John Calvin on Church Discipline

 

“As the saving doctrine of Christ is the soul of the church, so discipline forms ligaments which connect the members together, and keep each in its proper place. Whoever, therefore, either desire the abolition of all discipline, or obstruct its restoration, whether they act from design or inadvertency, they certainly promote the entire dissolution of the Church.”

 

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 vols., ed. John T. McNeill (Philidelphia: The Westminister Press, 1960), p. 1,238 (Book IV, Chapter XII, Section 10).

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eJournal on Church Discipline from 9 Marks

9 Marks has provided a number of helpful articles on the subject of church discipline.

 

The editor states, “Church discipline is just such an uncomfortable act of tough love, which is why 9Marks would like to spend two issues of the eJournal considering this important topic. In this issue, Wyman Richardson and Greg Wills help us to count the cost of practicing or not practicing church discipline. Ken Sande offers some legal counsel. And Kevin DeYoung, a pastor in mainline Protestant land, offers words of warning to evangelical land, a land where tough love increasingly has to shout to be heard.”

 

In one of the articles by Gregory Wills, we read, “John Dagg stated, “When discipline leaves a church, Christ leaves with it.” What is the answer?”

This “eJournal” offers a treasure trove on this important area of church l

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Father and Son Retreat in Washington

 

 

2009 Father and Son Retreat in Rimrock, Washington.

Eight of us* traveled to the rugged mountains of Washington State for a father and son retreat. It was delightful to see fathers with their sons, allocating time for training their sons and enjoying one another.

Retreats like this bring hope for future generations.

Using Proverbs eight as our daily devotional, the whole theme of the camp was making the Word of God your compass. Fathers and sons received instruction in land navigation from a very gifted communicator – former Army Infantry Officer Troy Hacking – and were sent into the wild to find their way via their compass.

Our teaching sessions focused on biblical fatherhood and sonship by recognizing the divine pattern for fathers and sons established in heaven by God the Father and His Son. With this as a foundation, I proposed that the purpose of fathers and sons in the world is to provide a living picture of the gospel. I identified various attacks of the devil against sons to drive them apart (in a message entitled, “The Seven Tests of David Brown”), and showed how to tell if you are winning or losing the battle for the heart of your son. Peter Bradrick connected very powerfully in a message that challenged young men to become principled and fearless warriors for Christ.

*Our team included: Scott Brown, Peter Bradrick, Ron Whittaker and his son Tyler, and NCFIC interns: Brandon Arnette, Thomas Dellinger, Jonathan Langford and Stephen Sides.

Westside Baptist Church, (This is were I spoke on Sunday)

Christian Heritage, (The host of the Father/Son Retreat)

 

Dad trivia…

Peter speaking…

Around the campfire…

Ron and Tyler…

The zip line…

The fathers and sons…

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The Divine-Deli-Cafeteria Religion and the Sufficiency of Scripture

This week Newsweek released a story that shows us how far the American mind has drifted from looking to scripture for answers. As we are quickly closing in on the date for the Sufficiency of Scripture conference in December, I am mindful of the various influences that have banished this kind of thinking from American culture. The compromised church, the fruits of public education, the addiction to age segregation, the collapse of the family in America have created a completely different world than our founding fathers conceived.

Newsweek magazine sums it all up by saying, “We Are All Hindus Now.” (Click HERE to view full article)

Newsweek declares that, “America is not a Christian nation,” even though we were founded by Christians. The magazine says that we now think more like Hindus than Christians. Citing the Rig Veda (Hindu scripture), “Truth is One, but the sages speak of it by many names.” This means that all paths lead to God whether Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Wicca or otherwise.

The article goes on to say that Americans no longer accept the Christian proposition that Jesus spoke, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” Today 65% embrace the idea that “many religions can lead to eternal life”-including 37% of white evangelicals. America embraces, what Stephen Prothero calls, “the divine-deli-cafeteria religion.” He says it is “very much in the spirit of Hinduism.”
Prothero puts his finger on the pulse of American thinking – pragmatism. He says, “It isn’t about orthodoxy. It’s about whatever works.”

Further, Newsweek reminds us that our views of death and dying are rapidly changing. Whereas we previously believed in the sacredness of body and soul, now more of us believe in reincarnation and cremation. Today, a whopping 24% of Americans believe in reincarnation – up from 6% in 1975.

The author ends the article revealing the real issue that is being attacked – the gospel itself. She quotes Diana Eck, professor of comparative religion at Harvard, saying that all of this rejects the Christian doctrine of the resurrection. This is the fatal flaw and the final blow of the American mentality that rejects scripture as the only guide. It denies the resurrection of Christ, the credence of which all of Hindu thought seeks to destroy.

One element of the importance of the sufficiency of scripture is this: When you abandon it, the gospel is eventually abandoned. This is one of the hard lessons of the seeker sensitive movement turned “emergent.” Now, without scriptural foundation, instead of Christianity, you get the divine Deli “cafeteria religion.” To understand how to rebuild the foundations that have been destroyed, come and learn what it means to trust the Word of God as applicable to every area of life at the Sufficiency of Scripture 2009 Conference in Cincinnati this December 10th through 12th. Or, as the NCFIC interns have dubbed it, “S.O.S.”

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Women in Combat – Morality Circumvented

It is hard to ignore the sad state of a nation that has lost its sense of the beauty and glory of womanhood and the necessity of an estimable treatment of women that includes protection. In the church and family these issues are of enormous importance. This collapse of love for the opposite sex always follows the collapse of biblical patriarchy. Albert Mohler writes about what is happening behind the scenes and public statements, on the matter in his article, “A Quiet Circumvention of Morality – Women in Combat.” He writes,

“A nation’s moral character is revealed in the way it fights its wars. This report, filled with documentation, reveals that our nation’s moral character is now being redefined before our eyes. If it is true that a majority of the American people affirm their readiness to see women “join combat units, where they would be directly involved in the ground fighting,” the American people are demonstrating their disregard for the moral wisdom of the ages. The nation is forfeiting the responsibility of men to act as protectors of women, and acquiescing to the failure of men to fulfill their duty.”

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Scott Brown on Moody Radio’s Prime Time America

Paul Butler with Moody Radio just interviewed me on our new book, Family Reformation: The Legacy of Sola Scriptura in John Calvin’s Geneva and in honor of his show, today we are again offering personally signed copies for 50% off.

Go to Paul Butler’s blog to listen to the interview HERE.

 

Signed Copy 50% off Sale ends tomorrow night August 13th.

Click HERE to purchase.

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Parenting as Cultural Resistance

Neil Postman, one of the truly insightful secular social commentators of the 20th century, was correct when he said that parenting was “Cultural Resistance.” In one of his books, “The Disappearance of Childhood” he outlines the devastating influences of our culture on childhood. At the end of the book he asks a question, “is the individual powerless to restrict what is happening?” He says,

The answer to this, in my opinion, is “No.” But, as with all resistance, there is a price to pay. Specifically, resistance entails conceiving of parenting as an act of rebellion against American culture. For example, for parents merely to remain married is itself an act of disobedience and an insult to the spirit of a throwaway culture in which continuity has little value. It is also at least ninety percent un-American to remain in close proximity to one’s extended family so that children can experience, daily, the meaning of kinship and the value of deference and responsibility to elders. Similarly, to insist that one’s children learn the discipline of delayed gratification, or modesty in their sexuality, or self-restraint in manners, language, and style is to place oneself in opposition to almost every social trend. Even further, to ensure that one’s children work hard at becoming literate is extraordinarily time-consuming and even expensive. But most rebellious of all is the attempt to control the media’s access to one’s children. There are, in fact, two ways to do this. The first is to limit the amount of exposure children have to media. The second is to monitor carefully what they are exposed to, and to provide them with a continuously running critique of the themes and values of the media’s content. Both are very difficult to do and require a level of attention that most parents are not prepared to give to child-rearing.

Nonetheless, there are parents who are committed to doing all of these things, who are in effect defying the directives of their culture. Such parents are not only helping their children to have a childhood but are, at the same time, creating a sort of intellectual elite. Certainly in the short run the children who grow up in such homes will, as adults, be much favored by business, the professions, and the media themselves. What can we say of the long run? Only this: Those parents who resist the spirit of the age will contribute to what might be called the Monastery Effect, for they will help to keep alive a humane tradition. It is not conceivable that our culture will forget that it needs children. But it is halfway toward forgetting that children need childhood. Those who insist on remembering shall perform a noble service.

Neil Postman, The Disappearance of Childhood, (1982; repr,. New York: Vintage, 1994), 152-153

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Arraign it, Accuse it, Spit on it – Hatred of Sin

What kind of reactions should we have toward our sin? Thomas Goodwin says this,

Work in your hearts a hatred of sin… If a man had killed your friend, or father, or mother, how would you hate him! You would not endure the sight of him, but follow the law upon him. Send out the avenger of blood with a hue and cry after thy sin; bring it afore God’s judgment seat, arraign it, accuse it, spit on it, condemn it and thyself for it, have it to the cross, nail it there, if it cry I thirst, give it vinegar, stretch the body of sins upon his cross, stretch every vein of it, make the heart strings crack; and then when it hangs there, triumph over the dying of it, show it no pity, laugh at its destruction, say, Thou hast been a bloody sin to me and my husband, hang there and rot. And when thou art tempted to it [sin], and art very thirsty after the pleasure of it, say of that opportunity to enjoy it, It is the price of Christ’s blood, and pour it upon the ground. … Shall I live upon that which was Christ’s death? Shall I please myself in that which was his pain? Shall I be so dishonest, so unkind, as to enjoy the pleasure for which he endured the smart?

—Thomas Goodwin (1600—1679), Christ the Mediator in The Works of Thomas Goodwin (RHB), 5:294.

I found this excellent quote on Miscellanies Blog.

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Welcoming Our Fall Intern Class

We are pleased to welcome our fall intern class to join us for the next five months here at the NCFIC. Please pray for these men as they assist us in the work of church reformation. It is our prayer that their time with us would be fruitful in every way. Pray for their labors, for their studies, and that God would give them a vision of His Holiness, the power of His word, the beauty of the church and an abundance of spiritual fruit from these months of labor and mentorship.

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Now Available: Preparing for Marriage – John Calvin speaks on Courtship and Marriage

As a shepherd of a local flock, it is evident that Calvin had observed many of the tumultuous results of individuals mishandling their single years. He seemed to have great compassion for the single people in his church for he provided much counsel to assist them in governing the critical years leading up to marriage. He preached directly to the issues which they faced and dealt forthrightly with concerns they had regarding marriage and everything leading up to it. He did not provide them with shallow platitudes. Rather, he gave incisive direction for handling a diverse range of complex issues. Through his expositions, letters, commentaries, and the Institutes, he dissected the issues of the single life.

This book captures some of the premarital counsel which John Calvin gave to the youth and families of Geneva. It draws from two categories of Calvin’s writings, bringing up interesting and helpful counsel for young people and their families in order to help them navigate the single years and enter successfully into marriage. First, we have taken statements from his commentaries and sermons on matters relating to this formative time of a young person’s life. Second, many of the statements presented here come from the Marriage Ordinance of 1546, which outlines various difficult issues that most singles need to face before they get married.

I believe you will find this small book to be both helpful and encouraging.

Click HERE to purchase this book

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How to Achieve Perpetual Childhood

Why study history? There are many reasons. One reason is that we are commanded to study history– “remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations” (Deut 32:7). Here is another reason posed by one of the reformers of the sixteenth century – it keeps us from “perpetual childhood” and “permanent obscurity.”

“Human life without knowledge of history is nothing other than a perpetual childhood, nay a permanent obscurity and darkness.”

–Philip Melancthon (1497–1560)

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John Foxe – Reformers Are Often Persecuted by the Established Church

John Foxe in the introduction to the 1684 edition to Foxes Book of Martyrs speaks to one of the core issues of reformation: persecution from within the church. It is the repugnance of those present in the church toward those who have a hand in reforming it. Foxe believed that there are always two groups within the visible church – the true church and the false. It is those of the false church, which are participants in it but have not really embraced the gospel who cause problems for those that have.

“And many times, it happeneth, that as between the world and the kingdom of Christ there is a continual repungnance: so between these two parts of this visible church aforesaid oft times growth great Variance and mortal persecution, in so much that sometime the true church of Christ hath no greater enemies, than of their own profession and company, as happened not only in the time of Christ and his Apostles, but also from time to time almost continually, but especially in these later days of the church under the persecution of antichrist and his retinue, as by the reading of this volume more manifestly heareafter may appear.”

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Radio Interview: Kevin Swanson with Scott Brown on “Generations With A Vision”

 

Kevin Swanson introduced the program with this: “The statist attack on the family since the 1800s has been brutal, and it will take generations to recover from it. But the attack on the family from the sphere of the church in the 1400s was similarly devastating. The return of family discipleship, an appreciation for marriage, and fatherhood was precisely what the world needed then – and it came through the powerful ministry work of men like John Calvin. This interview with Scott Brown brings out the comparison of the 16th century with the 21st century, and challenges us to a Sola Scriptura reformation in the sphere of the family.”

Click Here to hear the show

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New Church plant in Dover Delaware – Grace and Truth Community Church

Rick Hensley and Billy Rosano are the founding elders of the new church in Dover Delaware. They both left their pastoral positions at another local church in the area amicably, under the blessing and encouragement of the Elders of that Church.  Grace and Truth Community Church was planted with an interested in influencing the world for Christ through the proclamation of the Gospel, and the discipleship of the saints.

Mission:

“For the glory of God, we proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and disciple the saints to live for Him.”  Their vision is, by God’s grace, “To build a community of Christ exalting, missions minded Christians, who delight in God’s commands and are passionate to influence the world for Christ and raise a righteous generation.”

Doctrinal persuasions:

“GTCC uses a revised New Hampshire Baptist Confession, of 1853 as their primary doctrinal statement. We also find the Second London Baptist Confession and the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message helpful in clarifying key doctrines of the Bible. GTCC is in friendly association with the Southern Baptist Convention.

Equipping methodology:

“At GTCC we cherish the integration of ages and generations worshiping and learning together corporately. We value the wisdom and unity that is fostered as generations minister to one another biblically. We believe that through age integration parents (especially fathers) are both equipped and empowered to disciple their children daily at home, because this is a priority of the church by teaching and by structure.”

Church government:

“GTCC is elder led.

Music:

“GTCC believes in balance regarding older hymns and newer theologically sound hymns and spiritual songs.”

Please pray for wisdom and guidance for the leadership of GTCC as this Church plant gets started.

The Sunday morning worship service is currently being held at the Old Wyoming United Methodist Church building, in Camden, Delaware, Sundays at 10:30 A.M. Morning worship service is followed by a “Shared Meal” every Sunday, which all guests are also invited to attend. They always plan for extra in case we have some visitors.

The Church is located at 107 Broad Street, Wyoming, DE 19934.

If you would like to contact Rick Hensley, please call him at 302 674 3179.

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Calvin – A Sweetener, a Cataract, Absolutely Chinese

Since today is John Calvin’s 500th Birthday, we have a wonderful opportunity to celebrate a man who reminded us of the majesty of God. Here are some striking statements various theologians have made concerning Calvin.

Cotton Mather was asked why he was reading late into the night during his later years, in contrast to his early years where he did not do it very much. He replied,

“Because I love to sweeten my mouth with a piece of Calvin before I go to sleep.” [1]

Professor John Murray said,

“Calvin was an exegete and biblical theologian of the first rank.

“The greatest and best theologian who has most accurately apprehended the meaning of the statements of scripture – who by comparing and combining them, has most fully and correctly brought out the whole mind of God on all the topics on which the scriptures give us information – who classifies and digests the truths of Scripture in the way best fitted to commend to the apprehension and acceptance of men.

“He is always careful to take account of the unity and harmony of Scripture teaching. His expositions are not therefore afflicted with the vice of expounding particular passages without respect to the teaching of scripture elsewhere and without respect to the system of truth set forth in the Word of God.

“Upon our reading of the Institutes, we shall immediately discover the profound sense of the majesty of God, veneration for the Word of God, and the jealous care for faithful exposition and systematization which were marked features of the author…. The Instutes are infused with the warmth of godly fear.” [2]

Michael Haykin says,

“The Reformation was not merely about justification through faith alone but, more importantly, it considered “…whether sinners are wholly helpless in their sin, and whether God is to be thought of as saving them by free, unconditional, invincible grace, not only justifying them for Christ’s sake when they come to faith, but also raising them from the death of sin by His quickening Spirit in order to bring them to faith.”

Even Karl Barth who rejected the authority of Scripture and opposed the entire legacy of John Calvin acknowledged the astonishing stature and contribution of his life.

“Calvin is a cataract, a primeval forest, a demonic power, something directly down from Himalaya, absolutely Chinese, strange, mythological; I lack completely the means, the suction cups, even to assimilate this phenomenon, not to speak of presenting it adequately. What I receive is only a thin little stream and what I can then give out again is only a yet thinner extract of this little stream. I could gladly and profitably set myself down and spend all the rest of my life just with Calvin” [3]

The Protestant reformation reached far beyond the doctrine of justification by faith alone, for it opened up the discussion of biblical truth for all areas of life. We saw this with particular clarity in John Calvin’s experience in Geneva. I have just written a book on the subject, “Family Reformation – The Legacy of Sola Scriptura in Calvin’s Geneva.” The Catholic church had established practices for family life including courtship, engagement, sexual standards, marriage, and family. Calvin challenged them during the reformation and a reformation of family life was the result.


1. From, John Calvin, A heart For Devotion Doctrine and Doxology, Edited by Burk Parsons

2. John Murray, Professor Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia Pa

3. Letter to Eduard Thurneysen, June 8, 1922

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