Search This Blog

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sydney Episcopalians Throwing Calvin at Natural Theology

Our Lord told a crowd the Parable of the Sower (or Soils). Later, his disciples came to him and asked him about the parable as follows:

When he was alone, the twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!' " Then Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?" (Mark 4:10-13)

A constant expression of alarm is raised by graduates of Moore Theological College (the theological seminary of choice for Sydney Episcopalians) when Christians affirm evangelising the lost by means of Natural Theology. Any reference to Romans 1:20 (For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse) as sufficient recourse for such evangelism is countered with John Calvin who said: "Wherefore, the apostle, in the very place where he says that the worlds are images of invisible things, adds that it is by faith we understand that they were framed by the word of God (Heb. 11:3); thereby intimating that the invisible Godhead is indeed represented by such displays, but that we have no eyes to perceive it until they are enlightened through faith by internal revelation from God. When Paul says that that which may be known of God is manifested by the creation of the world, he does not mean such a manifestation as may be comprehended by the wit of man (Rom. 1:19); on the contrary, he shows that it has no further effect than to render us inexcusable (Acts 17:27). (Calvin's Institutes Ch 5)

Oh! How they pick and choose from Calvin's doctrine. Remember how they reject Calvin's acceptance of six days of twenty four hours duration for the Creation event and his acceptance of it occurring some six thousand years ago? They play fast and loose with Calvin yet declare themselves to be Calvinist in doctrine.

Well, for the exercise, let me test their credibility a little further.

Accepting Calvin's proposition that, in effect, man is so far fallen he is unable to discern God from observing the creation without the light of faith from God where then does that leave man when attempting to discern God from Scripture without light from God? In my opinion he is in the very same position. Without being enlightened through faith by internal revelation from God man is as much able to come under conviction of the reality of God through Scripture as a dog is able to discern the nutritional value of a can of dog food by looking at the list of contents on the label.

Consider our Lord Jesus' disciples of whom "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given." You would think that such an affirmation of their privileged position would have them well placed to understand the parables. But, no, they were no better in understanding than unbelievers, no better in understanding than those who sought death for our Lord. It required the light of explanation from our Lord for understanding. It later required light from the Holy Spirit to teach them all things and remind them of everything he said to them.

The thoroughgoing Calvinist must accept we are all so far fallen that, without the light of faith from God, there is no way we would receive the gospel of Jesus Christ with the conviction it requires.

This then poses a question for Christians engaging in evangelism. What message is God prepared to use to enlighten through faith by internal revelation?

In Athens, through the Apostle Paul, it was not immediately the message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead but more immediately something akin to Natural Theology through explanation of a Creator of all things. Only this message, followed by the message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, provoked some hearers to inquire further. The rest of the audience, in ignorance, sneered.

Consider, Sydney Episcopalians, the parables of our Lord Jesus Christ which you have used in evangelism. Are not many of his parables drawn from the natural order of life? The parable of the sower, the growing seed, the mustard seed, the yeast, the lost sheep and others involving man made objects and human relations are drawn from the natural order of life. Our Lord was not averse to evangelising with deference to Natural Theology so why do you criticise those who are likewise inclined?

You are in error to criticise your brethren who use Natural Theology and you are inconsistent. Criticism is only due if Natural Theology is confined only to that and has no intention to inflame a spark of interest by expounding all of Christ Jesus. For some hearers, only so much will be taken in one sitting and, though willing to say more, we must be wise to the situation. It is for God to use the means to enlighten through faith by internal revelation and we must leave to God that which is his.

Before closing I want to suggest a reason why many Sydney Episcopalians recoil at Natural Theology. Discussion with several reveals a lack of confidence in understanding the natural world and its relationship with God. This follows from their adoption of the chaotic proposition of Darwinism and trying to fit that with a God of order. Most will honestly admit difficulties they have in accommodating their view of the natural world and the revelation of God in Scripture. This is all a product of their making.

Sydney Episcopalians, your approach to evangelism and your understanding of the Creator God is confused and because of this you resort to a narrow revelation of God in Jesus Christ. In such a sorry state you ought not impose your limitations on your brethren nor on the will of God.

Sam Drucker


John said...

Yes, Same, you can clearly see that SAD confusion with regard to Natural Theology in previous outbursts like Gordon Cheng, who, because he is an evolutionist or is affected by the idea, believed that the koala pouch was made upsidedown.

The key to Gordon's bizarre libel against God is that he in fact doesn't really believe that God had a hand in it at all. He obviously believes that the metaphysic 'evolution' is the principle behind the creation, not Jesus, hence things going wrong, like wrong-way-around koala pouches.

sam drucker said...

John, I remember when Gordon Cheng made that outlandish statement. Whatever was the motivation for his coming to that conclusion it was an insult to God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I hope that upon realising his insult he confessed it to God, repented and sought forgiveness of his sin.

Sam Drucker

neil moore said...

Thanks for your post Sam. I have never been satisfied with the Sydney Anglicans' handling of Romans 1:20. Their argument of it being only a judgement statement without being based on capacity to understand something of God from creation lacks merit.