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Friday, December 31, 2010

The Fight of Faith (Part 2)

This is the final blog on the subject introduced last week. I reproduce the words of Iain Murray in his biography of "Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones - The Fight of Faith 1939-1981" - pages 668 to 671 refer.

"Few voices were to be heard in support of ML-J's contention that the drift within evangelicalism was following the mood of the age but two testimonies from a few years later are worthy of note. In the opinion of Francis Schaeffer: 'A significant section of what is called evangelicalism has allowed itself to be infiltrated by the general world view or viewpoint of our day."¹ What he called 'The Great Evangelical Disaster' was the acceptance of the mentality of accommodation: 'in the most basic sense, the evangelical establishment has become deeply worldly'.²

A second testimony comes from a less expected source. Dr Carl Henry was Editor of Christianity Today and a leading figure in the Billy Graham organization during the period when that organization was commonly regarded as the epitome of the new evangelical strength. ML-J, as we have seen, spoke alone in that period when he expressed to fellow ministers his conviction that the Graham programme was actually weakening historic evangelicalism. Carl Henry's book Confessions of a Theologian is a revealing book in this connexion. Henry saw the image building and the concern for influence with non-evangelicals at close quarters and came at last to the conclusion that 'the evangelical movement looks stronger than in fact it is'.³ 'While evangelicals seek to penetrate the culture, the culture simultaneously makes disconcerting inroads into evangelical life.'4 The truth, as he wrote in 1986, was that evangelicalism was no longer definite about its own message:

The term evangelical during the past fifteen years has become ambiguous through deliberate distortion by critics and needless confusion invited by some of the movement's leaders ... Many evangelicals now measure growth mainly in terms of numbers; distinctions of doctrine and practice are subordinated in a broad welcome for charismatic, Catholic, traditional and other varieties of evangelicals. Theological differences are minimized by evangelical publishers and publications reaching for mass circulation, by evangelists luring capacity audiences and even by evangelism festivals seeking the largest possible involvement. Church growth seminars have even embraced 'miracle-growth' churches that claim to raise the dead and to reproduce all other apostolic gifts. Numerical bigness has become an infectious epidemic.5

This brings us to Dr Lloyd-Jones' second reason for the drift in evangelicalism. The compromise with worldly standards of thought had occurred because of the basic spiritual weakness within evangelical churches themselves. In other words, it was ultimately the old problem upon which we have heard him speak repeatedly in these pages. 'Evangelism' and 'influence' had become ends in themselves instead of being seen as the results of the church being true to her calling: the acceptance of expediency and compromise could only mean that prayer, confidence in Scripture and dependence upon the power of the Holy Spirit were no longer the great priorities. Evangelicals had ceased to say 'that, if we are faithful, the Holy Spirit has promised to honour us and our testimony, however small our numbers and however despised by "the wise and prudent"'.6

Carl Henry's book gives indisputable evidence on this point. It confirms that the overall policy of the Graham organization (closely parallel to the policy taken up by Anglican evangelicals at Keele) was to attain 'prestige' and influence for evangelicals.7 To do this there had to be a successful image and that would not be possible, it was believed, unless every effort was made to avoid a division with those who did not believe the Bible. Henry speaks of the church's credibility being 'compromised by an evaporation of discipline' and regrets that Graham did not call evangelicals to 'a long, hard look at their need of more comprehensive unity and at the neglected issue of evangelical ecclesiology'. But Graham could not do this because it 'would have seriously complicated relationships of his crusades to ecumenically oriented churches, since he exacted their endorsement as the price of city-wide meetings'.8 The Graham organization, for precisely the same reason as the Anglican evangelicals, was unready to 'forfeit dialogue with the ecumenical leaders and churches'.9 It feared a loss of influence. So it also said one thing and did another. The Berlin Congress of 1966, says Henry, 'exposed the speculative philosophy that underlay pluralistic ecumenism' but, simultaneously, the Graham Crusades were committed to such ecumenism. The direction was set long before the American Festival on Evangelism of 1981, where the participants, writes Henry, included everyone from 'partisans of traditional papal Catholicism' and '150 Protestant denominations' to 'charismatics and establishment conservatives'. In a major understatement, he concludes, the Festival 'did little to clarify the identity of evangelicalism'.10

So ends my citation of Iain Murray's helpful study of the climate within evangelicalism observed by Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Dr Carl Henry late last century.

Well, things have not improved to the present day. Indeed, going beyond Dr Henry's point we are left to say that evangelicalism does not penetrate the culture but the culture penetrates evangelicalism. It is all a one-way street with a dark and murky end.

This is a sorry state. It is death. It is death like that of Adam's when he sinned against God, he seemed alive but was estranged from the source of life and, eventually, he was no more. The day fast approaches when the present remnant of evangelicalism still holding to its its original tenets will be a valley of dry bones. What is needed is regeneration, for God to call and empower men to preach to open hearts, hearts receptive to the Word of God to the exclusion of the world's seductions, hearts abounding in number that the culture is overwhelmed by the authority of the Word of God. There has been such activity of God in times and places past. Let us pray earnestly for God to so act now. Lest us pray for an increase in faith - faith in God as he has revealed himself in Word written and Incarnate.

Sam Drucker


1. The Great Evangelical Disaster, 1984, p. 51.
2. Ibid, p. 142. 'What is the use,' he asks, 'of evangelicalism seeming to get larger and larger if sufficient numbers of those under the name evangelical no longer hold to that which makes evangelicalism evangelical?'
3. Confessions of a Theologian, 1986, p. 390.
4. Ibid, p. 388. See also Marsden, Reforming Fundamentalism, p. 275.
5. Confessions of a Theologian, p.387.
6. Puritans, p. 147.
7. In the years when 'the new evangelicalism' was first being heard, Edward
Darnell of Fuller Seminary wrote to Henry: 'I want to command the attention of Tillich and Bennett; then I shall be in a better place to be of service to the evangelicals. We need prestige desperately.' Marsden's book, op. cit., details the effects which this priority came to have in the history of Fuller Seminary, where Dr Graham was a prominent member of the board of trustees.
8. Confessions of a Theologian, p. 384.
9. Ibid,p. 293.
10. Ibid ,p. 351

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Fight of Faith (Part 1)

We press on with understanding drift evangelicalism into demise and advise that we have to look back at past events to see how the decline has taken effect. Earlier blogs went back to the Nineteenth Century but more recent blogs draw from events surrounding a key figure in the evangelical church in the Twentieth Century.

Such a figure was most certainly Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones and the excellent biography of Dr Lloyd-Jones by Iain Murray (subtitled 'The Fight of Faith 1939-1981)gives important insights into why the evangelical church in England and even as far away as the Sydney Episcopalian Church is today in such poor health. I provide an extract from pages 665-668 in Part 1 now and Part 2 from pages 668-671 shortly. I shall not provide my own comments until Part 2:

"When major changes occur in the history of the church such as the doctrinal slide in England of the 1960's and 70's there are always major reasons. In ML-J's view two things principally explained why this occurred as it did.

First, it happened because of the degree to which the spirit and attitudes of the world had penetrated the church. It was no accident that evangelicalism began to favour openness and to repudiate 'exclusiveness' at the very period when the prevailing climate of opinion was against dogmatism in every field of knowledge: even science had lost its one-time near infallibility. The contemporary mood was against all absolutes. Almost all beliefs in society at large had become of only 'relative' value, none could be said to be definitely right or wrong. Religion was acceptable in terms of human experience, not in terms of any revelation from heaven. 'Experience', not truth, was now central. Describing the general situation as he saw it in 1971, Dr Lloyd-Jones said:

There is a very obvious reaction at the present time against intellectualism. .. This is found among the students in America, and increasingly in this country. Reason is being distrusted and set on one side. Following D. H. Lawrence many are saying that our troubles are due to the fact that we have over-developed our cerebrum. We must listen more to our 'blood' and go back to nature. And so turning against intellectualism, and deliberately espousing the creed of irrationality, they yield themselves to the desire for 'experience', and place sensation above understanding. What matters is feeling and enjoyment; not thought. Pure thought leads nowhere

Instead of seeing the danger, evangelicals accommodated themselves to the change as though it could serve the interests of their own cause. The popular culture was openly appealed to for justification of major change in the life and witness of the church. The old 'written culture', it was said, was dying. There had to be a new appeal to the eye and to the senses: 'It is surely the job of this generation of Evangelicals to recreate the dramatic and poetic means of passing on guidance in the spiritual, ethical and social life of man.'² The leading role in the introduction of this change was taken by David Watson of York who saw 'the potential for marvellous communication' in music, dance and drama. 'The reason why I travel with a team,' he later wrote, 'gifted as they are in the performing arts, is that they are able to communicate the Gospel much more effectively than I could with mere words.' He criticized 'much western Christianity' for concentrating 'almost exclusively upon the mind'. 'Most churches rely heavily on the spoken or written word for communication and then wonder why so few people find the Christian faith to be relevant.'³

There were many variations in this new emphasis. In the groups where tongues-speaking was prominent the anti-intellectual approach disarmed any criticism of the widespread use of 'language' which no one understood. Hocken represents a common view in regarding 'baptism with the Spirit' as of divine origin because its reception bypassed the mind: 'Not being first mediated through human understanding, it involves a directness of encounter with the living God'.4

This same influence not only switched attention from preaching to 'sharing', it came to justify a massive change in what was now considered warranted in the singing and music of services and evangelistic meetings. Worship was 'liberated'. It was plausibly proposed that sound, rhythm and the form of lyrics be brought closer to what was popular in the everyday world. The early development of this change drew some critical comment in the Christian press. 'Countryman' wrote of how the Filey Christian Convention in 1967 had become 'Swinging Filey', 'with a Sunday afternoon sacred concert; a fresh beat to the music and a drum-roll in the middle of "Praise my soul, the King of heaven".'5 At the Evangelical Alliance Assembly meetings in London the following year, the platform was given one evening to the youth who presented the 'Why Generation'. Commenting on this event, Tim and Doreen Buckley, instructors in music at the London Bible College, wrote in The Life of Faith of the impression gained by friends who had attended: 'The programme was intended to show how to communicate in the '6o's, but the decibels of sheer noise made it impossible to distinguish either the tune or the words of the first three items. If this is '68 communicating, our friends, who are not "squares", were not communicated to . . ."6

But criticisms such as these were few and far between and the 1970's saw changes in the content and conduct of public worship on a scale scarcely imaginable a few years earlier. ML-J traced this same change to the effect of a popular culture which wants 'sensation' and feeling and is against stress 'on the intellect and the understanding'. Speaking on one occasion of how this spirit 'militates very much against the kind of thing for which we stand in the Evangelical Library' he went on:

In this country the form which it takes, perhaps most of all, is what is known as the charismatic movement. . . The emphasis is upon experience and feeling, and a type of service with much singing, but not the singing of the kind of hymns that are to be found in the Evangelical Library, nor the hymns written by the men whose biographies are in the Evangelical Library! They have their own hymns and choruses . . .7

Making a similar point about the way in which Christians were being influenced by the spirit of the world, he said at another Library meeting:

The days in which we live are characteristic of superficiality, the cry is for entertainment and endless meetings, music, drama, dancing, etc. but a solid life and witness cannot be built up that way."8


1. The State of the Nation, BEC Address, 1971, p.16.
2. Evangelicals Today, p.101.
3. David Watson, I believe in the Church, 1978, and You Are My God, 1983, where these themes are pursued at length. For ML-J's opposition to this see his address on 'Preaching' in Puritans, p. 373.
4. One Lord, One Spirit, One Body, 1987, p. 44
5. English Churchman, October 13, 1967.
6. The same writers urged readers to obtain the WR for October 1968 v8 v
contained ML-J's sermon, 'Melody and Harmony' on Ephesians 5:19 (preached
in 1959); it 'leaves one in no doubt as to where this preacher stands as regards modern trends in music'.
7. The Evangelical Library Bulletin, Spring 1978, pp.9-10.
8. Ibid, Spring 1975, p.6.

Monday, December 20, 2010

"You travel over land and sea to win a single convert ..." To What?

This blogspot is critical of Moore Theological College - the theological seminary of the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney. Our concern is the College's handling of Genesis on Creation but, primarily, the problem is deeper than that. That erroneous teaching is a symptom of the Cancer that has eroded the evangelical church in Western culture for more than a century. It is a pursuit of the same error found in Higher Criticism and Liberal Theology which places the thoughts of man above the Word of God.

It is not as if the evangelical church has not had sufficient warning in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We have publicised some of the warnings that people concerned for Christ's Church broadcast last century. The Cancer continues with little abatement. Closer to home Moore Theological College lures students from many parts of the world, proselytizes via its distance studies course - PTC - and spews its converts into evangelical churches around the globe.

We publicise here now more sampling of earlier warnings of the Cancer diagnosed last century and, despite proud protestations about its purity, is manifest in 'evangelicalism' today - no less evident in the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney via it's theological seminary.

Upon hearing of the proposed retirement of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones in 1968 a Suffolk pastor wrote to the doctor and thanked him for the help received when he and his once fellow students of Richmond College wrestled with the compromised teaching at the college. He said, in part:

"I have just seen the notice of your resignation as minister of Westminster Chapel. At such a time I feel that I must tell you what a very great help your ministry was to me and to several other theological students while we were studying for the Methodist ministry at Richmond College. Often, at the end of a week of lectures which sometimes left us wondering just what we could believe, we would go up to the [Westminster] Chapel, as we called it, and there we would receive food for our souls, and would catch a fresh vision of the power and relevance of the gospel we had been called to preach. We came to see that God was greater than we had ever imagined before, and that the Bible was indeed His Word to us, inspired and wonderful in all its teaching."

It would not have been Richmond College alone which has compromised the Word of God because there was a broad departure from the Reformers and their principle for understanding the Word of God. Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones alludes to this when he wrote his 1967 annual letter to the members of Westminster Chapel on January 1, 1968. I cite part of his letter hereunder:

"When one turns to the more general position however, the situation is very different. Here, the main impression is one of confusion, uncertainty, and divided opinions. This is true not only in this country but throughout the world. This is something that one expects in 'Christendom', but in the past it has not been true of those calling themselves evangelical. This is the new feature which is so disturbing. No longer can it be assumed that to be evangelical means to accept the authority of the Scriptures on matters of history, and on the creation of the world and man, and at the very lowest to be sceptical about the theory of evolution. In the same way there has been a recrudescence of denominationalism and an entirely new attitude towards Romanism.

It is, alas, a time of conflict and of trial, indeed a time of tragedy when old comrades in arms are now in different camps. It is not that one in any way questions the honesty or the sincerity of such friends. There is only one explanation and that is, 'an enemy hath done this'. Never has that enemy been more active or more subtle . . .

What the outcome of the present upheaval will be no one can tell. Our duty is to be faithful knowing that the final outcome is sure

Well, the upheaval has continued inasmuch as 'evangelicalism' is being turned on its head. As in the past, where certain institutions commenced with sound biblical principles but later turned to an opposite principle, 'evangelicalism' is abandoning its primary principle founded on trust in the Word of God.

Ecumenism may have lost momentum but just as Israel longed to return to Egypt when faith in the Word of God waned so it is likely that many who call themselves evangelical today will, one day, desire to return to Rome as loss of faith in the Word of God runs its course. The disease is there, all that is awaited is its consequence.

The lost of the world are in desperate need of a strong evangelical church but all they have tottering before them is a diseased and ever diminishing church.

Sam Drucker

Thursday, December 16, 2010

No he couldn't!

Great blog over at the staid Anglican origins site: check it out: its about people who say that God could have used evolution to 'create'. Well, the answer very simply is NO HE COULDN'T!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Leupold Genesis part 46 verse 14

But the luminaries have functions other than to divide day and. night. The fourteenth verse alone expresses two more general functions. The first of these two is so broad in scope as to cover four items, expressed by the terms, "and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years." A wide diversity of opinion exists as to the actual enumeration here given: are these two, three, or four distinct objects? Nothing very vital hinges on the answer. For though we stated above that four purposes are here listed, we could readily from one point of view consent To reduce them to three. For the preposition "for" (le) is used but three times and has a double object in the last instance--the closely related terms: "days and years." Others, like Koenig, make a double hendiadys, thus, "for signs, as well for seasons as also for days and also years." This again, depending on the individual's, viewpoint, might mean either three or two purposes. But though hendiadys is a common enough figure, we feel that nothing definitely indicates its use here; and also we notice that such translations push the independent meaning of the word "signs" too much into the background.

Now "signs" ('othoth) is here used in the broadest possible sense. Indeed, the luminaries are signs from various points of view. They are "signs" to devout faith, declaring the glory Of their Creator (cf. Ps. 8 and-19).--They are "signs" by which men get their bearings, or the point of the compass by day or by night. They may convey "signs" in reference to future events (Mt 2:2; Lu 21:25). They furnish quite reliable "signs" for determining in advance the Weather to be expected (Mt 16:2, 3). They may be "signs"` of divine judgments (Joe 2:30; Mt 24:29). That they may well serve in all these capacities is clear both from Scripture and from experience. Dwelling only on one scriptural parallel, Skinner, pointing to (Jer 10:2), where "astrological portents" are referred to, misconstrues the use of the word when he claims to find a similar use here, "though it is not quite easy to believe the writer would have said, the sun and moon were made for this purpose." But (Jer 10:2) does not identify the expression "signs of heaven," with "astrological portents." These signs become such portents only by the fact that the "nations," who are "dismayed at them," make them to be considered such. Skinner construes the forbidden abuse of "signs of heaven" as: the normal meaning of the expression. How Procksch injects the meaning "epochs" into the term is more than we can discern. The fact remains that men always have and in manifold ways still do regard and use luminaries for signs.

Besides, the luminaries are "for seasons." A certain brevity of expression obtains here. We could supply the implied term quite readily, for "fixing seasons, days and years." But without this added term the expression is not unclear. But "seasons" are called mo'adhim, from the root ya'adh, "to appoint"; therefore, "appointed time." The luminaries do serve as "indicators" (Meek) of such fixed, appointed times, whether these now be secular or sacred. To attempt to exclude what we are specifically wont to call seasons is unwarranted and grows out of the assumption that the hypothetical author P has a special interest in things ritual. Therefore, "seasons" or times in the widest sense are to be thought of: agricultural seasons (Ho 2:9, 11; 9:5), seasons for seafaring men, seasons for beasts and birds (Jer 8:7), as long as they are times that are fixed and come with stated regularity.

To complete the list of the things determined by the luminaries the divine command adds "days and years." These are respectively the shortest and the longest measures of time definitely fixed by the movement of the heavenly bodies. What "day" yom, is (here the whole twenty-four hour day) every one knows, and yet the etymology of the term is entirely unknown. The word for "year" (shanah) seems to be traceable to the Assyrian root "to change."

Note that after the imperative "let there be" there may follow a converted perfect wehayu (K, S. 367 c).

When now v. 15 says distinctly that these luminaries are to be "in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth," this plainly indicates that from the time of this creative work onward all light that the earth receives is to be mediated through the luminaries. How light functioned in the universe prior to this time we shall never know. How the regular alternation of day and night was regulated will forever escape our discernment. What we know is only that as day and night now follow upon one another due to the light centred in luminaries, is an arrangement which God ordained on this day. It all certainly is a marvellous and praiseworthy work, but that is all that these luminaries are appointed for, as far as we are able to discern.

Monday, December 13, 2010

On Understanding - The Difference is Chalk and Cheese.

Quotes a) Iain Murray (biographer) b) Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones found on pages 546 & 547 of the former's biography on the latter:

"At the next meeting of the Westminster Fellowship on July 3, I 1967, he also gave an address which concentrated on the nature of the unity to be sought among those who were agreed in their opposition to ecumenism. At this point they faced, he believed a danger which was the very opposite of the threat from ecumenism. Ecumenical leaders worked on the principle of minimum doctrinal statement, they sought to say something so loosely that no one is excluded. 'Among us, on the other hand,' he went on, 'in our desire to safeguard orthodoxy we tend to become too precise. We go to the opposite extreme of the ecumenical mentality. Even the detailed statements of the 16th and 17th centuries have not been able to safeguard the faith. You can never safeguard the truth by statements on paper or guarantee continuing orthodoxy by paper declarations.'

Two main things, he proceeded, should govern our attitude:

First, it is spiritual life, the experience of the grace of God, which creates the desire for fellowship (Acts 2:46). This was primary in the unity of the early church. If we do not say this we are in danger of scholasticism. An interest in theology which is not based on life is dangerous . . . Such was the position of the Pharisees and of many since. Sound theology can be taken up as a great system in the same way that some people take up crossword puzzles.

Second, the seriousness of schism, rightly defined and understood. Schism means separations among those agreed on fundamentals on account of secondary matters. It is constantly condemned in the New Testament. Unless we have a burning desire to preserve unity we are in a dangerous position.

He believed that the crux of the present position had to do with the recognition of the distinction between truths which are essential and those which are not essential. To be anti-ecumenical was essential because the ecumenical movement was deliberately guilty of doctrinal indifferentism. Its chief concern was a kind of organisational fellowship.

'Ecumenical thinking is to take the churches as they are and to bring them all together. So they take up a minimal statement of faith and even that they do not apply .. . The first thing we want to know with regard to a man who comes to us for fellowship is. What is his attitude to this. To have fellowship with men who deny the truth is to deny the truth by implying that the truth does not matter.'

Foremost among the doctrines he listed as 'absolutely essential' was the sole authority of Scripture in faith and practice. We do not receive tradition as being a subsidiary authority. There must be a full acceptance of revelation: 'We have no fellowship with a man who does not submit himself as a little child to Scripture. It is no use for a man to profess he believes in the "supreme authority of Scripture" in general and then question the foretelling aspect of prophecy or the historicity of creation and of Adam as the first man.' A new tendency to do this among evangelicals he described as 'one of the saddest things I have known in my ministry'. Then among the chief doctrines taught in Scripture he specified: the Trinity; the devil and evil powers; the plan of redemption; the person and work of Christ; man (born spiritually dead, having died in Adam); regeneration by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit; justification and sanctification, with the necessity of good works.

He then turned to non-essentials, which he did not understand to mean truths which are unimportant, 'but they are not so important as to divide us'. 'You notice that I did not put in my list of essentials the doctrine of election. I believe the doctrine of election. I cannot interpret Scripture without it and I preached it last night as one of you has ever done, but I cannot say that a man who does not believe it is not a Christian, or that I cannot have fellowship with him. I say he is seriously defective in his understanding. I do not say that Arminianism is "another gospel". It is rather another understanding of the mechanism of how salvation is given to us.' Among other subjects upon which Christians differed in their understanding he instanced views on baptism, assurance, church polity, unfulfilled prophecy and charismatic gifts. 'On such issues we may hold to our convictions, but with love and patience towards others. We must not break fellowship. We must condemn all wrangling. We all realize that we are saved in spite of ourselves. Not one of us is perfect in our understanding of these matters.' He concluded:

I have never proposed a united evangelical Church. What I have believed in is fellowship for mutual edification and encouragement and perhaps certain other activities. There may be groups of churches even in such fellowship who are disagreed on some of these non-essential matters: I cannot see the impossibility of a loose fellowship including those who are Presbyterian, those who are independent, and those with varying views on baptism."

Note the distinction between the man used mightily of our Lord in bringing glory to Himself in the salvation of sinners compared to the diluted opinion of moderates within the current Episcopal Diocese of Sydney on essential understanding of the historicity of creation. The latter regard the issue as secondary.

Sam Drucker

Friday, December 10, 2010

God's got it under control

It never ceases to amaze me that 1. questions of faith and religion get such huge airplay in the media (see the number of religious questions mentioned in the Sydney Morning Herald's blogs) and 2. the silence of the SADs in really trying to address them (and in a non-preachy 'I'm a smarter man than thou' manner; naw, that would be asking too much.

The topic of 'adverts for God' came up in a recent blog: it was about God loving us; of course he does, but the semi-sceptic of the blog asked about young death in its face:

Well, I don't think that the Bible has God 'in control' like the theo-controllers seem to think (Romans talks about his active involvement: relationship, not 'control'), and the SADs are completely disempowered in dealing with evil, because most of them say that it's 'natural' or is inherent in the world as we know it (they have to because they are unreconstucted evolutionists: whereas the Bible is not). And that stops any evangelical response to death in the world stone dead: its a gospel killer, as the theological contrast the Bible has is denied!

Thanks guys, and thanks from all the questioning people who are thus short-changed.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Gathering of the Mob at Lausanne

Interesting to see in the December 2010 edition of Southern Cross (Sydney Episcopalian Newspaper) that Bishop Glenn Davies returned from the Lausanne Conference on Evangelism with some pluses and minuses for what he observed. His positive mark for the conference was the broad commitment to evangelism. His negatives were not identified.

The Lausanne Conference is a periodic event having the stamp of Dr Billy Graham. Dr Graham had approached Dr Lloyd-Jones around the middle of last century for his involvement in a similar type conference in Rome but Dr Lloyd-Jones declined. In considering the later Lausanne conferences it is difficult to see what benefit it provides other than as an opportunity to 'back-slap' and encourage one another in the great commission we ought to be doing anyway compelled by love for our Lord Jesus Christ, to see God glorified and a concern for the lost.

Reading Part 2 of Iain Murray's autobiography of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones has given me some insight into the good doctor's concerns about an aspect of Dr Billy Graham's ministry and aspirations for the Church in the 20th Century. By and large the Church was on the slide in that century and it was a time when Evangelicals were failing on many fronts to the extent that the Church lost its impact and influence of society generally (I posted blogs a little while back citing - "The Decline of Evangelicalism in Nineteenth-Century England" by R. J. Sheehan in Issue 278, November 1986, of The Banner of Truth). Obviously the rot had set in during the 19th Century and it continued to eat away in the following century.

The great concern for Martyn Lloyd-Jones was the strong push toward ecumenism in the United Kingdom and, one after another, Evangelicals were being seduced into embracing Liberals for the cause of unity at the expense of the authority of the Scripture. Such an outcome was to show the soft underbelly of those who professed to be Evangelical and, in effect, it showed they were not truly Evangelical. The same situation applies today and I suspect what Bishop Glenn Davies was reluctant to comment upon has its nexus in the same bondage of Evangelicals and non-Evangelicals that Martyn Lloyd-Jones had concerns about last century.

That said, the Sydney Episcopalian Diocese is not without question as to what side of the fence it rests. I am certain Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones would have problems with the Diocese based on his address to the Westminster Fraternal at Welwyn on 19 June 1963. Quoting Haggai Ch 1, Dr Lloyd-Jones raised a series of issues for the Church and I cite them from point 5 to quantify my charge:

"(5) The blatant unbelief in the official churches is coming into the open. And there is evidence of a subtle change of emphasis in evangelical thinking — an acceptance of looser views of the early chapters of Genesis and of miracles, a new atmosphere in book-reviewing, a disinterest in doctrine and a tendency to gloat in scholarship. (6) There is the whole moral condition of the country. There is need of prophetic statement but we seem to be living in our 'cieled houses' [sic]. (7) There is an appalling need of evangelical preaching. Evangelicalism is concentrated in the Greater London area. We forget the appalling conditions that prevail in the great bulk of the country.

This is a great challenge and unique opportunity. It is we alone who can give the message. But we seem to be ineffective and silent. . . Our Statements are tepid and harmless. Evangelicals in all the major denominations are in the same position
." (see page 413 of the autobiography)

Because of the current failure of Moore Theological College (the Diocesan school of thought) to uphold the Word of God on origins it places itself and the Diocese in the same camp as the wilting band of so-called Evangelicals of the 19th and 20th Centuries which Dr Lloyd-Jones had concerns about.

Rev Michael Jensen counts regard for integrity of God's Word in Genesis Ch 1 (and, by extension, Exodus 20:11 and 31:17-18) as a secondary issue and is thus prepared to allow Jesus Christ, Creator, to be robbed of his glory in creation. Given that Bishop Glenn Davies is of the same school of thought he ought not be pointing out the splinter in the eye of non-Evangelicals at the Lausanne Conference without taking the plank out of his own.

It remains for me to find the plank resident in my own eye.

Sam Drucker

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Leupold Genesis part 45 verse 14, 15

14, 15. And God said: Let there be luminaries in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night, and let them be for signs and seasons and for days and years; and let them be for luminaries in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth; and it was so.

It at once stands out in reference to the work of this day that the purpose of the things that are made to function is stated in a far more detailed fashion than is the ease in regard to any other of the creative works. Nothing in the text explains this greater fulness of statement, but the suggestion advanced by Dillmann and others may be as satisfactory as any: "is there perhaps a silent contrast involved with the superstition of the heathen that is wont to attach itself to the stars?" The statement, therefore, is unusually exhaustive in order to show what purposes the Almighty fixed for the heavenly bodies and to leave no room for heathen misconstruction.

At once now the next problem suggests itself: how do the "luminaries" stand related to the light which was created on the first day? With this is involved a second question: how do these luminaries stand related to the heavens, which were created on the first day (v. 1)? The analogy of "the earth" created simultaneously with "the heavens" (v. 1) and its equipment and arrangement up till this point through v. 2-13 points in the proper direction. In other words, the earth is created in the rough, subject to certain deficiencies or incompletenesses which are removed one by one through the following days; similarly the heavens are created in the rough, heavenly bodies in vast spaces, not yet functioning as they shall later. What still remains to be done in and with them is now completed on the fourth day. The sun, moon and stars were in existence but were not yet doing the work which gets to be theirs in the fourth day's work. Light was in existence, but now these heavenly bodies come to be the ones that bear this light in themselves--"light-bearers," "luminaries," me'oroth. Heavenly bodies were in existence, but from this point onward they begin to serve a definite purpose in reference to the earth. Consequently, we are out of keeping with the plan according to which the course of creation has been proceeding if we separate the elements of 14a so as to make a definite pause after the statement, "let there be luminaries." This would imply the initial creation of all heavenly bodies. Rather, translating still more literally, the thing that is to transpire is this: "Let there become luminaries in the expanse of the heavens to divide the day from the night," etc. This really involves a double achievement: the non-luminous heavenly bodies become bearers of light, and this for the purpose of dividing the day from the night. The expression, "let there be lights"( A. V.) and Lichter (Luther) is inaccurate and misleading. "Light" in Hebrew is 'or; here stands the word ma'or, "light-bearer." This does not, however, now mean that "the atmosphere being completely purified--the sun, moon and stars were for the first time unveiled in all their glory in the cloudless sky" (Jamieson), for such a result would have been achieved automatically without divine fiat by the work of the second day. More reasonable is the assumption that the existing light, by being allocated to the sun, was tempered specifically to the needs of plant and animal life upon our planet. In any case, the purposes following arc definitely tied up ; with having the sun in particular function, as the primary light-bearer.

Consequently, though day and night following one another in rotation function satisfactorily as day and night without sun and moon, from this point onward the dividing of day and night is tied up specifically with these luminaries. So this purpose is stated first. The adverbial modifier "in the firmament of the heavens" shows the relation of the fourth day's work to that of the second. The firmament prepared in advance had to be thus prepared, otherwise the light of these luminaries would have failed to benefit the earth. The singular verb yehi is followed by the masculine plural (feminine only as to form) me'oroth, according to general Hebrew practice of letting the most general form of the verb begin the thought (G. K. 145 o).

Friday, November 19, 2010

What really counts

Check this post at Mark's blog. He tells us that evangelical courage is needed where the world/devil is attacking the church: Well here in the SAD camp, we turn tail on that one, and make the Bible say what the world wants it to say...oops, have I let the SAD cat out of the bag?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Speaking of rest...

Yesterday was the Newtown Festival. It attracts some 80,000 (mostly lost) people. I couldn't see any Christian outreach. Once again, right in the heart of Sydney Anglican land, a stone's throw from, that spiritual bulwark against all things non-Christian, Moore College, not a Christian stand anywhere....except a creationist one, at times doing a rather busy trade and all.

Sorry I didn't see any other Christians proclaiming Christ at Sydney's own Mars Hill. Oh well, maybe Michael Jensen and his really-much-more-Christian-than-you-creationists-because-you-preach-another-Gospel mates can set their alarms for next year and be seen to be doing some evangelism. They should be the real experts by now, what after that great success...what was its name....Disjunct oh 9? Only cost them more than a million bucks and look at the harvest. What a bargain. And they still have lots of Essential Jesus booklets by the truck load left over which they can use until 2109, maybe even stretched to 2209

No, maybe they won't be bothered turning up. Apparently they prefer to spend their time writing about Barth, Peak Oil and goodness knows what other sort of unintelligible irrelevancies our other great Sydney Anglican mate the Reverend Gordie Chengster continually spins out over at his blog.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Recipe For Comfortable Pewsitting for Sydney Anglicans

Parishioners within the Sydney Anglican Diocese looking for an easy time need only make it known to their Rector that they are a Biblical Creationist and the easy time is guaranteed.

What follows is excising from consideration for any key ministries within the parish. You will certainly not be a viable candidate for Rector's Warden or Rector's appointment to Parish Council. Only if you have sufficient support from other parishioners will you have possibility of appointment to Warden or Parish Council.

Synod representative is out due to the sudden emergence of other nominations who will attract more voting support than you.

Appointment by the Rector to lead a home group/bible study is definitely out of the question. So too is leadership of the evangelism team or perhaps even involvement in organizing evangelistic events.

Don't be seen talking at length to teenage youth group members for too long otherwise you will be thought to be polluting their mind with your creationist stuff. If you actually are a Biblical Creationist then you probably will talk about the subject at some point with the teens but this is highly dangerous. Don't do it. Teens will be quietly warned off you and you might even be discouraged from further attending that church.

Conversations with the Rector will be polite but somewhat limited to all but interpretation of Genesis 1 & 2.

So, for keeping your head down and to rest in just turning up each Sunday with no pressure make it known to the Rector you have become a Biblical Creationist and you are ready to argue the point with him any time he is ready.

Ah, Sydney Anglicanism, a rest for the weary.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Leupold Genesis part 43 verse 13

13. Then came evening, then came morning, --the third day.

On this verse compare above v. 5.

It is true that the first three days have no sun and no moon to furnish and to measure the needed light. But that fact does not in any wise warrant trying to make these days appear as different from the following three or four, for the pattern into which all six days of work fall is consistently the same for all, "then came evening, then came morning." It is the author's purpose by this means emphatically to declare the six days alike as to length and general character regular twenty-four hour days. Nothing but the desire to secure harmony with the contentions of certain physical sciences ever could have induced men to tamper with this very plainest of exegetical results.

Follows the work of the fourth day in v. 14-19.

Since this has to do with the appointment of luminaries, we see, first of all, how this day's work attaches itself to the work of the third day, as well as how it reaches over to the works that are yet to follow. For the vegetation that was brought into being by the work of the preceding day needs not only light but also seasons with modification of light. Consequently, that intricate set of operations that brings seasonal changes for vegetation and for man now appropriately follows.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

False Convert Detected (Part 7)

Following is the final instalment from Thomas Shepard (1605-1649) on The False Convert Detected.

"IV. Presumption, or False Faith.

This is the last and most dangerous rock that these times are split upon. When men see an insufficiency in all duties to help them, and themselves unworthy of mercy, they make a bridge of their own to carry them to Christ. I mean, they look not for faith wrought by an omnipotent power, which the eternal Spirit of the Lord Jesus must work in them; but they content themselves with a faith of their own forging and framing: and hence they think and believe that Christ is their sweet Saviour, and so doubt not but they are safe, when there is no such matter. All men are of this opinion, that there is no salvation but by the merits of Jesus Christ; and because they hold fast this opinion, therefore they think they hold fast Jesus Christ in the hand of faith, and so perish hanging on their own fancy and shadow. Some others catch hold of Christ before they come to feel the want of faith and ability to believe, and catching hold on him (like dust on a man's coat, whom God will shake off, now they say, they thank God they have got comfort by this means, and though God killeth them, yet they will trust unto him, Micah 3:11. This hope damns thousands.

Faith is 'a precious faith,' 2 Pet.1:2. Precious things cost much, and we set them at a high rate: if thy faith be so, it has cost thee many a prayer, many a sob, many a tear. But ask most men how they came by their faith in Christ, the say, very easily. When the lion sleeps, a man may lie and sleep, by it; but when it awakens, wo to that man: so while God is silent and patient, thou mayest befool thyself with thinking thou dost trust unto God; but wo to thee when the Lord appears in his wrath! Many of you trust to Christ, as the apricock-tree, that leans against the wall, but its fast rooted in the earth: so you lean upon Christ for salvation, but you are rooted in the world, rooted in your pride still. Wo to you if you perish in this estate, God will hew you down as fuel for his wrath. This therefore I proclaim from the God of heaven—

(1. You that never felt yourselves as unable to believe as a dead man to raise himself, you have as yet no faith at all.

(2. You that would get faith, first must feel your inability to believe: and fetch not this slip out of thine own garden; it must come down from Heaven to thy soul, if ever thou partakest thereof."

So ends a tough sermon from Thomas Shepard, Puritan.

Biblical Creationists are not without their secret sins. They ought examine themselves. How do they regard their sins? Thomas Shepard gives vital advice.

Those who call themselves Christian and who are not Biblical Creationist have their secret sins as well but they have this known sin - unbelief - the direct utterance of God is set before them in Exodus 20:11 yet they continue to doubt God to trust the world. Come out of the world for the sake of your soul. Trust God though he permit you to be pressed by the sea on one side and advancing Pharoah on the other. Stand still and wait on the Lord lest you perish, lest you be found, in the end, a false convert!

Sam Drucker

Sam Drucker

Saturday, October 23, 2010

False Convert Detected (Part 6)

Following is the penultimate instalment of Thomas Shepard (1605-1649) on The False Convert Detected.

"III. Carnal Confidence.

Whereby men attempt to save themselves by their own duties and performances.

The paths to hell are but two. The first is the path of Sin, which is a dirty way. Secondly, the path of Duties, which (rested in) is but a cleaner way. But I think thou wilt object, ' No true Christian man hopes to be saved by his good works and duties, but only by the mercy of God, and merits of Christ.' I answer, it is one thing to trust to be saved by duties, another thing to rest in duties. A man rests in duties, when he is of this opinion that only Christ can save him, but in his practice he goes about to save himself . . . But because it is hard to know when a man rests in duties, and few men find themselves guilty of this sin, which ruins so many, I will shew some signs of a man's resting in duties. (1) Those that never came to be sensible of their poverty and utter emptiness of all good rest in duties. Now did you ever feel thyself in this manner poor? viz. I am as ignorant as any beast, as vile as any Devil: Oh Lord, what sin and rebellion lurks in my heart! I once thought at least my heart and desires were good, but now I feel no spiritual life. Oh dead heart! I am the poorest, vilest, blindest creature that ever lived. If thou dost not thus feel thy self poor, thou never came out of thy duties; for when the Lord brings any man to Christ he brings him empty. (2) Those that gain no Evangelical righteousness by duties rest in duties; I say, Evangelical righteousness, that is, more prizing of acquaintance with, desire after, loving and delighting in union with the Lord Jesus Christ. Now Jesus Christ is a Christian's gain, Philip.1:21. and hence a child of God asks himself after sermon, after prayer, after sacraments. What have I gained of Christ? Have I got more knowledge of Christ, more admiring of the Lord Jesus? A carnal heart, that rests in his duties, asks only what he has dorie, as the Pharisee,' I fast twice a week, I give alms,' and the like; and thinks verily he shall be saved, because he prays, and because he reforms, and because he sorrows for his sins, that is not because of the gaining of Christ in a duty, but because of his naked pertormance of the duty. (3) Those that see little of their vile hearts in performing duties rest in their duties: for if a man be brought nearer to Christ, and to the light, by duties, he will spy out more moats; for the more a man participates of Christ, his health and life, the more he feels the vileness and sickness of sin. As Paul, when he rested in duties before his conversion, before that the Law had humbled him, 'he was alive,' Rom.7, that is, he thought himself a sound man because his duties covered his sins, like fig leaves. Therefore ask thine own heart, if it be troubled sometimes for sin, and if after thy praying and sorrowing thou dost grow well, and think thyself safe, and feel not thyself more vile: If it be thus, I tell thee, thy duties be but fig-leaves to cover thy nakedness, and the Lord will unmask thee one day."

One final instalment to follow in a couple of days.

Sam Drucker

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

False Convert Detected (Part 5)

Following is the next instalment of Thomas Shepard (1605 - 1649) on The False Convert Detected. Are you herein identified?

"II. Carnal Security, or False Peace.

Now this false peace is begot in the heart by these three means:-

(1). By Satan. Luke 11:21. 'When the strong man keepeth the Palace, his goods are in peace' : that is, when Satan armed with abundance of carnal reasonings possesses men's souls, they are at peace. As masters give their servants peace, even so the Devil. a. By removing those sins which trouble the conscience: for a man may live in a sin, and yet never be troubled for that sin; for sin against the light of conscience only troubles the conscience. Mark the plot of the Devil: he will not suffer a man to live in any sin gainst conscience, whereby he should be troubled; and so the poor deluded man himself goes up and down, not doubting but he shall be saved; why ? because their conscience (they thank God) is clear, and they know of no one sin they live in. b. By giving the soul liberty to recreate itself in any sinful course, wherein the eye of conscience may not be pricked and wounded. To be pent up all the day long in doing God's work, watching, praying, fighting against every sin, this is a burden, this is too strict; and because they cannot endure it, they think the Lord looks not for it at their hands. Now Satan gives men liberty to think thus; and this liberty begets peace, and this peace makes them think well of themselves, 2 Pet. 2 :19. There are many rotten professors in these days that walk loosely, and take too much liberty in their speeches, liberty in their thoughts, liberty in their desires, in their pastimes, and that sometimes under a pretence of Christian liberty. Oh, this liberty that the Devil gives, and the world takes, besots most men with a foolish opinion that all is well with them. c. By giving the soul cessation sometimes from the act of sin: hence they are hardly persuaded that they live in sin, because they cease sometimes from the act of sin. Oh! Satan will not always set I at his work. For if a man should never pray, never have good thoughts, never keep any Sabbath; if a man should always speak idly, and never a good word drop from him; a man's conscience would never be quiet, but shaking him up for what he does: but by giving him respite from sinning for a time, Satan frets stronger possession afterward, as Matt. 12:43. d. By giving the soul fair promises of heaven and eternal life, and fastening them upon the heart. Most men are confident their estate is good. Why ? Oh! Satan bewitches them: for as he told Eve by the serpent, she should not surely die; so he insinuates his persuasions to the soul.

(2). By False Teachers, partly by their loose examples, partly by their flattering doctrines, and their large charity, dawbing everyone up for honest and religious people ; and if they be but a little troubled, applying comfort presently, and so healing them that should be wounded. They say commonly, Thou hast sinned, but comfort thyself, despair not, Christ has suffered ; and thus skin over the wound, and let it fester within for want of cutting it deeper. I say therefore, because they want a faithful watchman to cry Fire, Fire, in that sleepy estate of sin and darkness, wherein they lie, therefore whole towns, parishes, generations of men are burnt up, and perish miserably. Lam. 2:14.

(3). By a False Spirit, this is a third cause that begets a false peace. As there is a true Spirit, that witnesses to our spirits that we are the sons of God, Rom. 8 :16, so there is a false spirit, just like the true one, witnessing that they are the sons of God, 1 John 4:1. We are bid to try the spirits: Now if these spirits were not like God's true Spirit what need trial ? What need one try whether dirt be gold, which are so unlike each other ? And this spirit I take to be set down, Matt. 24:23. Mark this comparison. First, the Spirit of God humbles the soul: so before men have the witness of the false spirit, they are mightily cast down and dejected in spirit; and hereupon they pray for ease, and purpose to lead new lives. Secondly, the Spirit of God in the Gospel reveals Jesus Christ and his willingness to save: so the false spirit discovers Christ's excellency, and willingness to receive him. It fares with this soul as with surveyors of lands, that take an exact compass of other men's grounds, of which they shall never enjoy a foot. So did Balaam, Num. 24:5, 9. This false spirit sheweth them the glory of heaven and God's people. Hereupon the soul comes to be affected, and to taste the goodness and sweetness of Jesus Christ, as those did, Heb. 6. The soul being comforted after it was wounded, now calls God my God, and Christ my sweet Saviour: and now it doubts not but it shall be saved, Hos. 8:2, 3, and yet remains a deluded miserable creature still. But here mark the difference between the witness of each spirit. The false spirit makes a man believe he is in the state of grace, and shall be saved, because he has tasted Christ, and so has been comforted, and that abundantly: But the true spirit persuades a man his estate is good and safe, because he has not only tasted but bought this Christ; as the wise merchant in the Gospel who not only found the pearl, but sells away all to buy it. So a child of God tasting a little of God, and a little of Christ, at his first conversion, although he tastes not all the sweetness that is in God, yet he forsakes all for God, for Christ, and so takes them lawfully as his own. Again, the false spirit having given a man comfort and peace, suffers a man to rest in that estate : but the true Spirit having made the soul taste the love of the Lord, stirs up the soul to do and work mightily for the Lord."

Two more short instalments to follow in coming days.

Sam Drucker

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hey anybody, can you spare a Bible? (With apologies to Frank Zappa.)

A friend had a stand at the Eastwood Granny Smith Festival this weekend. On one of his walks around the festival my friend came across a Baha’i outreach and began talking to lady there. Having read much of the original documentation of this religion, as well as a considerable amount of its commentary, my friend felt at ease discussing this woman’s faith and contrasting it with his own.

She was first asked what proves prophethood. She replied that it was the message. He replied that many people can talk persuasively, gently and even beguilingly, mentioning, as an historical example, how Plato recognised and castigated the Sophists for teaching the Athenian politicians how to mesmerise an audience by keeping truth to a minimum. “No,” my friend stressed, "there must be a more objective, external way of seeing whether someone really was from God.”

He pointed out that Jesus used miracles to set himself apart from anyone else, with raising the dead chief among them all. She had never read the Gospels before and would accept one as a gift, so, remembering he’d left all his giveaways at home, he walked to a nearby Anglican stand to ask for a Bible to give to this young woman. Well, what a surprise – there was none. However, they did have The Essential Jesus, but not a single Bible at their “outreach”. When the minister pressed the point about accepting this pared down, adroitly expurgated version of God’s Word (“We’re just giving a more manageable Jesus.”), my friend informed them that he wasn’t happy about page 1 where the author has replaced the real McCoy with his own insipid and jaundiced interpretation of Genesis 1.

The minister sarcastically replied, “Oh, I guess you want a more creationist version of that story!”
“Not really,” came the response. “I wanted a biblical one!”

Walking off and still holding out that a Bible would be delivered to him, my friend made it only 3 more stalls when he saw that the atheists had a stand selling second-hand books. He asked them if they had a Bible.

“Yes, we do,” and pulling a box from underneath the stand, the man drew out, not one, but two Bibles. My friend bought a complete Bible for 2 bucks, decided against going back to the Anglicans to burst all their stupid and puerile balloons they were giving out as evangelical tools (apparently no face painting this year – seems like Peter’s belt-tightening has hit hard!), and raced off to the Baha’i woman and presented her with, not The Essential Jesus, but all of Jesus.

Atheists to the rescue by drawing a non-believer closer to God and Anglicans, once again, making great sausage dog balloon shapes.

By the way, what is the essential Jesus? Are the Anglicans saying that the 4 Gospels need a makeover? Why is Jesus not recognised as the Creator in their “Essential” Jesus? And finally, why do they take 2 balloons to make a cute sausage dog when they could save money and do it with one?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Leupold Genesis part 42 verse 12

12. And the earth produced grass and herbs yielding seed after their kind and trees yielding fruit whose seed was in them after their kind; and God saw that it was good.

The accomplishment of the things ordered in v. 11 is reported in this verse in terms that are not a wooden repetition of v. 11; for after "seed" is inserted "after their kind'" to emphasize how the "kind" limitation also applies to the herbs, though this had not been mentioned previously. So, too, after "trees" the word "of fruit" is omitted, since this idea is covered by the qualifying phrase "bearing fruit." The work of the second half of the third day is also to be found "excellent" in divine approval, so that the statement, "and it Was good," appears for each of the two halves of this day.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

False Convert Detected (Part 4)

Following is the next instalment of Thomas Shepard (1605-1649) on The False Convert Detected. Consider it very carefully.

In my post a couple of days ago Shepard dealt with:


1. Error in the Understanding. [subsections 1, 2 and 3 provided in previous post]

(4). In judging of the sincerity of the heart by some good affection in the heart. Hence many a deluded soul reasons the case out thus with himself: Either I must be a prophane man, or an hypocrite, or an upright man. Not prophane, for I am not given to drinking, swearing; nor hypocrite, for I hate these outward shews, I cannot endure to appear better without than I am within: Therefore I am upright. Why ? Oh, because my heart is good; my affections and desires within are better than my life without, I know mine own heart, and the heart is all God desires. And thus they fool themselves, Prov. 28:26. This is one of the greatest causes and grounds of mistake amongst men: they are not able to put a difference between good desires, and strong affections that arise from the love of Jesus Christ. Self-love will make a man seek his own good and safety: hence it will pull a man out of his bed betimes in the morning, and call him up to pray; it will make him tug hard for pardon, for Christ, for mercy. But the love of Christ makes a man desire Christ and his honour for himself, and all other things for Christ.

(5). In judging of God's love to them, by aiming sometimes at the glory of God. Is this possible, that a man should aim at God's glory, and yet perish? Yes, and ordinarily too, 2 Kings 10:18. But here's the difference, though a wicked man may make God's glory in some particular things his end, yet he never makes it in his general practice his utmost and last end. A subtle heart may forsake all the world, as Judas did, may bind himself to all the duties God requires outwardly at his hands, and so do good works; but what's his last end? It's that he might gain respect or place or that Christ may have some part of the glory, and he another. There's many seek the honour of Christ, but do you seek his honour only: Is it your last end, where you rest and seek no more but that? Observe this rule; If you are more grieved for the eclipse of thine own honour, or for thine own losses, than for the loss of God's honour; it is an evident sign thou desirest it not in the prime and chiefest place. Sin troubled Paul more than all the plagues and miseries of the world. Indeed, if thy name be dashed with disgrace, and thy will be crossed, thy heart is grieved and disquieted: but the Lord may lose his honour daily by thine own sins, and those that be round about thee, but not a tear, nor a sigh, nor a groan to behold such a spectacle. As sure as the Lord lives, thou seekest not the Lord's honour as thy greatest good.

(6). In judging the power of sin to be but infirmity. For if any thing troubles an unregenerate man, and makes him call his estate into question, it is sin, either in the being, or power of it. Now sin in the being ought not, must not make a man question his estate, because the best have that left in them that will humble them, and make them live by Faith: therefore the power of sin only can justly thus trouble a man. (Which power reigns only in the unregenerate). Now if a man do judge of this to be only but infirmity, which the best are compassed about with, he cannot but think himself well. And if this error be settled in one that lives in no one known sin, it is very difficult to remove: for, let the minister denounce the terror of God against them, they are never stirred; why? Because they think, Here's for you tha' live in sin: not as for themselves, although they have sins, yet they strive against them, and so cannot leave them; for, say they, we must have sins so long as we live here. Now mark it, there's no surer sign of man under the dominion of his sins than this, that is, not to be greatly troubled for sin (for they may be little troubled) because they cannot overcome sin. I deny not but the best do sin daily: yet this is the disposition of Paul, and every child of God, he mourns not the less, but the more for sin. This is the great difference between a reigning sin and a sin of infirmity. A sin of infirmity is such a sin as a man would, but cannot, part with: and hence he mourns the more for it: a reigning sin is such a sin as a man by virtue of his conscience would sometimes part with, but cannot; and hence mourns the less for it, and gives way to it. Now for the Lord's sake take heed of this deceit; for I tell you, those sins you cannot part with, if you groan not day and night under them (saying, O Lord, help me, for I am weary of myself), will certainlv undo you. You say, you cannot but speak idly, and think vainly, and do ill, as all do sometimes: I tell you, those sins shall be everlasting chains to hold you fast in the power of the Devil.

And thus much of the understanding's corruption, whereby men are commonly deluded."

Three instalments to follow.

Sam Drucker

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

False Convert Detected (Part 3)

Following is the next instalment from Thomas Shepard on False Convert Detected. Examine yourself.


1. Error in the Understanding.

(1). The mind being ignorant of the height and excellency of true grace, imagines within itself such a measure of common grace to be true grace, which the soul easily having attained unto, conceives it is in the estate of grace, and so deceives itself miserably, Rom.10:3. (By common grace is meant the possession of certain marks, such as are referred to in Heb. 6; Matt. 12:43; 2 Pet. 2:20, etc., which fall short of the true effects which always accompany regeneration). The mind comes to this position thus: The mind is haunted and pursued with troublesome fears of Hell, Conscience tells him he hath sinned, and the Law tells him he shall die, and Death appears and tells him he must shortly meet with him; and if he be taken away in his sins, then comes a black day of reckoning, where no creature can comfort him. Hence, he says, Lord, keep my soul from these miseries; he desires peace and ease, and to hear such sermons, and read such books, as may best satisfy him concerning the least measure of grace: for, sin only troubling him, grace only can comfort him soundly. And so grace, which is meat and drink to an holy heart, is but medicine to this kind of men, to ease them of their fears and troubles. Hereupon, being ignorant of the height of true grace, he fancies to himself such a measure of common grace to be true grace. As, if he feels himself ignorant of that which troubles him; so much knowledge will I then get, he says. If some soul sins in his practice trouble him, these he will cast away, and so reforms. If omission of good duties molests him, he will hear better, and pray oftener. And now he is quieted.

When he has attained unto this pitch of his own, he thinks himself a young beginner, and a good one too. And now if he be pressed to get into the estate of grace, his answer is, That is not to be done now, he thanks God; that care is past. The truth is, Beloved, 'tis too high for him; all his grace coming by his own working, not by God Almighty's power. For the Lord's sake take heed of this deceit. True grace (I tell you), is a rare pearl, a glorious sun clouded from the eyes of all but them that have it, Rev. 2:17, a strange, admirable, almighty work of God upon the soul, which no created power can produce; as far different, in the least measure of it, from the highest degree of common grace, as a Devil is from an Angel.

(2). In judging some trouble of mind, some light sorrows for sin, to be true repentance; and so thinking they do repent, hope they shall be saved. Nay, it may be they will fast, and humble, and afflict their souls voluntarily for sin, Isa. 58:3, and hereupon when they hear that all that sin shall die, they grant this is true indeed, except a man repent; and so they think they have done already. This is true, at what time soever a sinner repents, the Lord will blot out his iniquity: but this repentance is not when a man is troubled somewhat in mind for sin, but when he comes to mourn for sin as his greatest evil; and that not for some sins, but all sins, little and great; and that not for a time but always, like a spring, never dry, but ever running all a man's life time.

(3). In judging the striving of conscience against sin to be the striving of the flesh against the spirit, and hence they think being thus compounded of flesh and spirit, they are regenerate, and in no worse estate than the children of God themselves. So many among us know they should be better, and strive that they may grow better, but through the power of sin cannot; conscience tells them they must not sin, their hearts and lusts say they must sin; and here forsooth is flesh and spirit. Oh no, here is conscience and lust only together; which striving Herod, Balaam, Pilate, or the vilest reprobate in the world may have. Know therefore that the Striving of the spirit against the flesh is against sin because it is sin; but the striving of thy conscience against sin, is only against sin because it is a troubling or a damning sin."

Another instalment in a couple of days.

Sam Drucker

Sunday, October 10, 2010

False Convert Detected (Part 2)

This is the second instalment of Thomas Shepard (1605-1649) on False Convert Detected.

"There are four strait [sic] gates which everyone must pass through before he can enter into Heaven.

1. There is the strait [sic] gate of Humiliation. God saves none, but first he humbles them. Now it is hard to pass through the gates and flames of Hell; hard to mourn not for one sin, but all sins, and not for a season, but all a man's life-time. Oh, it is hard for a man to suffer himself to be loaden with sin, and pressed to death for sin, so as never to love sin more. It is easy to drop a tear or two, and be sermon-sick: but to have a heart rent for sin and from sin, this is true humiliation, and this is hard. If God broke David's bones for his adultery, and the angels backs for their pride; the Lord, if ever he saves thee, will break thine heart too.

2. The strait [sic]gate of Faith, Eph. 1:19. It's an easy matter to presume, but hard to believe in Christ. It is easy for man that was never humbled to believe and say, 'Tis but believing; but it is an hard matter for a man humbled, when he sees all his sins in order before him, and crying out against him, and God frowning upon him, now to call God Father. Judas had rather be hanged than believe.

3. The strait [sic] gate of Repentance. It is an easy matter for a man to confess himself to be a sinner, and to cry God forgiveness until next time: but to have a bitter sorrow, and to turn from all sin, and to return to God, and all the ways of God, which is true repentance; this is hard.

4. The strait [sic] gate of Opposition of Devils, the World, and a man's own Self, who knock a man down when he begins to look towards Christ and Heaven.

Hence learn, that every easy way to Heaven is a false way, although ministers should preach it out of their pulpits, and angels should publish it out of Heaven. There are easy ways to Heaven (as men think), which all lead to Hell."

More from Shepard soon.

Sam Drucker True

Friday, October 8, 2010

The False Convert Detected (Part 1)

I propose to do a series which is an extract from writings of Thomas Shepard (1605 - 1649) who I think would be deemed a Puritan. His subject is not what we normally correspond about here and it is not something I have discussed with my colleagues first. I have decided to go feral and suffer the consequences later.

I think the subject is vital (even if one disagrees with Shepard's conclusions) because it ought to cause even dissenters to think about their relationship with Jesus Christ. Perhaps, even, it may detect the root cause of extensive deadness within the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney and opposition to the truth of God's word on origins.


'Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.' Matt. 7:14. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter, of my people slightly, saying Peace, peace; when there is no peace.' Jerem. 6:14.

Look to all ages, and we shall find but a handful saved. As soon as ever the Lord began to keep house, and there were but two families in it, there was a bloody Cain living, and a good Abel slain. And as the world increased in number, so in wickedness, Gen. 6:12. It is said, All flesh had corrupted their ways, and amongst so many thousand men not one righteous but Noah, and his family; and yet in the Ark there crept in a cursed Ham. Afterwards, as Abraham's posterity increased, so we see their sin abounded. When his posterity was in Egypt, where, one would think, if ever men were good, now it would appear, being so heavily afflicted by Pharaoh, being by so many miracles miraculously delivered by the hand of Moses, yet most of these God was wrath with, Heb. 3:11, and only two of them, Caleb and Joshua, went into Canaan, a type of Heaven. Look into Solomon's time: what glorious times! what great profession was there then! Yet after his death ten tribes fell to the odious sin of Idolatry. Look farther into Isaiah's time, when there were multitudes of sacrifices and prayers, Isa. 1:11. Yet then there was but a remnant, nay, a very little remnant, that should be saved. And look to the time of Christ's coming in the flesh (for I pick out the best time of all), when one would think by such sermons he preached, such miracles he wrought, such a life as he led, all the Jews would have entertained him; yet it is said, He came unto his own, and they received him not. John1:11. In the Apostle's time many indeed were converted, but few comparatively; and amongst the best churches were many bad, Philip. 3:18; Rev. 3:4. And presently after the Apostles time Many grievous wolves came in and devoured the sheep. Acts 20 :29.

Even amongst them that have the means of grace, but few shall be saved. It's a strange speech of Chrysostom in his fourth sermon to the people of Antioch, where he was much beloved, and did much good ; ' How many do you think,' he says, ' shall be saved in this city ? It will be an hard speech to you, but I will speak it ; though here be so many thousands of you, yet there cannot be found an hundred that shall be saved, and I doubt of them too.' It may be sometimes amongst ninety-nine in a parish, Christ sends a minister to call some one lost sheep among them, Luke 15. Three grounds were bad where the seed was sown, and only one ground good, Matt. 13. The number of them that shall be saved is very small, Luke 13:24. . . . This minister's exhortation to all confident people, that think they believe, and say they doubt not but to be saved; and hence do not much fear death. Oh, learn to suspect and fear your estate, and fear it so much that thou cannot be quiet until thou hast got some assurance thou shalt be saved. A confident opinion rages amongst divers sorts of people whom the Devil never troubles, because he is sure of them already, and therefore cries peace in their ears, whose conscience never troubles them, because it has shut its eyes: and hence they sleep, and sleeping dream that God is merciful unto them, and will be so; yet never see they are deceived, until they awake with the flames of Hell about their ears: and the world troubles them not, because they are friends to it, and so enemies to God. And ministers never trouble them, for they have none such as are fit for that work near them. And their friends never trouble them, because they are afraid to displease them. This one truth well thought on may damp thine heart. It may be there are better in Hell than thyself that art so confident; and therefore tell me what thou hast to say for thyself, that thou shalt be saved ?

Thou wilt say probably, first, ' I have left my sins I once lived in, and am now no drunkard, no swearer, no liar, etc'—I answer ; thou mayest be washed from thy mire (the pollution of the world), and yet be a swine in God's account, 2 Pet. 2:20. Thou mayest live a blameless, innocent, honest life, and yet be a miserable creature still, Philip. 3:6.

'But I pray, and that often.'—This thou mayest do, and yet never be saved, Isa. 1:11. 'To what purpose is your multitude of sacrifices?' Thou mayest pray with much affection, yet be a thousand miles off from being saved, Prov. 1:28.

'But I hear the Word of God, and like the best preachers.'— This thou mayest do too, and yet never be saved. Nay, thou mayest so hear, as to receive much joy, and comfort in hearing, nay, to believe and catch hold on Christ, and say and think he is thine, and yet not be saved, as the stony ground did, Matt. 13, who heard the word with joy, and for a season believed.

'I read the Scriptures often.'—This you may do too, and yet never be saved ; as the Pharisees, who were so perfect in reading the Bible, that Christ needed only to say, 'It hath been said of old times,' for they knew the text and place well enough without intimation.

'But I am grieved and sorrowful, and repent for my sins past.'—Judas did thus, Matt. 27:3, he repents himself with a legal repentance for fear of Hell, and with a natural sorrow for dealing so unkindly with Christ. True humiliation is ever accompanied with hearty reformation.

'I have very many good desires and endeavours to get to Heaven.'—These thou and thousands may have, and yet miss of Heaven, Luke 13:24.

These things thou may verily think of thyself, and yet be deceived, and damned at last. 'There is a way that seemeth right to a man, but the end thereof is the way of death.' Prov. 14:12. Thou mayest go fairly, and live so honestly, that all the best Christians about thee may think well of thee, and never suspect thee; and so mayest pass through the world, and die with a deluded comfort, and never know thou art counterfeit, till the Lord brings thee to thy strict and last examination, and so thou receivest that dreadful sentence, Go ye cursed. So it was with the five foolish virgins, that were never discovered by the wise, nor by themselves, until the gate of grace was shut upon them, Matt. 25. If thou hast therefore no better evidences to shew for thyself, that thine estate is good, than these, I will not give a pin's point for all thy flattering false hopes of being saved: but it may be thou hast never yet come so far as this pitch; and if not, Lord! what will become if thee? Suspect thyself much, and when in this shipwreck of souls thou seest so many thousands sink, cry out and conclude, it's a wonder of wonders, and a thousand to one, if ever thou comest safe to shore."

More from Shepard later.

Sam Drucker

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Three or four times a year I pick up a few gigs from a hospitality agency and work as a waiter. I don't do it for the money – it's far too meagre; rather, I do it for the adrenalin rush and the opportunity to do something that makes me a whole lot more anonymous in the big scheme of things. Once a few glasses of wine and conversation are mixed together most people at functions pay scant attention to the face behind the hands that place and remove their fare for the evening. The other night I worked a do at a farewell for Year 12 at an up-market private Sydney girls' school and one of the punters made an exception to that strong rule.

While taking a break he struck up a conversation with me. It turned out that this corporate lawyer had an interest in philosophy and church history. I mentioned some classes I've taught over the last few years linking the former subject with film. He relayed a renewed enthusiasm for the first 30 minutes of The Matrix after I demonstrated its uncanny resemblance to Plato's Simile of the Cave. I asked him what his daughter was going to do after completing her final exams and he told me she planned to take a year off, a so-called 'gap year', and travel.

The philosophy behind this phenomenon is for young people to gain some insight into worldly matters and make them a better, more diligent student. (As an aside, my time before attending university was less of a gap, more of a yawning canyon. It took me more than 20 years before I thought I had something to contribute to academia.) This is something our least favourite theological college should take on board as part of its entry requirements. The students and graduates I've met seem to have quite an unworldly persona about them, with some transferring from university to the theological classroom without so much as stopping to take a breath.

Greg Clarke's latest journalistic folly evinces such a far-removed attitude to plain things. Dear old Gregory appears to really have lost touch with the common folk. It appears he's forgotten to follow the most trustworthy of how-to manuals, the Gospels, and emulate his saviour's three years of speaking with ordinary (and not so ordinary!) people about earthly and heavenly matters. Gregory, and just about all Sydney Anglican egg-heads, takes what is clearly an accurate adumbration of earth's history and uses it as an excuse to parade his allegiance to atheist and heathen ideologies. His most recent attempt in September's Eternity to deconstruct Genesis 1 and 2 surpasses any other analysis in its incorporation of postmodernal gibberish that I've previously read. A few of Gregory's paragraphs will be sufficient to see that the man has forgotten his audience. Gregory writes:

“Genesis 1 portrays the act of creation as speaking words. It reveals a God, unlike the pagan gods of other creation myths, so elegant and potent that he can simply say a word and make things real.

“Genesis 2, the second account of creation (and Bible-believing people have no problem with getting more than one perspective on things!) doesn't put the creation together in the same day-by-day, element-by-element, manner as the first account. Rather, it gives us a literary portrait of what it was like for humanity to enter the world. And God the Creator is here described more like an artist, perhaps a performance artist, sculpturing humanity from the dust of the earth, forming shaping, and then breathing the spirit of life into the clay.

“The first account is like a hymn, a structured poem of creation; the second account is like a drama, an unfolding play of God's creative desires.

Well, Gregory, as a piece of reporting in a small-town rag on a performance by a local amateur drama group, it may cut the mustard, despite your predilection for cliché, but for theological commentary all I can say is, “You dear idiot Greg Clark”, to borrow one of the Apostle Paul's under-utilised wake-up calls. Further, to the Church at Colossae, Paul scolds them for their stupidity, their blockheadedness, over “spoiling the faith through intellectualism or high-sounding nonsense. Such stuff is at best founded on men's ideas of the nature of the world and disregards Christ!”

Greg, mate, brother, who has bewitched you? My advice is to drop the pseudo-intellectualism – you sound like a dork - grab hold of some common-man thinking, and go back to the basics: God created extremely quickly and perfectly because he's the most wise, intelligent and loving being that there is. God has told us this in his Word. One does not need a PhD in Literary-speak, like Greg has, to understand this.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Declension in Church Music?

John Kennedy, D.D. of Dingwall, Scotland, in the 19th Century was one of the foremost evangelical leaders in Scotland. He was a contemporary and close friend of C. H. Spurgeon and was known as "the Spurgeon of the North". At one point he felt compelled to write a review of the campaigns of D.L. Moody in Scotland. He called it: Hyper - Evangelism, 'Another Gospel,' Though a Mighty Power - A Review of the Recent Religious Movement in Scotland.

I might later quote some other objects of his criticism which have since found their way into Evangelical practices today (including the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney) but I was taken by Kennedy's comments on music. There has been, once or twice at this site, mention of music in Sydney Episcopalian services. It also received mention and debate in the Diocesan newspaper "Southern Cross" earlier this year so it seemed right to let John Kennedy have say today. His comments on this topic were divided into two parts under the heading "Unscriptural Devices" and they follow herewith:

1. Excessive hymn-singing is one of these. The singing of uninspired hymns even in moderation, as a part of public worship, no one can prove to be scriptural; but the excess and the misdirection of the singing in this movement were irrational as well. Singing ought to be to the Lord ; for singing is worship. But singing the gospel to men has taken the place of singing praise to God. This, at any rate, is something new—that indeed is its only recommendation—and when the singing is also good, its melody combines with its novelty to make an impression. The singing produced an effect. Many professed to have been converted by the hymns.

2. The use of instrumental music was an additional novelty, pleasing to the kind of feeling that finds pleasure in a concert. To introduce what is so gratifying there, into the service of the house of God, is to make the latter palatable to those to whom spiritual worship is an offence. The organ sounds effectively touch chords which nothing else would thrill. To Scottish Presbyterians is was something new; but as their spiritual guides did not object to it, why should they ? Tided thus, by their pastors, over all difficulties, which their scruples might occasion, they found it pleasant to enjoy the new sensation. They could be at the concert and in church at the same time. They could get at once something for conscience and something for the flesh.

And yet it is not difficult to prove that the use of instrumental music, in the worship of God, is unscriptural, and that therefore all, who have subscribed the Confession of Faith, are under solemn vow against it. There was a thorough change, in the mode of worship, effected by the revolution, which introduced the New Testament dispensation. So thorough is this change, that no part of the old ritual can be a precedent to us. For all parts of the service of the house of God there must be New Testament precept or example. No one will pretend that for instrumental music, in the worship of God, there is any authority in New Testament Scripture. "The fruit of the lips," issuing from hearts that make "melody to the Lord," is the only form of praise it sanctions. The Church of Rome claims a right to introduce into the worship of God any innovation it lists; the Church of England allows what is not expressly forbidden in Scripture; but Scotch Presbyterians are bound, by the Confession of Faith, to disallow all that is not appointed in Scripture. (Conf. chap, xxi.) How those, who allow the use of instrumental music, in our Assembly Hall, can reconcile their doing so with their ordination vows, I cannot even conjecture.

It may seem strange, but it is quite as true as it is strange, that those who are ready to plead that principles and doctrine, inculcated under the former dispensation, are no longer entitled to our acceptance, unless re-delivered with New Testament sanctions, are just the parties who are also ready to go back to Old Testament antecedents in the mode of worship. What is eternally true is treated as if it were temporary, and that which has "vanished away" is regarded as perpetual. But if the ancient mode, of conducting the service of praise, furnishes an example for all times, on the self-same ground you are entitled to choose what you list out of the ceremonies of Old Testament worship. The altar and the sacrifice may be defended as surely as the organ.

"But we use the organ only as an aid," it is said. "It is right that we should do our best in serving the Lord; and if the vocal music is improved by the instrumental accompaniment, then surely the organ may be used." On the same ground you might argue for the use of crucifixes and pictures, and for all the paraphenalia of the Popish ritual. "These," you might say, "make an impression on minds that would not otherwise be at all affected. They vividly present before worshippers the scenes described in Scripture, and if, as aids, they serve to do so, they surely cannot be wrong." To this, there are three replies, equally good against the argument for instrumental music. 1. They are not prescribed in New Testament Scripture, and therefore they must not be introduced into New Testament worship. 2. They are incongruous with the spirituality of the New Testament dispensation. 3. These additions but help to excite a state of feeling which militates against, instead of aiding, that which, is produced by the word. An organ may make an impression, but what is it but such as may be made more thoroughly at the opera ? It may help to regulate the singing, but does God require this improvement ? And whence arises the taste for it ? It cannot be from the desire to make the praise more fevent and spiritual, for it only tends to take attention away from the heart, whose melody the Lord requires. It is the craving for pleasurable aesthetics, for the gratification of mere carnal feeling, that desires the thrill of organ sounds, to touch pleasingly the heart, that yields no response to what is spiritual. If the argument, against the use of the organ, in the service of praise, is good, it is, at least, equally so against its use in the service of preaching. If anything did "vanish away," it surely is the use of all such accessories in connection with the exhibition of Christ to men.

Oh, what grief would befall John Kennedy of Dingwall, Scotland were he to encounter a church service in the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney today.

Sam Drucker

Leupold Genesis part 41 verse 11

11. And God said: Let the earth produce grass, and herbs yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind whose seed is in them upon the earth; and it was so.

The second half of the work of the third day is here recorded. This work attaches itself quite naturally to the preceding work the dry land just formed is at once to bring forth all forms of vegetation. The work of this half of the day is not immediate creation in the sense of the works preceding. For in the instances that went before the word was spoken and the result followed. In this instance the earth is the mediate agent, being bidden to produce whatever vegetation is necessary by a process of highly accelerated growth. Such a work is neither of a higher nor of a lower character than are the other works. Upon closer reflection this verse is seen to answer a question often asked, whether the plant preceded the seed, or the seed the plant. Since the seed is not bidden to bring forth but the earth is, and since, the things brought forth are first to produce seed, and since nothing indicates the prior creation of seed, the only possibility left open to us is to believe that plants and herbs came first. This still leaves room for the possibility that the Spirit in His hovering implanted the potentialities that here unfold themselves.

How do the things produced by the earth differ from one another? The three orders mentioned are (1) grass, (2) herbs, (3) trees. Some put the three items down as independent classes in an ascending scale (e. g. Delitzsch). Some make (2) a genitive dependent on (1), having as a result a pair of doubles "grass of herb" and "tree of fruit," as the Greek version botanhn cortu and eulon carpimon. Still others make (1) the general term covering all and (2) and (3) subdivisions of (1). We feel that the first point of view alone is correct and does justice to the meaning of the words employed. "Grass" represents the word deshe', whose root signifies "to be damp." Whatever grows in a well-watered spot will be of a fresh green, therefore the word is rendered frisches Gruen. Since, no doubt, these three classes aim to cover all vegetation in so far as it is of interest to man, the word deshe' may well be said to include such things as mosses and other plants designed to carpet the earth. The second term, "herbs," is a singular collective noun 'esebh, also translated "herbage." That the word is really distinct from deshe' in meaning appears first from its use in passages like (2Ki 19:26) and (Isa 37:27) where in an enumeration both are mentioned separately. Again the characteristic mark ascribed to it in this verse is noteworthy: mazria' zera', literally, seeding seed, therefore "yielding seed." Grasses, for that matter, yield seed too, but if specific mention of the seed is made only in the second class, apparently this refers to something like seed-bearing pods which make the seed more prominent as a separate feature. According to scriptural usage man eats 'esebh; see 1:29 and 3:18. So do cattle, (De 11:15). This being a broad class name, it must include things such as vegetables, or at least, generally speaking, everything between grass and trees and, without a doubt, the various grains.

So, too, the last term must be used in a very broad sense. "Fruit-bearing trees," again a singular collective 'ets peri, must include both trees that bear fruit as well as trees yielding nuts and cones and, surely, all bushes yielding berries. For the expression translated literally means only "tree of fruit." Two other marks, however, are appended to this class: first, these fruit trees bear fruit "after their kind," a peculiar and definite limitation, which all those understand best who have seen how the "kind" sets limitations upon all who would mix kinds and cross them. Nature itself here is seen to have definite limits fixed which appear as constant laws or as insurmountable barriers. The last mark stamped upon this third class of vegetable growth is "whose seed is in them upon the earth." The seed needed for the propagation of the particular kinds is seen to be in the fruit. So whether the fruit be edible or not, as long as it has seed qualities, it meets the requirements of this mark. The concluding phrase for this mark, "upon the earth," might perhaps better have been rendered as "above the ground." For to try to make this phrase modify the verb tadhshe' at the beginning of the sentence certainly removes it far from the word modified. Besides, the characteristic thing about this "fruit-bearing seed" is that it usually hangs at some distance above the ground. Then, too, 'erets does mean "ground," and 'al does mean "above."

These three broad classes of vegetation may not coincide with botanical distinctions as science now makes them. But, assuredly, they are seen to be a general and a very appropriate type of division as far as man's use of them is concerned, and in some ways the distinctions made are seen to be very apt. The lines of demarcation drawn at creation are just as sharp now as they were then.

This verse closes with an, "and it was so," to indicate again how immediate was the fulfilment of the thing commanded.

Tadshe' is, of course, a jussive or a yakteel elevatum (K. S. 189), and deshe' and zera' are cognate objects.

We should yet draw attention to the fact that the things mentioned in 2:5 are not to be included in the above classification, and so reservations must be made in reference to our use of the terms "vegetables" and "bushes" in the above discussion.

If above in v. 7 the "and it was so" stood after it had been reported that the individual things to be created had actually come into being, here in v. 11 the "and it was so" precedes this latter statement, (K. S. 369b).

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Church Goes After Jeroboam I

It's been a while since I felt compelled to write but here goes. King Jeroboam I (hereafter referred to as Jeroboam) seems sufficient cause.

Jeroboam's sin was to set up idols at Bethel and Dan for the Northern Tribes (Israel) to worship rather than having them travel to Jerusalem to worship the God of Israel. His motive was to retain control of his recently acquired kingdom by discouraging the people from travelling through the kingdom ruled by Rehoboam - his adversary.

Jeroboam appointed his own priests who were not of the Aaronic line and established a religious calendar with appropriate festivals. It was all very convenient, one golden calf in the north and one in the south. They were presented as something not really removed from the true worship of God for these were the "gods, Oh Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt." (1 Kings 12:28) Furthermore, the cumbersome and rigid appointment of priests from the Aaronic line was less attractive to the people than Jeroboam's method of appointing priests from every class of people. It was all so easy for Jeroboam to avoid a charge of apostasy from the people.

Jeroboam's actions were an offence to God and the seeds of ruin to Israel. There are firm lessons in all this for the Church today.

As with Jeroboam, compromising religion can be introduced in the name of the true God. Church activities are not necessarily acceptable to God just because they are instituted in His name. Rituals of worship can be convenient, popular and presented under the sacred name of Jesus Christ yet be delusive.

Synchretism of Christian theology and pagan superstition in past centuries by various denominations has been destructive to the Church. A cursory look at what may be described as fervour in evangelical circles today is a poor caricature of the spiritual worship and faithfulness Jesus Christ instituted in His Church some 2,000 years ago. This fact presents important questions. Is the message we preach biblical and faithful to the gospel revealed in Jesus Christ or is it corrupted by worldly ideas which surround us? Do our public services lead people to the true worship of God or are they calculated merely to be aesthetically pleasing and, even worse, just giving some sense of worth to one or more persons with musical interest.

Similarly, presenting to the world a disjointed Jesus Christ who is a miracle worker of the New Testament but a blurred and indistinct Creator of the Old Testament is sure recipe for failure both in understanding of the hearer and blessing of God.

As the example of Jeroboam shows, simply sanctifying religious exercises with the trappings of 'tradition' is not enough. His ridiculous claim that the golden calves were the ancient God of the Hebrews did not make it so. Similarly, we may dress up our professed Christianity today with the nomenclature of past orthodoxy and associate such worthy names as Calvin, Luther and Wesley with it. But would they really approve? Such men laboured and fought to reform the church and conform it to the Scriptures. It is dishonest to wrest their teachings to justify theologies and practices which any honest person should know they would have repudiated. Even worse, to classify semi-pagan theories and practices as 'Christian' is a sacrilegious affront to the Holy Spirit. There is all too much reason to fear that many evangelicals have forgotten Jeroboam and none more so than many within the Anglican Diocese of Sydney today.