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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Christianity and Culture (2 of 2)

This is the second part of an extract from an address entitled "The Scientific Preparation of the Minister" by J. Gresham Machen, former Professor of New Testament, Princeton Seminary, 1906 -1929, who had been put out of the Presbyterian Church in the USA for resisting the Church's drift into Liberalism has been quoted here before. The address was given to the one hundred and first session of Princeton Seminary on September 20, 1912:

"Christianity is the proclamation of an historical fact - that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Modern thought has no place for that proclamation. It prevents men even from listening to the message. Yet the culture of to-day cannot simply be rejected as a whole. It is not like the pagan culture of the first century. It is not wholly non-Christian. Much of it has been derived directly from the Bible. There are significant movements in it, going to waste, which might well be used for the defence of the gospel. The situation is complex. Easy wholesale measures are not in place. Discrimination, investigation is necessary. Some of modern thought must be refuted. The rest must be made subservient. But nothing in it can be ignored. He that is not with us is against us. Modern culture is a mighty force. It is either subservient to the gospel or else it is the deadliest enemy of the gospel. For making it subservient, religious emotion is not enough, intellectual labour is also necessary. And that labour is being neglected. The Church has turned to easier tasks. And now she is reaping the fruits of her indolence. Now she must battle for her life.

The situation is desperate. It might discourage us. But not if we are truly Christians. Not if we are living in vital communion with the risen Lord. If we are really convinced of the truth of our message, then we can proclaim it before a world of enemies, then the very difficulty of our task, the very scarcity of our allies becomes an inspiration, then we can even rejoice that God did not place us in an easy age, but in a time of doubt and perplexity and battle. Then, too, we shall not be afraid to call forth other soldiers into the conflict. Instead of making our theological seminaries merely centres of religious emotion, we shall make them battlegrounds of the faith, where, helped a little by the experience of Christian teachers, men are taught to fight their own battle, where they come to appreciate the real strength of the adversary and in the hard school of intellectual struggle learn to substitute for the unthinking faith of childhood the profound convictions of full-grown men. Let us not fear in this a loss of spiritual power. The Church is perishing to-day through the lack of thinking, not through an excess of it. She is winning victories in the sphere of material betterment. Such victories are glorious. God save us from the heartless crime of disparaging them. They are relieving the misery of men. But if they stand alone. I fear they are but temporary. The things which are seen are temporal; the things with are not seen are eternal. What will become of philanthropy if God be lost ? Beneath the surface of life lies a world of spirit. Philosophers have attempted to explore it. Christianity has revealed its wonders to the simple soul. There he the springs of the Church's power. But that spiritual realm cannot be entered without controversy. And now the Church is shrinking from the conflict. Driven from the spiritual realm by the current of modern thought, she is consoling herself with things about which there is no dispute. If she favours better housing for the poor, she need fear no contradiction. She will need all her courage, she will have enemies enough, God knows. But they will not fight her with argument. The twentieth century, in theory, is agreed on social betterment. But sin, and death, and salvation, and life, and God - about these things there is debate. You can avoid the debate if you choose. You need only drift with the current. Preach every Sunday during your Seminary course, devote the fag ends of your time to study and to thought, study about as you studied in college - and these questions will probably never trouble you. The great questions may easily be avoided. Many preachers are avoiding them. And many preachers are preaching to the air. The Church is waiting for men of another type. Men to fight her battles and solve her problems. The hope of finding them is the one great inspiration of a Seminary's life. They need not all be men of conspicuous attainments. But they must all be men of thought. They must fight hard against spiritual and intellectual indolence. Their thinking may be concerned to narrow limits. But it must be their own. To them theology must be something more than a task. It must be a matter of inquiry. It must lead not to successful memorizing, but to genuine convictions.

The Church is puzzled by the world's indifference. She is trying to overcome it by adapting her message to the fashions of the day. But if, instead, before the conflict, she would descend into the secret place of meditation, if by the clear fight of the gospel she would seek an answer not merely to the question of the hour but, first of all, to the eternal problems of the spiritual world, then perhaps, by God's grace, through His good Spirit, in His good time, she might issue forth once more with power, and an age of doubt might be followed by the dawn of an era of faith

I think J. Gresham Machen 'nailed' a significant problem for the Church in the Twentieth Century which has continued into the Twenty-First Century. The Church lacks sufficient good thinkers and marginalises the few who are good thinkers. As such, it reaps what it sows - poor thinkers elevated to positions of influence who, through influence, spawn their own.

It was not like this in centuries past. Great advances were made in the world of scientific endeavour and it was Biblical Creationists who were leaders.

The decline commenced in the early Nineteenth Century as men of the Church with scientific interest began subordinating the Word of God to their own thoughts about the geological processes and, by extrapolation, the age of the earth. They were joined by men such as Charles Lyell who wanted to remove the testimony of Moses, in Genesis, from influencing science. In the long term Lyell was successful but, for a time, the Biblical account of Genesis was deferred to as defence against the propositions of Darwin. However, earlier destabilisation of the Word of God as basis for interpreting the observations of geology had made the way for eventual acceptance of Darwinism in biology, anthropology and other scientific endeavours. Along the way, increasing numbers of Church thinkers were compromising the Word of God to accommodate Darwinism. They had forsaken their first love and made it acceptable for those who followed them to think likewise (punishment for the sins of the fathers visited upon the sons and daughters to the third and fourth generation?). Most of those entering tertiary studies have been ill prepared to challenge the current world view and resort to accepting what they are taught to fashion some compromised understanding of God and what He has done in the world as recorded in the Word of God. Those who then enter theological studies are primed for lecturers who present one or more means to depart from the Reformed reading of the Word of God when it touches on matters of earth history.

What had been a high time for the Church has been reversed and the Biblical Creationists are regarded as pariahs not just by the unbelievers but by most within the Church.

How are we to measure the situation? Just look at the state of the Church, the influence of the Church on the nations. Never has there been a lower time in the history of the Church since our Lord Jesus Christ established it some 2,000 years ago. Atheism grows while the Church compromises.

J. Gresham Machen saw the problem well early last century and one hundred years hence the grapes are all the more sour.

Sam Drucker

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Christianity and Culture (1 of 2)

J. Gresham Machen, former Professor of New Testament, Princeton Seminary, 1906 -1929, and put out of the Presbyterian Church in the USA for resisting the Church's drift into Liberalism has been quoted here before. He had something to say of merit in his address "The Scientific Preparation of the Minister" to the one hundred and first session of Princeton Seminary on September 20, 1912. It was a declaration of a failing of the Church then and has ramifications for the Church today.

I have extracted part which will be delivered in two instalments and I will make a summary comment with the second.

"During the last thirty years there has been a tremendous defection from the Christian Church. It is evidenced even by things that lie on the surface. For example, by the decline in church attendance and in Sabbath observance and in the number of candidates for the ministry. Special explanations, it is true, are sometimes given for these discouraging tendencies. But why should we deceive ourselves, why comfort ourselves by palliative explanations? Let us face the facts. The falling off in church attendance. the neglect of Sabbath observance - these things are simply surface indications of a decline in the power of Christianity. Christianity is exerting a far less powerful direct influence in the civilized world to-day than it was exerting thirty years ago.

What is the cause of this tremendous defection? For my part, I have little hesitation in saying that it lies chiefly in the intellectual sphere. Men do not accept Christianity because they can no longer be convinced that Christianity is true. It may be useful, but is it true? Other explanations, of course, are given. The modern defection from the Church is explained by the practical materialism of the age. Men are so much engrossed in making money that they have no time for spiritual things. That explanation has a certain range of validity. But its range is limited. It applies perhaps to the boom towns of the West, where men are intoxicated by sudden possibilities of boundless wealth. But the defection from Christianity is far broader than that. It is felt in the settled countries of Europe even more strongly than in America. It is felt among the poor just as strongly as among the rich. Finally, it is felt most strongly of all in the universities, and that is only one indication more that the true cause of the defection is intellectual. To a very large extent, the students of our great Eastern universities - and still more the universities of Europe - are not Christians. And they are not Christians often just because they are students. The thought of the day, as it makes itself most strongly felt in the universities, is profoundly opposed to Christianity, or at least it is out of connection with Christianity. The chief obstacle to the Christian religion to-day lies in the sphere of the intellect.

That assertion must be guarded against two misconceptions. In the first place, I do not mean that most men reject Christianity consciously on account of intellectual difficulties. On the contrary, rejection of Christianity is due in the vast majority of cases simply to indifference. Only a few men have given the subject real attention. The vast majority of those who reject the gospel do so simply because they know nothing about it. But whence comes this indifference ? It is due to the intellectual atmosphere in which men are living. The modern world is dominated by ideas which ignore the gospel. Modern culture is not altogether opposed to the gospel. But it is out of all connection with it. It not only prevents the acceptance of Christianity. It prevents Christianity even from getting a hearing.

In the second place, I do not mean that the removal of intellectual objections will make a man a Christian. No conversion was ever wrought simply by argument. A change of heart is also necessary. And that can be wrought only by the immediate exercise of the power of God. But because intellectual labour is insufficient it does not follow, as is so often assumed, that it is unnecessary. God may, it is true, overcome all intellectual obstacles by an immediate exercise of His regenerative power. Sometimes He does. But He does so very seldom. Usually He exerts His power in connection with certain conditions of the human mind. Usually He does not bring into the Kingdom, entirely without preparation, those whose mind and fancy are completely dominated by ideas which make the acceptance of the gospel logically impossible.

Modern culture is a tremendous force. It affects all classes of society. It affects the ignorant as well as the learned. What is to be done about it ? In the first place the Church may simply withdraw from the conflict. She may simply allow the mighty stream of modern thought to flow by unheeded and do her work merely in the back-eddies of the current. There are still some men in the world who have been unaffected by modern culture. They may still be won for Christ without intellectual labour. And they must be won. It is useful, it is necessary work. If the Church is satisfied with that alone. Let her give up the scientific education of her ministry. Let her assume the truth of her message and learn simply how it may be applied in detail to modern industrial and social conditions. Let her give up the laborious study of Greek and Hebrew. Let her abandon the scientific study of history to the men of the world. In a day of increased scientific interest, let the Church go on becoming less scientific. In a day of increased specialization, of renewed interest in philology and in history, of more rigorous scientific method, let the Church go on abandoning her Bible to her enemies. They will study it scientifically, rest assured, if the Church does not. Let her substitute sociology altogether for Hebrew, practical expertness for the proof of her gospel. Let her shorten the preparation of her ministry, let her permit it to be interrupted yet more and more by premature practical activity. By doing so she will win a straggler here and there. But her winnings will be but temporary. The great current of modern culture will sooner or later engulf her puny eddy. God will save her somehow - out of the depths. But the labour of centuries will have been swept away. God grant that the Church may not resign herself to that. God grant she may face her problem squarely and bravely. That problem is not easy. It involves the very basis of her faith.

Concluding extract and comment to be posted on the weekend.

Sam Drucker

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sydney Episcopalians Desperately Seek Support From Anywhere and Anybody.

An inability to see departure from Reformation orthodoxy as reason for failure to reach the people of Sydney in the Name of Jesus Christ often drives the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney to go to any length for ideas. A few years ago the Diocese fawned over American, Mark Driscoll. One of our old favourites, Gordon Cheng, seemed so impressed with an address given by Mr Driscoll in Sydney in 2008 that he dutifully noted and published what Mr Driscoll had to offer as advice to the Diocese.

A writer on the Diocesan website was... shall we say ... gushing in her report on Mr Driscoll.

I wonder how the Diocese now identifies itself with Mr Driscoll now that some evangelicals in the USA are seeing flaws in the stature of Mr Driscoll. One flaw, if accurately identified by TeamPyro ought to be of concern to the Diocese.

Sam Drucker

Friday, July 20, 2012

C.A.S.E. and a Lie.

It was Dr Henry Boynton Smith, Professor of systematic theology at Union Theological Seminary in the USA from 1854-1874, who prophetically said "One thing is certain - that Infidel Science will rout everything excepting thorough-going Christianity ... The fight will be between a stiff thorough-going orthodoxy and a stiff thorough-going infidelity". Speaking to that statement on a later date, B. B. Warfield, Professor of Theology at Princeton Seminary, 1887 to 1921, originator of the term and declared 'Fundamentalist', said "This witness is true".

Well more than a century later and the battle, predicted by Dr Henry Boynton Smith and affirmed by B. B. Warfield, is on in earnest and from one side it has got dirty.

C.A.S.E. (Centre for Apologetics Science and Education) is an outpost of those representing the force of "a stiff thorough-going infidelity" operating with access to vulnerable residential students at New College, University of NSW, Sydney, Australia. C.A.S.E. has 'form' which has been highlighted two or three times at this blogspot in the past. C.A.S.E. continues to warp the evangelical mind of students of New College and a recent instance warrants mention here.

Once again running with the hound of ISCAST (Christians in Science and Technology), representatives of C.A.S.E. put together a panel yesterday, 19 July 2012, at New College to discuss "The questions students ask: Science and faith in the classroom". As could be expected, nothing of faith-building in the Word of God was fed to students because trust in the thoughts of men over and against the Word of God was the menu.

Add to that a blatant lie went unchecked by C.A.S.E. and ISCAST as one of the panelists Vaughan Brown, Science Teacher at Sydney Church of England Grammar School, alleged that Biblical Creationist scientist, Dr Jonathan Sarfati, "teaches that you can't have eternal salvation without believing in a literal six day creation". This is false. A reading of Dr Sarfati's writings will readily disclose the truth.

It is a sorry state of affairs when those who say they are Christian resort to telling a lie, and that about another Christian, to achieve their agenda. C.A.S.E. and ISCAST, you should be ashamed to allow this to occur under your watch.

The one good thing to come out of the event was the lament by Mr Brown that an increasing number of students he encounters in his classroom are questioning evolution. What Mr Brown sees as bad, God works as a good. At least while a degenerate spirit works in areas of the church a Spirit of Truth is working to bring light in the life of some students.

Once again, shame on you C.A.S.E. and ISCAST. I remind readers of what I heard a few years ago. A fellow Christian had tried to obtain permission from a principal of C.A.S.E. for Dr Jonathan Sarfati to speak to students of New College. His request was denied. It seems C.A.S.E. is more comfortable with allowing a lie to be fed to New College students than to hear the truth from the original source.

Shame on you C.A.S.E. and ISCAST.

Sam Drucker

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Christian View of Missions.

Writing more than a century ago, J. Gresham Machen (formerly Professor of New Testament at Princeton Seminary) observed, in his work "What is Christianity?" observed an unhealthy trend in church mission in the USA. Little or no lesson has been learned in the century that followed - not only in the USA but in other nations, including Australia.

I cite herewith an extract from Machen's work:

"Some nineteen hundred years ago a remarkable movement emerged from the obscurity of Palestine into the cosmopolitan life of the Roman Empire' That movement was the Christian Church.

What were its characteristics in those first glorious days ?

This question is important for at least two reasons. In the first place. the Church in those first days had everything that it so signally lacks today. It had joy, it had power, it had life. Perhaps that life and that power may be regained if we return to what the Church was then. In the second place, by considering what the Church was then we can answer the question. What can rightly bear the name 'Christian' today. If we have a new thing, let us use a new name; but if we claim to be Christian, We must show some conformity to that to which the name 'Christian' was first applied.

But what was it to which the name was first applied; what was the Christian movement when it first appeared ?

With regard to that question, there may be a certain amount of agreement even between historians who are themselves Christians and historians who are not Christians, even between historians of widely diverse views. Difference of opinion prevails about the question whether Christianity is true; but about the question what Christianity is and what it was in those first days a certain amount of agreement may be attained.

One thing, at least, is clear, on the basis of all our sources of historical information. The earliest Christian Church was a missionary Church. If Christianity ever settles down to be the religion merely of one nation or of one group of nations, it will have become entirely untrue to the tradition which was established for it at the beginning. There was evidently a tremendous urge among those early Christians to carry their message to the ends of the earth.

What, then, was the mission of that missionary Church ? What was the Christianity that it propagated in that ancient Roman world ?

In the first place, the Christianity that it propagated did not present itself as a new religion. On the contrary, it appealed to an ancient revelation; and it claimed to stand in the full continuity of an age-long plan of God. It should never be forgotten - though it often is forgotten - that the Christian Church at the very beginning had a Bible. Its Bible was the Old Testament; and it regarded that Bible as the Word of God, just as Bible-believing Christians regard the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments today.

In so regarding the Old Testament, it was in exact accord with the person whom it presented as the foundation of its life - namely, Jesus Christ. One thing is clear to the historian. Jesus of Nazareth, whether we like it or not, did hold the view of the Old Testament which was generally accepted in the Israel of His day; He did hold the Old Testament to be true throughout; He did hold it to be authoritative and divine. When He said that some of its commands were temporary, and were to be superseded or modified in the new era which His sovereign coming ushered in, He did not at all mean that those commands were not commands of God, absolutely valid in the sphere and in the time in which they were intended by God to prevail. It is a fact of history that Jesus as well as His first disciples held the loftiest view of the divine authority and full truthfulness of the Old Testament Scriptures. From the beginning Christianity was a religion founded upon a Book.

That Book proclaimed, and the early Church proclaimed on the basis of it, in the first place, the one living and true God, Maker of heaven and earth; and that proclamation was the basis of ever5rthing else that the Church proclaimed. 'Ye turned to God' says Paul, in describing his missionary preaching, his preaching to unconverted people at Thessalonica, ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.'

I know that some men have represented that as though it were a mere piece of metaphysics that the Church could and can do without. The doctrine of 'fiat creation,' they tell us, has nothing to do with vital religion; and even in those early days, they tell us, Jesus could be accepted as Saviour-God without any settlement of the question regarding His connection with the Creator and Ruler of the world. But men who tell us that are entirely wrong. Certainly Jesus was God; but calling Jesus God has no meaning unless one first tells what one means by 'God'; and calling Jesus God while one is indifferent to the existence of a God who is Creator and Ruler of the world runs directly counter to the teaching of Jesus Himself. No, both Jesus and His earliest disciples were first of all monotheists; they believed that before the world was God was, that this universe came into being by the fiat of His will, and that He is eternally free as over against the things that He has made. That is what the Bible means by the living and holy God; and it was that living and holy God whom those first Christian missionaries proclaimed.

It is disturbing to see how far removed the so-called evangelical church, including the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney, has removed itself from the early Church. Ask most within the Diocese "Is Jesus Christ the Creator?" and you will get hesitancy followed, at best, by a grudging affirmative in reply. Similarly, ask them "Was man created at the beginning of Creation?" and you will again often get hesitancy and even denial - this actually being denial of the view of our Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 10:6). Only when the words of our Lord are cited do you get any intellectual 'feet-shuffling' and reluctant admission.

In eagerness to dismantle the Old Testament, particularly the first eleven chapters, just to stay in with the world there are many who contribute to a degenerate church far removed from that Church which began small some two thousand years ago yet conquered the world in the Name of Him Who is True.

Perhaps if several graduates of Moore Theological College would ditch their faith in Karl Barth (of whom Machen was a critic) and drew more from J. Gresham Machen's works the Diocese would be better equipped in faith in the Word of God and more useful in declaring that Word to the lost.

Sam Drucker

Sunday, July 15, 2012


The story of the frog in the pot of water increasing in temperature to the boil would not have a fatal outcome were it possible for the frog to, as it were, to have understanding and take the temperature of the water in stages. In so doing the frog would realize something abnormal is happening and take evasive action. Likewise the church should be gauging, at times, where it has been, where it is now and where it is heading.

Although he was speaking of evangelicals in the USA some forty years ago, Walter Chantry, in his book "Today's Gospel - Authentic or Synthetic?" identifies a problem with the 'Four Spiritual Laws' approach to evangelism which has its parallel in approaches to evangelism in other parts of the world. We are forty years on and the church in Western Society is in declension. I suggest Walter Chantry was on the money in the following extract from his book:

"Evangelists today are making the dreadful miscalculation that sinners know who God is. The sad truth is that our age knows less than the Jews of our Lord's day. Nevertheless, evangelicals plunge right in with 'five things God wants you to know.' They all centre upon the man's eternal fortunes and utterly ignore the question, 'Who is God?'. The sinners thus treated never realize the gravity of their plight. They don't know whom they have offended. This is tragic.

Jesus spoke to the rich young ruler of God's holiness because it showed him what great trouble had come upon him. It is the invariably pure God who is your Judge. The note of holiness was particularly pertinent to bringing a proper fear of God into this fellow's soul. He realized before that God was a Judge. Now Jesus impressed him with the holiness of that Judge, a holiness that 'will by no means clear the guilty' [Ex 34.7].

Today, we are told that witnessing is to begin with, 'God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.' Love is set before sinners as the foremost characteristic of God. But Jesus didn't begin that way. And the Bible as a whole speaks more often of God's holiness than of His love. This is probably because men readily remember all attributes that might favour themselves and totally forget those which threaten or alarm them.

Thousands of sinners think of God as having only one attribute - 'love'. Though that is part of the truth, when it is taken for the whole truth it becomes a lie. When you tell a stranger, 'God loves you,' his mind registers something like this: 'Yes, He loves me and would never harm me. He loves me with forgiving and merciful kindness; so, all is well with my soul.' In the concept of the average American, there is no idea that God is holy; only a perverted concept that He has a gushy, all-embracing kindness. Modern evangelism is helping to foster this misconception of God by its silence and vagueness.

To say to a rebel, 'God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,' is terribly misinforming. The truth is that God is holy. Thus, He is angry with the sinner at this moment. His sword of wrath already hangs over the head of the guilty and will forever torment him unless he repents and trusts Christ. This plan is not so wonderful. God's redeeming love for sinners is found only in Christ, and the sinner is out of Christ. The modern approach is diametrically opposed to Jesus' method with the young ruler. He did not soothe him in his ignorance, but stirred up fear by preaching that God is essentially good.

Men today will readily use the name of God as would the rich man. But it is disastrous to assume that men are speaking of the same person as we are. When we say 'God' we mean 'Creator'. When our contemporaries say 'God' they are often speaking of one who has little to do with the world we see. When we say 'God' we mean 'One who is sovereign in creation, providence, and in the redemption of His creature, man.' When sinners say 'God' they usually refer to one who has committed himself to honouring the sovereign will of man at any cost to himself. Above all when we say 'God' we speak of One who has unflinching holiness, 'Who will by no means clear the guilty.' Sinners frequently think of 'God' as flexible so that He will by no means punish wonderful men.

Do you declare in your witnessing that God is holy? Every part of your message rests upon the character of God. If you rush into four easy steps to heaven with a man who has a defective view of God, you will deceive him and yourself. You may lead him to pray after you, and you will be praying to the God of glorious holiness. But when he repeats 'God' in his prayer, he will be praying to another god, or at best to his 'unknown god'.

'How shall they believe on him of whom they have not heard ?' [Rom 10.14] is a pertinent question for today's evangelist. Sinners must know Him upon whom they must call to be saved. 'Salvation is of the Lord' [Jonah 2.9]. His power and His grace alone can deliver from destruction and lead to eternal life. Eliminating the doctrine of God from evangelism is no innocent shift in emphasis, but is cutting the heart out of our message.

'What must I do to inherit eternal life?' asked the religious youth. You must apply to Jehovah for it. But before you rush into His courts, let me tell you that He is so holy that if one ray of His glory were to meet your eye, you would be cast at His feet with a dreadful sense of uncleanness. He is a consuming fire, and you must cry out to Him for mercy. Do not think that you do Him a favour by 'accepting Jesus'. The Holy One has done you a great favour in commanding you to trust his Son.

Preaching several easy steps to heaven is not evangelism. Preaching the whole counsel of God is. Preaching the radiant truth of the unique goodness of God especially is. Telling men that God is their Creator may embarrass you with intellectual evolutionists, but it is essential to the Gospel. Telling men that God is holy, wise and sovereign is also vital.

These are not unnecessary trappings.

Someone no doubt objects: 'My mission board calls such doctrines 'unessential' because they are divisive. Serious conflict would arise if I suggested that dwelling only on the love of God misleads sinners. And the pressure to get results doesn't allow time for such preaching.'

Where did any group of theologians or administrators get the audacity to relegate the character of God to the category of the unessential? When liberals said that the virgin birth was an unnecessary truth, men left their churches and schools in droves. If 'evangelicals' say that the holiness and sovereignty of God are subjects too sensitive to preach, perhaps it is time to instruct others boldly at all costs, even though it involves conflict and exclusion from their fellowship.

Paul was a missionary evangelist, not a settled pastor. He could say to the Ephesian elders 'I am pure from the blood of all men' [Acts 20.26]. How could Paul make such a claim? Not because he had given each person four spiritual laws. That was not the New Testament method of evangelism. The next verse substantiates his claim. 'For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.' In his itinerant ministry Paul preached a thorough-going theology, not a denuded four steps to eternal life.

Today mission boards are asking their missionaries to keep the blood of men on their hands: 'Don't rock the boat by clearly teaching anything that another evangelical will object to, even if it is in the Bible. Don't cause trouble by demanding the clear notes of the Gospel from those who labour by your side as fellow-missionaries. Stick to the main issues.'

If someone cheapens the Gospel by boiling it down to a five-minute sales pitch, that is fine. If another insists upon preaching the attributes of God, that is doctrinaire. Surely something is gravely amiss in the church.

It is time to break with the neo-traditionalism of the evangelical world. The mass of poor dying sinners need preaching like Christ's. The world perishes for lack of a God-exalting declaration of His nature. Let us follow Jesus' example with the rich young ruler

I do not apologize for continually reciting people and statements from the past because they serve to highlight error when the mist of present surroundings blur the distinction.

Sam Drucker

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Cost of Truth.

An often used refrain against Biblical Creationists is that genuine scientists do not give any credence to that which sets itself up against the Theory of Evolution.

The notion, of course, is not true.

One example which refutes the refrain is that of Richard (Rick) Errett Smalley (1943–2005), M.A., Ph.D. (Princeton), former Hackerman Professor of Chemistry, Physics, and Astronomy at Rice University who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996 for his discovery of (and his research on) a totally new allotrope (form) of carbon.

A summary of the Rick Smalley journey from Evolution to Creation can be seen by clicking on the hypertext.

We are confident that had Rick Smalley not been awarded the Nobel Prize before his walk away from Evolution he would most likely not have received the award afterward. Testament to this is the story of Dr Raymond Damadian, known for having been a Biblical Creationist and who was a principal in the development of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) but overlooked while others involved in the development were recipients of the Nobel Prize.

Sam Drucker

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Evaluating "A Restless Faith".

In recent weeks there has been some discussion over at A Restless Faith blogspot about whether a case exists for Christians to endorse homosexual behaviour and same sex marriage. The author of the blogspot seems a well meaning fellow who is consistent in the approach he takes to Scripture. His problem, and it is serious, is that he erroneously submits to the thinking of the world on the subject of the Flood in the time of Noah, son of Lamech. In doing this he places the world above the Word of God on an event beyond the reach of empirical science.

Having such an erroneous starting point the author of the blogspot has set himself upon a course to undermine the Word of God on other teachings of the Lord including that concerning homosexuality. At issue is the Inerrancy of Scripture and he does not shy away from declaring his departure from the Reformed position on this. He even implicates a present Moore College lecturer with a like view.

It is timely, then, to take some extracts from the late and great Church of England Bishop, J. C. Ryle's 1878 work "Old Paths, being Plain Statements on Some Weightier Matters of Christianity" for clarity on what the Reformation roots of the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney are. I won't quote J. C. Ryle's position on the question of "Is all Scripture Inspired?" because it is alongside those of some greats of post Reformation Church of England. I provide three citations employed by Bishop Ryle:

"Bishop Jewell, the author of the 'Apology', was unquestionably one of the most learned of the English Reformers. Let us hear what he says:"

'St Paul, speaking of the Word of God, saith, "The whole Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable." Many think the Apostle’s speech is hardly true of the whole Scripture, that all and every part of the Scripture is profitable. Much is spoken of genealogies and pedigrees, of lepers, of sacrificing goats and oxen, etc. These seem to have little profit in them: to be idle and vain.'

'If they show vain in thine eyes, yet hath not the Lord set them down in vain. The words of the Lord are pure words, as the silver tried in a furnace of earth refined seven times. There is no sentence, no clause, no word, no syllable, no letter, but it is written for thy instruction: there is not one jot but it is sealed and signed with the blood of the Lamb.'

'Our imaginations are idle, our thoughts are vain: there is no idleness, no vanity, in the Word of God.'

'Those oxen and goats which were sacrificed teach thee to kill the uncleanness and filthiness of thine heart: they teach thee that thou art guilty of death, when thy life must be redeemed by the death of some beast: they lead thee to believe the forgiveness of sins by a more perfect sacrifice, since it was not possible that the blood of bulls or of goats should take away sins.'

'That leprosy teacheth thee the uncleanness and leprosy of thy soul.'

'These genealogies and pedigrees lead us to the birth of our Saviour Christ, so that the whole Word of God is pure and holy. No word, no letter, no syllable, nor point or prick thereof, but is written and preserved for thy sake.'

"Richard Hooker, author of the 'Ecclesiastical Polity', is justly respected by all schools of thought in the Church of England as 'the judicious Hooker.' Let us hear what he says:"

'Touching the manner how men, by the Spirit of Prophecy in Holy Scripture, have spoken and written of things to come, we must understand, that as the knowledge of that they spake, so likewise the utterance of that they knew, came not by those usual and ordinary means whereby we are brought to understand the mysteries of our salvation, and are wont to instruct others in the same. For whatsoever we know, we have it by the hands and ministry of men, who led us along like children from a letter to a syllable, from a syllable to a word, from a word to a line, from a line to a sentence from a sentence to a side, and so turn over.'

'But God Himself was their instructor. He Himself taught them, partly by dreams and visions in the night, partly by revelations in the day, taking them aside from amongst their brethren, and talking with them as a man would talk with his neighbours in the way. Thus they became acquainted even with the secret and hidden counsels of God; they saw things which themselves were not able to utter, they beheld that whereat men and angels are astonished, they understood in the beginning what should come to pass in the last days. God who lightened thus the eyes of their understanding, giving them knowledge by unusual and extraordinary means, did also miraculously Himself frame and fashion their words and writings, in so much that a greater difference there seemeth not to be between the manner of their knowledge, than there is between the manner of their speech and ours. "We have received", saith the Apostle, "not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are given to us of God: which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost doth teach."

'This is that which the Prophets mean by those books written full within and without; which books were so often delivered them to eat, not because God fed them with ink and paper, but to teach us, that so often as He employed them in this heavenly work, they neither spake nor wrote any word of their own, but uttered syllable by syllable as the Spirit put it in their mouths, no otherwise than the harp or the lute doth give a sound according to the direction of his hands that holdeth it and striketh it with skill.'

"John Owen, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, was the most learned and argumentative of the Puritans. Let us hear what he says:"

'Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. When the word was thus brought to them it was not left: to their own understandings, wisdom, minds. memories, to order, dispose, and give it out; but they were borne, actuated, carried out by the Holy Ghost, to speak, deliver, and write all that, and nothing but that, to very tittles, that was so brought unto them. They invented not words themselves, suited to the things they had learned. but only expressed the word that they received. Though their mind and understanding were used in the choice of words (whence arise all the differences in their manner of expression), yet they were so guided that their words were not their own, but immediately supplied unto them. Not only the doctrine they taught was the word of truth, truth itself, but the words whereby they taught it were words of truth from God Himself.'

'Thus, allowing the contribution of proper instruments for the reception and representation of words which answer to the mind and tongue of the Prophets in the coming of the voice of God to them, every apex of the written Word is equally divine, and as immediately from God as the voice wherewith, or whereby,. He spake to us in the Prophets; and is therefore accompanied with the same authority in itself and to us.'

These are the roots of the Divine faith lost for a time in the mists of human misadventures but resurrected in the Reformation. Yet all the signs exist to indicate a new generation has arisen within the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney who know not the faith of their forbears and who leave a question in one's mind as to: "In whom do they trust?"

I am not to judge a man but it is right to ponder truth and error.

Sam Drucker

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Common Complaint.

S. M. Houghton, born in 1899 and now deceased, was an ardent preserver of Puritan wrings and former Editor of Banner of Truth. His reminiscences provide a helpful insight into the extent to which a person can enter Christian ministry with an inconsistent doctrine of God and the gospel. Further, he examples the thinking of many who entered ministry at the beginning of the last century.

I provide an extract of his reminiscences herewith:

"As a youth - and I think that the experience that I now mention was completely typical of the era - I became enamoured of evolution. It had a strong appeal for me, and seemed to me to dovetail with the bare smattering of science that I had been taught. Precisely how it reached me I do not remember, but it was certainly strengthened by the books of a writer whose name is not by any means forgotten in these nineteen-seventies. I refer to Henry Drummond whose reputation in religious quarters was extremely high in my time of adolescence. He was by repute a Christian gentleman of the highest academic qualifications, active in evangelical circles - had he not played a considerable part in the Moody campaigns ? - and one well able to show how the Gospel of Christ could come to terms with evolution and the new scientific and philosophical ideas that were sweeping across the academic, not to say the ecclesiastical world with hurricane force. The strength and influence of Drummond's personality in his own day, particularly in student circles, were immense. Born in 1851, student of divinity at New College, Edinburgh, devoted to his own particular brand of evangelism, he was appointed lecturer in Natural Science at the Free Church College, Glasgow, and later became a Professor of Theology. In academic circles he moved with the greatest ease. His addresses and writings won widespread attention. In 1883 appeared his Natural Law in the Spiritual World, a work which went through many editions. George Adam Smith, Drummond's biographer, assures his readers that 'the clear and simple style' of the book 'is charged with an enthusiasm, and carries a wealth of religious experience which captures the heart, and tempt the thoughtful reader to become indifferent to almost every prejudice which the introduction has excited in his mind'.

Drummond's book represents the attempt to bridge the gulf between the former belief in creation as based upon Scripture, and early Scripture in particular, and the teachings of Darwinism expounded first in 'The Origin of Species' [1859] and continued in such works as 'Darwin's Descent of Man' [I87l], The titles of Drummond's chapters indicate the general character of his book - Biogenesis, degeneration, death, eternal life, environment, conformity to type, parasitism. It aimed at reconciling Darwinism and Christianity; but in working out his thesis Drummond virtually abandoned the old foundations of belief and framed a philosophy of the Gospel which ill accords with 'the faith once delivered to the saints'.

Drummond's 'Natural Law', followed, in the order of my reading, by his 'Tropical Africa' and his 'Ascent of Man', made an immense appeal to me, and gave me the idea that evolution was the key to spiritual problems, in fact the key to unlock the mysteries of religion. My scientific knowledge was scanty and superficial, but I had much interest in such phenomena as mimicry in nature and in all theories which set out to show that one species developed from another. 'Tropical Africa' fanned the flame. I was certainly gullible. It would indeed almost be true to say that the Gospel in which, at that time, I believed, was evolution. As I write I cannot help but set down a line from John Newton's autobiographical poem: 'Alas, I knew not what I did'. Such was my enthusiasm that I virtually resolved to offer myself as a candidate for the Wesleyan ministry, and further, to offer myself as a missionary of the same Church to work in the Africa described by Drummond.

Houghton goes on to say, at length, how for some time held an untenable link between evolution and the atoning work of Jesus Christ and actually commenced ministry as a Wesleyan preacher unconverted. Some time later, God intervened and, as Houghton put it, "In other words, my conversion intervened, and with my conversion, by the grace of God, other forces came into operation which drew me, ere long, into religious company of a very different type, and changed the entire course of my life." The change included rejection of evolution as a valid explanation of origins and incompatible with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is apparent to me that there are many clergy within the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney bound to the dark path once walked by S. M. Houghton.

Sam Drucker

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Concerning "A Restless Faith" Discussion

In my previous blog I drew attention to a blog and subsequent Sydney Morning Herald article concerning the Marriage/Homosexuality debate occurring presently in Australia.

The writer of the SMH article has prompted a well written response here from a writer at Creation Ministries International and is being taken up by correspondents from different parts of the world.

When you have 'dirty linen' it has to come out of the closet at some stage and the inconsistency in doctrine and exegesis at Moore College on Genesis has found its day.

Sam Drucker