Church History

Now Thank We All Our God: Don’t Let 2020 Stop Your Thanksgiving

"Now Thank We All Our God... rose to popularity at a strange time in European history, when it seemed there was little for which to be grateful. As the Thirty Years’ War raged through the interior of the continent, plague spread rapidly through communities in ways that now feel eerily familiar." - TGC

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Sacred Desk or Sacred Cow? Perspective on the Pulpit (Part 2)

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Changing the Pulpit?

We’ve argued that the big wooden pulpit is not an element but a circumstance of worship. Technically we don’t have to use a pulpit for preaching or teaching. Or we could exchange the old pulpit for one that’s newer and portable. But, as the old adage goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In other words, we may change, but we don’t have to change. There should be some benefits or advantages to circumstantial changes in order to warrant such changes.

Below I’d like to suggest a few possible benefits and advantages of making the transition from an older large pulpit to a newer, smaller, and more portable pulpit. Let me quickly add that these proposed benefits and advantages may not apply to every local church’s cultural and ministry context. Wisdom is needed.

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Sacred Desk or Sacred Cow? Perspective on the Pulpit (Part 1)

Since the days of the Reformation, Protestant churches have traditionally situated the pulpit front and center in the architecture of their meeting places. The purpose of the pulpit’s conspicuously elevated and prominent position is to symbolize the authority and centrality of God’s Word in the life and ministry of the gathered church. The question we want to raise in this brief article is whether such symbolism is always necessary or helpful in our day.

Origins of the “Pulpit”

The English term “pulpit” derives from the Latin pulpitum, which originally referred to a raised platform on which a speaker would stand. This usage is seen in the Authorized Version’s translation of Nehemiah 8:4: “And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose.”1 To my knowledge, this is the only time the English term is used in the Bible.

The next extant reference to a “pulpit” doesn’t occur again until the third century A.D. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, uses the term pulpitum to refer to a physical structure within a church building. According to Michael White,

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Review of ‘An Introduction to John Owen’ by Crawford Gribben

Review of An Introduction to John Owen: A Christian Vision for Every Stage of Life by Crawford Gribben, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020, 190 pages, pbk.

Crawford Gribben is a professor at Queen’s University in Belfast and is well known as a scholar of Puritanism, specializing on eschatology. He has written a previous book on John Owen which has garnered him much praise.

This work represents a modest exploration of the life and thought of the Puritan giant John Owen, and comes at the subject from a different angle than most of the biographies and studies of Owen I had encountered before. It is definitely a book by a historian, not a theologian (Sinclair Ferguson’s John Owen on the Christian Life is a good example of the latter). Gribben employs the device of the stages of life to understand Owen, and he is well-suited to the purpose. In particular, Owen’s experiences during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell and then in the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy provide a good lens through which to view him and his writings.

The book consists of a chapter long Introduction followed by four chapters and the Conclusion. The main chapters deal with “Childhood,” Youth,” “Middle Age,” and “Death and Eternal Life,” as seen from Owen’s perspective. These phases of life are approached via Owen’s own thoughts, intermixed with facts about Owen’s life situations and temperament. All this is preceded by a full timeline.

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Is Anglicanism a distinctive middle way or via media between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism?

"the conception of the Church of England as a half-way house between Rome and John Calvin’s Geneva (or Martin Luther’s Wittenberg) would have been incomprehensible to the English Reformers of the sixteenth century." - Ref21

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Why Did John Calvin Write the “Institutes of Christian Religion”?

"Calvin wrote his work to train readers in godliness, not to define Christianity as one religion by articulating a set of ethical and theological beliefs. For this reason, titling the book, Institution of Christian Religion conveys better the idea of Christian worship or godliness that Calvin intended to communicate through the title." - Wyatt Graham

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The Reformation at 500: The Papal Bull (Part 2)

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“Since God has given us the papacy,” Pope Leo X stated dramatically, “let us enjoy it.”

There was one man standing in the way of such enjoyment, however. Leo had little regard for the priest in Wittenberg, Dr. Martin Luther, who he referred to as “a drunken German.”

“He will feel different when he is sober,” concluded the pope.

His ability to underestimate Luther could not have been more profound.

The movement that would become the Reformation had advanced greatly in 1518 and 1519. Luther’s encounters with church officials at the Heidelberg Disputation (in May of 1518), at the meeting at Augsburg (with Cardinal Cajetan in October of 1518) and at the Leipzig Debate (where he contended with Johann Eck in July of 1519) had forced him to evaluate the true source of authority. Ultimately, he would conclude that it had to be Scripture alone—Sola Scriptura, a term that would later be used to characterize the formal principle of the Reformation. His clash with the Holy Mother Church was quickly coming to a head.

But, in the providence of God, a web of complications kept the church, or even the Holy Roman Empire, from dealing as quickly or as forcefully with Luther as some thought necessary.

For one thing, the empire was without an emperor from the death of Maximilian I on Jan. 12, 1519, until the election of his grandson, Charles V, who began to reign on June 28, 1519.

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