Sunday 29 August 2021

One of the strengths of the Reformed position on theology is that we mistrust casuistry which can ossify into tradition. Tradition is the vote of the generations that have gone before, and that has some validity. But blindly following case law and not testing it against the clear word of scripture is unwise. We have been told to test every spirit: be it prophetic or exegetic.

One of the weaknesses of the Reformed position, weaponized, is that discards all tradition and considers that we must always reform, questioning everything including the sources we have, the sword of the spirit, the word of God. This leads liberal fools to substitute the fashions of this time, and to test no teaching or spirit. This is a deadly foolishness.

We are told that every good thing comes from God: all beauty, truth, and honour. We can and we should consider the words and songs and practices of the generations that came before us: the times are evil and we can learn from when there was Christendom. But we do not live in that time. It is deeply unfashionable to obey the true laws of God, and to faithfully serve him precisely because in that is life and joy and peace.

Life, joy and peace are unthinkable at this time. They are kryptonite to those who consider themselves superman, over us.

Fair warning: all the music today is in Latin, and some it is bass heavy. And Loud.

Almighty and merciful God,
of whose only gift it cometh
that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service;
Grant, we beseech thee,
that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life,
that we fail not finally to attain thy heavenly promises;
through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Deuteronomy 4:6-9)

6 Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 8 And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?
9 “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—

James 1:17-27

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Mark 7:1-8

7 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash[a] their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the market-place, they do not eat unless they wash.[b] And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.[c]) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“‘This people honours me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

The task of the scholar and teacher is to understand what is the clear and true meaning of the word of God. You should mistrust your own thoughts and (particularly if preaching or teaching) consider what those who have gone before you have written. The Valentian rule is useful: if all branches of the church in all previous generations teach this then it is probably true. This is why Calvin and Aquinas — the two giants of systematic theology I forgot to post last week due lockdown time slips — both refer to those who came before and Calvin particularly refers to (and at time refutes) Aquinas.

Because our traditions can break the commands of God. We have to obey God if there is a difference between the laws of God and the laws of men, for our loyalty is first to the kingdom of God.

And if we live that, we can expect the secular rulers to hate us, and the religious rulers as well, for all too often the religious rulers fear more the secular rulers and their useful idiots on twitter than the do the spirit of God which lives in those who are of the church. That opposition is Godly, and your suffering will not be praised in this world.

It is when your suffering is praised and honoured in this time of debasement that you should fear.