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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dissembling Evangelicalism in Sydney (Part 5 of 5)

This is the final instalment of an address given by Maurice Roberts on the topic of "The Guilt of Higher Criticism" given at the centenary of the Bible League in England in 1992:

"III. The Higher Critical Movement has been Guilty of Robbing us of our Glorious Theological Heritage in this Country

It is no accident that in proportion as the Higher Critical influence in this country grew, so interest in our great heritage of classic Reformed theology declined. It is entirely understandable that this should have been so. If the new criticism which swept through the land in and after 1860 was true then the older writers are worthless. A new theology had to be written in the light of the critical alterations to what were now outworn creeds of earlier centuries.

This was what the scholars attempted and we need not be afraid to say that the attempt has proved a lamentable and a conspicuous failure. Once the Bible was set aside as no true textbook of theology, it was left to the ingenuity of men to reconstruct a theology for the church. It was not long before the church's creed therefore began to shrink drastically until today we have something like the following: A human 'Jesus' without a Virgin Birth, without a bodily Resurrection and without miracles. We have a God who is 'love', but neither just nor holy. We have a 'gospel' which is so atrophied that it might easily have been invented by a pre-Christian Greek philosopher who had never heard the preaching of the Apostles at all. We have a new morality which condones promiscuity, social abortion and even sometimes homosexuality.

We have, in a word, a Christianity which is shorn of all that is distinctive and unique. It is a travesty of the New Testament message an little wonder, therefore, if the people of this country have turned their backs on it in favour of Roman Catholicism, Islam, the New Age Movement, one or other of the cults, or, more probably, upon the age old Hedonism which says, 'Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die'.

My argument is that the Higher Critical movement has to bear a very great proportion of the guilt for these changes which have occurred over the past hundred years in our beloved land. Our far-sighted forefathers in the Faith who began this Bible League a century ago saw all these evils coming. C. H. Spurgeon saw these evils looming up in his day and so did other spiritually-minded men and women of that age. It was a dark day of unbelief and an age of apostasy. It was a guilty undermining of all that God had said in his Holy Word and the effects are with us all in our nation today: chaos in the religious world, chaos in the moral realm, chaos in the family, chaos in the pulpit and chaos in the pew.

C. H. Spurgeon, you may remember, said towards the close of his life that he expected to be 'eaten of dogs' for the next fifty years. That was to be a very accurate prediction. His reputation fell far in the decade following his death. But in the 1950s a change came. Spurgeon's sermons began again to be reprinted. At the same time, Mr Geoffrey Williams, the founder of the Evangelical Library, was exerting his influence to bring back God-honouring books to the attention of his generation. Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, more than any other man probably in this country, was also powerfully drawing attention to the conservative theology which had once been the glory of this nation. Mr S. M. Houghton of the Bible League and others became indefatigable servants of Christ, buying up books in second-hand shops and promoting by word of mouth and by their pen a knowledge of that stronger and greater theology which had been almost lost in this country for the past fifty years.

A new day was beginning to dawn on this country. Spurgeon's word had been prophetic. He was 'eaten of dogs for fifty years', but a later generation was beginning now to vindicate him.

The spectre of Higher Criticism still lingers everywhere: in universities, in divinity departments, in school classrooms, in teacher training colleges, in BBC religion, in many lukewarm churches of our land today. But the Higher Criticism for all its wide presence in the nation is without a message and without a sense of direction. Its books languish unused in libraries and are sold for next to nothing in second-handhand bookshops.

On the other hand, the old Reformed theology is gaining momentum. In May 1992, one hundred years after the Bible League was founded in defence of the Word of God, we are, I believe, at the beginning of a new movement of the Spirit of God to recover truth and righteousness for our beloved Britain again - and for the world.

May God be thanked for his goodness to us and may his kingdom come in power and in demonstration of the Spirit

Maurice Roberts' optimism twenty years ago has not been realised as yet in Great Britain and is not seen in Sydney. All applications of Higher Criticism can be found in the attitude of most Sydney Episcopalian (Anglican) clergy and theological professors toward the reading and understanding of the Genesis creation account. The problem does not end there. Having taken a weak stance on the reading of Genesis it is understandable that some now have moved on to superimpose human reason over the Word of God in other issues eg homosexuality. Many pewsitters will be shocked in, coming years, to hear opinions emerge from some they have regarded as evangelical leaders.

It is noteworthy that Maurice Roberts saw the period around 1860 as the time of full scale assault of Higher Criticism on the Church in Great Britain. It does not require much thought to realise that Higher Criticism came then with a strong ally - the Theory on the Origin of the Species etc.

Could you imagine Israel under King David receiving even one of the surrounding nations if they came armed upon Israel as a pair? Not at all! But the Church in Great Britain received one or both, as has the Church in Australia. Even to receive one is to receive both. It is then just a matter of time before the job of each is done - a decimated Church of little worth to the nation and of no glory to God.

Sam Drucker

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