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Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Clarion Call From Scotland to the Episcopalian Church of Sydney (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of a blog based upon an article written by R. A. Finlayson in the September 1976 issue of The Banner of Truth Journal. The article was titled: HOW LIBERAL THEOLOGY INFECTED SCOTLAND.

Finlayson completes his article here following and I will make a closing comment:


The disease spread rapidly through the ministry of the Free Church, as could be expected with A. B. Bruce in the Glasgow College, A. B. Davidson in the Hebrew Chair and Marcus Dods in the New Testament Chair in the New College, Edinburgh, and Robertson Smith's successors in Aberdeen. The present Century opened with the blare of trumpets sounding the victory of Liberalism, and the complete rout of 'Traditionalism'. Prof George Adam Smith, in Glasgow, himself in the front rank of destructive critics, declared confidently that the battle was over and there remained but the fixing of the indemnity. The Rationalism that had entered so stealthily into the Colleges had by 1900 captured most of the pulpits of the Disruption Free Church, and not a few in the State Church and the United Presbyterian Church, and when the Union of the Free Church and the United Presbyterian Church was consummated in 1900 on a basis of theological indifferentism, a remnant of the Free Church - 27 in number - decided to abide by the evangelical traditions of the Free Church at its inception, and on that foundation it exists to this day.


True, there were lone voices in the unbroken Free Church that, for some years, pled for sanity and for the retention of the foundation truths of Christianity. But even they were heavily committed to the new order, and for the most part they had a foot in both camps. Their case is sad indeed to relate, and it can be done only to sound a note of warning to the present day. Dr James Denney, who was at heart an evangelical, came, as B. B. Warfield observes, 'under the narrowing and clogging influence of the Apologetic School which Dr Bruce unfortunately founded in Glasgow', so much so that when his valuable work on The Death of Christ came to be reissued by The Tyndale Press, it had to be edited in considerable part and some of its statements excised. Of some others in the forefront of the movement, it can only be said that there was a breakdown in character as well as in faith, over which the veil of charity must be drawn. As sad a case as any was, perhaps, that of A. B. Bruce, because of the early promise of his work on the teaching of Christ; and yet at the end of the day one of his closest friends commented sorrowfully: 'Sandy Bruce died without a single Christian conviction.' It is true that some of the Higher Critics adopted a plan of spiritual survival by developing a dual standard, of piety for their private lives, and of destructive criticism for their professional work. Wellhausen, for example, had a Pietist background and upbringing, and it is said that he retained this pietism in his private life, while he was at the same time making havoc of the Faith in his teaching. How often have we been told of some prominent critic: 'You should hear Prof. . . . conducting a Communion Service, then you could see the real man.' Of Prof William Barclay, lately retired from the Glasgow College, it can be said that he paid exquisite attention, and employed great teaching skill, embellishing the superstructure of Christianity after he had removed the foundations. It is surely a schizophrenic character who can reconcile such contradictions, and indulge in such self-deception!

But it sounds a note of caution to us who profess, and seek to defend the evangelical Faith. There are ominous signs that history, even ecclesiastical history, teaches nothing, except that it teaches nothing! And yet there is a monotonous sameness about the enemy strategy: 'Yea, has God said ?' There is the wisdom of much sore experience, doubtless, in the Apostolic injunction: 'Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, AND HAVING DONE ALL TO STAND.

Well, R.A. Finlayson provides a helpful analysis of the cancer that entered the Free Church of Scotland more than a century ago. But what does all that mean for the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney and its theological seminary - Moore College?

The answer is "It's on!"

The slithering approach of Scottish academics to conceal their abandonment of trust in the Word of God was effective. Just as a snake moves slowly and concealed toward its prey so the Scottish academics, except for one or two overanxious, introduced their new approach to the Word of God with stealth. Students and congregations, save a few alert, were inwittingly seduced into abandoning their evangelical heritage.

It all starts in the Old Testament and spreads to the New Testament.

This is happening in Moore College where the approach of Luther, Calvin, Puritans and the majority of Church Fathers (who commented on the subject) to Genesis 1 is no longer applied. Instead, a student is carefully led to consider the employment of literary devices and other creation narratives.

The fruit of this is ordained ministers rejecting the traditional evangelical acceptance of Genesis 1 as historical narrative or prose and consequent avoidance of the convictive of the passage. This then is passed on to congregations and the cancer is well and truly established.

There are many examples but I will cite just two. The author of one blogspot was recently asked by an inquirer whether he thought the mention of Noah in the genealogy contained in Genesis 5 meant that Noah was a real person, the author replied something to the effect of "We can't be certain." Hullo! What is a genealogy for?

Another, when asked to explain why he held to Exodus 20:11 being only figurative language, his reply was something to the effect of "Whatever God was saying there I will not accept that the world is 6,000 years old." Sad, God cannot tell him only the world can!

These two incidents are sufficient to grasp that the rot is on and that there will be many more within the Diocese who are or will be like minded. And, just as with the calamity within the Scottish Free Church, the cancer can be dressed in a cloak of piety so that it will be difficult to assess just who the Christians are, even for the one committing the offence.

I ask all to trust God. Come out of error. Consider seriously John 17:17.

Sam Drucker


Eric said...


Thanks for this article. I agree, any step away from what the Bible clearly says, and when it comes to Genesis 1, it is always a step to accommodate the materialist view of things, it is a step taken to rejection that the Bible has any truth content applicable to us irrespective of our historical setting.

sam drucker said...

Eric, (and other readers) you rightly grasp the concern which motivated my posting the blog.

I have just now turned on my computer to revisit my blog with the intention of amending part of it. My conscience over the past 3 and a bit hours has prompted me to take out some of the pointedness in my last few paragraphs. I do not want to give the Evil One more ground to work in than I should, in good conscience, allow.

The danger, particularly as observed in Scotland in the 19th Century, remains and I urge all to examine their heart for light as to what path they are on.

Sam Drucker

sam drucker said...

The change to my blog has occurred.

Sam Drucker