Reformed Episcopal?

Discussion in 'Church Strands (Anglo-catholics & Evangelicals)' started by Cooper, Dec 14, 2020.

  1. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Classically the human mind is divided into three core faculties: the Intellect, the Will, and the emotions/passions. In other words, all operations of man can be explained as the interactions of those three faculties. In the Anglican model, the total depravity, the 'total fall', refers to the total fall of the Will. In the Calvinist (and to some extent the Lutheran) model, the fall has affected the Will and the Intellect.

    This has (at least) three key ramifications:

    1.) Knowledge of God
    To the Anglican, even the unregenerate can know God through his own faculties, on the basis of Intellect and Reason, although he cannot choose him (in his Will). To the Reformed/Calvinist, the unregenrate cannot even apply Reason to the things of God; therefore you cannot talk to the unregenerate, prove the existence of God, or discuss any issues of God in a rational manner with him. There is no apologetics, evangelism, or missions, in the Calvinist mind (which is why they had nearly nonexistent missionary activities, for centuries). To those who are already regenerate and in the body of Christ, no more apologetics is necessary. And to those who are unregenerate, since their Mind is also fallen, no apologetics is possible. Thus the Calvinist is incapable of talking to the society around him.

    2.) Natural Law
    The Anglican tradition of natural law is second to none.

    3.) Natural knowledge; philosophy, science
    Because the Calvinists believed that not only the Will, but also the Intellect is fallen, consequently only among the regenerate is the Intellect operating correctly again. Consequently to anyone who wasn't a Christian, no science, no understanding, philosophy, or natural learning is ever possible. Science would only be possible to a Christian, whose mind was working correctly again. Therefore the Calvinists will reject all natural knowledge from a source that isn't a Christian, even if it were provable, verifiable, had evidence, etc. This explains the drastic anti-science and anti-intellectualism culture prevalent among the Reformed/Calvinist circles.

    The clearest expression of these tendencies in modern times is the theologian Cornelius Van Til, easily among the most influential Calvinists of the 20th century. He literally taught that it's impossible to conduct apologetics to the society around us; and he taught that natural knowledge was impossible to anyone but the Christian. That's why his successors at Westminster Seminary, like Vern Poythress, are now beginning to spread this idea that there must be a Christian version of mathematics (as the only correct version), because the other versions, conducted perhaps by unregenerate or the non-Christians, is automatically tainted, incorrect, and unreliable.

    Similarly with logic: Poythress has released a book about "Christian logic", because following Van Til, he teaches that logic cannot communicate to nonChristians. Logical thinking from any nonChristian is automatically invalid and incorrect, and proving anything to a nonChristian is impossible.

    Needless to say, there is no "Reformed natural law" tradition. At all. The closest they come to it is in their admission that the natural law may be seen in the 10 Commandments.

    On the contrary, the Anglicans have always rejected these profane positions. The history and record of the Anglican luminaries in philosophy and apologetics is second to none. Anglican scientists historically were more successful than just about anyone at inventing and discovering things (Charles Babbage literally invented the computer in the 1800s, etc). The Anglican position is that knowledge is knowledge, regardless of whoever it comes from, because it is based on observation, facts, deduction, and evidence.

    It is rare to find an anti-intellectualist Anglican who is suspicious of people thinking "too much" (I've never encountered one). On the other hand I often encounter the Reformed and their little brothers the Evangelicals who are very suspicious of people "thinking too much" and in general distrust almost any heavy thought, from almost any quarter. There is a similar problem among the Lutherans, and it needs to be fixed and corrected.

    By the way the Eastern Orthodox are nearly identical to the Calvinists in their anti-intellectualism. Apologetics is nearly nonexistent in EO circles, and their philosophy is basically just the theories of Gregory Palamas. There's practically no history of logic, proof, demonstration, knowledge, evidence, or the scientific method, in the EO tradition, apart from a few exceptions like Mendel.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2021
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  2. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    In a nutshell the traditional view is that man can't come to God on his own. The Calvanist view is that man can't do good on his own. Everything we do is flawed. Now that is a very simplified version but that is it in a nutshell
     
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  3. Fr. Brench

    Fr. Brench Active Member Anglican

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    I was also raised outside the Anglican tradition - in a non-denominational setting influenced by the American revivalist tradition. "Putting your faith in Jesus" was the end-all be-all of salvation there. Yes, we were saved by Jesus - he had to die and rise again - but now we just have to believe it, and your faith will set you free. I agree that it's true in the right context, but that context was never given. The bondage of the will (classic Luther, and agreed by all the following reformers) would have come as a surprise to these folks. And my time with ministers and missionaries from similar non-denom groups influenced by revivalism and pentecostalism also share this view without nuance. It's a real issue - someone straight up told me once that we're saved by our own free will, therefore freedom is the highest good.

    Human freedom, not God. Owch :(
     
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  4. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    True wisdom comes from God. We are counseled to ask for wisdom (James 1:5). I'm wondering, would this be considered a 4th faculty? And does it in any way fit in to all of what you've said about the differences between the two views of depravity? I ask because, although it seems that some unregenerate people do learn some wisdom, I've observed a great shortfall of wisdom among the unredeemed in general; a great many of them can't seem to "see the forest, because of all the trees."
     
  5. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Classically this would be explained as a heightened capacity of the Intellect faculty, illuminated from God. No need for a whole new faculty, after all wisdom is just a form of knowledge, not something else entirely.


    And yet this small band of the unregenerates accounts for 90% of all of today’s inventions. Christians, as many of them as there are out there, in this age are in a dark stupor of unthinking. The log is big in our eye these days, and we need to find an explanation for this.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2021
  6. Andrew Evans

    Andrew Evans New Member

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    ...you cannot talk to the unregenerate, prove the existence of God, or discuss any issues of God in a rational manner with him. There is no apologetics, evangelism, or missions, in the Calvinist mind.
    With all due respect, I think you’re being quite unfair to Calvinists here, at least the Calvinists I know, many of whom have a heart for evangelism and do not shy away from engaging others in matters of faith.
     
  7. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I know, but the question is, are they consistent with their own tradition/theology?

    Cornelius Van Til would say no. For example in this podcast, the Westminster Seminary professors & PhD candidates discuss what he believed (and they themselves believe it, meaning it’s a living tradition):

    https://reformedforum.org/podcasts/ctc399/
    -starting at min24, they (and Van Til) deny that logic, facts or even mathematics are things which both the believer and unbeliever can understand together, as a point of contact between them.

    A bunch of other podcasts and articles on that site and elsewhere can fill this out further. E.g:

    https://reformedforum.org/essential-van-til-failure-classical-apologetics/

    “Van Til is not opposed to logic, evidence or history. Nor is he opposed to using such in the service of defending the faith. What he opposes, however, is thinking that facts, logic, etc. are things which exist “out there,” brute facts that both believer and unbeliever can use together to evaluate truth claims about Christianity.”
     
  8. Andrew Evans

    Andrew Evans New Member

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    I’ll listen. Thanks. I’m only a little familiar with Van Til. It struck me that it may depend on how one defines “Calvinist”. J. I. Packer (Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God) would have claimed he was a Calvinist, and he was/is a most respected Anglican theologian.
     
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  9. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Packer can be best described as an Augustinian. Because of weird broken recent Christianity, that came to be called “Calvinist”.

    Just an FYI, when the ACNA issued its first big Catechism in 2019, he was the chairman of the catechism committee, and its text has some decidedly Arminian passages.

    Not that I think Arminius was 100% right either. He had issues, Calvin had issues; just modern Christianity as a whole is basically broken, and by the end of his life Packer had the wisdom to step away from being constrained by modern broken labels.
     
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  10. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    Packer also had an odd obsession with the Puritans
     
  11. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Well-Known Member Anglican

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    To pretend that Reformed soteriology (or wider Reformed theology) is somehow contra established Anglicanism would in fact be quite curious to most English churchmen in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras. The Articles clearly teach a middle way where a Lutheran or Calvinist could affirm either. I am in Calvin's camp but I am not of the opinion it should divide Protestants.

    There's a lot for us to learn from them. Puritans as a category were often within the Church of England though I do agree that Packer goes a tad too far in his estimation of them.

    Stalwart this is interesting, can you provide some reading on this?
     
  12. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    I would say there is a big difference between what Calvin wrote and how Reformed Theology developed.
     
  13. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Well-Known Member Anglican

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    How so? For instance the Church of England sent delegates to the Synod of Dort. The Calvin vs. the Calvinist thesis has fallen out of favor as it seems to have misinterpreted both to find a wider chasm than existed in reality.
     
  14. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    What I contend is that there was no Reformed theology in the 16th century. Why do I say that? Because Vermigli and Bucer argued for 4 holy orders, discussed free will, and taught little of Calvin’s soteriology. Because Arminius taught “arminianism” and yet called himself Reformed, and was seen as such by others (such as his students) around him. Amyrault achieved basically a hegemonic status over the Huguenots, and yet “Amyrauldianism” will be considered as heretical by all modern Calvinists.

    So what we do have back then are "Reformed theologies", which would not be considered any one “Reformed theology” today.

    When then does "today's" Reformed theology emerge? Arguably after the Council of Dort, and thus early 1600s. But even after Dort, no condemnation of Amyrault ever took place. And all of the English delegates to Dort taught what’s called “hypothetical universalism” which would be considered Arminian and heretical for Calvinists today.

    But let’s be super charitable and say that Dort was this super-declarative moment (when it obviously wasn’t). Therefore, it follows that prior to the early 1600s, there wasn't anything which we may meaningfully say was Reformed theology.
     
  15. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Well I guess that would be contra most academic treatments of the subject. Most theologians and academics of the era do seem to agree that by the 16th century there is something recognizably Reformed in particular on sacraments and soteriology. There is certainly a solidifying by the late 17th century in a way that would exclude Anglicanism (for not being "confessionally Reformed") but it would surprise most English churchmen that there was not a) a theological common identity between Swiss, French, Dutch, Hungarian, and German Calvinists in a way that divided them from followers of Luther or Roman Catholics or b) that the English Church was not a part of this common identity.

    In fact, both of these things were so assumed at the time that by 1617, the British king exhorted the States General of the United Provinces to call a synod to resolve the remonstrant/counter-remonstrant issue. Additionally it's not for no reason that British delegates are asked to attend this synod. The fact that no Roman Catholic or Lutheran delegates were invited is telling insofar as whether this identity was something that attendees were aware of.

    So while I think it could reasonably said that Reformed theology was, before the late 17th century, a wider theological identity, it does seem like a bit of a stretch in the service of modern battles to say that there is nothing recognizably Reformed before or after Dort, much less that nothing Reformed is present in Anglican doctrine.
     
  16. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Not that it is central to the discussion (can one say that there is Reformed theology in Anglican doctrine and in Anglicanism historically?), but it is inaccurate, as far as I know, to say that all of the British delegates to Dort believed in hypothetical universalism. From my recollection both Neal and Shand's work (Daniel Neal, The History of the Puritans & Mark Shand's British Reformed Journal essay on Dort), only Davenant and Ward were hypothetical universalists, with the rest disagreeing.
     
  17. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    In the book The Beauty of Holiness at least some of the people sent to the Synod of Dort said after that synod they were done with Calvin. The author also argues that the delegates were sent to Dort because more for ecumenical reasons not mainly for theological reasons.

    But it was true that the Articles were written that you could take a more Lutheran/EO/almost Catholic view of things or a Reformed view of things. In the churches wisdom though they eventually have moved further and further away from the Reformed view of things.
     
  18. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    Well for instance there was a much wider interpretation of Reformed Theology until the Synod of Dort. That kinda codified things. The Reformed view was more free wheeling until then.
     
  19. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Would those be the same academics that describe the era as a conflict between "Protestants" and "Catholics"?

    I don't think you realize that we are living in an intellectually barren landscape of the 20-21st centuries. Take modern Christian music (a failed genre), and compare it with modern Christian theology (a catastrophe), and then apply it to modern interpretations of Christian history (a bankrupt confusion).

    Obviously the Protestants were the Catholics of the Reformation. Today, there are almost no Protestants of that type left. Roman Catholics today resemble the Protestants of the 16th century. RCs of the 16th century were clearly and egregiously heretical.

    That's the actual state of things. But that is not the writing which modern academics will publish. So instead you should read the original texts for yourself. Everything is for free, and in English. Read Arminius and you'll find a "Reformed theologian". Read Amyrault and you'll find a hegemonic leader of the "Reformed Churches of France" (Huguenots).

    There was no Reformed theology in the 16th century. I would ask you to find a single 16th century Anglican Divine who provided a definition of "Reformed theology" that we'd understand today, or especially that he would cling to it himself.


    Bro, there were no people who called themselves 'Calvinists', until the modern era. What are you even talking about. Do you think at Dort they were citing chapter and verse from Calvin's Institutes?


    And that's precisely the point: when you discover that the Lutheran delegates were invited to the Synod of Dort (but didn't attend because of internal reasons), that's when you'll see that Dort was just a simple vanilla Protestant Council, with nothing Reformed about it. However they did expel a certain school of theology. And as you say, during the later 17th century, in retrospect, the new "slimmer" school of thought began to be defined as Reformed, mainly through Voetius and Cocceius in the Netherlands, and in England through the Westminster puritan theologians of the 1650s.

    But then even in the 17th century you have the most famous/influential English Puritan of the era, John Baxter, teaching amyrauldianism and being pretty comfortable with free will in a qualified sense. When you talked to the modern Reformed today, they will almost never cite Baxter as their authorities, and instead feel consternation that he and his whole school never ceased being considered as in the Reformed tradition.

    The modern Reformed movement which you find in the year 2021 is an anachronistic a-historical branch of Christendom, which has no connection even to its own past, and it has no historical roots, either in the Reformation or in the Church Fathers. When you look at the Westminster Seminary curriculum and listen to their podcasts, they will cite Geerhardus Vos and Cornelius Van Til as the fathers of most of what they believe. 20th century theologians!
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2021
  20. JoeLaughon

    JoeLaughon Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I think you're finding more disagreement between us than actually exists. I am not denying that the terms Reformed or Calvinist take on a more solid meaning post-Dort or that those terms were not common identifiers. My point here is really quite simple;

    1) Reformed theology exists and while it has obviously changed and solidified over time, there is a consistency in ideas & practice (with diversity) from the long Reformation until today.
    2) The Church of England saw itself as part of a wider theological community with those whose ideas and practice form what we call today Reformed theology and Calvinism, in particular in a way that it did not consciously share with Eastern, Roman Catholic or Lutheran Christians. This in particular was shared when it came to soteriology, images, and the sacraments.
    3) Hence it is not anachronistic or meaningless to say that "Anglicanism" does not forbid Reformed theology either in it's theology of the sacraments or soteriology. If it is true that "Reformed theology" doesn't exist because there are Reformed theologies then it makes even less sense to speak of Anglicanism forbidding something that ostensibly doesn't exist. All my point was that insofar as we can speak of a Reformation, the Church of England consciously saw itself as aligned the Dutch, French, Swiss Reformers whose ideas/practice we now call Reformed or Calvinist.

    If the issue here is that everyone else in academia and theology is hopelessly wrong, all I can do is shrug at that. Seems like too big of a statement for me to go along with and seems like a way of nuking a conversation rather than initiating one. (FWIW, my academic background in college focused heavily/primarily on early modern Europe and was spent largely reading primary sources from this era)

    To a large extent I agree with that. But its also not quite the same as saying that Dort or later codifications either a) have no grounding in Calvin's thought or b) are alien to Anglican theology

    Do you mean McCarthy & McGee's The Beautification of Holiness?

    In the direct quotations from the delegates, they disagree with the Remonstrants for very theological reasons to the point of accusing the Remonstrants of “Instances of Apostasie, but also their odious imputation...” The “History of the Synod," by James Trigland is helpful on this.

    Also can you clarify for me what you mean by "moved further and further away"? The wording of the articles doesn't really change on this from the Elizabethan/Jacobean era to the Caroline era. I do agree however that it is the wisdom of the Church to chart a middle ground on this between Lutherans and Reformed to maintain Protestant unity, allowing faithful churchmen their own views on this while maintaining Anglican identity.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2021