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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Always Reforming?

"When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes." (2 Kings 22:11)

King Josiah had made a startling, distressing discovery. Judah had wandered so far from the Lord. The long lost and now found Book of the Law showed quite clearly how far Judah had moved from living the life of faith required as the People of God. What had been intended at the beginning as a pure life of trusting and honouring God had descended into syncretising with the belief systems of the nations around Judah.

The sin was great and the Lord made it clear destruction was coming on Judah. Josiah's distress and repentance was looked upon favourably by the Lord and Josiah was blessed to not see the destruction to come. He quickly instituted reform.

At other times, whether in the Northern Kingdom of Israel or the Southern Kingdom of Judah, periods of syncretism or worse were notable by the Lord raising up kings more righteous than others or sending prophets to call the people back to trusting Him and His Word. There were times of correction under more righteous kings but overall the slide was in one direction. As regarding the prophets, a blessing is not received as a blessing if one is determined to continue in one's ways. For many, the prophets' message was rude and blunt and the life the prophets called the people to was unpalatable compared to the life they were living. Understandably, rejection of the message of the prophets resulted in destruction. The Lord does not withhold justice indefinitely.

The history of the Church established by Jesus Christ is not without similar episodes of 'ebbs and flows'. I turn my attention to one episode which has a clear message for the Church today.

I commend to the reader the late Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones' address entitled "1662-1962 : From Puritanism to Non-conformity" given as the Annual Lecture of the Evangelical Library for 1962. A forty eight page reprinting of the address has been undertaken by the Evangelical Press of Wales in conjunction with the Evangelical Library, London.

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a great reader and built a solid understanding of developments in the Church from the time of the Reformation up to his own time. In his address at the Annual Lecture of the Evangelical Library for 1962 he goes back to the Reformation to provide a synopsis of one hundred years of activity and individuals leading to the Act of Uniformity in 1662. Dr Lloyd-Jones was drawing from history to caution against the Ecumenical Movement of mid last century.

"1662-1962! There has never been a time, perhaps, since 1662, when conditions, and the whole atmosphere and climate of thought and of opinion, were more inimical to what we are doing to-night than this very period in which we live. We are living in an age which seems to me to be an exact reproduction of what we are told about the children of Israel in Judges 2:10, '....And there arose another generation after them, a generation which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works He had done for Israel.' Now that is a very significant statement. You observe that they not only did not know the Lord, they did not even know their history - they did not really know what the Lord had done for Israel before their time. That is a perfect description of this age. It is an age which does not know the Lord as the fathers knew Him, and the result is that it is not interested in the fathers either; it is not interested in what God has done in past ages and generations. It is an age which is self-centred and very proud of itself, proud of the twentieth century, proud of its knowledge, proud of its learning, and especially proud of its superiority over the preceding age." Dr Lloyd-Jones goes on to apply this scenario to the advocates of "ecumenicity" who, he asserts, pay lip service to the Reformers and Puritans and, of whom, "At the very best they are excused in a patronizing manner. The argument is that we are in such an entirely different position to-day because of our 'advance', and our greatly increased knowledge and understanding as contrasted with the people 300 years ago, that we can no longer possibly hold the views which they held."

"Fast-forwarding to the early part of the twenty-first century, do we not find these words of Dr Lloyd-Jones having resonance with the thinking of today's Church concerning the view and teaching of the Reformers and Puritans on the creation account in Genesis? As if to reinforce the point for today's issue, Dr Lloyd-Jones goes on to cite an advocate of 'ecumenicity', Rev John Huxtable. Note carefully a term used which is applied today to Biblical Creationists.

"Let me give but one illustration of this from a recent address by the present chairman of the Congregational Union of England and Wales. 'Next' he says, 'we must reckon with a different attitude to the Bible. Part of our fathers' security was in the Bible; and here we confront another revolution. They handled the Bible in a way no longer possible. I doubt whether John Calvin was what is now crudely called a Fundamentalist (emphasis mine); but those parts of his writings which have given rise to this modern heresy had great influence over our fathers.' " Dr Lloyd-Jones ponders how advocates of ecumenicity could link the events leading up to and including the Act of Uniformity of 1662 with the ecumenical movement of the twentieth century. He says, "So they find themselves in this curious position of feeling compelled to praise these men, but, at the same time, compelled to indicate quite clearly that their motives and ideas and reasons were altogether wrong, and quite impossible for us with our new and greater understanding of the Scripture."

"The more I read these modern references to 1662 the more I am reminded of what our Lord says in Matthew 23: 29-31 'Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.' What is the point of of praising the fathers of 1662 if you say that they were essentially wrong in their teaching and outlook? That is to put yourself into the position of enemies of the men whose glorious memory we are commemorating this evening."

Precisely the same observation can be applied to many in the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church when they claim to be 'Reformed' in the tradition of Martin Luther and John Calvin. They praise these men, their colleagues and the Puritans for their doctrine yet they deny the doctrine and teaching of these 'fathers' on the creation account contained in Genesis. The same Sydney Anglicans are witnesses to themselves that they are children of those who were enemies of the Reformers and Puritans.

I might add that I am confident that Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones would share my view here. He had long been opposed to Evolution as a theory on life. He had also been earlier influenced by B. B. Warfield so he quite possibly held to a 'long age' for the earth. However, later in life Dr Lloyd-Jones rejected this view and came to be what is today roughly called a YEC but more appropriately called a Biblical Creationist.

Well, where does this all this lead us? Is there a lesson from the past for the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church? Most certainly! The Ecumenical Movement is not dead but it is probably does not have the momentum today it had fifty years ago.

Yet the issue of what is today defined as Biblical Creationism, the belief of the Reformers and Puritans, is no longer the mainstream teaching of the Church. Instead, a form of syncretism, a merging of the world's view of origins and the Biblical account pervades to the exclusion of pure truth.

How can this now despised teaching of the Reformers and Puritans regain its place in the doctrine of a Church declaring itself to be Reformed?

It will be difficult because the impure abounds with great freedom. It is entrenched! How prophetic was the utterance of Puritan and Martyr, John Hooper, when speaking of the perceived indifference within the Church of England to retaining certain objects of Romanism. He said, "Great shame it is for a noble king, emperor, or magistrate contrary unto God's Word to detain and keep from the devil, or his minister, any of their goods or treasures as candles, vestments, crosses, altars! For if they be kept in the church as things indifferent, at length they will be maintained as things necessary."

In similar vein, propositions such as theistic evolution, gap theory, day age and progressive creation were received into the Church as "just other possibilities" alongside biblical creationism but, as a body of thought opposed to biblical creationism, these intruders are now settled and dictate terms. In the main, to suggest having a biblical creationist speak to a congregation within the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church is to invoke, at the least, avoidance and, at worst, verbal hostility.

How can this sorry situation be redressed.

Well, King Josiah upon recognising how far Judah had departed from the pure Word of God was so grieved as to to rend his clothes and then inquire of the Lord. He later renewed the Covenant with the Lord and then instituted reforms in Judah.

By the inspiration of Holy Spirit, Martin Luther saw how far the Church of Rome had departed from the pure Word of God. By the grace of God he became a key means of reforming the Church.

The Puritans sought to complete the Reformation. Puritanism was defined this way: "It was a purification, an effort, wise or unwise, to rid the Christianity of England from all adhesions foreign to its nature, or obstructive to its power; an endeavour to remove everything in doctrine, discipline, ceremonial, which during the Middle Ages had been added to the Gospel of Christ." Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones adds something to this definition which seems to come through in Puritan writings so I will add it here; "... that Puritanism was not primarily a preference for one form of church government over another; but it was that outlook and teaching which puts its emphasis upon a life of spiritual, personal religion, an intense realization of the presence of God, a devotion of the entire being to Him."

However, the Puritans did not achieve their goal for the Church but their writings were a significant influence others, particularly on later men such as the Wesleys, Whitefield, Rowlands, Edwards and the Erskines who were key figures used of God for the Great Awakening of the eighteenth century. The Great Awakening came at a time (perhaps even to redress) when the Church had absorbed a deistic view of God. Deism arose from a flawed view of the world and its relationship to the Creator.

Several in the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church make claim that the church is "always reforming." This couldn't be any further from the truth. In fact, the Sydney Diocese is regressing. Not as fast as the Anglican Church in other parts of Australia or the globe but it is heading in the same undesirable direction due to the diluting of the pure Word of God with the "flesh of man."

What is needed then is a Reformation. This cannot come about by the will of man but by the Will of God. Elements required are an awakening to the parlous state of the Church, an earnest repentance and calling on the Lord God for forgiveness and cleansing. Only then, by the mercy of God, is He likely to act for the revival of His Church. May it be then that all the aforementioned desires of the Puritans are endowed upon the Church.

May it first be that greater numbers in the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church see how far the Church has departed from the pure Word of God on origins and the nature of God. In earnest repentance may they call upon the Lord for forgiveness and cleansing and await His most righteous and merciful blessing.

Sam Drucker

Friday, May 18, 2007

“For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.”

Christians can be a smug lot. Hubristically and, might I say, quite sinfully, we often pigeon-hole our atheist “enemies” as being quite incapable of even grasping the most rudimentary truths concerning the world we live in. Tagging along with this is the frequent and, what seems to be, intentional failure of Christians to carry through with the biblically ordained task of seeking rational understanding of the atheist worldview. These are no better abjectly reflected than when Christians adopt the evolutionary story as their own, a Mephistophelean barter implicitly announcing that Christians appreciate the materialist “creation myth of this age”, as Mary Midgely so aptly labelled it, more comprehensively than they.

Of course, passing these mythological elements off as genuine Christian philosophy comes with a monumental price-tag: How does one explain away all those ill-fitting components which just do not square up with the revelation that God himself has spoken to us in the Bible?

Far too many Sydney Anglicans have capitulated to philosophical materialism, adopted its faux scientific offspring, and are thus forced to ignore the internal contradictory clashes that arise when a Christian worldview is tied to a pagan one. When these are pointed out, the best its adherents offer is a stream of irrelevant platitudes that just do not take seriously this metastasis of Christian theodicy and soteriology: “This is not a salvation issue”, “God’s ways are not ours”, “My God is big enough to do it any way he pleases”, “Genesis 1 tells us who and why, but not how”.

In contradistinction to the Anglicans’ lack of comprehension, it is completely refreshing to read an atheist who has intelligently understood the ramifications of this zeitgeist. Mark Rowlands, in his The Philosopher at the end of the Universe: Philosophy Explained through Science Fiction Films, has done just that.

Like the existentialists, he thinks life absurd. Absurdity, he coherently explains, arises because there is a confrontation between how we see ourselves from the inside and the view that we understand about the external world. This philosophical absurdity is fundamentally and rationally linked to the meaning of life:

“The problem is one of explaining our ultimate significance given our place in a universe that does not seem to allow us to have any such significance. The problem derives from the thought that there are two quite different stories we tell…[On the one hand] we matter…We are…a core of significance. On the other hand [there is] our ultimate insignificance. As a species we are finite, partial creatures, inhabiting an unremarkable planet in an unremarkable galaxy. We have been around for an infinitesimally small proportion of the life of the universe, and even the best estimates for our continuation don’t give us too much longer in the cosmic scheme of things. None of us, not even the cleverest, really understands where we came from – the origin of the universe we inhabit is necessarily a mystery to us.” (pp. 4-5)

Rowlands doesn’t just end his pitch there; he goes on to make a quite unexpected and perspicacious confession. His sense of disquiet isn’t cured by invoking some anti-intellectual Hegelian synthesis of the two incompatibilities; rather he admits he has a “hard time seeing how both sorts of stories we tell about ourselves could be true.” (p. 6)

This enigma is returned to again and again with increasing clarity, nuance and despondency: “How can I be a centre of significance and purpose when I am the product of processes and forces that were in place long before I was born, and where my essential nature seems inextricably bound up with these processes and forces?” (p. 14)

And ultimately what fuels his angst, this discontent he experiences when he attempts to grasp the ‘big picture’? The very view that the Sydney Diocese has promoted from its pulpits, college and discussion groups: the evolutionary worldview:

“The philosopher Immanuel Kant once wrote that there were two things that never ceased to fill him with amazement: the starry sky above him and the moral law within him. When I look at the starry sky above me, what fills me with amazement is the idea that there could be a God who created a universe like this. A universe that is designed according to a principle – the Second Law of Thermodynamics – which means that suffering and death are built into it as one of its structural elements. A universe that, after billions and billions of years of travail, eventually produced creatures that were conscious, and then self-conscious. A universe that, through these creatures, became aware of itself, understood itself, marvelled at itself, only to realise that it was doomed; that its fate was heat death, that it was essentially ephemeral, that it was essentially futile. The darkness of unconsciousness eventually, after billions of years of struggle, gave way to the light of consciousness, only for this light to understand its own hopelessness. This is cruelty on a cosmic scale. Perhaps only a God could be capable of such cruelty.” (p. 23)

Creationists, by insisting on a young earth, non-evolutionary, 6 day creation week, are frequently accused by Sydney Anglicans of setting a major stumbling block before those seeking Christ. What is clearly apparent from reading Rowlands’ words is that it’s the Sydney Anglicans’ promulgation of the pagan evolutionary worldview that clearly hinders people opening the door to Christ. As Jesus complained, “Alas for you experts in the Law, for you have taken away the key to knowledge. You have never gone in yourselves and you have hindered everyone else who was at the door!”

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Michael Jensen misses the mark, once again!

To bring people up to speed.

I enquired in another section of this blog: "Why has your father, Peter Jensen, stated or supported the position in Doctrine 1 that from Moore College's perspective the evolutionary view is the correct view?"

In reply Michael Jensen said, "In Doctrine 1 he said it was 'a' position, not 'the Moore College' one."

My response to this is to quote from Doctrine 1, Moore Theological College Correspondence Course, Unit 7, p. 105...[Are you listening old chap?]

"There is a division of opinion about how God created the world. From the standpoint of these notes the theistic evolution account offers THE best ‘theistic evolution’ we mean that God created the world through the process of evolution”.

Please note, Michael, the use of the definite article instead of, as you suggested, the indefinite article. There is a world of difference between the two. As I have mentioned elsewhere, I charge $75/hour for grammar lessons, so if you require instruction as to the difference between the two I am for hire.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Perilous Path

Elsewhere in this blogspot, Neil Moore indicated he would provide the statement made by Perry Wiles concerning the matter of "brains" and belief on origins. Neil and I have consulted and agree that I would provide the information. We also agree that what Perry Wiles said is now a moot point in relation to Michael Jensen's concerns because Michael has since made it clear that his "libellous" intimation had nothing to do with mention of Perry Wiles. Nevertheless, because there is more that I feel needs to be said about Perry Wiles' paper, I cite and expand on the matter herein.

In his paper "Creation vs Evolution?" which was produced by Perry Wiles while on study leave in Illinois, USA, he included the following statement: "What is perhaps more tragic is that faithful Christian people can end up thinking they are doing gospel work by promoting creation science. Whether creation science is valid or not it is not gospel ministry. Gospel ministry is about the Lordship of Jesus Christ and him crucified - not about evolution. Apologetically, because again by forcing the issue of Bible versus evolution it can put obstacles in the way of unbelievers, especially those scientifically minded , and it can leave them with the impression (perhaps the justified impression in this case) that becoming a Christian means kissing your brains goodbye. Not only that, it allows people to use evolution as a smokescreen to avoid the challenge to put their faith in in Christ". (emphasis mine)

That then clarifies what Perry Wiles actually said on the matter of brains and the origins issue. There is so much else said in that paper that deserves attention and correction but space and time limits me to addressing the argument put in the statement quoted.

The argument made by Perry Wiles is, of course, a fallacy. Itself is a smokescreen to avoid leaving off the adornments of the world and a device to avoid scrutinising and exposing the bankruptcy of the evolutionary model of origins. Worse than that, it diminishes the gospel of Jesus Christ and him crucified because it seems to focus solely on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ with vague reference to his Lordship.

In addressing this failing I defer to one who had a much closer walk with the Lord Jesus Christ than myself.

I defer to John Owen (1616-1683), Christian, Puritan, Chaplain to Oliver Cromwell and Dean of Christ Church at the University of Oxford.

In his work, "Apostasy from the Gospel" John Owen addresses the difficult Scripture passage Hebrews 6:4-6. There were many issues confronting the church in Owen's day, the greatest probably being Romanism. The issue of the attack on the book of Genesis is much more an issue today than Romanism. However, the 'dress' of apostasy raised by John Owen can just as much be applied to today's issues as those of Owen's day. I will quote John Owen and you can judge for yourself the relevance.

First, I must make one qualification. John Owen acknowledges the existence of "partial apostasy" ie as I understand it, something along the way toward apostasy but not complete apostasy. I am not aware of anyone who has posted blogs to this blogspot holding a view that certain Sydney Anglicans are apostates. Rather, I gather that the view is held that a heretical interpretation of Genesis, something alien to the straightforward reading of Scripture and alien to the position of the Reformers, has emerged in the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church in the latter half of the Twentieth Century. If readers can demonstrate I am in error on this then I am willing to apologise.

I quote from "Apostasy from the Gospel" - John Owen - Puritan Paperbacks published by The Banner of Truth Trust - abridged and made easy to read by R.J.K. Law.

Speaking on the topic of "Darkness and Ignorance a Cause of Apostasy" and with reference to Sceptics on page 66 Owen says "Scripture, the Trinity, Christ and his offices, justification by grace and all the other great truths of the gospel are weighed and examined in the defiled, tottering scales of bold, irreverent sceptical discussions. They may be teachers of religion, but they show their ignorance of the fundamental difference between truth and error. They cannot see the glory, beauty and power of truth, so it is all one to them whether it is truth or whether it is error". The office of Christ as Creator is considered part of the gospel and ought not be subjected to assault just as Christ as Redeemer or other office ought not be subjected to assault.

Speaking on the topic of "Pride, Neglect and Worldliness, Causes of Apostasy" on page 79, Owen says "The corrupt mind exalts its own ideas. It loves, applauds, dotes on and firmly embraces its own ideas and opinions. This is the origin of all heresy" and on page 80 "The corrupt mind exalts itself as the sole and absolute judge of God's Word....... whatever the mind rejects as not in agreement with its own ideas and system of logic is scorned and despised". On the same topic on page 89, Owen says "(2) Secondly, God delivers up willful apostates to false teachers and deceivers. These, deceived and taught by Satan, are used by God to carry out his just displeasure on wicked apostates whom he delivers into their power. The deceived people exalt these false teachers and deceivers into high positions in the church and then submit implicitly to them".

Speaking on the topic of "Apostasy from the Doctrine of the Gospel" on pages 92, Owen says "So none will remain constantly faithful to Christ who is not able to spiritually discern the glory of his person and his offices" and on page 93, "The whole foundation of all gospel faith rests in the glory of Christ's person and offices (Heb. 1:2, 3; Col. 1:15-19)". Note that Owen specifically cites passages of Scripture addressing the creative work of Christ in this assertion.

Speaking on the topic of "Apostasy from the Commands of the Gospel" on page 103, Owen says "By the Word of God and the Spirit of Christ, multitudes have been made holy, and multitudes more are still being called out of this world to holiness of life. These shall never utterly and finally fall away from true holiness, but shall be preserved by the power of God through faith unto salvation. Yet even these may fall away from wholehearted obedience to the holy commands of the gospel and become for a while unfruitful in their lives. In every backsliding there is a partial apostasy, with much dishonour to Christ. Nor does anyone know whether his backsliding will not end in total apostasy".

These and so much more are sober words from John Owen for reflection on all aspects of our life and testimony to Jesus Christ. In connection with the full gospel of Jesus Christ, they have relevance to the glory that is his in his office as Creator and are a caution against diminishing the glory due.

Calvinists should remember that it is not us who convert the unconverted. It is God working through Holy Spirit in the revelation of the person of Jesus Christ and his works. God is able to create out of nothing and is thus able to save through a faulty message but that message more desired and honouring to God is that which is true to his Word.

In closing, I give an example of an apostate who, if he read it, failed to heed the advice of John Owen. His name is mentioned elsewhere on this blogspot. His name was Charles Templeton, now deceased.

Charles Templeton, born 1915, rose to evangelical prominence in the 1940's in the USA and Europe. In 1946 he was listed among those "best used of God" by the National Association of Evangelicals. He was a good friend of contemporary evangelist Billy Graham and spoke to audiences numbering in the thousands. Newspapers reported him wining 150 converts per night. He became a troubled man because he couldn't reconcile the book of Genesis with the world's view of origins and the age of the earth.

Templeton warned Billy Graham that it was "intellectual suicide" to not question the Bible and to go on preaching God's Word as authoritative. He commenced theological studies at Princeton University but received no insights to qualm his doubts in the Bible. Finally, the doubts about everything he stood for became too great and he resigned his ministry.

In his 1996 book "Farewell to God" Templeton listed his reasons for rejecting the Christian faith. Most of these reasons related to his view of the accuracy of the book of Genesis. Sadly, the church of his day did not adequately answer Charles Templeton's questions. Answers are available but even more sadly, many in the church will not trust their own brethren and instead run to those who reinterpret God's Word in Genesis or who reject it altogether.

Upon accepting an evolutionary long age view of origins, Charles Templeton logically perceived "How could a loving and omnipotent God create such horrors as we have been contemplating?"
Charles Templeton died an Atheist. His life portrays the image of an Apostate described by John Owen when addressing Hebrews 6:4-6.

It puzzles this writer how so many in the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church can do what Charles Templeton could not logically do ie reconcile a death, disease and frustration riddled means of origins with the Word of God and the glory of Christ contained in Genesis. The charade will be seen through by many of the generation now coming through. A strong stand on the reading of God's Word as it is presented in Genesis and likewise presented in the New Testament accounts of the acts of Jesus Christ is the will of God and returns the church to its former position with the Reformers.

Sam Drucker

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Jensen reprise

Mr Jensen's desire to have his posts removed from the blog will be unmet. Two reasons. One, he chose to post, and that is the end of the story: public is public, Michael, secondly your efforts are a great case in point for the heretical teaching and practice that flows through rivers in the Sydney Diocese. Your remarks typify the ecclesiastical fascism which underpins Sydney life.

The case in point is this. Mr Jensen storms around riding on the coat tails of his father's position, when Jesus tells us very clearly that the first will be last and the last first, and that we aren't to go around using 'prestige' position or power as the world uses it. We are in fact bound to treat each other with honesty and respect. I note that Peter Jensen is unable to do this. Like father, like son.

I was reading in the Financial Review on Friday (3 May 07) that Miltion Friedman, the famous Chicago School economist took pains to correspond with everyone who wrote to him, wether economic neophyte, opponent, or not. I contrast this with Peter Jensen, who, if being obedient to the Bible, would place himself as servant of the church, not 'leader' 'head honsho' or 'the big biscuit'. After he lampooned his brothers and sisters who hold to the historic Christian position on the meaning of Genesis 1, who adhere to the Chicago statement on bibilical inerrancy (what does happen in Chicago??), who ascribe to that great statement of faith expressed in the series of books 'the Fundamentals' published as a bulwark against liberalism in the USA in the 1930s (from whence the term, of abuse for some, taken as an honour by others 'fundamentalist'), by calling us 'hillbillies'; and I never fail to remind all that he thus lampoons Broughton Knox, I wrote to him, expressing my anger, dismay and pain at his behaviour. I heard not a word. Here we have it, Milton Freidman, arguaby a 'great' man, is able to correspond with anyone about mere economics, but Peter, the main biscuit in Sydney, is unable to correspond with a brother he has sworn to serve, as part of the limb of the church in which he orbits. Makes me want to vomit from my mouth any Anglican allegience that I might have had. Incidently, it was in evangelical anglican churches that I've experienced the worst treatment, in 'broad', 'high', or 'catholic' that I've experienced the best of fraternal love.

By the way, I hope others read the Fin Review. The Friday 'Review' pages often have great religious articles. Of course, the religion they extol is invariably evolution . . . demonstrating the need to deal with this idea soundly as part of our evangelism (as Paul sets out in Acts 17, for example, an example the Anglicans and evangelicals broadly choose to ignore).

While I'm on the subject of periodicals, There is another stimulating article on Dawkin's 'The God Delusion' in the current Quadrant magazine (Richard Dawkins and the Morality of the Bible by David Hodgson). The author deals with Dawkins philosophical thinness with respect to his arguments for atheism, but also discusses moral issues which surround segments of the Old Testament. I hope to post some thoughts on this in the near future, God willing. Quadrant can be found at , along with its sister publication

I've recently started reading Thucydides' 'The Peloponnesian War', as I've decided to work through the highlights of classical literature. The introduction by M. I. Finley is itself worth a read. A remark about Thucydides' historigraphical approach is germane to this blog. I'll quote:

"The historian's data are individual events and persons; the sum total of their interrelationships is the historical process. Unlike the poet, he must get the events and the relationships right, exactly as they were, and not, in Aristotle's phrase about tragedy, as they might or ought to have been ..."

Considering Genesis 1, one is struck by the care taken by the author (let's say, Moses' because that's what the Holy Spirit tells us) to give the precise order of events, using grammar and selecting words so that alternatives are not possible (I refer to the historical consequentive grammatical structures in Genesis 1, the care to delinate sets of events by dirunal progress, and the description of the type of 'day' meant as 'evening and morning' type days, counted so that it is unavoidable that individual days are identified, described and events ordered).

If the events related are merely what they 'ought to have been', then we have fiction, poetry, as Aristotle might characterise it (entertainment, as we might refer to it today). What if the opening chapters of the Bible were fiction. Not telling us what happened, and not, therefore, locating us in history, in relation to God and in relation to our environment, which itself is not spiritual, not worthy of worship, but material, as from the hand of God? Well, if it was fiction, because this is the bald alternative to history (Aristotle refers, by implication to only the two categories), then it is not connected to history: to events which actually happened, and so, despite the neo-orthodox telling us that it is meant ot convey 'theological' but not 'scientific' truth (as thought truth wears colours like football teams), it tells us nothing, because it is not relating what is real, but imaginary. So a piece of imaginary writing cannot tells us anything real about God's status in realation to the physical universe, or us, as there is no source of information for us to determine the truth content of any utterance. We are left with the arbitrary, not the truth. If we know that something is false, then it cannot tell us anything, particulalry when some claim that Genesis tells us something, but not the things that it tells us. This is the basic logical impasse that the neo-orthodox have backed themselves into. In fact, they have backed off a plank over the side of a ship: they have nowhere to go but oblivioun (episemologically), because they have removed any warrant for the text being connected to the common world. It really is 'blow your brains out' thinking by the neo-orthodox, the sort of thinking that results in existential obliteration of the revelation, as I see it in adolescents, who are completely adrift, believing that they are material jumbles, not image bearers of God.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Don't you know me, Phillip?

Many thanks to Neil Moore for his helpful insight into the Person of Jesus Christ. It came at a time when I was looking at another manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ - his glory.

"He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born over all creation. For by him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things and through him all things consist." (Col. 1:15-17)

Only Christ, and no other, was fit to bear and uphold this glory. The glory of his person is such that the blessedness of all creatures depends on their being centred on him in his glorious office as head of the new family in heaven and earth. This then, is the glory which God purposed to give to his only incarnate Son.. Here we have an insight into God's purpose to glorify himself in the incarnation of Christ. God purposed that his eternal, only begotten Son would be made man.

What did God purpose to accomplish by this incomprehensible work of his wisdom, love and power?

By the incarnation of Christ, God intended first of all to redeem the church by the sacrifice of his Son. But there is a greater reason for the incarnation of Christ, one which centres on the glory of God. This was that he might "bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ" (Eph. 1:10). The whole creation, especially that which was to be eternally blessed, was to have a new head given to it. From him all graces were to flow into this new family, and from this new family worship, praise and gratitude would flow back to him. All communication from God to this new family would be channelled through Christ and all worship and gratitude to God from this new family would also be channelled through Christ. Who can describe the divine beauty, order and harmony of all things under its new head, Jesus Christ? The union and communion between angels, men and other created life, the order of the whole family in heaven and earth, the communication of life, grace, power, mercy and comfort to the church and all things being ruled for the glory of God all depend on Jesus Christ. This glory God purposed for his incarnate Son, and it was the greatest, the highest glory that could be given to him.

If we thought more of this glory of Christ, and of the wisdom of God in the restoration of all things in Christ, how much more wise we would be to the realities of life and how full of gratitude we would be for the glorious privilege of being part of this new family!

In particular, the Lord Jesus Christ is glorified in his repairing the violation of the glory of God in creation by sin. How beautifully ordered all things were as they lived and moved in dependence on God. But sin destroyed this order and harmony. But all is restored, repaired and made up in this restoration of all things in our new head, Jesus Christ. Now divine creation is made more beautiful than it was before. So "the whole creation has been groaning" as it longs for this glorious restoration of all things. "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed" (Rom. 8:19).

In this work of restoration, Christ is also glorious because he is appointed as the only way by which all the treasures of the infinite wisdom of God towards his creatures are opened up and revealed. In the first creation, infinite wisdom was the inseparable companion of infinite power. "How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you have made them all." (Psalm 104:24) But when the effects of this divine wisdom were defaced by sin, greater treasures of wisdom were required to repair the damage done. And in the restoration of all things in Christ, God showed what he intended to do in dealing with his creatures. By his restoration of all things under one head, the manifold, unsearchable wisdom of God was made known to the angels themselves (as Eph. 3:10 infers). They had no idea previously of what God intended to do after sin had entered the world. They had no idea how God would repair the damage done by sin but by this purpose to gather all things in Christ, the manifold wisdom of God was made known to them. So in Christ "are hidden", and by him are gloriously displayed "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:3) In this he is glorious and will be forever.

The glory of Christ is also seen in the stability and security that is given to the whole new creation. The first creation was glorious but everything depended on God under a covenant of obedience. Everything was brought down by the sin of angels and men. But now everything that belongs to this new creation, including every believer in the world, as well as the angels in heaven, being gathered together under this one head, are all infallibly kept from ever being ruined by sin again. In this new head all is "strong, firm and steadfast" (1 Pet 5:10).

All includes representation from other creatures frustrated by the sin of angels and men. Nothing must be excluded from restoration else God's perfect and glorious plan is incomplete for God's creation was made to give glory to God. "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory, honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being" (Rev. 4:11). The intent in creation under heaven was that in man using creation rightly and thanking God for all that he had created for man's use, God was to receive glory from the animate and even the inanimate creation.

Nothing that God intended can be denied him. The effect of sin must be thoroughly reversed in "the renewal of all things when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne" (Matt. 19:28).

Now, consider very carefully the glory that is found in Jesus Christ. The glory in his creative work and the purpose of his creation, the glory of his incarnation, the glory of his triumph over sin and its effects, the glory emanating from the renewed creation under its new head.

It defies all sensibility to apply to Jesus Christ a creative activity riddled with frustrations and mutational errors such as the paradigm of evolution requires. When I say frustrations I mean obstructions. To advocate Theistic Evolution is to say Christ was, in his creative process, willing into his creation obstructions to resist and retard at the very same time he was willing progressions. By all observation, this argues a gross defect of intelligence on the part of the Creator. There is no glory to Christ in such activity. It is, instead, an insult and the insult, by means of evolution's need of time, is an eons long demeaning of the glory of Christ. Only a corrupted mind could conceive of a creative process comprising frustrations, disability, disease, survival of the fittest, death and extinctions as being glorious and giving glory to its Creator. No, such a proposition derives from "the father of lies" who will not give glory to God.

Friends have told me that Dean Phillip Jensen, when Rector at St Matthias Anglican Church, Centennial Park, Sydney, said words to the effect of "whether or not God used evolution in creation is a non-issue." If so, Dean Jensen has most dangerously 'given oxygen' in the church to a notion of creation that steals from the glory that is due Jesus Christ. My experience of Dean Jensen is that he is a fine man who indicates a love for the Lord Jesus Christ. However, his alleged decision to run away from the robbery of Christ's glory is a thorough disappointment. As so often happens, he has taken others with him in his flight. This is evidenced by his spawning of Matthias Media with its resident writers' capitulation to a 'broad' view on origins.

If my advice on the position of Dean Jensen is incorrect then I must withdraw my reference to him in this posting. If it does represent a correct observation of his position then .... The Lord Jesus, in responding to an erroneous request of a disciple replied "Don't you know me, Philip?" (John 14:9) Today, in Sydney, Australia, the question may be altered only so slightly to "Don't you know me, Phillip?"

Sam Drucker