Calvin on the Public Rites of Confession and Absolution


Lourdes, Haute Pyrénées, France: Pilgrims Praying and Confessing by the Roadside

 

This article by Clayton Hutchins was originally published in Ad Fontes Volume III, Issue 2.

 

In the third book of his Institutes, John Calvin argues that the church’s worship should begin with a corporate prayer of confession:

Besides the fact that ordinary confession has been commended by the Lord’s mouth, no one of sound mind, who weighs its usefulness, can dare disapprove it. For since in every sacred assembly we stand before the sight of God and the angels, what other beginning of our action will there be than the recognition of our own unworthiness? But that, you say, is done through every prayer; for whenever we pray for pardon, we confess our sin. Granted. But if you consider how great is our complacency, our drowsiness, or our sluggishness, you will agree with me that it would be a salutary regulation if the Christian people were to practice humbling themselves through some public rite of confession. For even though the ceremony that the Lord laid down for the Israelites was a part of the tutelage of the law, still the reality underlying it in some manner pertains also to us. And indeed, we see this custom observed with good results in well-regulated churches: that every Lord’s Day the minister frames the formula of confession in his own and the people’s name, and by it he accuses all of wickedness and implores pardon from the Lord. In short, with this key a gate to prayer is opened both to individuals in private and to all in public.[1]

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The Real Presence and the Presence of Reality


On October 16th, Davenant Institute President Brad Littlejohn was invited to give a lecture at Hillsdale College on the doctrine of the Eucharistic real presence in the Protestant Reformation. In the lecture, he argued that contrary to many popular narratives and misrepresentations, the Reformed did hold to a kind of real presence of the body and blood of Christ—only not in the elements outwardly considered, rather in the act of faithful reception. Moreover, he argued, they did this precisely to preserve the integrity of the bread and wine as creaturely means of God’s gracious action. It was, they held, the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, not the Reformed doctrine of the sacraments, that denied that created natures could become sites of God’s presence. Listen to the lecture below! Visit Mere Orthodoxy for the full text of this lecture.