Historia ecclesiastica
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Getting along in the Church and being truly Catholic, with a p.s. on Oliver Cromwell and John Calvin

June 1st, 2011 Posted in 17th Century

Getting along: of all places in the world where this should happen, it should be in the church, should it not? But what do we see: the lovely garment of the church rent in pieces. And why? The sinful pride of men; their willingness to indulge in bitter attacks on brothers who differ with them, tho’ not in primary issues; their being more conformed to the world than to the mind of Christ. And the Reformed in all of their manifestations, be they baptist or paedobaptist, do not have a great track record. Let’s face it: the divisions between Reformed brothers and sisters is scandalous. Why will no one call it what it is? What we hear is “standing for the gospel”—but the reality often ain’t so: it is all too frequently just plain old sin or simple cantakerousness! “We alone are the truly reformed.” Give me a break, how often have I heard that line! Of course, I believe in standing for truth in primary and secondary issues, but so frequently our divisions involve tertiary matters.

One of the most beautiful words in the Greek Christian vocabulary is katholikos. The Fathers, blessed be God for the witness of those men, were right when they said that the true church is “one, holy, catholic and apostolic.” No, this is not the Roman Catholic Church—I was enrolled in that body when I was an infant, and I have no desire to belong to that communion again. But that group is hardly the true Catholic Church. No sir, the Church I love is that Body, fair as the moon and as brilliant as pure glass reflecting the rays of the sun, an awesome army to behold in all of her glory: rank upon serried rank of saints. That is the people among whom I wish to spend my days and spend eternity. And if I am going to live there with such saints, should I not begin here in this world preparing for eternity, and living in peace with my brethren? I do not expect to see eye to eye here with all of my brothers and sisters—that is for another Day—but surely, I can demonstrate the love that marks the truly born-again, the love of the saints.

A p.s.: Let me tell you something amazing: two Christian saints who demonstrated such love were the remarkable Oliver Cromwell and his theological mentor John Calvin. Do not scoff; read their letters and in Oliver’s case, also his speeches to Parliament and see true Christianity in action.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 at 11:58 pm and is filed under 17th Century. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Responses to “Getting along in the Church and being truly Catholic, with a p.s. on Oliver Cromwell and John Calvin”

  1. Matthew Miller Says:

    Your lectures the whole past semester, and especially on these two men, really made me think hard about Christian unity in ways that I hadn’t before. Thank you for your work in this field, and thank you for giving young students like me good historical perspective on these issues.

  2. Michael Haykin Says:

    Thanks Matt. One of the joys of teaching is making new friends: and I thank God for you and pray God bless your summer in every way.

  3. Vaidas Says:

    Bruce Gordon mentions that John Calvin himself was the advocate of the Evangelical unity (Calvin even made trips across the Europe searching for Evangelical unity). John Calvin himself even helped to form the Reformed church in Lithuania, my former country. It is interesting, John Calvin never spoke, as far as I know, about unity with the Anabaptists. Do you know why Calvin never sought the unity with them?