Saturday, May 5, 2007

Ox-goring and the necessity of extempore prayer

In 1641, several Church of England bishops were arrested and put on trial by the puritan Long Parliament.

On July 20th, Sir Thomas Widdrington presented the case against Bishop Wren, relating how he placed the Communion Table altar-wise, read from the Book of Sports, and hated extempore prayer. Widdrington then went on to say of Wren:
"Without doubt he would never have been so strait-laced and severe in this particular (i.e. his hatred of expempore prayer) if he had but dreamed of that strait which a minister, a friend of his, was put into by this means. The story is short. A butcher was gored in the belly by an ox; the wound was cured; the party desired public thanksgiving in the congregation; the minister, finding no form for that purpose, read the collect for the churching of women ."

This strange anecdote is quoted in the nineteenth century by William Cobbett in his Parliamentary History of England (vol 2, 888) and John Stoughton in Religion in England (vol 1, 160). As to how it relates to us in the twenty-first century, well, make of it what you will.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Breaking news: Richard Baxter anticipates the failure of the Enlightenment project in 1656!

"This is the sanctification of your studies, when they are devoted to God, and when he is the end, the object and the life of them all. And therefore, I shall presume to tell you, by the way, that it is a grand error and of dangerous consequence in Christian academies ... that they study the creature before the Redeemer, and set themselves to physics, and metaphysics and the mathematics, before they set themselves to theology -- whereas no man that hath not the vitals of theology is capable of going beyond a fool in philosophy. Theology must lay the foundation and lead the way of all our studies."

From The Reformed Pastor, Chap. 1, Sect. 1

In other words, academic study - biblical truth = postmodern chaos.

Download a free, premium-quality audio recording of The Reformed Pastor from ChristianAudio during the month of May. Highly recommended! (HT: Justin Taylor)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Patience ...

Blogger has changed, and so must we. I will be moving the blog over to a new format (and a new look) this weekend. Fellow Conventiclers, regular visitors (all three of you) and random passers-by, I appreciate your understanding.

Send any comments, questions, complaints or suggestions to me directly.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

On this day in church history, AD 373 ...

... Athanasius, defender of the true teaching of the Son of God, entered into glory.

"Of undaunted courage, unflinching in the face of danger or adversity and cowed by no man, he was the steadfast champion and great defender of the faith of Nicaea, 'the pillar of the church', as St. Gregory of Nazianzus calls him. The Arians regarded him as their chief enemy and did everything to destroy him. To silence him, they enlisted the aid of secular power and corrupt ecclesiastical authority. Five times was he banished from his episcopal see and spent more than seventeen years in exile. But all this suffering could not break his resistance. He was convinced that he fought for the truth and employed every means at his disposal to combat his powerful adversaries. Despite his uncompromising hostility towards error and the fierceness with which he opposed it, he had the quality, rare in such a character, of being capable, even in the heat of battle, of tolerance and moderation towards those who had in good faith been led astray."
(Johannes Quasten, Patrology, Vol. III., p. 20)

We should all pray for the grace to discern the central truths of scripture, and to stand for them -- with our very lives if necessary. Likewise, we should petition the Lord for wisdom to know the difference between the crucial and the peripheral, between doctrine about which sincere Christians may disagree, and that which differentiates true believers from impostors. Today, let us remember Athanasius, our exemplar in courageous orthodoxy and Christ-like charity.

See also ...
  • "Why Study the Fathers?", article by Dr. Michael Haykin at reformation21
  • Phil Johnson's page on the Church Fathers
  • Clay McKinney's timeline of the Imperial Church, AD 305-476
  • St. Athanasius: Catholic Encyclopedia page


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