Once in a Decade

Posted on September 12, 2013

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20130912-181705.jpgThis quote is from Heinrich Bullinger’s Decades. These 50 sermons are without doubt his most influential work in the development of reformed Anglicanism in England during the reign of Elizabeth I. Archbishop of Canterbury John Whitgift (1583-1604) made them a required study for all clergy.

I have been reading them, 7 pages a day 5 days a week since January. I should finish sermon 10 of the 5th Decade by year’s end.

Here is what is for me a timely quote:

“Neither is it left to the bishops of the church of Christ, to ordain new laws and to broach new opinions. For the doctrine, which was delivered to the apostles of Christ, is simply to be received of the church, and simply and purely to be delivered of the pastors to the church, which is the congregation of such as believe the word of Christ… And the church is the pillar and ground of the truth, because it stands upon the truth of the Scriptures, and it publishes nor receives no other doctrine than is delivered in the Scriptures.” (Decades, 4.4.151-2)

As our own Thirty-Nine Articles echoes the same in Article 20 on the authority of the church:

“…However, it is not lawful for the church to order anything contrary to God’s written Word. Nor may it expound one passage of Scripture so that it contradicts another passage. So, although the church is a witness and guardian to holy Scripture, it must not decree anything contrary to Scripture, nor is it to enforce belief in anything additional to Scripture as essential to salvation.”

There is a profound theological reason why doctrine is unchanging, that it is to be received but not altered by men. The doctrine delivered to the apostles of Christ is the doctrine of Jesus Christ’s gospel, his person and work, delivered once to all the saints (Jude 3). It is because Jesus Christ does not change. He is the incarnation of the Son, the second person of the Trinity.