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Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Strange Message Coming Out of Moore Theological College.

Readers will be aware of concerns we have with doctrine being taught these days at Moore Theological College - the theological seminary of the Episcopalian (Anglican) Diocese of Sydney - particularly with regard to the Office of Jesus Christ in Creation.

Attempts to point out the doctrinal problem in person to person dialogue with graduates or lecturers of Moore Theological College result in frustration because of a clear disjunction on their part between the Word Written and the Word Incarnate. They will not admit to a disjunction but attempts to expose it on the subject of Origins meets with evasion because of an incomplete, thus unsustainable, Christology on their part - the cause being their incorporation of the world's view of Origins into their reading of the Word Written.

It is with intrigue therefore that we read in the August 2012 edition of Southern Cross an article written by Rev Dr Mark Thompson, Head of the Department of Theology, Philosophy and Ethics at Moore Theological College under the heading "Supernatural".

Dr Thompson either inadvertently or covertly exposes an "Achilles' Heel" of many within the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney who have deserted their Reformed roots on Origins but declare themselves to be Reformed and Conservative Evangelicals. The bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ after three days dead, as recorded in the Word Written, is upheld by most within the Diocese despite scientists declaring no basis in science for belief in such a notion. Yet the many have willingly cast off the testimony of the Word Written on Origins in deference to scientists who declare no basis in science for belief in such a notion.

Dr Thompson does not come out and say what I have just said but I invite readers to get a copy of the August 2012 edition of Southern Cross and see how, in arguing for belief in a supernatural as opposed to a natural understanding of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and other recorded phenomena in the Word Written, Dr Thompson either inadvertently or covertly exposes the dichotomy that exists within the Diocese.

In case readers can't get hold of the original article I will provide some extracts which take nothing away from or distort the original intention of the author. In speaking to the Resurrection being the centrepiece of God's eternal purpose and this being the common confession of Christians over the past 2000 years, Dr Thompson says:
"The resurrection is most certainly not a natural event. People who have been dead for three days do not suddenly get up, walk, talk and eat breakfast with their friends."


"The resurrection makes clear that Christian faith and the focus of Christian faith are both profoundly supernatural ... It is this supernaturalism at the heart of our faith that is all too easily forgotten by some."


"The challenge can be seen in the way we approach the miracles in the gospels. Through the centuries there have been attempts to explain the miracles of Jesus in terms of the regularities we observe in our world. Some suggest that the miracles weren't really miracles at all. Others insist that it is only as the miracles are explained in terms of the world as we normally experience it that they become believable. So the miracles are only believable once they cease to be miracles." At this point one hopes that Dr Thompson would not neglect the first recorded supernatural act of the Word in the gospel according to John viz. the creation of all things (John 1:3).

Almost as if he is taking a swipe at Theistic Evolutionists, Dr Thompson goes on to say:

"Yet once we accept the argument that an event, a series of events or an idea can only be believed if it can be explained in terms that we dictate we have, consciously or not, raised questions about the supernatural dimension of the Christian faith. We've actually accepted one of the fundamental tenets of today's scepticism. It is not just that human reason has become the ultimate determiner of what is acceptable and what is not (an attitude strangely reminiscent of the Garden of Eden), but today's consensus on how the world works becomes the standard that our reason uses. Claiming to stand in the heritage of Galileo, we become more like those who opposed him because they were wedded to a view of the cosmos they had inherited from Ptolemy. The supernatural doesn't easily fit into a view of the universe we have embraced and so it is dismissed without further consideration."

and he then goes on to say:

"The right use of reason is an important part of our response to the gospel. The capacity to think is a good gift from God with which we can serve each other and him. The difficulty arises from the fact that every part of us, including our reason, is affected by the consequences of the Fall. Our reason can become self-centred and self-serving. We can also make our reason the arbiter of truth and error, of good and evil. We can forget that we view everything around us from a limited point of view. We cannot escape our location in history, in particular community, or in a 'tradition' of one kind or another (even if that tradition is simply a repudiation of all tradition). Yet God suffers no such limitations and his words never prove mistaken." [emphasis mine]

Finally, I cite the following from Dr Thompson:

"If the supernatural dimension of the Christian faith exceeds our capacity to reason that should not surprise us. We may not be able to fathom how a man could rise from the dead after three days. The creation of all things from nothing by the word [Word] of God might boggle our minds. The mechanics of the flood or the Exodus or the miracles or the resurrection of all to judgement might elude us. Yet we cannot be satisfied with what we can explain in terms of our experience of things. We cannot afford to dismiss the testimony of Scripture because we can't figure out how this or that was done. Instead we need to trust the one who gives us these words in order to understand who he is, what he has done for us and how we ought to respond to him."

It would be interesting to engage with Dr Thompson to ascertain how complete is his argument, whether he consistently applies it throughout the Word Written and whether he makes a seamless connection with the Word Incarnate.

Nevertheless, any thinking person within the Episcopalian (Anglican) Diocese of Sydney upon reading Dr Thompson's article should be asking themselves the same questions I would be asking Dr Thompson.

Sam Drucker


John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

And I say unto you, of course we believe in the Word of God...but occasionally we have to allow for what those men in white coats say.

sam drucker said...

Well, yes we must accept what the 'white coats' say to retain our accreditation with the government.
Accreditation means financial assistance from the government for students.

It is sort of like Israel of old forming an alliance/treaty with another nation rather than trusting in the Lord - even the King of Israel being obliged (in honouring that other nation) to take for a wife a woman from that nation and she brings into Israel her own gods to worship. Thus, Israel is defiled and the abomination grows from there.

However, I am still puzzled as to just what Rev Dr Mark Thompson's position is on the Reformed understanding of Origins.

Sam Drucker