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Archive for July, 2021

Any confessionally Reformed pastors, elders, or theological students, want to read and study Thomas Chalmers on parish missions? Interested in also talking application, the nuts and bolts of how these principles might be applied in the modern day? Have you “chalked out” a parish yourself and want to compare notes, share trials and successes, and troubleshoot problems?

I’ve been reading, researching, and writing on Chalmers’ parish mission model for about 15 years and have been trying to apply his principles in my own pastoral ministry almost that long. If you’d like participate in a group by video call to talk through readings in Chalmers and other Reformed figures who advocated and practiced parish missions, let me know. I’m not asking for any hard, long-term commitment, and the readings would be manageable.

For now, I’d like to schedule two ‘pilot’ meetings, one every six months. For the first meeting, I’d propose that all participants read in advance “On the Duty and Means of Christianizing Our Home Population” (digital / audio).

If you’re interested, please drop me a note. My e-mail is mjives dot refparish at gmail dot com; or message me through Facebook. In it, please indicate your church affiliation and position (if I don’t already know you!), and which of the following times would work best for you. I’ll follow up with you on which one we’ll schedule, together with the Zoom call-in information.

Wednesday, July 28 @ 2:00 p.m. EDT or 5:00 p.m. EDT

Thursday, July 29 @ 10:00 a.m. EDT or 2:00 p.m. EDT or 7:00 p.m. EDT

Friday, July 30 @ 10:00 a.m. EDT or 2:00 p.m. EDT or 7:00 p.m. EDT

Saturday, July 31 @ 10:00 a.m. EDT or 2:00 p.m. EDT or 7:00 p.m. EDT

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Classic Presbyterianism has been enjoying a small renaissance. It seems like every day I’m encountering new people and pastors embracing the “regulative principle of worship,” singing psalms exclusively, removing instruments in church, and objecting to holy days of human origin, such as Christmas. Sacred cows are a-falling, or at least are being questioned.

With respect to Christmas, then, it’s been reassuring to see more and more voices pointing out its pagan origins, and more and more being willing to cross the personal Rubicon … and not looking back. I rejoice in these things and thank the Lord for any and all Reformation gains. But I am concerned that for some, even good fathers and brothers in the faith, certain concessions are made that I fear leave a weed in place to grow back in full force. In other words, I respectfully express my concern about the informal retention of Christmas while officially going on the record as against it.

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While reading through a dissertation treating confessional subscription among Presbyterians prior to the Adopting Act of 1729, I came across a discussion of the English Presbyterian Daniel Wilcox. Apparently, the influence of Enlightenment thinking regarding authority and toleration was infiltrating English Presbyterians at that time in a big way, and even Arianism began to rear its ugly head. If I’m not mistaken, this would be the caldron from which Unitarianism basically took over Presbyterianism in England.

During this intermediate period, Wilcox published a short justification for confessions and the practice of confessional subscription. Very interestingly, he puts it in the form of a catechism! Just recorded it, which you can access here.

And the original text is here:

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