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Monday, April 30, 2012

Elements Down-Grade in Sydney Episcopalian Church (Part 3 - final)

The first two instalments of this series provided a background to the Down-Grade Controversy in the Nonconformist Church in England in the late 19th Century. The purpose of this final instalment is to apply that controversy to the Episcopalian Church in Sydney, Australia, of late 20th and early 21st Century. It is not within this writer's knowledge whether full comparison exists so I will confine this blog to the issue of trust in the Word of God which does bear comparison. I must also add that, even in this, I suspect there will be many incidents of note which I don't have knowledge of. Clearly, leaders of the Nonconformist Church in England had departed from trust in the Word of God and left themselves open to receiving doctrines contrary to Reformed doctrine. These errant doctrines they nurtured and permitted to be taught in theological institutions, thus submitting future preachers, teachers and leaders of the Nonconformist Church to distrust in the Word of God and false doctrine. What made the situation all the more galling was the stealth employed by the leaders of the Nonconformist Church - concealing their unorthodox doctrine. The process, planned or otherwise, was done under the veil of professed evangelicalism. So effective was the move that, at the end of the controversy, people such has C. H. Spurgeon were almost friendless in their argument against this declension in the church. Also evident is the strategy of the leaders to avoid controversy within the church as the malaise was spreading. That brings me to the Sydney Episcopalian Church today. Some matters I will raise here have been mentioned intermittently on this blogspot previously but it is necessary to bring them together for this study. Approximately 100 years after the Down-Grade Controversy in England, the Principal of Moore Theological College, Sydney, Australia, informed students in their college's publication Societas that students needed to consider science in their theological studies and alerted them to preparations for this need to be met at the college. Following this occurred the appointment to faculty of a man with very close links to an organization purportedly made up Christians with scientific qualification. This man, like other members of the organization, had made the Word of God subject to the current world view on the origin of life inasmuch as the Word of God had to be interpreted through the glasses of 'science'. This man had been given access to the mind of students of Moore Theological College. Worse still, he was the means by which the organization itself gained access to students to colour their mind with a view on origins alien to the thoughts of the Reformers and one that sits uncomfortably with the Word of God - it does not sit as one with the Word of God. As a sidelight I mention that those in a Christian organization who upheld the Reformers' position on Origins attempted to reach students with a seminar on campus encountered discouragement from the college. Nevertheless, the seminar went ahead but word reaching this writer indicates students were discouraged from within the college to attend the event. The infiltration did not stop there. The organization gained access to students of New College, a residential for Christian students studying at the University of NSW. At one event sponsored by the organization the speaker attempted to demolish the Reformation stance of Genesis 1 being an historical rendering of the Creation account. In that speaker's mind, the writer of Genesis 1 was presenting something of a concealed message because of the extent of literary devices employed in the text. The organization has gained access to churches as well and this writer has attended two such events. In another digression I mention that, as with all my encounters with the organization's members, the speakers at these events have no complete doctrine on the Creation account. It is all very tenuous and sits poorly with the rest of Scripture and its vital doctrines. I recall one event when during the supper afterward, which was to be an opportunity for question and answer, the speaker was so shamefully found lacking in his doctrinal position that he went and hid in his car when failing to reason out his case. Further testament to the dangerous theology found at one time within the organization can be observed when a member was asked some years ago how he reconciles Jesus Christ's teaching about a 'young' earth with what current scientific view espouses. The member's response was "Jesus didn't know as much science as we do today." I can only conclude that man, though purporting to be a Christian, did not believe that Jesus Christ, Son of God, is Creator through Whom all things were made and in Him all things hold together. Back to the point of this blog. The sorry situation is that elements of the 19th Century Down-Grade Controversy in the Nonconformist Church in England have emerged in the Sydney Episcopalian Church some hundred years hence. A body of people purporting to represent the Word written but who demonstrate they more readily represent their peers in schools of science have been given access, by leaders in the church, to the minds of Christians. Because they rely on the testimony of people who look at objects in the present and, from these, attempt to interpret events of the past they devolve an interpretation of the Word written in Genesis 1 far below that which God has bequeathed to Christians in equal portion from generation to generation. The fruit of this degenerate theology made itself evident in recent times when a graduate of the time from Moore Theological College and subsequently returning to be on faculty at that institution could make the astonishing claim, when questioned publicly, that the mention of a man called Noah in the genealogy at Genesis 5 was no basis for believing that Noah was a real person. The down-grade is in place and moving through the Sydney Episcopalian Church through a former Principal of Moore Theological College having given a world influenced body of people access to impressionable students. The baton is being passed from one generation of leadership to another and the direction, left unchecked, will be down, down, down. Sam Drucker

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Elements of Down-Grade in Sydney Episcopalian Church (Part 2)

I think it necessary to provide a little more on the correspondence emanating from the camp of Charles Haddon Spurgeon on the issue known as the "Down-Grade Controversy" of the late 19th Century before I apply it to the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney. In the March 1887 there appeared the first of two articles written by Robert Shindler, close associate of Charles Spurgeon and fellow Baptist Pastor, in the Sword and Trowel under the heading of the "The Down Grade". I provide extracts herewith: "The Presbyterians were the first to get on the down line," said Shindler. "They paid more attention to classical attainments and other branches of learning. . . . It [became] an easy step in the wrong direction to pay increased attention to academical attainments in their ministers, and less to spiritual qualifications; and to set a higher value on scholarship and oratory, than on evangelical zeal and ability to rightly divide the word of truth." Shindler took aim at the leadership of the Nonconformist church because of the degree of secrecy in which they gave over to doubt about Reformation principles and belief, saying: "These men deepened their own condemnation, and promoted the everlasting ruin of many of their followers by their hypocrisy and deceit; professing to be the ambassadors of Christ, and the heralds of his glorious gospel, their aim was to ignore his claims, deny him his rights, lower his character, rend the glorious vesture of his salvation, and trample his crown in the dust." He concluded the article with: "These facts furnish a lesson for the present times, when, as in some cases, it is all too plainly apparent men are willing to forego the old for the sake of the new. But commonly it is found in theology that that which is true is not new, and that which is new is not true." The April, 1887 edition of Sword and Trowel provided the second instalment and reemphasized the failure of the Nonconformist church to deal with those in the pulpit espousing doctrine contrary to that of the Reformation. I provide herewith some quotes: [The] "tadpole of Darwinism was hatched. . . [in a pew] of the old chapel in High Street, Shrewsbury," where Charles Darwin had first been exposed to scepticism by a pastor who was full on with Socinianism. "In the case of every errant course there is always a first wrong step. If we can trace that wrong step, we may be able to avoid it and its results. Where, then, is the point of divergence from the "King's highway of truth"? What is the first step astray? Is it doubting this doctrine, or questioning that sentiment, or being sceptical as to the other article of orthodox belief? We think not. These doubts and this scepticism are the outcome of something going before. The first step astray is a want of adequate faith in the divine inspiration of the sacred Scriptures. All the while a man bows to the authority of God's Word, he will not entertain any sentiment contrary to its teaching. 'To the law and to the testimony,' is his appeal concerning every doctrine. He esteems that holy Book, concerning all things, to be right, and therefore he hates every false way. But let a man question, or entertain low views of the inspiration and authority of the Bible, and he is without chart to guide him, and without anchor to hold him." and "In looking carefully over the history of the times, and the movement of the times, of which we have written briefly, this fact is apparent: that where ministers and Christian churches have held fast to the truth that the Holy Scriptures have been given by God as an authoritative and infallible rule of faith and practice, they have never wandered very seriously out of the right way. But when, on the other hand, reason has been exalted above revelation, and made the exponent of revelation, all kinds of errors and mischiefs have been the result." I will conclude with the final instalment in a few days. Sam Drucker

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Elements of Down-Grade in Sydney Episcopalian Church

Readers may or may not be familiar with the late 19th Century "Down-Grade Controversy" of the English Nonconformist church with Charles Haddon Spurgeon at the forefront of the battle to defend the Word of God in the life and practice of the church. Provided hereunder is an extract of an article dealing with the background to the Down-Grade Controversy written by Michael Boland for the February 1968 issue of The Banner of Truth Journal.

"The story of the progress of the critical view of the Bible among Nonconformist denominations has been well told from the point of view of one who sympathises with the movement, in Evangelical Nonconformists and Higher Criticism in the Nineteenth Century by Dr Willis B. Glover. Glover concedes that the abandonment of the traditional attitude towards the Bible was not necessarily the result of objective scientific discoveries, so much as of the spirit of the age [p 71]. According to his account, the take-over process was certainly rapid. Higher criticism did not get a foothold in England until after 1880 [p 36]. Yet by the mid I890's 'the new approach to the Bible had been accepted by the overwhelming majority of Nonconformist leaders and was taught in all the leading Nonconformist colleges.' [p 213], although 'there remained large numbers of laymen and some ministers who never accepted the new criticism even in principle.' Nonconformist leaders had, in fact, rejected the doctrine of inerrancy before 1880. In 1868, Alexander Raleigh declared in his Chairman's address to the Congregational Union that there were errors and mistakes in the Bible, and R. W. Dale, who succeeded him, took the same position the following year.

The path of higher criticism was smoothed by several factors. For one thing, Glover shows how it attained respectability through being adopted, or at least tolerated, by men whose orthodoxy or piety was unchallenged. 'The men who led England into a critical view of the Bible were men known for theological orthodoxy', men like William Robertson Nicoll, Editor of the British Weekly, and regarded as an evangelical, who could uphold the doctrine of eternal punishment in his columns and at the same time give a hearing to Higher Criticism. Alexander MacLaren, bar Spurgeon the great Baptist preacher of his day, was classed among the conservatives at the time of the Down-Grade controversy. Yet of him Glover writes, 'The example of so great a preacher who was tolerant of higher criticism and who even entertained the possibility that the story of the fall was mythical could not have been without effect.' [p 139]. Glover also shows how 'the experiential emphasis of the evangelicals could relegate the whole problem of criticism to insignificance.' [p137]. 'Evangelicals would tolerate almost any divergence in doctrine provided the individual concerned was known to have a fervent evangelical experience, and above all if his ministry awakened the same experience in others.' [p 93]. An example of this was when Robert F. Horton advocated critical views in Inspiration and the Bible. This aroused strong criticism, which was, however, blunted by the fact that 'the Biblical critic was also a prominent missioner.'

One remarkable feature of the introduction to Nonconformist churches of critical views of the Bible pointed out by Glover, was their 'gradual acceptance without serious and church-splitting controversy.' This was, as we have just seen, partly because Nonconformity's trusted leaders accepted them, either positively or by default. Another reason was the policy of stealth adopted by some who had embraced higher criticism. Glover speaks of 'the tendency of some who were in advance of the general movement of opinion to hide their more unorthodox ideas from the public' 'This', he claims, 'was unquestionably an instance of sound political sense.' Others may agree with Spurgeon's view that it was more like dishonesty. In the event, however, these men were successful in keeping their churches, and preserving their denominations from splits, which presumably was the reward they were seeking.

In a sense, then, when Spurgeon wrote his Down-Grade articles, English Nonconformity was in the thick of a conflict over the Bible, as to whether it could any longer be accepted as an infallible rule for doctrine and practice. In another sense, however, the battle was already over and lost. Conservative scholars, Glover argues, were accepting the presuppositions of the critics. When Alfred Cave tried to answer the critics on the Old Testament, he sought to establish the authority of the Bible on a critical and historical basis. Glover points out that while Cave claimed that what was involved was a battle of standpoints, he himself seemed to have accepted the standpoint of higher criticism, [p 193]. Thus the English conservative scholars fought the battle on points of detail, rather than by challenging the over-all approach of the critics, as did the American Princeton school of Greene and Warfield, whom Robertson Nicoll claimed were 'the only respectable defenders of verbal inspiration.' Spurgeon, who was not primarily a theologian though by no means a theological ignoramus, was one of the few who had not yielded the battle, and he rejected the Higher Critical approach root and branch [although one review did appear in the Sword and Trowel of a book by C. A. Briggs expressing 'our unqualified approval and our lively admiration of this entire work,' being subsequently repudiated when the British Weekly drew Spurgeon's attention to the character of the book, 'a somewhat advanced and superficial product of the critical school.']

On Spurgeon's attitude to Higher Criticism, Willis B. Glover concludes, 'Spurgeon was so far behind the general movement of opinion that his own more logical judgment was scarcely understood.' This is at least a tribute to his consistency."

Later this week I intend applying some principles and observations derived from that article to the present Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney.

Sam Drucker

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Science" that kills

That great reptilian from outer space, Richard Dawkins, is in town. His pseudo and anti-science circus is on its way to Melbourne for a week-long gab fest about how mad and bad Christians and wicked creationists are. Dawkins, in case you don't recognise him, will be the guy with his back, always, to the clock. After the very late pullout of his mate Chris Hitchens, Richard has been assiduously and, rumour has it, quite superstitiously avoiding allowing any timepiece to relay to him just how many minutes, hours, days and, as he secretly hopes, years, left for his purely atomistic body to, well, implode. Poor chap, only looks half the man he was a few years back.

Anyway, Richard's doing a double act with Lawrence Krauss, a bloke from Arizona State University. Lawrence Krauss has recently written a book titled A Universe from Nothing. Of course, if you believe, in agreement with African Voodoo witchdoctors and New Age Raelian crystal worshippers, that life can just arise from non-life by some magical incantation or aliens, as Richard is now apparently firmly supporting, then you have no problem, apart from a few untidy and intransigent mathematical equations that refuse to make zero=everything, with whole universes being able[Cue in the sound of a scientist's fillip] to pop out of, well, NO THING.

Lawrence got a few hundred words in the Herald last week. His attempt to make out that it was science vs religion and science wins, always, failed miserably. Read a friend’s letter which pointed out a few uncomfortable scientific facts Lawrence didn’t know about. Quite a comic Lawrence is. Hope he’s also got a sense of humour.

Dear Lawrence,

In your Saturday’s Herald piece you posed to the reader what ostensibly appeared as a Hobson’s choice between science and religion. You implied that a person would only be rational if they elected to use the Heimlich Manoeuvre on someone in the throes of choking rather than praying over them. Of course, truly rational and scientific people, like myself, would only give each of those roughly a 50:50 chance of working at best. Your quite decidedly irrational faith that the Heimlich actually works would have been exposed if you’d left the ivory tower and undertaken a first aid course. The first thing the instructor tells you is that the Heimlich is actually dangerous and can injure you. Pressing hard and fast on unprotected organs, as this manoeuvre requires, can injure severely the person and may not in fact work, notwithstanding the TV sit-coms you’ve obviously obtained your pseudo-scientific first aid knowledge from.

Furthermore, your unfortunate choice of the Heimlich to express the superiority of your materialist philosophy is doubly ironic. Heimlich’s wife authored books on homoeopathy and other “cures”, while according to his son Peter, he was a complete fraud. Heimlich himself has also tossed up his own brand of quackery: advocating the use of malaria to cure HIV.

Well, Lawrence, I really shouldn’t be surprised that you entertain such poor standards of rationality and instead opt for the unscientific religious; after all, every first-year philosophy undergrad knows that ex nihilo nihil fit rules, OK!

Kind regards

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Is Evangelicalism Just a Cult?

Readers may wonder why I am inclined to republish writings of the past. The intent is to look back and see the position from where evangelicalism has shifted. The way to see if a stick is straight is to hold it against a stick proven in the past to be straight.

There are many dangers for Christendom and the penalties for straying are severe.

In this spirit I provide an article written by Paul Helm in the January 1968 edition of the Banner of Truth Journal.


What is a cult ? Most of us have a rough idea; a tightly-knit, rather rootless religious group claiming to have 'the truth', but in fact catering for the religious needs of a particular group - the mystical, the heavily eschatological, those who crave certainty above truth, those distrustful of 'modern thought' - the misfits of our society.

We do not include ourselves - the evangelicals - in our list of cults. Why not? There is not a shadow of a doubt that in the minds of many we are lumped together with the Witnesses, the Mormons and the rest. To them we are 'religious', having a language, friends, activities and values of our own; yet often aggressively confident that we have the truth; another, rather faded, 'special offer' in the religious bargain-basement.

Why are people wrong to think this way about the evangehcal faith? Why must they be wrong ? The crucial difference, the one we have for too long forgotten [to our peril] is that a true evangelicalism is only meaningful set in the midst of human life, with its endeavours and initiatives, its suffering and its folly, and its sin. The evangelical faith is credible when set in the context of creation, of life, and of human history. By 'credible' here is not meant 'is more easily accepted' but that the unique claims made by the biblical gospel will only be seen for what they are when set in such a context. The gospel gets its edge when this background is understood, and the 'christian life' becomes meaningful when Christians see that it consists in thinking-out and living-out the implications of such a gospel; implications that are understood not only in general spiritual terms but in the concrete demands of human life-work, the family, leisure, politics, the arts.

The cults do not think like this at all. They are self-contained sub-cultures catering for specific needs. They do not have any doctrine of creation, or of human life; or if they have they only pay lip-service to it; and they do not in general expect to have any non-religious consequences flowing from their beliefs. They are 'separatistic' in the worst sense of that word; not concerned only with their doctrinal purity but with cutting themselves off as much as possible from everyday life. It is in this crucial respect that the evangelical faith differs in character from the cults.


This is likely to provoke two comments. First, that contemporary evangelicalism is not recognisably like this; it is individualistic, lives on religious sensations, has little interest in doctrine or in human life. Indeed it would not be an exaggeration to say that many evangelicals are embarrassed by the very existence of the world. The answer to this is that to our shame all this [and a lot more like it] is true, but that evangelicals who behave in this way do not do justice to the logic of their faith. They are living below par; for a faith that has a doctrine of creation and of human nature will have implications for the quality of human life. If these implications are not seen, and no concern is expressed about them, this does not mean that the implications do not exist.

The second comment is likely to be this. You say that the faith has implications for the whole of life and that the gospel is best understood when this point is firmly grasped. But what are these implications ? What follows for us in 1968 ? This is a good question, and I do not want to dodge it. But the answer is painful. For a hundred years or so in this country few have paid the slightest attention to studying these questions. In a cultural situation that has changed out of all recognition the evangelical world-view of a century ago [with all its faults] has become fragmented. There are many causes of this - the inroads made into biblical authority by higher criticism, into the doctrine of creation by Darwin, into the biblical view of God and the world by philosophical idealism, and so on. The result is that while life has gone on around us the thinking of Christian people has stopped. Evangelicals - due no doubt to a praiseworthy concern to defend the essence of the gospel message - have in the meantime become culturally contracted. So the painful answer is that, having stopped thinking, we have little to say about the implications of the faith for today's or tomorrow's world. We are to think, and we are to expect answers to our probings, for we are God's creatures and this is God's world. But evangelicals have long since stopped thinking, and have paid
the price; we cannot appraise or influence affairs as we should, we cannot counsel our young people or channel their energies constructively. We have stagnated, and many of us have become proud of it.


In this difficult situation the Reformed faith has a unique contribution to make to a return to a living evangelicalism. Let me try and make good this claim by relating certain features of the Reformed faith - in a very sketchy way - to the needs of our situation outlined above.

British evangelicalism, as we have seen, values the quick return, the tangible, the personal, the sensational. The Reformed faith, following Scripture, places emphasis not on these things but on the divine decree and control and purpose. Fundamental to Scripture and to Reformed thinking is the fact that God has a plan. How does this help ? By giving to the people of God a calmness of spirit and serenity of mind; by enabling them to take a long-term view and encouraging them to put their minds to work in the fulfilling of God's purposes for His creation.

Consider, secondly, the link between creation and redemption. Redemption, the Reformers constantly show us, can only be understood if we grasp that it is man made in God's image [but fallen] who is redeemed and restored into fellowship with his Maker by the gospel. Redemption is not to be seen primarily as an experience [though it involves experiences] but a gracious restoration. This means that human life for the Christian is not a search for an endless succession of religious feelings, but the life of a restored human being.

Third, there is the Reformed teaching about the world. For the Reformers 'the world' was not taboo, a place to be shunned, but a battle field. It is God's created order, and it is the Christian's place under God to seek the full restoration of God's image in man by living creatively according to the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus the Christian man will strive for the replenishment and exercise of his gifts,becoming again, as the newly-created Adam was, a divine workman.


It is in these ways, and others not indicated, that the Reformers show us that the biblical faith cannot be divorced from thought or from life, but has implications for both which it is the Christian's divinely appointed task to work out. There is no recipe here for quick and easy solutions to life's many problems but a mandate for creative [or re-creative] Christian thinking.

Is evangelicalism a cult? Not when it is seen to be true to itself and to the logic of its belief. Unhappily this is not the case at present; evangelicals have become side-tracked. We must take up again the foundational principles of our faith and trace out then: implications for our lives. It is in this way that under God we fulfil our callings as Christian men and women and display the gospel in its many-sidedness

Few would call the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, an evangelical and he certainly demonstrated he wasn't by his performance in debate with Atheist, Richard Dawkins, on ABC Television's Q & A program last Monday night. The Archbishop has a pitiful doctrine on Creation - assigning Adam and Eve to mythology - and the rest of his doctrine, consequently, slides into nothingness.

Sydney Episcopalians should note the course they are directing hearers and readers to as they present a flaky doctrine of Creation today.

Sam Drucker

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Plea to Undergraduates of Moore Theological College.

I was reassured by recent reading of an article titled "The Right of Private Judgement" by Paul Helm in the December 1972 edition of the Banner of Truth Journal.

The article had its emphasis on the roots of the Reformation and the error of church traditions at cost to the Word of God. However, there were some statements by Helm, some forty years ago, which have relevance for Christians today within the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney, particularly those who are submitting themselves to lecturers of Moore Theological College.

Helm, at one point, had this to say:

"For the Reformers faith is faith in Christ, and in the Word of Christ. They were not haunted by the thought, as much of modern Protestantism is, that the Bible may obscure Christ's Word, or that a man may mistake trust in his Bible for trust in Christ. Scripture is Christ's Word and there Christ is faithfully pictured. 'Faith in Christ', 'faith in Scripture, the Word of Christ' - for the Reformers these expressions came to much the same thing.

The Reformers view of Scripture as sufficient and clear must be borne in mind. Its essential meaning is plain to all. It does not contain any 'small print'. It cannot be added to, or subtracted from. By contrast, faith in Christ's Church (given the Roman view of the Church) must be implicit. For faith is faith in whatever the Church might at any time be disposed to teach. Trusting the Church involves signing an intellectual blank cheque."

A new year is under way and new students have entered Moore Theological College in the belief they are Protestant and Reformed. If they are inclined to believe that the theological institution they have entered is fully trustworthy they may very well just absorb and regurgitate errors of the day. In this they expose themselves to being caught in a drift to worldliness something akin to the errors of Rome.

On the matter of Origins I urge students to be constantly looking to their Lord Jesus Christ Incarnate - the things He said, the things He did. The more they gaze upon Him the more they will see in Him confirmation of Him who created all things in the beginning in six days. A plain view of the Son of God affirms a plain reading of the Word written in Genesis 1. When hearing of things contrary to this revelation of Him, question it, weigh it, ask yourself, "Is this the Jesus Christ recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?" Surely, you will find that on the basis of all they saw and heard these writers would fall under the category today called Biblical Creationist.

How else could you account for John's experience recorded at John 20:8 and for him to later write the words of John 1:1-3?

Please, please, don't succumb to the undermining of confidence in the Word written as the Church, via its lecturers at Moore Theological College, is disposed at this time to teach.

Sam Drucker

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Contending With the Spirit of the Age.

Many have written about authors of significant influence on Western Culture in the late Nineteenth Century. These works maintain influence today. These are the authors of novels (fiction) whose world view they impressed either discretely or overtly upon their works and came to change the moral standard of Great Britain and, ultimately, Western Culture. Surely, the 'spirit of the age' alone would guide such a purposeful and collective outcome.

Some key influences were Robert Louis Stevenson, Thomas Hardy, H. G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf and others such as Leonard Woolf, Leslie Stephen and Edmund Gosse.

It is amazing to observe the close Christian influence several of these people had yet it was to no avail in preventing them pursuing a path of unbelief - Leslie Stephen, father of Virginia Woolf, had been an ordained Clergyman before renouncing Holy Orders; R L Stevenson's father was a pious Christian man who constantly appealed to his son for change; Hardy's parents were regular church attenders and Hardy spent many years under the influence of Henry Moule, Vicar of Fordington when, in 1875, an 'Awakening' broke out in the parish; contrary to what Gosse wrote about his father in Father and Son there is credible evidence elsewhere to show his father was a pious and gentle Christian man. Weeds arise in the best kept gardens as unbelief arises amid the best of opportunities.

Dr Wilbur Smith, speaking at Westminster Chapel in 1952, said:

"A few months ago, the New York Times issued a fifty-page brochure, four columns to a page, entitled 'A Century of Books', in which the editors gathered together reviews, appearing in this distinguished paper from 1851 to 1951, of one hundred and thirteen notable books, some of which continue to have world-wide influence, and a few, influence over millions. In carefully studying these pages, I am again impressed with the antichristian or non-christian position of the majority of these authors, in fact, apart from Hawthorne, I could not recognize one writer, man or woman, who could be called a believing Christian; and not one book among all those referred to here was written to extol Christian virtues, to honour the Lord Jesus, or to expound the Word of God. What can be the result of allowing these volumes to determine one's values but a hardening of the hearts of men against the Christian faith."

Writing some years earlier in A Study of Religious Thought in England" (1933) Clement C. J. Webb said:

"The true enemy of religion in the modern world is not philosophy or science; it is purely the secular habit of mind."

Such views need to be borne in mind when Biblical Creationists present the Acts 17 approach to evangelism. Yes, there are plenty of instances of the presentation of the Creator and consequent argument against evolution which has paved the way to presenting, and a person receiving, Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. But be prepared. There are many non-believers for whom the argument for evolution is just part of their defence for unbelief. The root cause is a secular habit of mind and no matter the strength of the case for a Creator these people will not believe. In each instance of you demolishing a particular aspect of their argument from science they sidestep to another aspect and on it goes. Their secular habit of mind is the driving force and this itself under influence of the spirit of the age.

This is not meant to discourage what some call "Creation Evangelism" for, as I have said, it does bear fruit. I simply want Biblical Creationists to be mindful it is not a 'cure all' and to be mindful of what is in play.

Sam Drucker

Thursday, April 5, 2012

An Honest Woman

I heard a story tonight arising from Biblical Creationist ministry at Penrith Anglican Church a couple of weeks ago.

A woman went to one of the morning services of firm mind that Biblical Creationists had it all wrong. She sat stoicly through the service and was later heard to say that she accepted a lot of what the speaker said but could not accept the six day creation.

She returned to a later service in the day, sat through it and went up to the speaker afterward and apologised to him for going to the services determined not to believe what the speaker had to say. She said she had just completed her Doctorate in Education, was convinced of the argument for evolution and had also been criticising her Niece who was home-schooling children and teaching them Biblical Creationism. The woman was now trying to work out how to apologise to her Niece.

It says a lot about the impressive character of the woman that, on the day, she was willing and able to evaluate the case for Biblical Creationism and see the frailty of the evolution argument. What a wonderful woman! What an honest woman! A Berean, for sure!

I wish her well in her relations with her Niece and her growth as a Christian, trusting implicitly in the Word of God.

Sam Drucker

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Every Thing Old is New Again.

Both six-day creationists and scientific materialists approach Genesis 1 as if the original author had intended to narrate the mechanics of creation in historical prose. I believe this is a mistaken, literalistic reading. For over a century now, a great many biblical historians have detected in the Bible’s opening words a style other than simple prose and a purpose other than to explain how the universe was made. These two issues, genre and purpose, are critical for understanding this foundational portion of the Jewish and Christian Bible. In what follows, then, I want to unpack what many modern scholars are saying about these issues and demonstrate that, properly understood, Genesis 1 teaches nothing scientifically problematic for the modern enquirer. I emphasize the adverb ‘scientifically’, since there is plenty in Genesis 1 that is theologically and existentially confronting. That is the aim of the text, as I understand it.

Such is extract of a writer's opening words in his publication "The Genesis of Everything" posted to the ISCAST website in 2008.

I couldn't help but be reminded of that demolition job on evangelical Christianity's position on Origins when recently reading part of the writings of William Henry Green, a contemporary of Charles and A. A. Hodge on the faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary in the late Nineteenth Century. The highly respected Theologian, E. J. Young, said the following of Green - "Green's learned works, without doubt, constitute the most thorough and convincing refutation of the development hypothesis. The Church of God may ever be grateful that He has given to her such an apologete!"

I provide herewith some extracts from William Henry Green's work "The Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch" (1896):

"The study of the Bible on its purely literary side has many and strong attractions for men of letters. But, with all the admiration that was bestowed upon it [The Bible], the unique character of its claims was lost sight of. Its inspiration and divine authority did not enter into the account. The immediate voice and hand of God, which rule in the whole, were overlooked.

[Yet] There are three evident indications of God's immediate presence, which pervade the Scriptures from beginning to end, and are inwrought into its entire structure, and with which they must reckon who recognize in its contents merely that which is natural and human. These are miracle, prophecy, and revealed truth.

Three different methods have been devised for getting rid of these troublesome factors. One is that of a scoffing deism, which sets aside the supernatural by imputing it to deception and priestcraft. It is all held to be traceable to impositions practised upon the credulity of the uninstructed vulgar in order to exalt the ministers of religion in their eyes, perhaps for the promotion of selfish ends, perhaps with the worthier motive of obtaining sanction for useful institutions or gaining credence for valuable teachings, which they could not otherwise have been induced so easily to receive.

A second mode of dealing with the supernatural, without admitting its reality, is that of the old rationalistic exegesis. This regards it simply as oriental exaggeration. It is looked upon as the habit of the period to think and speak in superlatives, and to employ grandiloquent figures and forms of expression. In order to ascertain the actual meaning of the writer these must be reduced to the proportion of ordinary events. Thus Eichhorn, the father of the higher criticism, had no difficulty in accepting the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and defending its credibility, while at the same time he discarded the miraculous. This work, he contended, must be interpreted in accordance with the spirit of the age to which it belonged. Its poetic embellishments must not be mistaken for plain prose, and its bold figures must not be converted into literal statements. When the oriental imagery is duly estimated, and the elaborate drapery in which the imaginative writer has dressed his thought is stripped off, it will be found that his real meaning does not transcend what is purely natural. There was nothing miraculous about the plagues of Egypt; it was only an annus mirabilis, a year of extraordinary occurrences, remarkable in their number and severity, but wholly traceable to natural causes. There was nothing miraculous in the passage of the Red Sea, or the events at Sinai, or in what took place during the forty years in the desert. The apparently miraculous features belong merely to the style of description, not to the facts described. There was in this no intentional falsehood, no attempt to deceive. It was the well-understood way of writing and speaking in that age. And thus the supernatural is evaporated by hermeneutical rules. But this un-natural style of interpretation could not long maintain itself. The attempt to reduce heathen myths to intelligible history, and to bring down the miracles of the Bible to the level of ordinary occurrences, proved alike abortive. The hypothesis of rhetorical exaggeration, fashionable as it was at one time, was accordingly abandoned. The rule of common-sense must be applied to Scripture as to any other book, that the writer must be understood to mean what he says, not what some interpreter may fancy that he ought to have said.

The third mode of banishing the supernatural from the Bible is by subjecting it to the processes of the higher criticism. This is the most plausible as well as the most effective method of accomplishing this result. It is the most plausible because the animus of the movement is concealed, and the desired end is reached not by aiming at it directly and avowedly but as the apparently incidental consequence of investigations pursued professedly for a different purpose. And it is the most effective because it supplies a complete antidote for the supernatural in each of its forms. Every reported miracle is met by the allegation that the record dates centuries after its supposed occurrence, leaving ample time for the legendary amplification of natural events. Every prediction which has been so accurately fulfilled that it cannot be explained away as a vague anticipation, shrewd conjecture, or fortunate coincidence, is met by the allegation that it was not committed to writing till after the event. Revelations of truth in advance of what the unaided faculties of men could be supposed to have attained to must be reconstructed into accordance with the requirements of a gradual scheme of development. The stupendous miracles of the Mosaic period, the far-reaching predictions of the Pentateuch, and its minute and varied legislation are all provided
for by the critical analysis, which parts it into separate documents and assigns these documents severally to six, eight, and ten centuries after the exodus from Egypt.

These critical results are based professedly on purely literary grounds, on diction and style and correspondence with historical surroundings. And yet he who traces the progress of critical opinion will discover that these are invariably subordinated to the end of neutralizing the supernatural, and that they are so managed as to lead up to this conclusion.

They are in acknowledged variance with the historical truth of much of the Bible, and require, as is freely confessed, the complete reconstruction of the sacred history. They require us to suppose that the course of events and the progress of divine revelation must throughout have been very different from the representations of the Bible.

Within a very few years professedly evangelical men have ventured upon the hazardous experiment of attempting a compromise in this matter. They propose to accept these hypotheses in spite of their antibiblical character, in spite of their incompatibility with the historical truth of the grave questions which they raise respecting the fallibility of our Lord own teaching; and they expect to retain their Christian faith with on such modifications as these newly adopted hypotheses may require. They are now puzzling themselves over the problem of harmonizing Christ's sanction given to false views respecting the Old Testament with implicit faith in him as a divine teacher. And some of them in their perplexity over this enigma come perilously near impairing the truth of his claims. Would it not be wiser for them to revise their own ill-judged alliance with the enemies of evangelical truth, and inquire whether Christ's view of the Old Testament may not, after all, be the true view

Perhaps with only the exception of the third method of diluting the Bible of its historical truth, the author of The Genesis of Everything, takes a similar route to the proponents of Higher Criticism more than a century ago. But then even the third method is not without some relevance because the device of timeliness is again used to undermine the historical narrative of Scripture, albeit in the subject author's case the expiration of time since the Creation event and the influence of the current world's view on the reading of Genesis. For that author (and many who endorse his paper) literary devices, alleged contemporary Middle Eastern writings as well as early Christian and non-Christian writers strongly influenced by an allegorical approach to Scripture are cause to apply a higher critical hermeneutic to the Creation account.

Upon entering the Twenty-First Century we find Higher Criticism as healthy as ever and making another assault on the evangelical church.

I write this in the spirit of 2 Timothy 2:25-26.

Sam Drucker