Archive for December, 2007

I just saw that John W. Nevin’s History and Genius of the Heidelberg Catechism is available on Google Books.  Pretty darn exciting, if you ask me!

HT: Jordan Mark Siverd


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In this paper I attempt to briefly summarize Nevin’s Christology and the impact it had on the main features of his theological system.  Of course, much more needs to be said than is possible in an under 20 page paper for an adequate treatment of the Mercersburg Theology.  Nevertheless, I hope this brief paper can provide a decent introduction to the main features of Nevin’s thought. 

The Mercersburg system, in my opinion, provides a very compelling theological foundation for a distinctively Reformed ecumenism, which is why I am submitting this paper for discussion here.  I may follow this up later with a paper on Philip Schaff’s view of Church History and its place in his ecumenical hope, as well as another paper on the Liturgical implications of the Mercersburg Theology.


If you are unacquainted with Nevin, I recently wrote up a very brief sketch of his theological career, available here.

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A Homily for the Sunday in Christmas (Year A)

Matthew 2:13-23 (ESV)

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: 18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” 19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”


Yelena Bonner, wife of the Soviet physicist and human rights activist, Andrei Sakharov, was commenting on the propensity of human beings to participate in acts of unspeakable evil. Observing that complicity in evil tends to accompany an environment of fear and suspicion, she said, “Fear gives bad advice.” (more…)

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Many Christians struggle with the notion of eternal predestination, and how it fits into the larger picture of orthodox theology.  I think one reason many of us are gun-shy on the topic is because we have seen would-be Calvinists take this notion and make an idol out of it.  There are some for whom it would seem that the essence of the Christian religion comes down to a multiple-choice theology exam on TULIP.  They seem to take greater delight in the details of predestinarian theory than in the gospel itself and the crucified God it reveals.  (more…)

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As a follow up to my previous post on John W. Nevin, I figured I’d offer a select list of works which I believe would be most helpful to anyone wanting to study more of Nevin, Schaff, and the Mercersburg theology.  I apologize for the lack of complete bibliographical information and/or links, but I trust that anyone with internet access can easily find the works mentioned here on Amazon or other sites. (more…)

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The Conscience of an Anglican

Alan Jacobs has composed a thoughtful reflection on the Anglican Communion from a layman’s perspective. He is an AMiA guy from All Souls Anglican, Wheaton and teaches at Wheaton College. The full article can be accessed here.

Moreover, I remind myself that the churches of the Anglican world are governed by bishops, and I am not a bishop. One of the chief reasons I have held firm to Anglicanism over the years is that I believe that the threefold order of ministry—bishop, priest, and deacon—is the model taught by the apostles, the governance particularly approved by God. In this model I, as a layman—even though I am also a member of the priesthood of all believers—have a highly circumscribed role. If my pastor asks me to teach, I teach; otherwise I shut up. In the unlikely (and unwelcome) event of a bishop of the Church asking for my thoughts I would share them; otherwise I keep them to myself, at least in public. The decisions that will shape the future of the Anglican Communion will be made by bishops, not by laypeople, nor even by priests; if I care about that Communion—and I do—I had best be praying for those bishops, and not repeating the error of Job in darkening counsel by words without knowledge.

Like the Roman centurion, then, I am a man under authority, and also like him, I have some responsibilities of my own. Chief among them is to raise my son Wesley in the faith of the Gospel. Around four years ago now I left the Episcopal Church because—thanks to various changes in our parish’s life that followed the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire—I knew that if we stayed my son would be taught doctrines which I do not hold, and, just as important, would not be taught doctrines which I hold and believe it important for all Christians to hold. People who encouraged me to stay reminded me that, as (relatively) theologically knowledgeable persons, my wife and I could correct any sins of omission or commission when we got home. But the idea that the family holds the full responsibility for forming children in the faith, with the church being nothing more than a place of worship, is one of the ideas that I don’t want to teach my son. Another one is this: that bishops can ignore or repudiate significant portions of the doctrine and discipline of the Church—something the Bishop of Chicago did on a regular basis—and still be thought of as legitimate pastoral overseers for their people.

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If you frequent this site, one figure you may hear me (and others) reference from time to time is a theologian by the name of John Williamson Nevin.  Gabe wrote a very good post a few days ago which is filled with helpful quotations from both Nevin and Philip Schaff.  Recongnizing that Nevin’s name may be a bit unfamiliar to some, I offer this very brief introduction to Nevin’s theological career in order to aid those who may have never been exposed to him previously.  I plan to post a few essays I’ve written in order to expound the main features of the Mercersburg theology (named for the system of thought advocated by Nevin and Philip Schaff) here in the near future, and my hope for this introduction to Nevin’s career is simply to offer a small bit of historical context for these. (more…)

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