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Re: [Covenanted Reformation] Calvin on schisms, separatism

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  • Martin
    Calvin as quoted in Covenanted Reformation Defended: As for the babblers who ridicule us, wondering if one cannot get to paradise except by way of Geneva, I
    Message 1 of 11 , Apr 22, 2003
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      Calvin as quoted in Covenanted Reformation Defended:
      "As for the babblers who ridicule us, wondering if one cannot get to
      paradise except by way of Geneva, I answer: would to God they had the
      courage to gather in the name of Jesus Christ wherever they are, and set up
      some sort of church, either in their houses or in those of their neighbors,
      to do in their place what we do here in our temples! . . . And, whoever has
      no means of being in the Christian church, where God is worshipped purely,
      let him at least groan night and day, 'Thine altars, Lord; it is only thine
      altars that I desire, my God, my king' (John Calvin, Come Out From Among
      Them, The Anti­Nicodemite Writings of John Calvin, a forthcoming book to be
      published by Protestant Heritage Press, The Third Sermon, On Psalm 27:4, pp.
      192, 193, emphases added).

      Some one will therefore ask me what counsel I would like to give to a
      believer who thus dwells in some Egypt or Babylon where he may not worship
      God purely, but is forced by the common practice to accommodate himself to
      bad things. The first advice would be to leave [i.e. relocate ­ GB] if he
      could. . . . If someone has no way to depart, I would counsel him to
      consider whether it would be possible for him to abstain from all idolatry
      in order to preserve himself pure and spotless toward God in both body and
      soul. Then let him worship God in private, praying him to restore his poor
      church to its right estate (John Calvin, Come Out From Among Them, The
      Anti­Nicodemite Writings of John Calvin, a forthcoming book to be published
      by Protestant Heritage Press, "A Short Teatise", pp. 93, 94, emphases
      added). "

      Note, Calvin recommends that we seriously consider whether we can abstain
      from idolatry in the church we attend. How many churches do you know of
      that practice purity of worship? I know of very few. To say that we should
      purify the worship from within a church is like saying we ought to
      participate in idolatry until we may convince others to not practice the
      very thing we are participating in with them. Besides, if you had taken
      this course of action in the PCUSA 100 years ago you'd have died practicing
      grosser idolatry than you had at the beginning.

      Martin

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Dan Fraas" <fraasrd@...>
      To: <covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2003 9:26 AM
      Subject: [Covenanted Reformation] Calvin on schisms, separatism


      > I was reading the Institutes yesterday, and as usual I found some
      > deep insight by Calvin on the meaning of the Church and fellowship
      > with her. He noted that no church is completely pure, anywhere, that
      > Christians may have legitimate theological disagreements, and that we
      > should not break fellowship with brothers and sisters for
      > nonessential reasons. He distinguished the marks of the true church
      > as 1. the ministry of the word and 2. the administration of the
      > sacraments. Although Calvin noted that corruptions may even make
      > incursions into these essential items, he said that as long as the
      > impurities do not destroy the aim and institution of the sacraments,
      > and the essential doctrines of salvation are generally preserved, we
      > should by no means leave the church that bears these distinguishing
      > marks of truth. As Calvin noted, not all heads of doctrine bear
      > equal importance. Although we should never give up the struggle to
      > purify doctrine and worship, we should seek to reform the true church
      > from within. I find this interpretation very insightful and it
      > weighs on the issue of Christians today who live in an area where a
      > thoroughly-Reformed congregation does not exist.
      >
      > For Christ's Crown and Covenant!
      >
      > Riley
      >
      >
      >
      > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
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      >
      >
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      >
    • thebishopsdoom
      ... abstain ... etc. Though I am reluctant and do not have much time to join much discussion right now, and am planning to go back to lurking mode again after
      Message 2 of 11 , Apr 23, 2003
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        --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Martin"
        <paleopuritan@h...> wrote:
        > Note, Calvin recommends that we seriously consider whether we can
        abstain
        > from idolatry in the church we attend.
        etc.

        Though I am reluctant and do not have much time to join much
        discussion right now, and am planning to go back to lurking mode
        again after this post (I think you seem to do a fairly adequate job
        of defending yourself Martin), there is an important point worth
        noting that I thought maybe should be pointed out that was not thus
        far brought out by you, and that is to recall the historical context
        of the Reformation itself. We can forget the issue Calvin is
        addressing in his advice on non-separation in the Institutes is not
        exactly parallel to our modern case, and wuld seem as something
        hardly envisioned in Calvin's mind when speaking his advice. Calvin's
        context in the reformation was that there were a group of national
        churches breaking communion with Rome and establishing their footing
        as separate national churches - but ones working to formulate reform
        on national lines, even as Rome formulated in a more concrete
        constitutional form her own doctrines at Trent. There were different
        degrees of reform from nation to nation, different issues that came
        up here that did not yet come up there, different rites and
        ceremonies that some allowed to be retained into the churches that
        had been added in and regarded as no more than matters of "decorum"
        which other churches believed did not belong in with the worship
        services of the church and ought to be purged, etc. The advice
        previously mentioned from the Institutes was not envisioning a land
        where they rejected a national church in favour of multiformity in
        stated constitutional creed, and where the reformed churches were
        changing purer doctrine and practice to that which was less pure, and
        doing so in a constitutional manner.
        Although there may be some references to a state closer to what we
        have today in North America in some 16th cent. literature, perhaps
        even references in Calvin, it must be admitted that for the most
        part, most of the discussion of separation in Calvin and a host of
        others in his own day will deal with either Nicodemites, who joined
        in the worship of Rome and declared that in their heart they only did
        what was right and understood things in an orthodox manner, while in
        bodily performance they conformed to the external rites of the old
        liturgy, or with the anabaptists, who cast off not merely the errors
        of the church, but in some ways put just about everything up for
        grabs, throwing often the baby out and at times keeping the
        bathwater, thorwing open debates that had been rightly settled in the
        early church. As a result, some will argue that the case is hardly
        the same between the modern churches that retain some claim to a
        measure of protestantism, and that the advice Calvin gave with
        respect to anabaptists and Nicodemites worshipping in Roman chapels
        therefore "doesn't apply" to our case (though I believe there are
        principles set forth that do retain an application, as noted below).
        If one wishes a better parallel to our situation, it will occur
        predominantly after the reformed churches themselves began to change
        their doctrines and to sink back into some former ways that had been
        once reformed, causing divisions to enter the reformed churches
        existing in the same land.
        During the 1600s, we see ample assertion of Calvin's sentiments as
        expressed in the Institutes: we see the commissioners from Scotland
        to the Westminster Assembly, though the Anglican church represented
        there was in many parts not so reformed as the Scottish church. But
        further, with it, we see other principles at work with respect to
        defecting bodies. We see, for example, James Renwick receiving
        ordination at the hands of the less reformed Dutch, while testifying
        against the indulged ministers in the Scottish Church.

        James Renwick. An Informatory Vindication: "Furthermore, in
        inveighing against Mr. Renwick's Ordination, they accused the Church
        of Holland of Erastianism, & of three Sprinklings in Baptism which
        they called Popish, & some other Corruptions: To which he only
        replied, That he had received his Ordination from the Presbytery of
        Groningen, & they being Foreigners, & not chargeable, either with our
        Defections, or any declining from the Testimony of their own Church,
        but advancing and groaning under some Corruptions from which they
        were never Reformed, would come under another Consideration, than
        Ministers of our own Church, defending a course of Defection."

        I find rather some wisdom in the collation of these matters by Mr.
        Shields, A Hind Let Loose: "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... 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... III. Though there be many things in a church,
        to brangle and lessen the comfort of our communion with it, and the
        ministry thereof; yet we may keep fellowship with a true church,
        though in many things faulty and corrupt, as all churches are in some
        measure in this militant state. As the church of Corinth had many
        corruptions in their practice, yet no separation is enjoined from it.
        And the Lord did not require separation from the churches of Pergamos
        and Thyatira; though they had many corruptions and deficiencies in
        discipline, in a toleration of heretics; and would lay no other
        burden upon them, but to hold fast what they had: as Mr. Durham shows
        in his Commentary on the Revelation, Chap. 2. Lect. 6. Pag. 148, 149.
        as also Chap. 18. Lect. 1. Pag. 585. in 4to. This must be granted
        especially in these cases, 1. In the infant state of the church, when
        the reformation is only begun: then many things may be tolerated,
        before they be gradually Reformed, which, in an adult state, are not
        to be suffered. 2. In a growing case of the church, advancing out of
        corruptions, then many things may be born with, while they are
        ascending and wrestling up the hill, which in a declining state, when
        the church is going backward, must not be yielded unto. See that
        objection of hearing Prelatical men in the time of former Prelacy,
        answered above, Per. 4. In a constitute and settled case of the
        church, enjoying her privileges and judicatories, corruptions may be
        forborne, and the offended are not to withdraw, before recourse to
        the judicatories for an orderly redress; but in a broken and
        disturbed state, when there is no access to these courts of Christ;
        then people, though they must not usurp a power of judicial censuring
        these corruptions, yet they may claim and exercise a discretive power
        over their own practice; and by their withdrawing from such ministers
        as are guilty of them, signify their sense of the moral equity of
        these censures that have been legally enacted against these and the
        equivalent corruptions, and when they should be legally inflicted."

        John Brown of Wamphray. Apologetical Relation. "...for there is a
        vast difference to be put betwixt a time wherein the church is
        advancing in a course of reformation, and a time wherein she is
        declining and sliding back from that degree of reformation unto which
        she had already attained. In a time wherein the church is but coming
        out of darkness, and the day is but beginning to break up, many
        things may then be comported with and tolerated which may not be
        submitted unto after the church hath got all these abuses reformed.
        Every believer and every church is bound to stand fast in that which
        they have attained unto, and not to cede in a hoof: so that
        Christians living in a time wherein the church is but beginning to
        wrestle up from under the heap of error and corruption, may be
        allowed to do many things which must not be done when the noontide of
        the day is come. In the time of the reformation begun by Luther and
        others, many things might have been comported within the church
        (reformation being a gradual motion that hath but small beginnings
        and risings) which now, since the reformation hath been carried on,
        through the blessing of God, to that degree it was advanced to,
        cannot be allowed. When God hath wonderfully, by his mighty power and
        outstretched arm, brought a church to a great length in reformation,
        it will be the duty of that church, and of the members thereof, to
        adhere to that degree unto which they have attained with all
        perseverance. It will be lawful for the church which is but coming up
        the hill to stand at such a step until they gain another, when yet it
        will not be lawful for the same church to go backward after they have
        advanced. The truth once bought should never be sold. So then the
        consequence is null. Their forefathers stumbled not nor did scruple
        at the doing of such or such things; therefore those in this
        generation who have advanced, through the blessing of God, unto a
        farther degree of reformation, should not scruple either. It is a
        poor consequence to say, The posterity may return backwards because
        their forefathers could not advance further. Much more may be seen
        when the sun is up than in the twilight: therefore the scrupling of
        honest people now doth no way condemn their forefathers; but, on the
        contrary, the steadfastness of their forefathers, in standing to the
        degree to which they had reached, and their endeavouring to advance,
        will condemn this generation for backsliding. In their days those
        abuses and corruption were not remedied,- the church was not then
        freed of that yoke of oppression."

        Samuel Rutherfurd. Due Right of Presbyteries: "When the greatest part
        of a Church maketh defection from the Truth, the lesser part
        remaining sound, the greatest part is the Church of Separatists."

        Alexander Shields. A Hind Let Loose: "The grave author of Rectius
        Instruendem Confut.. 3 dial. chap. pag. 7 &c. 'Allows, every
        separation is not schism, even from the church which hath essentials;
        yea, and more than essentials: if it be from those (though never so
        many) who are 'drawing back from whatever piece of duty and integrity
        is attained'; for this is still to be held fast, according to many
        scripture commands."

        The church of Jesus Christ has necessary divisions along regional or
        sometimes language barrier lines. It is obvious that not all churches
        will attain the same purity at the same rate worldwide. Some issues
        will come up here that will not there. Some churches may understand
        certain things better than others. Some churches may allow for
        certain corruptions that crept in while there was as yet no testimony
        discerned against such things among their churches, that another
        established church has reckoned to be the corruption it is and
        already purged from their borders. These differences may to some
        degree or other hamper a full unity as yet in certain things, yet
        retaining that degree of Christian unity pointed out by Shields
        above, being sanctified at different rates around the world. But when
        there is a backsliding and defection from reformation, producing
        splits in the church in order to maintain these defections against
        those who retain the purer doctrine formerly professed, I have oft
        wondered how it is that countenancing the lawfulness of the
        administrations of pastoral gifts and callings that are exercized for
        the sake of maintaining the erroneous sides in those splits is
        promoting the unity that Christ prayed for in John 17, where instead
        of being sanctified in truth that we may be one, these factions,
        though to be admonished as brethren and not as heathen, work contrary
        to the sanctification of the visible church in the truth by existing
        on the footing of upholding an error contrary to another group.
        Granted, some will question whether these factions are in fact the
        erroneous ones and not that they have found something missed by our
        forefathers. But the question at hand seemed to be referring to
        churches that were acknowledged as having grown less pure and failed
        to retain the former truth professed, and splintered into factions
        that have replaced with errors some of the truth formerly professed.
        It perhaps should be noted that in stating these things, there
        historically has been differenced the official ministrations of an
        ecclesiastical body assembled with a distinct existence due to an
        error it professes, and private relations with brothers and sisters
        in Christ (though in some points privately erring) when providence
        has lodged them together as private Christians, and when it may be
        done without idolatry or scandal. Such private acts were not seen as
        performed in the name of a specific ministerial body which exists
        with a certain corporate form whose footing and reason for separate
        existence from a body they were formally in union with is error, but
        rather were seen as performed as private acts between Christians as
        Christians. In times of danger, or of more self-conscious defection
        (when the defection is just breaking out, as opposed to having
        inherited a state of ignorance and confusion), there of course may be
        cause for refusing such things even in private with certain obstinate
        and self conscious defectors and scandalous persons.
        "In proposing the above Terms of communion, we wish a difference to
        be made between persons holding, proclaiming, and propagating
        sentiments in religion, opposite to those which are recognized by our
        Terms, and persons who may be, comparatively, ignorant, or have
        private views of their own, but are willing to be farther instructed.
        The former must be positively debarred from church fellowship,
        whereas milder treatment is due to the latter. Let it also be
        remembered, that there is a material difference between church-
        communion, properly so called, and private occasional communion, with
        those who may agree in the great essentials of salvation, through a
        crucified Saviour. Church communion, among the professing members of
        Christ's mystical body, we consider as lying chiefly in their
        conscientiously walking together, and enjoying mutual comfort in the
        regular observation of all public Gospel ordinances, in general, and
        joint participation of the solemn seals of the new covenant, in
        particular; as these are dispensed by the ministers of religion, who
        are vested with office, according to the laws of Christ. This,
        necessarily, requires unanimity in all those things which belong to
        the constitution of the church in her organized capacity; such as,
        doctrines to be believed, a certain mode of worship to be observed a
        form of government to be exercised, and discipline to be
        administered. As it doth not appear that the church, in her complete
        and organized capacity, can exist without any of these articles, so
        neither is it easy to conceive how persons holding jarring sentiments
        on these important subjects can consistently enjoy church fellowship
        with each other. Private Christian communion, we apprehend, consists
        in the joint discharge of those religious duties which are not
        peculiar to official characters as such, but are common to them and
        all Christians at large, in their individual capacity. Of this kind
        we may reckon reading the Scriptures; religious conversation, as
        opportunity offers, in the course of providence; occasional prayer
        with the sick; when desired; praising God in the family, when
        providentially lodged together; joint craving of Heaven's
        blessing on
        the provision of our table, and such like. From private and
        occasional communion, with Christians of other denominations, in
        things like these, we never thought of debarring our people; though
        we cannot help being of opinion, that church fellowship should ever
        be regulated by some such scriptural terms as those which we have
        endeavoured to exhibit and explain." (The Reformed Presbytery. An
        Explanation and Defense of the Terms of Communion.)
      • Dan Fraas
        Brother Martin, Thank you for your zeal to defend maintain the purity of God s Religion. While the paragraphs you quoted are certainly pertinent to our
        Message 3 of 11 , Apr 23, 2003
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          Brother Martin,

          Thank you for your zeal to defend maintain the purity of God's
          Religion. While the paragraphs you quoted are certainly pertinent to
          our discussion of Calvin's views on separatism, we must be careful to
          keep them in their historical context and in context with Calvin's
          other writings. See especially The Institutes of the Christian
          Religion, Book IV, Chapter 1, sections 8-10:

          http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.iv.iv.ii.html

          The paragraphs you quoted come from Calvin's Anti-Nicodemite
          writings, which addressed a specific group of people who claimed to
          be Reformed yet participated in the popish mass. According to
          Calvin's rule of thumb that I referenced out of the Insitutes, the
          papists have neither the preaching of the word nor Jesus' rightful
          institution of the sacraments. The popish corruptions nullify the
          Word and destroy the sacraments, and so therefore Rome may not be
          considered the true church according to Calvin. Therefore true
          believers must separate from popery. However, he makes clear that no
          church can have perfect purity of religion, ever. To suggest
          otherwise is foolhardy and prideful to say the least. Calvin's
          reference to "purity" of religion must be understood as a degree of
          purity in keeping with his definition of the true church. Calvin's
          definition of the true church uses the standard of 1. preaching of
          the Word and 2. administration of the sacraments. Although both may
          and shall contain corruptions, as long as the gospel of salvation and
          true purpose of the sacraments are maintained, Calvin says there is a
          true church. Christians ought not to separate themselves from the
          true church by any means.

          "Note, Calvin recommends that we seriously consider whether we can
          abstain
          > from idolatry in the church we attend. How many churches do you
          know of
          > that practice purity of worship?"

          If you mean perfect purity of worship, none exist. If you mean to
          ask how many churches preach the true gospel of grace and rightly
          administer the sacraments while attempting to worship God as He wills
          (subject to their own biblical understanding), I know of many.
          Having said that, we should never cease from reformation in our
          congregations.

          "To say that we should
          > purify the worship from within a church is like saying we ought to
          > participate in idolatry until we may convince others to not
          practice the
          > very thing we are participating in with them."

          Just as not all heads of doctrine bear equal importance, neither do
          all questions of worship bear equal importance. We shouldn't equate
          every impurity of worship with idolatry.

          "Besides, if you had taken
          > this course of action in the PCUSA 100 years ago you'd have died
          practicing
          > grosser idolatry than you had at the beginning."

          The PCUSA (or rather the United Presbyterian Church at the time)
          nullified any claim to the preaching of the word years ago. At least
          by the 1930's she had declared it a matter of pastoral interpretation
          whether or not Jesus physically rose from the dead. Ministers were
          not required to teach or believe the Resurrection. If that's not a
          denial of the gospel I don't know what is. Christians properly
          separate from a body like this in such circumstances (as many did.)

          For Christ's Crown and Covenant!

          Riley




          --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Martin"
          <paleopuritan@h...> wrote:
          > Calvin as quoted in Covenanted Reformation Defended:
          > "As for the babblers who ridicule us, wondering if one cannot get to
          > paradise except by way of Geneva, I answer: would to God they had
          the
          > courage to gather in the name of Jesus Christ wherever they are,
          and set up
          > some sort of church, either in their houses or in those of their
          neighbors,
          > to do in their place what we do here in our temples! . . . And,
          whoever has
          > no means of being in the Christian church, where God is worshipped
          purely,
          > let him at least groan night and day, 'Thine altars, Lord; it is
          only thine
          > altars that I desire, my God, my king' (John Calvin, Come Out From
          Among
          > Them, The Anti­Nicodemite Writings of John Calvin, a forthcoming
          book to be
          > published by Protestant Heritage Press, The Third Sermon, On Psalm
          27:4, pp.
          > 192, 193, emphases added).
          >
          > Some one will therefore ask me what counsel I would like to give to
          a
          > believer who thus dwells in some Egypt or Babylon where he may not
          worship
          > God purely, but is forced by the common practice to accommodate
          himself to
          > bad things. The first advice would be to leave [i.e. relocate ­ GB]
          if he
          > could. . . . If someone has no way to depart, I would counsel him to
          > consider whether it would be possible for him to abstain from all
          idolatry
          > in order to preserve himself pure and spotless toward God in both
          body and
          > soul. Then let him worship God in private, praying him to restore
          his poor
          > church to its right estate (John Calvin, Come Out From Among Them,
          The
          > Anti­Nicodemite Writings of John Calvin, a forthcoming book to be
          published
          > by Protestant Heritage Press, "A Short Teatise", pp. 93, 94,
          emphases
          > added). "
          >
          > Note, Calvin recommends that we seriously consider whether we can
          abstain
          > from idolatry in the church we attend. How many churches do you
          know of
          > that practice purity of worship? I know of very few. To say that
          we should
          > purify the worship from within a church is like saying we ought to
          > participate in idolatry until we may convince others to not
          practice the
          > very thing we are participating in with them. Besides, if you had
          taken
          > this course of action in the PCUSA 100 years ago you'd have died
          practicing
          > grosser idolatry than you had at the beginning.
          >
          > Martin
          >
          > ----- Original Message -----
          > From: "Dan Fraas" <fraasrd@y...>
          > To: <covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com>
          > Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2003 9:26 AM
          > Subject: [Covenanted Reformation] Calvin on schisms, separatism
          >
          >
          > > I was reading the Institutes yesterday, and as usual I found some
          > > deep insight by Calvin on the meaning of the Church and fellowship
          > > with her. He noted that no church is completely pure, anywhere,
          that
          > > Christians may have legitimate theological disagreements, and
          that we
          > > should not break fellowship with brothers and sisters for
          > > nonessential reasons. He distinguished the marks of the true
          church
          > > as 1. the ministry of the word and 2. the administration of the
          > > sacraments. Although Calvin noted that corruptions may even make
          > > incursions into these essential items, he said that as long as the
          > > impurities do not destroy the aim and institution of the
          sacraments,
          > > and the essential doctrines of salvation are generally preserved,
          we
          > > should by no means leave the church that bears these
          distinguishing
          > > marks of truth. As Calvin noted, not all heads of doctrine bear
          > > equal importance. Although we should never give up the struggle
          to
          > > purify doctrine and worship, we should seek to reform the true
          church
          > > from within. I find this interpretation very insightful and it
          > > weighs on the issue of Christians today who live in an area where
          a
          > > thoroughly-Reformed congregation does not exist.
          > >
          > > For Christ's Crown and Covenant!
          > >
          > > Riley
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
          > > covenantedreformationclub-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
          http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
          > >
          > >
          > >
        • weeping_calvinist
          We shouldn t equate every impurity of worship with idolatry. Certainly, we shouldn t equate every impurity of worship with idolatry of the first degree
          Message 4 of 11 , Apr 25, 2003
          • 0 Attachment
            "We shouldn't equate every impurity of worship with idolatry."

            Certainly, we shouldn't equate every impurity of worship with
            idolatry of the first degree (worshiping a false god, etc). But if
            God is to be worshipped according to His own appointment, and
            impurity of worship involves worshipping God in a way that he has not
            appointed (or sometimes worshipping God in a way contrary to His
            appointment) is a sin, and sin is a lack of conformity unto or a
            transgression of the Law of God, which Law is "impurity of worship"
            in violation of?

            In other words, if it is not idolatry of the first degree (false
            God), or second degree (the true God worshipped wrongly), what is it?

            I ask this as someone who is revisiting the question of where I ought
            to worship.

            (just checking in again)
            gmw.



            --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Dan Fraas"
            <fraasrd@y...> wrote:
            > Brother Martin,
            >
            > Thank you for your zeal to defend maintain the purity of God's
            > Religion. While the paragraphs you quoted are certainly pertinent
            to
            > our discussion of Calvin's views on separatism, we must be careful
            to
            > keep them in their historical context and in context with Calvin's
            > other writings. See especially The Institutes of the Christian
            > Religion, Book IV, Chapter 1, sections 8-10:
            >
            > http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.iv.iv.ii.html
            >
            > The paragraphs you quoted come from Calvin's Anti-Nicodemite
            > writings, which addressed a specific group of people who claimed to
            > be Reformed yet participated in the popish mass. According to
            > Calvin's rule of thumb that I referenced out of the Insitutes, the
            > papists have neither the preaching of the word nor Jesus' rightful
            > institution of the sacraments. The popish corruptions nullify the
            > Word and destroy the sacraments, and so therefore Rome may not be
            > considered the true church according to Calvin. Therefore true
            > believers must separate from popery. However, he makes clear that
            no
            > church can have perfect purity of religion, ever. To suggest
            > otherwise is foolhardy and prideful to say the least. Calvin's
            > reference to "purity" of religion must be understood as a degree of
            > purity in keeping with his definition of the true church. Calvin's
            > definition of the true church uses the standard of 1. preaching of
            > the Word and 2. administration of the sacraments. Although both
            may
            > and shall contain corruptions, as long as the gospel of salvation
            and
            > true purpose of the sacraments are maintained, Calvin says there is
            a
            > true church. Christians ought not to separate themselves from the
            > true church by any means.
            >
            > "Note, Calvin recommends that we seriously consider whether we can
            > abstain
            > > from idolatry in the church we attend. How many churches do you
            > know of
            > > that practice purity of worship?"
            >
            > If you mean perfect purity of worship, none exist. If you mean to
            > ask how many churches preach the true gospel of grace and rightly
            > administer the sacraments while attempting to worship God as He
            wills
            > (subject to their own biblical understanding), I know of many.
            > Having said that, we should never cease from reformation in our
            > congregations.
            >
            > "To say that we should
            > > purify the worship from within a church is like saying we ought to
            > > participate in idolatry until we may convince others to not
            > practice the
            > > very thing we are participating in with them."
            >
            > Just as not all heads of doctrine bear equal importance, neither do
            > all questions of worship bear equal importance. We shouldn't
            equate
            > every impurity of worship with idolatry.
            >
            > "Besides, if you had taken
            > > this course of action in the PCUSA 100 years ago you'd have died
            > practicing
            > > grosser idolatry than you had at the beginning."
            >
            > The PCUSA (or rather the United Presbyterian Church at the time)
            > nullified any claim to the preaching of the word years ago. At
            least
            > by the 1930's she had declared it a matter of pastoral
            interpretation
            > whether or not Jesus physically rose from the dead. Ministers were
            > not required to teach or believe the Resurrection. If that's not a
            > denial of the gospel I don't know what is. Christians properly
            > separate from a body like this in such circumstances (as many did.)
            >
            > For Christ's Crown and Covenant!
            >
            > Riley
            >
            >
            >
            >
            > --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Martin"
            > <paleopuritan@h...> wrote:
            > > Calvin as quoted in Covenanted Reformation Defended:
            > > "As for the babblers who ridicule us, wondering if one cannot get
            to
            > > paradise except by way of Geneva, I answer: would to God they had
            > the
            > > courage to gather in the name of Jesus Christ wherever they are,
            > and set up
            > > some sort of church, either in their houses or in those of their
            > neighbors,
            > > to do in their place what we do here in our temples! . . . And,
            > whoever has
            > > no means of being in the Christian church, where God is
            worshipped
            > purely,
            > > let him at least groan night and day, 'Thine altars, Lord; it is
            > only thine
            > > altars that I desire, my God, my king' (John Calvin, Come Out
            From
            > Among
            > > Them, The Anti­Nicodemite Writings of John Calvin, a forthcoming
            > book to be
            > > published by Protestant Heritage Press, The Third Sermon, On
            Psalm
            > 27:4, pp.
            > > 192, 193, emphases added).
            > >
            > > Some one will therefore ask me what counsel I would like to give
            to
            > a
            > > believer who thus dwells in some Egypt or Babylon where he may
            not
            > worship
            > > God purely, but is forced by the common practice to accommodate
            > himself to
            > > bad things. The first advice would be to leave [i.e. relocate ­
            GB]
            > if he
            > > could. . . . If someone has no way to depart, I would counsel him
            to
            > > consider whether it would be possible for him to abstain from all
            > idolatry
            > > in order to preserve himself pure and spotless toward God in both
            > body and
            > > soul. Then let him worship God in private, praying him to restore
            > his poor
            > > church to its right estate (John Calvin, Come Out From Among
            Them,
            > The
            > > Anti­Nicodemite Writings of John Calvin, a forthcoming book to be
            > published
            > > by Protestant Heritage Press, "A Short Teatise", pp. 93, 94,
            > emphases
            > > added). "
            > >
            > > Note, Calvin recommends that we seriously consider whether we can
            > abstain
            > > from idolatry in the church we attend. How many churches do you
            > know of
            > > that practice purity of worship? I know of very few. To say
            that
            > we should
            > > purify the worship from within a church is like saying we ought to
            > > participate in idolatry until we may convince others to not
            > practice the
            > > very thing we are participating in with them. Besides, if you
            had
            > taken
            > > this course of action in the PCUSA 100 years ago you'd have died
            > practicing
            > > grosser idolatry than you had at the beginning.
            > >
            > > Martin
            > >
            > > ----- Original Message -----
            > > From: "Dan Fraas" <fraasrd@y...>
            > > To: <covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com>
            > > Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2003 9:26 AM
            > > Subject: [Covenanted Reformation] Calvin on schisms, separatism
            > >
            > >
            > > > I was reading the Institutes yesterday, and as usual I found
            some
            > > > deep insight by Calvin on the meaning of the Church and
            fellowship
            > > > with her. He noted that no church is completely pure,
            anywhere,
            > that
            > > > Christians may have legitimate theological disagreements, and
            > that we
            > > > should not break fellowship with brothers and sisters for
            > > > nonessential reasons. He distinguished the marks of the true
            > church
            > > > as 1. the ministry of the word and 2. the administration of the
            > > > sacraments. Although Calvin noted that corruptions may even
            make
            > > > incursions into these essential items, he said that as long as
            the
            > > > impurities do not destroy the aim and institution of the
            > sacraments,
            > > > and the essential doctrines of salvation are generally
            preserved,
            > we
            > > > should by no means leave the church that bears these
            > distinguishing
            > > > marks of truth. As Calvin noted, not all heads of doctrine bear
            > > > equal importance. Although we should never give up the
            struggle
            > to
            > > > purify doctrine and worship, we should seek to reform the true
            > church
            > > > from within. I find this interpretation very insightful and it
            > > > weighs on the issue of Christians today who live in an area
            where
            > a
            > > > thoroughly-Reformed congregation does not exist.
            > > >
            > > > For Christ's Crown and Covenant!
            > > >
            > > > Riley
            > > >
            > > >
            > > >
            > > > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
            > > > covenantedreformationclub-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
            > > >
            > > >
            > > >
            > > > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
            > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
            > > >
            > > >
            > > >
          • Martin
            Hi Riley, Sorry about the delay for this reply. I appreciate your comments on this matter. I likely am guilty of having been oversimplistic in my original
            Message 5 of 11 , Apr 26, 2003
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              Hi Riley,

              Sorry about the delay for this reply. I appreciate your comments on this
              matter. I likely am guilty of having been oversimplistic in my original
              post. I think the well written post by "The Bishops Doom" conveys in
              further detail my position on the matter of separation.

              Riley wrote:
              >>> The paragraphs you quoted come from Calvin's Anti-Nicodemite writings,
              which addressed a specific group of people who claimed to be Reformed yet
              participated in the popish mass. According to Calvin's rule of thumb that I
              referenced out of the Insitutes, the papists have neither the preaching of
              the word nor Jesus' rightful
              institution of the sacraments. The popish corruptions nullify the Word and
              destroy the sacraments, and so therefore Rome may not be considered the true
              church according to Calvin. Therefore true believers must separate from
              popery. However, he makes clear that no church can have perfect purity of
              religion, ever. To suggest otherwise is foolhardy and prideful to say the
              least. Calvin's reference to "purity" of religion must be understood as a
              degree of purity in keeping with his definition of the true church.
              Calvin's definition of the true church uses the standard of 1. preaching of
              the Word and 2. administration of the sacraments. Although both may
              and shall contain corruptions, as long as the gospel of salvation and true
              purpose of the sacraments are maintained, Calvin says there is a true
              church. Christians ought not to separate themselves from the true church by
              any means. <<<

              Calvin's standard for separation is also reflected in the Belgic Confession
              of Faith Article XXIX:
              "We believe that we ought diligently and circumspectly to discern from the
              Word of God which is the true Church, since all sects which are in the world
              assume to themselves the name of the Church. But we speak not here of
              hypocrites, who are mixed in the Church with the good, yet are not of the
              Church, though externally in it; but we say that the body and communion of
              the true Church must be distinguished from all sects that call themselves
              the Church. The marks by which the true Church is known are these: If the
              pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if it maintains the pure
              administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church
              discipline is exercised in chastening of sin; in short, if all things are
              managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto
              rejected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the Church.
              Hereby the true Church may certainly be known, from which no man has a right
              to separate himself."

              Riley wrote:
              >>> If you mean perfect purity of worship, none exist. If you mean to ask
              how many churches preach the true gospel of grace and rightly administer the
              sacraments while attempting to worship God as He wills (subject to their own
              biblical understanding), I know of many. Having said that, we should never
              cease from reformation in our
              congregations.<<<

              I agree that all churches are subject to both mixture and error as stated in
              the WCF XXV:V. So a spotless purity of worship isn't required for
              maintenance of communion. However, I see a vast difference between worship
              which bears the essential form set forth in Scripture although practiced
              with impurities versus a form of worship which has no ground in Scripture.
              Once again though, we will need to draw a line somewhere, I think most
              people do and will. Do the Charismatics (sic) who sing sentimentalistic and
              doctrinally sparse choruses with their band and all other sorts of disorders
              practice the true form of worship? At what point are we justified to
              separate on account of worship? Is there any point where we may do so? As
              per always, I would allow for more error in churches reforming (from
              choruses to psalmody) than churches deforming (from psalmody to choruses).

              Riley wrote:
              >>>Just as not all heads of doctrine bear equal importance, neither do all
              questions of worship bear equal importance. We shouldn't equate every
              impurity of worship with idolatry. <<<

              Granted, not all heads of doctrine are equal as to their scope etc., but all
              are certainly equal in their authority.

              Riley wrote:
              >>> The PCUSA (or rather the United Presbyterian Church at the time)
              nullified any claim to the preaching of the word years ago. At least by the
              1930's she had declared it a matter of pastoral interpretation whether or
              not Jesus physically rose from the dead. Ministers were not required to
              teach or believe the Resurrection. If that's not a denial of the gospel I
              don't know what is. Christians properly separate from a body like this in
              such circumstances (as many did.) <<<

              Fair enough. Would you sit under the preaching of a woman where "the gospel
              of salvation and true purpose of the sacraments are maintained"?

              Martin
            • psaalmsinger
              Martin, Here is something you may want to include in your study on the women s veiling issue from the Anti-Nicodemite Writings by John Calvin: TO confirm what
              Message 6 of 11 , Apr 28, 2003
              • 0 Attachment
                Martin,

                Here is something you may want to include in your study on the
                women's veiling issue from the Anti-Nicodemite Writings by John
                Calvin:

                "TO confirm what he says, he would have it believed that St. Paul,
                when he commands men to pray with their heads covered and women with
                their heads covered, is giving milk to thise who cannot yet bear
                strong meat. Indeed, but what will he say to the conclusion which is
                immediately added: "If anyone enters into contention, we have not
                this custom, nor does the church of God" (1 Cor. 11:16)? For, by
                these words, St. Paul indicates that he is not directing his
                discourse to carnal people, that he does not restrict it to them who
                are without God. Rather he is speaking of the general order which
                must be maintained and observed throughout the church, and which no
                man may oppose without rendering himself schismatic. Page 275 - A
                response to a Certain Dutchman (1562) Anti-Nicodemite Writings




                --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Martin"
                <paleopuritan@h...> wrote:
                > Hi Riley,
                >
                > Sorry about the delay for this reply. I appreciate your comments
                on this
                > matter. I likely am guilty of having been oversimplistic in my
                original
                > post. I think the well written post by "The Bishops Doom" conveys
                in
                > further detail my position on the matter of separation.
                >
                > Riley wrote:
                > >>> The paragraphs you quoted come from Calvin's Anti-Nicodemite
                writings,
                > which addressed a specific group of people who claimed to be
                Reformed yet
                > participated in the popish mass. According to Calvin's rule of
                thumb that I
                > referenced out of the Insitutes, the papists have neither the
                preaching of
                > the word nor Jesus' rightful
                > institution of the sacraments. The popish corruptions nullify the
                Word and
                > destroy the sacraments, and so therefore Rome may not be
                considered the true
                > church according to Calvin. Therefore true believers must
                separate from
                > popery. However, he makes clear that no church can have perfect
                purity of
                > religion, ever. To suggest otherwise is foolhardy and prideful to
                say the
                > least. Calvin's reference to "purity" of religion must be
                understood as a
                > degree of purity in keeping with his definition of the true church.
                > Calvin's definition of the true church uses the standard of 1.
                preaching of
                > the Word and 2. administration of the sacraments. Although both
                may
                > and shall contain corruptions, as long as the gospel of salvation
                and true
                > purpose of the sacraments are maintained, Calvin says there is a
                true
                > church. Christians ought not to separate themselves from the true
                church by
                > any means. <<<
                >
                > Calvin's standard for separation is also reflected in the Belgic
                Confession
                > of Faith Article XXIX:
                > "We believe that we ought diligently and circumspectly to discern
                from the
                > Word of God which is the true Church, since all sects which are in
                the world
                > assume to themselves the name of the Church. But we speak not here
                of
                > hypocrites, who are mixed in the Church with the good, yet are not
                of the
                > Church, though externally in it; but we say that the body and
                communion of
                > the true Church must be distinguished from all sects that call
                themselves
                > the Church. The marks by which the true Church is known are
                these: If the
                > pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if it maintains
                the pure
                > administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church
                > discipline is exercised in chastening of sin; in short, if all
                things are
                > managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary
                thereto
                > rejected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the
                Church.
                > Hereby the true Church may certainly be known, from which no man
                has a right
                > to separate himself."
                >
                > Riley wrote:
                > >>> If you mean perfect purity of worship, none exist. If you
                mean to ask
                > how many churches preach the true gospel of grace and rightly
                administer the
                > sacraments while attempting to worship God as He wills (subject to
                their own
                > biblical understanding), I know of many. Having said that, we
                should never
                > cease from reformation in our
                > congregations.<<<
                >
                > I agree that all churches are subject to both mixture and error as
                stated in
                > the WCF XXV:V. So a spotless purity of worship isn't required for
                > maintenance of communion. However, I see a vast difference
                between worship
                > which bears the essential form set forth in Scripture although
                practiced
                > with impurities versus a form of worship which has no ground in
                Scripture.
                > Once again though, we will need to draw a line somewhere, I think
                most
                > people do and will. Do the Charismatics (sic) who sing
                sentimentalistic and
                > doctrinally sparse choruses with their band and all other sorts of
                disorders
                > practice the true form of worship? At what point are we justified
                to
                > separate on account of worship? Is there any point where we may
                do so? As
                > per always, I would allow for more error in churches reforming
                (from
                > choruses to psalmody) than churches deforming (from psalmody to
                choruses).
                >
                > Riley wrote:
                > >>>Just as not all heads of doctrine bear equal importance,
                neither do all
                > questions of worship bear equal importance. We shouldn't equate
                every
                > impurity of worship with idolatry. <<<
                >
                > Granted, not all heads of doctrine are equal as to their scope
                etc., but all
                > are certainly equal in their authority.
                >
                > Riley wrote:
                > >>> The PCUSA (or rather the United Presbyterian Church at the
                time)
                > nullified any claim to the preaching of the word years ago. At
                least by the
                > 1930's she had declared it a matter of pastoral interpretation
                whether or
                > not Jesus physically rose from the dead. Ministers were not
                required to
                > teach or believe the Resurrection. If that's not a denial of the
                gospel I
                > don't know what is. Christians properly separate from a body like
                this in
                > such circumstances (as many did.) <<<
                >
                > Fair enough. Would you sit under the preaching of a woman
                where "the gospel
                > of salvation and true purpose of the sacraments are maintained"?
                >
                > Martin
              • psaalmsinger
                Typo: Should read men with heads bared, not covered... ... Here is something you may want to include in your study on the women s veiling issue from the
                Message 7 of 11 , Apr 28, 2003
                • 0 Attachment
                  Typo: Should read men with heads "bared," not covered...
                  > Martin,
                  >
                  Here is something you may want to include in your study on the
                  women's veiling issue from the Anti-Nicodemite Writings by John
                  Calvin:

                  "TO confirm what he says, he would have it believed that St. Paul,
                  when he commands men to pray with their heads bared and women with
                  their heads covered, is giving milk to those who cannot yet bear
                  strong meat. Indeed, but what will he say to the conclusion which is
                  immediately added: "If anyone enters into contention, we have not
                  this custom, nor does the church of God" (1 Cor. 11:16)? For, by
                  these words, St. Paul indicates that he is not directing his
                  discourse to carnal people, that he does not restrict it to them who
                  are without God. Rather he is speaking of the general order which
                  must be maintained and observed throughout the church, and which no
                  man may oppose without rendering himself schismatic. Page 275 - A
                  response to a Certain Dutchman (1562) Anti-Nicodemite Writings



                  >
                  > --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Martin"
                  > <paleopuritan@h...> wrote:
                  > > Hi Riley,
                  > >
                  > > Sorry about the delay for this reply. I appreciate your
                  comments
                  > on this
                  > > matter. I likely am guilty of having been oversimplistic in my
                  > original
                  > > post. I think the well written post by "The Bishops Doom"
                  conveys
                  > in
                  > > further detail my position on the matter of separation.
                  > >
                  > > Riley wrote:
                  > > >>> The paragraphs you quoted come from Calvin's Anti-Nicodemite
                  > writings,
                  > > which addressed a specific group of people who claimed to be
                  > Reformed yet
                  > > participated in the popish mass. According to Calvin's rule of
                  > thumb that I
                  > > referenced out of the Insitutes, the papists have neither the
                  > preaching of
                  > > the word nor Jesus' rightful
                  > > institution of the sacraments. The popish corruptions nullify
                  the
                  > Word and
                  > > destroy the sacraments, and so therefore Rome may not be
                  > considered the true
                  > > church according to Calvin. Therefore true believers must
                  > separate from
                  > > popery. However, he makes clear that no church can have perfect
                  > purity of
                  > > religion, ever. To suggest otherwise is foolhardy and prideful
                  to
                  > say the
                  > > least. Calvin's reference to "purity" of religion must be
                  > understood as a
                  > > degree of purity in keeping with his definition of the true
                  church.
                  > > Calvin's definition of the true church uses the standard of 1.
                  > preaching of
                  > > the Word and 2. administration of the sacraments. Although both
                  > may
                  > > and shall contain corruptions, as long as the gospel of
                  salvation
                  > and true
                  > > purpose of the sacraments are maintained, Calvin says there is a
                  > true
                  > > church. Christians ought not to separate themselves from the
                  true
                  > church by
                  > > any means. <<<
                  > >
                  > > Calvin's standard for separation is also reflected in the Belgic
                  > Confession
                  > > of Faith Article XXIX:
                  > > "We believe that we ought diligently and circumspectly to
                  discern
                  > from the
                  > > Word of God which is the true Church, since all sects which are
                  in
                  > the world
                  > > assume to themselves the name of the Church. But we speak not
                  here
                  > of
                  > > hypocrites, who are mixed in the Church with the good, yet are
                  not
                  > of the
                  > > Church, though externally in it; but we say that the body and
                  > communion of
                  > > the true Church must be distinguished from all sects that call
                  > themselves
                  > > the Church. The marks by which the true Church is known are
                  > these: If the
                  > > pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if it maintains
                  > the pure
                  > > administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if
                  church
                  > > discipline is exercised in chastening of sin; in short, if all
                  > things are
                  > > managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary
                  > thereto
                  > > rejected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the
                  > Church.
                  > > Hereby the true Church may certainly be known, from which no man
                  > has a right
                  > > to separate himself."
                  > >
                  > > Riley wrote:
                  > > >>> If you mean perfect purity of worship, none exist. If you
                  > mean to ask
                  > > how many churches preach the true gospel of grace and rightly
                  > administer the
                  > > sacraments while attempting to worship God as He wills (subject
                  to
                  > their own
                  > > biblical understanding), I know of many. Having said that, we
                  > should never
                  > > cease from reformation in our
                  > > congregations.<<<
                  > >
                  > > I agree that all churches are subject to both mixture and error
                  as
                  > stated in
                  > > the WCF XXV:V. So a spotless purity of worship isn't required
                  for
                  > > maintenance of communion. However, I see a vast difference
                  > between worship
                  > > which bears the essential form set forth in Scripture although
                  > practiced
                  > > with impurities versus a form of worship which has no ground in
                  > Scripture.
                  > > Once again though, we will need to draw a line somewhere, I
                  think
                  > most
                  > > people do and will. Do the Charismatics (sic) who sing
                  > sentimentalistic and
                  > > doctrinally sparse choruses with their band and all other sorts
                  of
                  > disorders
                  > > practice the true form of worship? At what point are we
                  justified
                  > to
                  > > separate on account of worship? Is there any point where we may
                  > do so? As
                  > > per always, I would allow for more error in churches reforming
                  > (from
                  > > choruses to psalmody) than churches deforming (from psalmody to
                  > choruses).
                  > >
                  > > Riley wrote:
                  > > >>>Just as not all heads of doctrine bear equal importance,
                  > neither do all
                  > > questions of worship bear equal importance. We shouldn't equate
                  > every
                  > > impurity of worship with idolatry. <<<
                  > >
                  > > Granted, not all heads of doctrine are equal as to their scope
                  > etc., but all
                  > > are certainly equal in their authority.
                  > >
                  > > Riley wrote:
                  > > >>> The PCUSA (or rather the United Presbyterian Church at the
                  > time)
                  > > nullified any claim to the preaching of the word years ago. At
                  > least by the
                  > > 1930's she had declared it a matter of pastoral interpretation
                  > whether or
                  > > not Jesus physically rose from the dead. Ministers were not
                  > required to
                  > > teach or believe the Resurrection. If that's not a denial of
                  the
                  > gospel I
                  > > don't know what is. Christians properly separate from a body
                  like
                  > this in
                  > > such circumstances (as many did.) <<<
                  > >
                  > > Fair enough. Would you sit under the preaching of a woman
                  > where "the gospel
                  > > of salvation and true purpose of the sacraments are maintained"?
                  > >
                  > > Martin
                • Dan Fraas
                  Dear Jerry, This sin is a violation of that law, which says that we must only worship God according to His appointment. Notice the Scripture makes a
                  Message 8 of 11 , Apr 29, 2003
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                    Dear Jerry,

                    This sin is a violation of that law, which says that we must only
                    worship God according to His appointment. Notice the Scripture makes
                    a distinction between sins commited willfully, and sins commited
                    ignorantly. We must be guided by God's law as the Holy Spirit enables
                    our personal conciense. I personally do not consent to the addition
                    of hymns of human origin in the worship of God. The church that I
                    attend sings mostly Psalms, but some hymns. As a matter of personal
                    conciense I do not participate in the hymn-singing yet I will not
                    break fellowship with those whom God has called together in His name
                    for that reason. I'm not even sure if I'm right. When the
                    congregation sings a hymn, I pray, asking the Lord to show us if we
                    are doing anything contrary to His will and if so to forgive us and
                    accept our worship. There is an example when King Josiah prayed to
                    God to accept the people's worship even though not all had been
                    properly cleansed, and God overlooked the offense. I do not feel that
                    we should separate ourselves from the congregation of the saints over
                    issues like those I've described here.

                    For Christ's Crown and Covenant!

                    Riley

                    --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "weeping_calvinist"
                    <raging.calvinist@v...> wrote:
                    > "We shouldn't equate every impurity of worship with idolatry."
                    >
                    > Certainly, we shouldn't equate every impurity of worship with
                    > idolatry of the first degree (worshiping a false god, etc). But if
                    > God is to be worshipped according to His own appointment, and
                    > impurity of worship involves worshipping God in a way that he has
                    not
                    > appointed (or sometimes worshipping God in a way contrary to His
                    > appointment) is a sin, and sin is a lack of conformity unto or a
                    > transgression of the Law of God, which Law is "impurity of worship"
                    > in violation of?
                    >
                    > In other words, if it is not idolatry of the first degree (false
                    > God), or second degree (the true God worshipped wrongly), what is
                    it?
                    >
                    > I ask this as someone who is revisiting the question of where I
                    ought
                    > to worship.
                    >
                    > (just checking in again)
                    > gmw.
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Dan Fraas"
                    > <fraasrd@y...> wrote:
                    > > Brother Martin,
                    > >
                    > > Thank you for your zeal to defend maintain the purity of God's
                    > > Religion. While the paragraphs you quoted are certainly pertinent
                    > to
                    > > our discussion of Calvin's views on separatism, we must be careful
                    > to
                    > > keep them in their historical context and in context with Calvin's
                    > > other writings. See especially The Institutes of the Christian
                    > > Religion, Book IV, Chapter 1, sections 8-10:
                    > >
                    > > http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/institutes.iv.iv.ii.html
                    > >
                    > > The paragraphs you quoted come from Calvin's Anti-Nicodemite
                    > > writings, which addressed a specific group of people who claimed
                    to
                    > > be Reformed yet participated in the popish mass. According to
                    > > Calvin's rule of thumb that I referenced out of the Insitutes, the
                    > > papists have neither the preaching of the word nor Jesus' rightful
                    > > institution of the sacraments. The popish corruptions nullify the
                    > > Word and destroy the sacraments, and so therefore Rome may not be
                    > > considered the true church according to Calvin. Therefore true
                    > > believers must separate from popery. However, he makes clear that
                    > no
                    > > church can have perfect purity of religion, ever. To suggest
                    > > otherwise is foolhardy and prideful to say the least. Calvin's
                    > > reference to "purity" of religion must be understood as a degree
                    of
                    > > purity in keeping with his definition of the true church.
                    Calvin's
                    > > definition of the true church uses the standard of 1. preaching of
                    > > the Word and 2. administration of the sacraments. Although both
                    > may
                    > > and shall contain corruptions, as long as the gospel of salvation
                    > and
                    > > true purpose of the sacraments are maintained, Calvin says there
                    is
                    > a
                    > > true church. Christians ought not to separate themselves from the
                    > > true church by any means.
                    > >
                    > > "Note, Calvin recommends that we seriously consider whether we can
                    > > abstain
                    > > > from idolatry in the church we attend. How many churches do you
                    > > know of
                    > > > that practice purity of worship?"
                    > >
                    > > If you mean perfect purity of worship, none exist. If you mean to
                    > > ask how many churches preach the true gospel of grace and rightly
                    > > administer the sacraments while attempting to worship God as He
                    > wills
                    > > (subject to their own biblical understanding), I know of many.
                    > > Having said that, we should never cease from reformation in our
                    > > congregations.
                    > >
                    > > "To say that we should
                    > > > purify the worship from within a church is like saying we ought
                    to
                    > > > participate in idolatry until we may convince others to not
                    > > practice the
                    > > > very thing we are participating in with them."
                    > >
                    > > Just as not all heads of doctrine bear equal importance, neither
                    do
                    > > all questions of worship bear equal importance. We shouldn't
                    > equate
                    > > every impurity of worship with idolatry.
                    > >
                    > > "Besides, if you had taken
                    > > > this course of action in the PCUSA 100 years ago you'd have died
                    > > practicing
                    > > > grosser idolatry than you had at the beginning."
                    > >
                    > > The PCUSA (or rather the United Presbyterian Church at the time)
                    > > nullified any claim to the preaching of the word years ago. At
                    > least
                    > > by the 1930's she had declared it a matter of pastoral
                    > interpretation
                    > > whether or not Jesus physically rose from the dead. Ministers
                    were
                    > > not required to teach or believe the Resurrection. If that's not
                    a
                    > > denial of the gospel I don't know what is. Christians properly
                    > > separate from a body like this in such circumstances (as many
                    did.)
                    > >
                    > > For Christ's Crown and Covenant!
                    > >
                    > > Riley
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Martin"
                    > > <paleopuritan@h...> wrote:
                    > > > Calvin as quoted in Covenanted Reformation Defended:
                    > > > "As for the babblers who ridicule us, wondering if one cannot
                    get
                    > to
                    > > > paradise except by way of Geneva, I answer: would to God they
                    had
                    > > the
                    > > > courage to gather in the name of Jesus Christ wherever they are,
                    > > and set up
                    > > > some sort of church, either in their houses or in those of their
                    > > neighbors,
                    > > > to do in their place what we do here in our temples! . . . And,
                    > > whoever has
                    > > > no means of being in the Christian church, where God is
                    > worshipped
                    > > purely,
                    > > > let him at least groan night and day, 'Thine altars, Lord; it is
                    > > only thine
                    > > > altars that I desire, my God, my king' (John Calvin, Come Out
                    > From
                    > > Among
                    > > > Them, The Anti-Nicodemite Writings of John Calvin, a forthcoming
                    > > book to be
                    > > > published by Protestant Heritage Press, The Third Sermon, On
                    > Psalm
                    > > 27:4, pp.
                    > > > 192, 193, emphases added).
                    > > >
                    > > > Some one will therefore ask me what counsel I would like to give
                    > to
                    > > a
                    > > > believer who thus dwells in some Egypt or Babylon where he may
                    > not
                    > > worship
                    > > > God purely, but is forced by the common practice to accommodate
                    > > himself to
                    > > > bad things. The first advice would be to leave [i.e. relocate -
                    > GB]
                    > > if he
                    > > > could. . . . If someone has no way to depart, I would counsel
                    him
                    > to
                    > > > consider whether it would be possible for him to abstain from
                    all
                    > > idolatry
                    > > > in order to preserve himself pure and spotless toward God in
                    both
                    > > body and
                    > > > soul. Then let him worship God in private, praying him to
                    restore
                    > > his poor
                    > > > church to its right estate (John Calvin, Come Out From Among
                    > Them,
                    > > The
                    > > > Anti-Nicodemite Writings of John Calvin, a forthcoming book to
                    be
                    > > published
                    > > > by Protestant Heritage Press, "A Short Teatise", pp. 93, 94,
                    > > emphases
                    > > > added). "
                    > > >
                    > > > Note, Calvin recommends that we seriously consider whether we
                    can
                    > > abstain
                    > > > from idolatry in the church we attend. How many churches do you
                    > > know of
                    > > > that practice purity of worship? I know of very few. To say
                    > that
                    > > we should
                    > > > purify the worship from within a church is like saying we ought
                    to
                    > > > participate in idolatry until we may convince others to not
                    > > practice the
                    > > > very thing we are participating in with them. Besides, if you
                    > had
                    > > taken
                    > > > this course of action in the PCUSA 100 years ago you'd have died
                    > > practicing
                    > > > grosser idolatry than you had at the beginning.
                    > > >
                    > > > Martin
                    > > >
                    > > > ----- Original Message -----
                    > > > From: "Dan Fraas" <fraasrd@y...>
                    > > > To: <covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com>
                    > > > Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2003 9:26 AM
                    > > > Subject: [Covenanted Reformation] Calvin on schisms, separatism
                    > > >
                    > > >
                    > > > > I was reading the Institutes yesterday, and as usual I found
                    > some
                    > > > > deep insight by Calvin on the meaning of the Church and
                    > fellowship
                    > > > > with her. He noted that no church is completely pure,
                    > anywhere,
                    > > that
                    > > > > Christians may have legitimate theological disagreements, and
                    > > that we
                    > > > > should not break fellowship with brothers and sisters for
                    > > > > nonessential reasons. He distinguished the marks of the true
                    > > church
                    > > > > as 1. the ministry of the word and 2. the administration of
                    the
                    > > > > sacraments. Although Calvin noted that corruptions may even
                    > make
                    > > > > incursions into these essential items, he said that as long as
                    > the
                    > > > > impurities do not destroy the aim and institution of the
                    > > sacraments,
                    > > > > and the essential doctrines of salvation are generally
                    > preserved,
                    > > we
                    > > > > should by no means leave the church that bears these
                    > > distinguishing
                    > > > > marks of truth. As Calvin noted, not all heads of doctrine
                    bear
                    > > > > equal importance. Although we should never give up the
                    > struggle
                    > > to
                    > > > > purify doctrine and worship, we should seek to reform the true
                    > > church
                    > > > > from within. I find this interpretation very insightful and
                    it
                    > > > > weighs on the issue of Christians today who live in an area
                    > where
                    > > a
                    > > > > thoroughly-Reformed congregation does not exist.
                    > > > >
                    > > > > For Christ's Crown and Covenant!
                    > > > >
                    > > > > Riley
                    > > > >
                    > > > >
                    > > > >
                    > > > > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                    > > > > covenantedreformationclub-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                    > > > >
                    > > > >
                    > > > >
                    > > > > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
                    > > http://docs.yaho
                  • Thomas Britton
                    Look at it in another aspect. How have Covenanting principles been sustained, and by whose agency have they been often planted on new ground? By those who
                    Message 9 of 11 , Apr 30, 2003
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                      "Look at it in another aspect. How have Covenanting principles been
                      sustained, and by whose agency have they been often planted on new
                      ground? By those who have faithfully acted upon the principle we now
                      advocate. Our fathers refused to hear the curates and the indulged in
                      Scotland, By so doing they kept aloft and waving in the winds the
                      banner of the second Reformation. They refused to hear the ministry of
                      the Establishment formed at the Revolution Settlement of 1688, upon
                      the ruins of the Covenanted Reformation. So doing, they kept its
                      principles from passing out of remembrance. Had they been as faithless
                      as the majority, Scotland, we can pretty safely say, would not have
                      been honoured in 1843 by that signal act of faith?the erection of a
                      Free Church. And how has the church been established and extended in
                      this country? By the instrumentality of men and women, worthy
                      descendants of such ancestors. Go where you will, almost, you will
                      find that our congregations have originated in societies, gathered by
                      degrees, around some man or household, that had withheld attendance
                      upon the ministry of neighbouring churches; while, on the other hand,
                      not a few yielded to the error we combat, went to hear, and were lost
                      to the Covenanting Church, instead of building up, like their more
                      faithful brethren, another congregation. So it was after the Union in
                      1781, in which the Associate Reformed Church had its origin. In short,
                      had it not been for this principle, few, indeed, would have been our
                      congregations, compared to what they are now.

                      [By the way, this fact meets an objection?a very plausible one. It is
                      said?"Your principle is right when Covenanters have a church to
                      attend, but what are the lonely to do? In the first place, we would
                      inquire, Are they in the right to put themselves out of the reach of
                      ordinances? If they are not, the objection amounts to nothing. And if
                      they are or are not, let them be faithful and exert themselves, and
                      they may form new congregations.]"

                      -"Occasional Hearing"
                      http://www.covenanter.org/ChurchGovt/occasionalhearing.htm

                      See also:
                      http://www.google.com/search?q=+site:www.covenanter.org++Duty+of+Separation&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&start=10&sa=N

                      -tdb
                    • thebishopsdoom
                      OK, I really didn t / don t care to be posting or interacting right now, but for the sake of a few clarifications, I will send out this one thing. ...
                      Message 10 of 11 , May 2, 2003
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                        OK, I really didn't / don't care to be posting or interacting right
                        now, but for the sake of a few clarifications, I will send out this
                        one thing.
                        --- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, "Dan Fraas"
                        <fraasrd@y...> wrote:
                        "Notice the Scripture makes a distinction between sins commited
                        willfully, and sins commited ignorantly."
                        I believe Jerry has in the past in fact delineated that there are
                        degrees of idolatrous worship, and that the one who upholds the
                        regulative principle of worship, but errs in application is not the
                        same as one who argues that they shall worship God "however they ____
                        well please" as it were. I am certain he also recognizes the
                        distinction between those things added to worship under the name
                        of "decorum," "good order," "enhancement," "aid," etc. that are not
                        warranted and acts of worship proper that are not warranted. It was
                        the addition of these such ceremonies of "decorum" etc. that led to
                        the rise of the ceremonies in the early church. Such diversified
                        rites, or uniform rites where they prospered uniformly thru
                        Christendom, eventually began to be regarded by many (I dare say
                        most) churchmen and theologians, thus blurring them with worship.

                        "This sin is a violation of that law, which says that we must only
                        worship God according to His appointment."
                        Well, as for terminology, in the early church, there is as I say
                        confusion because worship and other rites and ceremonies that had
                        respect to the service of worship - whether we bathe on a fast day,
                        for example, were both called by the name worship. It was at the
                        reformation that greater clarification was given. One is told that
                        there were those who understood that there was a distinction between
                        matters of worship and matters of order, but even early in the
                        reformation, one sees terms like "accidental worship" sometimes used
                        for circumstances of worship. So it is not so easy to find info
                        on "uncommanded worship" at a time when the term "worship" could be
                        used indifferently at times between worship (which intrinsically
                        glorified God by the nature of the act itself) and "indifferent
                        things" which acts neither were in themselves (considered in their
                        own nature) counted as righteousness if performed nor unrighteousness
                        if not performed, and could legitimately thereby differ in divers
                        times and places. This would include all legitimate matters
                        of "decorum" and order" whether really so or only imagined to be so.
                        One word that seems pertinent that has been used for centuries
                        is "superstition." This word continued to be used for such well into
                        the reformation era, was frequently used by Calvin and others, and
                        remains at times in use today. Superstition is a vice contrary to
                        religion that involves religion in the excess. That would include the
                        use of an act as worship that God has not revealed unto us, because
                        it is adding something new in excess of what God has ordained. So
                        Jerome renders the Latin for ethelothreskia ("voluntary worship,"
                        or "will worship" from Col. 2), as well as numerous commentators from
                        thence in the West, by the term superstition.
                        But the reformed, while using the term superstition, as well as will
                        worship, also used the term idolatry (under which species it is
                        listed in the Westminster Standards by acknowledging it as a
                        violation of the 2nd commandment), as exampled by the following, some
                        of which gets to some degree into reasonings behind the terminology:
                        Philip Melancthon: "Idolatrous worships are all they, which are
                        appointed without the command of God" (Tom. 2. p. 107 cited in
                        William Ames' Fresh Suit.)
                        Westminster Assembly of Divines: "The sins forbidden in the second
                        commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and
                        anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God
                        himself..."
                        John Knox: "All worshipping, honouring, or service invented by the
                        brain of man in the religion of God, without his own express
                        commandment, is idolatry." (Vindication of the Doctrine that the
                        Sacrifice of the Mass is Idolatry)
                        John Calvin: "For this is the origin of idolatry, when the genuine
                        simplicity of God's worship is known, that people begin to be
                        dissatisfied with it, and curiously to inquire whether there is
                        anything worthy of belief in figments of men; for man's minds are
                        soon attracted by the snares of novelty, so as to pollute what has
                        been delivered in God's word." (John Calvin. Commentaries on the Last
                        Four Books of Moses arranged in the Form of a Harmony.)
                        Zacharias Ursinus: "The first commandment forbids one form of
                        idolatry, as when another God is worshipped; the second forbids
                        another species of idolatry, as when the true God is worshipped
                        differently form what he ought to be. Reply. But still there is
                        always idolatry, and another God is worshipped. Ans. There is,
                        indeed, always an idol; but not always in the intention and
                        profession of men. Hence, those who sin against the second
                        commandment, sin also against the first; because, those who worship
                        God otherwise than he will be worshipped, imagine another God, one
                        differently affected from what the true God is; and in this way they
                        do not worship God, but a figment of their own brain, which they
                        persuade themselves is affected in this manner." (Commentary on the
                        Heidelberg Catechism)
                        Peter Vermigli: "But let us remember that, which we have admonished
                        before, that this also doth belongeth unto idolatry, whenas we
                        worship the true God by other means and rites than that he hath
                        prescribed unto us. For if we otherwise do, we shall worship an idol,
                        according to that second form described, by feigning to ourselves in
                        our mind or heart any god, which is delighted with the worship
                        invented by men: and such a god is there none. Wherefore, we shall
                        not honor and worship the true God, but an idol, the which in our
                        mind we have fancied." (Peter Vermigli's Loci Communes)
                        Johannes Wollebius: "...idolatry is forbid, with all such rites as
                        are either contrary to, or not contained in the Word of God" ( The
                        Abridgment of Christian Divinity; Wollebius is commenting on the
                        meaning of the second commandment - while one may state that he
                        discerns between "idolatry" and things not commanded, he is intending
                        that the prohibition of the second commandment - touching idolatry -
                        prohibits both open idolatry in the form of images and as well as
                        such rites as he defines above.)
                        Heidelberg Catechism: "What doth God require in the second
                        commandment? Answer. That we in no wise represent God by images, nor
                        worship him in any other way than he has commanded in his word."
                        William Young: "The first passage we may consider in this connection
                        is the second commandment. It might be said that the second
                        commandment contains an express prohibition of idolatry and nothing
                        more, and thus has no bearing upon the question. From the point of
                        view of historic Presbyterianism, however, this is not the case. Our
                        Westminster Larger Catechism states, among other rules to be observed
                        for the right understanding of the ten commandments, 'That under one
                        sin or duty, all of the same kind are forbidden or commanded;
                        together with all the causes, means, occasions, and appearances
                        thereof, and provocations thereunto.' The Larger Catechism further
                        includes among the sins forbidden in the second commandment 'all
                        devising, counseling, commanding, using, and any wise approving, any
                        religious worship not instituted by God Himself; ...all superstitious
                        devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from
                        it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by
                        tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom,
                        devotion, good intent, or any other pretense whatsoever.' The
                        prohibition of idolatry is thus understood to involve the regulative
                        principle. As John Knox expressed the matter pointedly: 'All
                        worshipping, honoring, or service invented by the brain of man in the
                        religion of God, without his own express commandment, is idolatry.'
                        One might view the matter in the following way. Idols are the work of
                        men's hands. Men make them unto themselves for the worship of God as
                        fit means for the worship of God. Deeper even than the fact that the
                        idol is unfit to represent the invisible God is the fact that it is
                        the product of man's own brain and hand. And every product of man's
                        brain and hand introduced into God's worship is, in the very nature
                        of the case, an idol." (The Second Commandment)
                        In addition, with respect to this thread in general, I noticed there
                        were some needful distinctions that have not been mentioned, without
                        which distinctions tends to express matters in a simplistic fashion
                        and make liable to some misunderstandings. For example, it is
                        necessary to distinguish between the separation of an individual from
                        a church that has begun to backslide, and the splitting of a church
                        court itself, as well as what reasons may make valid either.
                        "'Tis granted, that in many Cases, a Testimony, in a Way of Church-
                        Communion, is a proper, laudable and indispensible Duty. Such as,
                        (1.) When a church is in an Infant-state, and wrestling out of
                        Corruption, up towards Reformation; in that Case, 'tis a Duty
                        incumbent on every one, in their respective Capacities, to put Hand
                        to Work, and strive to strip their Mother of her Grave-clothes, and
                        jointly concur, in adorning her as a Bride for the Bride-groom, even
                        altho' they should meet with great Opposition, and have but small
                        Success for some Time; as in the Case of our reforming Church, when
                        throwing off the Antichristian, Popish, and Prelatick Vestments and
                        Abominations. Or, (2.) When a Church being rightly constitute, and
                        truly married unto the Lord, after Declensions and manifold
                        Backslidings, is striving vigorously, in the Strength of her glorious
                        Head Christ, to retrieve her lost Ground, repent, and do her first
                        Works, and hold fast, that no Man, no Prelate, no King, no Parliament
                        take her Crown, or rob her of these precious Jewels, which her
                        Husband has vouchsafed her as a Depositum or TRUST, which she is
                        bound to keep as inviolable, as a Virgin her Chastity: I say, in this
                        Case, surely it is a Duty of the utmost Concern, for all Hands to be
                        at Work, in order to build up the Desolations of Zion, raise up the
                        Walls of Jeruslem, and Gates therof burnt with Fire, even altho'
                        Tobiahs, Sanballats, and some like Elymas or Diotrephes, and others
                        of that Kidney, should fight against them. Or, (3.) When a reforming
                        Church, enjoying her Privileges and Judcatories in Christ's pure
                        Ways, being found in Doctrine, Worship, Discipline and Government,
                        honourably asserting and maintaining the Royalties of Christ, has in
                        her Communion such, as are dead Weights upon her working Hand, and is
                        careful to have them reclaimed and reformed, or that Leaven purged
                        out; in such a Case, a Testimony against such Evils and Corruptions,
                        even altho' real Scandals is to be maintained in a Way of Church-
                        Communion, especially when the greatest Part is not leavened, the
                        Church being still in the Exercise of the Duties foresaid; and People
                        are to address themselves unto Church-Judicatories, and not withdraw
                        from their Ministers (especially for ordinary Scandals) without
                        making prior Application to these; yea, Protesting and Joining is a
                        most commendable Duty in this Case. But I humbly conceive, none of
                        these agree to the Case in Hand, in regard, (1.) This Church is not
                        in an infant, but an adult State. Nor, (2.) In a growing, but
                        evidently in a declining Case... Nor, (4.) Rightly constitute, sound
                        in her Principles and Ordinances; nor does she enjoy her Privileges
                        and Judicatories, in the Ways of Christ, nor claim them" (Andrew
                        Clarkson, Plain Reasons for Presbyterians Dissenting... 1731).

                        It is pertinent only to note that Robert Lusk and David Steele, along
                        with those who with them seceded from synod did not leave the RPCNA
                        until 1840, despite dissenting from some matters with respect to
                        Reformation Principles Exhibited, despite faults in church
                        discipline, and despite claims of ecclesiastical tyranny already
                        entering into the RPCNA. Steele and Lusk (among others) attempted to
                        settle matters thru the church courts until by failure of
                        representation for 7 years, they determined the courts were not free
                        as they had no legitimate representational voice due to some
                        political shanenigans going on at synod. At that point, they declined
                        Synod and formed a dissenting presbytery. So the call is not separate
                        as soon as backsliding of any sort occurs. The question revolves
                        around constitutional issues (not merely corruptions entering in that
                        had not been dealt with, nor problems of the church failing to uphold
                        what was already on the books), and lack of access to church courts
                        to remedy the situation. In the case of the Resolutioner controversy,
                        the dissent issued forth in declining authority of general assembly
                        was not merely the question of the lawfulness of the resolutions, but
                        the fact that those who dissented from the resolutions were barred
                        from access to the courts of the church to remedy the situation or
                        cast a dissenting vote in the proceedings. In terms of the
                        covenanters during the time of persecution, there was no recourse to
                        judicatories, for the church had succumbed to erastianism and their
                        was no means of appeal against the erastian encroachments previously
                        testified against. It effectively forced a split in the church.
                        "...it may be duty, in a broken state of the Church, to withdraw from
                        Ministers chargeable with defection. For, seeing this Church hath
                        attained to such a high degree of Reformation; and seeing, by Solemn
                        Covenants to the Almighty, we have bound ourselves to maintain and
                        defend the same; Seeing by reason of the enemy's subtilty and
                        cruelty, and the fainting, falling and failing of Ministers, so many
                        dreadful defections have been introduced, embraced, and countenanced;
                        Seeing, in these times of distempering confusions, we are now
                        deprived of the remedy of settled Judicatories, where unto we might
                        recur for rectifying of disorders; And seeing we are bound to witness
                        against these Complying and backsliding Courses, whereby the wrath of
                        God is so much kindled against the Land: Therefore we hold it as our
                        duty, that when a backsliding or defection is embraced, avowed, and
                        obstinately defended, in such things as have been Reformed, either
                        expressly or equivalently, especially being witnessed against
                        doctrinally, and further confirmed by other testimonies; We judge it
                        lawful, reasonable, and necessary; in a declining, backsliding, and
                        troubled state of the Church, to leave that part of the Church which
                        hath made such defection, whether Ministers or Professors, as to a
                        joint concurrence in carrying on the public work (according as it is
                        given in Command to Jeremiah 15:19, let them return unto thee, but
                        return not thou unto them) and to adhere unto the other part of the
                        Church, Ministers and Professors, whether more or fewer, who are
                        standing steadfastly to the Defense of the Reformation, witnessing
                        against others who have turned aside and declined therefrom; until
                        the defections of the backsliding party be confessed, mourned over
                        and forsaken: This is no separation from the Church of Scotland, but
                        only a departing and going forth from her sins, backslidings, and
                        defections, as we are commanded by the Lord (James Renwick, An
                        Informatory Vindication, 1687).
                        Those who remained among the Society People after the fall of James
                        II gave in a redress of grievances to General Assembly 1689 calling
                        upon their public repentance from their dealings under Charles II and
                        James II and to return to their former footing before these
                        lamentable circumstances had broken the church, upon which grounds
                        they would heal the breach in the church. The paper was rejected by
                        the Assembly, though Linning, and Boyd drafted another paper
                        promising submission to General Assembly without the Assembly's
                        repentance, this paper never gained full support of the Societies
                        (though their other Scottish preacher, Mr. Shields, did eventually
                        accept the proposal), because General Assembly neither had repented,
                        gave in promise to reform the abuses, nor gave any indication that
                        such grievances would be allowed to be presented for redress at a
                        later date (in fact people who attempted to do so later on were at
                        various times censured, discharged from their pastorates, and at
                        least in one instance, imprisoned). The actual Revolution Settlement
                        itself thereafter gave further cause to harden the division as the
                        RPs saw figerprints of Erastianism on the settlement of the church in
                        Scotland at that time, and various controversies entering in upon the
                        church thereafter only furthered the division.
                        It is needful to distinguish between things entering a church and
                        things entering that were previously reformed out of, and lastly,
                        those that enter, though previously reformed, and maintained at a
                        constitutional level. There were problems with several of the
                        churches in Asia Minor addressed in John's Apocalypse. So too,
                        problems in Corinth - both in terms of scandal, disorder, schism, and
                        the inroads of heresy. Now it is one thing to argue that the apostles
                        would not have them forsake the assembling togther of themselves in
                        these churches despite some errors not yet reformed out of that crept
                        into the church. Now let us assume that after they received these
                        letters, they reform out of the abuses, but they are brought back
                        again. Well, thus far, there may be more need for dealing with a
                        church court. Now let us put the same case where they have put
                        together a creed and a law whereby it is declared that women may not
                        be preachers - but then there is a rise of the belief in the church
                        again. Well, there may still be resort to judicatories with respect
                        to dealing with the existence of these private sentiments continuing
                        among church members. Now let's say the church starts publically and
                        obstinately teaching these errors, in spite of their constitution.
                        The case is a bit different, and a separation from that local body
                        may be warranted while members attempt to appeal to church courts.
                        Now what if the church then went on in response to such judicatory
                        and declined the authority of the synod, and changed the constitution
                        of the church to defend their heresy, whether or not they yet
                        actually put women in preaching roles?
                        When there are alterations made to the constitution of the
                        church, "reforming" correct mattewr to that which is incorrect, when
                        there is no recourse to the courts to address the wrong, or appeals
                        have been made and rejected already, when the church is already
                        constitutionally split into two parties and one wishes to switch
                        from the new party those upholding the old side of things, there is a
                        regarded a different case:
                        "When the public profession and administrations of a church have been
                        settled conformably to the laws of Christ, and sanctioned by the most
                        solemn engagements, if the majority shall set these aside, and erect
                        a new constitution sinfully defective, and involving a material
                        renunciation of the former, the minority refusing to accede to this,
                        adhering to their engagements, and continuing to maintain communion
                        on the original terms, cannot justly be charged with schism" (Thomas
                        M'Crie, Unity of the Church, 1821).
                        -thebishopsdoom
                      • thebishopsdoom
                        (cont.) There are some grounds for a more immediate removal from either a congregation or the communion of a whole ecclesiastical body, without attempting
                        Message 11 of 11 , May 2, 2003
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                          (cont.)

                          There are some grounds for a more immediate removal from either a
                          congregation or the communion of a whole ecclesiastical body, without
                          attempting first to seek redress from church judicatories (in
                          addition to what has been noted above by McCrie, etc.), as in (this
                          list pretends not to be exhaustive, only examples that I think would
                          tend in that direction):
                          when a church professes more, less, or different persons of the
                          Godhead or such like Trinitarian / Christological errors.
                          When a church introduces rites and ceremonies and requires that they
                          be interpreted as acts of worship. Note Clarkson mentioned that
                          vestments were borne with during a time of reform, and Bullinger's
                          advice to Hopoper not to forsake the church for caps and gowns is
                          famous. Yet, as Bullinger expressed his grave misgivings (somewhere -
                          I forget the reference, but it was in a letter addressed to some
                          British divines) that some in the church were beginning to press that
                          the vestments be not only worn, but understood as worn as an act of
                          worship. If it be required upon the conscience of the believer that
                          it be an act of worship, there may be cause for immediate separation,
                          though perhaps only from the assembly while attempting yet to press
                          the matter thru the courts of the church. There have been times in
                          the beginnings of such things (as in Holland in the 1800s) when there
                          may be cause for nonparticipation with certain acts (during the
                          controversy in question, it was not uncommon for a segment of the
                          church to march out of the service during the offending part, and
                          walk back in when it was over - ouch!). However, if one stays, it
                          would seem to me that they are duty bound to seek that the matter be
                          addressed by the courts of the church and not simply atempt to
                          preserve the status quo or introduce their own ideas on a private
                          level to be dispersed thru a congregation person by person without
                          being brought up before the officers and courts of the church.
                          When a church outlaws the gospel.
                          When a local assembly brings in a heresy contrary to the gospel, but
                          one that has never yet been considered thru the church, it may be
                          needful to separate from that local assembly while addressing
                          concerns to the judicatories, in order to flee with your children
                          from being taught a false gospel.
                          When a church has communion with that man of sin after he has been
                          revealed, the reformers were clear they needed to separate. The
                          Lutherans also made clear that they would hold no joint counsel with
                          the other churches if the papacy was regarded as having any authority
                          in or over the council.
                          There may be other reasons as well.
                          Last post on this.
                          -thebishopsdoom
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