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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Thirty None Articles of Religion

Some weeks back my attention was drawn to a blogspot entitled A Restless Faith authored by a former Moore Theological College lecturer by the name of Keith Mascord. Not only I but others around the world took interest in and were disappointed with the author's attitude to the Word of God disclosed in a blog entitled Noah, Gender Roles and Same-Sex Marriage and subsequent comments to that blog.

Looking back at comments from others I have pondered a response given by Keith Mascord to a question from a man named Trent. The fellow Trent asked Keith Mascord "You move in Sydney Anglican circles and seem to have done so at various levels for some time. You would have a pretty fair idea of what is going on within that Diocese. The points you made to me today on the Thirty-Nine Articles, Article 9, justification by faith, Reformation understanding on doctrine and bible teaching, the question mark over whether Adam was a real person, unbaptised babies who die going straight to hell – are these thoughts the general thinking of the Diocese?" to which Keith Mascord replied (in part) "I am still an Anglican minister/priest. Re the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, it has been a while since I have read through them – but did a few years ago in the context of a discusison about tightening adherence to the 39 Articles here in the Sydney Diocese. From what I remember of the discussion (and there were a lot of Sydney Anglican ministers there), it was acknowledged that the Articles, though a fair articulation of Reformation convictions, nevertheless need to be understood within their historic context. Most would have had trouble saying a straightforward YES to each and every one of them. Moreover, the Articles themselves acknowledge changes in understanding over time."

It is my understanding that the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion were devised by the newly Reformed Church of England in the Sixteenth Century as a standard of doctrine to which Clergy of that denomination must ascribe upon ordination - even in Australia.

The perception of Keith Mascord as to the general feeling within the Episcopalian Diocese of Sydney toward the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion presents an ominous future for this link to the Reformed doctrine of the past.

Other comments by Keith Mascord on his blogspot and his citing of the view of a present Moore Theological College lecturer on Inerrancy of Scripture and Homosexuality give cause for concern and have been dealt with here subsequently.

However, it is worth reminding readers that what we have reported on is just more of what has been happening across Christendom for some centuries. Churches and denominations are falling like 'nine pins' to the world. For so many, the doctrine and creeds arising from the Reformation are proving an embarrassment to those today wanting more relevance to the world rather than to God and to those who spent their blood achieving the Reformation of the Church in the Name of Jesus Christ.

For an example in that regard take a journey back forty years to see how one writer, John R. de Witt, described the outlook in the Presbyterian Church in the USA:
" ... we should resist with all our power the drive to re-write the standards of the Church because the motives for doing so are wrong. What I have said before is, as you see at once, immediately related to this. What we are facing at the present time is a desperately serious state of affairs within the historic institution of the Church. I have yielded as much as I could to the sincere men of evangelical profession who would like to re-dress our holy faith in modern garb. We must try to understand them, to appreciate them, and to deal gently with them. But we must also warn them, and warn them as solemnly as we can. For they are playing into the hands of those who would detach the Church from her historic, constitutional position, and loosen her from the carefully wrought out, longsomely acquired, biblical foundation upon which she has always rested. The power of the ecclesiastical establishment at the present time, even in the bulk of the Reformed churches, is not in the hands of men of evangelical faith, but in the hands very often of apostates, heretics, men who have departed from the position of their fathers and who now want to drag down the Church as a whole after them. I do not impugn their sincerity. That is not in the province of any one of us to do. But I do denounce their doctrinal corruption and their unfaithfulness to the Word of God. And I do declare that, insofar as they believe the lie rather than the truth, they are the enemies of the souls of men. We are therefore to give them no countenance at all, and to resist their machinations, their projects, their plans now specifically with respect to the re-confessionalization - the which is really the de-confessionalization - of the Church. I can speak most knowledgeably of my own situation, of course, and I have very little acquaintance with your own. But I know that in the Southern Presbyterian Church what men want when they speak of writing a new confession of faith is to do away with the Westminster Confession, and with a binding obligation to it, and to be free to believe what they wish, to be free from the Word of God and from the gospel of Jesus Christ." (extracted from "Does the Church Today Need a New Confession of Faith?" by John R de Witt in June 1972 issue of Banner of Truth)

Keith Mascord discloses a similar trend within the Episcopalian (Anglican) Diocese of Sydney and he is pleased to be part of it. That at least one present lecturer of Moore Theological College is similarly minded to alter doctrinal positions established in the Reformation is a portent to the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion soon becoming Thirty None Articles of Religion.

Sam Drucker

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