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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Women’s dresses and the finest moonshine

Yes, here they go again, that Son of the Lord Archbishop of Sydney and his gang of tough guys, demanding we provide evidence that his dad called creationists ‘hillbillies’. There’s Michael, son of the Lord of Sydney, day in and day out, psittacinely barking out his self-righteous demand for proof.

OK, son of the Lord of the Sydney Diocese, allow me to infer something from your demand. I can obviously draw the conclusion that you don’t trust us, that you reckon we are spreading a bit of bullshit about your dear old dad, the Lord of the Sydney Diocese. So, if we can’t give you a ‘what’ and a ‘where’, we would have to make a sincere apology to all and sundry, including your dad, the Lord Archbishop, your dad (oh, heck, I’m repeating myself. Never mind, you should be proud of your dad, all those things he’s accomplished in life. Someone has to be, I guess.) Is that what you want if we can’t give you quotes and sources? Is it? Or are you just being an honourable son and standing up for your dear old dad and protecting him from the slanderous accusations of the creationists?

Which brings me to my second point: What’s so wrong about calling creationists “hillbillies”?



Matthias Media has just published the latest thoughts of Rev. Gordon Cheng on “building up Christians and changing people’s lives.” The reverend’s contribution to this area of Christian interaction lays out a comprehensive plan on how “to speak words with an attitude of grace and the value of genuinely listening to others.” As Joseph Smith of Southern Cross sycophantly explained in his review of the book, the revered reverend “changes our preconceptions of encouragement from dispensing mere pleasantries to the importance of words, particularly God’s words, in building up the body of Christ and others.” And what’s more he’s deemed an encourager with his bits of encouragement “delivered with passion, humility and a little bit of cheek.”

“What’s that you said?...Yes…this is THAT Rev Gordon Cheng…Well, I am positive it is - couldn’t be two guys in the Sydney Diocese with that name. So, what’s that stupefied look on your face for? He does what? Where?”

Hey, Gordon. Did you really call Christian brothers imbeciles and morons for taking God’s Word at face value? I understand brother…got those portions in the wrong balance…too little humility and far too much cheek! Can I suggest…nahhh..wouldn’t bother! I know you Sydney Anglicans too well now. You wouldn’t take on a tad of advice even if it came with a million dollar cheque. Too proud for that, aren’t you!


Monday, January 29, 2007

Never a Truer Word Spoke

We are called upon (as parasites, according to Luke the moderator) to stop wasting time, effort and money with 'creationism' (and one suspects other biblical doctrines which aren't currently in fashion in Sydney) and 'just preach the gospel'.

Presumably, the gospel is detached from the real world and people's life experience, so it is possible to preach a gospel which doesn't touch ground at any point except the resurrection. But that is a tad meaningless without the context of sin and a God of love being evidenced.

Sin connects to our lives at every point, but unless the connection is further made to the origin of sin, then the whole proclamation rings hollow. Now to people whose minds were furnished with a biblical world view (the Jews) the gospel could be easily explained, because sin and its source were known. But those outside a biblical frame of reference had to have the basis of salvation explained to them: thus Paul on Mars Hill, and elsewhere.

If we don't explain that sin was in the first couple turning against God, the creator, and abandoning the promise of his created bounty, created in love, it goes without saying (but there, I said it), then sin is inherent in the universe, not an intruder, death is natural, not the last enemy, and salvation comes from a God who made a universe that is groaning, not one that was very good. That is if words have meaning.

As an example of the issue, I came across this statement in an interview on Frontpagemag (

"FP: Is there any explanation for human evil?

Ferguson: I would point to evolutionary biology. Nature and our pre-history did not design men to be altruistic towards other men with different genes. To put it bluntly, we are genetically programmed to kill strangers, since they were once our rivals for nutrition and reproductive resources (women). Civilization is a project to prevent men from reverting to the law of the jungle. Unfortunately, civilization quite easily breaks down."

So, the gospel hits a closed door at the get-go.

If creation is denied (and denial of the facticity of Genesis 1 is a denial of creation, because it must refer to other sources on origins, overturning the biblical revelation), then all leave the lost this analysis and have to agree with the evolutionary message.

The damage this does to the gospel is horrendous, because the very identify of God is self-given as his being creator: those "who don't know what Genesis 1 means, but know that it doesn't mean what it says" are attacking God's self-authentication as to why he can be trusted, why he loves and that he saves to a better future than that which would be indicated by the world around us.

Some time ago I took a couple of friends to a gospel presentation by a Moore graduate. He gave what the worthies of the parish regarded as a very 'clear presentation of the gospel.' It was clear to everyone except my friends who complained that not only did it mean nothing to them: they couldn't understand it (now hold the Calvinist horses here); but its offence was that it ignored their concerns. It was just a theoretical exercise in pop-soteriology, nothing to do with their experience. They asked not to be invited to similar functions again. Their problem was that the world was evil, always had been and always would be: nothing was given to counter that, and the 'clear presentation of the gospel' was to their ears pretty much the same as the Buddhist 'head in the sand' response to suffering.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Of Grammatology

Thank you for your kindness in assisting with my grammar to those who took the trouble to analyse and thoughtfully comment on my lapses. It reminds me of a sermon by that great Calvanist Darryl Erkel, extract below, point 3 particularly:

1. So often, when we converse with other believers, we tend to talk past each other because we have not learned the value and discipline of listening. James 1:19 tell us, "But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger."

2. I am persuaded that most of our doctrinal controversies throughout church history could have been solved or perhaps eased had Christians been more willing to listen carefully to one another.

3. Learn to be patient with the verbal blunders of others - "For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well" (James 3:2).

4. As hard as it may seem, learn to value the criticism that you receive from others. Spurgeon wisely advised his own students at the Pastor's College in London to not view criticism as necessarily a bad thing:

You must be able to bear criticism, or you are not fit to be at the head of a congregation; and you must let the critic go without reckoning him among your deadly foes, or you will prove yourself a mere weakling. It is wisest always to show double kindness where you have been severely handled by one who thought it his duty to do so, for he is probably an honest man and worth winning . . . The best of people are sometimes out at elbows and say unkind things; we should be glad if our friends could quite forget what we said when we were peevish and irritable, and it will be Christ-like to act towards others in this matter as we would wish them to do towards us . . . A sensible friend who will unsparingly criticize you from week to week will be a far greater blessing to you than a thousand undiscriminating admirers if you have sense enough to bear his treatment, and grace enough to be thankful for it. When I was preaching at the Surrey Gardens, an unknown censor of great ability used to send me a weekly list of my mispronunciations and other slips of speech. He never signed his name, and that was my only cause of complaint against him, for he left me in a debt which I could not acknowledge. I take this opportunity of confessing my obligations to him, for with genial temper, and an evident desire to benefit me, he marked down most relentlessly everything which he supposed me to have said incorrectly. Concerning some of these corrections he was in error himself, but for the most part he was right, and his remarks enabled me to perceive and avoid many mistakes. I looked for his weekly memoranda with much interest, and I trust I am all the better for them (Lectures to My Students [Vol.2], pp.169-170,175).

5. Criticism Will:

A. Keep you humble. Criticism helps to deflate swollen-egos.

B. Inform and educate you.

C. Keep you dependent upon your heavenly Father.

D. Help to confirm that you are not a man-pleaser - as Jesus warned His own disciples: "Woe to you when all men speak well of you" (Luke 6:26).

Who's a hillbilly then?

It just occured to me, if the current archbishop of Sydney (Matt 23:6,7) is able to call fellow believers who take the historic position on Genesis 1 'hillbillies', (in a Sydney Morning Herald article a few years ago, as I recall: I'll try to get the source for all my fascinated readers) then I guess he must realise that he lumps his teacher Broughton Knox under that label.

Interesting, I'd never thought of that wonderful man of God as a hillbilly. Still, I'm always prepared to find that others know better than me.

Sydney’s Solipsistic Heresiarchs

Don’t misunderstand me when I say that Plato had a few worthwhile comments to make about epistemology. Not for one moment am I attributing half as much significance to him as the professional teachers of wisdom in the contemporary academy do. Yet, despite his now overused maxim that philosophy is nothing but a series of footnotes to Plato, Whitehead had a point: Plato managed to tackle questions of knowledge in some ways quite differently from others before him. Sure, he emphasised the ubiquity of change in the mundane world, as did the Pluralists that had preceded him, but his cogency lay in how he used this to build a philosophical fortress.

Note I didn’t say his worldview was incontrovertible. Far from it. Who could imagine that a man who thought, inter alia, that the highest form of love was pederasty, that the perfect city can only begin when those aged over 10 years were forcibly evicted, eugenics and euthanasia ought to be imposed by state authorities, and that having children participate in war was a practical and valuable training ground, could manage to cobble together a perfect knowledge of what truly is. However, Plato did make a spectacular and formal distinction between episteme, or knowledge, and doxa, that is to say, opinion. These ideas are set out in typical Platonic fashion involving Socrates and one or two other interlocutors bouncing argument and counter-argument off each other in dialectical frenzy.

At the end of Book 6 in his The Republic, Plato – I suppose I should say, Socrates – explains, by way of analogy, that ordinary people confuse mere belief and illusion with truth or sure knowledge. And then continuing with this theme of what constitutes accurate knowledge of reality, right at the commencement of the 7th Book, comes arguably Plato’s most famous analogy, The Simile of the Cave. If you’ve seen The Matrix, you’ve grasped something of what Plato’s speculation involved: prisoners tied up and made to live out their existence facing a wall of flickering and indistinct shadows they imagine to be the real and only true world; but in fact the genuinely real takes place from outside the cave, behind the prisoners’ heads, entirely out of their sight and ken.

As a creationist, I am not for one moment countenancing such an epistemological outlook or its attendant disparagement of the created and material order; but there is in his epistemic doctrine an aspect which I can’t help but notice precisely resembles the invidious and sequacious contrecoup the Sydney Diocese expectorates every time anything faintly resembling an orthodox vision of creation is espoused within their molecular circle. In order to understand my accusation let me return to Plato’s Cave.

One of the prisoners is untied and is dragged out of the cave into the light of the day and begins to see for the first time the real objects of which the shadows in the cave were their mere images. Eventually, “feeling sorry for them”, the emancipated prisoner would return to his former home and take up his old seat again and,

"go back to distinguishing the shadows, in competition with those who had never stopped being prisoners. Before his eyes had grown accustomed to the dark, while he couldn’t see properly…wouldn’t he be a laughing-stock? Wouldn’t it be said of him that he had come back from his journey to the upper world with his eyesight destroyed, and that it wasn’t worth even trying to go up there? As for anyone who tried to set them free, and take them up there, if they could somehow get their hands on him and kill him, wouldn’t they do just that?" (The Republic, Bk. 7, 517a.)

If one were to corporately reinterpret Plato’s prisoners’ epistemic it wouldn’t be egregiously misrepresentative to say that they were solipsistic. That is to say, they ignored the objective reality that would be there regardless if they themselves were or weren’t around, and manufactured a reality based upon what they perceived as real and true, entirely antagonistic toward anything that was in opposition to their own.

On the Anglican forum, in arguing against Danni Willis’ well-thought out point that evolution puts an end to any concept of objective truth, be it ethical statements or ones relying on correspondence theories of truth, Lee Herridge not only self-referentially believes that his own experience is the golden rule-of-thumb to assess an epistemological proposition by, but he continues with another intellectual faux pas when he ends his case on a solipsistic commission of the fallacy of composition: It happened to me, then it must have happened for everyone:

"I heard the gospel in its entirety and did not hear one argument against evolution and I became a Christian, and I would say that would be an experience shared by the vast majority of Christians. What people need is to hear the gospel, not a refutement[sic.] of evolution."

Lee also doesn’t see his solipsismal non-sequitur: If he were to ask “any of [his] non-Christian mates or family who Richard Dawkins was, [he] would get a blank look” and that therefore talking about evolution and the origin of life is a “stupendous [waste] of time, money and energy.” No, Lee, that just doesn’t follow. What does logically follow is that your friends and family are unread. Can you understand that just because your circle of friends and relatives don’t know who the world’s most quoted and interviewed atheist and evolutionist is, then that doesn’t deliver a knock-down argument against the importance of discussing the subject of origin with people?

Lee, if your expressed epistemic rule-of-thumb has any merit then it should be able to be cashed out in situations other than our minor difference of opinion over origins. So, let’s start off with a measure of importance. I’m now googling Richard Dawkins. How many hits? 1,810,000. Fair chunk, I’d say!

Hmm, what, or better still, who, could I put up against the Professor of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford? I know. Peter Jensen.

Now I want to be both fair and objective. If I google just Peter Jensen, London to a brick I’ll get every other PJ on the web. So…maybe I’ll try his name combined with Sydney. Let’s see…..70,500. Well, maybe there are other Sydney PJs. I’ll try PJ + Anglican. Even worse: 46,900.

OK. Fair enough, Lee. I hear your response: A measure of some guy’s organ is not a guide to how well he makes love to his wife; but Sydney Anglicans continually link truth with how popular (read, ‘big’) something is: evolution must be true because the majority of scientists believe it, or, young earth creationists are a minority and so…..let me build more appropriately upon Lee’s comment.

I was having a rather in-depth discussion about evolution and origins with a pagan guy at my work the other day. Midway through my argument I mention Peter Jensen and my work colleague immediately interrupts with a “Who?” “Peter Jensen, the archbishop of Sydney,” I spit out. Again, “Who?” “Ahhh,” I incredulously stammer. “Don’t worry about it. He ain’t important in any case.”

I’ll leave you Anglican blokes to work through the syllogistic enthymeme!

Well, despite the Sydney Anglicans love of, and predisposition for, navel-gazing, just how important a subject is evolution and origins?

The 19th January 2007 edition of The Financial Review carried 2 articles totalling 4 pages on the importance of evolutionary theory in understanding our place in the cosmos. (BTW, for someone whose immediate family and acquaintances are unfamiliar with Dawkins, I should explain that the Fin Review is a political and economics publication, certainly not one given to majoring in scientific or philosophical polemics!) Among the more tantalising pieces the author David Quammen delivered up were,
‘We take [Darwin] to be a lawgiver’
‘Darwin continued the cosmological reordering begun by Copernicus; Darwin presented a view of humanity that – despite what some scientists and religious leaders want to believe - is irreconcilable with religious dogma.’ [Read that one and weep, guys!!]
‘[As] Dobzhansky said…“nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of evolution.”’
‘Evolution, Watson affirms, is indeed “the great unifying principle of all life, a law that underlies the history and the future of every species.”’
“Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly [ape] origin.”
“[Darwin] was our greatest citizen.”
‘Carroll makes a compelling case that opposition to evolution can do real harm.’

Back to the Anglican Forum.

Then there’s Kevin Goddard who less than adroitly manages to equate the fact that he doesn’t know all the details of how God created, but, heck, even if they were available, “I don’t need to [know].” Kevin, tacitly, condemns the God of Young Earth Creationism (BTW, the only type of creationism there logically can be!) as being “too small” because that God can’t create by evolution because Kevin believes that his God can do anything and everything He wanted. Could He, Kevin? Really? For someone “who doesn’t know all the details”, you sure seem to know an AWFUL lot about God. Furthermore, for someone who quite obviously has never bothered to find out what creationists scientifically and theologically hold about fossils (Kevin believes that the only logical deduction one can draw about fossils even within a Young Earth view is that they still appear “old” and so must have been put in the rock strata by God to deceive mankind because fossils take a very long time to form.) it may be that every other explanation of reality that runs contrary to yours is a self-constructed strawman.

Kevin, you’ve never heard of Noah’s Flood? Do you know that in the ancient Chinese language found inscribed on their pottery and bronze from about 3,500 years ago there is a written character for large boat which is made up of two other characters which mean ‘mouths’ and ‘eight’. So, let’s count up the number of people on Noah’s boat. There were Noah and Mrs Noah, Ham, Shem and Japeth and their wives. That’s eight all up. What a coincidence!

What about the Hottentots of Africa. In their mythology they have a guy called Nu who took his family on a boat with animals and saved the world from a flood. The first missionaries noted this.

But they must be all wrong because there was no universal flood!

What does the Bible say? From Genesis 7 we read:

"For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made."

'And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward, and the mountains were covered.'

'And all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man. All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died. So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground: both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive.'

'Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done."'

I guess, just as 6 days can’t mean 6 days, ‘all living things’ can’t mean ‘all’, ‘all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered’ can’t mean ‘all’, and God just couldn’t have meant “every living thing” because we have to take account of the postmodernist epistemology that decrees, as Martin Shields so “patiently” over and over again likes to “eruditely” remind us, it’s all about genre, genre and more genre. (Interestingly, Martin never really provides us with an exposition of what he means and how the mere presence of…well…I guess he means…literary devices…can change what at least ostensibly signifies historiography into myth, metaphorical tale, poetry or plain non-history. Yes, Martin, how does the presence of chiasmus or repetition or parallelism or whatever device you care to name indicate that a passage is non-history? Or are you so tired of endlessly presenting your well-honed argument?)

All of this would be extremely amusing if they weren’t actually taking themselves seriously…but they are. And that’s the point of solipsism: they take themselves as the only serious competitors. It’s a one horse race: Sydney Anglicans have got it alllllllll right. Never for a moment do they ever consider they have one thing wrong.

Solipsism is very much intertwined with Gnosticism. Sydney Anglicans – one only has to scroll through their threads on evolution and origins to realise how true this is – are very keen to, as has been pointed out, ignore or minimise God’s creative history by prefacing all comments with “I think”, “For me”, “I personally take the Biblical account as a type of myth”, “What am I missing in my walk with god to be a touch agnostic on this point [of Genesis 1 not being a real 6 days]?”, “My claim is merely that Genesis1 does not, in my mind, mandate the young Earth claims of Creation Science.”

But this is not new. Early Gnosticism did exactly the same thing: ignored creation and began with self reference. As P.J. Lee points out in his Against the Protestant Gnostics,

"Knowledge of God involves the knower not in a further or more profound relationship with the world – nature and other persons – but rather in a disengagement from the world and a concentration on the self and the self’s concerns." (p. 26.)


"When we discuss the journey to self, we are very close to the heart of gnostic thought…The turning to oneself in gnosis is always in the order. Often the first experiences is so fulfilling that the second can be discarded.
"As the Gnostic teacher Monoimus told his disciples, “Abandon the search for God and the creation and other matters of a similar sort.”" (pp. 140-41)
Well instructive are Jeremiah's words regarding the state of the clergy, and well apposite are they today:
"For the ministers have become dull-minded,
And have not sought after the Lord.” (Jeremiah 10:21)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Is it a question of genre?

The question of the 'genre' of a text and the role of our assessment of its genre in its interpretation is a second order question. The first order question is a grammatical-lexical one: first off, what information is conveyed by the words in their order. Only when this runs us away from factual experience can we objectively impose between the direct meaning of the words and the author's intent considerations which derive from our knowledge of other similar approaches to composition. That is, when we read of trees clapping their hands, we bring the knowledge of trees not having hands and not being known to have volitional capacity, we deduce that we have encountered a genre known as 'poetic'. This appraisal comes by the passage's distortion of real world facts and categories which nevertheless retains meaning and is able to communicate meaningfully.

Other's have attempted to first look at the structural aspects of texts, rather than the words composed by the author, and use this, or contrive to use this to negate the direct meaning of a text. I think for example of John Dickson at an ISCAST sponsored talk a few year ago where I heard him wax lyrical on the chiastic structure of Genesis 1 as eliminating the possiblity of it being either a factual account, or of it meaning what it says, but meaning something else.

The irony of this was lost on John I think when the 'something else' coujld only be informed by the words which he denied carried the direct meaning and could only communicate the 'something else' on the basis of the direct meaning. That is, put more simply, Genesis 1 teaches us that God created but not in the way he says . . . what other way is there and how does the reader know this? John's view, if I understand it properly, is that a text ceases to be factual in its direct sense if it contains any structure which hints at literary art. Not only is this question begging in the grandest style, but it relies on the reader having alternative knowledge of the topic the author addresses. So is Genesis 1 a metaphor? If so, a metaphor of what, because Dickson's approach cuts us off form the author's intent.

If we are cut off from the author, where does our information on origins derive? Well, it must be from the world around us: the cultural world, that is; modern naturalism tells us that all is as it always was (2 Pt 3:4) and so this informs us that the universe contains the source of its being and cannot point beyond itself (contra Roms 1:20), it must have the answer, against rationality, that more comes from less, and something comes from nothing; a view that has been the undercurrent of pagan beliefs since ancient mythology, with Empedocles springing to mind.

The other folorn element of Dickson's address was that he reached for the structural device of 'chiasm' to deny facticity, or even the possiblity of facticity, but overlooked the fact that chiasm is frequently used in the Bible in all sorts of genres. It is found in the gospels, history and less suprisingly what we term (but the Hebrews did not) poetry. With literarature having no external formating clues: no paragraphs, verse numbering or other devices, it has been proposed that chiasm was the method authors used to delimit sections of their work: and to do it artfully, as distinct from the ham fisted method used today in most cases which relies on typographical markers, not the art of the composition itself.

I don't want to say more on this at the moment as I will start referring to an article that I read pre-publication. I prefer to await its publication and post a link to it.

The parachurch dilemma

The reference to 'parachurch' organisations by a post on the Anglican Forum gives much away. The biblical definition of church would be where two or three are meeting together (Matt 18:20) to share their spiritual lives, to encourage, build up, teach and prophesy to one another (1 Cor 14:26), and over time, not forsaking this meeting (Heb 10:25). That's the start and end of church in the Bible.

In Anglicanism of course, we don't need to mark the Biblical definition because we have our own: you must have a Primate, a few archbishops, a squad of bishops, archdeacons, deacons, priests, deans, (area deans, rural deans), rectors who take various names: very reverend, right reverend, plain ordinary old reverend, venerable, and so it goes, in arrant disregard for the direction of Christ (Matt 23:6-8). Of course, you've got to have separation between laity and clergy, and meet in weird expensive buildings which serve to exclude the average person and isolate Christians from the world, you have to impose behaviour (U non-U barriers: Mark 7:9) to preserve the group, and suppress dissent.

In the kingdom of God, there is no distinction such as 'church-parachurch' that is a man made power play to silence those who do not cooperate with your artificial and oppressive, I would also add, unbiblical structures. Indeed, the growth of 'pan denominational organisations' is indicative of the failure of denominational structures to serve the church.

A while ago Peter the Lord Archbishop (Matt 23:6,7) stated that he wanted to see 10% of Sydney siders in a Bible-based church. I wrote to him presuming that he would be steering people away from Anglican churches, because they made slender reference to the Bible in their structure, behaviour (witness the unkindness and obdurate judgementalism on the Anglican Forum as a prize case in point), and references to Rome in their format (the thinly veiled mass) and hierarchy. Needless to say (and in true Anglican fashion) he didn't reply.

This debate, and the whole reason we had to start our own blog, is also indicative of the 'churchly' qualities in absentia one finds in the Anglican church in Sydney.

I refer to scriptural injunctions to behaviour such as
1 Pe 3:8-12
To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, "THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS, MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT.
Gal 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;

Or I could refer to the ordinal, for those forum members who have the same names as ordained clergy, or whom I know to be such (they prove that ordination is a pointless human tradition by their disregard for their vows). For instance:

"will you maintain and promote, to the best of your ability quietness, peace and love among all Christian people . . ."; and,

"have always therefore printed in your mind how great a treasure is committed to your care. For they are the sheep of Christ, whom he brought with his death, and for whom he shed his blood. the church and congregation whom you must serve is his bride and his body. And if it should come about that the church, or any of its members, is hurt or hindered as a result of your negligence, you know the greatness of the fault and the judgement that will follow".

Well, those vows don't get much traction in their behaviour on the Forum, do they? Rather they have adhered to the old gnostic vow: "in you relationships use hubris, because you are far more clever and think you have read more books than others and have partaken of the mysteries that your great predecessors in the faith have completely missed out on, and your contemporary brothers, who do not have the benefit of ordination and its gift of magic hands which can do communion cannot attain to and therefore are but mere dust-eaters not worthy of your time or thought".

And what is the example? One Michael Jensen calls 'no death before the fall salvationists' "mad" and another Jensen, Peter, calls us 'hillbillies'. Well if I can be a hillbilly and avoid being numbered in Jensen's cabal, and seek to be transformed by the word of God, all the better.

A One Trick Pony?

We no death before the fall salvationists have been accused on the Anglican Forum (the gossip column) as being 'one issue' merchants. I guess there is a concern that we are not fully rounded individuals.

Of course this whole blog is about one issue, because it is the treatment of this issue that raised the matter and got a number of us excluded from the gossip column (the pain of it is that of an author being excluded from a remedial reading class).

The significance of this matter is twofold: at one and a very practical level, it is connected with the evangelical approach to the dominant religious stream of thought: see previous posts; but there is also a matter of the approach to the Bible. If the approach used in Genesis runs elsewhere, then the knowledge of the Bible falls in tatters.

Thus, if the appraoch to the Bible is paganist here, what elsewhere? It betrays an hermeutic of convenience, reflective of an unexamined adoption of extra-biblical thinking; thinking not transformed as Paul enjoins (Col 2:8 and Norman Geisler "Beware of Philosophy: A warning to biblical scholars" JETS 42(1):3-19 March 1999, I also mention "Philiosophical natualism and the age of the earth: are they related?" by Terry Mortenson, The Master's Seminary Journal 15(1):71-92, Spring 2004). There is and never has been by the contributors to this blog any accusation of the bretheren with whom we differ not being Christian, just of not being consistently biblical, logical, or honest in their thinking, debating, and handling of debate. The approach has been that if the view is being put too strongly, exclude them from the gossip room. Although, I suppose if one's logic is as full of empty space as swiss cheese, that is quite an understandable response to questions that you can't handle.

It is interesting to consider a few numbers: the evolution forums in the Anglican Forum are by far and away the most popular. A Sydney Morning Herald blog on origins (a debate between Creation Ministries staff and the Sceptics Society) was attracted the most interest of any of the blogs run by that newspaper, meetings on matters related to creation typically attract large numbers of people, the efforts of 'creationists' are frequently in the press. So here we are, with the hottest topic related to Christian faith, and the Anglicans, busily reversing into a cul-de-sac to avoid the real interest and easy point of contact with the gospel, claim that it is of no importance. And this is in a world where Richard Dawkins, who claimed that Darwin made atheism intellectually respectable, is one of the most popular authors in this area: people are fascinated about origins because it speaks of who we are, at every level. And this is, I have little doubt, the reason that the Bible's revelation as to God's creating is the starting point of soteriology, dominant in Paul's theology, refered to by Jesus and underpins all major lines of doctrine.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The point of it all

I've been watching the Anglican forum for a while: on and off for years, as I now realise, and am concerned that the point of the position, referred to in some ignorance, I think, as YEC (young earth creationist), but more accurately described as 'no death before the fall salvationist', completely escapes the antagonists on the forum.
More on the antagonistic sneering at another time, but firstly the point of it all, misunderstanding of which might be the leading cause of the former problem observed.
One presumes, as a Christian, that the Holy Spirit had some point in conveying information verbally to us in the scripture. Indeed, Paul tells Timothy in 2 Ti 3:16-17 that "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.". I presume that it follows that the scripture must have some real content to further this purpose. Some on the Anglican forum have referred to 'genre' criticism (do I smell the sent of Formgeschichte seeping into evangelical biblical studies?), without making any point as to where this should lead us. Needless to say, hurling air-filled elephants is no way to advance a discussion, particularly when it is done to so obviously beg the question.

The connection has to be made between form (genre, if you like) and function: which in literature is rarely perfectly unambiguous, but the argument must be mounted as to the form of the passage in question and why it might produce conclusions as to function. So what in the text of Genesis 1 and 2 suggests that it should not be taken as factual? Barr, Von Rad, Simpson (in the Interpreter's Bible), Calvin, Luther, Gunkel, and I'm sure others who don't spring to mind, take it that the author meant to make factual communication. We come closer to this debate, and I think Pattle Pun of Wheaton College says it all: 'but for the hermeneutical considerations suggested by modern science . . .' He would agree that the author,s intention was to communicate the direct information as it sits on the face of the text. But he equivocates.

It is not 'modern science' that would lead to a challenging the facticity of Genesis 1 and 2, it is modern naturalism: a philosophical, if not religious position; the dominant religious framework of belief of the modern mind, I daresay. This view denies that there is anything beyond the observable now; but which to make this position has to rely on unexplicated metaphysical considerations: it is, I think, an elaborate attempt to blunt the self refuting starting point of positivism. It works for many because to deny the supernatural is spiritually convenient, as the Bible does tell us.

Particularly ironic is that modern experimental science grew to potency on the philosophy strength of a creator having provided this world: the early modern scientists were encouraged in their studies by a firm belief in a recently and magnificently wisely created cosmos. It is the lack of this belief that will destroy science, not bring its furtherance.

Now, why make a song and dance about the facticity of Genesis 1 and 2? Well, if nothing else, it relates to the pursuit of truth: what does the Spirit seek to teach us in this passage? It appears that he seeks to teach us facts, and facts which are important for us to know; indeed, facts which are required to make any sense out of the passage. Yet I've read many authors who seem to be under the same influences as Pun who want to say that Genesis does not mean what it says, but that it means something else, which nevertheless has the same import for its theology as what it seems to say: this is reminiscent of a line from Little Britain: "yes, but, no, but, yes, but, no, but . . . " and little different from Aboriginal dreamtime stories: they didn’t happen, but we like to play with the thought that maybe, just maybe they somehow did: in dreamland.

An example of this is the pap taught at Moore, I think it was by a now past staff member (Perry Wiles), or even by Lord Archbishop Jensen (Matt 23: 6,7) himself, that Genesis serves as a polemic against other ANE cosmogonies. However, if not true, not accurate to events, then not really much of a polemic, more an empty clanging: and the hearers of the day would have gotten a chuckle out of it then, as now.

And that winds me around to the point of the issue for evangelistic and apologetic purposes. The dominant religious view today is naturalism. Clouser points out in the ‘Myth of Religious Neutrality’ that there is no religiously neutral position: everyone entertains basic beliefs, beliefs about what is ontologically independent. If not theistic, then by default, naturalist, in broad terms, and to begin taking Christ to those whose first premise does not admit him; we have to undo their first premise. Leaving aside all debate, if it were shown that the world is only 6000 years old (check a Jewish calendar for the accurate period), that life could not happen by any observable process, that differentiation of life and its interconnectedness belies stochastic process, then the first premise collapses in a puff of smoke. And the word of God comes in with a replacement.

Obscure? No, this is the very chain of reasoning that Paul took to pagans: Acts 17 contains the paradigmatic sermon: you start your evangelism on common ground to lead the person to sacred ground.

Does this 'work'. Well, I must say, starting from the real world it is as easy as anything to get to a spiritual discussion: naturalism is all around us and so easily brought up in conversation. I recall conversations as disparate as a discussion with a PhD biologist at work, with a Master's student looking at wetland ecology, with new agers who think all sorts of weird and wonderful things. It comes up with my children's teachers doing a unit on dinosaurs, or a unit on the solar system, and so on, and it is so easy, so gentle and leads the other to ask questions. Try brick batting the same people with the four spiritual laws, or Phil Jensen’s, 10 steps to Anglicanism, or whatever intellectual knuckle dusting he uses, and see the difference.

Then I compare a prayer letter from a 'creationist' organisation: it is replete with news of people turning to Christ because they can see they can trust the Bible, is at last congruent with the real world, and not an 'upper storey' fictionalised religious experience, it shows them a saviour in their here and now, it undoes the barrier of naturalism and the pretence that science underpins this worldview which starts with denial that God is there, let alone him having spoken. I look at Anglican media, and I see theory and technique and approaches and wishful thinking, I don't see the results that I see when the Bible is connected to people's questions: humbly, in detail, and in appreciation of a shared time-space event field.

Now how widespread is the worldview against God? One example I can give is the weekly Financial Review 'review' magazine. Every couple of weeks or so there is a major article, or a few, on an aspect of naturalism, materialism, unabashed Darwinism or another aspect of evolutionary dogma, which carries the not so implicit message that the world of the spirit is sub-rational, and to be spurned. This thinking is the warp and woof of our day. Equipping Christians to deal with it is vital to the progress of the gospel, in my estimation and experience. The Anglican Church equips us to succumb to materialism and stymie the gospel. Christians such as those in Creation Ministries International work hard to do the job the Anglicans have spurned.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A new Phariseeism?

“Keep your eyes open,” said Jesus to his disciples, “and be on the guard against the ‘yeast’ of the Pharisees!...I told you to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees.” Then they grasped the fact that he had told them to beware of the influence of the teaching of the Pharisees. (The Gospel According to Matthew 16:11-12)

The Pharisees were a group of men who were noted for their arrogant religiosity which manifested itself in a self-righteous and rigid upholding of what they perceived as unimpeachable doctrine and practice. However, as Jesus pointed out, this was doubly dangerous because this not only gave an excuse to the Pharisees to refuse to seek the Kingdom of Heaven and the knowledge of God as revealed by His Spirit, but these barriers stopped everyone else from entering, even when they were desiring.

In the above incident from Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus went to great lengths to explain to his disciples that the religious rulers of the time were teaching incorrect ideas about God. Jesus used the image of ‘yeast’ because just as a little leaven in flour can produce an even larger amount of bread, so too can a little incorrect teaching destroy accurate understanding of God, which will inevitably and, perhaps, completely draw us away from Him.

Today, there is a reappearance of the attitude to God that characterised this ancient sect, but with a wholly more insidiously corrupt teaching. Jesus warned the common people that despite the Pharisees speaking with the authority of Moses, their actions must be ignored. Today, however, the new Pharisees refuse even Moses, preferring to overturn him “through intellectualism or high-sounding nonsense [which is] stuff at best founded on men’s ideas of the nature of the world and disregards Christ.” What is being presented as the correct gospel and understanding of the Creator is in fact the reintroduction of the leaven of Gnostic-packaged Aristotelianism. The former is a belief that this material world, to all intents, displays an ontological independence from the heavenly realms, while the latter states, somewhat similarly, that any natural thing (e.g. a man, tree or dog) has the reason for its existence within itself. Not only are these heresies devoid of biblical warrant, they also are slanderous imputations against God’s character.

The official website of Sydney Anglicanism contains a forum for discussing ideas and contemporary issues. On the longest thread, titled ‘Making Peace with Evolution’, several pillars of the Sydney Diocese have made attacks against traditional and orthodox arguments, both biblical and extra-biblical, for the existence of the One and True God. I want to analyse several of these in this brief address.

The Reverend Gordon Cheng is a regular contributor to this thread. The underlying and tacit philosophical assumption in his argument is Calvin’s interpretation of Romans 1. In his Institutes Calvin stands in direct opposition to both the spirit and literal take of what Paul so clearly has laid out. Calvin writes that,

In vain for us, therefore, does Creation exhibit so many bright lamps lighted up to show forth the glory of its Author. Though they beam upon us from every quarter, they are altogether insufficient of themselves to lead us into the right path. Some sparks, undoubtedly, they do throw out; but these are quenched before they can give forth a brighter effulgence. Wherefore, the apostle, in the very place where he says that the worlds are images of invisible things, adds that it is by faith we understand that they were framed by the word of God (Heb. 11:3); thereby intimating that the invisible Godhead is indeed represented by such displays, but that we have no eyes to perceive it until they are enlightened through faith by internal revelation from God. When Paul says that that which may be known of God is manifested by the creation of the world, he does not mean such a manifestation as may be comprehended by the wit of man (Rom. 1:19); on the contrary, he shows that it has no further effect than to render us inexcusable (Acts 17:27). (Institutes 5:14)

In short, Calvin, like Gordon, claimed that in observing the natural objects of this world that God made, it is impossible to come to an understanding that He either exists or that these objects evidence the worker of a designer. In order to sustain this argument, Calvin elsewhere injected two premises: there is no longer any analogy between the human mind and God’s due to the effects by sin on noetic function, and because man is incapable of searching after Him there is a preordained elect whom God chooses. In other words, man is so reprobate that we can’t reason after God. Thus, in Gordon’s words, “looking at the world using observation and reason teaches me precisely nothing and tempts me into idolatry.”

However, Gordon (and many other Sydney Anglicans) extend Calvin’s [erroneous] justification by adding that there are things in the world that [seemingly] either weren’t produced by God or that God apparently failed to fulfil his responsibility as Creator and thus they were created imperfectly or with an inherence of malevolence. Gordon finds solace in David Hume’s scepticism and attacks Paley’s theistic arguments. The Design Argument doesn’t work, Gordon writes, because,

“the universe [contains] decaying rats, bubonic plague, gall bladders and koalas whose pouches are at exactly the right angle for their baby koalas to fall out and bop themselves on the head.”

From these observations of the natural world – and others, obviously – Gordon concludes that all someone could possibly grasp is that there may be “a god who is not very competent, or 2 warring gods, or maybe a whole army of gods who do OK in some areas and in other areas just keep undoing each others efforts.” In fact, Gordon continues, people will never conclude that there is only 1 Creator God because the creation can reveal “endless possibilities”. Neither Paul, nor David nor Christ thought this.

Another contributor to the thread, Luke Stevens (actually the moderator), in ridiculing Christians who hold to the orthodoxy of an historical, brief and God-directed creation, wrote that young earth creationists are “parasite[s] that fed off the host (Christian faith) and can quite possibly kill the host if [they] die too.” The gist of this is very much like Gordon’s argument which claims that a young earth creation argument “requires a supernatural element to work.” That is to say, observation of the created order cannot, must not, indicate that naturalistic processes are insufficient to explain the existence of these objects. They are not saying that God did not create the natural order: they are presenting the far more inimical and disingenuous idea that there is nothing in the created order that serves as demonstrable evidence that God created. By invoking this philosophy they have closed the [intellectual] curtain across the heavens realities and barred the mind’s access to God.

Accompanying this philosophy is a circular enthymeme. Both these men have defended the position that for Christianity to work all explanation of the creation cannot be linked to God unless it comes directly from the Bible. In other words, a creationist argument can never prove the existence of God because the only way it could is if there were “supernatural” evidence for Him, and because there is none, creationism fails. The only way it could work is if God provided revelation and because he has done so in the Bible, then we have no use for creationist arguments just in case they indeed do provide any evidence.

A friend of mine commented well on such attitudes: “Today’s theology is still on the other side of the Copernicus revolution.” By this he meant that while science has had its revolution, the theological musings behind beliefs such as these Sydney Anglican ones demonstrably evince an Aristotelian worldview. The whole corpus of Sydney Anglican apologetics on creation reveal that a bleak Aristotelian mindset has resurfaced.

The God of Aristotle (and of the Gnostics) was one who was effectively, like the Creator of Sydney Anglicanism, divorced from the world; from the world’s perspective, the world, too, held no detectable connection to God. This is because Aristotle’s God was no Divine Craftsman. His God (actually an unmoved Mover) never imposed thought concepts upon matter, and thus, unlike, for example, unnatural things that men made, signs of a transcendent intelligence directly interfacing with matter were not revealed by inspection of the natural order. Logically, then, if we cannot reasonably abduct from the natural artefacts of the world that there is a creative and purposive activity anterior to the artefacts themselves, then it is not unreasonable to conclude, with Aristotle, that the cause of the artefacts must be found in the artefacts. In other words, both the elementary principle and the cause of teleology of natural objects were, for Aristotle, in each object themselves itself rather than ontologically prior to, and imposed upon, the object. Aristotle’s account of how natural objects came to be ultimately provided gives no reason to look beyond the natural things themselves because the principle of generation and existence, the forms, resided in the objects themselves: these forms were eternally their own, and the objects’, ontology.

This is logically played out in Gordon’s odd belief that koala pouches function poorly because he thinks they’re positioned the wrong way around which causes baby koalas to fall out to the ground. (In making a comment like that I could conclude that Gordon spends far too much time in his office at St Matthias Press rather than taking an occasional walk in the bush and noticing that it certainly isn’t raining baby koalas; however, since this is one of the recently created furphies of the non-bush-walking atheist evolutionary clan, I suggest he’s being reading too much evolutionary anti-creationist material, something he seems to, judging by his voluminous unempirical statements on the thread, incline his ear toward on a regular basis.) Since Gordon, by this comment, has admitted that God really didn’t have a hand in the design of the koala pouch – how could He if the pouch is ineptly conceived! – then it must have arisen by the outworking of processes which God had applied none of his creative wisdom to. In other words, the koala pouch arose from processes which are ultimately found in or attached themselves to the thing itself or to matter the pouch consist of. This is pure Aristotelian philosophy. Gordon, by this comment, has attempted to drag science back to the Dark Ages.

Gordon criticises the Intelligent Design Movement (“ID”) because it “essentially posits a ‘god-of-the-gaps’ theory”. He believes that there is no epistemic justification for concluding from close observation of the world that naturalistic processes are insufficient to bring objects into existence, thus completely misunderstanding the very point of the ID movement. If there is no warrant for this, then the epistemic justification to conclude that naturalistic processes are sufficient to explain the objects of the world is established. That being established, they are hard pressed to explain who God is, because God’s chief credential in his relationship with us, is that he is Creator, and a ‘real’ creator, not an imaginary one. In this context it is significant to contemplate Paul’s reliance on Genesis 1-3 in his theology: grounded in the real world of contiguous space-time action by God for us!

Consequently, except for an espousal of a fideism of Kierkegaardian-like proportion (Gordon Cheng invokes Anselm and believes that “it’s not reason and observation being used to establish faith”), understanding that God created intelligently is not possible for these Sydney Anglicans because the cause of the particulars of creation is relocated away from God into placed in nature. This is a full-blown Aristotelian pagan worldview.

All this would be far too obviously non-Christian for some Sydney Anglicans to come out and boldly proclaim. To compensate for the direction that such would lead, some retreat to and invoke their pet escapist clause, namely, “God’s ways are above ours”. Or, with scant nuanced difference, they have, sounding much like their despised charismatic brethren and thus completely unaware of the irony, attacked the creationist for thinking with “human reason”, whatever that means.

However, as it inevitably will, their anti-ID explanation argument takes the form of one in which the fundamental operatives are chance, or non-intelligence, operating on and within matter, in concert with the accumulation of extraordinary amounts of time, as Archbishop Peter Jensen has favoured. In order to potentially attain to some success with this latter option they must equivocate on what “chance” means and unreasonably fashion it to include God’s being able to utilise an a-ontological ontology. After all, they must “reason”, can’t God do anything, including using a zero to produce something?

So this possibility that God, using chance, or ateleology, somehow (it’s never explained how!), fashioned life and the cosmos, over eons is in some Sydney Anglican quarters enthusiastically embraced as the only real possibility. As I pointed out on the thread (for which I and other Christians were abused and mocked for!), commonsense and many years of observing students lend support to the concept that intelligent beings cannot help but act intelligently. To argue that a supremely intelligent being would, for no good reason, surrender His mind and act unintelligently, thus acting in complete contrariness to His character is not just a dangerous “idea” but a vacuous one. As well, intelligent beings leave evidence that they acted intelligently because that’s the nature of intelligent operation.

If God cannot be seen, if His works cannot truly reveal His purposive and intelligent acts, then the possibility that non-intelligence may have operated in place of intelligence remains a possibility. Furthermore, by usurping the principle of God’s active and demonstrable incorporation of mind engaging with matter with non-mind, the cause of creation is no longer traced to God, but to the creation itself. This, apart from revealing a crude paganism, aligns itself with Aristotle’s perception of the world.

Sydney Anglicanism has gone to great lengths to sever the evidence for God’s acting in the creation. By removing intelligence, logos, from being the observable principle, they have emptied the cosmos of Christ the Creator. All this runs against what the late A.E. Wilder Smith detailed in his books and lectures. With a perspicuous cogency he addressed the attempts by people to persuade that their theology could somehow explicate complexity as arising through chance-time:

It’s maintain[ed] that chance reactions produced the huge amounts of raw information necessary for gene function upon which natural selection then worked. That is, in effect, that the chance randomising forces of nature worked against the chance randomising forces of nature to produce masses of order and information on which natural selection then worked. In other words chance, worked on by natural selection pressure, reverses its classical randomisation role and becomes the producer of derandomisation, that is, of endogenous information and teleonomy. We are asked, that is, to believe that chance, worked upon and sorted out by natural selection, produces information and then stores it endogenously to give internal teleonomy....Basically, we are being asked to believe that natural selection worked on chance to neutralize randomness just as thought works on chance to produce selective direction out of the no direction of randomness. For thought is selective and produces direction and order of no direction and disorder. Natural selection has thus, in the Darwinian scheme, replaced thought selection in sorting out order from no order, thus to generate information. (A.E. Wilder-Smith, God: To be or not to be?, A Critical Analysis of Monod’s Scientific Materialism, Telos-International, Neuhausen-Stuttgart, Germany, 1975, p. 76.)

For the true Christian, however, as Paul emphasises, it is Christ who is “both the first principle and the upholding principle of the whole scheme of creation.” (Colossians 1:17) As Jesus Christ “is always the same, yesterday, today and for ever” (Hebrews 12:8), the replacing of Jesus the Intelligent Creator, by unintelligence, slowness of action and errors, is one example of “various peculiar teachings” that we are warned to not be carried away by (Hebrews 12:9). It was Paul’s desire that we “do not conform to this world, but that we be transformed by the renewing of one’s mind” (Romans 12:2). When Sydney Anglicans propose that God acts differently to other intelligent agents and that the creative acts of God mimic, and thus are indistinguishable from, atheistic and pagan concepts of the natural order, then they are asking us to be transformed by this world and not by God’s Spirit transforming our understanding. Moreover, they are undoing a basic element of God’s creation: that man is made in his image, and thus is commutative with him: i.e. can communicate and shares rationality, amongst other things. Their doctrine would disconnect God from man in the most fundamental way and make God into the deist conception: not the one in Christ reconcilling himself to the world!

I began this by setting out Jesus’ teaching about the dangers of false teaching from people who have secured for themselves positions of authority. Jesus’ use of a metaphor only serves to underscore the very real danger that Christians today see in the doctrine that Sydney Anglicanism espouses. Sydney Anglicanism actively promulgates a pagan worldview by encouraging the belief that God acts, by its adherence to evolution, unintelligently. Furthermore, by its ridicule of the logical proposition that the proof of intelligent activity, and thus its detection, in the world is from a being who acts rapidly and perfectly, Sydney Anglicanism has proscribed the non-Christian from being able to reason from the created order to the Creator, or at the very least, reason from the creation, albeit fallen, to the non-credibility of naturalistic ontologies: thus opening them to the Gospel (which if we followed Paul in Acts 17, we could discuss with them). This is the leaven of the new Pharisees. Its desire is to keep the common people from entering the Kingdom of Heaven. As Jesus warned, beware!

My son, if…you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will…find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 21-5)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Anglican Sociology

In recent weeks, there have been a number of posts about origins (creation and evolution) on the Southern Cross (Anglican) forum. The prevailing view seems to be that the Bible's early chapters must be read in the light of the 'conclusions of modern science'.

This view, espoused by the reigning cohort on the forum, is typical in anglican circles. The reluctance to acknowledge that people other than anglican priests have philiosophical, religous or 'world view' opinions is part of the acquiescence to modern naturalism, I think.

It is an intellectual and spiritual failing to not see that 'scientific' dogma, when it relates to the untestable past, is largely constrained by majority philosophical axioms. These rest today on the foundation of 'naturalism' which starts with the belief that there is no God, and if there is, he is a 'god of the philosophers' who doesn't get involved with the real world. More like the Gnostic view of God than the Christian.

Thus, our priestly friends fail to be able to mount any sort of criticism of naturalism's views of the world's past and so seal off people from the God who created: his being creator being set down in the Bible as Gods most significant credential for our worship of him. This is not a small point, not a quibble about ancient texts, not an obscurantists retreat into an uncritical past, but a pivotal factor in the theological infrastructure underpinning the doctrine of God, the doctrine of Christ and soteriology. Paul the apostle rests much of his theology on the early chapters of Genesis, so it seems obdurate on the part of our priest friends to refuse to follow his lead.

This all comes about I think, because Anglicanism is socialised into establishment thought by its political origins. It is used to being in power and in keeping bedfellows of the establishment. Rather than disturb these deeply held alliegances with prophetic articulation, they subdue the word of God to maintain the countervailing words of men.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007


The Anglican Diocese of Sydney runs a 'community' forum for discussion and debate on matters related to the practice of Christian faith.

Unfortunately, the forum is run with a heavy hand. Any dissent, sustained argument against the prevailing theology or diocesan position, or request that argument be met with reasoned response, and not ad hominum slanging, is met with banning from the forum.

This is particularly distressing when the prevailing views are heretical and amount to the abandonment of Christian orthodoxy.

Thus we have started this blog to keep track of the Anglican forum and maintain an open discussion.