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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Watchtower Society’s founder Charles T. Russell finds much common ground with Sydney Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen

(or Why did Andrew Katay say he was giving his audience a red pill when it was actually the blue one?)

A few days ago I stopped to chat with a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve discussed the Watchtower’s heretical theology with its representatives (face-to-face and through correspondence) and I prefer these days, when asked what “brand” of Christianity I uphold, to just state immediately that I’m a Trinitarian. This avoids the unfruitful and highly irrelevant task of responding to their well-rehearsed doctrinaire training of passing judgement on the implied deficiencies of your denominational preference. It also allows me to point the conversation in the direction where I want it to go.

These two were no different and this allowed me to quickly show them 2 verses in John’s Gospel where Jesus is called ‘The God’ (20:28) and the Holy Spirit is called by the masculine pronoun (16:13). I point out at the same time that a universal rule (i.e. Jesus is never called The God and God’s spirit is just a thing) is no longer sound if just 1 counter-example can be raised.

The woman’s final response to all of this was to ask what being a Trinitarian can give me over what she, an Arian, has obtained. I said that it was all a matter of truth for truth’s sake. There is something cleansing, edifying and proper about chasing after truthful knowledge. If hers is a false representation then it’s akin to a libellous editorial or a gossip magazine’s invention about some celebrity’s person life. If Jesus really is God, then her substandard portrait just plainly misses the mark.

This later got me to thinking about The Watchtower’s creation theology. Witnesses present Jesus as merely a god and although they admit he is a creator, of sorts, they understate and misunderstand the meaning of the ‘through’ in Colossians’ “all things were created through him”, thus approximating him to a Gnostic or neo-platonic demiurge. This creator is not co-eternal with the Father and merely serves as an organiser of matter, making the real creator one step removed from the cosmos.

It was somewhat ironic that last week the SAD minister Andrew Katay was also giving a talk at Sydney University’s EU titled, ‘Wake Up!: Seeing the World God’s Way’. On the poster was a blown-up picture of Keanu Reeves reflected in Morpheus’ glasses reaching out for one of the two pills on offer. (By the way, I wonder if EU had corporate permission to use this still from The Matrix.) Andrew, for those who are unfamiliar with him, toes the party line on creation quite faithfully. This was rather efficiently evinced in his debate with Sydney University philosopher Adrian Heathcote when Andrew rather proudly announced at its conclusion that he “had no problems with Big Bangs and 18 billion years”, thus guaranteeing that the preponderantly young audience that lunchtime dined on a generous portion of Gnostic theology.

SAD theology introduces a foreign element or principle to Christianity. Not persuaded by appeals to pellucid Scripture passages which unanimously declare the world young, the Sydney Diocese turns to an understanding of the cosmos which injects time as the operative principle. Time allows God to step back and permits things to just unfold, very, very slowly. In fact, God, when you think about his role in their heresy, does little. Sure, he’s God so he must do something, but exactly what and how remain vacuous when SADs are questioned. Unbelievably they frequently try to drag you into their nescience by answering with the presumptuous, “We don’t know and you certainly don’t!”

At least the pagans have an excuse. Their gods are feckless and invisible, in the immediate sense of things that is, and so pagan religions have to have something to get things happening. The most logical is ‘time’ - well, ‘Time’, to be more accurate. If there is one thing certain in this world, both empirically and deductively, it is this: the more time one has, the more things happen. So what better ‘demiurge’ is there than Chronos? If “magic”, as Polkinghorne puts it in his polemic attack on the miracles of the Bible, is ruled out, then the slow, relentless hand of time will accomplish everything…and anything. As C.S. Lewis mentioned, paganism’s (and Islam’s) “miracles” are pointless and incredulous, so to explain why there is something rather than a zero, time serves its cause rather well.

Christianity, on the other hand, has no use of time as a means to bring forth the wonders and riches of creation. Solomon quite rightly writes that, “not without these, wisdom and discernment, the Lord based earth, the Lord framed heaven; not without skill of his did the waters well up from beneath us”.

We at this blog ask our heretical friends just how you propose that these triune attributes of God can come to bear as creative energies when the huge amounts of time you put forward cancel out their effectiveness. Wisdom, discernment and skill are not seen when something is occurring at a snail’s pace but when order is brought from chaos quickly. God, as the Bible tells us, has no need for another partner. He does things quickly because he is supremely intelligent and intelligent beings, by definition, don’t waste time putting their plans into reality.

“Wisdom is the Lord’s gift; only by his word spoken comes true knowledge, true discernment.”

Saturday, April 26, 2008

On a very strange question

You might want to slip over to 'Abnormal Interests' and check out this blog . It hits a corner of the moral epistemological question that arises in a creationist consideration of evolution.
It would be fascinating if Abnormal Interests was to find out his blog was mentioned by the likes of us!! Who wants to make the link?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Not docetic

A warming piece from the Confessing Reader

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15.17)

[T]he resurrection of Jesus is to be thought of as the recreating and restoring of man into the same sphere of real being as that to which we human creatures belong, and is, as such, an historical happening in continuity with the whole historical happening of Jesus, the incarnate Son. If the resurrection is not an event in history, a happening with the same order of physical existence to which we belong, then atonement and redemption are empty vanities, for they achieve nothing for historical men and women in the world. Unless the atonement through the resurrection breaks into, and is real in, our historical and physical existence and continues to be valid as saving power in our earthly and temporal being, it is ultimately a mockery. That is why all docetic conceptions of the risen Christ are quite irrelevant to men and women of flesh and blood, and have no message to offer them in their actual existence. It is for this reason that eschatology, with the heart taken out of it in the denial of a genuine resurrection, is meaningless, and without relevance to the on-going life of the world. Everything depends on the resurrection of the body, otherwise all we have is a Ghost for a Saviour.

Space, Time and Resurrection, Thomas F. Torrance, p. 87

I read Torrance years ago, and was pleased to be reminded of this bit of 'reality-theology'. The very same line of thought could well be used to connect this same Christ to his work as creator in Gen 1, methinks.

Monday, April 21, 2008

On the Revelation of Jesus Christ and Natural Theology

How ironic that Eric should post a blog on Natural Theology just as I was deciding to do likewise. Rather than responding to Eric in the comments section of his blog I have decided to go ahead and post my blog.

I take the point of Eric (I think) that the term 'Natural Theology' is a bit of a misnomer. The abuses of ignorant atheists and biblical compromisers is insufficient cause to abandon the term but the more I read and understand about the Person of Jesus Christ in His Creation I am increasingly inclined to bring that which has been called 'Natural Theology' under the heading of 'Revelation of Jesus Christ'. That said, I now proceed with a blog and I expect to be posting more on the subject in the future.

We have much to be indebted to our Lord for, not the least being his gifting His Church with some giants whose legacy lives on well beyond their passing from this world. One of the giants has been spoken of elsewhere on this site and I wish to quote him in this blog and invite comment on his proposition. I refer to the late Professor A.E. Wilder-Smith, a man who had three (3) earned Doctorates. He was a Biochemist and among many other credits was an accomplished debater of Naturalists. Perhaps the thing that impresses me most about him is his predictions made twenty or more years ago concerning scientific discovery and applications which are being realised today.

For this blog I quote an extract from his book "The Creation of Life - a cybernetic approach to evolution." I quote from pages 227 to 229 of the third printing (1981) of the book first published in 1970. Having dealt with the inadequacies of (a) the Naturalistic explanation of matter possessing some inherent psychic property urging it up to life, and (b) the emergence of life on earth by an extra-terrestrial intelligence, he proceeds to expound the merit of a third option.

"Of the third account, that the substrate of the first-cause intelligence must be sought in the supramaterial, there is evidence. The fact that materialistic, physical sciences have missed finding such intelligence with physical means is surely proof of its transcendental nature. It is only by reasoning, logic and mathematics, that the gap in purely materialistic Darwinian randomness has shown up.

One cannot see, physically speaking, the intelligent energy that goes into the working out of a vitamin C synthesis. Nor can one physically see the intellectual effort that goes into a suspension-bridge blueprint. Yet no scientist would ever deny the presence of intellectual effort just because he cannot physically see it. He measures it, in so many man-hours to do so much blueprinting and so many man-hours to realize the blueprint in actual tons of suspension[-]bridge. He knows how to measure the work involved in both the encoding process and the decoding or realization (reading), process.

If this is so, why should there be difficulty in accounting for the basic encoding process by which the blueprint for life was drawn up at archebiopoesis or the beginning of life? Or why should there be difficulty about explaining the decoding process by which life is realized by growth regulated by the code on the material genes? In experimental everyday life, both coding and decoding are simply and boldly explained in terms of intelligent man-hours. Obviously then, there should be no difficulty either about the same basic processes in the origin and realization of life. The principles behind both are identical, even though their scale of operation may vary a trifle!

Thus the assumption of intelligence to account for origins and maintenance (or realization) of life, does not present any real difficulties of principle. Whether the intelligence is artificial, biological or even transmaterial does not offer any real impediment to theory. If we have no difficulties in using this same assumption of intelligence when dealing with pattern construction in the laboratory and industry, why should we ba[u]lk at the same assumption when we transfer our field of inquiry to the much grander scale of the universe and its patterns and codes, especially to the code we know as life?

The same principle applies to the patterns and codes behind atoms with their electron orbits (which decide the patterns of their chemical properties). The chemical patterns on DNA spirals, in their turn, decide the patterns and codes behind the genes and their outworkings in various morphological, physiological and metabolic codes. Each code and pattern gives rise to another, but they all revert, eventually, in their origin, to the grand code and pattern-maker known as intelligence.

The difficulties incurred in denying intelligence as the basis of code-order realization are certainly greater than those of assuming intelligence as the author. One is always finally reduced to assuming that randomness gave spontaneous birth to order (the Darwinian position) which amounts to a denial of the laws of thermodynamics and indeed all laws - for randomness is not subject to laws. [emphasis mine]. But to get around and to avoid the necessity of assuming exogenous intelligence (or Deity), scientists have been willing to commit even this type of scientific hara-kari, for to deny law is to kill all science.

If, on the other hand, we assume an intelligence behind the codes and order of the universe, we are more or less inevitably forced to assume the position described by our third postulate - that this intelligence must be transmaterial or transcendent. This position has the great advantage of destroying that old bugbear of the past which has hindered so many intellectuals in dealing with the Christian position - an anthropomorphic deity, and 'old man in the sky'. The intelligence we are talking about is ineffable, supreme, supramaterial and time-transcending. [emphasis mine]

Thus an intellectual stumbling block which has long stood in the way of intellectuals and kept them from believing in a supreme intelligence has been removed in principle by progress in cybernetic science , since it has been shown that intelligence is no longer bound to human biological substrates. Perhaps it may some day be shown that thought and intelligence, even in the laboratory, are not even bound to electrical phenomena; that they are both the activities of 'spirit'. For the Holy Book assures us that God is 'spirit' and that they that worship him must do so in 'spirit and in truth'." [emphasis mine].

Professor Wilder-Smith then went on to explain why William Paley's book 'Natural Theology' for a while held sway in intellectual thought but later succumbed to Darwinism. Professor Wilder-Smith then demonstrates advances in 'Information Science' which have since exposed the paucity of the Darwinian argument.

Now, it goes without saying that a theistic evolution position, being a corrupt hybrid position resorted to by a Church retreating with haste from the battlefront, has no place where the valid contenders for intellectual thought 'square-up'.

In light of the case presented by Professor Wilder-Smith, I find myself compelled to explore, with much caution and therefore requiring guidance from intelligent people, the revelation of Jesus Christ in the coding for all things in creation - for what do the Biblical passages "In the beginning was the Word [or as Professor Wilder-Smith says elsewhere - 'logos or concept'] and the Word was with God and the Word was God' (John 1:1) and "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:17) and "For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." ( Romans 1:20) mean in the light of our more recent understanding of genetic coding (non-matter) of DNA (matter) and patterns and coding (non-matter) of atoms (matter)?

The answer to such a question is not found in Pantheism for it is clear that the encoder or source of the code is also exogenous to the code carrier.

I may soon have to abandon this pursuit because a respondent may point out a potential heresy. I don't want to pursue a heresy. On the other hand the potential to know our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately, He being closer to us than hitherto recognised, is advantageous over smouldering and not yet extinguished Deism in Sydney Anglicanism.

Could it be that in this proposition a more meaningful explanation is given for the premature death of an 'innocent' child in that the Lord Himself suffers in the cessation of the code for life in that infant? Our Lord Jesus Christ felt 'power' go out from Him for healing when touched by the woman with the bleeding complaint (Mark 5:30) perhaps he feels something of the injury or cessation of life.

What is involved in the "giving up the spirit' when someone dies? What is the distinction between the coding of the 'animate and the inanimate'?

There are many other Biblical statements, events and doctrines against which this concept for the order of life has to be measured. It has a long way to go. One thing that seems to fit is that the miracles of the Incarnate Son of God need not have occurred with the necessity of spoken words. Only thought was necessary to produce the outcome. The words were spoken only to let the audience know through whom the miracle came to pass.

I invite comments.

Neil Moore

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Stained history

One of my nephews brought me his church news leaflet today (Sunday) and I was interested to see an advert for a talk on stained glass (what they get up to on the North Shore!) wherein it says: "Before recorded history man learned to make glass and colour it."

What a challenge to biblical history: it implies that the Bible's history starts after man! It suggests that the history from creation in the Bible is not true history: has no concrete content! I wonder if the church really believes this or has simply swallowed materialism's frame of reference: that there extends prior to writing aeons of un-timed history?

It really says, then, that when it touches on the real world, the world we are in, the Bible is unreliable and has nothing to say that is within the dimensions of our life-experience.

The Bible talks of very early craftsmen: Tubal-cain for example. I wouldn't say that he'd have anything to do with glass, but was glass invented and coloured pre the era of conventional written history?

This particular church's comment is betrayed as being right in line with the comment on my previous post about the tacit, implicit and sometimes outright denial of the flood, just as Peter foreshadowed!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Let's blow up natural theolgy!

I was reflecting on Paul in Romans 1 lately:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22Professing to be wise, they became fools,

23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures

And got to thinking about the idea of Natural Theology. I wonder if the idea itself (noting the SAD uninterest in the whole creation project) is a pagan (I mean godless) idea; more in line with Paul's observation in v.23, than anything else.

I am not suggesting, by the way, that we should retreat from looking at the world to see God (noting v.20, which by the way seems to say that Paul thinks there were people doing some perceiving from the time of the creation); but we must not do it in the way of Bacon, thinking that there are 'two books': one of revelation, and one of nature.

It's all revelation, I think. To sever the action of God into 'revelation' and 'nature' sets up 'nature' as somehow independent of God. Which is the very thing that materialism does in spades (it is so independent that we can't see God at all). I wonder if the SADs do it too, in identifying anything that connects the creation with the creator, and his words to us, as a hayseed exercise, somehow not worthy of their mighty minds.

That is; do they in contra-postively denying the creation is effectivly and concretely from the hand of the creator; or that his words can make this link in a realist mode, deny that there is any real link between God and his creation; making the creation not a creation: that is from the mindful action of person, but merely 'nature' that is, just a bunch of atoms thrown together because God sent them on their way (by...wait for it, 'natural' laws).

Obviously, this idea stands against a major tradition in Christian theology, but nowhere in the Bible do I see the creation being dealt with either as one of two books, or in the way that 'natural theologians' deal with it. Paul links the creation and the creator with an intimacy and active connection that the naturalists do not make.

So I read a lot of John's and other's posts on this blog and wonder, are they natural theologians? No, I don't think so; its only that the long tradition of natural theology has given as a language and presumptions; are the SAD's counter-natural theologians? Yes; in the 'bad' sense of natural theology, and in so doing have become themselves paganised natural theologians, much like Hugh Ross, Kel Richards (from what I heard at a talk at St Clements a few years ago), and a bunch of the SAD luminaries with whom this blog exchanges. They have split God from his creation, annointed it nature, and done the very thing that Paul counsels against in v. 23.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Serendipity & Wine

Talk to any wine buff and a point sure to pop up will be the supreme joy of purchasing a bottle of some relatively cheap plonk, made by some unfamiliar vintner, setting it down in your cellar, and after a few years uncorking it to discover that it has been transformed into a well tasty, underpriced gem (as an aside, note no miracle here!). This is what I’m hoping for with one of my latest acquisitions, the label of which is eponymously named Johnny Q.

This 2006 Shiraz from Tharbogang NSW (no idea!) also has another drawcard: its rather entertaining blurb on its rear label. Let me quote from it.

‘In the beginning, there was the wine creator…a sumptuous Shiraz created with your enjoyment in mind. For 6 days and 6 nights the fruit was harvested, crushed and left macerating on skins to develop a long lasting deep colour, intense bouquet and delicious taste. On the 7th day Johnny Q rested.’

Now, I’ve been known to drink a fair bit of this stuff, and I even once tried to ingratiate myself with the housekeeper at Chateau Petrus in Bordeaux in order to obtain a grape-picking job at vintage, but I really know very little about wine production. And so I’m quite happy to accept Mr Q’s oenological account as history, its platitudinous and self-praising aspects notwithstanding.

From the language used - the tight but sufficiently informative details of the passage, as well as its commonsense and everyday usage - it seems entirely the case that Johnny isn’t lying or expecting the reader to access some extra-textual code obtained from some sort of sacerdotal “expert” that unlocks the occult meaning and event sequence of Johnny’s wine-making “week”. It just seems to be, well, saying what it means and meaning what it is saying.

And you know what? I can’t imagine Peter Jensen, Rob Forsyth, Gordon Cheng or any other of the Sydney Anglican Heretics, for one moment, questioning the veracity of Johnny Q’s little history. Yet – and here it comes, guys – while they would whole-heartedly believe this guy, they obstinately deny God’s historical blurb on the first page of the Bible. Think about it: They would take at face-value the word of, in all likelihood, an alcoholic, yet torture and eviscerate the very words of God’s Spirit. Talk about the overturning of commonsense!

I think I need a drink!

Thursday, April 17, 2008


A report from the US:

"The man running to be the first black U.S. president said he does not believe that the universe was created in 24 hour day periods although he believes the Bible’s creation story is “fundamentally” true. He also added that he believes in evolution and that it is not incompatible with the Christian faith. Rather, as he knows more about science it strengthens his faith."

This lends itself to a syllogism:

Obama believes X; Obama is a politician; who cares what Obama believes?

Random Acts of Violence

Waiting for my morning coffee I let my eyes graze across the pages of the Daily Telegraph: all trouble and strife, as one would expect from a tabloid.

It was, of course, full of reports of random acts of violence; or random violent acts (some were the result of accidents, not intention). I got to thinking: in the SADist world, this is how God brought his creation into being; it is this that forms the first step of faith (Heb 11:3), it is this that constituted the 'making' (John 1:3) and in it the Word was intimately involved (John 1:3b), in flagrant contradiction to John 1:4, of course: the contrast between 'life' and 'light of men' and the darkness and horror of violence cannot be more marked.

But that's the SADist world for you: ill-digested biblical support for a badly thought out theology (in this respect anyway). And there we have it, the God who is love, who went to the cross to overturn the last enemy and who made everything very good, did so by using random acts of violence.

I wonder what SADists think the new creation will bring?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Genesis: not poetry? not polemic? not . . . not...

I was reading the Creation Ministry site's article of the day treating Genesis as not being poetry. The article was helpful as far as it went (and it only went as far as it needed to, I think), but there is a further issue that needs to be dealt with, to my mind.

Many who put aside the possibility of Genesis 1 (and up to 11, in fact) being factual do so not because of some compulsion in the text; although the documentary school would claim otherwise, but because of a prior philosophical, and then theological, commitment. Their theological position derives, if I am right, from a philosophical underpinning. This is certainly the case with the documentary boys, whose basic commitment is to the materialism at an operational level, but, I think to idealism, in some form, more deeply. And so with the SAD school.

Some posts have touched on these ideas over the past year or so, with recently, may be it was John, or Neil, writing about the split in reality implied in a lot of heterodoxy on this matter: this allows people to say that Genesis is 'true' in a theological sense, but not ground that in a context that is mutually accessible to all (that is, the real world) to say that there is, in the real world, another 'reality' that materialism rightly deals with (they would say 'science'; and in doing so make a whole bunch of other intellectual blunders).

This plays fast and loose with the philosophical structure provided by Genesis 1. A structure that is very helpful in all sorts of discussions with New Ager, post-modernist, neo-romantic and even materialist ideas. This structure is the integrated nature of the real and the continuity between ideas and the concrete, given by God having really created the world into which his word can be spoken to make sense: the meaning he provides is congruent with the system of meaning that emerges from our concrete life-experience.

The second order question as to whether the creation account is factual or not then must evaporate, as its non-facticity would eliminate any role it would have to play in communication between God and man: the question disappears Klein bottle-like into its own premise; the premise undercutting the question.

Of course, on the face of it, to say that God can communicate content using non-content (that is, Genesis 1 is not factual as we know it, but factual in some other way!!) is simply incoherent and provides us with no basis for the formation of a theology. It only gives us the basis for a human-invented fantasy. And thus both old and new liberalisms and the current neo-orthodoxy emerging from Moore.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Mad about death

It just came back to me. One of the maddest things I'd heard about death, creaton and the Bible, in years.

I was at a talk given by a Christian academic who, when asked about the significance of death in his theolgy (his idea was that God 'created' using evolution), pooh-poohed the notion of there being no death before Adam, by saying something along the lines of:

"Of course there was death before Adam, eukaryote cells were dying all the time, that's how organisms work".

How he betrayed his minor knowledge of Genesis, and his willingness to challenge scripture to maintain his argument. A not even careful reading will reveal that 'death' refers to those creatures with 'soulish' life, not cells!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sydney Anglicans, come out, come out where ever you are!

Today was the Surry Hills Festival, arguably the biggest of all Sydney’s local “Mars Hill” type gatherings. Here were several tens of thousands of mostly pagans coming together to look for the latest fad and not an Anglican in sight. In fact, did I find a single representative of the Church outreaching today? Nope, not one.

I guess the Sydney Anglicans have an excuse: they were all earnestly working out their strategies for 2009.

So, the question is this, our hubristic SAD friends: If you have a message for the world, why weren’t you there sharing God’s message of love with these fallen men and women who are made in God’s image? By your absence you demonstrate to us that you don’t have a message to give because if you did, you would have been there. Of course, if you have a message then you must be keeping it secret. You know, having the key of knowledge but locking the door and stopping all others from entering. A double dose of sin, if that’s the case.

One last point. Actually there was one Christian witness all day at a stand. There stood 2 creationists, in the sun, who had barely a moment to themselves because they were continuously engaged in conversation with men and women who were searching for answers to such side-issue questions as ‘Where did life came from and how did it arise?’, ‘Is there a God?’, ‘Who is this God?’, 'Is evolution true?, etc etc.

With all those resources, all that money, with all those paid clergy, with all that over-the-top self-belief (i.e. delusion on the level of corporate personality disorder) that we have it all and our theology is the envy of everyone else in Christendom ("Could there possibly be anyone else out there?"), and not an Anglican stand at the festival.

I shouldn't be surprised, though, as they've given the bird to the Archbishop of Canterbury and eschewed Lambeth, so why would they give a toss at some minor bumpkinish celebration in their own backyard over there at Surry Hills.

You’re a joke Sydney Anglicans. In fact, you are your own caricature!

Knowing nothing

I've heard it often: Anglican's justifying their evangelistic approach by referring to Paul's words in 1 Cor 2:2; that is, knowing nothing but Christ and him crucified. On this they seem to restrict themselves to only laying the words on their hearers. Forget the hearer's needs, interests, and questions (oh, and the Anglicans will pontificate on which question is genuine and which is a 'red herring'), just do 'Two Ways to Live' to them.

Paul was not saying this, however, he was separating himself from the party spirit in Corinth (read ch. 1). When he spoke to pagans, he used their culture and even started from the base of God as creator (see Acts 17, as the great example of an evangelical framework).

For all their great claim to preach nothing but Christ, they miss the point, and disable a proclamation that can make contact with people!

Friday, April 11, 2008


I'll bet the SADists are in full caterwauling mode as they whine about the woman bishop in WA. Pity they strain at gnats and let elephants wander around their catherals of partial belief!

Who would you prefer to debate?

Critias posted this comment. I thought I'd take it to the front of the line, I thought it so good. Hope you don't mind Critias!

I was thinking of the polarities in belief the other day. Here are some contrasts: I went to a talk a few years ago at the Humanist Society. It was on evolution or creation?. The speaker, I think he was from Sydney Uni, spoke long and well, and was congratulated by the president. His talk opposed evolution and supported biblical creation.

Another time I went to a debate in Bankstown; it was at a church. Three speakers for biblical creation, three for materialist evolution. Both sides had book tables, and for we Christians, there were some great warm conversations with unbelievers.

I remember one older man, one of the Rationalists puzzled over the conjunction of God and suffering. He wondered how children could be allowed to suffer. I joined and wondered at the futility of ending life with death: what we all face as we age (he was quite old). His philosophy gave him no help. I talked about the hope I have not only becuase God who is love created, but he whi is love has acted to unite us with him across the divide of alienation and death.

Another time I went to a debate (at Christ Church St Ives) where the topic was biblical creation. The minister, Dr Woodhouse debated with Carl Wieland of Creation Ministries on the Bible's teaching on creation. Woodhouse gave a great display of shifting hermeneutics and strange biblical thinking. He talked about 'multiple creation accounts' (he was refering to biblical references to the single creation account in Genesis 1 and 2). Carl on the other hand, stood in the Reformed tradition, and took the Bible for what it said.

Now, the contrasts: I saw hearty open and honest talks and debates with the Humanist Society and the Rationalists. From SADists I saw equivocation, absurd special pleading and a veiled supercilious truculance.

Woodhouse is now principal of Moore College: I wonder what it will be turning out: more North Shore parish disaster mongers?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Man the lifeboats! Plea for Australia(as [kinda] reported in The Southern Cross)

We are currently witnessing a dramatic ‘rescue operation’ in Australia to save those drowning in a ‘disaster’ caused by a pagan heresy.
“It’s a little like an undersea earthquake has happened offshore—and the earthquake is high on the Richter scale. And you don’t see immediate results from the earthquake until sometime later—when a tsunami wave washes onto shore, with devastating effect.”
These are the words of David Shortchanged, rector of St Barnabas, Broadway in Sydney.
They come from a DVD (excerpts on u-tube) also featuring world famous author and theologian I.O. Recusant, made for the benefit of members of their parish as they faced a vote to ‘realign’ from the Sydney Anglican Church to an Anglican Province in Terra Del Fuego.
Evolution and long ages, Shortchanged says, is “the tip of the iceberg”.
The key concerns are “the uniqueness of the Lord Jesus Christ as Creator [and] the authority of scripture”.
The theology pushed by Shortchanged’s diocesan bishop, Rob Forsyth, is described by the bishop himself as anti-miraculous and has been categorised by some commentators as ‘reductionist’ closer to atheism than Christianity.
In his Easter 2005 message he approvingly quoted John Polkinghorne saying “the interplay of chance and necessity as the means by which the free process of the world realizes itself has already been seen as offering some degree of understanding of the presence of physical evils in the world…That is surely the coming-to-be of a great good. We have no reason to suppose – given that by his nature God is a God of process and not of magic – that good to have been capable of achievement without the long cosmic history of the interplay of chance and necessity, with all its prodigality and blind alleys, which produced both humankind and the perilous environment in which it lives.”
Indeed as I.O. Recusant says on the same video, the current struggle in Anglicanism is unique in church history; the closest comparable situation, he says, occurred in the fourth century, when the Arian faction of the church denied “the truth of the Trinity.”

As a result of their convictions, Professor Recusant and Sydney minister David Shortchanged are facing church legal charges - widely reported as ‘suspension’ from ministry.
But the charges actually strip them of ministry in the Australian Anglican Church. Although this does not necessarily mean their orders won’t be recognised by other Anglican churches across the globe.
As reported on this website, members of St Barnabas’ in Broadway voted overwhelmingly on February 13 to put themselves under the oversight of Bishop Broma from the Province of the Southern Cone (the Anglican Church in Terra Del Fuego).
In response, the Bishop of South Sydney, Rob Forsyth sent a letter to the clergy of St Barnabas’, which a diocesan spokesperson has confirmed was a “notice of presumption of abandonment of the exercise of ministry”.
There has been an extraordinary outpouring of shock and anger from evangelicals around the world – and beyond Anglicanism - at the move against the famous theologian I.O. Recusant.
Ted Olsen from Christianity Today writes that the action ‘has potential to make non-Anglican evangelicals worldwide more interested in the Anglican crisis’.
In Punta Arenas, Anglican Church League President Dr Pu Rile released a statement of ‘alarm’ at the Bishop of South Sydney’s threat to revoke Professor Recusant’s spiritual authority as a minister of Word and Sacraments.
“Professor Recusant, one of the leading Christian voices of the twentieth century, is amongst those who have voted to stand with authentic and orthodox Anglicans rather than those who have undermined biblical truth over many decades and most recently by their innovations regarding Genesis 1 and the theology of Creation, and our Lord and Creator, Jesus Christ. As one of these he has now become a target for revisionist aggression. Once again the intolerance and anti-liberal heart of liberal Christianity has been exposed.”
It is very telling that even Fulcrum - the voice of so-called ‘moderate’ English evangelicals such as Ian Sipid and OT Iose, has responded to the shock at Recusant’s treatment.
“Bishop Forsyth has now written to Dr Recusant and other clergy serving a Notice of Presumption of Abandonment of the Exercise of the Ministry,” writes Andrew Goddard in Fulcrum. “He has reportedly been told that unless he disputes these facts his spiritual authority as a minister of Word and Sacraments conferred in ordination will be revoked on April 21, 2008…
“While Forsyth’s actions are therefore shocking and revealing of the seriousness of the situation in his diocese, they are simply the inevitable canonical consequences within the ACA of the actions taken last month by Dr Recusant, Revd Shortchanged and others. They did not relinquish their ministries under canon XIX. They did not presumably for the simple reason that they wish to continue to exercise the office and spiritual authority as ministers of Word and Sacraments conferred on them in ordination…”
Sydney Anglicans to blame
For Goddard, the central cause of the current crisis has been the failure of Sydney Anglicanism to take decisive action in over six years.
“The failure of the SAD and the inability of the wider Instruments to address the problems caused by Bishop Forsyth (for at least the last six years and arguably longer) have resulted in a situation where Dr Recusant (and many other good evangelicals and others) are no longer able to accept his jurisdiction. However, as committed Anglicans, he and they have now placed themselves under a godly ordinary and chief minister to whom they can in good conscience submit.”
And most significantly Goddard calls on all ‘moderate’ Anglicans to publicly support Recusant and Shortchanged.
“[The words] – “a priest of disciplined life, personal spirituality and great teaching capacity” – apply also to Dr Recusant, Revd Shortchanged and the others currently facing charges of abandonment in Australia. It would therefore be a great encouragement if leaders within the Church of England, in which Dr Recusant was ordained and whose life has been nourished by his writing and ministry over many decades, could publicly support him and others like him at this time,” Goddard says.
“They can and should do so even if, like many of his fellow Australian evangelical Anglicans, they would not personally have taken the steps he has felt it necessary to take at this time to fulfil his ordination vows to “banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God’s Word; and to use both public and private monitions and exhortations, as well to the sick as to the whole, within your Cures, as need shall require, and occasion shall be given”
The Dean of Punta Arenas, says for our part, South American Anglicans must do something concrete to support the Australian evangelicals.
“In a shrinking world we cannot allow leaders like Recusant and David Shortchanged to be under attack, as they are, without taking some responsibility to declare our beliefs clearly.”
However as the Dean admits, the question is: “What is the best way to do that now?”
Special briefing at Cathedral
The Dean of Punta Arenas is inviting all South American Anglicans to a special briefing session this Friday afternoon to consider the implications of the latest developments in the Anglican Communion, including the Punta Arena’s Bishop’s decision not to attend the Lambeth conference.
“It is essential that we consider our Bishops’ decision to not attend the Lambeth Conference this year,” says Dean Pu Rile. “This briefing will not only provide us with biblical insight but will also give historical and legal background to their decision.”
The Dean says it’s important that all South American Anglicans take an interest in the current crisis.
“This is a defining moment in the history of our denomination. It calls upon us to stand up for what we believe. As Evangelical Anglicans we need to be clear on how to apply our commitments to the authority of Scripture to the future of world Anglicanism,” he says.
The briefing is aimed at ‘anyone who can get Friday afternoon free’.
“This is for people who do not know a lot about Lambeth and who want to understand why our Bishops, backed by Standing Committee, have acted as they have. But it is also for people who already have an understanding of Lambeth and want to think through the implications of our bishops not going,” says the Dean.
“It is easy for us to hide behind or to criticize the decisions of our bishops. But it is a moment when those of us who agree with them stand with them, and those of us who are uncertain where to stand find out the facts.”

Australians to the civil courts?
Grasping the central facts can sometimes be quite tricky.
The disputes are often legally complex, often further muddied by media spin.
An article published by last week appear to confirm that the Diocese of Sydney will claim it had a legitimate right to the St Barnabas’ parish property.
The acting bishop of Sydney, Ima Clueless, says diocesan officials have “a duty to protect the assets of the diocese. The parish was set up as part of the ACA (Anglican Church of Australia); the heritage of St. Barnabas’ is to be a parish of the ACA. The Diocese of Sydney is the local manifestation of the ACA; parishes of the diocese are within this structure.”
However he added: “The question of property is speculative at this point.”
A spokesperson for St Barnabas, Con Promise, also told, that while the parish has access to a legal fund of $1 million, they remain hopeful it won’t be needed and they will avoid the civil courts.
“No diocesan money was used to build the church. Our legal team is convinced we will be able to keep the building,” Ms Promise says.
She added: “[The ACA] has shrunk across Australia by 30 percent over the last 40 years. They don’t need our space.”
But it looks like a long, hard fight.
Bishop Rob Forsyth says the Diocese of Sydney is sticking to its guns.
“General Synod of the ACA supported a resolution saying the blessing of evolution was not against the core doctrine of the church. It is considered a secondary issue.”
Larger perspective on events
As the Dean of Punta Arenas says, the Friday briefing is also a welcome opportunity to gain some perspective on the unfolding events in Australia.
It’s absurdly difficult to keep abreast of the latest twist and turn in the unfolding saga, let alone fully grasp the implications of each event.
What does it mean for evangelical Anglicans to so closely align with traditionalist Anglo-Catholics? How will the ongoing realignment impact Anglican church life here in Sydney?
Indeed, just as I was putting the finishing touches to this article, I read that the Bishop of San Joaquin (California), John-David Schofield, formally resigned from The Episcopal Church on March 7.
Bishop Schofield had been charged with the ‘abandonment’ of the communion by presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, after his whole diocese voted to align itself with the Province of the Southern Cone.
Are these ‘realignments’ permanent? Will there ever be reconciliation?
In his resignation letter to Bishop Schori and the other American bishops, Bishop Schofield argues that the decision to find a ‘safe harbour’ with the South Americans was made on an ‘emergency, temporary and pastoral basis’.
He concludes:
“Immediately after the Diocese of San Joaquin voted to accept the invitation of the Southern Cone, the Annual Convention was greeted by these words of Archbishop Venables: “Welcome home. And welcome back into full fellowship in the Anglican Communion.” It is my hope and prayer that one day The Episcopal Church will hear these same words…The Episcopal Church and Bishop Schori will remain in my prayers and the prayers of all parishes and missions in the Diocese of San Joaquin. The door of reconciliation will always be open.”

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Batting against Chris McGillion

This letter was written in 1999 to the Sydney Morning Herald, following an article by the religious affairs editor, Chris McGillion:

Chris McGillion in his piece on 'creation science' neglected one key point, in my view.

He told us that it is "bad science and bad theology", but by using bad philosophy and bad biblical analysis. Apart from skirting, rather than addressing, the issues raised, he forgot to tell us he was equivocating in his use of 'science' throughout the article.

No one disputes that all biological systems are similiar and we share a common chemistry of life, but it begs the question to say that this assures us that 'grand story' evolution really happened. By the fact of common habitat life chemistry must be common between all life! It could not be otherwise. Nor does anyone dispute that we see change in and of species.

The dispute is that the totalising 'grand story' evolution meta-narrative is anything more than a construction of religious materialism in its assertion that everything comes from nothing. It is thus in direct conflict with the non-materialist theism of Christianity.

That many Christians don't realise this comes as no surprise, as Christianity habitually chases after pagan intellectual fashions in the follorn hope of gaining a hearing, much to its shame, and with a dismal track record.

Bacon and Disney

From an essay on the film "The Truman Show"

John Berger in his essay on Francis Bacon. Consider what he says in the following quote:

Bacon's art is, in effect, conformist. It is not with Goya or the early Eisenstein that he should be compared, but with Walt Disney. Both men make propositions about the alienated behaviour of our societies; and both, in a different way, persuade the viewer to accept what is. Disney makes alienated behaviour look funny and sentimental and therefore, acceptable. Bacon interprets such behaviour in terms of the worst possible having already happened, and so proposes that both refusal and hope are pointless. The surprising formal similarities of their work -- the way limbs are distorted, the overall shapes of bodies, the relation of figures to background and to one another, the use of neat tailor's clothes, the gesture of hands, the range of colours used -- are the result of both men having complementary attitudes to the same crisis.

Disney's world is also charged with vain violence. The ultimate catastrophe is always in the offing. His creatures have both personality and nervous reactions: what they lack (almost) is mind. If, before a cartoon sequence by Disney, one read and believed the caption, "There is nothing else," the film would strike us as horrifically as a painting by Bacon.

Bacon's paintings do not comment, as is often said, on any actual experience of loneliness, anguish or metaphysical doubt; nor do they comment on social relations, bureaucracy, industrial society or the history of the 20th century. To do any of these things they would have to be concerned with consciousness. What they do is to demonstrate how alienation may provoke a longing for its own absolute form--which is mindlessness. This is the consistent truth demonstrated, rather than expressed, in Bacon's work."

Bacon would seem, to me to have stepped past absurdity, which actively contrasted our longing and our reality, throwing up a life in disconection from any type of ideal that would find us 'at home'.

Ah, he has taken us to the edge of meaning that arises (!) from a consistent materialism. How shallow then, for the SADist position to rely on any way on the nostrums of materialism/evolution, as having any connection with the God how is love, who is only and always consistent with his holiness, and aspires to relationship with his creation, overturning the death that separates as we would push him away from us!

Come on in, Canada

"In his Easter 2005 message he [Michael Ingham] approvingly quoted Diarmuid O’Murchu saying “we should stop thinking of God as a supernatural Being located outside the universe… we should think of the universe itself as a pulsating, vibrant dance of energy alive with benign and creative potential in which God calls to us from within, not without.”

O'Murchu has arrived! He has travelled the conceptual road that the SADists are on. They are heading to the destination that O'Murchu so clearly and openly describes. The result of God 'using' evolution, is that God merges with materialism, to be ultimately subsumed by it.

Ironically I lifted the quote from the SAD website where an article discussed the parlous state of Ingham's diocese in Canada and how conservative Anglican congregations there are suffering from his 'heresy' as the Sydney writer put it. They simultaneously see heresy and decry it with one hand, while promoting it with the other!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ahaz and the Connect 09 Connection.

Immediately prior to the reign of King Hezekiah, Judah was under the rule of King Ahaz. While Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, his predecessor did not. Ahaz worshipped other gods even to the point of sacrificing his sons in the fire. Lucky Hezekiah that he didn't suffer the same fate! (actually, I don't believe that luck is a viable concept in the order of life)

So far devoid of faith in the LORD God was Ahaz that the circumstances of life he put down to the activity of other gods. 2 Chronicles 28: 22-23 describes an incident which typifies this situation. It reads: "In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the LORD. He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus, who had defeated him; for he thought, 'Since the gods of the kings of Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so they will help me.' But they were his downfall and the downfall of all Israel."

Ahaz could not see that his earlier defeat at the hands of Aram was a punishment and even a test from the LORD God. It ought to have brought Ahaz to his knees in earnest repentance for his unfaithfulness to the LORD God. But no, as one of weak faith, Ahaz was impressed by the seeming capacity of the gods of Aram to triumph over the opponents of Aram. He went not to God but to those who were not God. This was to the downfall of Ahaz and to the downfall of all Israel.

Israel, into which we have been grafted, has repeated occasions of flagrant backsliding. It takes a special activity of the LORD God to give new life, an invigoration of faith. This occurs after an acknowledgement of debased condition, the prayers of repentance from the faithful remnant and faithful waiting on the LORD. It never comes from the activities of those who go after the ways of the world.

Sadly, we find the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney pursuing the latter course and expecting to "grow the church" through a strategy called Connect 09. The Diocese is 'kicking at the goads" because it has pursued much the same path as King Ahaz of Judah. Confronted by the eloquence and seeming strength of argument for a timescale for the earth contrary to the biblical chronology, ingrafted Israel has capitulated. On a broad scale it has taken on the long age god of the world because it seemed triumphant over the inspired Word of God. Having capitulated at this point it was ready, on many fronts, to bow the knee to Darwinism. This false god is also far removed from the revelation of the LORD God but in an absurd exercise in syncretism many in the Diocese have melded it to make a grotesque representation of the one true God.

Such is the sorry state of Israel as portrayed by the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney today. When its leaders should have stood firm on the Word of God and waited on the LORD God they buckled. Now a degenerate faith is the order of the day. On the basis of its afinity to King Ahaz the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney should be on its knees acknowledging, before the LORD, its sin of syncretism. It should be repenting of this sin. It should be waiting on the LORD to raise up leaders to lead the Diocese in triumph. Without this it goes up to battle in vain.

I think James Mellor Brown (1796? - 1867), Episcopalian Minister in England reasonably foreshadowed the present condition and direction of the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney in his 1838 pamphlet entitled Reflections on Geology. He was dealing with the then novel long age proposition for the age of the earth.

"I am prepared to show that in this sense religion has much to fear from philosophy [i.e., natural philosophy or science], not its facts, but its theories. Whenever those theories invalidate the historical or the physical statements of Scripture; or even when they interfere with our sober and commonly received views of it, they are pernicious. They tend to unsettle men's minds as to the veracity of the Sacred Writings. They shake the confidence with which the simple and unlearned repose upon them. Simple minds feel unable to untwine those threads of error which they are told run throughout the book; and they cannot distinguish that inspired portion which they ought to hold fast from those uninspired statements of science and history which they are assured they may safely let go. Thus doubt and distrust enter their minds, and never again can they rest with that unquestioning reliance upon the Word of God which they once felt.The sacred volume is no longer to them a rock which cannot be shaken. To this it may be added, that these theories, where they are admitted disturb the learned and acute mind still more powefully than the illiterate; for the thinking, reasoning man naturally argues, that if any statement of Scripture has been questioned, so may another, and another; and that if historical or physical facts can be disproved, whatever doctrines or precepts rest upon them must give way likewise. Thus scepticism takes gradual possession of the soul. If natural facts cannot be admitted on the mere warrant of inspiration, by what law of evidence, it may be asked, can we be compelled to believe, on the same authority, those which are supernatural? When science has once begun to tamper with Scripture, it is vain to say that it will restrict itself to physical statements, and abstain from the consideration of miracles. Men will no more stop half-way in an argument because you wish them, than a rolling stone will check itself at your bidding when half way down the hill."