Sunday Morning Prayer (Westminster’s 8 Questions about Prayer)


On July 1, 1643, the Westminster Assembly convened for the first time. The purpose of the assembly was to reorganize the English church after the English Civil War had begun between Charles I and Parliament. In many ways, the Westminster divines saw themselves as completing the reformation  of the English church, which they thought had been only partially accomplished by the Anglican church.

To guide their reforming efforts, the Westminster Assembly produced a number of important works, including the Westminster Confession, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and the Westminster Larger Catechism. In the latter document, the Westminster divines answered a number of questions about prayer. So, to commemorate the anniversary of Westminster, this morning’s “prayer” is actually a reflection on 8 questions about prayer.

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What “Mainline” Does and Doesn’t Mean


Growing up in evangelical churches, I often heard about some other branch of Christianity called “mainline,” but I never really knew what that meant. I just knew that “mainline” meant “bad” for some reason. It was a little like the word “communist.” I didn’t really know anything about communism, but I heard the word used a lot and knew that communists must be really evil people bent on destroying everything good and beautiful in the world.

train, train tracks, rail line, mainline

But what does “mainline” actually mean? At the simplest level, “mainline” just means that you belong to one of the eight mainline denominations: American Baptist, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church. Sometimes people include other denominations, but these are the eight most common ones.

This isn’t terribly helpful, though. Now we’re left wondering what a makes a denomination “mainline.” So, to figure out more precisely what it means to be a mainline Protestant, we’ll have to figure out what “mainline” itself means. And that’s a trickier proposition because we have several mistaken ideas about the term.

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John Wesley on How to Read Scripture

via Wikipedia

In the preface to his Explanatory Notes upon the Old Testament, John Wesley laid out his principles for how to read scripture in such a way that you come “to understand the things of God” and to love him wholly and truly. His principles are well worth reflecting on today.

If you desire to read the scripture in such a manner as may most effectually answer this end, would it not be advisable,

1. To set apart a little time, if you can, every morning and evening for that purpose?

2. At each time if you have leisure, to read a chapter out of the Old, and one out of the New Testament: if you cannot do this, to take a single chapter, or a part of one?

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Everything Is Not as It Seems: Jonathan Edwards’ View of the Universe


Is. Such a simple little word. You’d think that it couldn’t possibly cause any problems. And then Bill Clinton comes along and questions the meaning of is. And people laugh. But only because they haven’t stopped to realize that they don’t really know what it means.

What is is?

The question makes a little more sense when you realize that is is just a form of to be. So the question of is is really a question of being. What does it mean for something to be, to exist?

Philosophers and theologians have wrestled over the nature of existence for millennia. In recent discussions, the answers tend to gravitate around two poles:

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Calvin on True Generosity

It is easy to counterfeit liberality for a time; many even think that they are sincerely bountiful because they have performed an act of beneficence, but quickly cease and change their purpose. But true liberality is not momentary or of short duration. They who possess that virtue persevere steadily, and do not exhaust themselves in a sudden and feeble flame, of which they quickly afterwards repent.

From Calvin’s commentary on Isaiah 32:8.