The link below is to an article appearing in ‘The New York Times’ concerning the revival of Calvinism in the USA. It’s a fairly simplistic article, but does provide some food for thought I guess. By the way, I am a Calvinist and though not from America, I still find this an interesting article. I would be very surprised if US Calvinism has a sinister edge, unless preaching the truth is to be regarded as sinister. I am the Particular Baptist variety.
Particularbaptist.com is a ‘portal’ for many Reformed and Particular Baptist resources, including a growing resource pool of church history articles, books and studies.
I have recently been working a little on the church history section of the site which is called the ‘Institute of Church History.’ Within the institute portion of the site is a section known as ‘What Happened Today in Church History?’
This is an area of the web site at particularbaptist.com that I am seeking to develop further. I am hoping to embed pictures (where possible) of the various historical figures of the past, as well as links to other resources on my site relating to the event covered for each particular day. These links could be to further articles/books dealing with the historical figure, articles/books dealing with the event or that could shed further light on it, etc. In summary, I am seeking to provide as rich an experience as I can for visitors to the site.
Obviously this will take some time to complete and in some respects the work will be an ongoing one as more information and resources come to hand. I have decided to start with November and work through each month as we come to them within the coming year.
Visit ‘What Happened Today in Church History?’ at:
About 500 worshipers yesterday attended the opening convocations for Calvin 500, the international Quincentenary celebration of the 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth (July 10, 1509), at St. Pierre Cathedral in the old town of Geneva, reports Michael Ireland, chief correspondent, ASSIST News Service.
Beginning with a welcome by Mr. Guillaume Taylor from the St. Pierre Parish Council, the opening convocations, featured morning worship from Calvin’s time and a sermon on Philippians 3:8-12 by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson of the First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina.
The evening services featured Ugandan Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, much psalm singing, and a sermon by Dr. Bryan Chapell, President of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri.
“Calvin is one of the most important thinkers in history,” said Calvin500 Executive Director Rev. David Hall, who also is pastor of Midway Presbyterian Church in America located in Powder Springs, GA, according to a media release.
“His ministry and writings left an indelible impression on the modern world, and especially Western culture. It would be hard to find a figure from history more worthy of remembering, if lasting impact for good is the standard,” said Hall.
“St. Pierre’s Cathedral in Geneva as unusually full for a morning worship service on July 5th, but admittedly a congregation that includes at least one archbishop, six seminary professors, twenty-four seminary professors, approximately 100 Reformed pastors from around the world and the author of over 300 books on Calvinist themes do not make up an ordinary congregation,'” said one attendee on a blog at the celebration website.
The writer stated: “As Dr. Ferguson noted, ‘Calvin would be surprised to see us here, and I am not sure he would have approved,’ however hopefully he would approved of the text.”
Another writer commented: “The evening was brought to a close with a truly wonderful exposition of Ephesians 1:3-6 by Bryan Chapell, a sermon which he called ‘In praise of predestination.’ With some memorable illustrations from Calvin and elsewhere, he carefully took us through the text urging us to see Paul’s commitment in showing us more of God’s Fatherhood than his sovereignty. God, he told us, is shouting: ‘I’ve been in love with you longer than the stars have been in sky or the fish have been in the sea.'”
Throughout the coming week, scholars and ministers will present lectures and sermons in these historic environs to celebrate the contributions of the Genevan reformer. The public is invited.
Report from the Christian Telegraph
My Fourth Great Grand Uncle, Thomas Blanch, was born on the 4th December 1809 in Rolvenden, Kent, England. He died on the 3rd July 1892 at Bulahdelah, NSW, Australia. He was the second child and son of my Fifth Great Grandfather, Edward Blanch (1785-1860) and Fifth Great Grandmother Maria Blanch nee Ashdown (1789-1837).
Thomas Blanch was nothing special in vocational terms, being a simple labourer. He was literate and a Calvinist (thereby being a spiritual ancestor of mine so to speak).
On the 24th April 1830 in Rolvenden he married Hannah Austin, who was born on the 30th November 1815, Rolvenden. Hannah was the daughter of John Austin and Ann Austin nee Moon. Hannah died on the 8th July 1879 in Newcastle. Together they had 17 children.
There was a major economic depression in England during the 1820’s and this was a determining factor in the Blanch family decision to emigrate to Australia in 1837. On the 25th March 1838, Thomas Blanch with his family and three brothers left for Australia from Gravesend aboard the ‘Westminster.’
On the 26th June 1838 the ‘Westminster’ reached Sydney, following a voyage in which Hannah had given birth to a fifth child, David. The previous children were Jane, Thomas, John Thomas and Caroline. Following David would come Joseph, Eliza, Sarah Ann, Harriet, Emma, Amelia, Peter George, Isabella, Emily, Stephen, Mary Ann and Hannah Maria.
Thomas was a carpenter, farm labourer and wheelwright. He had been sponsored to come to Australia by J. B. Bettington of Sydney at a salary of 28 pounds per annum. However, it seems he never actually worked for Bettington, rather becoming an employee for George Mosman at his Raymond Terrace property known as ‘Burrowl.’ He was to work on this property for some twenty years. He also worked as a mailman between Raymond Terrace and Dungog.
In 1858 Thomas selected a forty five acre parcel of land on the Myall River where Bulahdelah now stands and where I currently live. He built a hotel here known as the ‘Plough Inn.’ The inn was first licensed in 1866. In June 1871 his son Joseph was given the inn. In May 1872 Thomas took up ‘The Forster Hotel’ license at Forster which he owned until 1878.
Thomas and Hannah then retired to Newcastle and lived at The Junction. Sadly Hannah died the following year on the 8th July 1879, aged 64. Hannah was buried in the cemetery at the Newcastle Cathedral.
Following the death of his wife, Thomas returned to Bulahdelah and on the 24th July 1880, he married Elizabeth Stanborough (nee Morris), who was born in 1835. She was the daughter of Thomas and Mary Morris. Elizabeth died in East Maitland on the 11th August 1889. They had no children together, though Elizabeth had six children to her late husband, Frederick Stanborough (who had died in 1876).
Following the death of Elizabeth, Thomas lived for a further three years at Bulahdelah with his son Joseph. On the 3rd July 1892, Thomas died and was buried in the Bulahdelah Cemetery. He was 82 years old. A stained glass window was placed in the Anglican Church in his memory. The Anglican Church at Bulahdelah had been built on land that Thomas had donated.
Following the apparently hugely successful World Youth Day, it is a tremendous relief to me to hear the end of the overworked use of the word ‘pilgrims,’ as well as that of the phrase ‘the faithful’ in reference to the many Roman Catholics and hangers on that were in Sydney over the last couple of weeks. I am over it as most can possibly discern. Not a big supporter of the event at all – actually, not a supporter of it to any degree. Of course I’m not, I am a Protestant after all and a Reformed one at that.
I already have the feeling that a good number of people out there in cyber world are already flexing their fingers as they eagerly prepare to engage this old fashioned Calvinist over his anti-Rome attitude. Before you do though I should warn you that I’m not about to engage in any slanging matches with Papists and their poorly informed attack dogs. This is a Blog after all and I’m allowed to rant and rave and ramble on about pretty much anything should I feel the urge.
You have to remember that the forefathers of this heretical crowd used to burn my spiritual forefathers and carry out all manner of other atrocities on Protestants. ‘Oh, but their different now.’ How soon we forget that this mob’s claim is that they never change and given the opportunity this crowd would be only so happy to do the same to me and others like me (Protestants) as they did to the early non-conformist Protestants.
I am truly thankful that the Pope has now left these shores and gone back to his superfluous sized home and barns, more than likely satisfied at his recent performance and blinded flocks of sheep that incoherently followed about various pieces of wood and old pictures.
An interesting postscript to the recent Catholic activities was what I read today in the newspaper – apparently the brothels are very keen for the event to return to Sydney again. There was a massive increase in earning during the time of the Pope’s visit and the celebrations in Sydney. Strange what ‘pilgrims’ and ‘the faithful’ are into these days.
OK, I should mention right at the outset that I would be classified as a Calvinist, though I am more correctly defined as a Particular Baptist ~ none-the-less, my refined invective is aimed directly at myself, as well as other procrastinating Calvinists. So please, if you are a Calvinist, do not think that this is an attack from someone who doesn’t know what a Calvinist is – I’m smack bang in the middle of your camp. Of course some would say I’m not because I’m Baptist and not a Paedobaptist, but let us not get too bogged down in that on this occasion.
I have had occasion to reflect (meditate) on a particular issue that is found across the board today in Reformed circles and that is on what I am calling procrastinating Calvinism. I was thinking of calling it Procrastinating Hypercalvinism, but that would be extremely inaccurate, for most of the procrastinaters that I am thinking of, whether they be individuals or groups of individuals communing together in churches, actually do believe in evangelism – at least in theory. In practice there seems to be very little of it actually happening however.
I was thinking of what the churches of yester-year got up to and in particular the pastors/elders of these churches. They seemed to be made of a different mettle to people of today. I’ve been involved in works where there has been opposition to evangelistic efforts because people were too busy, too tired, had too many other things to do (mundane things), etc. Now in my opinion, this would seem to be a far cry from the attitude and approach to the lost world by Christians, churches and pastors/elders, than what was the case in days gone by. In fact, I would say that we should be down-right ashamed of ourselves that we have allowed other things outside of our Christian calling to dominate our lives to such an extent that we have forgotten to practice our theory in the area of evangelism – not that this would be the only area affected by such sentiment.
Reformed churches have become just a little (maybe extremely) too comfortable with their present lot and the committment to evangelism, church planting, missions, etc, has been allowed to slide away to the point of almost non-existence because we care too much for the things of this world, whether it be entertainment, sporting activities, etc – many of which are perfectly acceptable liberties in and of themselves. But the world perishes and the church’s mission is cast aside while we do so.
We are very keen to make a convert of an erring brother or sister, to enter into a debate among ourselves as to whether we should address pastors/elders in certain ways, as to what a person should be wearing in church and the like (sounds a bit like the Pharisees and Sadducees doesn’t it?), etc, but when it comes down to making an effort and self-sacrifice – well, we are just a little too busy for that.
I remember a time when I was extremely horrified by a church that was prepared to loose what had become a fantastic outreach ministry to the surrounding community, because people just had too much on their plates outside of the church ministry – what an absolute disgrace! Yet this was a supposedly Calvinistic Baptist church that believed in evangelism! The outreach ministry had already proven successful, had already established itself in the community and had already brought a multitude of people into contact with the church – yet it was threatened by people being too busy. This proved to be the last straw for me and I left the church not long after. Interestingly, there has been no outreach ministry of the type held since.
Are we just too plain lazy and have we become procrastinating Calvinists? Or have we become practicing Hypercalvinists, believing that no matter what we do the Church will grow because the elect will be brought in by God? I am fearful it is both.
I long for the day when Reformed churches again take up the baton that we have all too easily dropped and left behind in our comfortable little groups that make war on one another ~ and being a Particular Baptist, I am especially thinking of Particular Baptists/Reformed Baptists. We have a heritage from the Lord and we have the truth passed down to us by those that have gone before, yet we are failing to walk worthy of the calling we have in Christ Jesus.