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Anglicanism and the 5 points of Calvinism

Discussion in 'Scripture,Tradition,Reason-Anglican & Old Catholic' started by Jesusthekingofking, May 2, 2021.

  1. Jesusthekingofking

    Jesusthekingofking Active Member

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    Does anglican see the 5 points of Calvinism the correct exposition of the bible? cs lewis isn't a calvinist, NT wright isn't a calvinist.. the 39 article doesn't affirm double predestination, but anglican is reformed, hmm I'm confused.
     
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  2. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    Anglicanism, while it has been influenced by Calvinism over time (in some places more than others), is not outright Calvinist. I think it would be fair to say that Anglicanism leaves room for a diversity of beliefs that would relate to the 5 points, and so some Anglicans would find themselves closer to a Calvinist position than others.
     
  3. Philip_B

    Philip_B grace upon grace Supporter

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    Calvinism is not the only way to be reformed, and I am not sure that John Calvin would be all that comfortable with many who call themselves Calvinist today.

    Thirty Nine Articles are of note to some Anglicans more than Others.
    Articles 9-12 are a clear indication of the influence of the mind of the Continental Reformation on the English understanding, being Original Sin, Free Will, Justification and Good Works, without an absolute endorsement or subscription. I have attached the relevant Homily for those interested.

    XVII. Of Predestination and Election.
    Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God's purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God's mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.

    As the godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: So, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God's Predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wretchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.

    Furthermore, we must receive God's promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth to us in Holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the Word of God.​

    I have included the text of Article 17, and whilst the article clearly gives some measure of support to an idea of predestination, that understanding is tempered by some caveats. I think for Cranmer, Parker and others the notion of double predestination robs to gospel of the legitimate sense of urgency that accompanies the declaring of good news.


    This issue of the tension between Predestination and Free Will was one of the tense discussion topics between the reformers. Calvin drove a strong line on Predestination and addressed a theology of double predestination whereby some people were predestined to heaven and some were predestined to hell. This embraced a view of God that not everyone was prepared to accept. Post Calvinists and Neo Calvinists have perhaps driven that line still farther, and perhaps not always helpfully.

    Arminius and the Arminian position emphasised the free will and response to grace that was enabled by faith, and that salvation is limited to those who trust in Christ, though that free will is emboldened through grace.

    Many of us 21st Century Anglicans don’t really get the difference that quite possibly drives to the core of the distinction between Presbyterians and Wesleyan Methodists which most of us have never really understood.

    Article XVII takes a positive spin here and commences speaking of predestination to life - which is essentially what God wants, so, even before creation was begun, known to him and not to us, to deliver those he has chosen in Christ and by Christ lead them to salvation.

    Those who are so called by the Holy Spirit are by grace obedient and justified freely and made by adoption children of God. They are made in the image of his only begotten Son and walk religiously in good works, and ultimately receive joy.

    Of course godly persons are comfortable with this, however for the curious and carnal the idea of eternal damnation before their eyes it is dangerous as it can lead them to fail to aspire to good things, and embrace uncleanness and wretchedness.

    Furthermore we must receive God’s promises as set forth in Holy Scripture.

    So the article in a real sense acknowledges predestination, however not quite as far as John Calvin took it, because it is secret to us now, so we can not know we have been predestined. We are therefore called to live our lives as persons of free will, to do that which we believe God has called us to do, accepting the promises made to us in scripture.

    The trick of course is that it can not be the good that we have done, the free will that we have chosen to exercise that brings about our salvation, for such would lead us to Pelagianism which is exactly what the Arminians were accused of espousing. This complication is probably one of the reasons why the article is as long and seemingly complex as it is.

    I once held the view that I should act as if I had free will now, because it is attested to in scripture, I can embrace it and it is what I can work with now. If in heaven I discover I was predestined, that will be a bonus, but for now I can’t know that, so whilst we acknowledge the idea of predestination, we live as children of free will, knowing that ultimately life and eternal life are a gift, and not our own doing.

    I don’t know that that is any clearer than the article, but I think that is what I am working with for now. I am conscious that this could enflame a reformation debate all over again. I see this article as one of those places where Anglicanism has tried to steer the middle way.

    In practical terms I normally don’t raise the subject of predestination as it seems to suggest that there is no point in trying. Conversations on the subject are normally lengthy, hard to follow and generally result in all the participants being no clearer than when the discussion began. It was a topic that raised a lot of heat during the continental reformation, and no doubt in part contributed to the fragmentation of the reformation.

    I think Article XVII’s last word is sage.

    Furthermore we must receive God’s promises as set forth in Holy Scripture. It is quite wrong to take an argument about predestination and use it against the words we find in Scripture.

    Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; John 6:37

    In a sense predestination is mostly about the nature of God, all powerful, and all knowing, and not about our life as a manipulated game where our free will is only an illusion. One has the feeling that those who write the articles are alerting us to the danger of taking this discussion too far.
     

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  4. Hmm

    Hmm I'm just this guy, you know

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    Hey Jesusthekingofking, I know that wasn't addressed to me but let me reply! I've not studied the subject, I'm a layperson, but I'm an Anglican and I've been going to Anglican churches for most of my Christian life, apart from the odd visits to other denominations. I've attended various Church of England churches - high, low, middle if there is such a thing, and cathedrals - and I've never once heard Calvinism discussed much less the TULIPS in sermons, informal talks or smaller group meetings. I only heard about TULIP when I joined this forum and, I have to say, I find the ideas about predestination, no freewill, God loves some and not all, Jesus died for some and not all, to be totally alien (and over-intellectualised bizarreness) to the Anglican tradition that I know.
     
  5. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    I have the sense that this is, in some ways, a very American preoccupation. I have almost never discussed Calvinism in real life, but it seems to be a major issue on American discussion forums.
     
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  6. Hmm

    Hmm I'm just this guy, you know

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    I think you're right! Well observed.
     
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  7. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    There are Reformed elements, but hardly any Anglicans are "five point" people.

    Indeed, when many Anglicans say that their church is "reformed," they mean the word in a different sense, that Anglicanism reformed, i.e. cleaned up, the Medieval church's excesses without destroying its catholic nature in the process as some Protestants have done.
     
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  8. Anthony2019

    Anthony2019 Pax et bonum! CF Ambassadors Supporter

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    I have spent pretty much all of my life in the Anglican church and on the very rare occasions I have heard the five points of Calvinism being mentioned, this has usually been through informal theological discourse, rather than a doctrine that has to be officially believed or accepted.

    Central to the five points of Calvinism is the belief in predestination. Nearly all Christian denominations I am aware of accept predestination as a reality. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the 39 Articles of the CofE, and nearly every Christian denomination teach predestination at least in some form, but have varying interpretations on what the term actually means.
     
  9. PloverWing

    PloverWing Episcopalian

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    Interesting. There is a significant Reformed presence here in the US (perhaps because of which immigrant groups settled here in the 17th century), so I've often had discussions about TULIP and so forth. I didn't realize it wasn't the same outside the US.
     
  10. PloverWing

    PloverWing Episcopalian

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    Going back to the OP (and perhaps clarifying my previous comment): I can't recall having a discussion about predestination with other Episcopalians; rather, my discussions have been with people from various Calvinist churches (Presbyterian, Dutch Reformed, some varieties of Baptist, etc.).

    As I was taught the terminology, Luther, Calvin, the Anglicans, and the Radical Reformers (like Mennonites and Quakers) all gave rise to different branches of the Reformation, and the word "Reformed" is used for Calvin's branch. The Reformation theologians weren't isolated of course, so we see influences and conversations between the different traditions, but they are distinct traditions. Another complication is that the Anglican tradition has specifically chosen to allow a diversity of beliefs, finding our unity instead in our form of worship.

    Thus, while some Anglicans are Reformed in their beliefs, I wouldn't describe Anglicanism as a whole as part of the Reformed tradition.
     
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  11. Philip_B

    Philip_B grace upon grace Supporter

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    It was quite a thing in one Diocese in our nation, closer to me geographically than to you.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2021
  12. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    If not for discussion forums like this, I'm not sure I'd know what TULIP is. I can recall a small number of discussions of Calvinism in real life - most of them I think in seminary, which sort of makes sense - but it simply isn't part of the everyday discourse of Christians out here (in my experience).

    But - I think I've said this before - in Australia the dominant religious voice is Catholic. That makes the conversations very different.

    Well, yes, but they are outliers in so many ways. Their archiepiscopal election is today; praying for God to be at work in the process!
     
  13. Shane R

    Shane R Priest Supporter

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    Believe it or not, there is a small subset within the Continuing churches which endorses and promotes Calvinism. Maybe more classical Calvinism in most cases than the 5 point caricature.
     
  14. Arcangl86

    Arcangl86 Newbie

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    It's also worth pointing out that one can be reformed without being Calvinist. The Five Points only apply to soteriology, not the whole theological system.
     
  15. Shane R

    Shane R Priest Supporter

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    Of late, a certain presiding bishop of a Continuing church has been extolling the virtues of the Second Helvetic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism, as well as lamenting their general disuse.

    I've also had a Canadian ask me if I thought reading the Books of Homilies publicly would be an effective way of growing their church. Generally, speaking, I think most likely not. But my old colleague Fr. Tom put it quite succinctly:
    If I walked into a church and they were reading that from the pulpit, I would walk right back out.​
     
  16. Philip_B

    Philip_B grace upon grace Supporter

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    The general difficulty is that the Homilies (I am more familiar with the 1st) have very long sentences, and even longer paragraphs often more than a page. Our people could not retain enough to listen and comprehend. They would need to be translated into modern English and recast with short sentences and paragraphs, and probably dumbed down a little. We live in an era where 15 second ads can sell a million tubes of toothpaste. The First Book of Homilies may not be punchy enough, though maybe the one against whoring and adultery would be helpful, however many people may not understand chambering.
     
  17. mark46

    mark46 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm not sure that I have met an Anglican who says that they believe in limited atonement. Again, perhaps this is an American bias.
     
  18. The Liturgist

    The Liturgist Traditional Liturgical Christian

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    That’s likely because the Yankees, that is to say the distinct ethno-religious and cultural group descended from the Puritan colonists of New England, as opposed to the Dutch and non-Puritan settlers in the Mid Atlantic, have historically had a disproportionate political influence, and are Calvinists, and likewise Presbyterian became quite massive in the south. Also with the influx of disgruntled Roundheads after the English Civil War, it is no wonder that one commonly finds a Westminster Presbyterian Church in the midst of some place like the Conejo Valley in Southern California, which is as far removed from the halls of Parliament or the famed Collegiate Church as you can get.

    And naturally, there is a historical mistrust between the Presbyterians, Baptists and Methodists, although interestingly, a disproportionate number of US Presidents were in fact Episcopalian, as is the National Cathedral.*

    *Which has its own 20+ member sworn police force for national security considerations, which has always surprised me given the hypothetical importance of the Establishment Clause and so on. Although they are licensed by DC Police as Special Private Police, and they clearly serve a practical purpose, given the presidential funerals, tourist traffic and so on.

    Still, aside from the Vatican, which has its own military and police as a sovereign state, and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which is theoretically a sovereign power with no territory, but it has its own diplomatic corps separate from the Vaticans, and the autonomous monastic peninsula of Mount Athos, which I don’t think even has its own police but relies on the national police forces of Greece, but is legally autonomous, I can think of no other ecclesiastical police departments in the world. Unless we counted every English police force due to role of the monarch in the Church of England.

    I suppose it exists as opposed to say, a detachment or subdivision of the District of Columbia Police or the Federal Protective Services Police or the Uniformed Division of the Secret Service, due to jurisdictional ambiguity, and it is not atypical in the capital and surrounding area for major sites like the US Capitol and the Pentagon to have their own separate police departments. But I have wondered how it works, for example, who appoints the chief (presumably the directors of the National Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation).
     
  19. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

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    .
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2021
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