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Monday, March 5, 2012

"I am Not a Scientist"

"I am not a scientist!" said a notable of the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney when very briefly addressing the debate over Origins at the CMS Summer Camp at Katoomba this year. Putting it simply, there is no change in his acquiescing to the worldly view on Origins and massaging the Creator into that picture. He admits of his lack of scientific qualification and defers to the majority who have such qualification and who theorize to the negation of the Word of God.

All that I have seen and heard from the many in the Diocese is that one's position on the subject is simply a matter of conscience and that we all should respect each others position and let it rest at that. Yet it appears to me that errant decisions of conscience in the history of the Church have been abused to the extent they have become the order for faith and practice.

Regardless of what denomination of Christianity a person may participate, the Christian ought to be able to say Amen to these words of the Westminster Confession [Chapter XX, 2]: "God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his word, or beside it, in matters of faith or worship."

Looking back at something dealing with matters of conscience I found an essay by Donald MacLeod, former Associate Editor of Banner of Truth Journal. The essay appeared in the July-August 1971 edition. Having informed his readers of two of three theological grounds for the liberty of conscience the Christian has through Jesus Christ (the first being our sonship in Jesus Christ and second being that God alone is Lord of the conscience) MacLeod moves on to the third ground and says:

"Thirdly, and above all, Christian liberty is based upon the supremacy and sufficiency of Scripture as the only rule of faith and life. It is here that the heavenly Father reveals His will and that the Lord of conscience expresses His authority. All that is revealed in Scripture is mandatory. We must believe and obey. Our consciences are bound. But nothing that is contrary to Scripture can bind us; and where Church or State violate this principle the Christian believer has no choice but to state emphatically, 'I must obey God rather than men.' But we must go even further. The Christian is free not only from precepts contrary to Scripture but also from precepts which are beside it in matters of faith and worship. This is the so-called Puritan principle. Certainly it was the kernal [sic] of Puritanism, which was primarily not a theological or doctrinal tendency but a very definite ecclesiological stand-point. The Church must have positive Biblical warrant for all that it prescribes in the realm of faith and worship. It cannot bind the consciences of its members by saying, You must do this because it is not forbidden by Scripture. It must be able to say, You have to do this because it is commanded in Scripture."

To quote MacLeod further: "There is no need to linger over the practical outworking of this principle. It applies, first of all, in the realm of doctrine. The Church cannot impose as an article of faith anything contrary to the Word of God or anything not revealed in the Word of God."

Despite the wisdom espoused by MacLeod the Church has not been listening. One recent example of a matter initiating as a matter of conscience but later taking on the order for church life has been that of ordination of women as priests in the Church of England. The ordination of practicing homosexuals is to play out the same. To hold a contrary position on the basis of the Word of God will not suffice.

All the signs exist for the Biblical Creationist position on Origins, as held by Luther and Calvin, to be so estranged from accepted doctrine that proponents will be exorcised from the church. No longer will the position taken on Origins be a matter of conscience but only that which incorporates much of the worldly view will be acceptable.

I have to rely on the word of someone who was there but I understand that when discussion occurred in recent years at the Synod of the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney on criteria for appointment of the next Archbishop, one influential person - a Theistic Evolutionist - said what candidates believed on Creation ought to be considered. I am sure other readers can cite further examples of the cramping to the later extent of exclusion of Biblical Creationists from the established church - Episcopalian or other.

I remind all concerned that God is the Lord of conscience and one risks censure from God for any breach of conscience from the express Word of God.

Sam Drucker

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