Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Calvin excerpt and a spiraling stream of thoughts

I'm behind on Calvin, but read this today:

"Here we must more carefully attend to those subtleties with which superstition disports itself. Indeed, it does not so decline to other gods as seemingly to desert the highest God, or to reduce him to the level of the rest. But while it concedes to him the supreme place, it surrounds him with a throng of lesser gods, among whom it parcels out his functions. The glory of his divinity is so rent asunder (although stealthily and craftily) that his whole glory does not remain with him alone. Thus, in the past, men, Jews as well as heathen, put a vast throng of gods under the father and ruler of the gods. Each of these gods according to his rank held in common with the highest god the government of heaven and earth."

"the distinction between latria and dulia, as they called them, was invented in order that divine honors might seem to be transferred with impunity to angels and the dead. For it is obvious that the honor the papists give to the saints really does not differ from the honoring of God."

P.S. The distinction between latria and dulia has to do with the Catholic distinction between the worship appropriate to God alone and the kind of lower reverence appropriate saints and such.

This discussion really reminded me of Bauckham and the sharp divide he places between God and other heavenly beings. The religious traditions of scholars do affect their biblical interpretation. So I wondered if Bauckham was much of an Anglican and if this section of the Institutes has had any significant impact on him.

I know he did use to teach theology and now that he's emeritus at St. Andrews he's at Ridley at Cambridge, an Anglican theological training college.

That of course made me think of how Calvinist the 39 articles are and the strange fact that the Westminster Confession is Anglican, that John Knox took it back to Scotland where it became ground zero for Presbyterianism.

Then I thought of N. T. Wright's strange view of faith as a "badge of covenant membership," not as what gets you in or justifies you. Sure seems Calvinist to me--faith does not get you in but is a sign that you're in.

So then there's a discussion I had with Bounds yesterday I think. Apparently Anglicanism was heavily Calvinist at the beginning until some Arminian influence came in the mid-1600's. Wesley came at the right time for this trend to influence him. Unfortunately, that trajectory apparently went heavily Deist, to where those Anglicans who take doctrine seriously today tend to be the Calvinist trajectory.

I'm sure I'm perverting the Bound discussion... I take responsibility. Is this right?

There, now free to carry the spiraling stream of consciousness where you will...


Garwood Anderson said...

Ken, that really is a quite "a spiraling stream of thoughts"! :-) In the FWIW category, I might mention that, in addition to the Calvinist wing of Anglicanism, among those who take theology seriously, there is also the Anglo-Catholics, who are no less theologically inclined, though usually a fair distance from Calvinism. Normally these are heirs of the Oxford/Tractarian Movement: Newman, Pusey, Keble, etc.

Ken Schenck said...

Quite right, quite right, Sir Woody! There was also the Sea of Faith movement when I was there :-) I hung out mostly with "evangelical Anglicans" when I was there, which I assume would include Wright. Do you have any sense as to whether British evangelical Anglicans tend toward things Calvinist? I assume the situation is quite independent in flavor here in the States, yes?

James Petticrew said...

Knox did more than just bring it to Scotland as one of the royal chaplains to Edward VI he had role in revising the 39 articles and maybe even in its composition.

James Petticrew said...

I should have said that when it comes to evangelical Anglicans there seems to be two divergent paths at the moment.
There is the older evangelical wing which looks back to John Stott and perhaps Jim Packer as its mentor and sort of takes leadership from All Souls Langham Place. This stream tends to me Calvinism "lite" St Helens Bishopgate in London has a reputation for being more overtly Calvinistic.
The other main evangelical movement would be the charismatic wing connected to Holy Trinity Brompton which theologically has been very influenced by Wimber.

Ken Schenck said...

Thanks James... reporting on the ground in Edinburgh!

Garwood Anderson said...

James's observation seems to match what I see and hear. In the U.S., the scene among conservatives is a pretty complicated mixture of Reformed Evangelical, Third-Wave charismatic, broad church traditionalists, and Anglo-Catholic. This coalition is being tested by the formation of a new province which presently includes all of these elements (and some more).

JohnLDrury said...

A Clarification & A Comment:

A Clarification regarding "...how Calvinist the 39 articles are and the strange fact that the Westminster Confession is Anglican, that John Knox took it back to Scotland where it became ground zero for Presbyterianism."

What is the antecedent of the it that Knox took back with him to Scotland? The 39 Articles? Or the Westminster Confession? I'm pretty sure it wasn't the latter, since it was written about 75 years after his death. As for the 39 articles, James has already clarified this. Okay, enough of the history lesson. Your hermeneutical point stands.

Another layer of Anglican Evangelicalism is the Keswick movement and its own complicated relationship to Calvinism, Wesleyanism, and the Charismatic movement. I'm not sure what role it continues to play in Evangelical identity politics, so perhaps our "on the ground" reporters can weigh in on that.

Ken Schenck said...

Thanks for the clarification John... although John Knox was pretty amazing and, after all, Isaiah lived two hundred years before Cyrus. :-)

james petticrew said...

Knox was involved in the 39 articles the Westminster confession was much later. But in a round about way the divines at Westminster had been influenced by the way the church in Scotland had developed and so Knox was an influence indirectly.
The modern Keswick movement is a very different beast to the original conference.
John Stott presented a series of studies on I think Romans 5-6 a few decades ago which I think effectively killed off the old Keswick doctrinal strand on holiness. If you check over the last few years the Calvinism "lite" grouping I described has pretty much run the conference. Its main distinctive now in the UK is not its teaching on sanctification but that it is no charismatic like other events such as Spring Harvest or New Wine.

james petticrew said...

Should have added that RT Kendall the renegade Nazarene who had a Damascus road conversion to Calvinism and was minister at Martin Lloyd Jones' Westminster Chapel has preached at Keswick and he is no friend of the Wesleyan or older Keswick on sanctification. Dick Lucas of St Helen's Bishopgate has also been a regular preacher.