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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

London Plagued (4 of 6)

"Even as Mead was exhorting his brethren to resume their preaching there were several who were already openly ministering day and night, and in the weeks which followed they were joined by many others who were ready to defy both death and the authorities if they might by any means save some. For the last time the Puritans mounted the pulpits vacated by their successors and preached to the vast congregations who again gathered to hear their former spiritual leaders. Vincent's graphic narrative brings the scene to life :

'Now they are preaching and every sermon was unto them as if they were preaching their last. Old time seems now to stand at the head of the pulpit, with its great scythe, saying with a hoarse voice. Work while it is called today, at night I will mow down. Grim death seems to stand at the side of the pulpit with its sharp arrow, saying. Do thou shoot God's arrows, and I will shoot mine. The grave seems to lie open at the foot of the pulpit, with dust in her bosom, saying,

Louden, thy cry
To God,
To Men,
And now fulfil thy trust:
Here thou must lie,
Mouth stopt,
Breath gone.
And silent in the dust.

Now there is such a vast concourse of people in the churches, where these ministers are to be found, that they cannot many times come near the pulpit doors for the press, but are forced to climb over the pews to them; And such a face is now seen in the assemblies, as seldom was seen before in London; such open ears, such greedy attention, as if every word would be eaten, which dropt from the mouths of ministers. If you ever saw a drowning man catch at a rope, you may guess how eagerly many people did catch at the Word, when they were ready to be overwhelmed by this overflowing scourge, which was passing thro' the city; when death was knocking at so many doors, and God was crying aloud by His judgments; and ministers were now sent to knock, cry aloud, and lift up their voice like a trumpet: then, then the people began to open the ear and the heart, which were fast shut and barred before: How did they then hearken, as for their lives, as if every sermon was their last; as if death stood at the door of the church and would seize upon them so soon as they came forth .... When the Lord Jesus Christ is made known, O the longing desires and openings of heart unto Him! When the riches of the Gospel are displayed, and the promises of the Covenant of Grace are set forth and applied, O the inward burnings and sweet flames which were on the affections! Now the net is cast, and many fishes are taken; many were brought to the birth, and I hope not a few were born again, and brought forth; a strange moving there was upon the hearts of multitudes in the city, and I am persuaded that many were brought over effectually unto a closure with Jesus Christ; whereof some died by the plague with willingness and peace; others remained stedfast in God's ways unto this day.'¹

The record of the service the Puritans gave London in the terrible summer of 1665 has never been written and probably never will be, but Walter Bell has told us enough about what went on in one parish to give us some conception of what their total labours must have been. Bell wrote the standard history of the Great Plague in 1924, from the viewpoint of a secular historian, and his testimony to the work of the ejected ministers in the plague year is perhaps all the more impressive because he has no personal sympathy with their religious convictions.

The Plague first appeared on the western outskirts of the City in the old parish of Thomas Case, St. Giles-in-the-Fields. After working terrible havoc in that district it spread, despite all efforts to contain it, swiftly and silently in all directions, and by July had carried death right into the heart of the City. The parish of St. Giles Cripplegate immediately became a centre of infection and in the next three months this parish alone lost 6,640 dead by the Plague, how many more were unrecorded no one knows. In the month of August the lists in the Burial Register of St. Giles Cripplegate fill one hundred pages and on one dreadful day, August 18th, there is the record of the burial of 151 of its parishioners! As this parish was a centre of plague, the Puritans also chose to make it a centre of spiritual warfare and grim was the conflict they waged for the Gospel with death walking and thinning their ranks on every hand. If the true annals of England's glory were to be written the battle of St. Giles Cripplegate would find a higher place than the Charge of the Six Hundred at Balaclava. There were perhaps several reasons why the Puritans seem to have concentrated their witness in this parish. Bell conjectures that poverty had forced some of the poorer Nonconformist ministers to take lodgings in this poorer district.² But others came willingly into the parish and the fact that before 1662 Cripplegate had experienced some bright years of spiritual harvest under the ministry of Dr. Samuel Annesley points us to a further reason. Annesley was as true a soul-winner as his grandson, John Wesley, and a better theologian. The last thirty years of his life he walked in "uninterrupted assurance of God's covenant love". Clearly after such a ministry there were believers who in the parish now needed care in their last hours. But care was not to be found in Annesley's successor, John Pritchett. Pritchett, a notorious pluralist, had been among the first to flee and never return till the infection was over. He left behind him one solitary curate to report the progress of events and to do the best he could. 'It was impossible,' writes Bell, 'that one man, however willing, could in the fearful conditions of Cripplegate minister to the whole of that large parish, bring consolation to the sick and shrive the dying. The work was done, and it was done by Nonconformist ministers. They are the real heroes of the Plague, the men whose golden example ennobles their great profession, and condemns the political Churchmen who made them outcasts .... They knew the risk they ran. In St. Giles Cripplegate burial register you read these names, all entered at the height of the Plague :—

Aug. 27 Samuel Austin, minister, plague.
Sept. 6 John Askew, minister, plague.
" 15 Samuel Skelton, minister, plague.
" 16 Abraham Jennaway (Janeway), minister, plague.
" 23 Henry Marley, minister, plague.
" 30 John Wall, minister, plague.

Two Others, John Grimes, a well-known Nonconformist divine, and Benjamin Needham, also described as 'minister', were buried in Cripplegate during the Plague .... Nothing strikes the imagination so vividly as the death of these many dissenting ministers, following so closely one upon another. They were the victims of persecution within the Church, and martyrs to the duty they accepted without flinching, when the courage of others failed. Dr. Pritchett, the fugitive vicar, lived to take the Bishopric of Gloucester. So the world rewards men.'³

Only a few of the sermons preached during the visitation have survived but they make solemn reading. One is a funeral sermon at burial of Abraham Janeway, mentioned in the list above, preached in the old pulpit of Edmund Calamy in Aldermanbury Church by Thomas Vincent. Vincent's words give us a further glimpse of what had been going on in Cripplegate. 'He showed great pity and compassion to souls,' testified Vincent of Janeway, 'he spent himself, and hastened his own death to keep others from perishing everlastingly'.

More soon. Spelling is as originally given.

Sam Drucker


1. God's Terrible Voice in the City was published in 1667. Vincent who had been minister of St Mary Magdalen, Milk Street, before the Ejection, died in 1678.

2. "Often in the accounts of City parishes, when church wardens were giving their little charities or relief, I have come across entries such as 'To _____, a poor Minister, 1s.' and 'To a poor minister's widow, 1s. 6d.' - it is pathetic beyond words. For these were educated, spiritually-minded men, who had sacrificed all for conscience." Op.cit., p. 149

3. Op.cit., pp.149-152.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

London Plagued (3 of 6 or 7)

Among the few shops that we might still have found open were bookshops and stationers, not because people were interested in literature but because some of these shops had taken on the trade of selling the quack medicines and remedies that had been offered to the public in ever-increasing numbers. On May 18th, 1665, Roger L'Estrange, the Censor of the Press who was also Editor of the weekly Newes had carried an advert in his paper announcing 'An excellent preservative against the Plague Pestilence' to be obtained, price two shillings and sixpence, from R. T. Rooks at the Lamb and Ink bottle in St. Paul's Churchyard. In the weeks that followed the adverts multiplied, some more expensive, like Avrum Velans offered at £5 per ounce, and, it was also said, more certain to cure. The Editor himself was not convinced; the daily sight and smell of the churchyard beneath his windows at last broke his nerve and he fled to Canterbury. If L'Estrange thought that his duties as Censor of the Press were no longer necessary in London we know of at least one proof that he was mistaken. That same 24th day of August, Matthew Mead was nearing the conclusion of a lengthy remedy against the Plague of a very different nature to L'Estrange's advertisements - Solomon's Prescription for the Removal of the Pestilence, being an exposition of 1 Kings 8. 37, 39, with a solemn text on the tide page, 'Thus they provoked him to anger with their inventions, and the plague brake in upon them' Psa. 106 : 29. The publication was, of course, illegal and simply bore the initials 'M.M.' and in place of the publisher's name, 'London, printed in the Year MDCLXVL.'

Mead's book contained a moving appeal to the bishops to allow the 2,000 ministers, ejected or silenced by the Act of Uniformity of 1662, liberty to resume their preaching :

'Oh, why will you restrain them from speaking .... when the faces of so many thousands gather blackness and they starve and swoon and fall in the streets; why do you bind the hands of those who would so fain reach them forth the bread of life ... Oh, how confident should I be of obtaining that liberty I am begging of you was Christ Himself alive amongst us, or any of his Apostles, our governors. Had I the happiness to have lived in St. Paul's days and addressed myself to him with all humility and earnestness, imploring a leave to preach the Gospel, professing I had no carnal aim in it, but that my soul longed to be disclosing those mysteries and treasures of Love to poor senseless creatures, that were passing on to damnation, as not knowing, or considering what Christ had done to keep them thence, and that I would endeavour faithfully to declare the whole counsel of the Lord, without adding to, or diminishing ought from it; had I made such an address, do you think in your own consciences. He would have turned me away without any errand?'

It was God Himself, continued Mead, in his appeal to the bishops. who was now calling by His judgments, 'Let my faithful ministers have liberty to advance my Gospel', and to God he prayed, 'that this Supplication, which I am writing August 24, may through His good Providence, and the favour of Authority, do something to the reversing of the Act, whose being in force, took date from This day (three years since). This fatal Day that deserves to be wrote in Black Letters in England's Calendar.'

But having thus pleaded for a reversal of the decision of 1662, Mead finally reminded his Puritan brethren that their course of duty in the present crisis was not to be determined simply by the granting or withholding of the permission of the authorities. They lay, he declared, under a necessity to preach the Gospel and under a 'Woe' should they be negligent:

'You may reply, You have not leave given you, nor yet any maintainance allowed. But pray you, Who gave the Apostles and Primitive Christians leave for three hundred years after Christ and who maintained them? Where was such a clause inserted in your commission. Always provided that the Rulers of the World give you leave to perform your duties? If our ancestors had gone by this rule where had the Gospel been? .... If I have been solemnly consecrated to this work no command of the highest Emperor in the world can disoblige me from it: God must be honoured, the Gospel proclaimed, souls saved, my vows performed, storm and rage, forbid and hinder it, who will or can. Yea, though I die for it, I must tell those within my reach, who gave us our being, and keeps us alive, and to what end; who shed His blood for us, and why; and what we must do to be made partakers of the benefits He hath purchased: I must tell them of the evil and danger of sin, whither it leads, and what an Heaven holiness will end in. These are matters that the world must know, though a thousand deaths attend upon the publishers: And I would no longer care for a tongue or hand, than whilst I might speak or write of them.'

Yet despite such entreaties as Mead's, despite the many empty pulpits and deserted parishes, and despite the multitudes thronging daily into eternity, the bishops made no move to lift the persecution of the ejected ministers. Among the many examples which history affords of criminal episcopal inaction this record stands as one of the worst! Wonderful! that in the very time while the Plague was devouring,' wrote Richard Baxter to these 'Right Reverend Lords', 'and souls crowding out of time into eternity, and each man a terror to another, and about a hundred thousand dead in one City, you should be a terror to your surviving brethren, and study how to stop the mouths ofthose that would but help to prepare souls for so great a change! ... Yet nothing moveth you to see so great and grievous sins as the silencing of so many hundred ministers, and the starving of so many hundred thousand souls that never deserved evil at your hands! I must profess, if it were the last word that I should speak in the world, that I had rather be the basest scavinger, yea, and suffer many deaths, than be found at the Judgment-seat of Christ, in the place, and under the guilt of those of you who have done what is done against the Gospel and Church of Christ among us in this Land.

All original spelling used. More soon.

Sam Drucker


1. An Apology for the Nonconformists' Ministry, 1681, pp. 234-5

Saturday, May 26, 2012

By Faith the Righteous Shall Live.

Habakkuk 2:4(c) declares but the righteous will live by faith. (NIV)

Faith in the Word of God is the characteristic of the people of God down through the ages. The faithful hold firm to the integrity of the Word of God in the face of persecution. They will not cower and reinterpret that Word when the enemy assail it.

Here is a quote from "Lectures in Systematic Theology" by Robert L Dabney Page 257 - Theologian, of the late 19th Century in America:

"As remarked in a previous lecture, unless the Bible has its own ascertainable and certain laws of exposition, it cannot be a rule of faith; our religion is but rationalism. I repeat, if any part of the Bible must wait to have its real meaning imposed upon it by another, and a human science, that part is at least meaningless and worthless to our souls. It must express itself independently; making other sciences ancillary; and dominant over it."

Pity we don't have Theologians of the stamp of Dabney today. We do have a few but not many.

Sam Drucker

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

London Plagued (2 of 6 or 7)

"Perhaps no event was so to prove the true warmth and love that dwelt in the Puritan's heart as the year of the Great Plague: it demonstrated that they were indeed the last persons in London deserving of such epithets as cold, heartless and severe. The "hypocrisy" charge flung at them so repeatedly since the Restoration was now to boomerang with a vengeance upon their accusers. The people who ought to have stood by London left her helpless, and the men who had humanly no cause to stay, for they had been expelled from their labours and strictly speaking debarred from the City by the Corporation Act of 1664 (though it was never really enforced in London), were the very ones who did heroically stand in the breach. The Court of Charles II had early in July and the palace which three years before had resounded with revelry at the arrival of Catherine of Braganza was left as silent as a tomb. They cannot be blamed for seeking a more healthy locality than Whitehall, but as the leading historian of the Great Plague, Walter G. Bell, has written, the callous indifference with which the capital was left to its fate "must for ever remain a black stain on Charles' Government.''¹ But they were not the only ones of whom different things might have been expected. The College of Physicians at Amen Corner was as deserted as the palace of Whitehall and the Faculty away in the country. Worse still, perhaps, was the fact that so many of the clergy had joined in the rush out of town leaving their pulpits empty and their parishioners bereft of spiritual aid. This was not true of them all, but it was true enough to discredit the London clergy generally to cause pamphlets to be circulated in the streets announcing "Pulpits to Let", and to draw from Bishop Henchman the admission that most of his own officers had deserted him. "It will be no news to you," wrote Dr. Barwick to his friend William Sancroft, Dean of St. Paul's, who was on a long holiday at Tunbridge Wells" (for you can easily imagine it) that the mouths of a slanderous generation are wide open enough against those that are withdrawn, both of your profession and ours".²

Had we walked the narrow, airless streets that morning we should soon have seen evidence on every hand of the desolation that had first struck London three months before and was still spreading with silent but irresistible power. By now almost everything was being forgotten by the citizens except the concern to remain alive: houses stood shuttered as though the enemy was in every street - men fearing lest the very air they breathed might carry the plague; few were about except those driven by necessity; everywhere there were signs of neglect - stench in side-alleys unwashed by rain, grass growing were normally it had never been; neglect everywhere, that is, except in the grave-yards which appeared like ploughed fields with the earth turned in every available space and in some cases the very ground raised in order to accommodate the dead. Ten thousand dwellings stood marked with grim red crosses, a precaution that had been taken earlier to stop the spread of the plague by keeping all who lived in houses which the infection had reached locked within doors, but which was now being abandoned as matters were terribly beyond any attempts at control. When men were dying by tens or hundreds such measures were possible, now it was by thousands and not even the weekly Bills of Mortality nor the toiling Parish Clerks could keep trace of the numbers. One parish burial register contains an entry neatly begun but abruptly broken off, the page splattered with ink and the same handwriting no longer appearing on future pages. The clerk of burials was not exempt from death. Perhaps the number that died between that 24th day of August and the end of that same month was something near 10,000. "Now the cloud is very black," writes Thomas Vincent in his 'God's Terrible Voice in the City', "and the storm comes down upon us very sharp. Now people fall as thick as leaves from the trees in autumn, when they are shaken by a mighty wind .... Now in some places where the people did generally stay, not one house in an hundred but is infected; and in many houses half the family is swept away; in some the whole, from the eldest to the youngest; few escape with the death of but one or two; never did so many husbands and wives die together; never did so many parents carry their children with them to the grave, and go together into the same house under earth, who had lived together in the same
house upon it."

Such was London on that summer's morning, what it was by night - the rumbling death-carts, the calls of the drivers and bearers ("a foul-mouthed crew"), the plague pits and grave-yards illuminated by flickering torch-light for the work which was generally left till darkness - these are things best passed over in silence.

More soon.

Sam Drucker


1. The Great Plague in London in 1665 by Walter G. Bell (1924) p68

2. Op. cit., p.224

Monday, May 21, 2012

London Plagued (1 of 6 or 7)

This essay while slightly off track here still has a message for today. It was written about 50 years ago but draws from much earlier historical records.

"To the Puritans the city of London was the fairest city upon earth. They loved the very appearance of that square mile of cobbled, winding, streets, with their gabled, rough-cast and timbered houses - the upper stories projecting crazily outwards and the steeply-pitched red roofs reaching skywards. It was still, at the time of the Restoration of Charles II, a city enclosed by high and solid walls, but higher than the walls there stood out against the skyline a hundred church towers and spires, for London's churches were three times as numerous as those of any other city in the world. From the southern bank of the Thames the panorama of old London gave the seventeenth century artist fine scope for his skill: the houses crowding down to the very water's edge, the single ancient bridge with its nineteen stone arches and the river itself busy with "wherries" carrying passengers to Westminster and Vauxhall and with stoutly built vessels - the pride of England's craftsmen - home from almost all points of the compass. Thomas Brooks considered the Italian proverb about Venice far more applicable to England's capital, "He who hath not seen it will not believe, and he who hath not lived some time there doth not understand what a duty it is".

London was the centre of England in every sense - law, finance, commerce, shipping and, what we would tend to overlook, industry - were all then centred in the city. The finest shops and the busiest crafts were all there. Coopers, tanners, dyers, vintners, printers, these and many another trade made the city thrive with activity.

The old walls had never been built to contain the near half million people who now made London their home and the out-parishes which clustered around the two miles of wall were already in most cases densely over-crowded. Nor had the streets, with no pavements, been meant for the wheeled traffic that in Restoration times was harassing shop-keepers, pedestrians and drivers alike. Pepys mentions how his coach-driver one day knocked two pieces of a butcher's meat flying into the dirt and such incidents were evidently not uncommon sights. But these were just some of the signs that London was prospering, and with her prosperity was bound up the fortunes of the nation for no other English city had any comparable importance. Norwich, the second largest city in the land, had a population of no more than 30,000, and Bristol, which came third, only some 25,000. Probably about one in every fourteen people in Britain lived in London. "Was not London the glory of England?" Brooks was later to ask, "Was not London England’s treasury and the Protestants' sanctuary? Was not London as terrible to her enemies abroad, as she was joyous to her friends at home?"¹

Thursday, the 24th of August, 1665, came as had so many days of the weeks gone by, hot and cloudless. The weather of the past months had been not simply abnormal but phenomenal; apart from the times when breezes had stirred the motionless vanes on the Church spires the city had known days of sweltering heat and except for one fall of rain earlier in the month there had been no rain at all since April; "the driest summer that ever man have knew, or our forefathers mention of late ages", wrote Richard Baxter. Approaching the City from the south we would pass through meadows brown, dry and "burnt like the High-ways", into what had been the busy suburb of Southwark; there in the river-side parish of St. Olave by London Bridge, one of the Puritan ministers, John Allin, was busy writing to friends at Rye where he had ministered until 1662. We can hear part of his letter before we cross the Bridge into the City: "August 24 - I am, through mercy, yet well in the middest of death, and that, too, approaching neerer and neerer; not many doores off, and the pitt open dayly within view of my chamber window. The Lord fit me and all of us for our last end!"²

That morning the water of the rapids was tumbling through the arches of the old Bridge with an arresting distinctness for there were few other sounds to break the stillness which hung over the City. The wherries were mostly tied up and deserted at the landing stages, shop-keepers no longer called their wares, traffic no more struggled to get through jostling pedestrians and even the church bells - as though hoarse with continual tolling - were growing silent. The City gates were guarded, not to keep people out (for that there was no need) but to keep people in. Once it had become evident that London was in the grip of bubonic plague there had been such an exodus of both the well and the infected that in the second week of June it was announced that none could leave without a certificate of health signed by the Mayor. Having crossed the old Bridge we would immediately pass St. Magnus Church - memorable for the ministry of Joseph Caryl which had ended at the Great Ejection of 1662 - and if we climbed Fish Street Hill we would soon be in the heart of the London the Puritans loved.

More soon.

Sam Drucker


1. Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, Vol 6, p. 165. (Nichol's edition 1866-67.)

2. Quoted in The Great Plague in London in 1665 by Walter G. Bell (1924) p.259.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Theological Smoke Screen.

Biblical Creationists within the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney are ever mindful of the declension which has come upon much of the International Christian Church in the past one hundred years save an occasional localized revival. Within this Diocese, Biblical Creationists experience frustration at hearing and reading things which are a departure from orthodox theology. Attempts to air concerns are so often shut down.

The problem just described is not new. It has been experienced by others elsewhere and I provide herewith an excerpt from an article written by John R. de Witt in the Banner of Truth journal of September 1969 under the heading "Theological Smoke Screen".

"Just recently I came upon an article in a Dutch journal which berated laymen for the questions they are presently asking in the Netherlands. They demand to know of their professors of theology and ministers the answers to such questions as, Was Adam really an historical person? and, Did Christ rise from the dead with the same body as he had before? (a query which seeks to ascertain, of course, the factualness of the resurrection itself). Now it may be true, as the writer insisted, that these questions often represent considerable over-simplifications. There was, for instance, a great difference in Christ's body after the resurrection. But what men are really asking, it ought to be clear to every fair-minded observer, concerns the empty tomb. And one cannot expect from ordinary church members the theological acumen and appreciation for nuances and fine points to be found in a university professor. People are disturbed. They want to know what their leaders are thinking. How else are they to phrase matters that are both intensely personal and also of the utmost religious significance ? It is strange surely that instead of replying to them, in Holland, Britain, America, and elsewhere, a theologian takes up his pen to condemn, not those who have given cause for offence and are responsible for raising the doubts, but those who ask the questions. Accurately put or not, the historicity of Adam and the bodily resurrection of Christ are two of the most crucial tenets in the whole of Christian theology. The fact that queries about them are resented, and that they are answered, not directly, but with censures and hedging, is at the same time still another indication of the camouflage and smoke screen that theologians feel obliged to use (one suspects) to confuse the issues and to avoid a plain statement which would lay bare their own uncertainties.

Well, what can a concerned Christian do? Must he flee away and hide himself from the questions of the day? Has he no alternative to separation and withdrawal into still more tightly closed evangelical ghettos than he has known before? It is not easy to give an answer. And yet, is not flight an ignominious, degrading thing for one whose Father made the world? A final remedy is not at our disposal. Revival and reformation come from another source. But a Christian has some weapons available to him. He can do many things. He can pray. He can be faithful. Faithfulness to the truth and prayer have always been powerful remedies, and the world knows nothing against them. He can also prepare himself spiritually and intellectually, by study, by reading, by attention to the truth. And he can ask questions. God deliver us from so-called Christians with placid, uninquiring minds who believe everything they hear and can even be content with the preaching of half-truth and error!

A point to make is that the recent comment in debate by Sydney Roman Catholic Archbishop Pell with Richard Dawkins reveals some of the fruit of the emerging degenerate theology of the past century. Rejection of the integrity of Genesis 1 can produce a denial of the historicity of the first Adam and resultant false doctrine of the salvation found and the second Adam. There is too a slippery slope on this front which some today are on and their teaching within the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney will, one day, bear fruit of the nature of doctrine espoused by Archbishop Pell.

A final point is that objection to what is going on must continue to produce frustration as obfuscation rules the day. Others before have encountered the same so persevere, pray the Lord and wait on Him in faith for better days.

Sam Drucker

Monday, May 14, 2012

Calvin, Creation and Original Sin.

It has happened in debate in Comments Sections of this blogspot and has happened in discussion with people who have been through or who have been on faculty of Moore Theological College - the theological seminary of the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney. They say that man is so depraved by original sin that Apostle Paul's conviction of man rendered at Romans 1:19-20 cannot be interpreted to say that man can see anything of the invisible qualities of God in Creation. Consequently, it is their contention that evangelism should not involve pointing to the Creation as a means to arouse the attention of man toward God i.e. Natural Theology.

The asserted basis for their argument is Calvinist doctrine. However, my reading of Calvin's work does not reach the same conclusion.

Recent reading has reaffirmed my perception of the position of Calvin and the errant reading of him by those inhabiting and flowing out of Moore Theological College.

Contributors to The Banner of Truth Journal are as Calvinist and Reformed as you can get. An article by Donald MacLeod in the February 1968 edition of that publication entitled Misunderstandings of Calvinism II sub-heading Total Depravity offers a fair representation of the traditional rendering of Calvinistic doctrine. I provide an extract herewith:

"The impression is often given that in its exposition of human sinfulness Calvinism has painted an absurdly overdrawn picture. 'Total depravity, as commonly understood, means that we are sinful and nothing else - utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil.' The incredible picture is drawn in pure black.'66 J. S. Mill pushed this to the extreme of suggesting that on the Calvinistic view, 'Human nature being radically corrupt there is no redemption for any one until human nature is killed within him.'67

These are but ill-informed caricatures. The portrayal of man as wholly and absolutely evil, redeemed only in the destruction of his nature, is as abhorrent to Calvinists as to any. This is clearly brought out in the following words of Thomas Chalmers: 'There is a way of maintaining the utter depravity of our nature, and of doing it in such a style of sweeping and of vehement asseveration, as to render it not merely obnoxious to the taste, but obnoxious to the understanding . . . Let the nature of man be a ruin, as it certainly is, it is obvious to the most common discernment that it does not offer one unvaried and unalleviated mass of deformity.'68 That no man is absolutely depraved; that all men are not equally depraved; that in human history there is much that is admirable [self-sacrificing patriotism, altruistic domestic love, brilliant achievements in art and science] - these things have been frankly acknowledged. The divine image in man, although marred, has not been obliterated.

One detail is of special importance in this connection - the insistence of Reformed theology that man, even fallen man, possesses an ineradicable awareness of God, a sense of dependence and of responsibility. 'That there exists in the human mind, and indeed by natural instinct, some sense of Deity, we hold to be beyond dispute, since God Himself, to prevent any man from pretending ignorance, has endued all men with some idea of His Godhead ... a sense of Deity is inscribed on every heart.'69 This has a distinct bearing on Evangelism and Apologetics, providing a point of contact between the gospel and the natural man. Professions of agnosticism and atheism are not to be taken at their face-value: rather, the evangel is to be addressed to the innate religiousness and the native theism of man

The line run by many associated with Moore Theological College is not the position of those who have, in the past, adhered to Calvin's Institutes.

How could so many with links to Moore Theological College so misunderstand Calvin yet assert resolutely to the world they uphold Calvinistic doctrine? Is it because they wish to disassociate themselves from the Deism prevalent in the Church when people such as William Paley espoused Natural Theology? Is it because they have been shaken by the 'seeming' defeat of Samuel Wilberforce in his use of Design argument in debate with Thomas Huxley in the 19th Century?

I have come to the conclusion that one or more of those propositions may apply in anyone individual but a deeper problem is at work. It is associated with their departure from Calvin on another matter - on the doctrine of Creation.

Time and time again they are exposed, as leaders in the Episcopalian and Roman Catholic Church in Sydney have of late been exposed, to having a doctrine of Creation and Fall unhinged from the rest of the Word of God. Being aware of their shortcoming in this aspect of doctrine they lack confidence to engage in serious discussion on the Bible and Science. Not only so, they have built a defence which excludes any consideration of Natural Theology as a tool in evangelism and are quick to dissuade others from this resort. To shore up their defence they depart from the Apostle Paul and John Calvin to the point of asserting things of them that neither said but still declaring they, themselves, are Apostolic and Calvinist in doctrine.

Biblical Creationists have heavyweights such as Apostle Paul and John Calvin on their side in their approach to evangelism so long as they declare the whole gospel of Jesus Christ in opportunities our Lord gives them to bear testament to Him. That gospel commences with the doctrine of Creation and reaches fulfillment in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God in the Person of the Son.

Sam Drucker


66 Macintosh, The Christian Experience of Forgiveness, p 64

67 Op. Cit., p119,

68 Commercial Discourses, p 10, Cf. Laidlaw, The Bible Doctrine of Man, p228:

'While the Scripture statement is so strong in asserting a corruption of man's whole
nature, and in assigning that corruption to the centre and fountain of his moral
life, and while the force of that statement is vainly sought to be evaded or softened down, yet the Scripture asserts no corruption, depravation or destruction of his natures, faculties, or powers as such . . . while man since the Fall can do no good in any divine relation, his natural and civil actions may be correct and virtuous.'

69 John Calvin, Institutes, Vol 1: p 43

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sydney Episcopalians' Narrow Reading of Scripture.

Many Sydney Episcopalians, when approached by Biblical Creationists with the Romans 5:12 (KJV)reading:

"5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned"

as testament to death entering the world when Adam sinned are quick to say "But that only refers to death occurring to man not to animals!"

They say this to defend their compromise with the 'world' on the alleged long age for the earth. In their compromised position they have to allow a long age of death and struggle for animals - thus accounting for a fossil record of death in the animal 'kingdom'.

What the compromise fails to take account of is other Scripture, one passage of which is
Hebrews 9:24-26 (KJV) which reads:

"9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: 9:25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."

The context of the passage is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ being a better sacrifice for sin than the year after year sacrifice of animals offered by priests for sin. What is important to note is the content of verse 26. The writer of Hebrews makes the point that if Christ's sacrifice of himself was not a once for all sacrifice then it was necessary for him to make a sacrifice of himself repeatedly since the foundation of the world.

The clear implication is that man's sin came very early in earth history "since the foundation of the world" and, obviously, "death by sin".

Man's sin and death coming so early in earth history rules out any possibility of a long age of death and struggle in the animal 'kingdom' and consequent build up of a fossil record before the appearance and sin of Adam.

Such a scenario fits best with another passage of Scripture viz. Romans 8:19-23 (KJV) which reads:

"19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

It was the incidents recorded in Genesis 3 which brought sin and death into the world for man and animals and this all very early after creation of the world.

Sam Drucker

Sunday, May 6, 2012

When Moore Theological College Got Into Bed With The World.

A revealing and lamentable Choices insert appeared in this month's issue of Southern Cross, the Sydney Episcopalian Diocesan Newspaper. Revealing and lamentable with respect to its article headed "Moore gets ACCREDITED". Notice the triumphalism expressed by the article writer with all capitals used for the word accredited. The implication being that to be seen as acceptable by the world is something to cheer about.

August 30, 2011 is given as the date Moore Theological College received a letter from the NSW Government Department of Education and Communities approving the college as an institution with self-accrediting authority (SAA). The article says:

"The college decided to seek SAA status for a number of reasons. It will provide the college with the flexibility to respond to changes among the churches and other constituencies that it serves and also the changes taking place in higher education. The college also believes that SAA will provide a cost-effective means to ensure continuous quality improvement in the courses that it offers. In order to achieve SAA Moore College was required to demonstrate a proven track record of higher education approvals. Approvals covered the college as a whole and each of its courses individually. It involved rigorous review by both state and federal accrediting agencies of the college's entire operations, of compliance with all higher education protocols and of the quality environment of excellence within the college. It involved presenting evidence, lots of evidence, that it met the standards or all the various accreditation regimes and at the standard of an Australian university."

and later: "The college welcomed and valued the input from many university academics who participated, and will continue to participate, in the quality reviews of college courses and operations."

Writers of the past have linked the declension of the church in Great Britain to theological institutions seeking after academic recognition. The same is on in Sydney. Christians are to enjoy the commendation of God - not the world. What are secular academics doing in a theological institution ensuring "compliance with all higher education protocols"?

To receive and retain accreditation Moore Theological College has to remove contention with the world on the subject of Origins. To do that it must reduce the clear conviction of Scripture, the affirming view of the majority of early Christian fathers and the reaffirming view of the Reformers on Origins to just another view alongside, even syncretising with worldly views. I cannot see students of Moore Theological College ever again receiving, with convicting authority, the message of Creation delivered and sustained by God through the generations (particularly the high periods of the Christian Church). An "accredited" Moore Theological College will be under pressure to compromise on other doctrine.

Christians are a peculiar people in this world. They are not obligated to the world. They "live not on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). It ought not be the pursuit of any theological institution to get into bed with the tool of Satan viz. the world. Theological institutions are obligated to God through the Church and the Church should be assisting those who go through ministry training. Relying on government financial assistance toward students through enrolment in accredited institutions is not the way to go.

There is a price to pay for infidelity and it will be the scattering of that which purports to be the Church today.

Sam Drucker

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Good Without God"? (Part 2)

I questioned in an earlier blog the capacity for Sydney Atheists to be good without God as their catchcry declares. The most well known Atheist in Australia, Julia Gillard, certainly is no recommendation having betrayed Kevin Rudd in planning his overthrow, betraying the nation over her election promise over a carbon tax and now being embroiled in protecting a couple of politicians who, all indications suggest, bring no credit on Parliament. The latter scenario demonstrates a woeful "Whatever it takes attitude" to being in government. Anything but morality, it seems. Now word comes to me of a presentation at a church last Sunday in a Sydney suburb at which a group of Atheists attended, presumably for 'sport'. Separately to that group a young man attended at invitation of a church goer. Soon after the speaker commenced his address this young man rudely interjected. He was asked to contain himself until an opportunity presented to speak later. Thankfully he apologised at the end of the session. Later, an older man, apparently part of a group of Atheists, contended with the speaker. He declared himself to be a lecturer at university but it was discovered later by someone who had worked with him many years ago in satellite research and development that, some years ago, the man did a part time and short duration stint of teaching a course and was now working in the construction industry. Sad that he should mislead as he did. Sad that being good without God was not on demonstration by Atheists that day. Sam Drucker