3+3=4?

I’ve always kind of wondered what’s so canonical about three marks of the true church?  (I mean c’mon, Mark Dever looked a little harder and found nine!)

And I also wonder about the remarkable similarity betwee the three marks of the true church (word, sacraments, … and discipline), and the three outward and ordinary means of grace (word, sacraments, … and prayer).  Why isn’t prayer a mark of the true church?  And why isn’t discpline an ordinary means of God’s grace to his church?

Now the three marks are spelled out in BC 29, but the three means are spelled out in SC 88–, LC 154– (but no marks in Westminster, nor means in the Three Forms, at least that I can find explicitly  spelled out).  Is it just a Continental vs. Westminster thing — different ways of getting at the same concept?

If we just lumped them all together, we could have a system with 4 meanarks: word, sacrament, prayer, discipline.  Wouldn’t that be simpler?

[Update] Duh, I just noticed that WCF 25.4 gives a different “three marks” by which “particular Churches” may be judged “more or less pure”: word, sacrament, and “public worship performed more or less purely”.  So between 1561 and 1646, what happened to the three marks?

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Compare and Confess. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 3+3=4?

  1. Echo_ohcE says:

    Some disagree that prayer is a means of grace.

    The three marks of the church seem to me to line up with the three offices of Christ:

    Word: Prophet

    Sacraments: Priest

    Discipline: King

    Of course, if one were to hold to this too tightly, one might be tempted to take Rome’s position on the sacraments.

  2. RubeRad says:

    Some disagree that prayer is a means of grace.

    Well, that can’t be Presbyterian, can it? It’s not a minor point in the catechisms, but a major structural element of everything that follows the ten commandments.

    Is there a distinction to be made between means of grace, and “outward, ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption“?

  3. RubeRad says:

    Duh, I just noticed that WCF 25.4 gives a different “three marks” by which “particular Churches” may be judged “more or less pure”: word, sacrament, and “public worship performed more or less purely”. So between 1561 and 1646, what happened to the three marks?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s