Applied Integration of a Sibbesian View of Assurance -- By: Mark A. Yarhouse

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 07:4 (Winter 2003)
Article: Applied Integration of a Sibbesian View of Assurance
Author: Mark A. Yarhouse

Applied Integration of a Sibbesian View of Assurance

Mark A. Yarhouse

Mark A. Yarhouse is Associate Professor of Psychology at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He received his Psy.D. from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. Dr. Yarhouse is the author of numerous articles and has co-authored Sexual Identity: A Guide to Living in the Time Between the Times (University Press of America, 2003) with Lori Burkett and Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church’s Moral Debate (InteVarsit y, 2000) with Stanton Jones.

Richard Sibbes (c. 1577–1635) was born in Tostock, England, in 1577 and grew up in the nearby town of Thurston. He was the oldest of six children and studied locally until he was elected to a fellowship at Cambridge. His education at Cambridge took place during the Late Elizabethan period, which was a time of great theological controversy for the university and for England. It was during his time at Cambridge that Sibbes was drawn into a saving relationship with Christ. He was ordained a deacon and priest at age 30 and had a lectureship at Holy Trinity (1610) and later obtained an appointment to a parish in London, where he was to earn a reputation as a theologian and preacher, one who had a meek personality. “Rarely polemical (with the exception of occasional attacks on Roman Pelagianism), his preaching was distinguished by its pacific tone, more concerned with comfort than controversy.”1

It has been said that Sibbes lost his lectureship and fellowship at Cambridge due to his theology, but Dever challenges this as popular legend among nonconformists rather than historical fact.2 Indeed, with respect to controversy, while some in the church were nonconformists, Sibbes expressed formal conformity to the Three Articles of Canon 36 which upheld the King of England, the Book of Common Prayer, and the existing structure of the Church of England.3 Yet he was known to question specific practices, such as kneeling for communion, and he clearly preached Reformed theology with a Calvinist understanding of election and predestination. So he was a “conforming Reformer, dissatisfied with the existing situation, even wanting to change it, yet ultimately submitting to and even defending the discipline of the Church.”4 Sibbes would be noted for his moderation, his ability to rise above the fray and focus on the pastoral implications of his theology.5 His concern for comfort over controversy, then, was expressed in his writings on assurance. A...

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