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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Matthias Media and its Sin

Eric's recent blog about Matthias Media prompts me to express what I see as a sin of Matthias Media. But first, for our International and National readers an explanation. Matthias Media operates from within the Anglican Church, Sydney, Australia. It publishes literature and tracts and regards itself as reformed and evangelical.

Now, back to the extracts of Matthias Media that Eric has drawn attention to in his blog.

One only need to draw on esteemed Puritan Theologian, John Owen, and what he says in his work "The Holy Spirit - His Gifts and Power" (Christian Focus Publications Ltd reprint of 2007) to find a suitable comparison for our study.

In addressing the work of Holy Spirit in 'evangelical holiness' on page 249 of the book, Owen has this to say:

"It is our duty to inquire into the nature of evangelical holiness because it is abstruse and mysterious, and (be it spoken with the good leave of some, or whether they will or will not) indiscernible to the eye of carnal reason. We may say of it, in some sense, as Job, of wisdom:

'Whence cometh wisdom,
and where is the place of
understanding,
seeing it is hid
from the eyes of all living?
Destruction and death say,
We have heard of the fame thereof
with our ears.
God understandeth the way,
and knoweth the place of it;
And to man he said,
Behold, the fear of the Lord
is wisdom,
and to depart from evil is understanding.'
Job 28: 20-23, 28

This is that wisdom, whose ways and residence are hidden from the natural reason and understanding of men, and therefore it is no wonder that it is despised as an enthusiastic fancy. Hence it often happens, as it did among the Pharisees, that those who are most zealous for a legal righteousness, walking in a strict attendance to duties, are the most fierce and implacable enemies of true evangelical holiness. They know it not, and therefore hate it, they have embraced something else in its place, and therefore despise and persecute it
."

So said John Owen and I urge all to examine closely the reasoning he applies.

What is wisdom? The general and brief explanation offered is that wisdom is knowledge and understanding.

Consider then - What is science? Among other like descriptions, Wikipedia defines science as follows: "Science is a continuing effort to discover and increase human knowledge and understanding through disciplined research."

The point I want readers to see is that wisdom and science are related, if not the same, and I venture my abbreviated explanation of wisdom and science as being - knowing the order of all things or how they relate and function.

We get a glimpse of one who had wisdom when we view aspects of the life of King Solomon, son of David. Read the gift of God to Solomon in 1 Kings 3: 11-13 and the application of Solomon's wisdom in 1 Kings 4: 29-34 with his capacity to explain plants and animals to the world and you see one who might well have been the greatest scientist to have ever lived.

However, as suggested by Job, there will be limits to what man will discover. No more is this better demonstrated than in the science of origins but the book Job, once again, points us to one who who has the answers. Job 28:24 (NIV) reads "for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens" and Chapters 38 & 39 make it clear that God was there at the beginning and it was He who created. No more reliable witness exists.

What has all this to do with Matthias Media? Well, the subject organisation is an example of much (or should I say 'mush') that passes for evangelical Christianity today. Unlike Solomon who had wisdom from God and unlike Christians who were scientists such as Galileo, Newton, Pasteur (and others) who trusted the Word of God, folk like those over at Matthias Media have deserted the quest for wisdom and understanding and take their lead from those who know not God. Matthias Media has gone outside the Word of God for wisdom and understanding on origins.

Worse still, they are a fierce discouragement to those within Christianity who seek to reclaim that which has been lost in the past century. In this I remind readers of how John Owen likened the search for understanding of the nature of evangelical holiness to Job's search for wisdom and the impediments to this search:

"This is that wisdom, whose ways and residence are hidden from the natural reason and understanding of men, and therefore it is no wonder that it is despised as an enthusiastic fancy. Hence it often happens, as it did among the Pharisees, that those who are most zealous for a legal righteousness, walking in a strict attendance to duties, are the most fierce and implacable enemies of true evangelical holiness. They know it not, and therefore hate it, they have embraced something else in its place, and therefore despise and persecute it."

Matthias Media despises Biblical Creationism (the ordering of life) as an enthusiastic fancy. They know it not, and therefore hate it, they have embraced something else and will not receive Biblical Creationism.

Allow me to give you anecdotal evidence. There was once a man who frequented campuses of Sydney University and the University of NSW. His name was Marc Kay. I haven't seen him on campus for a few years but in earlier years he would take opportunities to argue the Reformation position on origins i.e. Biblical Creationism.

I remember a conversation with Marc Kay where he divulged the outcome of an attempt to correct Matthias Media in its position on origins. His communications concerning the integrity of the Genesis account of a six day Creation ended with a sharp note from Matthias Media making mention of the observations of the world and the words "We don't know how God created and neither do you!" Can you believe it? Despite the clear Word of God in Genesis 1 and again in Exodus 20:11 and 31:17, Matthias Media refused to believe and went even further to discourage inquiry into the way of the LORD. In my opinion, this is obstinate unbelief. Matthias Media had made up its mind and it had more to do with the world than the Word of God.

How far removed was the response of Matthias Media from the response of the Apostle Paul when he heard of the faith of the Christians in Colosse and wrote saying " ... we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God ... " (Colossians 1: 9,10). I suggest John Owen would have said likewise.

That Matthias Media responded the way it did brings to mind the incident of the man born blind but healed by our Lord Jesus on the Sabbath (John 9). The man who could not see was given sight but the Pharisees would have none of it. They questioned the man and all he could do was report the actions of the Man who had healed him and what He said. Still they would not believe. They questioned him further but this man who had spent his life up that time in darkness showed greater wisdom and understanding than his questioners. Finally, his wisdom was too much for them - their response "You were steeped in sin from birth; how dare you lecture us!" (John 9:34)

I trust you will see the similarities with the actions of Matthias Media. Such is the fruit of unbelief and rightly does John Owen caution against it in favour of faithful inquiry.

There is a treasure of knowledge and understanding of the creation to be unearthed and the key to it is the fear (appreciation or reverence) of the LORD. Laying hold of that key first requires the activity of Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus Christ and the life and light found in Him. Perhaps Holy Spirit might use, as an aid, the words of one Reginald H. Fuller, who said for Microsoft Encarta:

" ... in the christological hymns of the Hellenistic-Jewish church, Jesus was identified with the Divine Wisdom, or Logos. Philosophical Hellenistic Judaism had conceived of the Logos as the personified agent of the divine being, the agent of creation, revelation, and redemptive action. The earthly Jesus was now seen as the incarnation of this preexistent wisdom or Logos (see Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1:1-3, John 1:1-18). Early Christians appropriated this Jewish speculation in order to emphasize that the God they encountered in Jesus was not an unknown God, but was the same God they had previously encountered in creation, in human religious experience, and in Israel's salvation history. In the Johannine writings Jesus' Father- Son relationship with God is projected back into eternity, and this equation of the Son with the incarnate Logos results in the use of the predicate 'God' for the preexistent Word (see John 1:1), the incarnate Son (see John 1:18), and the risen Christ (see John 20:28). But 'God' in this context is carefully nuanced: The Son is not God-in-himself. Rather, through the Son, God 'goes out of himself,' communicating himself in the action of creation, revelation, and salvation. Consequently, 'Son of God' and 'Son of man,' which were originally terms expressive of Jesus' role in salvation history, acquire a metaphysical import and come to denote his divine being."

It comes as no surprise, disappointing as it is, that Matthias Media continues in its way of hindrance to a greater knowledge of God. Having submitted to the "eye of carnal reason" on origins it will not encourage inquiry into the knowledge of God revealed in Genesis and other relevant passages of Scripture. Instead, Matthias Media diverts attention away to those extracts of the Word of God it does have confidence in.

Neil

4 comments:

Eric said...

Matthias Media appears on this report to be more a cult than an arm of the church...pity; I remember in the old days when it was really cooking; coming out with the Briefing and tracts that were tending to be helpful rather than not. Then along came 2 Ways to Live. Good title, but the content really messed it up by adopting a non-biblical line, but subtly, not portraying God as he portrays himself in relation to us, but as a political figure!

sam drucker said...

I too, used to read The Briefing but once they declared their hand of compromise with the world on the Genesis account of Creation I bailed out.

I don't have a problem so much with 2 Ways to Live because I introduce the correct understanding of Creation ie the Biblical account. It's the hidden compromise of Matthais Media that troubles me and the whole of the Church should be disturbed about.

BTW, thanks Neil for your blog.

Sam Drucker

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Lloyd Geldard said...

With reference to your paragraph upon the experiences of a Marc Kay. I would be interested to read a fully referenced chronological account of those experiences. And such an account would include all responses from any Matthias Media source. I tend to the view that if someone has said something that they should not have then they should be explicitly identified, unpleasant as that might be, rather than a general reference to an organization (for it tends to tar everyone with the same brush)as not everyone associated with an organization might approve of or agree with what was (reported to have been) said, and this would also be expected to include subscribers.