Biblical Catholicism: The New Old High Churchmen

South_of_the_Border_sign_25_-_Everything_old_is_new_againIn Anglican circles today, the term “High Church” has become so thoroughly associated with Anglo-Catholicism that the two are assumed to be synonymous. Even in other Christian bodies, the phrases “High Church” and “Low Church” have come to be associated with the level of ritual at operation in the liturgy. This reality says a great deal, both about the ways in which Anglo-Catholicism succeeded and the ways in which earlier forms of High Churchmanship failed.

Holy High History, Batman

The terms “High Church” and “Low Church” were first used in England around the time of the “Glorious Revolution” in the 1680s, but they do not really come into more common use until the early part of the eighteenth century during the reign of Queen Anne. At that time, the terms were equal parts political and religious. The post Reformation Church of England, though on paper settled in doctrine, has never been settled in practice. There have always been those who have felt that the Reformation either went too far or did not go far enough. It is this tension which led to the English Civil War. But by the eighteenth century, those who wanted a more radical reform of the Church were tired of fighting from the inside. Now they simply wanted to be able to create their own churches. But given the ways in which Church and state are intertwined in England, this was easier said than done. As the role of Parliament in running the country became greater, a two party system emerged. Tories favored the Church of England and fought to maintain her rights and privileges as the sole legitimate ecclesial body in the realm. Whigs fought to give dissenters a voice and an equal place at the table. To be “High Church” was to be Tory. To be “Low Church” was to be Whig.

Eighteenth century High Churchmen held such strong political convictions for reasons that were both theological and personal. They were the inheritors of the wealth of theological riches that were produced by Anglicans in the previous century. Everyone from Jeremy Taylor all the way back to Lancelot Andrewes and even Richard Hooker could in some sense be seen as the forerunners to what became the High Church party. What distinguished High Churchmen, even before they had adopted the name, was a belief in not only the legitimacy of the Church of England but its divinely appointed place as the Catholic Church for the English people. As such, High Churchmen strongly upheld the principles of the Elizabethan Settlement. They were dedicated supporters of the prayer book, episcopacy, the monarchy, baptismal regeneration, and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Nevertheless, they were not by any stretch “Romanizers,” though this was the regular accusation made against them by Puritans and other dissenters. One of Jeremy Taylor’s more interesting pieces of writing is his widely circulated “Copy of a Letter Written to a Gentlewoman Newly Seduced to the Church of Rome” in which he celebrates the Church of England as the only truly “Catholick” body in England. High Churchmen were happy to own the Reformation, even if they sometimes drew sharp distinctions between the Reformed Church of England and the Reformed Churches on the continent. And, despite a few colorful exceptions like George Bull, the majority held to the doctrine of justification by faith alone, though they had a far higher view of disciplines like fasting than did most solifidians.

The High Church movement continued to exist throughout the eighteenth century and even produced a couple of notable theologians like Joseph Butler and William Law, but as the political winds shifted, the party slowly became a shadow of its former self. Some resurgence occurred towards the end of the century, largely in reaction against the growing new Evangelical party and the great threat of “enthusiasm,” but the fire of the seventeenth century was never recaptured. By the time the Oxford Movement was underway, most of the High Churchmen who were left were of the “High and Dry” sort, maintaining their position largely as a way to continue their own lives of privilege. Their theology was window dressing for an almost knee-jerk toryism. High Churchmanship was dying under the weight of its own inertia.

Frenemies

Early Anglo-Catholics had a love/hate relationship with the old guard High Churchmen. On the one hand, they detested their lack of zeal. John Henry Newman and Hurrell Froude famously used to refer to them as “Zs.” On the other hand, Anglo-Catholics realized that they needed the support and partnership of High Churchmen if their movement was going to go anywhere. For all their faults, High Churchmen still controlled certain newspapers and had the money and prestige to create livings for clergy and to defend them in the event of prosecution. Besides, part of the Anglo-Catholic movement’s claim to legitimacy was the idea that they were simply recovering certain lost aspects of an earlier kind of High Churchmanship. Therefore, early Anglo-Catholics were often willing to hold their noses and do what it took to maintain good relationships with the “Zs,” though this became less and less true in the movement’s later generations.

But the older High Churchmen were sometimes even less fond of their Anglo-Catholic brethren. The generation of High Churchmen who lived in the 1830s and 1840s were still fighting the battles they had inherited with “enthusiasm” and therefore had little patience for what often seemed to them to be just an enthusiasm of a different kind. Many of the old High Churchmen detested ritualism and found practices like the lighting of candles on the altar and the wearing of eucharistic vestments to be every bit as questionable as the Evangelicals did. Nevertheless, they were clever enough to realize that their movement was dying and that it would not survive if there was not an influx of youthful idealism. Plus, as the Evangelical movement continued to gain momentum despite the best efforts of High Churchmen to stop it, they came to believe that any alliance which helped to keep the Evangelical threat at bay was a good one. They realized, however tentatively, that they needed the Anglo-Catholics every bit as much as the Anglo-Catholics needed them.

High Church Hybrid

Fast forward a generation and a distinct new class of High Churchmen can be seen emerging. By the 1870s, the old guard High Churchmen were all but gone. Anglo-Catholics still existed, of course, and there were many who were far more radical and less compromising than their Oxford heroes had been. But somewhere in the midst of this muddle, a new kind of High Churchmanship was rising from the ashes. The sociologist John Shelton Reed describes it this way in his book Glorious Battle:

These moderate High Churchmen–or simply “Anglicans,” as they sometimes called themselves–had been affected by the Church revival and by the early teachings of the Tractarians, but they represented an old tradition in the Church of England, and they knew it. They took their stand squarely on the Prayer Book and the seventeenth century Anglican divines, and in so doing revived an English tradition that had been largely dormant for a century and a half. (First edition, page 111)

These folks saw in their particular brand of Anglo-Catholicism the glory of an earlier time in the Church of England and they set about trying to reclaim it. A new kind of Anglican distinctiveness was rising to the surface again after a long submersion. Unlike in previous generations, these new High Churchmen were unafraid to say simply and plainly that what they believed, taught, and lived was nothing less than Anglicanism itself. Classical High Churchmanship is Anglicanism, according to these folks, precisely because classical High Churchmanship returns again and again to the primitive Church to ascertain its direction. Would that Prayer Book believing Anglicans today would be so bold in their proclamations.

Late nineteenth century High Churchmen never could have imagined what was to come, either in terms of further excesses in the Anglo-Catholic movement or in terms of the efforts at cooperation and peaceful coexistence that exist today between Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals (however fraught with tension those efforts may be below the surface). But they believed that it was possible to accept many of the premises upon which Anglo-Catholicism rested without losing the Reformation. In fact, they saw how Anglo-Catholic teaching and practice, when properly cast through the lens of the earlier classic High Churchmanship of the seventeenth century, not only did not contradict the formularies but actually vindicated them.

Don’t Call it a Comeback

In the the twentieth century, classic High Churchmanship was all but submerged. As ritualism and liberalism began to intertwine, the earlier form of Anglicanism so dearly championed by the seventeenth century divines once again fell out of favor. It is only in the last two decades that this has started to change. A surge of interest in classical Anglicanism has begun to take place, particularly in North America. While the classical Anglican movement is still very much “fringe,” there is a growing sense that Anglicanism, if it is to be anything, it must find its moorings in a different time than now. In classical Anglican circles, it has become fashionable to point out the ways in which Anglo-Catholicism and Evangelicalism have both distorted or ignored certain aspects of our formularies. I have participated in such criticism myself. In our era, it is a somewhat regrettable but necessary task.

Nevertheless, classical Anglican High Churchmen ought not forget that it was Anglo-Catholicism that made the revival of the theology of the divines possible. First and second generation Anglo-Catholics combed through the writings of the seventeenth century and republished many writers whose work had long since fallen out of print, usually without altering the opinions of those divines even when they ran vehemently contrary to their own. Anglo-Catholicism gave classical Anglican High Churchmanship a new framework and a new approach. Even ritualism can be said to be a gift to the revival of classical High Churchmanship in so much as it communicates and accentuates many classical Anglican doctrines that have become obscure. There would likely be no classical Anglicanism today if there had not been Anglo-Catholicism in the nineteenth century. For that alone, we owe the Tractarians a great debt of gratitude.

Photo by Sébastien Maltais, via Wikimedia Commons page here.

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About Fr. Jonathan

Your average traditional crunchy Christ follower with a penchant for pop culture, politics, and puns.
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46 Responses to Biblical Catholicism: The New Old High Churchmen

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  3. Ralph Davis says:

    Jonathan: Perhaps you’ve written about this elsewhere, but just what were the points of contention between the early Evangelicals of 18th & 19th Century and the High Churchmen?

    I note that your excellent detailed history seems to none-the-less skip the Great Awakening of the 1730s-40s, as having any positive influence on Anglicans–even though the versions of histories I’ve heard credit it–along with other things–to influencing the UK toward democratic reforms, thereby avoiding an incredibly bloody, destructive, revolution as occurred in France. Also, through men like William Wilberforce–the effects of the Great Awakening worked even into the 19th Century, by bringing about renewed commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ on a personal level–it helped to end the slave trade.

    Also what place did the 2nd Great Awakening of the 19th Century–more controversial as to its positive affects, and restricted primarily to the United States–have on Anglicanism here?

    It seems like the ONLY people in the 20th Century, fighting against denigration of scriptural authority by the liberals, were evangelicals–though I know, post WWII, with Billy Graham, Bill Bright, InterVarsity, et al., there is a different definition of “evangelical” compared to those of the 18th & 19th Centuries.

    With Chuck Colson’s “Evangelicals & Catholics Together” document(s) of the 1990s, intended to be a political/social compact recognizing the common moral & social issues which unite Roman Catholics and Evangelicals, it would appear that Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals in the Anglican world realized the many core doctrines they had in common against the liberals/critical theologians in the Church. Charismatics too seemed to be kind of a glue, with their ecumenical and mystical idealism, which have helped Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals get along…forming the notable “3 Streams” within the current renewal movement in Anglicanism.

    My fear with the continuing implosion of Anglicanism world-wide, and the demise of real unity–is that the 3 streams and others will begin fighting among themselves for predominance, amongst those Anglicans not following the apostasy of the liberals.

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      I haven’t really written about the clash between Evangelicals and eighteenth century High Churchmen. Truthfully, I haven’t spent enough time with it to feel like I could give much of a complete answer. Off the top of my head, I think the Tories feared a kind of lawlessness that they saw in things like the Methodist movement, a disregard for the order of the Church, the liturgy, and the need for intellectual rigor. In turn, the Evangelicals felt that High Churchmen were stuffy, overly concerned with politics, and absolutely allergic to any genuine emotion associated with religious sentiment. From what I can tell, I think they were probably both right.

      I will leave it to others, at least for now, to write about how Evangelicalism connects with historical Anglicanism. I think that such a study could be interesting, especially if it focuses on the ways in which early Evangelicals, like Charles Simeon, fought for and upheld the prayer book and the liturgy. These folks were not swaying with their hands in the air to Christian rock music. They were Catholic Christians who emphasized God’s grace and personal conversion. My personal opinion is that later Methodism began the distortion of that, but there are other factors as well. The fact is, the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were low ebbs for Anglicanism all the way around. Evangelicalism can claim a couple of bright lights, as can the High Churchmen, but by and large, the Church of England had become stale, untied from its roots, and desperately in need of reform. Nineteenth century Evangelicals thought that reform should be in a sort of half Methodist, half Puritan direction. I am certainly glad they did not succeed in that and I worry that a similar impulse is driving much of the Anglican world today, both liberal and conservative.

  4. Douglas L. says:

    In terms of the historical event expressing evangelical versus old high church views, have a look at the 1850 Gorham judgment. Bishop Philpotts of Exeter, a party in that case, was an archetypical high churchman. The other party was Gorham, an evangelical rector.

    At issue was baptismal regeneration – conditional or unconditional? Leaving aside the issue of Calvinism for a moment (after all, not all evangelicals were, or are, Calvinists), you can see that this controversy has momentous practical implications. If all the baptized are regenerate, then it becomes difficult to preach regeneration to the baptized (implying that some of them, at least, need it).

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      Thanks, Douglas. Bishop Philpotts is discussed quite a bit in the Reed book I quote from above, though Reed doesn’t really spend much time on the Gorham judgment since he’s writing primarily a sociological history. An interesting book on how Anglican Catholics and Evangelicals today might reconcile on the topic of baptismal regeneration is “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by the Right Rev. Ray Sutton who is a bishop in the Reformed Episcopal Church. Sutton has to do quite a bit of linguistic gymnastics to get around the REC’s outright denial of baptismal regeneration in its Declaration of Principles, but the book is still a fairly compelling biblical study.

  5. Michael Frost says:

    Noticed the very brief mention of William Law. On the topic of important or intersting things to write about… Have you’ve ever written about Law (1686-1761) or the Non-jurors (approx. 1688-1750, as a body)?

    Law, a 2nd generation Non-juror, is interesting for his interactions with and influence on various 18th century Anglicans, including the Wesley brothers and Whitefield amongst others. His great book, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (1728), was quite influential and thought provoking, then and now.

    The Non-jurors, both in their relations with the established Church & State as well as, in their later years, their worship, devotion, and overtures to the Eastern Orthodox, make a most worthwhile comparison to the Tractarians. And show a possible model, highly relevant to today, in opposition to Newman and Manning’s movement to Rome. Lathbury’s history of them (1845) is both in print and very readable. There are at least a couple other histories of them.

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      I’ll have to check out the Lathbury book. I am fond of many of the non-jurors. Thomas Ken, for instance, is a treasure. I can’t say that I’m terribly fond of Law, mainly because he tends to moralize in a way that borders on the Pharisaical. But I think you’re right that the Non-Jurors give us some insight into how a non-Romanized Catholic Anglicanism can be lived out without evasion of the formularies. And, of course, the Non-Jurors in Scotland had a direct impact on the development of the American prayer book.

      • Michael Frost says:

        Fr. Jonathan, I first discovered the Non-jurors in J.W.C. Wand’s (Bishop of London)wonderful little book The High Church Schism (The Faith Press, London, 1951). First done as a series of four lectures during Lent. A mere 88 pages but packed with so much information. Thomas Lathbury’s book, A History of the Nonjurors: Their Controversies and Writings, With Remarks on Some of the Rubrics in the [BCP] (William Pickering, London, 1845), is a much larger work (530 pages). Another work of a similar length (503 pgs) is John Henry Overton’s The Nonjurors: Their Lives, Princliples and Writings (Thomas Whittaker, NY, 1903); this book is especially good at providing brief biographies of all the major Non-juring bishops, clergy, and laity. He ends his work with a section titled “An alphabetical list of Nonjurors, clerical and lay”. It ends as follows:

        “SCOTLAND The Scotch Nonjurors include the great majority of the Scotch Episcopal Church, It seems to me that all or none should be given, and, as it is quite impossible to give all, I have given none in the above list. The names of the chief leaders will be found in Chapter X.”

      • Fr. Jonathan says:

        I’m always a little leery of Wand’s work since he was one of the mid century proponents of what now has become the standard nonsense view that Anglicanism is designed to be a holding pattern for a bunch of mutually exclusive theologies.

  6. cwise56 says:

    Reblogged this on Climbing Mount Tabor.

  7. Todd Stepp says:

    Fr. Jonathan,
    Very nice article. It should prove helpful to a number of my colleagues in explaining what “High Church” meant in the 1700’s, and the confusion that persists when they assume that it refers to ritual, etc.

    What I find interesting in all of this is that the Wesley’s understood themselves to be High Churchmen (and were, in reality), while, at the same time leading the Evangelical revival. John Wesley famously declared that he was “a High Churchman, the son of High Churchman.” He was committed to those items that you spelled out (e.g., emphasis on the “Primitive Church,” the English Church, the Prayer Book, Baptismal Regeneration, the Real Presence, etc.). – While many subsequent Methodists left off the emphasis, Wesley strongly urged “constant Communion,” insisting on the Eucharist “every Lord’s Day” at least; this during a time when the norm in the Church of England was every three months.

    I will be pointing some of my colleagues (via my blog and Facebook) to this article for a better understanding of what the term meant in Wesley’s day. – As mentioned in the comments, above, and especially in light of Wesley, himself, I would like to hear more about the conflict (on the one hand), and the apparent harmony (from Wesley’s perspective) concerning Evangelicalism & High Churchmanship.

  8. David says:

    I’ve heard it said that John Wesley was catholic at the altar and evangelical in the pulpit. Sort of a nice way of understanding how he moved in both Evangelical and high church circles.

    • Todd Stepp says:

      David,
      I like that. And it may also describe why some people have a difficult time pigeon-holing me (not to place myself in JW’s league!) . . . which, I guess IS a way of pigeon-holing me! – I’m going to pass that suggestion along to some of my colleagues in the Wesleyan-Anglican Society.

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  10. Fr Shawn says:

    A number of years ago, as a Presbyterian, I came across a reprint of MF Sadler’s THE SECOND ADAM AND THE NEW BIRTH. That work, among others, was influential in my becoming an Anglican and further a priest. Two things:

    1. Where do you think Sadler fit in with respect to the High Church/Anglo-Catholic spectrum? I gather from his works that he was influenced a bit by the Tractarians, whom he mentions here and there, but he seems to root himself more in the Anglican divines of prior centuries (Sadler wrote in the late 19th century). Perhaps he was one of the new breed of High Churchmen, then?

    2) The beef with the Evangelicals (at least with Sadler) was, among other things, their aversion to baptismal union with Jesus and their enslavement to a system of doctrine that, while consistent with itself and its own premises, negated various texts of Scripture. Here he was largely chastising Calvinists, who denied the plain reading of various texts that assert that ALL the baptized are put into union with Jesus, regenerated (the definition of which he is careful to distinguish from its sense in Reformed systematics) etc. and that true believers can actually fall away and end up being damned. He also rails against the Evangelicals allergy to final judgment according to works. Oddly, all his criticisms of yesteryear apply very well today.

    • Fr. Jonathan says:

      Interesting. I’m not familiar with Sadler. I’ll have to check him out. When was he writing?

      • Fr Shawn says:

        Sadler was writing during the latter half of the 19th century. You really should check out his SECOND ADAM AND THE NEW BIRTH on baptism, his THE ONE OFFERING on the Eucharist and his CHURCH DOCTRINE, BIBLE TRUTH on, well…just that. All of these and more can be found on Google books. I think Sadler is a gem waiting to be rediscovered.

      • Fr. Jonathan says:

        I’ve downloaded a few and will look forward to reading them! You know, he doesn’t have a Wikipedia page. Someone will have to fix that.

      • MichaelA says:

        Hi Fr Shawn, I certainly don’t feel you are being pejorative.

        I appreciate that you genuinely believe that I am ignoring the plain words of scripture, but in fact that is what I believe about you. So we will have to agree to disagree about that point. But since you have explained your position at reasonable length, let me try to outline where I am coming from:

        1. Many places in scripture say explicitly that once a person truly believes, Christ does not let him/her go. E.g.

        “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” [John 6:40]

        “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” [John 10:27-29]

        “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” [Romans 10:9-11]

        “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” [1 John 3:9]

        “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.” [1 John 5:18]

        And finally the parable of the Sower [Luke 8:11-15] – note that in each case, the final result is decided at the moment of planting the seed, i.e. at the beginning.

        You wrote:

        2. “Scripture is clear that through baptism, God united all the baptized to Jesus, regenerated them (by which Scripture means that they are ushered into the kingdom, the regeneration, the new creation etc.), and poured out his Spirit on them.”

        I think we will have to agree to disagree on this, as I think Scripture is clear the opposite way: that only those who are baptised and have faith receive regeneration:

        • Colossians 2:12 specifically relates the salvific efficacy of baptism to our faith. 1 Peter 3:21 does the same. Its not just that these verses *allow* for a reading that faith is necessary for salvation; its rather that they are saying fairly explicitly that baptism only saves us if faith is present.

        • Galatians 3:26-27 specifically says faith and baptism are necessary (and there is also the issue of whether “clothed with Christ” means the same thing as regeneration).

        • Romans 6:3-4 doesn’t say that regeneration flows from baptism. Paul is not telling them what *will* happen after baptism, but what *should* happen.

        • John 3:4-5 states clearly that both water AND the spirit is required before a person will see the kingdom of heaven. The parallel with Acts 2:38 “repent AND be baptized” seems quite clear.

        3. “Whether someone will benefit from that grace is contingent upon ongoing faith and repentance.”

        If you believe God’s grace is contingent, then fair enough. I don’t see that the passages I cited in 1 above leave any room for such an idea.

        4. “Paul warns in Romans 11 about the possibility of falling out of God’s kindness through ceasing to believe.”

        Again, I do not believe Paul ever says this in Romans 11. He is talking about the earthly nation of Israel, and making the point that those who have rejected the Messiah are no longer God’s people, regardless of their physical circumcision. It’s a good point actually – for my argument!

        5. “He warns the Corinthians that those who received God’s grace under Moses (who were baptized into him, who drank from Christ) did not all persevere.”

        Precisely! He at no times says that they were regenerate when they were baptised, that is the whole point.

        6. “He warns the Galatians that those who have gone back to the Old Covenant have fallen from grace.”

        Yes he does, but you are assuming that by “fallen from grace” Paul means that they have lost their justification. I don’t think he does. We in English tend to use the word “fallen” to mean “sinned” as in “a fallen woman”, but it isn’t always so. Paul calls them back to right teaching on Grace, as a group. But he isn’t commenting on the individual state of any of them.

        7. “In “De Dono Perseverantiae” he wrote, “Wonderful indeed! Most wonderful! that God …”

        No he didn’t. You are quoting from Sadler who was not a careful researcher and often didn’t read the original sources. The passage is actually found in “On Rebuke and Grace”. Yes, there are places where Augustine teaches this. There are also places where he teaches the opposite, in particular in his two major works, one of which is “On the gift of perseverance”. For example, in Chapter 11, Augustine tells us that saying that someone has “lost” salvation is only from our imperfect perspective, and cautions against the very teaching which you are pressing:

        “…just as we say that a man who has not persevered unto the end has lost eternal life or the kingdom of God, not because he had already received and actually had it, but because he would have received and had it if he had persevered;—let us lay aside controversies of words, and say that some things even which are not possessed, but are hoped to be possessed, may be ‘lost’.”

        8. “But Christ himself says that there are some branches in him who will be cut off because they cease to bear fruit.”

        Actually no, He doesn’t. He says nothing in that passage about “ceasing” to bear fruit. His words are equally consistent with the branch never having borne fruit at all.

        9. “Where the Reformed branch broke away from its Augustinian heritage …”

        Being “Augustinian” doesn’t just depend on one’s belief concerning one sub-aspect of perseverance, particularly when Augustine himself was self-contradictory on that very point!

        10. “Jesus also tells parables about people receiving forgiveness (Matt. 18), who later forfeit that forgiveness.”

        If you try to equate every instance of a parable with a point of Christian doctrine you will come up with some very strange results indeed (note e.g. the parable of the unjust steward in Luke 16!) So it is with this one – we are never told the state of the servant’s heart, so we have no right to assume that he repented of anything – that is not the point of the parable.

        11. “Jesus has grave words for those he addresses in the letters of Revelation who will not repent. And nowhere does he suggest that they aren’t really connected to him in the first place if they should fail to repent and conquer as he exhorts them to.”

        Why should he? The call to repent is the same to both saved and unsaved.

        12. “And again, I commend Bp. Harold Browne’s commentary on the 39 articles to you if you want to quickly peruse some of these arguments in more depth. At the very least, he demonstrates that the Anglican divines were no Calvinists but, rather, Augustinians along with Luther.”

        No, he doesn’t. :)

        And “Augustinian” is an apt description of many theologians over the years, including Grosseteste, Aquinas, Occam, Luther, Cranmer and Calvin. None of them agreed entirely with Augustine on every point, but that didn’t mean they were any less “Augustinian”.

  11. Nathan E. says:

    I appreciate this article as someone who has recently become sympathetic to the Old High Church position, even though I am Calvinistic in my theology. I actually think the best way to reconcile a Hebrews 6 apostasy and the Calvinistic doctrine of perseverance is to basically assert that people, in some sense, receive the benefits of the Holy Ghost through the sacraments, even if they are not efficacious for salvation for the non-elect. Because of that, there is a sort of “high Church” revival in the Presbyterian/Reformed churches associated with the Federal Vision and even some of their liturgically-minded opponents that recognize this.

    The Federal Vision theologians are pretty big on solving a lot of the Biblical problems inherent in both Reformed and general evangelical theology that really downplays baptism and holy communion. I can’t really imagine a typical evangelical really meaning “repent and be baptized,” but we clearly should since Peter and the other Apostles did, and any theology that allows Welch’s grape juice to be used in the Eucharist is flawed. That’s something that really needs to be explored, but I do think that the core of Protestant Reformed doctrine is totally compatible with a more high church sacramental view.

    • Fr Shawn says:

      Nathan, I really recommend Sadler’s THE SECOND ADAM AND THE NEW BIRTH. He offers a great corrective to the Calvinistic scheme as it relates to baptism. Also, Browne’s commentary on the 39 articles with respect to baptism is helpful, too.

      • nathanjevans says:

        I notice that a modern edition of that Sadler text is printed by the Federal Visionists’ publishing house (Canon Press). The idea that baptism and regeneration are only tangentially related phenomena is actually relatively new to the Reformed Churches, and started with the 18th and 19th evangelical movements. The Westminster Confession of Faith and the Savoy Declaration, for instance, say that baptism is a “sign and seal” of “regeneration.” Furthermore, they also say that there is no ordinary means of salvation outside of the “visible church.”

        There is also reason to suspect that the Westminster Confession is imbalanced against higher views of baptism within Reformed theology because the Reformed Anglican/Episcopalian divines who were invited (there were several) could not attend because they were all committed Royalists. The Reformed Episcopalians (James Ussher chief among them) most thorough statement are the Irish Articles of Religion.

      • Michael Frost says:

        Nathan J, I think you can “test” your statement–“There is also reason to suspect that the Westminster Confession is imbalanced against higher views of baptism within Reformed theology”–by comparing that Confession’s ideas on baptism versus the much earlier 16th century confessions. For example, start with the Scots Confession of 1560 (“we assuredly believe that by Baptism we are engrafted into Christ Jesus, to be made partakers of his righteousness, by which our sins are covered and remitted”, Chpt. XXI). Then look at Bullinger’s influential 2nd Helvetic Confession of 1561. He goes into more detail than the Scots in Chpt. XX: “Now to be baptized…is to be enrolled, entered, and received into the covenant and family, and so into the inheritence of the sons of God…to be cleansed also from the filthiness of sins, and to be granted the manifold grace of God, in order to lead a new and innocent life. … All these things are assured by baptism. For inwardly we are regenerated, purified, and renewed by God thorugh the Holy Spirit; and outwardly we receive the assurance of the greatest gifts in the waters, by which also those great beneftis are represented, and, as it is were, set before our eyes to be beheld.” I wish today’s Reformed studied Bucer, Bullinger, and others from this period.

      • Fr. Jonathan says:

        It is all but impossible to understand Cranmer’s development without understanding Bucer’s influence.

      • Michael Frost says:

        Yes, that fascinating period when Martin Bucer, Peter Martyr, and others fled to England after Charles V’s Imperial forces vanguish the Luterhan princes and start trying to ram down the Interims of 1548. A subject people like Dr. William Tighe look at most carefully.

        Too bad so little of Bucer is readily available in English. Though he could be quite wordy indeed! (I believe it was Luther who called him a blabbermouth?) I strongly recommend the wonderful The Common Places of Martin Bucer, translated & edited by D.F. Wright, in the Courtenay Library of Reformation Classics (Sutton Courtenay Press, England, 1972). Wright tries to do for Bucer what Melanchthon (& later his pupil Chemnitz) did in his Loci and Calvin in his first Institutes. Wright has 3 sections under the Eucharist: 1526 Apology, 1536 Wittenberg Concord, and 1550 Confession in Aphorisms. Just these three run nearly 90 pages.

        Martin Greschat wrote a nice biography of Bucer, MB: A Reformer and His Times, in 1990 that the Westminster Press published in English in 2004.

      • MichaelA says:

        Martin Bucer was clear about the regenerative effects of baptism. But, like most if not all of the reformers, he was equally clear that the regenerative and other benefits of baptism are only enjoyed when baptism is joined with saving faith. Bucer wrote:

        “Accordingly, our description and assessment of baptism must be determined by what God has assigned it to effect, even if it is not received by all who are baptised. A minister seeks in his ministry to fulfil the Lord’s will as he understands it from the word of the Lord. Hence as far as he is concerned, in baptising he is always washing away sin and imparting new birth, even though by their own fault some persist in their sins and the old life of the flesh. Yet as soon as they begin to trust in the graciousness of God and in Christ’s redemption which are both presented by baptism, they receive the fruit of baptism. It is improper for the baptism which the Church presented in good faith to be repeated, even though the unbelieving did not receive it in good faith. Instead let those who practise deceit abandon their deceit, and let the Church’s administration of baptism in reliance on God’s word remain valid.”
        [An Explanation of the Mystery of Baptism in Common Places, p 298]

      • Michael Frost says:

        MichaelA, Bucer, like Luther wasn’t a systematic theologian. Luther left that to Melanchthon. Bucer to Bullinger & Calvin. From Bucer’s Tetrapolitan Confession (1530, addressed to Emperor Charles V at same time as Melanchthon’s Augsburg Confession):

        “Chapter XVII. Of Baptism, therefore, we confess…that by it we are buried into Christ’s death, are united into one body and put on Christ; that it is the washing of regeneration, that it washes away sins and saves us. All this we understand as St. Peter has interpreted when he says: ‘The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.’ For without faith it is impossible to please God, and we are saved by grace, not by our works. But since Baptism is the sacrament of the covenant that God makes with those who are his, promising to be their God and Protector, as well as their seed, and to have them as his people, and, finally since it is a symbol of renewing through the Spirit, which occurs through Christ, our theologians teach that it is to be given infants also, no less than formerly under Moses they were circumcised. …” (Jacobs’ translation, 1883)

      • Michael Frost says:

        MichaelA, A most fascinating document is the Marburg Articles of 1529, jointly signed by Luther, Melanchthon, Brenz, Zwingli, Oecolampadius, Bucer, and others. From Art. 9: “That Holy Baptism is a sacrament that has been instituted by God as an aid to such faith…it is not a mere empty sign or watchword among Christians, but rather a sign and work of God by which faith grows, and through which we are regenerated to eternal life.” And Art. 14: “That baptism of infants is right, and that they are thereby receive into God’s grace and into Christendom.”

      • MichaelA says:

        I note the citation above from chapter 20 of Bullinger’s Second Helvetic Convention, which describes the benefits which baptism accords to the recipient, including that: “…God, who is rich in mercy, freely cleanses us from our sins by the blood of his Son, and in him adopts us to be his sons, and by a holy covenant joins us to himself, and enriches us with various gifts, that we might live a new life. All these things are assured by baptism. For inwardly we are regenerated, purified, and renewed by God through the Holy Spirit and outwardly we receive the assurance of the greatest gifts in the water, by which also those great benefits are represented, and, as it were, set before our eyes to be beheld.”

        It could appear from this that Bullinger believed that Baptism of itself was sufficient to provide regeneration. However, reading this in context (i.e. the entire Confession) it is clear that his belief is essentially the same as that of the other reformers, i.e. that the full benefits of baptism are only received by those who join faith to their baptism. Thus he has already pointed out in chapter 18 that both sacraments are only effective to those who have truly repented, who know true faith, and who persevere to the end:

        “NOT ALL WHO ARE IN THE CHURCH ARE OF THE CHURCH. Again, not all that are reckoned in the number of the Church are saints, and living and true members of the Church. For there are many hypocrites, who outwardly hear the Word of God, and publicly receive the sacraments, and seem to pray to God through Christ alone, to confess Christ to be their only righteousness, and to worship God, and to exercise the duties of charity, and for a time to endure with patience in misfortune. And yet they are inwardly destitute of true illumination of the Spirit, of faith and sincerity of heart, and of perseverance to the end. But eventually the character of these men, for the most part, will be disclosed. For the apostle John says: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would indeed have continued with us” (I John 2:19). And although while they simulate piety they are not of the Church, yet they are considered to be in the Church, just as traitors in a state are numbered among its citizens before they are discovered; and as the tares or darnel and chaff are found among the wheat, and as swellings and tumors are found in a sound body, And therefore the Church of God is rightly compared to a net which catches fish of all kinds, and to a field, in which both wheat and tares are found (Matt. 13:24 ff., 47 ff.).”

        Also in chapter 19 under the heading “sacramental union”, the underlying principle is stated, that the benefits of both sacraments are only received when joined with faith:

        “… And he that instituted water in baptism did not institute it with the will and intention that the faithful should only be sprinkled by the water of baptism; and he who commanded the bread to be eaten and the wine to be drunk in the supper did not want the faithful to receive only bread and wine without any mystery as they eat bread in their homes; but that they should spiritually partake of the things signified, and by faith be truly cleansed from their sins, and partake of Christ.”

        And in the next section:

        “… so the sacraments, which by the Word consist of signs and the things signified, remain true and inviolate sacraments, signifying not only sacred things, but, by God offering, the things signified, even if unbelievers do not receive the things offered. This is not the fault of God who gives and offers them, but the fault of men who receive them without faith and illegitimately; but whose unbelief does not invalidate the faithfulness of God (Rom. 3:3 f.).”

        Thus, in practical terms, Bullinger did not assume that a baptised person was truly regenerate, unless their lives showed the fruits of true faith and the regeneration that flowed from that. The similarity to Bucer’s position should also be evident.

      • MichaelA says:

        Hi Michael Frost, thanks for the citations from the Tetrapolitan confession and the Marburg confession, which demonstrate the remarkable congruity of belief among the Reformers on this point. They strongly believed in infant baptism, and that baptism was a sacrament (sign or seal) of salvation, which from God’s perspective (and therefore from the perspective of the minister administering it) was complete, but from the perspective of we sinful humans requires true repentance and faith by the recipient before the full benefits are received.

      • Michael Frost says:

        MichaelA, I’m not sure we disagree. I just think you’re focusing on different areas, being much broader and including all of the salvation process, rather than just looking solely at baptism. I find great wisdom in what Melanchthon wrote in his 1555 Loci Communes (German): “…men who again fall into sin, against their conscience, that is, who consiously follow their evil tendencies with action, as Eve followed the devil, fall out of grace, and those who are not converted again fall into eternal punishment.” And this seems to fit with all of Christendom that rejects a once-saved/always-saved theology. So for RCs, post-mortal sin confession. Similar too for EOs and confessing historic Lutherans (who kept auricular confession). Wesley’s views on justification & sanctification. Even for the Reformed, as engaging in such acts shows you aren’t elected to salvation unless you repent (see, for example, Bullinger’s 2nd Helvetic on Repentence & Predestination).

      • MichaelA says:

        Hi Michael Frost, I don’t think we really disagree either, and I certainly wasn’t purporting to do a survey of belief among various churches, particularly modern ones like the RCC or modern Reformed churches. Rather, I was responding to some comments about the beliefs of Bucer and Bullinger about baptism and regeneration.

        My point was a fairly narrow one, that neither Bucer nor Bullinger considered that the full benefits of physical baptism (including regeneration) were received by the recipient until joined with true repentance and faith, although they both considered that God had done everything necessary from His side.

        It is possible to take particular sections of Bucer’s writings and Bullinger’s Second Helvetic Confession out of context, and thereby suggest that each of them believed that the mere physical administration of Baptism conferred inward regeneration. But when read in context, it is clear that they did not so believe. Rather, each considered that repentance and faith must be present in the recipient (whether before or after physical baptism) before the inward spiritual benefits of baptism were received.

        Re perseverance, I don’t know off-hand what Bucer believed about that, but Bullinger includes it as one of the essential marks of a true believer in chapter 18 of the Second Confession. He also does not appear to suggest anywhere in the Second Confession that a person who is inwardly regenerate as a result of true repentance can afterwards fall away.

        You may well be correct that Melanchthon rejected a belief in perseverance. But if that is the case, since Bullinger wrote the Second Confession at least two years after Melanchthon’s death, there can be little doubt that their views on that issue diverged.

      • Michael Frost says:

        Per Bucer, in his The Restoration of Lawful Ordination for Ministers of the Church: “Whether he [the ordinand] acknowledges that the ministry of remitting sins which the Lord has entrusted to his own is efficacious provided it is received by faith, and that therefore it is often to be resorted to, not only in baptism and the eucharist, but also when it is extended to those who of a true and faithful repentence confess their sins, either in private or in public.” (Common Places, p. 263, #16)

        See also p. 113 and the wonderful discussion: “And it is this holiness and uprightness that confirms our conscience… Those who lack the confirmation of this favorable testimony of conscience cannot be assured of their election nor of the hopes in store for the elect. But yet let all believe, let all repent, let all hear the words of the gospel and God’s counsel of election, also let their faith in this infallible election be steadfast, let the elect be finally holy and blameless…Where there is remission of sins, there is faith, adoption, salvation, and perfect purity, imparted by God and received by us through Christ.” (From his Lectures on Ephesians)

      • Michael Frost says:

        MichaelA, I don’t see any real difference in the thinking of the magisterial Reformers (Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican) in the 16th century about baptism, post-baptismal sin, and repentence. The unrepentant post-baptized Christian who has commmited serious sin against their conscience is NOT then predestined to salvation, elected, justified, or sanctified. Unless and until they repent. They must repent. None of them were antinomians. Each took sin and repentence seriously. As regards perseverence, I wonder if you’re looking at it from God’s eternal standpoint and I’m focused on man’s limited temporal view? Of course God knows who will persevere individually. We don’t.

        See Bullinger’s 4-part definition of repentence in Chpt. XIV of the 2nd Hellvetic, esp.: “(4) now zealously considers the amendment of his ways and constantly strives for innocence and virtue in which conscientiously to exercise himself all the rest of his life.”. And the magnificent discussion on predestination and eletion in Chpt. X, where he ends: “Thereby, being strengthened, we are commanded to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, according to the precept of Paul.”

      • MichaelA says:

        Michael Frost, thank you for the two quotes from Bucer, which are not in any way inconsistent with my point, i.e. that Bucer did not believe that baptism was effective to regenerate the recipient unless and until joined with true repentance and faith.

        You wrote:
        “MichaelA, I don’t see any real difference in the thinking of the magisterial Reformers (Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican) in the 16th century about baptism, post-baptismal sin, and repentence. The unrepentant post-baptized Christian who has commmited serious sin against their conscience is NOT then predestined to salvation, elected, justified, or sanctified.”

        I won’t comment on differences between every magisterial reformer – we would be hear for a month just examining each of them! But re your second sentence, Bullinger tells us that whether a person commits sin after baptism (serious or otherwise) is not the point. In Bullinger’s theology, *everybody* commits sin after baptism, but those who are inwardly justified will turn from it and mend their ways. To summarise:

        1. Bullinger (and Bucer) believed that Christians can and do sin after conversion, but neither of them suggest that justification is thereby lost. None of the passages you have cited from Bucer or Bullinger suggest that justification is lost because of post-conversion sin.

        2. Rather, as Bullinger states in chapter 14, true repentance leads to a continuing desire on the part of the justified person to turn from sin. This state lasts “all the rest of his life” – Bullinger later calls this “perseverence”. Bullinger writes (and note especially point (4)):

        “WHAT IS REPENTANCE? By repentance we understand (1) the recovery of a right mind in sinful man awakened by the Word of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit, and received by true faith, by which the sinner immediately acknowledges his innate corruption and all his sins accused by the Word of God; and (2) grieves for them from his heart, and not only bewails and frankly confesses them before God with a feeling of shame, but also (3) with indignation abominates them; and (4) now zealously considers the amendment of his ways and constantly strives for innocence and virtue in which conscientiously to exercise himself all the rest of his life.”

        3. Bullinger’s last point in the preceding quote, that the truly repentant person will remain in such a state of striving against sin “all the rest of his life”, contrasts with those he terms “the hypocrites”, who receive baptism, but “are inwardly destitute of true illumination of the Spirit, of faith and sincerity of heart, and of perseverance to the end.” [See chapter 17, under the heading "Not all who are in the Church are of the Church"]

        4. Thus for Bullinger, there are two classes of baptised persons. Firstly, the person who is truly and inwardly justified, who continually seeks to turn from whatever sins he may commit and will do this for the rest of his life, i.e. he will persevere. Secondly, the hypocrite who is not truly and inwardly justified and will not persevere.

      • Fr. Shawn says:

        If I may, I think it would be helpful to offer that we be more careful to define our terms. “Regeneration,” for example, has come to mean something in systematic theology that is not an exact correspondence to how the term is used in Scripture. That said, Sadler, Bucer, Cranmer, Luther and all the other Reformers were by no means saying that baptism always yields a heart that is sold out for God in genuine faith and repentance. But by baptism God unites us with his Son, pours out his Holy Spirit on us, and transfers us into the kingdom of his Son and into the “regeneration” (the new age to come). Now, whether we receive the benefits of that union, walk with or grieve the Spirit, and live as citizens of that new kingdom and new age (or return again to the kingdom of darkness and the old era) has everything to do with faith. What Sadler was combatting, which is a plague among many of the Reformed today, is the notion that some aren’t “really” united with Jesus in baptism. Some aren’t “really” regenerated in baptism. Some don’t “really” receive the Spirit. Etc. That kind of thinking is more driven by systematics overwhelming the text rather than the other way around. What we need to be able to do, as Scripture does, is speak plainly that ALL who were baptized put on Christ. ALL who were baptized were baptized by one Spirit into one body. ALL who were baptized were buried with Jesus in his own death to sin. Etc.

        And a final note. I believe it’s safe to say that classical Anglicanism would side with Augustinianism and Lutheranism on the question of whether someone can “lose his justification.” Jesus, Paul et al. speak very plainly about individuals who believe but then cease to believe. Again, we need to be careful that our systematic conclusions don’t divorce us from the plain language of Scripture, no matter how tight and coherent the end product of that system may sound.

      • Michael Frost says:

        MichaelA, We do end up agreeing. And with Bullinger (and Bucer & Melanchthon). We all agree that there are two classes of Christians in regard to serious post-baptismal sin (e.g.,as Bullinger says in Chpt. VIII, “We also confess that sins are not equal:…, some are more serious than others”): those who repent and those who don’t repent! Bullinger sums things up so well in Chpt. X when he writes,

        “We therefore find fault with those who outside of Christ ask whether they are elected. And what has God decreed concerning them before all eternity? For the preaching of the Gospel is to be heard and to be believed; and it is to be held as beyond doubt that if you believe and are in Christ, you are elected. …Let Christ, therefore be the looking glass, in whom we may contemplate our predestination. We shall have a sufficiently clear and sure testimony that we are inscribed in the Book of Life if we have fellowship with Christ, and he is ours and we are his in true faith.”

        The practicing, unrepentent adulterer, murderer, thief, etc. has neither the testimony nor the fellowship.

      • MichaelA says:

        Hi Fr Shawn,

        “What Sadler was combatting, which is a plague among many of the Reformed today, is the notion that some aren’t “really” united with Jesus in baptism. Some aren’t “really” regenerated in baptism.”

        Whilst “really” is put rather crudely, I do not see a problem with that wording, and I think Augustine himself would have understood it and agreed with it (albeit his teaching on the subject was incredibly subtle and complex). A baptised person who does not have faith in Jesus for their salvation is in terrible danger, and their baptism will not save them from eternal wrath, so its not incorrect to say that they aren’t “really” regenerated (nor justified, nor sanctified). As Bucer and Bullinger emphasised, God has done everything necessary from his side, so in one sense everything is sealed. But in another sense, salvation through baptism is dependent on the recipient truly repenting and relying on the Lord alone to save him.

        Therefore, if a person has made a profession of faith but their life and actions are not consistent with that calling, then their friends and pastors should be warning them to take heed for their soul, because those who are given God’s grace to truly repent are also given God’s grace to persevere in the works that flow from repentance.

        “And a final note. I believe it’s safe to say that classical Anglicanism would side with Augustinianism and Lutheranism on the question of whether someone can “lose his justification”.”

        Most people would define “Augustinian” on this issue as meaning theology which is similar to that put forward by Augustine in his works “On Grace and Free Will”, and “On the perseverance of the saints”. Augustine did not consider that any person could know for certain the true state of another person’s heart or of their own heart, and he saw this perpetual state of uncertainty as being consistent with scriptures that tell us to work out our salvation “with fear and trembling”. But Augustine also taught that those who did truly repent (something known only to God) would also persevere, i.e. it was inevitable that God’s grace which had led them to repent in the first place would also lead them to persevere in that calling.

        The same teaching is found in Hooker, when in the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book V, chapter 56 he writes that the good works that proceed from true repentance ensue “infallibly” (and he also states this in a number of his sermons). And as we have seen, when Bullinger defines true repentance as that which results in the person striving mightily against any sin “for all the rest of his life”, he is being thoroughly Augustinian.

        “Jesus, Paul et al. speak very plainly about individuals who believe but then cease to believe.”

        Yes, and they also teach that those who so cease did not know true repentance and belief in the first place. There are many different sorts of belief – Simon Magus believed. The parable of the sower is a good example of belief that was never properly founded in the first place. Whereas Jesus and Paul both state in plain words that God will hold on to those who do truly repent so that they will not fall away. None of us hang on to God by our own efforts.

        “Again, we need to be careful that our systematic conclusions don’t divorce us from the plain language of Scripture, no matter how tight and coherent the end product of that system may sound.”

        I couldn’t agree more. Such systematic approaches are not only found among the reformed or evangelicals – everyone wants to put scripture into their own particular little box, hence care and humility is required from all of us when reviewing scripture! But I agree that plain wording is a very good principle to follow, so long as the passage is read in the context of the rest of scripture.

      • Fr. Shawn says:

        Michael A,
        First some caveats. The tone of internet communication is often hard to read. I want to assure you at the outset that my tone is nothing but cordial and dialogical. That is, I don’t want anything I say to come across as harsh. I certainly haven’t picked up any harshness from you, for which I’m grateful, but I just wanted to make sure you’re reading me the same way. It’s easy when there are disagreements and miscommunications (which happen in abundance via electronic media) to assume the worst. That said, I’d like to respond to some of the things you last wrote. This will be my last post on the matter because I’m not sure a comment thread is the best place to hammer out these issues. I really would recommend you read the portions from
        Bp. Harold Browne’s commentary on the 39 articles on baptism to understand where I’m coming from and Sadler’s work as well. Both speak well to some of the concerns you’ve expressed, and both are available for free on Google books.

        You wrote:
        “Whilst “really” is put rather crudely, I do not see a problem with that wording, and I think Augustine himself would have understood it and agreed with it (albeit his teaching on the subject was incredibly subtle and complex). A baptised person who does not have faith in Jesus for their salvation is in terrible danger, and their baptism will not save them from eternal wrath, so its not incorrect to say that they aren’t “really” regenerated (nor justified, nor sanctified). As Bucer and Bullinger emphasised, God has done everything necessary from his side, so in one sense everything is sealed. But in another sense, salvation through baptism is dependent on the recipient truly repenting and relying on the Lord alone to save him.”

        I agree wholeheartedly that a baptized person who does not have faith in Jesus for their salvation is in terrible danger. What I don’t believe we can say, however, is that such a person was not ever really united to Jesus in baptism, was not regenerated in baptism, did not receive the Spirit in baptism etc. Scripture is clear that through baptism, God united all the baptized to Jesus, regenerated them (by which Scripture means that they are ushered into the kingdom, the regeneration, the new creation etc.), and poured out his Spirit on them. Whether someone will benefit from that grace is contingent upon ongoing faith and repentance. What we can say of a baptized person who does not have faith in Jesus is that they have fallen away from Christ, are walking according to the flesh (the old nature, the old kingdom) and have grieved the Holy Spirit. What they need then is conversion.

        You wrote:
        “Therefore, if a person has made a profession of faith but their life and actions are not consistent with that calling, then their friends and pastors should be warning them to take heed for their soul, because those who are given God’s grace to truly repent are also given God’s grace to persevere in the works that flow from repentance.”

        I agree again that we must warn those whose lives don’t match their profession (and watch ourselves in this regard, too), but it’s your last statement where I believe your systematics is overwhelming the Scripture. Not all who respond to God’s grace in genuine faith and repentance will go on to persevere. Paul warns in Romans 11 about the possibility of falling out of God’s kindness through ceasing to believe. He warns the Corinthians that those who received God’s grace under Moses (who were baptized into him, who drank from Christ) did not all persevere. He warns the Galatians that those who have gone back to the Old Covenant have fallen from grace.
        Augustine himself distinguished between predestination to grace and predestination to glory. Those predestined to may have genuine faith but will later fall away. Those predestined to glory will end up persevering to the end.

        You wrote:
        “Most people would define “Augustinian” on this issue as meaning theology which is similar to that put forward by Augustine in his works “On Grace and Free Will”, and “On the perseverance of the saints”. Augustine did not consider that any person could know for certain the true state of another person’s heart or of their own heart, and he saw this perpetual state of uncertainty as being consistent with scriptures that tell us to work out our salvation “with fear and trembling”. But Augustine also taught that those who did truly repent (something known only to God) would also persevere, i.e. it was inevitable that God’s grace which had led them to repent in the first place would also lead them to persevere in that calling.”

        Again, Augustine’s distinction between predestination to grace and predestination to glory is helpful here. Genuine faith and repentance do not always result in perseverance. In “De Dono Perseverantiae” he wrote, “Wonderful indeed! Most wonderful! that God should to some of his own sons, those whom he has regenerated in Christ, and to whom he has given faith, hope, and love, not give perseverance, while he imparts forgiveness, grace, and sonship to the sons of strangers.”

        You wrote:
        “The same teaching is found in Hooker, when in the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Book V, chapter 56 he writes that the good works that proceed from true repentance ensue “infallibly” (and he also states this in a number of his sermons). And as we have seen, when Bullinger defines true repentance as that which results in the person striving mightily against any sin “for all the rest of his life”, he is being thoroughly Augustinian.”

        No disagreement here that genuine repentance infallibly yields good works because union with Christ that is walked in by faith will yield good works. But Christ himself says that there are some branches in him who will be cut off because they cease to bear fruit. Again, yes…repentance results in good works. But that repentance is no guarantee of final perseverance. Where the Reformed branch broke away from its Augustinian heritage is exactly in the point of asserting that genuine faith always results in perseverance, thereby maintaining that all those who don’t persevere didn’t ever have genuine faith, which does violence to Scripture and to experience.

        I wrote:
        “Jesus, Paul et al. speak very plainly about individuals who believe but then cease to believe.”

        You wrote:
        “Yes, and they also teach that those who so cease did not know true repentance and belief in the first place. There are many different sorts of belief – Simon Magus believed. The parable of the sower is a good example of belief that was never properly founded in the first place. Whereas Jesus and Paul both state in plain words that God will hold on to those who do truly repent so that they will not fall away. None of us hang on to God by our own efforts.”

        Again, look to the Scriptures. Yes, of course there is such a thing as faulty faith, hypocritical faith etc. But that is not the same as saying that all faith that falls short of perseverance is faulty or hypocritical. That’s like saying that all marriages that fall apart were doomed from the start. Jesus also tells parables about people receiving forgiveness (Matt. 18), who later forfeit that forgiveness. Jesus has grave words for those he addresses in the letters of Revelation who will not repent. And nowhere does he suggest that they aren’t really connected to him in the first place if they should fail to repent and conquer as he exhorts them to.

        Of course, none of us hang on to God by our own efforts. Perseverance is a gift. But there is a mysterious interplay of my ongoing faith (enabled by God) and the reception of final salvation. Jesus’ promises and Paul’s comforting words that God will hold us are contingent upon that ongoing faith (Col. 1.21-23).

        I wish you well, Michael A. And again, I commend Bp. Harold Browne’s commentary on the 39 articles to you if you want to quickly peruse some of these arguments in more depth. At the very least, he demonstrates that the Anglican divines were no Calvinists but, rather, Augustinians along with Luther.

      • MichaelA says:

        Hi Michael Frost, yes I think we are in strong agreement about the essential things! Its been an illuminating and edifying discussion, many thanks.

      • MichaelA says:

        Fr Shawn, my apologies – I posted a response, but it is in the section above. Its my fault, not the blog’s. Anyway, its there for anyone to read. Best regards.

      • Fr. Shawn says:

        Michael A,
        Thank you for your reply, brother. Against what I said before (that my prior reply would be my last) and perhaps my better judgment, I want to risk another response because I think there’s a lot worth clarifying. And hopefully, what I write will be toward that end–clarification. Again, please read charitably because I’m communicating as charitably as I can.
        With regard to these passages from John…

        “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” [John 6:40]

        “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” [John 10:27-29]

        Jesus is of course assuring his audience of his power to keep them. But even you, I think, would say that all this is contingent upon ongoing faith. People must abide in Christ. The difference is that you assume that once faith is present, it can never go away; I do not assume that.

        With regard to these passages from 1 John…

        “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” [1 John 3:9]

        “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.” [1 John 5:18]

        These are actually very poor, theologically driven, translations. The first should say, “Everyone who has been born of God (perfect in the Greek) does not sin because his seed remains in him, and he cannot sin because he has been born of God.”

        The second should say, “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not sin, but the One who was born of God keeps him and the evil one does not harm him.”

        All the “continuing to sin” language is theologically inserted. The assumption is by such translators that John can’t possibly be saying that sin is eradicated in the one who has been born again (which is a right assumption), but John doesn’t have to be understood as implying that at all in the first place. The issue is how to understand the Greek perfects since we don’t use perfects quite the same way in English. What John is trying to communicate is that sinning is incompatible with having been born again and continuing in that state, which is the force of the Greek perfect (a past action with continuing effects), not that sinning means you were never born again in the first place (which is the force of the perfect in this instance in the English). Sin is not a part of the new nature but the old, and insofar as someone commits sin, he is not continuing in the life of the new age into which he was inducted at some point in the past; he is not abiding in Christ. Insofar as someone who has been born again resists sin (the point of 5:18), it is Christ who has provided such protection from the evil one; such a one is abiding in Christ. The issue then is continuing or abiding in a state entered into in the past (again, the force of the Greek perfects), not that the presence of sin indicates you never entered that state to begin with.

        This is by no means a novel interpretation, by the way.

        You wrote:
        “I think we will have to agree to disagree on this, as I think Scripture is clear the opposite way: that only those who are baptised and have faith receive regeneration”

        I would like to offer that you’re still not understanding what I’m saying about “regeneration.” You seem to be using that word through a current Reformed systematics lens.

        You wrote:
        “• Colossians 2:12 specifically relates the salvific efficacy of baptism to our faith. 1 Peter 3:21 does the same. Its not just that these verses *allow* for a reading that faith is necessary for salvation; its rather that they are saying fairly explicitly that baptism only saves us if faith is present.”

        Actually, the Colossians verse would be better translated not, “through faith in the operation of God” but “through the faithfulness of the operation of God.” (“Pistis” can mean faith or faithfulness). Thus, God’s faith(fulness), not ours. There is a great case to be made that this genitive construction should be read subjectively as opposed to objectively, which is the same issue in so many other passages which should read “faith of Christ” and not “faith in Christ.” In other words, just as God was at work to raise up Jesus, so he is faithfully at work to raise us up in baptism. The emphasis here is not on our faith at all.

        But, again, the issue is not whether faith is what causes us to benefit from our baptismal union. I agree that if we want to benefit from our baptismal union we must have faith. Instead, the issue is whether by baptism God ushers us into the new age, unites us to his Son in his death and resurrection, fills us with his Spirit etc. I’m saying that this happens to ALL the baptized. Now whether this will be for their ultimate salvation or ultimate condemnation is dependent upon whether that baptismal gift is received and continued in by faith. But what Scripture does not allow us to say is that those who were baptized but who have no faith were never really united to Jesus, filled with the Spirit etc. in their baptism to begin with. What Scripture tells us is that they’re apostate.

        You wrote:
        “• Galatians 3:26-27 specifically says faith and baptism are necessary (and there is also the issue of whether “clothed with Christ” means the same thing as regeneration).”

        It’s interesting how Paul uses “faith” in the context of Galatians 3.23-29; he personifies it. That is, he equates it with Christ. What Paul is saying is that we are sons of God through faith/Christ, not the Law. And he’s not talking about some timeless battle between “works/merit righteousness” and “belief/trust,” either. He’s contrasting two eras, that of the Law and that of Christ. This comports with what Paul goes on to say in chapter 4. The Law (the Mosaic covenant, the Torah, which belonged to the old age) made no sons; it held people in a state no different from slavery. But with the advent of Jesus, things changed. Jesus makes us sons by our incorporation into himself in baptism. But there are faithful sons and unfaithful sons. As Paul goes on to explain, to go back to the Law after having been clothed with Christ in baptism (which happened to ALL the Galatians) is to be an unfaithful son; it is to be “severed from Christ” (5.4).

        With regard to your point about equating union with Jesus and regeneration, I’ll say this: Clothed with Christ certainly means union with him, being in him. ALL the baptized were united to Jesus in their baptism. And it’s only in union with Jesus that we were inducted into the new age (regenerated). Again, I think you’re reading “regeneration” through a systematic lens in a way that I am not.

        You wrote:
        “• Romans 6:3-4 doesn’t say that regeneration flows from baptism. Paul is not telling them what *will* happen after baptism, but what *should* happen.”

        Leave aside your reference to “regeneration” for a moment. Paul is telling ALL the baptized what they are obligated to do. All of them were baptized into Jesus’ death and resurrection; therefore, they must die to sin and live to righteousness if they want to inherit eternal life (6.16, 22). Of course, not all the baptized do this. But that doesn’t mean they were never really united to Jesus in their baptism in the first place. Again, union with Jesus isn’t a guarantee of persevering faith.

        “• John 3:4-5 states clearly that both water AND the spirit is required before a person will see the kingdom of heaven. The parallel with Acts 2:38 “repent AND be baptized” seems quite clear.”

        Yes, and John 3.4-5 is very clear that baptism in water and the Spirit happen at the same time. He’s talking about one birth. (One preposition governs both water and Spirit, so he’s talking about one event, not two). That’s one of the distinctions between John’s and Jesus’ baptisms. John’s is one of water only. Jesus’ is one of water and the Spirit. The Spirit brings all the baptized now into the new kingdom/new age. But again, there are faithful citizens and unfaithful citizens. Only some will go on to inherit the fulness of the new kingdom and the fullness of the age to come–by persevering in faith. But that is not the same as saying that those who don’t inherit were never really a part of it to begin with, didn’t receive the Spirit etc.

        Peter says in Acts 2.38ff. “Repent and be baptized, and you will receive the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children, etc.” Ananias tells Paul in Acts 9 that he has been sent to heal Paul and that Paul might be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then Paul gets healed, and then he gets baptized. Notice the parallel with being baptized and receiving the Holy Spirit. This is what happens in Christian baptism because of God’s promise.

        Now, of course, there are instances in Acts in which some receive the Spirit before baptism (Cornelius et al.), but these should be read redemptive-historically: God’s people needed to see the Holy Spirit’s being outpoured on these Gentiles to understand that the Gentiles would be on the same footing. But the norm remains: the reception of the Holy Spirit in baptism.

        But again, the issue is not that I think that baptism is enough to guarantee someone final salvation and final inheritance of the kingdom apart from faith. I think I’ve been clear on that point. Abiding in Christ is necessary for those things.

        I wrote:
        “3. “Whether someone will benefit from that grace is contingent upon ongoing faith and repentance.”
        You wrote:
        “If you believe God’s grace is contingent, then fair enough. I don’t see that the passages I cited in 1 above leave any room for such an idea.”

        You believe the same thing, too, though. Can someone inherit final salvation if he doesn’t persevere? Of course, you’d deny this, and rightly. The difference between you and me is that I believe grace can be resisted and it can be forfeited.

        I wrote:
        “4. “Paul warns in Romans 11 about the possibility of falling out of God’s kindness through ceasing to believe.”

        You wrote:
        “Again, I do not believe Paul ever says this in Romans 11. He is talking about the earthly nation of Israel, and making the point that those who have rejected the Messiah are no longer God’s people, regardless of their physical circumcision. It’s a good point actually – for my argument!”

        What does Paul say in this portion of Romans 11? He says that Old Covenant people who failed to embrace Messiah were cut off through unbelief. Of course, their circumcision was no guarantee of their ongoing relationship; neither is baptism; but that’s never been my point, nor was it Paul’s. Paul’s warning to these New Covenant people is clear and analogical. These real people were really cut off because they didn’t believe. “They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.” There is the real possibility of his audience’s being cut off through unbelief just as with happened with Jews who rejected Jesus. To deny this is to deny the force of the analogy.

        I wrote:
        “5. “He warns the Corinthians that those who received God’s grace under Moses (who were baptized into him, who drank from Christ) did not all persevere.”

        You wrote:
        “Precisely! He at no times says that they were regenerate when they were baptised, that is the whole point.”

        Here’s the thing: No one was regenerate in the Old Covenant. “Regeneration” isn’t some timeless category that speaks to God’s operation in an individual’s heart. It’s an eschatological category that has to do with the new age/new kingdom that has broken in through Christ. So, again, no one was regenerate in the Old Covenant because they belonged to the old age. That’s not to say that none of them had faith, loved God, walked with him etc. It’s just to say that we should use biblical terminology biblically and not hijack it with our systematics. With Christ comes the new age of the Spirit, of resurrection, of sonship, of the kingdom, of the “regeneration” (Matt. 19.28; Titus 3.5) etc. etc. etc. This was not the state of things under the Old Covenant. But the baptized are in a new age now. Ideally, they will walk faithfully with Christ and not deny the master who bought them and not return to their sins that have been cleansed. But, alas, not all the baptized do this; they will not go on to inherit final salvation. When the fullness of that new age comes, only those who abide in Christ will inherit.

        But again, Paul’s point in 1 Co. 10 is not about “regeneration.” His point is that there was a generation chosen by God, loved by him, rescued by him, forgiven by him (Ps. 78.38) etc. but they didn’t continue in him. They fell into idolatry, which is what some of the Corinthians were doing. Again, the analogy is clear. As they fell, so could the Corinthians.

        I wrote:
        “6. “He warns the Galatians that those who have gone back to the Old Covenant have fallen from grace.”

        You wrote:
        “Yes he does, but you are assuming that by “fallen from grace” Paul means that they have lost their justification. I don’t think he does. We in English tend to use the word “fallen” to mean “sinned” as in “a fallen woman”, but it isn’t always so. Paul calls them back to right teaching on Grace, as a group. But he isn’t commenting on the individual state of any of them.”

        Those who were looking to the Law to justify them were certainly not looking to Christ to justify them! If they were “severed from Christ” (in whom is our justification) by embracing circumcision and seeking final eschatological forgiveness and vindication under the Law (something the Law could not deliver because it belonged to the old age), then they were certainly being cut off from justification in Christ. They couldn’t live simultaneously in the Old Covenant and in the New.

        You pointed out Sadler’s miscitation. That was unfortunate on his part. But it’s a bit harsh to say he wasn’t a careful researcher. He still cited Augustine’s actual words, yes? Anyway, I want to offer that you be careful in your assessment of Augustine. You’re the first person I’ve ever encountered who has tried to defend the idea that Augustine taught that someone couldn’t fall from actual grace. I’d like to gently offer that you might be hard-pressed to find scholarly opinion to back up your assertion. I think you may be misreading Augustine, not that he was being self-contradictory.

        I wrote:
        “8. “But Christ himself says that there are some branches in him who will be cut off because they cease to bear fruit.”

        You wrote:
        “Actually no, He doesn’t. He says nothing in that passage about “ceasing” to bear fruit. His words are equally consistent with the branch never having borne fruit at all.”

        Come now. The branches are in him, yes? But they don’t abide, i.e remain/stay in him. Maybe some never bore fruit; they grew up rejecting their union from the start. Others may have borne fruit and then later ceased to do so (i.e. ceased to draw life from the vine). But that wasn’t my point. My point was simply that someone can be in Christ but then later be cut off from him. That is something that current Reformed theology seems to reject outright because the assumption behind that system is that you’re either in Christ with all the attendant blessings of justification, sanctification, perseverance etc. or you’re out of Christ and have never possessed any of these blessings. But that just doesn’t comport with Jesus’ words here. “In Christ” is not an all-or-nothing scenario. Someone can be in him but then cease to be in him through lack of faith (Cf. Paul’s words in Rom. 11 about branches.)

        I wrote:
        “9. “Where the Reformed branch broke away from its Augustinian heritage …”

        You wrote:
        “Being “Augustinian” doesn’t just depend on one’s belief concerning one sub-aspect of perseverance, particularly when Augustine himself was self-contradictory on that very point!”

        I used “Augustinian” in the context of the ability to fall from real grace given and enjoyed for a season. This is at odds with the Calvinist scheme. Again, I do not think Augustine was being self-contradictory; I think you’re misunderstanding him.

        I’ll leave it at that. I really need to get back to my normal duties. I welcome others to chime in at this point. Jonathan? Others? What are your thoughts on these matters?

        But again, Michael A, you’re my brother in Christ. If I’ve sounded a little hot under the collar, that’s not been my intention. What I say, I say in love. And I’ve said all I’m going to say on this.

        Really. I mean it this time ;)

        In Christ,

        Shawn

  12. Michael Frost says:

    Maybe the Non-jurors are making a small comeback? Did you see that the APA (a CA jurisdiction in USA) now has a Western Rite Vicariate for Orthodox Christians so inclined? I’m guessing they may be using the 2009 Orthodox BCP (from English Orthodox Communications thru Lancelot Andrewes Press, CO). Check out the news section of the Holy Cross Parish (Omaha, NE) for this fascinating development. The parish was REC but went ROCOR WR this past summer. Then ROCOR pulled the plug on much of its WRV and some of the priests that had been recently ordained by them. This appears to be a result. Will be interesting to see what the future holds for this, esp. in light of ROCOR’s specific negative reaction as show on their WRV News section. Wishing you and your family Merry Christmas and Christmastide!

  13. MichaelA says:

    Hi Fr Shawn,

    You raise some new points in your latest post and I will respond to them shortly, as well as give some clarifications where perhaps my position hasn’t been fully undersstood. But first I would like to raise one point by itself. You wrote:

    “You believe the same thing, too, though. Can someone inherit final salvation if he doesn’t persevere? Of course, you’d deny this, and rightly. The difference between you and me is that I believe grace can be resisted and it can be forfeited.”

    I agree that this sums up the difference between us perfectly. It is on the level of the unseen operation of God’s grace that our difference lies.

    But note that this is also a key difference between you and Augustine: Even when he holds that those who are justified can fall away (which I agree he does in some of his works at different times in his life), he does not attribute this to grace being resisted. Quite the opposite: Augustine attributes this to Christ declining to give that person grace to persevere .

    I hope the distinction is clear: For Augustine, God’s grace cannot be resisted. If we stop persevering, it is not because our will resisted God’s grace; it is because God is no longer giving us grace to persevere.

  14. MichaelA says:

    Hi Fr Shawn,

    I will do my best to restrict this to new points that have come up, or where clarification is required.

    1. I will say at the outset that I don’t think its helpful for you to keep saying that my thoughts are not valid because I view Scripture through a “reformed lens”. Believe it or not, EVERY human being views things through a lens, you no less than me. It is inevitable that we will each view scripture through our reformed and non-reformed lenses respectively, which means that for either of us to use it as an argument per se is pretty pointless .

    If you think another person is being overly subjective, the best way to deal with that is to show them objectively why their opinion is invalid, poorly-founded or whatever.

    2. I note that you have not commented on my reference to the parable of the sower. Its pretty important, because Christ is telling us plainly that the fate of those who later fall away is decided at the time the seed is planted, by the state of their heart (the soil), even though they may *appear* to our fallible human senses to be true believers. Another passage which bears on this is Matthew 7:22-23:

    “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

    Note that Jesus doesn’t say: ‘you were once mine but then you sinned and fell away’. Rather, he says that he *never* knew these people who prophesied in hsi name and worked miracles in his name.

    This is a further example of what I mean when I say that there is a great deal of scripture which indicates that (in God’s perfect sight) those who come into His kingdom persevere. In your initial posts on this thread you stated frequently that those who believe as I do ignore the plain words of scripture, and I think this needed a response in view of what scripture actually says.

    3. You wrote: “Jesus is of course assuring his audience of his power to keep them. But even you, I think, would say that all this is contingent upon ongoing faith.”

    In an earthly sense as we humans observe it, yes. After all, we cannot see into another’s heart – not only do we not know whether another person has truly repented, but we are often deceived as to the most basic things about another person’s character. But as God sees with his true sight, the reason that a person who has truly repented will persevere is because Christ upholds him or her.

    4. “The difference is that you assume that once faith is present, it can never go away.”

    Not really. Rather, I assume that once Christ holds us in his hand, He will never let us go.

    5. “These are actually very poor, theologically driven, translations. The first should say, “Everyone who has been born of God (perfect in the Greek) does not sin because his seed remains in him, and he cannot sin because he has been born of God”.”

    I have been reading Greek since I was in my teens; I have a major in classical Greek and many decades reading koine Greek; and I do not agree that these are “very poor, theologically driven” translations. Having such a background doesn’t make me right of course, but I wouldn’t want you to think that I was drawing conclusions without knowledge of the language.

    But more to the point, I think that your “correct translation” makes no difference to the point under discussion. John is still saying that those who are born again do not sin, with nary a mention of losing that status.

    To support your point, John would have to say in 3:9, “No one who is born of God will sin [unless they do, in which case their status is revoked], because God’s seed remains in them [until such time as they commit "serious sin", even though no-one is sure what that means, and then God's seed is pulled out of them - ouch]; they cannot sin, because they have been born of God [unless they do sin, in which case, they stop being born of God and go back into His womb].”

    I hope it is clear how John in his epistle says nothing of the sort. In fact, he makes the opposite point, that those who have been born again will sin after conversion, but that sin does not make them lose that status; rather, they are forgiven of that sin [1:9, 2:1]

    6. “The assumption is by such translators that John can’t possibly be saying that sin is eradicated in the one who has been born again (which is a right assumption), but John doesn’t have to be understood as implying that at all in the first place.”

    I think we can be quite sure that the translators do not hold such an assumption, since the epistle they are translating says explicitly that we will sin after conversion (1:8-10, 2:10). The use of “continue to sin” in e.g. 3:9 is simply an attempt to render the effect of the present tense/aspect in this particular discourse.

    7. “Sin is not a part of the new nature but the old, and insofar as someone commits sin, he is not continuing in the life of the new age into which he was inducted at some point in the past; he is not abiding in Christ.”

    Quite apart from the current debate, I disagree with this attempt to summarise 1 John – he makes clear that the true believer may sin, but he will seek forgiveness and will be forgiven (1:8-10, 2:10, 3:4).

    8. “The issue then is continuing or abiding in a state entered into in the past (again, the force of the Greek perfects), not that the presence of sin indicates you never entered that state to begin with.”

    Once again, you are ignoring the plain words of scripture, because this is precisely what John says:

    “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” [1 John 3:6]

    Note that “seen” and “known” are in the perfect aspect, which as you correctly point out means the continuing results of a finished action. John could not state it any more clearly, that the presence of continuing sin indicates that the person never entered the state of regeneration in the first place.

    9. “Actually, the Colossians verse would be better translated not, “through faith in the operation of God” but “through the faithfulness of the operation of God.” (“Pistis” can mean faith or faithfulness). Thus, God’s faith(fulness), not ours.”

    Would it really? Yet I have just checked over 20 translations online and not one of them reads “faithfulness” rather than “faith”. So all those boards of translators got it wrong, and you alone got it right? Interestingly, the RC Jerusalem Bible is even more direct: “You have been buried with him by your baptism; by which, too, you have been raised up with him through your belief in the power of God who raised him from the dead.”.

    10. “There is a great case to be made that this genitive construction should be read subjectively as opposed to objectively, which is the same issue in so many other passages which should read “faith of Christ” and not “faith in Christ”.”

    No there isn’t. You can’t just say, in effect, “Hey, the genitive case in English always means ‘of’ so I can translate every Greek genitive that way also”. Languages don’t work that way, and particularly not Greek.

    11. “But what Scripture does not allow us to say is that those who were baptized but who have no faith were never really united to Jesus, filled with the Spirit etc. in their baptism to begin with.”

    Actually Scripture tells us we must believe this. See Matt 7:21-23, Matt 13:18-23, 1 John 3:6.

    12. “It’s interesting how Paul uses “faith” in the context of Galatians 3.23-29; he personifies it. …”

    I don’t think he does actually, but regardless my point still stands: this is yet another passage where we are reminded that baptism is effective in combination with faith.

    13. “[Re John 6:3-4] … Of course, not all the baptized do this. But that doesn’t mean they were never really united to Jesus in their baptism in the first place.”

    Actually, Paul again points us in the same direction as Jesus does in Matthew 7 and 13, and John does in his first epistle: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.” [Romans 6:5] It actually couldn’t be put any clearer – those who are truly repentent and justified will persevere to the end.

    14. “Yes, and John 3.4-5 is very clear that baptism in water and the Spirit happen at the same time.”

    It is? Not in my bible. Jesus doesn’t comment about timing. But he does say you must have both.

    15. “(One preposition governs both water and Spirit, so he’s talking about one event, not two).”

    I disagree that there is any such rule of Greek grammar!

    16. “Peter says in Acts 2.38ff. “Repent and be baptized, and you will receive the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children, etc.”

    Thank you. It is necessary to have both repentance and baptism.

    17. “Ananias tells Paul in Acts 9 that he has been sent to heal Paul and that Paul might be filled with the Holy Spirit. …”

    Exactly, and there should be no doubt whatsoever that Paul has joined faith to baptism at this point.

    18. “Now, of course, there are instances in Acts in which some receive the Spirit before baptism (Cornelius et al.), but these should be read redemptive-historically: … But the norm remains: the reception of the Holy Spirit in baptism.”

    This is getting off the topic but I will just comment in passing that the passages in Acts on which you rely to show the Holy Spirit being received at baptism are no more or less “redemptive-historical” than those which show the Holy Spirit being received at other times. You can’t have it both ways.

    19. “What does Paul say in this portion of Romans 11? He says that Old Covenant people who failed to embrace Messiah were cut off through unbelief. …”

    I agree. But what he doesn’t say is that they had belief but then lost it. This is consistent with Old Testament history: throughout, we see that some Israelites had faith and were approved as righteous, whereas many didn’t and were condemned. Paul calls the former “the remnant”. But I can’t think of anywhere where those who are said to have the saving faith in the Lord lose it (consider, e.g. the list in Hebrews 11).

    20. “[In reference to 1 Cor 10 and the Old Testament baptism] … Here’s the thing: No one was regenerate in the Old Covenant. “Regeneration” isn’t some timeless category that speaks to God’s operation in an individual’s heart. It’s an eschatological category that has to do with the new age/new kingdom that has broken in through Christ.”

    I disagree – the Old Testament is *replete* with references to regeneration. See e.g. Deuteronomy 10:16, Deuteronomy 29:4 cf Deuteronomy 30:6, Psalm 86:11, Psalm 119:11, Isaiah 51:7, Jeremiah 4:4, Ezekiel 18:31.

    21. “But again, Paul’s point in 1 Co. 10 is not about “regeneration.” His point is that there was a generation chosen by God, loved by him, rescued by him, forgiven by him (Ps. 78.38) etc. but they didn’t continue in him. They fell into idolatry, which is what some of the Corinthians were doing.”

    No that is not what the Bible says. Paul tells us that all of Israel were baptised, but nowhere are we told that all of Israel had faith, were chosen for salvation or were forgiven – quite the opposite. Only the remnant who had faith gained these things. You are taking the Psalm passage out of context – it refers to the fact that God passed over numerous particular transgressions of Israel in the wilderness. Those people didn’t “fall” into idolatry – in their hearts they never left it!

    22. “[Re Galatians 3] Those who were looking to the Law to justify them were certainly not looking to Christ to justify them!”

    But they *were* justified by Christ, that is Paul’s point. He doesn’t tell them that they are in danger of losing salvation; he tells them to start living consistently with their salvation, which was by grace and not by law.

    23. “You pointed out Sadler’s miscitation. That was unfortunate on his part. But it’s a bit harsh to say he wasn’t a careful researcher. He still cited Augustine’s actual words, yes?”

    I must clarify: my comment about Sadler was not based on this one incident. Note the words I used. Although he is hardly a prominent 19th century theologian, I have run into him before.

    And the point about correctly attributing the words of Augustrine is an important one, because despite your denials, Augustine did change his views on this and other issues over the course of a long life. If he had used those words in “On the gift of perseverance” it would put quite a different complexion on the study of Augustine.

    24. “Come now. The branches are in him, yes? But they don’t abide, i.e remain/stay in him. Maybe some never bore fruit; they grew up rejecting their union from the start. Others may have borne fruit and then later ceased to do so…”

    You brought up the vine and the branches, claiming that this showed that those in Christ may have faith but later lose it. I pointed out that the passage never talks about a branch that once gave fruit ceasing to do so. It simply says that a branch that does not give fruit will be cut off. At the very least, this does not support your argument.

    25. “But again, Michael A, you’re my brother in Christ. If I’ve sounded a little hot under the collar, that’s not been my intention. What I say, I say in love.”

    I have never doubted this. Best regards in Christ.

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