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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Satan's Advantages From Christians' Infirmities (Part 2)

This blog completes reproduction of the essay of Maurice Roberts in the May 1991 edition of the Banner of Truth Journal.

"As if to intensify our awareness to the fact that spiritual harm may spring up to the followers of Christ where least expected, God ordained and fore-warned that the traitor who should betray the Lord Jesus Christ was none other than one of his chosen apostles. This came as a surprise to the twelve when they first heard it and it is entirely understandable that they would proceed to enquire, 'Lord, is it I?' (Matt. 26:22). We are certainly not less gullible today than they were in their day and therefore we too have to take account of the possibility that those most closely associated with the work of Christ's gospel may become the betrayers of it before their course is fully run. From this possibility no one is exempt. 'Watch and pray' is our only antidote. Even then we need further to examine ourselves, to search our motives and to lay bare our hearts before the scrutiny of Almighty God.

It is awesome to see how, in the course of church history, Satan has taken advantage of the flaws in understanding or practice which God's eminent servants have had. From the brilliant Origen came the allegorical interpretation of Scripture. From the courageous Athanasius, with his respect for Antony and the life of solitude, came the ideal of a monastic Christianity. From the inexactitudes of the toweringly-great Augustine emanated the mediaeval theory of sacramentalism. From the organising zeal of Cyprian and Ambrose developed the later hierarchical structures of the papal church. The devil has proved masterful in the way he has exploited the excesses or shortcomings, the over-enthusiasm or thoughtless incaution of eminent preachers and churchmen in the past. No doubt they aimed at perfection in all things. But in that they missed the mark they gave occasion to Satan to push their errors to undreamed of lengths. This he has done contrary to their intentions at the time, but by a skilful use of their respected names and using their authority among all the lovers of orthodoxy.

Let no man think that this aspect of the devil's duplicity ended with the Church Fathers. It has gone on ever since and remains one of the most successful weapons against the church. Hence we must not only watch our weaknesses, but our strengths as well. The vices of our virtues are more generally harmful to the cause of Christ than our observed vices. It happens in all kinds of ways.

One man, let us say, becomes an internationally-important evangelist. He quite naturally and rightly seeks to bring his influence to bear on the largest possible number of people. He is sound in the basic elements of gospel truth, a Bible-lover and a man of God. He is zealous to win as many souls to Christ as he can. But a dilemma faces him. His conservative theology is resented by Liberals and Catholics. What is he to do?

The confrontational approach will result in smaller crowds at his meetings. Is it not right in the interests of reaching these very persons, to give them some say in the conduct and order of the religious services? At the very least, can some pleasant and softening speeches not be made to win their attachment to the campaigns? If the evangelist of our illustration does so (and let us believe the best of his motives) he is guilty of taking a false step and of committing grave error. By this one false move he now wields all his considerable influence and prestige in the direction of blurring the lines between truth and falsehood. But he may live and die without realising what he has done. The devil, meanwhile, is not slow to draw the threads of falsehood all the more firmly around the minds of those many thousands who, quite understandably, lionised the evangelist.

The above is only one example out of many of the way in which Satan exploits the infirmities of believers. There are applications to every congregation, every denomination, every pulpit and every pew. We might suffer this patiently without additional comment except that in certain cases the advantage gained by Satan becomes so great that it cries out for the utmost attention before it carries everything before it.

Such a situation was reached in the last century with the rise of the Higher Critical theory. It may well be that some of those who joined in the stampede for a critical approach to the text of holy Scripture were men with grace and good intention. If so, they were tragically misled, as the sequel has proved. But we know ourselves too well to forget that we all go astray 'like sheep' (Isa. 53:6). That is to say, we all incline too much towards following others. We love a leader who will do our thinking for us and go over the new ground before us. The price we pay is that we occasionally follow our leaders even over the enchanted ground, and we may have gone some way before we realise our danger and are able with pain and humiliation, to find our way back to the path.

There is one supremely important practical lesson to be learnt from the way Satan takes advantage of the infirmities of Christians. It is that we should seek always to attach the blame for the mischief which occurs rather to him than to them. Satan is expert at starting fires with other men's matches and leaving them to get the blame for it. If our gifted leaders get us into some troubles on occasion, we must have the grace to give them the benefit of acting on good motives. That their over- emphasis or excess of zeal or want of forethought led them into making impudent decisions or to cracking the nut with a sledge-hammer, we must not forget that the mischief which ensued was far more Satan's work than theirs.

It goes without saying also that wise leadership should always regard itself as capable of carrying a good thing too far and giving a handle unwittingly to the common adversary of our souls. Our universal folly as sinners is to become too much like ourselves, to the point where we love ourselves even for our own extremes. But this is an infirmity, and one which Satan will assuredly exploit to hurt the general cause of Christ. A paraffin lamp gives a tolerably good light if the wick is adjusted correctly. But if the wick is turned up too far it sends forth only smoke. Even so do our strong points help our brethren greatly. But, if strained and stretched too far, our helpful emphases only darken the fellowship and offend the brethren. Happy are we if we distrust our own hearts enough to accept correction from those who love us in the Lord.

This essay by Maurice Roberts has lessons for many. For us here at the Sydney Anglican Heretics blogspot we must examine the effect of our zeal for upholding the truth of God's Word, the Nature of Christ and the Glory of God and be careful not to be "starting fires with other men's matches." We must be careful to attribute blame more to Satan than to those who, as weak clay vessels, unwittingly do the work of the arch enemy of Christ's church.

At the same time, those we have spoken out against, must examine themselves to see whether, as we have asserted, they have become agents for Satan in undermining the faith once lost but rediscovered by the Reformers and professed but not entirely affirmed in the 'evangelical' church today. High position affords great opportunity to influence others and when regular pronouncements are cloaked in evangelical 'speak' and a declared intention to uphold the Word of God there are many in the church who place esteem in the man acting as such. However, chinks in the armour are detectable to the astute even if the trimmings of the world camouflage and deceive many.

The 'gloss' of man is dimmed against the Glory of God and the church which survives is that church which trusts implicitly in the Word of God against the seeming strength of argument from the world or those who have compromised with the world.

Biblical history is well supplied with those who have done the bidding of Satan and the history of the church since the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ bears the same sad story. Those with eyes to see and ears to hear look and listen.

Sam Drucker

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Satan's Advantages From Christians' Infirmities (Part 1)

In two instalments I propose to repeat a well written article, under the same title of this blog, by Maurice Roberts in the May 1991 issue of The Banner of Truth Journal. I shall make my own concluding comments in Part 2.

"There must be something approaching to joy among the devils in hell just as there is joy among evil men in this world. The joy of angels and Christian persons arises from their receiving news of sinners repenting and turning to God. The joy (if we may call it by that name) of devils springs from their witnessing anything which appears to damage the cause of God or to wound and weaken the witness of his people upon earth.

We suppose that the devil and his angels find satisfaction through the triumphing of evil in the measure in which such evil is promoted by godly men. That evil should be advanced by faithless and ungodly men of this world, therefore, must afford to demons a satisfaction at the lower end of the scale. But when, through infirmity or prejudice, godly persons do Satan's work for him - this we may reasonably suppose - is the pinnacle and summit of Satan's joy.

There can be no doubt that Satan employs immense resources of time, skill and effort to win over persons with influence in God's kingdom to do him service. There is more evidence in the Bible for this than one might at first suppose. The general rule of operation used by Satan, it would appear, is the obvious one of striking against God by means of His closest friends and most honoured servants. In this way Satan endeavours to inflict as great a blow against heaven as possible and to
injure God's work from the least-expected quarter.

In all this, let it be said, we do not forget that God's purpose is eternal and inviolable. But we draw attention to the love of cunning and 'subtlety' (Gen. 3:1), the serpentine and crooked (Isa. 27:1) way in which Satan is fond of working. It is this 'cunning craftiness' (Eph. 4:14) which is the distinctive hallmark of all his age-old industry of duplicity against the people of God. Satan's joy, to put it plainly, is most seen in his using God's best instruments against Himself

The above observations are surely borne out by the evidence. When Satan would murder mankind at a stroke he employed as his best ally the wife of Adam, our covenant-head. Here was the world's first and purest lady and the mother of mankind. We all fell in Adam. But it was through the woman given to be his greatest earthly blessing that Adam was induced to murder all his posterity. What satisfaction it must have been to the tempter that he got 'the mother of all living' to be the first instrument in their death! No mother's love was so perfect as hers - and no temptation so deadly as hers.

We see the same dark hand at work as soon as God had formed Israel into a covenanted people to himself. Even while Moses is still on Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, Satan is busy fostering apostasy among the people. This he does, not by means of some outsider, but by the hand of Aaron, Moses' brother, on whose authority the golden calf is made. Could any craft have been more crafty or could any mischief have been more mischievous? While the one brother serves God on the holy mount, the other serves Satan beneath its shadow. Even as the finger of God graves the second commandment in letters of stone, the very brother of Moses himself is at work graving an idol to cause the people to break it! The subtlety is too great to emanate from any other mind than that of Satan. The irony in wickedness is stamped all over with the serpent's image.

The same pattern is visible in the career of Saul, the first king. Here is a man who receives his kingship very definitely from God himself (1 Sam. 10:lf). If any man in history could claim to sit on a throne by 'divine right' (to use a phrase much loved by Stuart Kings), it was Saul the son of Kish. How ironical then that such a king should be a disaster both to himself and to the people of God! What a joy there was in hell when Saul, the anointed of the Lord, consulted with the witch of Endor and, next day, died ignominiously on the field of battle! 'Tell it not in Gath' was David's mournful reaction. It was too tragic not to be one of Satan's special strategems.

We may well suppose that the crucifixion of Christ at the hands of his Jewish countrymen is the supreme irony ever fostered by the devil. It is history's perfect masterpiece of hellish subterfuge because it is history's greatest crime and it was committed - alas! alas! - by the most devout and religious people history had ever known up to that time That some hidden, and lurking power of spiritual wickedness lay behind the frenzied hatred of the Jews is plain to every reader of the Scriptures: 'This is your hour and the power of darkness' (Luke 22:53). Our instinctive love for the Jews as a people only imensifies our sadness, when we reflect on the awful fact that 'he came unto his own and his own received him not' (John 1:11). In Christian compassion we long for the day when their insensate cry of 'His blood be on us and on our children!' will cease to call down judgment upon them and they as a people will receive the 'Spirit of grace and supplications' and so will 'look on him whom they have pierced' (Zech. 12:10) in repentance and faith.

That Peter did the devil's work handsomely on one occasion is further evidence that Satan always seeks to use the friends closest to God to do his work for him. The lessons which flow to us from the words of Christ on the occasion in question are full of solemn instruction and warning to every minister, elder, church and Christian. Christ's 'Get thee behind me, Satan' (Matt. 16:23) leaves us in no doubt that the best of Christians, the best of preachers, the holiest of saints and the most intimate of Christ's friends may, all unwittingly, do the devil's work for him on occasion. That they do it unconsciously and with the purest of motives goes far to excuse them in our eyes. But this very sincerity makes their influence all the more likely to do harm where they are most convinced they are doing only good.

Final instalment in a few days.

Sam Drucker

Saturday, January 21, 2012

There's no more room in the inn, John Dickson

We're all, by now, quite familiar at this blog with John's own take on Genesis 1. The gist of it is that the chapter is so chock-a-block full of literary devices that it just can't be an historical list. There's no proof attached to this, just a wild assertion that his word is true. As others have pointed out, it's all very circular: anything with lots of literary devices can't be history, Genesis 1 has lots, so therefore Genesis 1 isn't history.

Such logical parsimony grates like one of those common enough modern peaches that lures you to buying it: Looks beautiful in the store but take it home and it tastes like leather, and just as insipid.

Anyway, now another has come along and taken poor SAD apostle John to task over his underwhelming “scholarship”. See here

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sydney Episcopalian Mission Impossible

The cruise liner Costa Concordia running aground in the past couple of days brings to mind a recurring feature of ships sinking - there is a lot of movement on deck.

Depending on the urgency of the situation the pace of movement varies but there is always movement as passengers and crew seek a place offering the best opportunity for preservation of life.

That scene has its parallel in the Church and never was it more evident in the so-called evangelical church in the latter half of the 20th Century and into the 21st Century. Traditional denominational barriers have collapsed in that period as Christians seek safe haven from the onset of liberalism and consequent departure from recognising Scripture as the inspired Word of God.

While churches which brought on the slide bemoan their falling numbers and rising financial concerns those churches which gained from the transfer growth have been prone to erroneously believing they "have it all together".

Just as a sinking ship has no place affording long term survival so a church compromising at one level or another on the Word of God can offer no long term benefit to Christians.

Deuteronomy 32:36 has application here:

"The Lord will judge his people and have compassion on his servants when he sees their strength is gone and no one is left, slave or free."

As suggested in recent days by John in his blog, much of the evangelical church, including the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney, espouses faith in and upholding of the Word of God but, in reality, they do not trust the Word implicitly. Their failing is at one or more points but it can all be put down to two key themes - they have diluted the Gospel by turning it into a man-centred message and they have ceased to make the Word of God the rule of all practice.

With respect to many co-called evangelical churches and most of the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney the thoughts of man override all past interpretation of Genesis 1 to the extent of ruling out having the Word of God the rule of practice. It is no longer what Scripture clearly says but what man says it ought to be saying.

This is a recipe for failure and it is being worked out in practice. The mission of the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney to get 10% of the population of Sydney into Bible based churches by this year (although former Bishop Piper said it was to be year 2010) shows no valid sign of being fulfilled. Part of the strategy - Connect '09 - could not possibly be seen as giving the impetus for mission success. The smoothing words and celebrated 'pockets' of encouragement are a long way from the fervent activity one would expect to be seeing if the mission was on track.

Further, the Archbishop's production of figures suggesting a 5% increase in Sydney Episcopalian church attendance for year 2010 fails to identify transfer growth from denominations which have have made greater steps of departure from the Word of God than the Sydney Diocese. Transfer growth as part of only a 5% increase in Episcopalian pewsitting is a far cry from 10% of the population of Sydney being in Bible based churches.

Sydney Diocese, if you persist in trusting the word of man over the Word of God and acting in your own strength instead of God's strength you will run head first into the conviction of Deuteronomy 32:36.

Sam Drucker

Friday, January 13, 2012

Rob Forsyth, you've done it again!

In the Herald this morning there was a small column about the squabbles over in Manifest Destiny land between various factions in the Episcopalian Church. It concerned the issue of who owned church property when there is break-up, in this case, over the ordination of homosexuals. The piece ended with a few well-chosen comments by our old mate Rob Forsyth.

Rob was quick to point out that the Sydney Anglican Episcopalian Diocese stood back-to-back with their less liberal brothers on the matter. After all, he underscored, faithfulness to Christ was paramount and “at the end of the day, Christians must put honouring and following Christ ahead of everything, including their buildings.”

Sounds great: it's just what you'd expect a bishop to say. But don't forget this is the same guy who erases the immediate hand of Christ at every opportunity presented to him. Take for example his comments about the miracle of the Red Sea parting: "The same can be said of other genuine miracles. By miracle here I am talking not about events in which the remarkable timing of a natural event has significance, like possibly the wind blowing back the Red Sea in Exodus 15."

And: "One point of clarification. I do not think Exodus 14.21 is a miracle as such, but I do believe that the Lord did bring it about that the sea was turned into dry land, by providential use of so called 'natural' means." It sounds so nice, so,ahhh, pious, that you allow God some input at this point.

Let's see what else Rob shies away from:
(i) He has problems with the Virgin Birth.
(ii) Denies Adam and Eve were real people
(iii) He doesn’t believe that Jesus miraculously created the heavens and the earth
(iv) He believes that Jesus used secondary principles to create and not through himself.
(v) He believes that death is natural
(vi) He believes that death is Jesus' preferred method of creation
(vii) He believes that time and chance are the means by which things happen in nature
(viii) He doesn’t believe that God used wisdom in the creation
(ix) He believes that God incorporated errors into the creation from the beginning
(x) He believes that secular science should interpret the Bible
(xi) He doesn’t really take God at his word and prefers to make his own story up about how God did it, even mocking those who trust God and take his word as it is.
(xii) Rob parts company with all theologians prior to Darwin on origins, including Paul and the earliest of Christians, preferring to align himself with men like Spong and Dawkins.

But my favourite of favourite quotes is the following “[I]f, in fact, the earth was not old and life did not gradually develop, it would be a catastrophic blow to the [scientific] disciplines themselves. Quite a cost….One of the key assumptions in my approach…is that God does not teach what is false, and therefore the Bible, as the word of God, will not teach what is false. I think we can be certain that if the most basic observation tools or the most well-supported conclusions of science say that…[the earth] is very old and that life forms appeared gradually over a great deal of time, where the Bible appears to teach otherwise or to suggest otherwise, this cannot be what God is teaching. We have to change our interpretation of what God is saying to us in Scripture…It is much more certain that our interpretation of Scripture is open to question than the whole foundations of the entire discipline of modern science are faulty.” Says it all, doesn't it!

No, Rob. You're not changing our interpretation of Scripture – you're changing what Scripture clearly says. In fact, you're changing Jesus' own words : 'And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying....''for in six days I, the LORD, made the heavens and the earth.'' (Exodus 31:12,17). Let me think through this problem: the creator Jesus and his claim that he did it in 6 days Vs a 43 year old geologist, his expertise and his laboratory chock full of tools that are never-ever wrong and are so accurate they can take us back in time and know exactly how much K-40 and Ar-40 there originally was and if something, anything, happened along that putative 4.5 billion year journey that would alter the decay rate? Man, that is such a difficult problem. I guess I'll have to put all my faith in the guy with the white coat!

For the earlier thread on Rob see here.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Word of God Under Assault - Moses a Victim!

I am indebted to O. Palmer Robertson for his article on "Prophecy Today?" in the August/September 1990 issue of the Banner of Truth Journal. The article goes in a certain direction but the foundation of the article has helped me crystallize my thoughts on treatment being given to the word of Moses by many in the Church today. I have extracted sections of O. Palmer Robertson's article for this purpose:

"Biblical prophecy had its origins in the Old Testament, which is a fact of some significance. Prophecy is not a distinctly New Testament phenomenon, but one which dates back to the most ancient experiences of God's people.

Moses was the fountainhead of the prophetic movement in the Old Testament. As a matter of fact, Old Testament prophecy reached its point of highest glory in its beginning with Moses. Contrary to all concepts of an evolutionary development of religion in Israel, the apex of the prophetic movement found its expression in Moses, the original prophet and law-giver in Israel. He played a most unique role as mediator of the word of God to the people of Israel.

God's people themselves had strong feelings on this matter. They pleaded with Moses: Give us a substitute for this terrifying experience of hearing the thunder of God's voice [Deut. 18:16]. In response to the plea of the people. God provided a prophetic mediator and established the prophetic office. One man would receive the word of God in the mountain and subsequently mediate the word to the trembling people below. In this way prophecy had its origins.

Several significant conclusions may be reached about the nature of biblical prophecy as a consequence of the circumstances surrounding its establishment. The origins of prophecy reveal matters of continuing significance about the essence of the phenomenon.

First of all, the small, simple voice of the prophet substitutes for all the awesome signs of Sinai. The thunderous voice of God, the lightning, the fire, the smoke, the earthquake, the peal of the trumpet growing ever louder - all these frightening phenomena find their replacement in the voice of a single Israelite speaking among his brothers. Despite its relatively quiet tone, every word of the prophet comes as the very voice of God.

Secondly, the origin of the truly prophetic word is not to be found in the subjective experiences of a man. The prophet is not hallucinating when he declares, 'Thus says the Lord.' God's own word has come to the prophet, and finds its vehicle of communication in the chosen man's voice. God, not the subjective experiences of man, originates the prophetic word.

Thirdly, the word of the prophet is not primarily predictive in nature. Moses' main task in delivering the law at Sinai was not to predict the future, but to declare God's revealed will. Not a single prediction is found in the 'ten words', the heart of the revelation communicated through Moses.

The common distinction between the 'forth-telling' of the prophetic word and the 'fore-telling' of the future by the prophet must be understood correctly. From the beginning, the 'telling forth' of God's word was just as much a revelation of the infallible, inerrant and perfect word of God as was his 'fore-telling' of the future. It simply is not the case that the speaking forth of the prophet on various issues of the day was a kind of 'preaching' with diminished authority, while his 'fore-telling' of the future was inspired, inerrant and infallible in its character.

As a matter of fact, the essence of prophetism is always defined in the Bible in terms of this 'speaking forth' of the very word of God, whether or not it involved a foretelling of the future. Occasionally the prophet might predict a future event. Obviously, this kind of insight could occur only by divine revelation. But the essence of prophecy was not determined by the predictive element, but by the nature of the prophet's utterance as being the very word of God

While O. Palmer Robertson does not address it here (because his concern is misuse of fore-telling today) it is blindingly obvious that particulars of events of the past to which Moses would not be acquainted with, such as the first five days and part of the sixth day of Creation (when man did not exist) had to be given to Moses by divine revelation. God, alone, had to be the source of this revelation.

It is my contention (and I am not alone on this) that the revelation contained in Genesis 1 was given to Moses by God at Sinai. The particulars contained in Genesis 2 are what Adam, from his understanding, passed down to subsequent generations. It was known to Moses. Both accounts were 'told-forth' by Moses for our benefit.

As a prophet, Moses (like later prophets) had to 'tell-forth' some extensive amounts of information from God to the people of God. Consider for a moment the particulars of design and furnishing of the Tabernacle which God gave Moses and Moses had to pass on to craftsmen and artisans. Is there not an order in each specification and stage that is rhythmic and reminiscent of the structure of the Creation account in Genesis 1? Added to this is the abundance of regulations for living as the people of God for which an error in transmission by Moses had severe consequences.

Prophets of God were given capacity from the Holy Spirit of God to get it right. O. Palmer Robertson provides some further help here:

"Consider ...:

Exodus 4:14, 15: 'And you shall set the words in his mouth. And I shall be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach both of you what you shall do. And he [that is, Aaron as prophet for Moses] shall speak to the people for you. And it will be that he shall be to you for a mouth and you shall be to him for God.'

'Mouth to mouth': the descriptive phrase underscores the immediacy of the relationship that exists between God's Word and the prophetic word. The divine revelation goes directly from the mouth of God to the mouth of the prophet. The word of the prophet is the very Word of God. God does not communicate his revelation to the prophet 'thought to thought' or 'mind to mind', but 'mouth to mouth'. Prophetism, by definition, is concerned not merely with the reception of the Word of God, but with its communication as well. This description of the mode of communication of the prophetic word underscores the absolute perfections of the prophet's speech in representing God's Word. By a 'mouth to mouth' communication, God's Word is preserved in its integrity as it passes through the vehicle of the prophet.

Moses was the first appointed by God to prophesy as to the event and particulars of Creation occurring before and including the creation of man. Moses conveys the very utterance of God to man on Creation.

Today we are confronted by so-called Evangelicals overturning the very utterance of God on the events of the Creation Week. Unwilling as they are to stand with the faithful of past ages they cower in the face of embarrassment and ridicule from the world. They would sooner run from God than run from man because man is nearer to their heart than God. Oh sure, they would not agree with this assertion for they have an excuse -they are simply "trying to [re]interpret the intention of Moses in Genesis 1". But let there be no doubt they are casting aside the 'Mouth to mouth' Word of God.

They present themselves as false prophets and their number is great. Let the church beware of these wolves.

Sam Drucker

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Maintaining the Faith Involves Identifying the Enemy.

As the church slides deeper into declension one looks for and, at times, finds outposts which stand resistant to the slide. The Banner of Truth Trust has been one such outpost although I am not close enough to know how it stands today. At least up to June 1990 it stood firm. I suspect it still does with Iain Murray continuing as Editorial Director.

The following is an extract of an article in the June 1990 edition of the Banner of Truth Journal by Geoffrey Thomas concerning Stuart Olyott, Missionary to Switzerland:

"There are two services on the Lord's Day. First there is the Reformed Baptist church of 80 folk in their own building up on the third floor of an apartment and office block. From that French service Stuart and Doris drive off quickly to Lausanne's English congregation which meets in the building of an Open Plymouth Brethren Assembly after their morning service has ended (Doris says, 'His brain just switches from one language to another'). One of the officers takes the first part of the service and then Stuart preaches. He was continuing a series on 'What is a Christian?' on the Sunday we were there. In all his work. and with these many doors of service opening, like every real missionary, he is creating more and more opportunities and is crying out for help.

Stuart Olyott's present concern is with the direction of Reformed ministers on the Continent, seeing a trend which appears to be taking the Bible out of the hands of the ordinary believer and limiting understanding of its message to the technical scholar. Understanding the opening chapters of Genesis is the focus of this issue. 'What was the intention of the author?' men ask, for if he intended not to speak historically but theologically then what is found in Genesis 1-3, if read as theology, offers no problems. Ultimately, this method of interpretation is trying to distinguish between the concepts of the biblical writers and the concepts of God himself (contextualisation). Stuart Olyott accepts E. J. Young's conclusion, that 'Genesis [chapter] one is not poetry or saga or myth, but straightforward, trustworthy history, and, inasmuch as it is a divine revelation, accurately records those matters of which it speaks. That Genesis one is historical may be seen from these considerations: (1) It sustains an intimate relationship with the remainder of the book. The remainder of the book (i.e., The Generations) presupposes the Creation Account, and the Creation Account prepares for what follows. The two portions of Genesis are integral parts of the book and complement one another. (2) The characteristics of Hebrew poetry are lacking. There are poetic accounts of the creation and these form a striking contrast to Genesis one. (3) The New Testament regards certain events mentioned in Genesis one as actually having taken place. We may safely allow the New Testament to be our interpreter of this mighty first chapter of the Bible' (Studies in Genesis One, p. 105).

Men like E. J. Young and John Murray stood firmly on such principles as that there is one meaning of biblical texts, that that meaning is the divine thought, that that meaning is discernible to men, and that meaning is inseparably tied to the jot and tittle of biblical revelation. But today there are Reformed scholars and preachers who, in the name of hermeneutics, are studiously using almost every kind of unbelieving radical criticism, albeit in small doses. As a result, the meaning of Scripture is devalued and so is the seriousness with which the Reformed confessions are held. The purpose of Christian scholarship should be to clarify and explain divine revelation and not to confuse the church. Evidently considerable confusion is now issuing from certain distinguished seminary professors on the Continent.

The central question as Stuart Olyott sees it is, What is the meaning of the Holy Spirit in Genesis 1-3? The evident complexities offered by current teachers have several threatening dangers, chief among which is that it puts Scripture outside the reach of the child of God who has no formal training in rabbinic literature, middle-eastern culture or its literary genres. It would seem that really to understand the first chapters of the Bible one must be an expert in all kinds of esoteric subjects. And if one does not have the scholarship credentials that the learned national leaders possess, too bad for such a man! He cannot really know what the Bible teaches. Effectively the Scriptures are taken from God's people and are made the exclusive property of learned men.

That Mr Olyott has raised matters like this in France and Switzerland as a foreign missionary has not commended him to certain national pastors and teachers. But for him the issue is one of faithfulness to Jesus Christ. The Lord taught that God's infinite word is in its jot and tittle. The specific words of Genesis 1-3 are God's thoughts and word [Matt. 5:18]. This means the Scripture is clearly understandable to men and should be taught in its exact language and meaning to men. They should keep even the very least of its commandments and teach them to others. Jesus clearly teaches that Genesis 1-3 is not a mere sign pointing to the meaning in God's mind. It is exactly what God wants to say to us. All the finery of contemporary scholarship is not needed in order to understand the message of God. It is 'near' us and 'in our mouth'

Pity Moore Theological College doesn't take the stance advocated by the article.

Sam Drucker