls the creed “Catholic Faith [that] was published.”[25] It is that all believers are scripturally beholden to hold to “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”[26] It is a single universal confession that all believers, the people of God, share. The core of that confession as Paul explained, “you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord”[27] and believe that what the scriptures say about his person and works are true. As already stated, the Kingdom of God is all things having come and coming under the feet of the Lordship of Jesus Christ; so, this confession of the church that Jesus is Lord is how the church and Kingdom fit.

How Does the Church fit Into the Kingdom?

            On the night that Jesus died, he made mention of the New Covenant represented in his blood and body.[28] With his own life Jesus inaugurates the New Covenant by his personal work, this covenant is the foundation, prize, and proclamation of the Church. Jesus can provide this royal boon because of his victory and all things being placed under his feet. The author of Hebrews explain that he is the great and final prophet who has “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high”[29] and is able in his own blood to be the prophet, priest and king of “the covenant he mediates.”[30]

The foundation is the covenant which creates a body who confesses the Lordship of Christ. The people of God’s prize is the covenant blessings from him. Paul explains God has “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”[31] This covenant promised is “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit”[32] until the eschatological expression of the Kingdom where “we acquire possession of it.”[33] That inheritance is the fully revealed Kingdom as the author of Peter explains, the church is a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”[34]

Indeed, the prize is the Kingdom in its full eschatological glory where nothing limits the relationship between Christ and his chosen church. The proclamation is the work of the Kingdom in the interim. Jesus said of his followers that they were not of the world but in the world,[35] they were to not fear because he had overcome the world,[36] and they were to baptize,[37] that is to give the outward sign of the inward confession that Jesus is Lord, to all those who would be disciples.

Allison quotes a poignant question, “Is the church to be seen as an instrument to accomplish God’s purpose in creation or is the church the expression of God’s ultimate purpose itself?”[38] Of course the resounding answer is yes! The Church is the instrument by which “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world”[39] and, as much as the church displays the Lordship of Christ in the New Covenant, it is the current expression of God’s ultimate purpose. It is always important to make the statement that the kingdom is here, not because the church is here, but because the King is here.

Christian Traditions and Theological Characteristics

Theological Reflection

            Shelley points out that the sacraments and how they are administered in the church history depends greatly on the view held of the church. When “Ambrose refused the emperor Communion”[40] it set the precedent for how much power the church would have. This is to be expected if the church is the expression of God’s Kingdom now. The discussion of the church here had been from a reformed historic premillennial view. Different traditions would place a different level of emphasis on the now and on the future based on their eschatological approach. For instance, a preterist or postmillennial view would place far more emphasis on the now, while a dispensational pretribulation view would place even more emphasis on the final fulfillment of the kingdom. The primary point is that there is room for disagreement and for the different weights that different traditions place on their Ecclesiology. For example, those postmillennial might see the church as the tool that brings the whole world into the kingdom for which they might adopt a high ecclesiological practice. This is often the case among the traditionally reformed. However, even with those circles there are people like “Kuyper [who] attempted to mix different thought worlds.”[41] The point is that even with a specific tradition it is not always possible to nail down an Ecclesiology. Shelley explains that the “[t]he Reformation unintentionally shattered traditional Christendom.”[42] With this shattering came the many ecclesiological systems.

 

 

 

References

 

 [1]. Athanasius of Alexandria, “Councils of Ariminum and Seleucia,” in St. Athanasius: Select Works and Letters, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. John Henry Newman and Archibald T. Robertson, vol. 4, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1892), 453.

[2]. Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The History of Creeds, vol. 1 (New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1878), 31.

[3]. Athanasius of Alexandria, “Councils of Ariminum and Seleucia,” in St. Athanasius: Select Works and Letters, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. John Henry Newman and Archibald T. Robertson, vol. 4, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1892), 454.

[4]. Ibid.

[5]. Ibid.

[6]. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Heb 4:15.

[7]. Ibid, Col 1:15.

[8]. Ibid, Ro 3:25.

[9]. Ibid, 2 Co 5:21.

[10]. Ibid, 1 Jn 3:9–10.

[11]. Ibid, Lk 22:42.

[12]. Ibid, Ro 1:4.

[13]. Ibid, Ro 5:12–15.

[14]. Ibid, Ac 17:31.

[15]. Ibid, Mt 4:17.

[16]. Ibid, Gen 3:15.

[17]. Ibid, Deut 18:15

[18]. Ibid, Psa 110:1.

[19]. Ibid, Isa 9:6.

[20]. Ibid, Psa 110:1.

[21]. Ibid, Isa 9:6.

[22]. Ibid, Jn 19:30.

[23]. Ibid, Ac 17:31.

[24]. Gregg R. Allison. 2012. Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church. Foundations of Evangelical Theology. Wheaton, IL: Crossway. 29.

[25]. Athanasius of Alexandria, “Councils of Ariminum and Seleucia,” in St. Athanasius: Select Works and Letters, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. John Henry Newman and Archibald T. Robertson, vol. 4, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1892), 454.

[26]. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Jud 3.

[27]. Ibid, Ro 10:9.

[28]. Ibid, Lk 22:20.

[29]. Ibid, Heb 1:3.

[30]. Ibid, Heb 8:6.

[31]. Ibid, Eph 1:3.

[32]. Ibid, Eph 1:13.

[33]. Ibid, Eph 1:14.

[34]. Ibid, 1 Pe 2:9.

[35]. Ibid, John 17:14.

[36]. Ibid, John 16:33.

[37]. Ibid, Matt 28:19.

[38]. Gregg R. Allison. 2012. Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church. Foundations of Evangelical Theology. Wheaton, IL: Crossway. 52.

[39] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 24:14.

[40] Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 98.

[41] Daniel Strange, “Rooted and Grounded? The Legitimacy of Abraham Kuyper’s Distinction between Church as Institute and Church as Organism, and Its Usefulness in Constructing an Evangelical Public Theology,” Themelios 40, no. 3 (2015): 432.

[42] Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 342.

[43] Gregg R. Allison. 2012. Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church. Foundations of Evangelical Theology. Wheaton, IL: Crossway. 52

 

 

Bibliography

Allison, Gregg R. 2012. Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church. Foundations of Evangelical Theology. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

Schaff, Philip, and Henry Wace, eds. St. Athanasius: Select Works and Letters. Vol. 4. A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series. New York: Christian Literature Company, 1892.

Schaff, Philip. The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The History of Creeds. Vol. 1. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1878.

Shelley, Bruce L. Church History in Plain Language. Updated 2nd ed. Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995.

Strange, Daniel. “Rooted and Grounded? The Legitimacy of Abraham Kuyper’s Distinction between Church as Institute and Church as Organism, and Its Usefulness in Constructing an Evangelical Public Theology.” Themelios 40, no. 3 (2015): 430–445.

 

Why Monasticism?

Introduction

            Every true believer knows the struggle with sin. This means that every believer and even those who are not followers of Jesus can empathize with the early monastics. As the Christian religion became a politicized version of itself, many considered it necessary to protest by retreating from the community. Their protest became the symbol of a new purity, a separation from sin and a life dedicated to God. This symbol went largely unchallenged and grew until it had a dominant place in Christianity. Thanks to people like Augustine of Hippo, Benedict, and Gregory the Great, monastic ideals became a common idea within the Christian empire. The Monastic rules were developed for the purpose of organizing this community and, though they varied in approach, one of the primary reasons for the rules was the same: to create a community were temptation could be mitigated. From Anthony to Benedict, to the greater community, the monastic ideal meant to remove oneself from the world in order to be holy separated to God, overcome sin and win the fight with the devil.

Origins of Monasticism and Their Purpose as a Protest Against Constantine

            As Christianity became the rule of the empire, if a person was to find favor with the emperor, church membership was a must. Shelley put it like this, “[p]rior to Constantine’s conversion, the church consisted of convinced believers. Now many came who were politically ambitious, religiously disinterested, and still half-rooted in paganism.”[1] It was not just the political shift in Christianity that prompted monistic tendencies. The move to monasticism was very theologically a resistance to the melding of Roman philosophy and Christian theology. This conflict is clearly seen in the “Origenist controversy… [where] … the monks, some of whom were the bitterest foes of Origen’s spiritualizing theology.”[2] Mosaicism springs onto the scene, starting especially in the east. This location makes sense because as Constantine moved the capital to Constantinople, those political pressures that Shelley mentioned would have been the most intense there. Meyendorff  makes a poignant observation when he says, “no Christian leader responsibly opposed the monastic movement.”[3] It is rare in Christian history to see movements so unopposed. One explanation for this might be that the Romans saw in monasticism the continuation of Roman stoic thought.  By the mid-first century, Stoicism highlighted the ideas of “ethics, duty, and impassivity.”[4] Ferguson points out that these were the characteristics that Benedict sought to implant in “the monastic life.”[5] Monasticism came to symbolize the great battle with sin, by stoic living the monk battles sin. Most regard Anthony as the first monk. Anthony saw his life as a great battle between sin, Satan, and humanity. Probably as a rejection of the new political Christianity, Anthony’s example became contagious. Shelley recounts Athanasius’s words about the effect of Anthony’s actions; “The sign of solitary ascetics rules from one end of the earth to the other.”[6]

Movement of Monasticism From Protest to Major Feature of Imperial Christianity

            With the wide acceptance of Monasticism as a part of Christianity, there began two parallel developments. First, monasticism was defined from within; people like Benedict and Gregory the Great helped to systematize and bring monastic adherents under the rule of the Papacy. Monasticism was also defined from the outside; Ferguson points out that “The canons of Chalcedon defined the place of monks in the church.”[7] A big influencer on the view of how the monastic life fit into the life of the church was Augustine of Hippo. Long before Augustine had become the Presbyter at Hippo, he had exhausted any love for worldly pursuits. It comes as no surprise that he formed “a monastic community life with his clergy.”[8] Considering Augustine’s outsized influence that came about from his battles with the Donatists and Pelagianism, it is not surprising that his monastic pattern “was later to be imitated by others.”[9] The monasticism of Augustine has a distinct difference from that of Anthony, in that, rather than solitary living, it included a brotherhood. It seems a reasonable conclusion that the influence of Stoic thinking in the west brought about this change. Friedrich points out that one of the necessary elements of stoic philosophy is the “common spirit of brotherhood.”[10]

Characteristics of Monastic Rules

            A monk is someone at battle with sin. All the monastic sects had in common the goal of living separately from temptation. Benedict, who Ferguson called “the father of westering monasticism”[11] certainly had in mind the confrontation with temptation. Ferguson said that when Benedict was “confronted with a temptation, he would throw himself on the bramble bushes.”[12] This extreme attack on temptation is at the core of most monastic systems. Of course, the Bible, especially the Old Testament, is replete with the examples of fleeing temptation. Joseph flees Potiphar’s wife, Elijah flees into the wilderness, Daniel refuses to eat the king’s food and many others. Though the different monastic systems approached the rules differently, one thing that existed throughout was the moral implication of the rules. Ferguson again points out that Basil’s rules and Benedict’s different greatly on the level of application given; but agreed greatly on the moral implications of the rules. For this reason, almost all of the systems required some sort of trial in order to be admitted into the brotherhood. Another key highlight in both Basil’s rules and Benedict’s is that of obedience to one’s superior. The idea of obedience is also scriptural in that Jesus disciples were obedient to him and many other mentor/mentee relationships in scripture, such as Paul and Timothy, come with the example of obedience. In the mind of at least Basil and Benedict, it seems clear that these rules were not about tyrannical governance, but rather about protecting the members of the groups from the temptations that they had within themselves. The last similarity between the systems to be mentioned here is the idea of celibacy. Paul the Apostle did say that it was better not to marry in order to be set apart to the work of God.[13] Paul said that not every man was cut out for that life, indeed the implication is that few are, and that “because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife.”[14] Long before the idea of Monasticism had become mainstream, Christians were already taking vows of celibacy.[15]

Conclusion

            Temptation and the devil were on the mind of any man that wanted to be a monk. The idea of being set apart for God is and always will be an integral part of how the people of God think. Even before there was a political infiltration, Christian leaders like “Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian, and other leaders threw their support behind the idea of a higher level of sanctity.”[1] The desire to be morally distant from the rest of the world, even to be distant from this new easy Christianity that happened with Constantine, seems to be the driving force behind the spread of  Monasticism.

 

 

References

[1]. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 96.

[2]. Ferguson, Everett. 2013. Church History, Volume 1: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 312

[3]. John Meyendorff. 1980. “St Basil, Messalianism and Byzantine Christianity.” St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 24 (4): 219–34. https://search-ebscohost-com.lopes.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0000783083&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

[4]. Judith Odor, “Stoicism,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

[5]. Ferguson, Everett. 2013. Church History, Volume 1: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 318

[6]. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 118.

[7]. Ibid, 266.

[8]. Ibid, 271.

[9]. Ibid.

[10]. Friedrich Hauck, “Κοινός, Κοινωνός, Κοινωνέω, Κοινωνία, Συγκοινωνός, Συγκοινωνέω, Κοινωνικός, Κοινόω,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 795.

[11]. Ferguson, Everett. 2013. Church History, Volume 1: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 315

[12]. Ibid.

[13] 1 Cor 7:1-2, ESV.

[14] 1 Cor 7:2, ESV.

[15] Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 118.

 

Bibliography

Shelley, Bruce L. Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 96.

Ferguson, Everett. 2013. Church History, Volume 1: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 312

Friedrich Hauck, “Κοινός, Κοινωνός, Κοινωνέω, Κοινωνία, Συγκοινωνός, Συγκοινωνέω, Κοινωνικός, Κοινόω,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 795.

Odor, Judith. “Stoicism,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

Meyendorff, John. 1980. “St Basil, Messalianism and Byzantine Christianity.” St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 24 (4): 219–34. https://search-ebscohost-com.lopes.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0000783083&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

The purpose of Creeds in Christianity

Introduction

Once the massive difficulties of persecution were history with the coming of the Christian emperors, the concentration of Christianity turned to defining and defending Christ and the Trinity. The first issues came in addressing Christ’s relationship with the Father, this controversy touched on the divinity of Jesus; however, in affirming the full deity of Jesus, the council at Nicene opened the door to other questions. Questions like, if Jesus is fully God, is he also man, if Jesus is God and the Father is God, doesn’t that mean there are two Gods; and what about the Holy Spirit? Augustine points out the difficulty in his discussion of the trinity, “… the name of either substance or person is common to them.”[1] Over the first 451 years of Christianity definitions had to be made about the Trinity and the nature of Christ in his humanity and deity; it was the great ecumenical councils, where men of God got together and hammered out the details, that set the tone for Christianity in the millennia to come.

Nicene Creed of 325

Arius was the “pastor of the influential Baucalis Church,”[2] the error of Arianism is named after his teaching that Jesus was not the same as God the Father. The argument escalated until there were tensions in the streets between the “Homoousians and Homoiousians”[3] Emperor Constantine saw that this was an issue of peace in the Roman Empire and called the first Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in 325 AD. The position of Arius was disputed by the bishop Athanasius.[4] The basic creed of Christianity was known as the Old Roman Creed. According to Shelley the Old Roman Creed was a “baptismal confession in second-century Rome.”[5] After the council awarded Athanasius “a resounding victory at Nicaea over his elderly opponent, Arius.”[6] The council set about setting out a statement on Orthodoxy. It was very similar to the Old Roman Creed but made great emphasis on the deity of Christ specifically Jesus being the same substance as the Father. They adopted the word Homoousios,[7] “being of one substance (Homoousios) with the Father.”[8] One of the elements of Arianism was the discussion of Jesus’ origins. Arius claimed that the term begotten was indicative of a beginning for Jesus, or creation for Jesus. The Council at Nicaea addressed this concern with the words “begotten, not made.” The emphasis is on Jesus not being a creature, not made, but having a co-eternal existence with the Father.

Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381

Jesus’ eternality set the tone for the trinity when it comes to the Father and Son, however, the Holy Spirit was still a matter of question that needed settling. Pneumatomachians which, according to Ferguson, means “[t]hose who fight against the Holy Spirit.”[9] So the second ecumenical council was convened by Theodosius I”[10] in order to answer this question of the nature of the Holy Spirit, along with addressing the question of Jesus’ human nature that the Apollinarians denied. The address of Jesus’ human nature is seen in the words, “became man”[11] and “was made flesh.”[12] Some arguments did arise over the authority of the Constantinople council because it was not convened in Rome, however, it was minor and was only a foreshadowing of the split between east and west[13] that was coming in the icon controversy. Probably the most important statement about the divinity of Holy Spirit in the creed that addressed the Pneumatomachians is the statement, “who with Father and Son is worshipped.”[14] The Pneumatomachians, also called “Macedonians” after Macedonius, bishop of Constantinople,”[15] interpreted the passages about the Holy Spirit literally when he is referred to as breath or wind.[16] They concluded that the Holy Spirit then would be an impersonal force like human breath. When the Constantinople Council declared that the Holy Spirit was to be worshipped, thus declaring his person a deity apart from the Father and the Son, they stood indirect opposition to the Pneumatomachians, because one simply does not worship personal objects, without being called an idolater. The last nail in the coffin for Pneumatomachianism is the statement that the Holy Spirit is “Lord and the Life-giver.”[17] This statement directly implies volition on the part of the Holy Spirit, which is a personal attribute. Now, with the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed declaring the deity of the Holy Spirit, the full scope of the trinity is present in the creeds of Christianity, yet there were more definitions to be made.

Definition of Chalcedon

The primary concern with at Chalcedon was dealing with the “twoness”[18] of Christ. The Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan creed affirmed Christ’s dual humanity and divinity. Apollinarianism was addressed at Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan, as mentioned above. At the council at Ephesus “Nestorianism was condemned.”[19] Nestorianism taught that Jesus was two persons. The Eutychians took the next logical steps and said if Christ is both God and Human and one person, then there must be a mixture between the humanity and the divinity. Leo the Great highlights this tension when he preached,

Therefore in consequence of this unity of person which is to be understood in both natures, we read of the Son of Man also descending from heaven, when the Son of God took flesh from the Virgin who bore Him.[20]

Emperor Marcian called the fourth General Council of Chalcedon[21] in 451 AD. to makes the necessary distinctions in the way the person of Jesus was understood. The council updated the definitions in the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed with respect to the nature of Christ’s humanity and deity and their existence in his one person. The most important line in the new definition is probably “complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man.”[22] This definition does force the hearer to accept a little mystery in order to affirm it. Just as the Trinity is three and one, Christ is affirmed as two fully and one fully. This doctrine is often referred to as the hypostatic union, which comes from the Greek word hypostasis.[23]

Conclusion

“God is not a God of confusion”[24] the scripture declares. The men that participated in the great ecumenical councils understood that confusion would reign without a right biblical definition for the God head and for Christ. They also understood that getting away from this definition could have eternal consequences. In the end, the great ecumenical councils proclaimed that God is three and one, Jesus is fully human and fully divine in one person.

 

Citations

[1]. Augustine of Hippo, “On the Trinity,” in St. Augustin: On the Holy Trinity, Doctrinal Treatises, Moral Treatises, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. Arthur West Haddan, vol. 3, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1887), 110.

[2]. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 100.

[3], Term used by Dr. Jacob Hicks in the HTH-510-O500 – Christian History I class form. DQ1.

Homoiousios (literally, “of similar substance”) was used by Semi-Arians to argue that the Son was of similar but not identical substance as God the Father. Homoousios (literally, “same in substance”) was used by Athanasius and others to argue that the Son derives his substance from the Father:

Stanley Grenz, David Guretzki, and Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 61.

[4]. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 103.

[5]. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 54.

[6]. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 103.

[7]. See note 3.

[8]. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 102.

[9]. Everett, Ferguson. 2013. Church History, Volume 1: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 208.

[10]. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Introduction and Biographic Information (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 490.

[11]. Everett, Ferguson. 2013. Church History, Volume 1: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 210.

[12]. Ibid.

[13]. Ibid.

[14]. Ibid.

[15]. Ibid, 207.

[16]. Ibid.

[17]. Ibid, 210.

[18]. Ibid, 255.

[19]. Nathan P. Feldmeth, Pocket Dictionary of Church History: Over 300 Terms Clearly and Concisely Defined, The IVP Pocket Reference Series (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008), 44.

[20]. Leo the Great, “Letters,” in Leo the Great, Gregory the Great, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. Charles Lett Feltoe, vol. 12a, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1895), 41.

[21]. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 114.

[22]. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 114.

[23] Hypostasis is a Greek noun first used by Eastern theologians in the early centuries of church history to refer to the three persons of the Trinity.

Stanley Grenz, David Guretzki, and Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 61.

[24] 1 Corinthians 14:33, ESV.

 

Bibliography

Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: Introduction and Biographic Information (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005).

Augustine of Hippo, “On the Trinity,” in St. Augustin: On the Holy Trinity, Doctrinal Treatises, Moral Treatises, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. Arthur West Haddan, vol. 3, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1887).

Feldmeth, Nathan P. Pocket Dictionary of Church History: Over 300 Terms Clearly and Concisely Defined, The IVP Pocket Reference Series (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2008),

Ferguson, Everett. 2013. Church History, Volume 1: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Grenz, Stanley. Guretzki, David and Nordling, Cherith Fee. Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999),

Leo the Great, “Letters,” in Leo the Great, Gregory the Great, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. Charles Lett Feltoe, vol. 12a, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1895),

Shelley, Bruce L. Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995).

 

 

What is the Cost: Discipleship Reflection

Model for Christian Discipleship

Three times in Mark Jesus prepares his disciples for his upcoming victory against the enemy and in each case, they seem reluctant to see what he “taught”[1] them. In Mark 8:31 Jesus uses the word δεῖ (translated must in the ESV) in relation to his mission to the cross and in the other two accounts (9:30, 10:33) he uses παραδίδοται, in present tense followed by the two uses of κτεινω in future tense creates, as France puts it, “[emphasizes] that the future course of events is already decided.”[2] The understanding gained from Jesus’ words is that the course of the Disciples life is decided by God. A faithful disciple is not forging their own path but, as Jesus often said, is seeking to do the will of God. Jesus sought to do the will of the father so wholeheartedly, that it was impossible for him to fail at it.

Coupled with the picture of whole-hearted service to God’s will, a theme of self-sacrifice appears in each account: “deny himself.”[3] “be last of all and servant of all,”[4] “be slave of all.”[5] Clearly Jesus means to communicate that being a disciple is about following God’s will even when it costs, and it always will, the things that by human nature seem good.

Expectations for the Christian Life

Paul writes that suffering for a Christian is welcome because we gain hope through enduring it.[6] The writer of Hebrew bridges Paul’s words to the life of Jesus in these words: “[f]or the joy set before him [Jesus] he endured the cross.”[7] That cross is something Jesus says all his followers must bear.[8] The condemnation of the cross in Jesus’ day was that of condemnation of the worst sort. The picture that Jesus draws by equating following him with the cross is that the follower of Jesus must be condemned to the world. R. C. Sproul explains that Jesus, in his actions, “sets the pattern for the experience of all who follow Him.”[9] However, as seen in the words of Paul and the author of Hebrews, it is not a condemnation of tears, rather the Christian “Count it all joy”[10] to suffer because that suffering produces joy and in the age to come “glory beyond all comparison.”[11] The Disciples clearly did not understand this concept of joy and glory producing suffering at the time Jesus spoke to them. They shrank back and “were afraid”[12] to speak with Jesus on the matter. However, each of them boldly received suffering and most death for Christ in the time following Pentecost. Indeed, suffering for Christ’s “sake and the gospel’s”[13] become the dominant theme of Christianity for 250 years following Jesus’ ministry.

Success as a Disciple

The word translated rejected in Mark 8:31 (ἀποδοκιμασθῆναι) means “fail to pass the scrutiny”[14] and Jesus is clearly talking about the interactions between himself and the Sanhedrin. However, Cole suggests that Jesus wants the reader to understand that “the true danger for all is that of failing to pass the scrutiny of God.”[15] Success as a disciple is summed up in these words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”[16] With Christ as the example of this good and faithful servant, the Christian must understand the title of good and faithful only goes to those that “take up [their] cross and follow.”[17] In other words, the successful disciple is the one who has condemned the world and the things of the world to themselves in order to live for Christ. This is not an easy task, it is, in fact, impossible short of divine intervention, because, by nature, humans resist God.[18] The writer of Hebrews states that Jesus “has made perfect for all time those who are being sanctified.”[19] The actor in both cases is God, Jesus perfects those that are being, receiving, sanctification. The receiver in both cases is the disciple.

Text Impacts on Life

The two themes that emerge from Mark’s narrative are first that Jesus as the example shows that the Christian must be condemned to the world and alive towards God, and second, that this is accomplished by being a servant of all.[20] Perhaps the most poignant verse for personal application is Mark 8:38. The idea of Christ being ashamed should be revolting to the disciple. The understanding in the context shows that if Christ is ashamed of someone that person will fail to receive eternal life; however, the primary reason the idea of Christ being ashamed should be revolting is found in one word, love. If a person can look at the passion of Christ and not be moved to do whatever that savior asks, even to the loss of life, then that person has no love in them.[21]

Personal Life and Discipleship

In the personal walk, it is easy to grow cold and the disciple must continually stoke the fire of their passions for Christ. John Piper artfully stated that understanding that the center of the Christian life is finding joy in God and finding that joy frees us from the bondage of fear.[22] The disciple must seek in the text of Mark to see Jesus’ mission as the greatest joy in his life. It was the writer of Hebrews that said Jesus “endured the cross … for the joy that was set before him”[23] The repeated nature of Jesus’ instruction gives the reader a clue on how to find this joy. On no less than three separate occasions, Jesus teaches the disciples about what will happen to him. After his resurrection, he continues teaching by “interpret[ing] to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”[24] Receiving the repetitive teaching of Christ, through the scriptures, is the way a disciple receives this instruction today. It is not going too far to say that, when the disciple lacks in their mediation on the teaching of Jesus in the whole of scripture, they will lack in their application.

References

[1]. In two of the 3 accounts, Mark uses the word διδασκω (to teach).

[2]. R. T. France, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2002), 371.

[3]. Mark 8:34, all citations are EVS unless otherwise noted.

[4]. Mark 9:35.

[5]. Mark 10:44.

[6]. Romans 5:3-5.

[7]. Hebrews 12:2.

[8]. Mark 8:34.

[9]. R. C. Sproul, ed., The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2015), 1751.

[10]. James 1:2-4.

[11]. 2 Corinthians 4:17.

[12]. Mark 10:32.

[13]. Mark 8:35.

[14]. R. Alan Cole, Mark: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 2, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989), 209.

[15]. R. Alan Cole, Mark: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 2, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989), 209.

[16]. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 25:23.

[17]. Mark 8:34.

[18]. Romans 3:9 -18.

[19]. Hebrews 10:14.

[20]. Mark 9:35.

[21]. 1 John 4:8

[22]. John Piper, When I Don’t Desire GOD: How to Fight for Joy(Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2013). 13.

[23]. Hebrews 12:2.

[24]. Luke 24:27.

The emergence of Pietism and its influence upon the Great Awakenings

Pietism cannot really be understood without taking into account the impact of the writings of the Puritans. In the center of both the Puritan and pietist movements is an emphasis on holiness and a personal rebirth. These ideas of personal application are not a denial of the Reformation. Calvin talking about faith said “… man’s mind has to go beyond and rise above itself in order to attain it.”[1] No one can fairly accuse the Reformers of denying that personal holiness and personal faith in God were important. The Puritans were the heirs of this Reformation idea that “Christianity “is not apprehended merely by the intellect . . . but it is revealed only when it possesses the whole soul.””[2] The pietists were also influenced by the Anabaptists, who were the first real Congregationalists.[3] A good example of the Anabaptist influence on pietism were the Moravian and the communal living they did on the Zinzendorf estate. Not seeking to use rules of law to enforce Christianity in an ever increasingly secular world, instead the pietists preferred to seek community and preach to the world the personal Christ. It is precisely these two traits of the Pietist movement, the Congregationalists mentality and the idea of personal rebirth and call to holiness, that came from the Anabaptist and the Puritans, which set the stage for the great movers in the Great Awakening.

Johnathan Edwards said in his famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, that the reason he was drawn to reflect on the subject of hell very well might have been “… for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation.”[4] This idea of personal conversion was something that came from the Pietists understanding of God and the community of believers. It is important to notice that the Great Awakening was brought about by preachers and not statement, especially in America. People like John Winthrop, a statesman and preacher, along with the Great Puritan experiment had come and gone. To be sure there were the “Old Calvinists”[5] who were still doing church the old-fashioned way. However, the method of Edwards and Whitfield, in what would become America, and John Wesley in England was to bypass the ruling body and go straight to the people. John Wesley was known for speaking to several thousand people at a time in public for hours at a time. Goerge Whitfield is famed to have preached more 1000 sermons in one year. Clearly, the big movers in the Great Awakening are people that believed that Christianity was something a person could choose and they should also choose where to congregate. Something that is not a highlight of their sermons was instructions on which church to attend.

Just as the big preachers of the Great Awakenings were not focused on which church to attend, Wesley even left the Anglican church in order to found the Methodists, which is a highly congregational denomination, especially when compared to Anglicans. The big movers in the Great Awakening emphasized personal conversion.[6] Personal commitment and conversion, or turning to God from sin is, Lane argues, found in both the writings of Calvin and Philipp Jakob Spener, who Lane calls the founder of Pietism.[7] Clearly, some part or idea of personal conversion was held by the reformers and that became a central theme for the Pietists. This theme of personal conversion is also seen in Johnathan Edwards sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Edwards said that the “door of mercy” was “thrown … wide open” by Christ.[8] This was spoken of by Edwards in a personal invitation for the person to seek refuge themselves. There was no instruction by Edwards about seeking absolution, sacrifice, or sanctuary in a church, rather absolution, sacrifice, or sanctuary are found between the believer and Christ personally.

Congregationalism, personal holiness, and personal conversion are the main theological themes that flowed from the Reformation through the pietists to the preachers that sparked the great awakening. These themes found their home in the hearts of many, who lived in a world where the secular was challenging the sacred for control of the hearts of men. The institutionalism of Christendom had been left behind, but the world and each person still knew and will always know of their need for a savior. That personal savior is only Jesus Christ.

[1]. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion & 2, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. 1, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 559.

[2]. John Woodbridge and James A. Frank III. 2013. Church History, Volume Two: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day: The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 282.

[3]. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 248.

[4]. Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards,” Blue Letter Bible, , accessed March 26, 2019, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/edwards_jonathan/Sermons/Sinners.cfm

[5]. John Woodbridge and James A. Frank III. 2013. Church History, Volume Two: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day: The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 264.

[6]. Ibid, 276.

[7]. A N. S. Lane, “Conversion: A Comparison of Calvin and Spener,” Themelios 13, no. 1 (1987): 20.

[8]. Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards,” Blue Letter Bible, , accessed March 26, 2019, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/edwards_jonathan/Sermons/Sinners.cfm

Liberalism and Evangelicalism

Social Engagement Between Evangelicalism and Liberalism

The difference between Evangelical and Liberal social engagement is best summed up by looking at intent or authority. Both groups intend to make an impact in the world. The Evangelicals wanted to call people to join the orthodox Christian position without compromising that position. The issue really comes down to Biblical authority and inerrancy. The Evangelicals “… retained their belief in biblical inerrancy, but were more willing [than the fundamentalists] to engage the culture …”[1] On the other hand, Liberalism left behind the idea of inerrancy and “… made many new claims into which traditional Christianity had to be assimilated.”[2] The differences between Evangelicals and Liberals is the question, why Christianity? The Evangelicals in holding biblical inerrancy accepted the simple, biblical understanding that God intended the salvation of people “… to the praise of his glory.”[3] The Liberals, on the other hand, saw Christianity as the way to right the wrongs of the world. Machen was correct when he called Liberalism “a different religion from Christianity.”[4] In the liberal view, the general moral principles of scripture were first and foremost about making people better. The person need not even believe in the existence of God as long as religion gave them something to ground their life and moral decisions. For example, Paul Tillich (1886 – 1965) spoke of God as “being itself”[5] and many charged him with being practically an atheist.[6] Tillich’s God had been lost in transcendence to where he had no personality or power to do anything. Tillich’s Christianity was simply about helping people explain their existence. Tillich perfectly exemplifies the liberal purpose in using Christianity to engage social issues; making man the center of the question. Evangelicals on the other hand call men to make God the center of everything.

Similarities and differences between Carl F. H. Henry and Walter Rauschenbusch

Carl F. H. Henry

            Carl Henry was one of three great personalities behind the New Evangelical movement; the other two men were Harold J. Ockenga and Billy Graham.[7] Carl Henry was a Theologian and his emphasis was on maintaining an orthodox understanding of scripture without compromise while still engaging the world in a meaningful way. During his time at Fuller, he helped create the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) that welcomed Christian scholars in a “trans-denominational forum of evangelical scholarship.”[8] The one requirement for this society was the agreement on Biblical inerrancy.[9] Carl Henry’s reasons for helping to create this ecumenical  society were laid out in his work, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism in which he depicted the fundamentalist as having retreated from “the full gospel mission.”[10] Carl Henry engaged with scripture as the authority for Christianity and therefore he understood that the world needed a personal savior, because of personal sin.

Walter Rauschenbusch

If Carl Henry represented the new Orthodox Evangelicalism, Walter Rauschenbusch was the poster boy for Liberalism. Well known liberal Baptist pastor Harry Emerson Fosdick who preached a sermon titled “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?”,[11] said of Rauschenbusch that “he opened a new era in the thought and effort of American Christianity.”[12] The Liberal idea of Christianity, and certainly Rauschenbusch’s idea, was that Christianity was for social reform: righting the wrongs of the world. Reinhold Niebuhr referred to Rauschenbusch as “… the real founder of social Christianity …”[13] All of the men, Fosdick, Niebuhr and Rauschenbusch saw no need for orthodox beliefs and did not believe in inerrancy. Rauschenbusch’s approach to scripture was a mix of myth like Rudolf Bultmann,[14] and existentialism like Schleiermacher and Tillich. In Liberal theology, sin was a corporate thing and Rauschenbusch sought to “… reclaim the ‘sinner,’ America, for the kingdom of God.”[15] Rauschenbusch sought to use the church as a platform for justice reform to the end that the world would be changed for the better.[16] Rauschenbusch saw sin as a corporate malady that needed to be corrected.

The Strengths and Weaknesses of Both Approaches

Liberalism

The sides represented by Carl Henry, New Evangelicalism, and Walter Rauschenbusch, liberal, social Christianity, have, at the core, very different ideas about the purpose and application of Christianity. The Liberal goal was to “make Christianity palatable to a mindset that could no longer accept traditional orthodoxy.”[17] To do this, the liberal needed to reinterpret scripture in the light of modern thought and reappropriate orthodoxy.[18] This has the effect of more engagement as there are many who would call themselves a Christian for the purpose of change and would never believe what is traditionally Christian. The problem is that now, the liberal has redefined Christianity, so that fairly leaves open the critique that it is no longer Christianity, but something different. Liberalism becomes something that uses the words of Christianity, the ideas of Christianity and then perhaps some of the morals of Christianity, without the millennia-old meaning of Christianity. Put simply, Liberalism’s weakness is that it is not Christianity in the traditional sense. It may have some social application, but it is not concerned with real guilt before a real God.

Evangelicalism

            What is the nature of God? If the critique of Liberalism is that it does not deal with real guilt before a real God, then the question is what is this God? Carl Henry in speaking for the new Evangelicals based his arguments on the nature of God. If God was real with a mind and a will and that God had revealed himself, then scripture was about understanding and relating to God.[19] The strength of this approach is that it is traditionally Christian. It allows for the Word of God to be used as God intended it. It makes the person morally responsible before a personal God. This approach might be harder for the modern mind to digest; however, a traditionally Christian view, informed by the Bible, is that in the end, any form of Christianity will eventually just be foolishness to the world.[20]

Evangelicals and Fundamentalists

It is a difficult task to maintain an orthodox position and be culturally engaged. The reason that Evangelicals and Fundamentalists split was the difficulty engaging the world in a way that was conducive to conversation without leaving orthodox Christianity. At one time the words Evangelical and Fundamentalist were synonyms. The core tenant that both the Evangelical and the Fundamentalist movements held was that of the inerrancy of scripture. The differences came at first in the method of cultural engagement. Because of this difference about cultural engagement, “Carl Henry, along with others such as E.J. Carnell, George Eldon Ladd, and Paul K. Jewett, decided to launch a revised evangelicalism.”[21] The Fundamentalists would simply make inerrancy the dividing line and would not engage people that did not already accept inerrancy. On the other hand, Evangelicals felt constrained by scripture to be engaged without compromising. The Evangelicals, “… sought to defend and expound Christian evangelical orthodoxy in a way that avoided the vicious polemical tone of the past.”[22] Since the separation the Fundamentalist movement has further separated itself. At one time Fundamentalism was the new hope, but now, even in some Evangelical circles, it is a dirty word. Likewise, since the split, some accuse the Evangelicals of becoming more liberal. Future generations may find themselves with a need to redefine again.

 

Bibliography

[1]. John Woodbridge and James A. Frank III. 2013. Church History, Volume Two: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day: The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 807.

[2]. D. Jeffrey Bingham, Pocket History of the Church, The IVP Pocket Reference Series (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2002), 149–150.

[3]. Ephesians 1:12, ESV.

[4]. John Woodbridge and James A. Frank III. 2013. Church History, Volume Two: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day: The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 797.

[5]. Stanley J. Grenz and Roger E. Olson, 20th Century Theology: God & the World in a Transitional Age (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997). 124-125.

[6]. Stanley J. Grenz and Roger E. Olson, 20th Century Theology: God & the World in a Transitional Age (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997). 124-125.

[7]. John Woodbridge and James A. Frank III. 2013. Church History, Volume Two: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day: The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 807.

[8]. Ibid, 809.

[9]. Ibid, 809.

[10]. Ibid, 808.

[11]. John Woodbridge and James A. Frank III. 2013. Church History, Volume Two: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day: The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 800.

[12]. Ibid, 215.

[13]. Charles W (William)Weber. 2014. “The Relationship of Walter Rauschenbusch to Foreign Missions: The Social Gospel and Cultural Change.” American Baptist Quarterly 33 (2): 215.

[14]. Stanley J. Grenz and Roger E. Olson, 20th Century Theology: God & the World in a Transitional Age (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997). 89.

[15]. Charles W (William)Weber. 2014. “The Relationship of Walter Rauschenbusch to Foreign Missions: The Social Gospel and Cultural Change.” American Baptist Quarterly 33 (2): 215-216.

[16]. Scott E. Bryant. 2008. “The Optimistic Ecclesiology of Walter Rauschenbusch.” American Baptist Quarterly 27 (2): 117.

[17]. D. Jeffrey Bingham, Pocket History of the Church, The IVP Pocket Reference Series (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2002), 149–150.

[18]. Ibid, 149–150.

[19]. Stanley J. Grenz and Roger E. Olson, 20th Century Theology: God & the World in a Transitional Age (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997). 294.

[20]. 1 Corinthians 1:23.

[21]. Carl Trueman, “Uneasy Consciences and Critical Minds: What the Followers of Carl Henry Can Learn from Edward Said,” Themelios 30, no. 2 (2005): 33.

[22]. Ibid.

How did the Renaissance influence scriptural interpretation in such a way that it set up the Reformation?

What people wanted to know changed. The Renaissance signified the start of the shift from “the collective dreamlike life of medieval Christianity”[1] to the fully Enlightenment rejection of the validity of relational authority. The word Renaissance means rebirth and it is used to explain a remarkable renewal of interest in the “classical Greek and Roman civilization expressed in literature, politics and the arts.”[2] The idea behind the Renaissance is that a person could learn and know the truth for themselves; so, during this period a massive amount of importance was put on education especially in the classics. The impact of the Renaissance on the Reformation cannot be underestimated, there is probably much truth in the saying, “without the Renaissance, no Reformation.”[3] Without the general population being convinced they could discover the truth of an argument for themselves, the Reformation would have gone nowhere. This aspect of the Renaissance would probably best called the beginning of “secular individualism”[4] which would come to true power in the Enlightenment. The impact of the classics was the next piece that the Renaissance brought to Reformation. The Reformers first had a hard look at scripture and saw that there were many Roman Catholic practices that did not seem to add up. For Luther, this started with indulgences notable because of the strong attack on indulgences in the 95 Theses. The suspicions for Luther had to be confirmed when he studied Augustine, we know he was reading Augustine “as early as 1509,”[5] and the other church fathers and saw a very different perspective on grace and justification. It was these two forces, the idea that man could know the truth for himself and this emphasis on the classics, that impacted how the Reformers thought and looked at scripture and it was the affect of these on the culture at large that made Luther and the other reformers successful.

What is truth and how to know it; or, where does the authority rest? This was the questions of Scriptural interpretation in the Reformation period. In all reality, it was the question facing the world at large. The reformers were not the first to question if the authority of the church in matters of interpretation. Wycliffe and Jan Hus had already started the questioning about a century before Martin Luther’s debut in Wittenberg. However, Wycliffe and Hus met with little success with their ideas while Luther was very successful. The reason for Luther’s success was a cultural shift that brought about the idea that a person did not need the Bible explained to them, they could understand it for themselves. Tyndale’s zeal to see the Bible translated is an example of how this cultural imperative for people to examine the evidence for themselves had infiltrated the minds of the Reformers. Luther himself translated the scripture into German. Pettegree’s book Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion explained that the culture was ripe for the preaching, printing, the rhetoric of the Reformation to persuade them.[6] The Reformers task was the “liberation of scripture from all other forms of authority.”[7]

The influence of the classics meant that came from the Renaissance meant that Aristotelian categories of logic, Greek thinkers like Plato, and the church fathers were on the preview for analysis. As mentioned before, there is no doubt that Augustinian thought deeply impacted Luther’s interpretation of scripture.  The impact of the Renaissance of thought was that by the time Luther came on the scene the normal person already begun to have the idea that they could read the text for themselves and not have to ask for an explanation. They could understand. The common man no longer needed to be subservient to the clergy in matters of interpretation. This is why it is appropriate to call the Renaissance the beginning of secular individualism. The individual is now the interpreter. The Renaissance invention of the printing press stirred this fire into an inferno with the help of the Bible translators like Luther and Tyndale.

The great change in how the Bible was interpreted that was fueled by the Renaissance was first that with the rebirth of the classics into society came this idea that each person is able to seek and find the truth for himself. No longer did the Churches interpretation, that according to Luther was not reasonable, hold power. Now each person was called to seek and know for themselves the truth of it.

 

[1]. John Woodbridge, and James A. Frank III. 2013. Church History, Volume Two: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day: The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 75.

[2]. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 312.

[3]. John Woodbridge, and James A. Frank III. 2013. Church History, Volume Two: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day: The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 73.

[4]. John Woodbridge, and James A. Frank III. 2013. Church History, Volume Two: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day: The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 75.

[5]. Martin J. Lohrmann. “The Righteousness of Faith in the Earliest Luther.” Lutheran Quarterly 31, no. 3 (Fall 2017): 322.

[6] Peter Arnade. “Reformation and the Culture of Persuasion Andrew Pettegree.” The Sixteenth Century Journal 38, no. 3 (2007):

[7] Timmerman, Daniel. “Scripture and Pluralism; Reading the Bible in the Religiously Plural Worlds of the Middle Ages and Renaissance.” Sixteenth Century Journal 38, no. 3 (Fall 2007): 794.

Differences among the four main branches of the Reformation: Lutheran, Anabaptist, Reformed, and Anglican

What’s the same? 

When talking about the differences in Protestantism, it is also important to notice the similarities. All Protestants express a belief in the doctrine of justification by faith alone. That word alone is what sets Protestants apart from Roman Catholics at the most fundamental levels. No matter if it is faith, the authority of scripture, or the Glory of God, the word alone is the what sets the tone for Protestants. However, within Protestantism came the inevitable differences of opinion on how to interpret ecclesial authority in society, baptism, and the nature of the Lord’s Supper. There are many differences between the traditions however, focusing on the concepts of the Church and the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper will be a good method for highlighting the differences.

Lutheran

The post-Luther Lutherans did depart somewhat from the reformer himself.  Lutheranism from the perspective of the other branches of the Reformation might be considered Roman Catholic light. They exclude the prayers to the saints and marry in both Luther’s Catechism (1529) and The Formula of Concord (1576).[1] However, Lutheranism retained Baptismal regeneration,[2] confession,[3] transubstantiation: “… is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.”[4] It must be made clear that all these retentions from Roman Catholicism are not intended as contrary to the concept of justification by faith alone. For example, the idea of confession and absolution for a Lutheran is that the father confessor says “Dost thou believe that my forgiveness is the forgiveness of God?”[5] Instead of the Roman Catholic idea that a Priest has been ordained with powers to forgiving sins as an ‘alter Christus’ (another Christ),[6] in the Lutheran model the father confessor plays more of the role of witness or administrator of God’s forgiveness for the persons belief in Christ.

Anabaptist

    According to Shelley, the Anabaptists are alive today as the Mennonites and the Hutterites.[7] However, Shelley also points out that Anabaptist thinking influenced the Baptists, the Quakers, and the Congregationalists.[8] The Anabaptists got their turbulent start in Zurich in 1525.[9] They were characterized by two primary things, they did not see Christianity as a means to define society. Rather,

they discovered a different world in the pages of the New Testament. They found no state-church alliance, no Christendom. Instead, they discovered that the apostolic churches were companies of committed believers, communities of men and women who had freely and personally chosen to follow Jesus. And for the sixteenth century, that was a revolutionary idea.[10]

It was a revolutionary idea because all the other expressions of the Reformation sought to incorporate faith into society. What this means is that while Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican are properly compared to the Roman Catholic, the Anabaptists have to be seen as a step beyond the Reformation. Confessional baptisms were also at the core of Anabaptist expression.[11] The Reformed, led by Ulfric Zwingli in Zurich, went as far as drowning and expelling the Anabaptist. This highlights the vast difference between all the other expressions of Reformation Protestantism and the Anabaptists. Ulfric Zwingli, Luther, and Anglican confessions saw an integration between the church and government.

Reformed

            A well-rounded way to understand Reformedness is the Westminster Confession. While the later Lutheran catechism seems to avoid harshly expressing the idea of predestination, the Reformed made it part of the central doctrinal stance.[12] Lutherans’ baptized for regeneration, Anabaptist baptized for confession, and the Reformed baptized as a “sign and seal of the covenant of grace.”[13] According to Hodge, the Lord’s Supper in the thinking of Calvin goes like this, “Calvin denied the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist …”[14] Clearly, the early Reformed believed, like early Lutherans, that the government was to be used by the church to make Christian society. Good examples of this are Zwingli’s persecutions of the Anabaptist in Zurich and Calvin’s Geneva where it was a crime to miss Sunday service. By the time of Westminster Confession, there was still a call in the confession for the “civil magistrate [to see that] … peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed.”[15]

Anglican

            The Anglican expression is a state-sponsored church and the British Monarchy still hold the title of Defender of the Faith. The particular expression of Anglicanism was an outflowing of the British Monarchy rebelling against the Papal carte blanche. The Reformed practice infant baptism as a sign of the covenant, Anglicans baptize infants but as a “promise, when they come to age, themselves are bound to perform.[16]” The Lord’s Supper is the “body and blood of Christ, which are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful” [17]

 

 

[1]. Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with Translations, vol. 3 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), 70-190

[2]. Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with Translations, vol. 3 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), 184.

[3] Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with Translations, vol. 3 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), 90.

[4] Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with Translations, vol. 3 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), 90.

[5]. Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with Translations, vol. 3 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), 90.

[6]. Leonardo De Chirico, “The Blurring of Time Distinctions in Roman Catholicism,” Themelios 29, no. 2 (2004): 43.

[7]. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 246.

[8]. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 248.

[9]. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 246.

[10]. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 248–249.

[11]. Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, Updated 2nd ed. (Dallas, TX: Word Pub., 1995), 246.

[12]. Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with Translations, vol. 3 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), 608–609.

[13]. Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with Translations, vol. 3 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), 661–662.

[14]. Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 628.

[15]. Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with Translations, vol. 3 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), 653.

[16]. Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with Translations, vol. 3 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), 521.

[17]. Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with Translations, vol. 3 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), 521.