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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

History a Warning to Sydney Episcopalian Church (Part 4)

"The word of God is lively and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit; joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)

Having followed R.J. Sheehan's overview of "The Decline of Evangelicalism in Nineteenth-Century England" by R. J. Sheehan in Issue 278, November 1986, of "The Banner of Truth" in Parts 1-3 even a casual observer would have noted that those in the nineteenth century England who claimed to be evangelical, who would have avowed unity with their more illustrious evangelical forebears, limply relinquished their blessing without realising what they had done.

Does what Sheehan observed in England have any application in Australia? Is the 'bastion' of evangelical conservatism, the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney, going the same way as ninteetenth century evangelicalism in England? Does its staunch Calvinism shield it from decline? So, how goes it?

Let me provide extracts of a statement made by Rev Dr John Woodhouse, Principal, Moore Theological in an article titled "So what are we doing At Bible College?" in the July 2010 edition of Eternity, a Diocesan based newspaper.

Under the heading of "We are a community of scholars" Dr Woodhouse said

"But since the knowledge of God involves the use of our mind; we [Moore College] also gather as a community of scholars. When Paul instructed Titus to appoint elders as overseers in the towns of Crete, he said of such persons that 'he must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it' (Titus 1: 9).

Again we find a paradox. God works by his word. God's word is trustworthy. This word, which is folly to those who are perishing, is the power of God to us who are being saved (1 Cor. l:18). And yet this trustworthy, powerful word of God has been entrusted to us, with the responsibility to guard it, to hold firmly to it, to rightly handle it. I can think of no greater human responsibility than to hold firmly to the trustworthy and faithful word of God, taught as a good deposit entrusted to us by the Holy Spirit. Only then will we be able to exhort, to comfort with sound, healthy teaching.

The distortion and perversion of the word of God, the teaching of error as though it were truth, is what the human mind tends to do naturally And what the New Testament sometimes calls 'false teaching' is not neutral. It is a disease, it destroys, and it causes harm. And mere 'scholarship' is no guarantee against it. Humble learning before God, which is faithful to the good deposit entrusted to us by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim.1:14), is the antidote. History suggests what is taken for granted by believers today may be forgotten by the next generation of believers, and denied by the one after that.

We are going to beware of intellectual fads. You encounter authors who are stimulating and challenging, open up fresh [an]d new ways of seeing all kinds of things. You should read them; you should understand what they are saying; you should not close your mind down. Yet your task will be to discern when stimulating writers are not holding firm to the trustworthy word—just as it is to discern when some well-known or well-liked author is failing in the same way. So we are an unusual community of scholars. There is not a lot of scholarship for its own sake here

Fine words! However, I sincerely believe evangelicals in England during the nineteenth century who were surrendering their evangelical birthright would have responded in like manner if questioned on where they stood on Scripture.

It is remarkably telling that Dr Woodhouse quotes Titus 1:9 but can't see the contrast between what Apostle Paul is urging upon Titus and what Moore Theological College practices today. Apostle Paul requires of elders that they hold to the trustworthy word as taught - and this, I conclude is that trustworthy word originally taught by the Church. Moore Theological College differs from Apostle Paul's mandate inasmuch as, in regard to Genesis Ch 1, Exodus 20:11 and Exodus 31:17, Moore Theological College has departed from the evangelical Church of earlier years.

The word which Moore Theological College has lost confidence in is folly to those who are perishing but is the power of God to us who are being saved. (1 Cor. 1:18) Again, Dr Woodhouse misses the obvious here. For fear of ridicule from the world, Moore Theological College has compromised on the word of God on Origins. To do this backpedaling yet achieve some means of respectability within the Church the "scholars" at Moore Theological College have had to introduce a cloud of opinions and devices which dilute the conviction of the word of God, that same conviction which compelled early evangelicals to believe and teach a six days, 'young' earth creation.

In this parlous state the "scholars" at Moore Theological College "teach error as though it were truth."

More will be said on the contradictions inherent in Dr Woodhouse's assessment and what is actually being done at Moore Theological College. Before that I must address a significant influence which has opened the door to the error on Origins and which, like a cancer, will run through the body of believers we call the Church assembling as the Episcopalian Church of Sydney.

That influence will be the subject of my next blog.

Sam Drucker


John said...

It's extraordinarily ironic that Woodhouse's original training is in geology, the very discipline that initially supported Darwin's devilish idea that the world has no need of a Creator. It was through his reading of Hutton and Lyle, two early 19th century geologists,that Darwin could promote his ideas because these two men laid the foundation for removing the accurate and precise history that is recorded in Genesis, Chronicles and Luke. These two rascals openly wanted to destroy the Bible's account of creation and the Flood by falsely attributing millions of years to the earth's age. Theirs was an a priori belief and interpreted the visible record through that false worldview.

How ironic that Perry Wiles, also a geologically trained Moore lecturer, Anglican minister and evolutionist, lost his faith and has disappeared.

sam drucker said...


Yes, Lyell certainly set out to remove Moses from geological consideration. Letters are available, penned by himself, declaring this very assertion.

It is a worry that Dr Woodhouse and Perry went through university just absorbing whatever was fed to them without critical analysis. I wonder whether they were Christians at the time of their university studies and what weight the Word of God had on their thoughts?

Sam Drucker

Eric said...

It does intrigue me that Anglicans by and large tend to align with the socio-cultural establishment and fail to really mount a prophetic (let alone intellectual) critique of it. And here we have it: thus the cave in on the very unpopular views that the Bible espouses, in an area that they think that they can get away from it: origins, where they seem to hold that it doesn't really matter (thank you Karl, Meredith, et al).

And, oddly, the work of the early modern geologists cited was impelled by their deism: not some 'neutral' science!

Anonymous said...

Can I make A Gentle correction? Eternity is an independent non-denominational paper. It is only "a Diocesan based newspaper" in that it is published in Sydney!

In fairness to the publisher I should add that John Woodhouses article is an edited excerpt from "The Trials of Theology"edited by Andrew Cameron and Brian Rosner (Christian Focus, 2010)

John Sandeman