Thursday, October 09, 2008

On Becoming a Reformed Catholic

I'm thinking of making a weekly rule (not sure yet...bear with me) on blogging. Thursdays would be reserved for Theology. Wednesdays for Worship. Saturdays for silliness. Mondays for musings... Anyway, here's an early stab at Theology Thursday.

A major hurdle in my journey from Presbyterianism to Anglicanism was being forced to abandon the Westminster Confession of Faith as my doctrinal standard. (Yes, I had scruples but they were primarily in the area of praxis.) I'd long known that the Westminster began as an expansion of the 39 Articles of Religion which had been the basis of the Evangelical Reformation of the Catholic Church in England. But something I admired about Westminster was its comprehensiveness.

After a year of intense reading and soul-searching, I've come to cherish the 39 Articles. I cherish them as an irenic statement of evangelical truth, written from a pastoral perspective. The shepherding qualities of a bishop are clearly evident in them. For instance, ..

In a new journal for orthodox Anglicanism, 39 Articles, I came across an article titled "Kindred Spirits" which addresses the continuities and discontinuities between 39 Articles and WCF. It was a blessing to read. Here's an apt snippet:
While the preface to the 1549 prayer book notes that “There never was any thing by the whit of man so well devised, or so surely established, which in the contin­u­ance of time hath not been corrupted. . . .” both documents do set forth a very concise system of doctrine that is easily understood by any that care to read them. It is in the setting forth of the doctrine contained in Scripture that both documents find their wholeness, and that is what determines the degree to which they remain un­cor­rupted. The system set forth is as harmonious to the Word of God as the work of man can be. Ac­cord­ing­ly and not surprisingly, both are systems that have with­stood the test of time and temp­tation.

There is another way in which both documents, at least from a Calvinistic point of view, are com­plete. Historically, Calvinists have defined a true church by the following marks: the preaching of the gospel, the right adminis­tration of the sacraments, and church discipline. In both docu­ments, The Thirty-Nine Articles and the Westminster Confession of Faith, we find excellent and con­cise definitions of these marks, discussions that are both in harmony with each other and with scripture. From a pastoral stand­point — and this is indeed the where the rubber meets the road — they are wonderfully complete. The documents then find their ultimate completeness in their usefulness to the church.
I encourage you to read the rest here.


Dave Moody said...

This may be heresy-- but, I tend to prefer the 39 articles to WCF for the very reasons you've said. They are irenic and avoid sharp lines where scripture is bit more fuzzy. They are comprehensive but not quite as exact- connecting dots scripture leaves unconnected.

Bluntly, WCF's supralapsarian tendencies don't square with the narrative of scripture, as I have come to understand it. Its hard to scruple specific articles b/c its a brilliantly helpful and faithful confession. But the, leanings(? can't seem to find a better word than this?) of it, seem best left to the counsels of God. My thoughts anyway... Thanks Chris.


Rev'd Chris Larimer said...

Watch it...I hear young Benjamin gathering firewood. Better revert to strict psalmody for a month!

Reformed Catholic said...

Welcome to the fraternity ... ;)

Rev'd Chris Larimer said...

Proud team member since Advent 2007!