Category Archives: Education

Advantages of the English Reformation over Others?

dean-chapter

I am not sure a comparison between Cranmer and Hooker’s gradual approach and the Continental Reformers’ approach to the reformation of the Church is a fair one. The English Reformation already had the benefit of Reformers and Protestant states on the Continent with which to make alliances and unite as feasible in common cause. Whereas the Continent was rife with civil wars in both the Empire and France, England being peripheral to Europe could better afford to reform its part of the Church without being overrun by invaders. Thanks to English naval strength after the destruction of the Spanish Armada, even the existential threats faced by England for the next centuries seem more often to have been about the prospect than about the reality of being overrun by popish armies and (as ‘God Save the King’ originally said) popish tricks.

Nevertheless, the English Reformation does seem to have worked with the existing commonwealth in ways that the Continental Reformers seem not have done. The first vernacular piece of liturgy, the Litany, was introduced in 1544, and the Sarum Mass (in Latin) was retained until 1549, long after Protestant doctrine had begun to leaven English society in sermons and official statements of church doctrine. Even the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, though Reformed in its doctrinal basis, was so written that Bishop Gardiner was able to claim it plausibly for unreformed doctrine; and only upon that challenge, and with the advice of Bucer, Vermigli, and others for a clearer statement, did Cranmer put together the 1552 Book of Common Prayer. Even at this pace, the 1549 Book of Common Prayer sparked revolts in Devon and Cornwall; still less could a more sudden change have hoped to avoid convulsing the nation. Because of this politic pace and the place of the Prayer Book in reformation, Englishmen retained their old loyalty to the Church as such rather than to what appeared to be the doctrine of some particular men, which in my judgement remains a great asset today.

Indeed, a great deal of the Sarum mass and offices was not in itself unconscionable, but only relatively conducive to beliefs and practices that were unconscionable. These forms of services were, in other words, adiaphora: in themselves indifferent, though in need of alteration according to the freedom of the Church to frame services toward ædification according to the general teaching of Scripture. The concept of things indifferent in worship was recognized by the Continental Reformers, of course, since they were themselves able to accept local differences in worship and even to defend England’s forms as acceptable for a Reformed church. All the same, England’s emphasis on treating these adiaphora prudently has lent itself to an easily understood sense that no new church was forged in the Reformation, only a cleansing made of the extant Church. On the popular level, I think, such an understanding is necessary, especially in times when the world is changing fast; strangely, perhaps, this kind of careful conservatism helps the Church adapt to changes in the world because its members understand the organism as one that has survived through challenging times with its life and biblical witness intact.

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Against Speaking of ‘Balance’ in God

If ‘balance’ were a useful resolution to the antinomies of the unchangeable character of God, then we could balance the oneness (unity) of God and the threeness (trinity) of God by holding dogmatically that God is two.

Latin, a Dead Language? Sed Contra, Says a 1989 Abstract

This 1989 Czech article, ‘Stitny’s Translation of the Athanasian Creed’, has its abstract in Latin.

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If the image is too small to read, here is the abstract:

Symbolum Athanasianum, quod in divino officio ecclesiae catholicae occurrit, verisimiliter ultimis decenniis XIII. saeculi una cum Psalterio et undecim canticis solitis bohemice primo versum est, ut Psalterium Wittenbergense (W) dimidio XIV. saeculi exaratum testatur. Quae versio paulisper revisa etiam in primigenia biblia bohemica Dresdensi (D) seu Lescoveciana dicta circa annum 1370 exarata (a. 1914 deleta) legebatur necnon magis retractata in Psalterio Podiebradensi (P) ex anno 1396 conservata est. Altera versio omnino diversa dimidio XIV. saeculi translata in Psalterio sic dicto Clementino (K), tertia denique ultimis decenniis eiusdem saeculi confecta optime in biblia Boscovicensi (B) circa annum 1415 scripta ad nos pervenit. Cum Thomas de Štítný libellum De fide, spe et caritate ad liberos suos erudiendos scriberet, qui in collectaneo dicto Clementino ex anno 1376 inest (Š), Symbolum Athanasianum denuo ipse vertit nec versionibus pridem translatis usus est; verisimiliter enim Psalterium, Evangeliarium (de quo in LF 94, 1971, 263–270 tractatur), bibliam bohemice versam non possidebat, quae omnia ad usum monacharum translata erant.

Who says Latin is a dead language?

People Who Don’t Believe the BCP Is Basically All Bible Should See This

By the Rev. Henry Ives Bailey, The Liturgy Compared with the Bible. Here begins the exhortation that immediately follows the opening scriptural sentence of Morning Prayer:

liturgy-compared-with-bible-mp-exhortation

Let him impugn the words of the Prayer Book who dares to deny the truth of Holy Scripture.

Coptic Bishop’s Advice: Bible Study for Evangelism

A Coptic bishop commends Bible study as a way of evangelism before people are ready to ‘go to church’, especially since church services are rich in ritual and there is much people will not understand without first learning about God.

The bishop says those who are seeking God and understand that church is about meeting with God, not about merely socializing with people, will not be deterred by a church that has not figured everything out about welcoming newcomers.

Are you ready to go to this summer’s Thematic Bible Conference, 30 June to 1 July?

Having Children Study the Bible

St John Chrysostom

St John Chrysostom on having children study the Bible, in a homily on Ephesians 6.1–4:

Don’t say, ‘Bible-reading is for monks; am I turning my child into a monk?’ No! It isn’t necessary for him to be a monk. Make him into a Christian! Why are you afraid of something so good? It is necessary for everyone to know Scriptural teachings, and this is especially true for children. Even at their age they are exposed to all sorts of folly and bad examples from popular entertainments. Our children need remedies for all these things! We are so concerned with our children’s schooling; if only we were equally zealous in bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord! And then we wonder why we reap such bitter fruit when we have raised our children to be insolent, licentious, impious, and vulgar. May this never happen; instead, let us heed the blessed Paul’s admonition to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Let us give them a pattern to imitate; from their earliest years let us teach them to study the Bible.

Having just come back from the 2017 Thematic Bible Conference in Princeton, I heartily approve. Even children can learn through inductive Bible studies to study the word of God for themselves, and even older high-schoolers should learn to make ready and lead a systematically inductive Bible study. It can be done, if only we will get it done by faith.

And They Have the Nerve to Call Chinese Food Weird

Image result for raw broccoli ranch

How is raw broccoli considered edible? It tastes fishy in the worst way possible, and it cannot be saved by ranch dip, of all things.

Below, on the other hand, is what the master race eats:

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So do not speak to me of the ‘weird food’ eaten by the Chinese. When it was snack time and I was just beginning to speak English, raw broccoli was my introduction to the awful foods favoured by White Americans.

This Thursday ethnic shittalk post is brought to you by the letter L.

Time to Bring Dead White Reformed Divines to China

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A Chinese academic paper on Richard Hooker.

For better or worse, the Young, Restless, and Reformed (YRR) movement, or New Calvinism, is in China. Much of the growth of seminaries in China may be Reformed, and every year Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS) has students from China. According to Bruce P. Baugus, a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS), ‘It’s not at all unthinkable that China would have more Reformed seminaries within 20 years than we do here.’ People are seeing the names of American Reformed celebrities such as Tim Keller and John Piper. About both I have my complaints, but I think the growth of New Calvinism – which is noticeably different from classic Reformed literature – also means the time may be ripe for Chinese translations of not only Augustine of Hippo and John Calvin, whose Institutes of the Christian Religion the ChiCom-directed China Christian Council (CCC) itself published in Chinese in 2005, but also the still untranslated authors Hieronymus Zanchius, Franciscus Junius, Johannes Althusius, and the judicious Richard Hooker 理查德·胡克 (see this Chinese paper on Hooker).

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Zanchius and Hooker, Reformed scholastics.

Again I am reminded that the need for sound development of public theology in China will be great in the next 50 years, and I hope I can do my part, especially in interpreting the word of God and China’s history – such as recorded in the Zuozhuan 左傳 – in a way that is not Americanist or Western. I can already see, for example, that the article I have linked about public theology casts plurality in human authority – a constitutional arrangement common in the West and especially in the Anglosphere – in terms of plurality in the Trinity:

With the insufficiency of maintaining the tension between the two worlds, the Trinitarian order revealed through God becoming flesh is lacking attention in the Chinese Christian world. Anyone made in the Creator’s image cannot live out his image without the Creator’s revelation and redemption. The three persons of one essence of the Trinity – both one, yet many – is quite unlike the common, human, governing order where either one or many will be preferred instead of both simultaneously. The Son of Heaven in traditional Chinese dynasties, rather than the Son of Man of the Scriptures, has cast a long shadow over the popular Chinese impression of authority. Even in contemporary China, the head of any institution tends to be a paramount figure which makes it difficult to develop checks and balances between that individual and other associates and colleagues. It is no surprise then, for the Chinese to be more familiar with the monopoly of power than with the sharing or separation of power.

This interpretation and application I myself consider theologically unsound, even if we leave aside the Chinese author’s quiet anti-Chinese chauvinism. The popularity of social Trinitarianism in parts of the Western Reformed world does not help matters. As the facile application of unsound Trinitarian teaching suggests, it will be important for work in public theology to be done carefully, independent of Western liberal propaganda of the past 200 years, dependent rather on the word of God interpreted according to right reason and the common testimony of the fathers, and then applied respectfully and judiciously to a civilization that needs not the deception of the West but the light of Christ.

Edit:
This is rich. Meanwhile, New Calvinism colonizes the Chinese church by the œconomic and social power of the US-backed New World Order. Sometimes, New Calvinists are almost as bad as Jesuits.

Reread the Platform Sutra?

huineng_wallsutra

I wonder if I should reread the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch 六祖壇經. It’s been almost ten years since I read it last as an undergraduate at Berkeley, and it might be useful (for me, anyway) to write annotations on it as a Christian. On the other hand, would it be better for me to read and annotate something else this summer?

Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian 史記 in the Mandarin Vernacular

If you ever wanted Sima Qian in Mandarin, not just in the original classical Chinese, here’s your chance.