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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


John said...


You're way too polite. Why don't you name him? I will then!

It's Michael Jensen who, apparently, doesn't believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. I suppose he could mount a dazzling case for his unorthodox position, but, who really cares? Michael, now the second generation, has long held onto a form of liberalism so "coming out" is not so surprising.

sam drucker said...

How rude! I was trying to be discreet.

Sam Drucker