I wanted to mention a post by “The Hackney Hub” blog on The Prayer Book as a Resource for Private Prayer. If you are trying to figure out how to use the Book of Common Prayer as a resource for home and private devotions, this is a very good post to read – I think you will find it quite helpful.
Here is another in the series of audio lectures by Dr. John Woodhouse of Moore Theological College in Australia, this series being on the Book of Amos. In this one, Dr. Woodhouse’s talk is titled Don’t Prophesy Here!, and the Scripture passage being exegeted is Amos 7:10-16. Dr. Woodhouse talks about quite a few things, including this issue: it is never right to try to shut out the Word of God from our lives – we must never be like Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, who tried to stop Amos from prophesying the Word of the Lord. We must acknowledge the authority of that Word in our lives.
Another text on the Thirty-Nine Articles: “Elements of Christian Theology”, vol. 2, by George Pretyman Tomline
This weekend I came across yet another text on the Thirty-Nine Articles, and this one, Elements of Christian Theology, is different in that it is Volume 2 of a larger theological work by George Pretyman Tomline, who was Bishop of Lincoln and then Bishop of Winchester. He is also High Church and Laudian in his approach to doctrine, and it is striking to me that in this work, first published in 1799 (though this edition is a version published in 1843 with annotations by Henry Stebbing), the author is quite consistent with more reformed expositors of the Articles in how he views Article XXII. For example, this is what he says about “invocation of the saints”:
A very little inquiry will convince us that there is no foundation whatever for this doctrine in Scripture. We are commanded to offer our prayers to God through Christ alone. ‘There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.’—’Through him we have access to the Father.’ — No other person is mentioned by whom we can approach the Father, and the silence of Scripture is decisive upon this subject; for we may rest assured, that every necessary direction is given to us relative to the important duty of prayer. The worshipping of angels is forbidden by St. Paul: ‘Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility, and worshipping of angels;” it must therefore be unlawful to worship men, who were “made lower than the angels.’ Several of the Apostles and first Christians, particularly St. James the Great, and St. Stephen, had suffered martyrdom when the Epistles were written, but no mention is made of offering prayers to them, or through them.
Here is another “Sermon Bite” from St. Helen’s Bishopsgate, in which the Rev. William Taylor talks about “The Character and Purposes of God.” The notes say: “‘The character & purposes of God’ is taken from the Sunday Morning Service Human wickedness & divine grace. A perennial temptation for the preacher is to be excessively man-centred. A passage such as Genesis 34, which contains an account of the most abject human wickedness, could easily give rise to a moralising, condemnatory sermon. In this talk, however, William argues that the principle subject of Genesis 34, when read in the light of chapter 35, is God himself: the faithful God who fulfils his perfect purposes through and in spite of His woefully imperfect people.” The full sermon can be found here.
I confess I have been negligent in referencing sermons by Fr. Bill Klock recently, as he is certainly a blessing to all of us who appreciate sound, theologically discerning Anglican sermons. So by popular demand I would like to mention his most recent sermon, part of a series on Luke, titled Your Faith has Made You Well. This is particularly so because the closing paragraphs are a wonderful summation of the heart of Jesus towards our sickness, our sin, and our death. I find this most meaningful in view of the universality of all of these things, and yet knowing that we can rejoice and give thanks because His power and grace are sufficient to meet all our needs.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus foreshadows here what he’ll do at the cross. He doesn’t flee from our sickness and our sin. No, just the opposite. He embraces us as sick and unclean and as tainted by death as we are in our sin. At the cross he took our sin upon himself. He suffered death for our sake. He suffered and died, taking our punishment on himself, but even the grave couldn’t hold him. On the third day he burst forth full of life, having conquered sin and death. We come to him in faith and he embraces us. He takes our sin himself and releases us to go in peace, cleansed and made whole, and welcomed into his kingdom.
Remember, God sent his Son into the world to redeem us from sin and death, from sickness and pain. These are problem that we human beings have brought on ourselves because of our sin. In the midst of suffering I’ve often had people ask why God is punishing them. Friends, that’s not how God works. Jesus tells us in John’s Gospel, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17).
Jesus didn’t come to heap more misery and judgement on us. He came to heal and save because we were already suffering from the consequences of our sin. He came because we already stand judged and condemned by our sin. Remember, the Jews were suffering—they were living miserable lives in exile—and their prayer and hope was that God would come and smite all the pagan gentile causing their misery. Brothers and sisters, in Jesus God did come to visit his people, but in Jesus we see that our real problem isn’t the evil people around us, the people persecuting us or causing our misery. The real problem is our subjection to sin and the death that our sin has brought into the world. Not one of us is free from the corruption of sin.
If God had come to visit his people as the Jews expected it would have meant judgement and damnation for us all—Jew and gentile alike. But instead, in his lovingkindness, God visited his Creation by sending his Son to take our sin upon himself, to die the death we deserve, to make us clean and to set us free. He sent his Son so that when he does come at the end of history to judge the living and the dead, those who have believed in Jesus, those who have submitted to his lordship and trusted in his victory over sin and death, will be spared the punishment of sin. Jesus came to forgive and to welcome us into the kingdom he is establishing and which will be consummated on that last day. And so remember, God doesn’t afflict us. Just the opposite. He so desires to help us out of the trouble brought by our sin that he spared not his own Son.
I encourage you to read the whole sermon, or you can hear it either here or try the audio player below.
Another text on the Thirty-Nine Articles: “Sermons, explanatory and practical, on the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England”
I came across yet another book on the Thirty-Nine Articles, this one being Sermons, explanatory and practical, on the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, by the Rev. T. Waite. This text was published in 1826, and here is a Google Books link for it. Rev. Waite was chaplain to the Duke of Gloucester and to the Bishop of Oxford, so he was apparently well-connected.
This text is a bit different in that the author discusses each of the Articles in one or more discourses or “sermons, explanatory and practical.” I have read what he has to say about several of the Articles and so far he seems quite sound – worth a look for anyone seeking to study the Articles.
From Dean Phillip Jensen of St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney, Australia, here is the next in a video series on spiritual gifts, titled “Loving Gifts: Love’s Superior Way”. In this one he talks about 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.
Another text on the Thirty-Nine Articles: Samuel Wix’s “Scriptural Illustrations of the Thirty-Nine Articles”
Tonight I came across a quite interesting text on the Thirty-Nine Articles, this one being Scriptural Illustrations of the Thirty-Nine Articles. This was compiled and published in 1808 by the Rev. Samuel Wix, who was a High Churchman. It is quite interesting to me that although he was High Church, even writing elsewhere on desiring to reunite Anglicans and Romans, he also in Scriptural Illustrations of the Thirty-Nine Articles writes about Article XXII in very much what I would call classical Anglican terms. I’ll add this link to the resource page on the Articles a bit later.
Another free book in Kindle format: “Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free” by Tullian Tchividjian
On a related note to the quote from Ryle yesterday on trials: there is a free Kindle book now available from Amazon by the Rev. Tullian Tchividjian, titled Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free. This book addresses some of the same things as the Ryle quote, and the description on Amazon says this:
In this world, one thing is certain: Everybody hurts. Suffering may take the form of tragedy, heartbreak, or addiction. Or it could be something more mundane (but no less real) like resentment, loneliness, or disappointment. But there’s unfortunately no such thing as a painless life. In Glorious Ruin, best-selling author Tullian Tchividjian takes an honest and refreshing look at the reality of suffering, the ways we tie ourselves in knots trying to deal with it, and the comfort of the gospel for those who can’t seem to fix themselves—or others.
This is not so much a book about Why God allows suffering or even How we should approach suffering—it is a book about the tremendously liberating and gloriously counterintuitive truth of a God who suffers with you and for you. It is a book, in other words, about the kind of hope that takes the shape of a cross.
And the author does indeed contrast “the theology of glory” with “the theology of the cross” – bringing, I think, a Biblical perspective to this. As trials and suffering are something we all face, this is not a bad book for anyone.