HOW FAR IS IT CORRECT TO DESCRIBE THE THEOLOGY OF MARTIN BUCER AND JOHN CALVIN AS A MEDIATING THEOLOGY? Part 1

Alistair McGrath writes that the European Reformation is often interpreted as a homogeneous phenomenon. In other words, it is presented as being consistent in terms of its underlying ideas and emphasis. In fact, this is an inaccurate view. [1] The reason for this is primarily laid at the door of two reformers, Martin Luther and Huldrych Zwingli. The issue was not that they disagreed; it was how they disagreed. The heart of their disagreement lay at the interpretation of the Lord’s Supper [2].  Cameron writes that by the mid 1520’s the issue aroused a violent pamphlet dispute between Luther and Zwingli and their respective partisans [3] . The consequence of this dispute caused both theological and political problems. McGrath comments that at a theological level it raised the gravest doubts concerning the principle of the clarity of scripture that appeared far from easy to interpret [4], while at a political level, there was a permanent division between two evangelical factions of the reformation. It is within this context that our question is relevant. Did John Calvin or Martin Bucer develop a theology that was deliberately aimed at bringing Luther and Zwingli together? Was the unity of the reformers and the reformation their main priority which had to be achieved at any price? One thing was certain. Unless Luther and Zwingli attempted some sort of reconciliation, then the reformation would be damaged, possibly even losing some gains it had made. There was most certainly a good motive for a unifying theology. We shall look at each of the reformers positions on the Eucharist, and see if indeed either one, or both men used a mediating theology, or were they simply expressing their personal belief in what the scriptures said.


[1] Alistair McGrath Reformation Thought – An introduction (Blackwell 1993) pg109

 

[2] Other disagreements include baptism and justification by faith although this paper will concentrate only on the eucharist, which was the nucleus of their disagreement.

[3] Euan Cameron The European Reformation (Oxford University Press 1991) pg164

[4] McGrath pg 180

Bible Study – Acts 5:12-42

REACP:

Last week Paul took us through the wonderful prayer that the apostles prayed. There prayer begins with worship, and then they do not pray for God to STOP the persecution or threats but that they may have courage to speak the gospel despite the threats. And God’s immediate answer was to fill them with the spirit.

We then have a glimpse into the function of the very early church – united in mind and possessions. Not that everyone sold everything immediately but they were WILLING to sell land and possessions for those in need and for the work of the gospel. A good example was Joseph, a Levite, known as Barnabas, who we will encounter again. He sells some land and places the money at the apostle’s feet. But the contrast to Barnabas is Ananias and Sapphias, who sell land but then keep some of the money.

John Stott writes: Ananias and Sapphias were not so much misers as thieves and above all liars. They wanted the credit and the prestige for sacrificial generosity without the convenience of it. So in order to gain a reputation to which they had no right they told a brazen lie. [1]

ANYTHING FURTHER ON ANANIAS AND SAPPHIAS BEFORE WE MOVE ON?

READ 5:12-16

WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE FLEDGLING CHURCH’S REPUTATION?

WHAT EFFECT ARE THEY HAVING?

The prayer that the disciples prayed is already being fulfilled – signs and wonders are happening.

They are doing very public ministry and it is having two types of effect. As one writer has said On the one hand awestruck reserve on the other great missionary success.

The presence of the living God, manifested through either preaching or miracles or both is alarming to some and appealing to others. Some are frightened away and others are drawn to faith.

2 Corinthians 2:15-16 shows us this – Paul says: For we are a sweet aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing– to the latter an odor from death to death, but to the former a fragrance from life to life.

The presence of God is so present that even Peter’s shadow may have brought healing. Although the word used for overshadow, Luke uses in Luke 1:35 and 9:34 to denote the overshadowing of God’s presence.

READ 5:17-33

The disciple’s actions cause the Sanhedrin to be filled with jealousy. The word Zelos is religiously motivated rage. The Sanhedrin is in a rage, and they arrest them. But the disciples are brought out of the jail by an angel and instructed to go back to the temple to preach.

BY GOING BACK INTO THE TEMPLE TO PREACH AT DAYBREAK WHAT ARE THE APOSTLES EXHIBITING?

On one level immense bravery. Everything within the human nature would say RUN AWAY FROM HERE!!

But in reality it shows the immediate fulfillment of their prayer for courage in the midst of threats. They were normal human beings so I think they had some fear in them – but God’s peace and power is stronger than their fear. They are determined to obey God’s commands (go back and preach) rather than man’s command (stop preaching).

If you pray for courage God may put you in a place where you might have to exercise some courage. Just as if you pray for patience, God is likely to put situations before you that will allow you to exercise patience.

Also, their actions are going to inflame the religious rage of the Sanhedrin.

WHAT DOES V26 IMPLY ABOUT THE APOSTLES?

They went voluntarily. The apostles could have used the situation to inflame the crowd or to cause some trouble but instead when the temple guard came for them they went quietly, without any resistance. They knew they were going back to be punished.

WHAT DOES V28 SAY ABOUT THE AUTHORITY OF THE SANHEDRIN?

They have none when it comes to the living God. They had condemned and killed Jesus – they had forbidden the apostles to speak – they have jailed the apostles – and yet Jerusalem had been filled with the gospel.

Despite seemingly having all the power and authority they are in fact powerless in the face of the gospel proclamation of the living God. [2]

Peter now sees another opportunity to preach – WHEN DID HE GET TIME TO WRITE ALL THESE SERMONS!!!!!!

WHAT PRINCIPLE DOES PETER LAY DOWN IN V29

If authority, civil or ecclesiastical, disobey or misuses God given power, to command what he forbids or to forbid what he commands then the Christian must disobey the authority in order to obey GOD.

WHAT DOES PETER’S SERMON RESULT IN?

Would we speak in such a way knowing that our life may be endangered by what we say? We read this, I think, without fully understanding the INTENSE pressure Peter must have been faced with – a Sanhedrin filled with hateful faces – possibly hearing insults and threats as he spoke. And yet Peter does not hold back or water down his words. He says what he knows is truth regardless of what may come.

TRUTH ALWAYS HAS OPPOSITION.

Are we people who will speak the truth of the living God?

READ 5:34-42

Gamaliel then speaks out. Gamaliel is a legendary Rabbi in Jewish tradition – the one whom Saul of Tarsus was mentored by. A wise and respected teacher.

IS GAMALIEL’S ADVICE GOOD OR BAD?

There is an element of truth to Gamaliel’s thinking but that is the danger that can come by wisdom which is not based in Christ.

Ultimately his position is a laissez-Faire attitude – to the point of saying “We will ignore the truth until the truth proves itself.” It gives license to ignore the work of God now!! It also says we will wait until the winning side is declared and then we will decide whom to join – which is faith.

Yes, ultimately God’s purposes will triumph – but Gamaliel’s position does not take into account that in the shorter term evil plans sometimes succeed while good plans, conceived in accordance with the will of God sometimes fail.

Gamaliel’s position means Jesus lost and his work was not of God.

Gamaliel wins the day and the apostles are beaten and released.

WHY DO THE APOSTLES REJOICE? WHY DO THEY CONSIDER IT AN HONOR TO SUFFER?

Because they had obeyed God. They had overcame any fear – they knew they had been guided by the spirit – they knew their prayer had been answered – they had not backed away, or compromised. The issue is not the suffering, the issue is that they had obeyed God  for the sake of the name – Jesus Christ.

They had obeyed, to the point of willing to die, for their Lord – Jesus Christ.

Do we rejoice for this same reason?


[1] Kept back: nosphizomai = misappropriate. Same word LXX uses of Achan in Jos 7. Used in Titus 2:10 = meaning to steal

[2] Guilt of this man’s blood – Matthew 27:25

Is Topical Preaching Good?

Topical preaching is definitely in style today within most American churches. The word lectionary is considered an anachronism and most pastors cannot elucidate the term expositional preaching. The consequences of this are sermons that tend to expound the pastor’s opinion as opposed to God’s revealed truth. This is not to say, however, that there is no place for topical preaching.

“I do not approve of the method whereby you take a subject like ‘spiritual depression’ and then think and work it out for yourself, and then look for texts which will be convenient pegs on which to hang these thoughts of yours on the subject. That is what I am opposing. The matter should always be derived from the Scriptures, it should always be expository.”(D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1972), 196)

The Search For God And Guinness by Stephen Mansfield

41TTGsEZD5L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_I confess that the package from Thomas Nelson sat on my desk for a few days. I had a tinge of regret in agreeing to review this book, which is why it remained unopened. However, once I opened up the book I was hooked.

Now, I knew Stephen Mansfield is a good writer. I have read his short biography of Winston Churchill, which was good. Also, I have met Stephen. I was on the management team at Derek Prince Ministries when we hired Stephen to write Derek’s biography.

And his writing skills are clear in this book. His style draws you into this story of the amazing Guinness family; the faith of Arthur Guinness, his legacy and how their faith translated into action. There are hardships; family struggles, disappointments and tragedy but you see God’s grace a work in this story, a story which is not that well known outside of Ireland.

Even the chapter on how beer was ‘discovered’ is so well told that you are fascinated. If only some of the major corporations in our day would take a fraction of the approach of Arthur Guinness and the example he left behind, the business world would be turned upside down and inside out.

A fun, informative, well written and enjoyable read.

Doctrine of Election

“The Lord, when he means to save sinners, does not stop to ask them whether they mean to be saved, but like a rushing mighty wind the divine influence sweeps away every obstacle; the unwilling heart bends before the potent gale of grace, and sinners that would not yield are made to yield to God. I know this, if the Lord willed it, there is no man so desperately wicked here this morning that he would not be made now to seek for mercy, however infidel he might be; however rooted in his prejudices against the gospel, Jehovah hath but to will it, and it is done. Into thy dark heart, O thou who hast never seen the light, would the light stream; if he did but say, ‘Let there be light,’ there would be light. Thou mayest bend thy fist and lift up thy mouth against Jehovah; but he is thy master yet – thy master to destroy thee, if thou goest on in thy wickedness; but thy master to save thee now, to change thy heart and turn thy will, as he turneth the rivers of water.” (Charles Spurgeon in Iain Murray, The Forgotten Spurgeon