Some other five points

The biggest defenders of TULIP today are not Reformed Presbyterians, but young, Reformed and Restless baptists.  The difference is that the former see TULIP, such as it is, within the larger setting of Reformed Worship and the Covenant.  The latter see it as a freer floating system of doctrine.

Today’s Five Points are the Five Points of Perth, an attempted imposition of prelatic worship upon the people of Scotland.  For the most part, they are not immediately logically connected with soteriology.  I highlight them, though, because the Reformation–especially in its Scottish and Reformed manifestations–was a Reformation of worship.  If you do not grant that point you will never understand Reformation Thought.

If we want to reduce theology to serieses of Five Points, why limit it to soteriology?   Why not go the Covenantal Route?  Or the worship route.  Below are the Five Points of Perth that the Reformers rejected.

  1. Kneeling at Communion
  2. Private Communion
  3. Immediacy of Baptism to Infants
  4. Confirmation by Bishops
  5. Recognition of Holy Days

The Reformers rejected (1) because it implied a worship of the host. I agree, but I will take the rejection a step further: it is the Lord’s Supper.  We feast and sit at a supper.  We eat and commune with one another.   Kneeling makes this all but impossible.

In line with the above, we reject (2) because it is a communion of the church with one another.  How can we commune with one another when we are by ourselves?

(3) is different.  Provided health reasons aren’t an obstacle, there isn’t a problem with immediacy of baptism,  The Reformers objected because the article implies extreme baptismal regeneration.  The only way to keep the infant from hell was to get him baptized immediately in case he died.

(4) This can get interesting.  If one is using bishop in the original sense of adminstrator, then this isn’t much different from a Presbyterial ordination.  If on the other hand the bishop is the dispenser of sacramental grace and mediates a higher reality to us lower realities, then it is wrong.  That is neo-Platonism.

(5) I don’t have much to add on this beyond what is normally said.  What is interesting, though, is how this plays out.  I saw a generic evangelical minister argue that “If the church has a mid-week Christmas/Eostre service, then the believer is obligated to attend.”  He meant well, but this is nothing more than binding the conscience beyond what the word of God allows.


3 comments on “Some other five points

  1. John* says:


    Thanks for this. Just some thoughts:

    Re #1 – what do you make of the widespread current practice on Roman Catholic and High-Anglican Churches of coming forward in a moving row and receiving Communion *standing*?

    Many Evangelical Anglican parishes worldwide at least try to normalize the “Kneeling at Communion” practice.

    It appears that the two parties (Catholic and Evangelical) have exchanged positions. And that, according to the Five Points of Perth that the Reformers rejected, the Evangelicals are in fact in defiance of these Five Points..In doing this, can we construe them as ‘worshipping the host”? Whether they mean to or not?

    Re #2 – most Anglo-Catholic Parishes these days rarely practice “Private Communion” it is now possible for whole Anglo-Catholic Dioceses to go for years without any “Private Communion” happening within their bounds. This is now largely a Roman eccentricity..

    Re #3 – in both Rome and the Anglicans, Infant Baptism is rarely, if ever done with any great degree of urgency these days, and most certainly not according to the highly-restricted “8th day” as per Jewish circumcision. In the Anglicans, it is normally scheduled according to the mutual convenience of the parents and the Parish Priest.

    According to liberal Roman Catholics, the entire notion of unbaptised infants going to hell is rejected as not only being “unfair” of God, but is an exercise and examle of clerical impertinence and pastoral insensitivity. Witness the demise of Limbus Infantum (Limbo) in Rome more or less across the board.

    Re #4 – Confirmation by Bishops: this is never done in Eastern Orthodoxy (& this has been the practice in EO ever since the First Council in 325CE – if not before). In any case, Confirmation is an exclusively western Latin sacramental practice.

    In the Anglicans, an increasing number of Dioceses are treating this only as a prerequisite for Anglican Ministry, and not a compulsory prerequisite for access to either Communion or Marriage.

    Re #5 – Vatican II radically pruned the Church’s Calendar of observable Holy Days for Rome. Anglicanism (except amongst the ultramontane Romanisers) has even fewer obsrvable Holy Days – see the 1980 ASB from the UK.

    In any case, the radical proliferation of Holy Days in the Church’s calendar only grew after the First Council in 325CE. Apart from Marian considerations, do you have any problem with the Christ-centred Holy Days in the 12 great feasts of the EO?


    My question is this:

    Can any of these developments given above be validly traced back to the Five Points of Perth that the Reformers rejected?

    Or are they independent developments that arose in parallel to the Liturgical Movement (1880’s and following) amongst the Romans and Anglicans in the UK and on the Continent?

    • Hi John,
      Per (1): The last Anglo0Catholic church I visited did communion kneeling, to which I thought was the norm. I don’t know if I would say the Evangelicals would be “adoring” the host. I was in a high church Reformed setting a few years ago where the minister elevated the bread. People accused him of adoring the host, but I don’t think that was so.

      (2) I did not know that.

      (3) THat’s what I figured, given hospitalization and other things.

      (4) Hmm. We might be using “confirm” differntly. I was understanding it in the sense of anointing for ministerial office and not lay confirmation.

      (5) Part of me doesn’t mind provided that the minister doesn’t force the people to fast etc on said day.

      • John* says:

        Re your reply to #4,

        I think that we are.

        In Anglo-Catholic and Roman Catholic circles (and a few High Lutheran places), this annointing with the chrism as a part of elevation into Clerical Office happens within the Ordination/Consecration service and from what I have seen is never termed “Confirmation” as such.To do so in the Latin West would confuse two distinct Sacraments.

        With your

        “If on the other hand the bishop is the dispenser of sacramental grace and mediates a higher reality to us lower realities, then it is wrong. That is neo-Platonism.”

        i agree, especially in the ex opere operato sense.

        Sacramental Grace is an entirely unmerited gift of God – imparted directly from God to a person, without reference to or requiring the presence of clergy to even “complete” this impartation (unless, of course if that person receiving this Grace is already a cleric in which case their being a cleric is incidental to the impartation and not central).

        Sacramental Grace in a person can only be acclaimed, never transmitted. Especially per manibus.

        And as originally understood, this action was meant to demonstrate to the local community of faith that this person, mostly called a Bishop, had true Holy Spirit discernment within when (usually) he laid his hands upon another to acclaim that person’s “already-within” Sacramental Grace.

        I trust that this both assists and clarifies.

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