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[Covenanted Reformation] Re: Continuing

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  • Whit
    Here s my 2-cent understanding of church history. Christ established the church in the NT dispensation, and the church had its greatest purity/faithfulness
    Message 1 of 13 , Dec 7, 2004
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      Here's my 2-cent understanding of church history. Christ established
      the church in the NT dispensation, and the church had its greatest
      purity/faithfulness then. Over the next 1400 years, error and heresy
      especially Catholicism infiltrated the church, and the church
      declined in purity and faithfulness. God raised Luther and Calvin
      (and few others) in the First Reformation to start reforming the
      Church back to its original purity and faithfulness. The Reformation
      reached its height in the Second Reformation, and the Church (&
      State) reached its highest level of purity and faithfulness since the
      start of the Reformation. Relative to the 1st century church, the
      Covenanted Kirk was at or close to the faithfulness of the 1st
      century church. I am still learning about the Covenanters and how
      their live compared to the 1st century church or most importantly, to
      God's Word. I have yet to find a Covenanter teaching or doctrine
      contrary to Scripture, the alone infallible rule of faith which is
      the main gage of faithfulness.

      Whit

      --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, Jasper
      <jasperh98@y...> wrote:
      > Thank you to both Whit and GMW, and for the better wording, "the
      highest attainments in the Reformation".
      >
      > How is the "(covenanted) Church of Scotland in the 1600's" viewed
      in regard to the first century church - was one more faithful than
      the other? Or is the "highest attainment" designation viewed only
      in regard to "the Reformation" and not in regard to faithfulness to
      God?
      >
      > I should add that these are honest questions on my part and are not
      meant to be troublesome.
      >
      > Jasper
      >
      > gmw <raging.calvinist@v...> wrote:
      >
      > And I think that's a better way of putting it than "the most
      faithful
      > church ever."
      >
      > gmw.
      >
      > Whit wrote:
      >
      > >
      > > Jasper,
      > >
      > > I'll leave the question to be answered by a full Covenanter.
      > > However, I do know that Covenanters view the covenanted Kirk to
      have
      > > made the highest attainments in the Reformation.
      > >
      > > Whit
      > >
      > > --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, Jasper
      > > wrote:
      > > > Whit,
      > > >
      > > > Thank you for your kind reply. Your explanation is helpful to me
      > > in understanding.
      > > >
      > > > "The question is: which of the Presbyterian denominations is
      > > indeed a faithful church relative to the (covenanted) Church of
      > > Scotland in the 1600's?"
      > > >
      > > > Interesting perspective and emphasis. Do I understand correctly
      > > that covenantors believe the covenanted Church of Scotland
      sometime
      > > during the 1600's was THE MOST FAITHFUL church ever?
      > > >
      > > > Again, a sincere thank you.
      > > >
      > > > Jasper
      > > >
      > > > covie1646 wrote:
      > > >
      > > > "Continuing" says that although a denomination is founded or
      > > > constituted in modern times (1970's in the PCA's case), the
      church
      > > > claims its lineage back to a "root" church in history and also
      > > claims
      > > > that it is just as faithful to Christ as the root. In the
      context
      > > of
      > > > the various denominations that profess to be Presbyterian, the
      > > > denominations would claim that their church "continues" back to
      the
      > > > Church of Scotland (the Covenanted church, NOT the Resolutioner
      > > > church) and is just as faithful to Christ as the (covenanted)
      > > Church
      > > > of Scotland. "Continuing" does not say that the particular
      > > > denomination existed all the way back to the root regarding
      > > > constitution. The EPC, OPC, RPCNA, RPNA, PCUSA, CRC, PRC, FPC,
      and
      > > > other professedly Presbyterian denominations, although
      constituted
      > > in
      > > > the 1800's or later, would claim to be "continuing" to show they
      > > are
      > > > just as faithful now as the Church of Scotland in the 1600's and
      > > hold
      > > > to the same distinctives and doctrine. The PCA says: "The
      concept
      > > of
      > > > the "continuing church" dates back to the Scottish Presbyterian
      > > > churches of the 17th century and reflects the effort to
      maintain a
      > > > faithful, Bible-believing Church, true to the Lordship of
      Christ."
      > > >
      > > > The question is: which of the Presbyterian denominations is
      indeed
      > > a
      > > > faithful church relative to the (covenanted) Church of Scotland
      in
      > > > the 1600's? Their claims are mere claims unless the
      denominations
      > > > doctrine, life, and theology in fact demonstrates the same
      degree
      > > of
      > > > faithfulness as the Kirk in the 1600's. One would only have to
      do
      > > a
      > > > comparison of each Presbyterian denomination with the Kirk. In
      my
      > > > study of the Covenanted Kirk and the 2nd Reformation and the
      claims
      > > > of the present-day aforementioned Presbyterian denominations,
      the
      > > > only Presbyterian church that I have concluded to be
      > > > truly "continuing" is the RPNA, which is undoubtedly just as
      > > faithful
      > > > to Christ as the Covenanted Kirk. Sadly, the other denominations
      > > > (PCA, OPC, RPCNA, PRC, FPC, CRC, &c.) have not remained
      faithful to
      > > > Christ as the Covenanted Kirk.
      > > >
      > > > Whit
      > > >
      > > > --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, Jasper
      > > > wrote:
      > > > > Hello All,
      > > > >
      > > > > Would someone please provide an overview of what it means for
      a
      > > > church or denomination to be "continuing"? With not having a
      > > > presbyterian background, I am unfamiliar with the significance
      of
      > > > the "continuing" designation and what it means or does not mean.
      > > > Thanks.
      > > > >
      > > > > Jasper
      > > > >
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    • Shawn Anderson
      How is the (covenanted) Church of Scotland in the 1600 s viewed in regard to the first century church - was one more faithful than the other? Or is the
      Message 2 of 13 , Dec 8, 2004
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        "How is the "(covenanted) Church of Scotland in the 1600's" viewed
        in regard to the first century church - was one more faithful than
        the other? Or is the "highest attainment" designation viewed only
        in regard to "the Reformation" and not in regard to faithfulness to
        God?" - Jasper

        Phil 3:16ff "Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us
        walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing."

        Eph 4:11-16 "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and
        some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the
        perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the
        edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the
        faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man,
        unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we
        [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried
        about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and]
        cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But
        speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things,
        which is the head, [even] Christ: From whom the whole body fitly
        joined together and compacted by that which every joint
        supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of
        every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself
        in love."

        "Highest Attainments" might not be as helpful a term as "Faithful
        Attainments". The "faithful attainment" designation is viewed in
        regard to faithful obedience of the Church in response to the
        progression of revelation of the Covenant of Grace. This does not
        only consider a select time in the Churches' history, but includes
        the whole life of the Church as ONE Bride, ONE Body or ONE Moral
        Person, primarily in Her relationship to Christ, and secondarily with
        those in that ONE Body.

        The Reformers would not have considered themselves MORE faithful
        than the Apostles, but rather maintaining the same faithfulness
        found in the Apostolic Doctrine taught by the Apostles, and upheld
        in the Church of Christ. As we see the progression of revelation
        from infant Church, Israel to young Church and then having Gentiles
        grafted into Her, we see her attainments progress, and grow. To
        properly understand "progressive revelation" we must define this
        not as a delivery of NEW doctrine, but rather an unveiling of the
        Covenant of Grace, or a blossoming of such.

        The Apostles only had a glimpse of "denominationalism" and really
        in their day, you were in the Church of Christ, or you weren't. So
        the unity they saw in their day was relative to the separation
        manifested in their day. Though the Apostles envisioned a
        Covenanted Reformation, they did not attain to such in their day.
        The Reformers did, and so as God shed more light on the glorious
        Kingdom of Christ advancing to the ends of the Earth, our
        Reformation forefathers (especially those of the Covenanted
        Scottish Church) understood a greater degree of unity. Considering
        the separation and independency they witnessed, as well as that
        Man of Sin being revealed in their age, all the more magnificent
        was the Covenanted Unity and Uniformity of Religion.

        Of course, the Church's Testimony (Rev 12:11) will continue to
        expand as she continues to MARK those who have followed after the
        Apostolic "tradition" (Phil 3:17 – the faithful testimony) and those
        who cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which
        she has learned (Rom 16:17 – the unfaithful testimony) until she
        become mature or perfect. So the attainments are to help the
        Christians know who they should avoid, and who they should be in
        communion with. So Attainments can also be called Terms of
        Communion. And since it is maturity that is our full attainment,
        which shall be reached, as Paul says, when Christ "shall change our
        vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body,
        according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all
        things unto himself," (Phil 3:21) then we shall see a continual
        progression of clarity and precision in our Terms of Communion
        according to this "attainment principle".

        I guess the more appropriate question as to our contemporary
        context is…

        How is the Covenanted Church of Scotland's Terms of Communion
        viewed in regard to:

        1) Other Church's Terms of Communion? (in relation to the
        opportunity to be united in Truth)

        2) The Terms of Communion of those Churches that claim to be the
        posterity of that Covenanted Church of Scotland? (in relation to
        who is really maintaining the ancient landmarks)

        There are other things to consider, and I do not pretend to have
        even formulated the right questions, let alone having answers. It
        would not be edifying to bring them up unless some of these other
        issues have been dealt with first.

        I doubt that this will aid in the understanding of "faithful
        attainments", because I am typing this off the top of my head, but
        potentially this could be picked apart, and bring out further clarity
        of our position? *smiles

        May God help us in our endeavor to be united in His Truth,
        -Shawn Anderson
        Albany, NY
      • thebishopsdoom
        ... That was a good post, I would only add a word or two, also off the top of my head. We all regard creeds and other constitutional documents of the church to
        Message 3 of 13 , Dec 9, 2004
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          --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Shawn Anderson"
          <christ_saves_sinners@y...> wrote:
          >> I doubt that this will aid in the understanding of "faithful
          > attainments", because I am typing this off the top of my head

          That was a good post, I would only add a word or two, also off the
          top of my head.
          We all regard creeds and other constitutional documents of the church
          to mark out the boundaries of the church - not necessarily the
          boundaries of the invisible church, but they mark of what a
          particular body of the church believe to be the correct
          interpretation of Scriptural doctrine.
          When we pass from the apostles's own days into the early subapostolic
          age, we find that while supernatural revelation granted to the
          inspired apostles was perfectly suited by God to apply to a variety
          of situations, controversies, and issues that would come up through
          the history of the church, many of these issues had not as yet in
          fact come up. As a result, the church was left with a guide for the
          further understanding of the truth in various areas that were not
          immediately at the fore in the 1st century. The same may be said with
          respect to the OT. I don't think we need understand that the 1st
          century church knew and perfectly understood everything that we would
          find in any one of the reformed creeds, and that their progeny simply
          decided to ignore these truths and forge their own way. There were
          issues that had not yet come up, ways of thinking about certain
          things which were not yet considered, which the Scripture is adequate
          to address - such as the relationship between the covenant of grace
          and of redemption, which I don't think anyone in the 1st century
          church was really asking, and so the church made no official
          pronouncements therein, nor gave much consideration to exactly how
          systematically to work such things together. So while the church was
          founded perfectly upon the Holy Writ, we today have "Bible churches"
          who say "no creed but the Bible" and find that amongst them there can
          continue to exist a wide variety of opinion on how it is to be
          interpreted. Though the 1st century church did have the apostles to
          declare and explain to them, surely the apostles did not explain in
          exhaustive detail every possible nuance of everything that was
          written and how it would apply to every possible theological
          question, including those that noone was yet asking in their day. It
          would also be a mistake if one were to assume the 1st century
          churches themselves always fully understood every word delivered by
          the apostles. We find the varied conditions of the churches of
          Asia in the Apocalypse, and we see in Corinth apparent evidence of
          questions still floating about whether the dead were raised!
          In fact, when we look into the 2nd and 3rd century patristic authors
          that we have reasonable access to, we find that the extent of creed
          that was passed onto them was overall quite minimal. You can find it
          occasionally laid down in their writings, and it amounts to little
          more than the apostles' creed. As a result, there were in fact
          errours that early crept. Various, sometimes new questions led down a
          certain paths in attempt as to how to explain it all, not all of
          which, of course, we hold to be consistent with the Scriptures. Now
          we may argue that the Scriptures have the answer, but they may not
          have fully understood it. Further, some of the churches at least
          early on probably did not have a full NT in their possession to draw
          from in evaluating different explanations. And I have heard more than
          once that by the 4th century, much had arisen in thought and
          practice, but there had been little previous attempt to
          systematically compare everything going on with Scripture and
          philosophy to explain the church's beliefs and practice for some
          time. By the 4th century, there was push more to justify everything
          somehow, than try to prune things. After all, they thought, this is
          what we have recieved. There were some necessary corrections, as when
          Augustine got the Western church to collectively recognize the
          doctrine of original sin in some more official manner, and while in
          his defense he was able to show that hints of the doctrine were not
          entirely unheard of in previous generations. There had to be some
          understanding that some of the earlier fathers had in not fully
          comprehending the matter erred in some of their thoughts and
          statements when they seemed to deny the concept of original sin by
          some of their statements.
          Augustine of course had his detractors as well, being labelled an
          innovator on the point. But even among his detractors, Vincent of
          Lerins had to admit that there must be some legitimate sense in which
          the church could progress at least in some manner to better
          understand some matters than had been understood before, tho he
          denied that there could be any alteration, only further progressive
          understanding or the like. In the progression of history in fact some
          things did get better, other things got worse. Furthermore, there
          were a lot of issues to which even the default position taken into
          and thru the medieval era were not themselves necessarily "official"
          positions. Debates continued, sometimes at a national level, over the
          relationship between church and state, the limits of ecclesiastical
          power, predestination, and a number of other issues. Some other
          issues we should like to have seen debated were taken for granted.
          The few centuries prior to the reformation, things were quite bad.
          The push for a reform in fact had gone on for some time. But Trent's
          answer by and large was not the answer given by the protestants.
          The protestant reformation may be seen as correcting a number of
          errours which had crept into the church in eras when some
          of these matters were not so well understood, as well as new errours
          that developed either out of pure corruption or based upon the
          unfolding of earlier erroneous pathways that had been followed. Now
          of course, I don't want to in stating it that way belittle the
          serious magnitude of what those errours in fact were, and how
          necessary the reformation was. The protestant reformers also loosed
          themselves from the bonds of the man of sin, as well as those
          abusesthat may have benefitted the ecclesiastics in the hierarchy,
          but were false means of profiting the souls of those seeking refuge
          in those paths.
          In dealing with various matters, the reformed churches were able to
          give their own sense, both correcting errour and finetuning the
          limits of what they held as a church to be the true understanding of
          the Biblical religion.
          They were able to draw from the Scriptures, as well as the study
          therein of men gone by, as well as having the opportunity to see
          where some previous mistaken answers had led, to the better see why
          this or that answer that had been pressed before by this or that
          party had been wrong. At times, they were able to draw from the
          reasoning of others where they had also been correct. As an end
          product, you will note that their creeds were more detailed than what
          they called the "rule of faith" in the early patristic era. In this,
          they attained to a greater precision and broader
          scope of what they held forth to the world to be the teachings of the
          Holy Scriptures. In addition, they were able to take the testimony of
          the unfolding of history, and identify the man of sin, as well as
          testify against various things, giving their official sense as a
          church as to why it was wrong. As errours arose, and cmae to be
          recognized by the church as such, there was a need to finetune the
          creed and attain to a more detailed understanding and explanation of
          what is the faith of the church.
          Anyway, you can disagree with me, this is just a thought off the top
          of my head anyway, for whatever it's worth.
          -doom
        • thebishopsdoom
          ... I. The unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, ought to be the endeavour of all that are members of the one body of Christ, partakers of his one Spirit,
          Message 4 of 13 , Dec 9, 2004
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            --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Shawn Anderson"
            <christ_saves_sinners@y...> wrote:

            > How is the Covenanted Church of Scotland's Terms of Communion
            > viewed in regard to:
            >
            > 1) Other Church's Terms of Communion? (in relation to the
            > opportunity to be united in Truth)
            >
            > 2) The Terms of Communion of those Churches that claim to be the
            > posterity of that Covenanted Church of Scotland? (in relation to
            > who is really maintaining the ancient landmarks)

            "I. The unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, ought to be the
            endeavour of all that are members of the one body of Christ,
            partakers of his one Spirit, called in one hope, professing one Lord,
            confessing one faith, sealed with one baptism, Eph. 4:3, etc. And for
            brethren to dwell together in unity, is good and pleasant, and like
            the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon Aaron's
            beard, Psal. 133:1,2. A fragrant ointment indeed, if it be composed
            aright of gospel simples, according to divine art, and the wisdom
            that is from above, which is pure, and then peaceable: and not made
            up of adulterate politics: that union that hath the spirit for its
            author; the scripture for its rule, peace for its bond and beauty,
            love for its cement, faith for its foment, Christ for its foundation,
            and truth and holiness for its constant companions, cannot but be
            intensely desired, enixly endeavoured, and fervently followed by all
            the professors of the gospel of peace, and subjects of the prince of
            peace: which makes division and schism not only a great misery, but a
            grand sin. But it must be in the way of truth and duty, and
            consistent with holiness and the honour of Christ, otherwise if it be
            in the way of apostasy and defection, it is but a confederacy and
            conspiracy against the Lord. And true union can neither be attained,
            nor retained, nor recovered, except the sinful cause of division,
            defection; and the holy overruling cause, the anger of the Lord be
            removed in turning to and following him.
            II. Though there be not perfect union, but diversity both of
            judgments and practices, in several cases there may be communion with
            a church in its ordinances and ministry. As,
            1. We may have a catholic communion with all christian ministers and
            members of the catholic church, considered as such; holding the head
            Christ, and the fountain sure. And so we may meet for worship with
            all devout men in every nation under heaven, whether they be
            Parthians, or Medes, or Elamites, or French or Dutch, etc. though
            differing in controversies of lesser moment, not overturning that; if
            they hold the universal testimony of the gospel, against the common
            enemies thereof, Jews, Turks, or Pagans: for there is neither Greek
            nor Jew, if he be a christian, Christ is all and in all, Col. 3:11.
            But if they be heretics, we can have no communion with them.
            2. We may have a more special communion with all Protestant ministers
            and members of the Reformed church, considered as such, more
            strictly, and upon stricter conditions: providing they hold, not only
            the universal of Christians, but the general testimony of
            Protestants, against the greater and lesser Antichrists; though
            differing from us in some circumstantial points, not Reformed, and
            not contradictory unto the Protestant testimony against Popery, and
            all heresy; nor declining from their own reformation, by defection or
            schism. And consequently, it is lawful to own communion with the
            churches of the United Provinces, and take ordination from them,
            though they have some forms not allowable, from which they were never
            Reformed, because they are sound in the Protestant testimony. But
            with the Sectarians, or Schismatics, or Apostates among them, we
            cannot own that special communion.
            3. We may have a more particular communion upon yet stricter
            conditions with all our Covenanted brethren, ministers and members of
            the churches of Britain and Ireland, considered as such: providing
            they hold, not only the universal; not only the more special,
            Protestant testimony against the greater and lesser Antichrists, but
            the Covenanted testimony for the reformation in doctrine, worship,
            discipline, and government, against popery, Prelacy, superstition,
            heresy, schism, and profaneness, according to the Covenant; though
            differing from us in those controversial points, never Reformed, and
            which were never the word of Christ's patience, and do not overturn
            the covenanted testimony. But with those that contradict and
            counteract that, we cannot own that particular communion.
            4. We may have yet a nearer organical communion, upon stricter
            conditions still with all the ministers and members of the national
            church of Scotland constitute and confederate under one Reformed
            government, according to the rule of Christ: providing they hold, not
            only all the former testimonies under the foresaid considerations,
            but the Presbyterian testimony as stated in the ecclesiastical
            constitution, and sworn to in the national covenants and engagements
            of that church, founded upon the word of God, against popery,
            Prelacy, Erastianism, sectarianism, toleration, schism and defection;
            though differing in some things from us, never Reformed, never
            considered in ecclesiastical judicatories, never engaged against in
            our covenants, never stated as the word of patience and matter of
            testimony. But with these that oppose, suppress, reproach, and
            abandon this testimony, we cannot own this organical communion, in
            this broken state of the church. We may have yet a stricter
            congregational communion, upon stricter conditions, and with the
            ordinary or extraordinary meetings or societies of the Lord's people
            for gospel ordinances, with any minister or ministers, duly and truly
            admitted to that function according to Christ's appointment, and the
            call of the people, whether in a fixed or unfixed relation; providing
            he holds the testimony of Christ, under all the considerations, and
            owns and adheres unto the true received principles of the church of
            Scotland, in doctrine, worship, discipline and government, founded
            upon the written word of God, and whatsoever declarations or
            testimonies, former or latter, particular or more general, are
            agreeable thereunto; though differing from us in some of the integral
            and not essential parts of our testimony against the enemies of our
            covenanted reformation. But with such as deny or decline from it, by
            schism or defection, or compliance with the enemies thereof, we
            cannot own this congregational communion, in this broken state of the
            church."
            -Alexander Shields (A Hind Let Loose. 1797 edition. pp 262ff.)
          • thebishopsdoom
            ... And just off the top of my head indeed. Sorry for all the poor grammar in that post. I trust it s at least somewhat readable. -thegrammariansdoom
            Message 5 of 13 , Dec 9, 2004
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              --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, thebishopsdoom
              <no_reply@y...> wrote:
              > just a thought off the top
              > of my head anyway, for whatever it's worth.
              And just off the top of my head indeed. Sorry for all the poor
              grammar in that post. I trust it's at least somewhat readable.
              -thegrammariansdoom
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