Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Pitfalls of the Jerusalem Meeting

Anglican Traditionalists are meeting in Jerusalem to try to deal with the problem of discipline in the Anglican Communion, specifically the liberal antinomianism that has practically taken over the leadership of the Episcopal Church in the USA. They intend to build an alliance to force the leadership, especially in England, to listen to them.

Now we agree that the liberal elite leading not only the Church of England but all of the so-called mainline denominations are fatally out-of-touch with the rest of the world and mired in heresy. What is worse, they seem entirely spineless, unwilling to offend anybody, and therefore unable to please anybody. Rowan Williams is seen by traditionalists as too liberal, and by liberals as too traditionalist. The Church of England has become, as a body, too intent on pleasing people to be a credible voice in the moral wilderness of Britain.

But we are not hopeful for this alliance of traditionalists. Why is this? Because it is an alliance that is built on a purely pragmatic, human basis. When Anglo-Catholics and evangelicals band together, their alliance will be fragile and ready to break. On the one hand the evangelicals would hold that the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and other non-episcopal churches are true churches, and hold the Church of England to be a protestant church of the Reformation. On the other hand the Anglo-Catholic holds those same churches to be schismatics and heretics, and the Church of England to be at best a via media (middle way) between the Church of Rome and the Reformation.

J.I. Packer, for all his knowledge of the Reformation, has long been an advocate of this alliance to dish the liberals. We, however, think that such an idea is mere worldly wisdom and politics. True unity is unity in Truth, and if the Anglo-Catholics are right, the Evangelicals are wrong - indeed, as they do not teach baptismal regeneration, prayers for the dead, and the sacrifice of the Mass, they are heretics. On the other hand if, as we think, the Evangelicals are right, those teachings are heresy. So which is it? Or are we to adopt the one principle of sexual morality as our guide? An alliance founded on nothing more than a mutual agreement on morality, even when that agreement is based on the Bible, is still a rope of sand. It CANNOT form a real alternative to the Church of England, for if it ever splits from the Anglican Communion, it will instantly fracture into pieces.

Let others trust in such alliances. We will trust in the Lord our God, for if we are faithful, He will be faithful to His Word that He has spoken.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Lakeland 'Revival' healings

This Post Confirms what we had suspected all along: that the 'healings' at the so-called Florida Healing Revival are highly suspect. This is nothing more than mass-hypnosis and the power of suggestion. Those who are seeking to be miraculously healed in these events and by these men are tragically deluded. It is simply not God's will that all Christians should be healthy and wealthy - just look at the Apostle Paul! Those who say that it is always God's will to heal are, in our opinion, cruel in the extreme.

On Wednesday evening we heard a minister who had to sit down to preach because he recently had part of one lung removed. Does this mean that he is a bad Christian? Quite the reverse! God has promised to go with His people through the fire and the water, but He has also said that we shall pass through the fire and the water.

Now let us all go and read Dr. Warfield's Counterfeit Miracles.

Update: See also here and here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Waldron Reply to MacArthur out

Samuel Waldron's MacArthur's Millenial Manifesto is now out from Solid Ground Christian Books. We have ordered a copy and will be very interested to see Dr. Waldron's conclusions. As readers of this blog know, we differ from MacArthur in our views of eschatology, though of course we consider him a brother in Christ. We probably dissent from Waldron on several points too, as we are aware of only three other Christians with whom we are in total agreement on the matter of Eschatology. One of them taught us Hebrew, another Greek.

So watch this space. Hopefully the book will arrive in a week or so.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Church names

What's in a church name? Various denominations ahve different traditions for naming churches, and Britain and America have their differences too. Indeed, England and Wales have theirs. In the Church of England a church building will be dedicated to a saint or, if it's an Evangelical foundation, will have a name like Christchurch or Holy Trinity. Nonconformists sometimes call their buildings after famous people, such as Matthew Henry Evangelical Church in Chester or Wesley's Chapel in London. Most often in English small towns and villages a chapel will just have the denominational name and the town or village, such as Hethersett Reformed Baptist Church or North Walsham Congregational Church. Where there are multiple churches of the same denomination in a town, they are often named for where they are located (or not, Sealand Road United Reformed Church, Chester, is not on Sealand Road at all). Strict baptist Chapels often have Biblical names, from the obvious (Bethel) to the obscure (Galeed). 'Tabernacle' is often a popular name, although there have been a few 'Temples' over the years. The first Primitive Methodist chapel in Great Yarmouth was called the Tabernacle, but when it was rebuilt a member suggested they might call the new building 'Great Yarmouth Primitive Methodist Church'. "Why not go the whole way and call it a Temple?" another member replied sarcastically. So they did, and it remained 'The Temple' until its demolition.

The United Reformed Church (URC, and it's neither, leading to questions about the third letter as well) has a congregation that is moving towards truth in advertising. Yes, in the attractive market town of Diss, on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, when the former congregational church entered the URC it boldly adopted a new name. No longer would it be called the Diss Congregational Church, but now the board outside the attractive brick building in Mere Street would have the radical new name of...

The Diss United Reformed Church

(Note: The Baptist Church (pictured) in the same town recently decided not to enter the Grace Baptist Association in order to avoid the title 'Diss Grace Baptist church')

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Call it what it is!

we have become concerned lately over the abuse of the term 'Heresy'. It has a meaning, namely theological error so serious that it overthrows the faith. Unfortunately some people, even Reformed people, have been guilty of using the term in a sloppy way: for example, a man whom we look up as one of the greatest Bible expositors in England today has been described as a 'heretic' in our hearing simply for holding that remarriage after divorce is unbiblical. Granted, he may be WRONG, but that is not a heresy. Again, we know a dear Christian brother who believes that Christains ought to worship on the seventh, not the first, day. We think he is wrong, but could not condem him as a heretic for his opinion.
We do not hold Dispensationalism, which we hold to be attended with all sorts of difficulties, as a heresy in and of itself. True, some forms of Dispensationalism, such as that which holds that the types and shadows of the ceremonial law were in fact saving realities, ARE heretical, but it would be a brave man who called John MacArthur heretical for his eschatalogical views!

Eschatology is the area in which we have the most freedom according to the historic Reformed confessions. No one millennial scheme is taught, for example. There ARE eschatalogical heresies, the visible, bodily return of Christ 'in like manner' as He went into heaven for example, or the denial of, the denial of the resurrection of the dead, and universal salvation. Most heresies are found in the areas of Theology proper (doctrine of God), Christology, Soteriology and Anthropology (Pelagianism, for example, is an Anthropological heresy).

So let us be very careful with this word, unless we want to debase it. Let it be reserved for TRUE heresies, things that destroy the Gospel, not for mere differnces of opinion.