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John Dekker (dekker) wrote,
@ 2007-10-31 21:36:00
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    Reformed Unity #1: Remembering the Reformation
    You must be sensible, how extensively injurious it will be to the cause of the churches, if a difference of opinion is entertained, even on minor points, among the principal pastors. (Martin Bucer to John Calvin)

    To me, nothing in this world could be more desirable than to take solace in the mild and gentle spirit of your correspondence.
    (John Calvin to Philipp Melanchthon)

    When our purpose is to unite the sentiments of all good and learned men, and so, according to the rule of Scripture, to bring the separated churches into one, neither labour nor trouble of any kind ought to be spared. (John Calvin to Thomas Cranmer)

    Today is, of course, Reformation Day. And lets be very clear on this, it wasn't just an important event, but a good one. Although Roman Catholic apologists often point to the multiplicity of Protestant denominations as proof that the Reformation was evil, we would do well to remember the great degree of unity that did exist among the Reformers. Sure, Marburg was a disaster, but the second generation of Reformers by and large avoided such acrimonius disputes. The Wittenberg Concord represented a genuine quest for unity.

    And when we consider the correspondence between Reformers of widely varying convictions, we see a Christian unity and fellowship that we would do well to imitate. We shouldn't follow the Reformers' doctrine, while at the same time abandoning their piety, or their thirst for unity.

    If Calvin regarded Archbishop Cranmer as a brother in Christ and a coworker in the gospel, (and calls him "most accomplished Prelate," obviously having no problems with bishops per se) then we probably need to rethink our view of the Reformed Communion. I want to blog more about this in the future. Whom do we acknowledge as belonging to the Reformed Faith? What are the boundaries of Reformed Orthodoxy?

    In the meantime, enjoy Tim Challies' Reformation Day Symposium.

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(Post a new comment)

2007-10-31 18:04 (link)

I have to call foul on this. The one thing that is signified by the reformation is the END of unity is practice and belief amoung Christians. The picture that you have presented is not accurate. The "reformers" squabbled amoung themselves, and even launched personal attacks on each other.

Calvin certainly had no time for Luther. He even wrote to the Spanish Inquisition demanding they arrest certain persons. Calvin had one of these execute when he was foolish enough to turn up to Geneva.

Since you mention Cranmer, perhaps if you consider in England, the non-conformists were persecuted as much as Catholic Christians by the "Church of England". After his coup d'etat, Cromwell persecuted Anglicans (he being a non-conformist). So where is this unity?

Soon after, there were many other disputes. Consider for instance prelasparians and postlapsarians &c. All these go back to the 16th century.

Whatever the rights or wrongs are in this, the one thing that can not be claimed is unity among the reformers.


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