Separation of Church and State in George Gillespie’s Aaron’s Rod Blossoming, ed. Drake Tuesday, Jul 26 2011 

Separation of Church and State in George Gillespie’s Aaron’s Rod Blossoming, ed. Drake

A Timeline of the Scottish Reformation By Drake Shelton Sunday, Jul 24 2011 

This work is primarily based on Act, Declaration and Testimony by the Reformed Presbytery 1876 Part 1.

1536-John Knox is ordained a Roman Catholic Priest

Under the influence of George Wishart joins the Reformation Cause.

1547- Knox was taken prisoner by the French

1549- Knox was exiled to England on his release

Licensed in the Church of England

1556- Knox published his Book of Church order in 1556 in Geneva. Calvin approved of it in Geneva. This book becomes the Genevan Book of Church Order.

1557-1560- The Reformed Presbytery says,

“Their number, as well as their zealous spirit, still increasing, they, for the more effectual management of this noble enterprise, entered into covenants to advance that begun work of reformation, and to defend the same and one another in the maintenance thereof, against all opposition whatsoever. Several such covenants our early reformers solemnly entered into at Edinburgh, Perth and Leith, in the years 1557, ‘59, ‘60 and ‘62. In 1560, the Confession of the Faith, and doctrine believed and professed by the Protestants within the realm of Scotland, was compiled and civilly ratified, or allowed of, in free and open parliament, afterward sworn to the National Covenant anno 1580, 1581 and 1590.”

1567-1617- King James VI reigns and plots against the Reformation.  James VI passed the Black Acts (1584) to impose royal authority over the Kirk between 1584 and 1603. This Act prohibited ecclesiastical assemblies without the King’s consent.

1618-1621 James VI increased his pressures against the Reformation. The Reformed Presbytery says,

“Thus, after several former attempts to this effect, was episcopacy again established, and prelates lording over GOD’S heritage advanced, imposing their Popish ceremonies, which in that pretended assembly convened at Perth, anno 1618, were enacted, and afterwards ratified in a subsequent parliament, in the year 1621.”

1637-1638 – The Covenanters  in Scotland rose up against the efforts of their King and renewed the Reformed National Covenant in March of 1638.

1643- Westminster Assembly begins

1645- Directory for Public Worship published and approved; The Form of Presbyterial Church Government published and approved.

1646- Charles I surrendered to the Covenanter army after his General Montrose was defeated at Newark.

The Westminster Confession completed.

1647- The Larger and Shorter Catechisms are completed

1649- King Charles II appointed King upon condition of him taking the Covenants. The Reformed Presbytery states,

“Upon which the parliament of Scotland, on the 5th of February, 1649, caused proclaim his son Charles II, king of Great Britain, France, Ireland (which title he had assumed himself at the Hague, as soon as the report of his father’s death came to his ears), promising their fidelity and defence of his person and authority, according to the National Covenant, and the Solemn League and Covenant. And in the same time declaring, that before he be admitted to the exercise of the royal power, he shall give security for the preservation and maintenance of the true reformed religion, and unity of the kingdoms, now established, by laws both civil and ecclesiastical, according to the covenants: which security for religion and liberty, at the first proposed treaty at the Hague, he deferred to grant, and afterward postponed the signing of the treaty at Breda, when everything was agreed upon, from the great hopes he entertained of accomplishing his design, without acquiescing with their demand from Montrose’s expedition, whom he had sent into Scotland with an army, in order to prepare his way into that kingdom, by devastation with fire and sword. But this intrigue not succeeding, he found himself obliged to comply with all their proposals, and signed the treaty. This treaty the king did in effect break, before he left Breda, by communicating after the episcopal manner, contrary to the express warning and remonstrance of the commissioners from the church of Scotland, who went to him, and showed him his sin in so doing, and how inconsistant it was with his own concessions in the sent treaty; and an evidence that he had no intention to perform what he had agreed to, but dissembled with GOD and man; and he, on the other hand, put them off with sham excuses and professions; and so, from their too much credulity to his fraudulent professions and promises all along, they brought him over to Scotland, and before his landing in this kingdom, he takes the covenant at Spey, on the 23rd of June, 1649, by his oath subjoined in allowance and approbation of the Covenants National, and Solemn League, obliging himself faithfully to prosecute the ends thereof in his station and calling; and for himself and successors, he shall agree to all acts of parliament enjoining the same, and establishing presbyterial church government, the directory for worship, confession of faith and catechisms, in the kingdom of Scotland, as approven by the General Assemblies of this kirk, and parliament of this kingdom. And for their further satisfaction, according to the act of the West Kirk, Edinburgh, August 13th, 1650, approven the same day by the committee of estates, he emitted a declaration at Dunfermline, by profession, fully and heartily acquiescing with all their demands; all which afterward served for nothing but as a lasting monument of his horrid perjury, wicked dissimulation, and mockery of God and man. And even then, when this declaration was published, he had formed a design for bringing in the enemies of the covenant, and work of reformation, both into the army and judicatories, and for dividing the Presbyterians among themselves. And this he effectually managed for both foresaid ends, by the public resolutions, on the 14th of December, that same year, 1650. This woful and prime step of defection, so contrary to the word, and injurious to the work of God, was faithfully testified against by many, both ministers, and whole presbyteries, who were sensible of the present sinfulness and evil of it, and foresaw the bitter and dismal consequences that followed upon it.”

1650- 1651- Protestor-Resolutioner Controversy. The Resolutioners compromised the Covenants. This is followed by Cromwell’s persecution. The Reformed Presbytery says,

“The daughter of Zion, thus going forth in the perfection of her beauty, when all ranks and degrees voluntarily subjected themselves unto the Royal Scepter of the SON of GOD, was most comely in the eyes of her Beloved: but oh! how is the gold become dim, and the most fine gold changed; the stones of the sanctuary are poured out on the top of every street, so that the house that was called of all people the house of prayer, is now become a den of thieves, being no less infamously despicable for deformation, than formerly for purity of reformation highly admired. This, at first, began with the public resolutions of the commission of the General Assembly, 1650, above noticed, for taking into places of power and trust, in judicatories and armies, such persons as were known malignants, and in heart disaffected to the work, and people of GOD, putting it in their power to destroy and full down the LORD’S work at their pleasure; a practice manifestly inconsistent with their covenant engagements, and the word of GOD, Deut. 13:9, 2 Chron 19:2. Those that were then called protesters (from their opposing and protesting against these resolutions), continued steadfastly to witness against the same, as the first remarkable step, to make way for that bloody catastrophe, that afterwards befel the church. The Lord, then, in his righteous displeasure and controversy with the nation, for betraying of his cause and interest into the hands of his enemies, sold them into the hand of that conquering usurper, Oliver Cromwell, who, having stripped them of their civil liberties, as the most effectual method to rob the church of her spiritual privileges, and nullify, the forcible obligation of the sacred covenants (which, when preserved, serve as a strong barrier against all such usurpations), framed a hellish and almost unbounded toleration in Scotland, of heretical and sectarian errors, for gratification of the abettors thereof, which was followed with a deluge of irreligion and impiety, drowning the nation in a still deeper apostacy.”

1660- Beginning of 28 Years Persecution- Charles II was restored to his throne after Cromwell’s death.  He breaks his allegiance to the Presbyterian Covenants which gained him his throne to begin with.  

1661-1662- Erastianism was established and all the efforts to Reform Scotland are repealed. The Reformed Presbytery says,

“In the second session of the pretended parliament, anno 1662, diocesan Erastian prelacy is established, and the king solemnly invested with the church’s headship, by act of parliament; wherein it is blasphemously declared, “That “the ordering and disposal of the external government and “policy of the church, doth properly belong unto his majesty “as an inherent right of the crown, by virtue of his royal “prerogative and supremacy in all causes ecclesiastical.” ”

400 Scottish Presbyterian Ministers ejected from their offices (1662).  2000 Puritan ministers are ejected in England.

1662-1675 The Covenanters were persecuted, and met for true worship in fields. As God’s persecuted people they grew in number and godliness.

1678- An army was convened to suppress Puritan worship.

1679-  The Lord delivers the Covenanters from an attack by Claverhouse. The Reformed Presbytery states,

“This christian valor was followed with the LORD’Sappearance for them, in a re,markable manner, on the following Sabbath at Drumclog, near Lowdonhill, where being attacked by Claverhouse, when attending on public worship, they completely routed him and his troops, rescued Mr. John King, and a number of other prisoners, whom Claverhouse had seized that morning from their hands. ”

1680- Richard Cameron preaches the Sanquhar Declaration which called for war against Charles II and a restoration of the ecclesiastical order which had existed between 1638 and 1649. He was killed later that same year defending his cause.

1684-1685- The most intense period of persecution. Charles II died.
1685- The Covenanters

“published another declaration at Sanquhar, May 28, 1685; wherein, approving of, and adhering to all their former, and considering that James, duke of York, a professed and excommunicated papist” [The Reformed Presbytery]

1685-James VII becomes King

1686- Romanists were give free practice-

“For, before this, by the king’s letter to his privy council, of August 21st, 1686, papists were allowed the free exercise of their religion, the council required to support and maintain them therein, and the royal chapel at Holyrood House ordered to be repaired for popish service.” [The Reformed Presbytery]

1687-James VII passes the Declaration of Indulgence- to promote a more tolerant view of the Sate,

“granting a royal toleration to moderate Presbyterians, dogged with a number of grievous Erastian conditions and restrictions, as usual. Secondly, to Quakers and other enthusiasts. Thirdly, to Papists, abrogating all penal statutes made against them, and making therein all respects free.”  [The Reformed Presbytery]

Yet the Covenanters were still sought after and persecuted.

1688-1689 William of Orange and the Glorious Revolution (Orange is Southern France; He was French with a Dutch army). William was a Protestant and invaded England at the request of English Protestants.

1689-1690- General Assembly – The Covenanters presented to the assembly by Mr. Thomas Linning, with desire to come into union with them

“a paper to that assembly, bearing on what terms they and their people would join in communion with them; only craving, that they might all join in humbling themselves before the LORD, and acknowledge and bewail their fathers’, their own, and the land’s many and heinous iniquities, and breaches of covenant before they proceeded to any other business, and so have their public sins, and scandalous compliances washed away by repentance, and calling upon the name of the LORD JESUS.” [The Reformed Presbytery]

They refused. The Covenanters who followed Richard Cameron called for separation from the then Church of Scotland and began a new Church after 1690.

The Reformed View of Schism by Andrew Clarkson Sunday, Jul 24 2011 

This is a great defense of the Puritan Reformation’s doctrine of Separation and the ridiculous accusations of Schism. Thanks SWRB.COM !

The Reformed View of Schism

by Andrew Clarkson

(Being pages 177-221 from Plain Reasons for Presbyterians Dissenting from the Revolution Church of Scotland. Also, Their Principles Concerning Civil Government, and the Difference Betwixt the Reformation and Revolution Principles(1731)


“Now, to set the whole of this Business in a more clear Light, confirm Dissenters, and perswade others of the Justness and Validity of their Cause, and to show that they are not singular in their Opinion; I shall adduce a few concurring Testimonies of some learned Divines, plainly testifying what is Schism, what are justifiable Grounds of Separation from a backsliding Church, and who deserve justly to be reputed Schismaticks…

II. Mr. Rutherford, in Due Right of Presbytery, Page 255, as cited in Apologetical Relation, Page 293, says — When the greatest Part of a Church maketh Defection from the Truth, the lesser Part remaining sound, the greatest Part is the Church of Separatists…The Apologetical adds, So that it is the Major Part which hath made Defection, that is to be accounted Separatists, and not such as stand to their Principles tho’ they cannot comply, or join with the corrupt Majority…

III. Mr. George Gillespie, in his Miscellany Questions printed 1649, Page 28, says…(3.) We shall heartily accord, that a Heretical or Schismatical Church hath not just Right to the Liberty and Privilege of a sound Church…In Page 156, he adds, —Christ will have a great Controversy against a Church which hath false Doctrines and pernicious Sects in it, altho’ there were never a scandalous Person more in it. We must turn away from, and avoid the Fellowship of false Teachers; not only that we may be stedfast in the Truth, but that our Hearts may be established with Grace: For there are such Reasons given in Scripture, for avoiding the Company of that kind of Men, as highly concern Piety; Avoid them, because they serve not Christ, but their own Bellies, Rom 17:17,18. From such turn away, because they are Men of corrupt Minds, supposing Gain to be Godliness; and their Disputings breed Envy, Strife, Railings, evil surmisings, I Tim, 6:4,5. Receive them not into your Houses, who bring not the Doctrine of Christ, because such have not God, 2 John v. 10,11.

From Page 120 to 134, he detects the Fallacy of new Lights, which is become a beguiling Word, and exhorts to beware, (1.) Of new Light, which expelleth not only the old Darkness, but much of the good old Light. (2.) Those new Lights, which not only expel much of the good old Light, but bring in gross Egyptian Darkness, Isa 3:20…(5.) To take heed of proud and lofty, and self-conceited new Lights, ICor 14:32,33. (6.) Of separating new Lights, to separate from, or gather Churches out of the true reformed or reforming Churches, hath not the least Warrant from the Word of God. (7.) Those new Lights, which dare not be seen, and are kept up in corners, Matth 5:15. I John 3:20,21. Prov 4:14. (8.) Refuse such new Lights, as have Fellowship with the unfruitful Works of Darkness, Eph 5:11. It is a deceitful new Light, which makes Men forbear to reprove, speak or petition against these Evils, in a State which their Consciences know to be sinful, and to wink at such Things as publickly dishonour God is a Nation, upon Hopes that themselves shall be winked at and tolerated, 2 Cor 6:14. (9.) Those new Lights, which let Men see nothing better, which bring no Edification: Let all things be done to Edifying, I Cor 14:26. (10.) He exhorts to take good Heed of those new Lights, which follow new interests, I Kings 12:26. Numb 12:15,16,20. I Tim 6:5. because there are some who suppose new Interests to be new Lights (as in the Case of Abjuration-Oaths, and Presentations from Patrons, &c.)

IV. Mr. David Dickson, in his Therapeutica Sacra, Page 578, says, — We put some Difference betwixt Errors in Doctrine, and Errors in Practice; albeit there cannot be one Error in Practice, whether it be in the external Worship or Government of the Church, or in outward Conversation, which being stiffly maintained, hath not some Error in Judgment and Doctrine joined with it That this Church does stiffly maintain her Erastian Constitution, and whole Course of Compliance, is plain. Hence Error in judgment and Doctrine must be joined with that course…The 3d Sign of Delusion is, the causing Divisions and Offences in the visible Church needlessly…In which the Apostle doth exhort the Romans, however they should pity the misled Multitude, yet carefully to mark the Causers of the Division, Rom 16:17…

VI. Mr. Robert McWard, in his Earnest Contendings against Mr. Fleming, Page 258,259, says, Sir, why do you decline, in speaking of Division in a Church, to make Use of the Phrase of the Holy Ghost in the Case, Rom. 16:17. Now, I beseech you Brethren, saith he, mark them which cause Divisions and Offences, contrary to the Doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them. And I may say, I beseech you, Sir, Mark what here is said, for I am content these blessed Words decide betwixt you and me: For, as they characterize the Persons dividing far otherwise than you do, who, do it not at all, by these Words, which cause Divisions and Offences, &c. so the Command to avoid them, who are thus characterized, hath all in it I plead in the case, and is a sufficient Warrant for my Practice (and also for the Practice of Dissenters.) And hence I might, and do thus argue from the Words of the Holy Ghost, Such as cause Divisions and Offences, contrary to the Doctrine which we have learned, are to be marked and avoided (in so far as they cause Divisions;) but the Indulged, for whom you plead, are such: Ergo. The Proposition is the Words of the Holy Ghost. The Minor hath been made evident, by what hath been said before, wherein it hath been evinced, how the Indulged have caused Divisions and Offences, contrary to the known and acknowledged Doctrine of the Church of Scotland; Therefore they are to be avoided by all who desire to be found faithful to the Principles of our Church: And so, Sir, you see I am led by the Word to the outmost Length of that Opposition which I design: And I am warranted (consequently Presbyterian Dissenters) to stand aloof from all Compliance with what you drive; which I further make out thus, Whosoever pleads for not avoiding them, but for an Union with them, who have caused Divisions and Offences, contrary to the Doctrine which we have learned, contradicts the very Letter of the Scripture, and the Scope of the Holy Ghost, and therefore are not to be complied with, nor listened unto: But such is your pleading for Men who have caused Divisions and Offences; Ergo. The Major you will not deny, and the Minor is already proved, and is evident in Matter of Fact, yea, and is that which principally must give Life and Strength to all that ever you yourself said against the Indulgence: And so I have all that I would, and am content that this, Text decide the Debate betwixt you and me. Moreover, Sir, feeling there is a Division, either you must say, That the Indulged, for whom you plead, have not caused these Divisions and Offences, contrary to the Doctrine which we have learned and so are not to be avoided; or, that we, who oppose them, have caused these Divisions and Offences, in opposing Men who, in all their Actings, have adhered to the Doctrine of the Church of Scotland, and that we, for our Opposition to Men valiant for the Truth, truly loyal for Jesus Christ, and zealous for the Doctrine of the Church of Scotland, are to be marked and avoided. Sir, I leave you here to make an Election; and am hopeful you shall find yourself mired, which Part soever you choose.

VII. Mr. Walter Marshal Gospel Mystery of Sanctification printed 1692 from Page 310 to 314. says—Follow no Church any further, than you may follow it in the way of Christ, and keep Fellowship with it, only upon the Account of Christ, because it follows Christ (surely such as betray and bury the Cause and Truth of Christ, cannot be said to follow and keep the Way of Christ) and has Fellowship with Christ, I John 1:3, Zech 8:23. If a Church revolt from Christ, (as this present Church has done, in deserting the covenanted Reformation) we must not follow it, how ancient so ever it be, as the Israelitish Church was not to be followed, when it persecuted Christ and his Apostles (which so far confirms what is above said upon their Point) and many by adhering to that Church fell from Christ, Phil 3:6, Acts 6:13,14. and 21:28. We are indeed to hear the Church, but not every one that calls itself so, nor none any further than it speaks as a true Church, according to the Voice of the Shepherd, John 10:27. We must subject ourselves to Ministers of Christ, and Stewards of his Mysteries. I Cor 4:1. But must give up ourselves to Christ first absolutely, and to the Church according to the Will of Christ, 2 Cor 8:5. Our Fear (which is very much in Fashion with this Church) must not be taught by the Precepts of Men, Matth 15:9. The Doctrines of any Men are to be tried by Scripture, whatever Authority they pretend to, Acts 17:11. An unlimited Following Church-Guides, brought the Church into Babylon, and into all Manner of spiritual Whoredoms and Abominations; you are not baptised into the Name of the Church, but into the Name of Christ, I Cor 1:13—Keep Communion with a Church for the Sake of Communion with Christ, I John 1:3, Zech 8:23. Therefore you must keep Communion in Christ’s pure Ways only, and in them seek Christ by Faith, &c. — Chuse therefore Fellowship with the most spiritual Churches, Judge of Churches and Men, according to the Rule of the New Creature, 2 Cor. 5:16,17. and try them, Rev. 2:2 and 3:9. otherwise a Church may corrupt you — I only add — that Church-Fellowship, without practicing the Ways of Christ (which this Church cannot be said to do, even many of themselves, and Assembly-Acts being Judges) is but a Conspiracy to take his Name in vain, and a counterfeit Church-fellowship of Hypocrites: It is Impudence to invite others to their Communion, and Tyranny to compel them. Every Christian is bound to seek a better Church-fellowship by Reformation; and those that do so, are the best Sons of Christ’s Church, who inquire, is this the Way to enjoy Christ? A Church-way being appointed to enjoy Christ therein; especially leave not the Church in Persecution (as the Indulged and Tolerated, &c. did in the late Times) when you need its Help most, and are then most tried whether you will cleave to it, this is a Sign of Apostasy, Heb. 10:25,26. Matth. 24:9,10, —13. We should cleave to one another as one Flesh, even to Prisons and Death, or else we deny Christ and his Members, Matth.25:43…

IX. Mr John Cotton, in Exposition on John I Espistle, printed 1658, Page 385. says — Sometime we must be content to part with the very Ordinances themselves; if we cannot enjoy the Ordinances of God in Purity without Sin, (which is the very case with Presbyterian Dissenters in my Opinion) let us part with them all: So, when the Priests could not enjoy the Liberty of their Places in Jeroboam’s Days, except they would offer Sacrifice in their Course to the Golden Calves, which were the Image of the Cherubims, they left all and came up to Jerusalem, 2 Chron. 11:14. where they might enjoy God’s Ordinances in Purity; and, as the Priests did, so did the People, v.16, and Christ wisheth them, Cant. 1. 7,8 which is spoken of Jeroboam’s Days. And so in Case we cannot have the Liberty of the Ordinances, without some Impurity, which may defile the Conscience, in this Case, part with all; for we come not to the Ordinances for the Ordinances Sake, but for Christ’s Sake; therefore, if we cannot have them without Sin, in this Case part with them.

X. Mr. John Owen, in his Inquiry into the Nature and Communion of Evangelick Churches, printed 1681, Page 180, says — Where is any Church that have taught, or allowed a Mixture of Doctrines or Opinions, that are prejudicial to Gospel-holiness or Obedience? No Man that takes due Care of his Salvation, can join himself to it, when the Fundamentals of religious Worship are corrupted or overthrown, it is absolutely unlawful to join unto, or abide in any Church.

Was Oliver Cromwell a Judgment on the Scottish Reformation? Friday, Jul 22 2011 

I recently had an Orthodox friend object to the Scottish Reformation:
“That is why God sent Cromwell and James II and Claverhouse, to discipline you.”

No, no, no. You do not know your Scottish Church History. These came after the Protester-Resolutioner Controversies where the Resolutioners were apostatizing from the Reformation attained between 1638 and 1650. The Reformed Presbytery in their Act, Declaration and Testimony Part 1 speak to this in detail.

“The daughter of Zion, thus going forth in the perfection of her beauty, when all ranks and degrees voluntarily subjected themselves unto the Royal Scepter of the SON of GOD, was most comely in the eyes of her Beloved: but oh! how is the gold become dim, and the most fine gold changed; the stones of the sanctuary are poured out on the top of every street, so that the house that was called of all people the house of prayer, is now become a den of thieves, being no less infamously despicable for deformation, than formerly for purity of reformation highly admired. This, at first, began with the public resolutions of the commission of the General Assembly, 1650, above noticed, for taking into places of power and trust, in judicatories and armies, such persons as were known malignants, and in heart disaffected to the work, and people of GOD, putting it in their power to destroy and full down the LORD’S work at their pleasure; a practice manifestly inconsistent with their covenant engagements, and the word of GOD, Deut. 13:9, 2 Chron 19:2. Those that were then called protesters (from their opposing and protesting against these resolutions), continued steadfastly to witness against the same, as the first remarkable step, to make way for that bloody catastrophe, that afterwards befel the church. The Lord, then, in his righteous displeasure and controversy with the nation, for betraying of his cause and interest into the hands of his enemies, sold them into the hand of that conquering usurper, Oliver Cromwell, who, having stripped them of their civil liberties, as the most effectual method to rob the church of her spiritual privileges, and nullify, the forcible obligation of the sacred covenants (which, when preserved, serve as a strong barrier against all such usurpations), framed a hellish and almost unbounded toleration in Scotland, of heretical and sectarian errors, for gratification of the abettors thereof, which was followed with a deluge of irreligion and impiety, drowning the nation in a still deeper apostacy.”

Also in 1679, a meeting of the Puritanic remnant met to publish testimonies against the apostates:

“This christian valor was followed with the LORD’Sappearance for them, in a remarkable manner, on the following Sabbath at Drumclog, near Lowdonhill, where being attacked by Claverhouse, when attending on public worship, they completely routed him and his troops, rescued Mr. John King, and a number of other prisoners, whom Claverhouse had seized that morning from their hands. ”

Eastern Orthodox Reformation by Paul Dan Tuesday, Jul 19 2011

This gentleman was converted under the ministry of a man named Tudor Popescu. Dan explains the Reformation in Romania in his essay,

“God worked a reformation within the Eastern Orthodox Church of Romania through the Orthodox Priest Tudor Popescu. He was born on January 12, 1887, in Dumbrava, a village near Ploiesti, a  city in southeastern Romania. His encounter with Christ was not influenced by Evangelicals of Romania…One Sunday, Tudor was preaching an apocalyptic message where the wrath of God was coming down with devastation over the sinners, but the crucified Christ was between God and  the sinners, being their refuge. Suddenly it dawned on him that Christ died specifically for the sins of the people…For the first time, the Apostle’s Creed made sense to him, that Christ died for our sins…People were converted and experienced deliverance…Fellow Orthodox priests envied him for his success and reported him to the Patriarchy, the highest E. Orthodox authority, accusing him of changing the liturgy. After a long process, he was excluded from the Orthodox Church. He started his own ministry with the converts from his former parish. A rich young lady by the name of Miss Ghica, supported most of the cost for the construction of a two-story building as a headquarters and auditorium for the new movement. Today, at 48 Carol Davila Street, Bucharest, Romania the building is still in place, with the same function. The sanctuary holds 1,000 people although in the beginning they had only 40 attendees. This reformation within the Eastern Orthodoxy of Romania is in full agreement with the motto: Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia.

Paul Dan goes on to refute the Eastern Church by pointing out the same stuff I have been saying for a while now: Dionysius the Areopagite and Neoplatonism.  His comments about Dionysius and Neoplatonism are spot on. I just discovered him and the Romanian reformed today and to see these guys coming to the same conclusions I did on the East completely separate from each other convinces me more away from the Eastern Church. I am waiting for correspondence with this gentleman.

Puritan Christian History in Scotland by the Reformed Presbytery Tuesday, Jul 19 2011 

Act Declaration and Testimony by The Reformed Presbytery 1876

This is the best summary of the history of the Reformation in Scotland I have ever read. From the Culdees to Knox to the tyranny of James to the National Covenant to the defeat of the Prelatical cause’s army headed by Montrose,  to the perjury of Charles II, the persecutions and the apostasy.  It’s all in one place for you. And that is just Part 1 ! This book is rocking my world!

Scripturalism and the Sacrament, by Drake Friday, Jul 15 2011 

What Happens at the Consecration of the Elements of the Lord’s Supper?

Calvin’s Inst. 4.17.39

“This most admirably confirms what I elsewhere said—viz. that there cannot be a right administration of the Supper without the word. Any utility which we derive from the Supper requires the word. Whether we are to be confirmed in faith, or exercised in confession, or aroused to duty, there is need of preaching. Nothing, therefore, can be more preposterous than to convert the Supper into a dumb action. This is done under the tyranny of the Pope, the whole effect of consecration being made to depend on the intention of the priest, as if it in no way concerned the people, to whom especially the mystery ought to have been explained. This error has originated from not observing that those promises by which consecration is effected are intended, not for the elements themselves, but for those who receive them. Christ does not address the bread and tell it to become his body, but bids his disciples eat, and promises them the communion of his body and blood.”

The issue is not whether it is ok to consecrate the elements but what the definition of consecration is. The elements of bread and wine are by the promises and words of institution set apart for a sacramental use. This is against the Papist and Eastern  idea of consecration which methinks is indicative of the Neoplatonism that so permeates the ancient churches and modern day “Protestantism”. “Encounter” with Christ is not a mystic trance which is exactly what the Anchoretic churches make of the Sacrament. Encounter with Christ is always accompanied by propositional revelation. This is why I take Gordon Clark’s view of Epistemology. Saving Faith and Encounter with Christ is to have the Logos impressed univocally upon man with understanding not some fiducial state that is methinks indistinguishable from Plotinus’ ecstatic vision of the One.

A Scripturalist Proposal of Union with Christ Wednesday, Jul 13 2011 

Vladimir Lossky criticizes Western Trinitarianism by saying,

“The personal relationship of man to the living God is no longer a relationship to the Trinity, but rather has as its object the person of Christ, who reveals to us the divine nature. Christian life and thought become christocentric, relying primarily upon the humanity of the incarnate Word; one might almost say that it is” this which becomes their anchor of salvation.” (Lossky, Vladamir, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church Chapter 3 (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press: Crestwood, NY, 1976) [I accessed this here: pg. 64-65)

Perry Robinson, a popular Eastern Apologist made the complaint on the Called to Communion Blog:

“I realize that union is not foreign to the Reformers, but there are many notions of union. For example, Cyril and Nestorius both believe in a union in and with Christ, but they differed on what constituted the union. So my question is, what constitutes the union? Saying it is “mystical” doesn’t really do that work. I am aware of the debate with Osiander and a denial of a union to the divine essence. but then to what is one united that is deity if there is nothing more to God for the Reformers than the divine essence?”

Imputation and Infusion: A Reply to R.C. Sproul Jr. by Bryan Cross, comment 31

So what does it mean to be united to Christ? First, it means that the Ideas in the Logos are directly and univocally impressed upon the mind of a man. Isa 53:11 By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many. This is a real participation in God. In this sense salvation is not a metaphysical issue in the sense that human nature was being sucked down into annihilation by sin and Christ ontologically raised the human genus to immortality. It is metaphysical at the level of hypostasis that men really participate in God; in specific the Logos.  These Ideas are not just general propositions that all men receive but the propositions of special revelation. When man believes these things revealed by God there is a real union made between that man and Christ. The Scriptures speak of this as having the law written on the heart. (2 Cor 3:3)  No doubt the Scholastic and the Easterner will flip the script when they read this so I have provided articles here and here in reply regarding the Logos and Saving Faith.Secondly, union with Christ  means that Christ represents you in the Covenant of Redemption. This is a Representational Union. See Samuel Rutherford, Covenant of Life Opened and my article concerning it here.

This is not to remove the agency of the Holy Spirit. Calvin says,

“Paul, in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom. 8:9-11), shows that the only way in which Christ dwells in us is by his Spirit. By this, however, he does not take away that communion of flesh and blood of which we now speak, but shows that it is owing to the Spirit alone that we possess Christ wholly, and have him abiding in us.” Inst. 4.17.12

Just as 2 Cor 3:3, in fulfillment of OT prophecy describes those who have the law of God written on their hearts, it explains the agency of the Holy Spirit as the one who writes it. Therefore, Christ, the Logos, the Wisdom of God  (1 Cor 1:24), is written univocally in the heart of man by the Holy Spirit. This is a real union and provides the basis of a hypostatic union between God and man in Christ.  Now can the Traditional Thomistic Western Philosophy or the Eastern Hesychast philosophy produce a view of God and Man that provides real participation?  


“Theodore, then, to his own thinking, was only being consistent when he taught  that the human nature of Jesus was essentially distinct from the divine nature of  the Son-Logos.  Because he understood hypostasis as referring to the concrete instance of a nature (in the sense that a person is a concrete instance, a particular expression, of human nature), and because, according to his fundamental understanding concerning the radical “other-ness” of God, he insisted that the divine and human natures could not be hypostatically joined without corruption of the divine, Theodore held that there is an inhering dualism in Christ’s person.  Accordingly, he taught that we must think of Christ’s union not as a hypostatic one (that is, of substance) but as a prosopic one (that is, of manifestation and benevolence).  Prosopon means “face,” “role” (referring to drama as well as to social status), or “person,” in the societal-functional sense –i.e., what one does.  And the concept he used to explain how this prosopic union came to be and remains intact is “assumption.” pg. 27

This is precisely the opposite of what Scripturalism teaches. We believe in a univocal participation in God and deny that God is totally other as the Van Tillians, the Scholastics  and the Neoplatonist East teaches. Gordon Clark says in Three Types of Religious Philosophy [(Jefferson Maryland, The Trinity Foundation, 1989) pg. 123 –Dogmatism-Realism]

“To be sure, Christian dogmatism does not accept the unaltered World of Platonic Ideas. The Philonic Interpretation is better. [By the way Philo’s construction posited the Ideas in the mind of God. DS] Still better is the replacement of Ideas (minus predicates) by propositions or truths…Christian dogmatism therefore must be realistic. The real object of knowledge is itself present to the mind…There are of course other thoughts, objects, or realities. Every Biblical Proposition is one. These never change nor go out of existence, FOR THEY ARE THE CONSTITUENTS OF GOD’S MIND…We know God directly for in him we live and move and have our being.”

Perry Robinson complains about the Scholastic Reformed view of Epistemology and its relation to participation in God,

“It is also interesting that McCormack recognizes that Chalcedonian Christology, the teaching of one of the four councils the Reformed have long claimed adherence to, is not fundamentally their own and was not meant to support their soteriological viewpoint, but rather one very different. His earlier comments about theosis make it obvious I think which soteriological model it was designed to support. The Reformed it seems are caught in a pickle as McCormack frames it. Either abandon their distinctive tradition, which requires them to adhere to Chalcedon, because it isn’t compatible with Chalcedon, or abandon their tradition because it isn’t compatible with Chalcedon and endorse Chalcedon. So either you can have orthodox Christology but not Reformed soteriological distinctives or you pledge fealty to a deformed Christ in order to maintain Reformed soteriological distinctives.

Here we have two traditions concerning Christ which frame the way we interpret the Bible at odds. Recall McCormack’s mentioning that the Lutherans and the Reformed are trying to find somthing like theosis “in their own church fathers.” The question is, which tradition will you choose? Because they frame the way we read the Bible there is no non-circular interpretative methodology we can appeal to to settle the matter. And neither can we simply appeal to the text of the Bible without such a method. There simply do not exist any Christologically neutral interpretative methodology to appeal to. So I ask my Reformed readers, which will you choose?

I’d bet on the Fathers of Chalcedon myself.”

Jay Dyer, commenting quotes Turretin,

“For the Son of God only is ‘the image of the invisible God’ (Col 1:15)-the essential and natural, and no mortal can attain to it because the finite cannot be a partaker of the infinite. And if we are said by grace to be ‘partakers of the divine nature’ (2 Pet 1:4), this is not to be understood of an essential, formal and instrinsic participation, but an analogical, accidental and extrinsic participation (by reason of the effects analogous to the divine perfections which are produced in us by the Spirit after the image of God).” Institutes of Eclenctic Theology vol. 1, p. 465″

Jay: This would necessitate that in the Incarnation there is only an extrinsic, accidental union. Total Nestorianism.”

We Scripturalists have abandoned the view of Epistemology and Saving Faith as the Reformed Scholastics. We posit a direct, univocal and real participation in God. Can the East’s Hesychasm  transport man’s nature this high? They will say: THE ENERGIES THE ENERGIES! But what are the energies? Do they support a real participation in God?  Lossky refers to the energies as

“another mode of the divine existence outside the essence of God, the mode of grace, in which God communicates Himself and manifests Himself….far from being a separation or division of God into two parts, communicable and incommunicable, is an inevitable theological postulate if we wish to maintain the real and not just the metaphorical character of deification, without suppressing created being within the divine essence (The Vision of God, pg. 166)… Farrell speaks of the Energies as “rational principles”, “around” God’s Essence.

Earlier Lossky said of the Energies,

“Divinity is manifested fully and is wholly present in the dunameis, but created beings participate in it in the proportion or analogy proper to each one, hence the hierarchical order of the universe, which develops in an order of decreasing participations, of decreasing analogies in created beings. Dionysius’ hierarchy definitely does not limit the plentitude of union; at every step of this ladder the union with God is realized fully, but the plentitude is not uniform, it is personal. In the analogy of each created nature there is an encounter, a synergy of two wills” (pg. 125)”

So on their view, the human nature of Christ analogically participated in a mode outside of God’s essence. Two problems: 1. The human nature never participates in the essence. 2. To posit participation in God as analogy is to posit no participation in God at all. See Clark, The Bible as Truth; Therefore, no hypostatic union. I am very aware that Clark, or at least Robbins constructed a two person view of Christ. I do not think they were aware of the huge Theological issues that Clark’s change in Reformed Philosophy implied. They were professional academicians not Theologians. Therefore, as comprehended as united to Christ univocally in faith, the elect are justified. For it is the Ideas in the mind of the Logos that are the objects of  justification (Isa 53:11). At this point the reader should refer to my articles on the Logos and Saving Faith.

Calvin on the Christological Issues that Concern the Lord’s Supper Tuesday, Jul 12 2011 

Is Christ’s Flesh Life Giving?

Calvin and Augustine on Christ’s Presence When an Unbeliever Eats the Sacrament

A Corporal/Substantial Presence of Christ’s Body in the Sacrament is Marcion’s Doceticism

Is the Sacrament a Sacrifice?

From Inst. 4.17

Is Christ’s Flesh Life Giving?

Calvin says,

“9. The flesh of Christ, however, has not such power in itself as to make us live, seeing that by its own first condition it was subject to mortality, and even now, when endued with immortality, lives not by itself. Still it is properly said to be life-giving, as it is pervaded with the fulness of life for the purpose of transmitting it to us. In this sense I understand our Saviour’s words as Cyril interprets them, “As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself” (John 5:26). For there properly he is speaking not of the properties which he possessed with the Father from the beginning, but of those with which he was invested in the flesh in which he appeared. Accordingly, he shows that in his humanity also fulness of life resides, so that every one who communicates in his flesh and blood, at the same time enjoys the participation of life…The Church is the “body” of Christ; his “fulness.” He is “the head,” “from whence the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth,” “maketh increase of the body” (Eph. 1:23; 4:15,16). Our bodies are the “members of Christ” (1 Cor. 6:15). We perceive that all these things cannot possibly take place unless he adheres to us wholly in body and spirit. But the very close connection which unites us to his flesh, he illustrated with still more splendid epithets, when he said that we “are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones” (Eph. 5:30).

10. The sum is, that the flesh and blood of Christ feed our souls just as bread and wine maintain and support our corporeal life…the Spirit truly unites things separated by space. That sacred communion of flesh and blood by which Christ transfuses his life into us, just as if it penetrated our bones and marrow, he testifies and seals in the Supper, and that not by presenting a vain or empty sign, but by there exerting an efficacy of the Spirit by which he fulfils what he promises…“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ”? (1 Cor. 10:16.) There is no ground to object that the expression is figurative, and gives the sign the name of the thing signified. I admit, indeed, that the breaking of bread is a symbol, not the reality. But this being admitted, we duly infer from the exhibition of the symbol that the thing itself is exhibited. For unless we would charge God with deceit, we will never presume to say that he holds forth an empty symbol. Therefore, if by the breaking of bread the Lord truly represents the partaking of his body, there ought to be no doubt whatever that he truly exhibits and performs it.”


Calvin and Augustine on Christ’s Presence When an Unbeliever Eats the Sacrament

Calvin says,

“Hence it follows, that unbelievers communicate only in the visible symbol; and the better to remove all doubt, after saying that this bread requires an appetite in the inner man, he [Augustine] adds (Hom. in Joann. 59), “Moses, and Aaron, and Phinehas, and many others who ate manna, pleased God. Why? Because the visible food they understood spiritually, hungered for spiritually, tasted spiritually, and feasted on spiritually. We, too, in the present day, have received visible food: but the sacrament is one thing, the virtue of the sacrament is another.” A little after, he says: “And hence, he who remains not in Christ, and in whom Christ remains not, without doubt neither spiritually eats his flesh, nor drinks his blood, though with his teeth he may carnally and visibly press the symbol of his body and blood….Hence his celebrated saying, that the other disciples ate bread which was the Lord, whereas Judas ate the bread of the Lord (Hom. in Joann. 62). By this, he clearly excludes unbelievers from participation in his body and blood. He has no other meaning when he says, “Why do you wonder that the bread of Christ was given to Judas, though he consigned him to the devil, when you see, on the contrary, that a messenger of the devil was given to Paul to perfect him in Christ?” (August. de Bapt. Cont. Donat. Lib. 5). He indeed says elsewhere, that the bread of the Supper was the body of Christ to those to whom Paul said, “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself; and that it does not follow that they received nothing because they received unworthily.” But in what sense he says this, he explains more fully in another passage (De Civit. Dei, Lib. 21 c. 25). For undertaking professedly to explain how the wicked and profane, who, with the mouth, profess the faith of Christ, but in act deny him, eat the body of Christ; and, indeed, refuting the opinion of some who thought that they ate not only sacramentally, but really, he says: “Neither can they be said to eat the body of Christ, because they are not to be accounted among the members of Christ. For, not to mention other reasons, they cannot be at the same time the members of Christ and the members of a harlot. In fine, when Christ himself says, ‘He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him’ (John 6:56), he shows what it is to eat the body of Christ, not sacramentally, but in reality…The same thing he confirms not less clearly in these words: “Prepare not the jaws, but the heart; for which alone the Supper is appointed. 2592 We believe in Christ when we receive him in faith: in receiving, we know what we think: we receive a small portion, but our heart is filled: it is not therefore that which is seen, but that which is believed, that feeds (August. Cont. Faust. Lib. 8 c. 16). Here, also, he restricts what the wicked take to be the visible sign, and shows that the only way of receiving Christ is by faith.”

Inst. 4.17.34

A Corporal/Substantial Presence of Christ’s Body in the Sacrament is Marcion’s Doceticism

An Eastern Orthodox reader of my blog, says,

“Cyril in the 3rd Council makes clear that the body and blood are not carnal or ordinary flesh as of a man. Because of the hypostatic union, the humanity of Christ receives capabilities not natural to it…like glowing bright as the sun on the mount, walking on water, disappearing, healing through touch, in a word deified… For the sake of readers I will leave here what I left on the other thread–the words of John of Damascus On The Orthodox Faith from Book 3 chapters17, 19, and Book 4 chapter 13.

“It is worthy of note that the flesh of the Lord is not said to have been deified and made equal to God and God in respect of any change or alteration….(I mean the union in subsistence by virtue of which it was united inseparably with God the Word), and the permeation of the natures through one another, just as we saw that burning permeated the steel….For just as the burning does not change into fire the nature of the thing that is burnt, but makes distinct both what is burnt, and what burned it, and is indicative not of one but of two natures, so also the deification does not bring about one compound nature but two.

But he wished to indicate the novel and ineffable manner in which the natural energies of Christ manifest themselves, a manner befitting the ineffable manner in which the natures of Christ mutually permeate one another….For we hold that the energies are not divided and that the natures do not energise separately, but that each conjointly in complete community with the other energises with its own proper energy. For the human part did not energise merely in a human manner, for He was not mere man.

….if God the Word of His own will became man and the pure and undefiled blood of the holy and ever-virginal One made His flesh without the aid of seed can He not then make the bread His body and the wine and water His blood?
For just as God made all that He made by the energy of the Holy Spirit, so also now the energy of the Spirit performs those things that are supernatural and which it is not possible to comprehend unless by faith alone.
And now you ask, how the bread became Christ’s body and the wine and water Christ’s blood. And I say unto thee, “The Holy Spirit is present and does those things which surpass reason and thought.”
The body which is born of the holy Virgin is in truth body united with divinity, not that the body which was received up into the heavens descends, but that the bread itself and the wine are changed into God’s body and blood….
Let us pay homage to it in all purity both of soul and body: for it is twofold. Let us draw near to it with an ardent desire, and with our hands held in the form of the cross, let us receive the body of the Crucified One…..
But coal is not plain wood but wood united with fire: in like manner also the bread of the communion is not plain bread but bread united with divinity. But a body which is united with divinity is not one nature, but has one nature belonging to the body and another belonging to the divinity that is united to it, so that the compound is not one nature but two….
For the Lord’s flesh is life-giving spirit because it was conceived of the life-giving Spirit. For what is born of the Spirit is spirit. But I do not say this to take away the nature of the body, but I wish to make clear its life-giving and divine power…..Participation is spoken of; for through it we partake of the divinity of Jesus….and it is an actual communion, because through it we have communion with Christ and share in His flesh and His divinity.”

Calvin accuses this Anchoretic view to be the Docetism of Marcion,

“Some employ a rather more subtle evasion, That the body which is given in the sacrament is glorious and immortal, and that, therefore, there is no absurdity in its being contained under the sacrament in various places, or in no place, and in no form. [Damascus above seems to be comfortable with the absurdity] But, I ask, what did Christ give to his disciples the day before he suffered? Do not the words say that he gave the mortal body, which was to be delivered shortly after? But, say they, he had previously manifested his glory to the three disciples on the mount (Mt. 17:2). This is true; but his purpose was to give them for the time a taste of immortality. Still they cannot find there a twofold body, but only the one which he had assumed, arrayed in new glory. When he distributed his body in the first Supper, the hour was at hand in which he was “stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isa. 53:4). So far was he from intending at that time to exhibit the glory of his resurrection. And here what a door is opened to Marcion, if the body of Christ was seen humble and mortal in one place, glorious and immortal in another! And yet, if their opinion is well-founded, the same thing happens every day, because they are forced to admit that the body of Christ, which is in itself visible, lurks invisibly under the symbol of bread. And yet those who send forth such monstrous dogmas, so far from being ashamed at the disgrace, assail us with virulent invectives for not subscribing to them  Inst. 4.17.17 … Let preposterous men, then, cease to assail us with the vile calumny, that we malignantly restrict the boundless power of God. They either foolishly err, or wickedly lie. The question here is not, What could God do? but, What has he been pleased to do? We affirm that he has done what pleased him, and it pleased him that Christ should be in all respects like his brethren, “yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). What is our flesh? Is it not that which consists of certain dimensions? is confined within a certain place? is touched and seen? And why, say they, may not God make the same flesh occupy several different places, so as not to be confined to any particular place, and so as to have neither measure nor species? Fool! why do you require the power of God to make a thing to be at the same time flesh and not flesh? It is just as if you were to insist on his making light to be at the same time light and darkness. He wills light to be light, darkness to be darkness, flesh to be flesh. True, when he so chooses, he will convert darkness into light, and light into darkness: but when you insist that there shall be no difference between light and darkness, what do you but pervert the order of the divine wisdom? Flesh must therefore be flesh, and spirit spirit; each under the law and condition on which God has created them. Now, the condition of flesh is, that it should have one certain place, its own dimensions, its own form. On that condition, Christ assumed the flesh, to which, as Augustine declares (Ep. ad Dardan.), he gave incorruption and glory, but without destroying its nature and reality Inst 4.17.24… Whenever Christ says that he will leave the world and go away (John 14:228), they reply, that that departure was nothing more than a change of mortal state. Were this so, Christ would not substitute the Holy Spirit, to supply, as they express it, the defect of his absence, since he does not succeed in place of him, nor, on the other hand, does Christ himself descend from the heavenly glory to assume the condition of a mortal life. Certainly the advent of’ the Spirit and the ascension of Christ are set against each other, and hence it necessarily follows that Christ dwells with us according to the flesh, in the same way as that in which he sends his Spirit. Moreover, he distinctly says that he would not always be in the world with his disciples (Mt. 26:11Inst 4.17.26 … Peter says that the heavens must receive, or contain Christ, till he come again (Acts 3:21). These men teach that he is in every place, but without form… [To the East’s Argument that Christ’s Humanity Disapeared in the sense of a “de-materializing” Calvin says] They gain nothing by quoting the passage from Luke, in which it is said, that Christ suddenly vanished from the eyes of the disciples, with whom he had journeyed to Emmaus (Luke 24:31). In withdrawing from their sight, he did not become invisible: he only disappeared. Thus Luke declares that, on the journeying with them, he did not assume a new form, but that “ their eyes were holden.” [Luke 24:16] But these men not only transform Christ that he may live on the earth, but pretend that there is another elsewhere of a different description. In short, by thus trifling, they, not in direct terms indeed, but by a circumlocution, make a spirit of the flesh of Christ; and, not contented with this, give him properties altogether opposite. Hence it necessarily follows that he must be twofold ”. Inst. 4.17.29

If the East wishes to use strict parallels between our consubstantial nature in Soteriology why do they not use it in Sacramentology? If man cannot be forced in the Effectual call on pain of Monthelitism in Christ, then how can Christ be present in a pre-glorified and pre-resurrected state in one place but also be subsequently chewed in the mouths of the disciples in different places in Luke 22:19? I can’t do that. I have a limited confinement to a certain place. If he has these attributes in his pre-glorified and pre-resurrected state then we must have these powers if we are consubstantial with Him. They will not admit we do.

Moreover, Peter walked on water Mat 14:28-29. Elijah brought a child back from the dead through touch 1 Kings 17:17-24 ! Moses’ face shown Exo 34:29-35. Does that mean that their bodies partook of divine attributes? No. These were mortal sinful men who did signs and miracles by the power of God.

Is the Sacrament a Sacrifice?

Calvin says,

“Accordingly, when he delivered the institution of the sacrament to the apostles, he taught them to do it in remembrance of him, which Paul interprets, “to show forth his death” (1 Cor. 11:26). And this is, that all should publicly and with one mouth confess that all our confidence of life and salvation is placed in our Lord’s death, that we ourselves may glorify him by our confession, and by our example excite others also to give him glory.” Inst. 4.17.37

This agrees with what is said in the Westminster Confession:

WCF 29.2 II. In this sacrament Christ is not offered up to his Father, nor any real sacrifice made at all for remission of sins of the quick or dead, but a commemoration of that one offering up of himself, by himself, upon the cross, once for all, and a spiritual oblation of all possible praise unto God for the same; so that the Popish sacrifice of the mass, as they call it, is most abominably injurious to Christ’s one only sacrifice, the alone propitiation for all the sins of the elect.

Sacramental Union in John Calvin Monday, Jul 11 2011 

John Calvin’s understanding of the sacraments is virtually undisputed in Reformed groups, therefore, the following will be quotes straight from Calvin or expositions of Calvin regarding the nature of the visible and invisible aspects to the sacraments and his metonym union. The following quotes are taken from: Wallace, Ronald. Calvin’s Doctrine of the Word and Sacraments. Grand Rapids, Mi: WM. Eerdman’s Publishing Co., 1957.

1. “Word and sacraments, therefore, do not merely take for us the place that visions and oracles and the elaborate temple ceremonies took in the Old Testament; more particularly, they are to us what Jesus and His Word and works were to those who received his grace during the days of his flesh. They are for us the “flesh” of Jesus Christ, the lowly humble form He takes in revealing Himself and apart from which we cannot come to know His glory or experience the power of His resurrection…The Word and sacraments are…the signs of the presence of Jesus…and the veil through which the rays of his glory are refracted.” (23)

2. “By Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, God appears to us in His only begotten Son.” (Comm. on Lev. 16:16) (24)

3. “Where God gives a sign, there He comes Himself to be present with men. The sign is thus a veil behind which He conceals His presence on the scene of human affairs. When God revealed Himself under the Old Covenant, ‘there were many signs under the law to testify His presence’…Where the sign is, there is indeed the ‘face of God’. (Comm. on Ps. 42:2) Under the appearance of the cloud God testified that He met with Moses.” (Comm.on Exo 34:5) Calvin can refer to a prophetic vision as ‘a sign or symbol of the presence of God’ like wise to the Ark (Comm. on Ps. 20:2) and to the Cloud at the Red Sea.(Comm. on 1 Cor 10:2) (75)

4. “The close sacramental union which Christ sets up between Himself and the signs which testify of Him gives us a right to speak of the elements of the sacraments, in the terms of identity with that which they represent. Because Christ was ‘connected’ with the Old testament emblems of His presence ‘not locally, nor by a natural or substantial union, but sacramentally’ therefore the Apostle can say that the rock was Christ…The name of the thing, therefore, is transferred here to the sign’.”(163)

5. “Calvin on this point again quotes with approval a saying of Augustine to the effect that the sacrament is the “visible word”…”The testimony of the Gospel is engraven upon the sacraments.” (Comm on 2 Cor 5:19) (140)

6. “There is never a sacrament without an antecedent promise, the sacrament being added as a kind of appendix, with a view to confirming and sealing the promise.”( Inst. 4:14:3) (135)

7. “the sacraments are ‘nothing in themselves, just as seals of a diploma or a public deed are nothing in themselves, and would be affixed to no purpose if nothing was written on the parchment’.(Inst 4:14:4) (135)

8. “With the visible and outward sign the Word is also joined; for this is the source from which the sacraments derive their efficacy; not that the efficacy of the Holy Spirit is contained in the word which sounds in our ears, but because the effect of all these things which the believers receive from the sacraments depends on the testimony of the Word. Christ breathes on the Apostles: they receive not only the breathing but also the Spirit. And why, but because Christ promises to them.” (136)

9. “The sacraments ‘represent the promises to life, as if painted in a picture.”(Inst 4:14:5) (140)

10. “In the sacraments the reality is given along with the sign.” (Comm. on Isa 6:7)

11. “But in the sacraments we have such a close connection between the symbol and the spiritual gift which it represents that we can ‘easily pass from the one to the other’ (Inst 4:17:21) in our speech and refer to the bread as being indeed the body of Christ, and Baptism as being the ‘laver of regeneration’ (Tit. 3:5) and as an act that washes our sins away (1 Peter 3:21).(Comm. on John 1:26). Although the sign differs essentially from the thing signified the latter being spiritual and heavenly, the former corporeal and visible yet, as it not only figures the thing which it is employed to represent as a naked and empty badge, but also truly exhibits it, why should not its name be justly applied to the thing? (Inst 4:17:21)” (161)

In summary, the sacraments are the signs of God’s presence on the scene of human affairs, a veil through which the rays of his glory are refracted. Such intimate signs that one can speak of the sign in terms of what they signify. They are not hypostatically/ontologically united to the divine but spiritually and sacramentally.  Calvin emphasizes though that there is a real union and connection for if not they would have no real efficacy. The reality is given along with the emblem. The union between the visible and invisible is so intimate that “we can easily pass from the one to the other.” Yet the two are ontologically distinct. The sacraments can be referred to as God in name but be ontologically distinct. The principle that unites the visible with the invisible is a promise. This is therefore, a covenantal union.

Exo 13:21 The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on
the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day
and by night.

Exo 34:5 5The LORD descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon
the name of the LORD.

Psalm 47:5 5God has ascended with a shout, The LORD, with the sound of a trumpet.

Calvin commenting on Psalm 47:5 says,

“5. God is gone up with triumph There is here an allusion to the ancient
ceremony which was observed under the Law. As the sound of trumpets was wont to be used in solemnising the holy assemblies, the prophet says that God goes up, when the trumpets encourage and stir up the people to magnify and extol his power. When this ceremony was performed in old time, it was just as if a king, making his entrance among his subjects, presented himself to them in magnificent attire and great splendor, by which he gained their admiration and reverence. At the same time, the sacred writer, under that shadowy ceremony, doubtless intended to lead us to consider another kind of going up more triumphant — that of Christ when he “ascended up far above all heavens,” (Ephesians 4:10) and obtained the empire of the whole world, and armed with his celestial power, subdued all pride and loftiness. You must remember what I have
adverted to before, that the name Jehovah is here applied to the ark; for although the essence or majesty of God was not shut up in it, nor his power and operation fixed to it, yet it was not a vain and idle symbol of his presence. God had promised that he would dwell in the midst of the people so long as the Jews worshipped him according to the rule which he had prescribed in the Law; and he actually showed that he was truly present with them, and that it was not in vain that he was called upon among them. What is here stated, however, applies more properly to the manifestation of the glory which at length shone forth in the person of Christ. In short, the import of the Psalmist’s language is, When the trumpets sounded among the Jews, according to the appointment of the Law, that
was not a mere empty sound which vanished away in the air; for God, who
intended the ark of the covenant to be a pledge and token of his presence, truly presided in that assembly.” John Calvin, Commentary on Psalms Vol 2, Christian Classics Ethereal Library Site, available from; Internet; accessed August 2010\
John 1:32 John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of
heaven, and He remained upon Him.

1 Cor 10:44 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. (Ontologically? No, sacramentally)


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