“If God promise riches, the way thereto is poverty. Whom he loveth, him he chasteneth: whom he exalteth, he casteth, down: whom he saveth, he damneth first. He bringeth no man to heaven, except he send him to hell first. If he promise life, he slayeth first: when he buildeth, he casteth all down first. He is no patcher; he cannot build on another mans foundation.”
William Tyndale here presents an absolute Biblical truth that the gospel in this life when lived to the full leads to poverty and not wealth and prosperity. The reason why Tyndale spoke this truth and saw it clearly, is that he was not blinded by prosperity and culture.
As an Onlooker from England, it is immediately clear that one of the major problems we face today within Western Christianity and our more popular ministering brothers from across the Atlantic could well be one of cultural loyalty and being caught up with the implications a Biblical text or doctrine may imply. Often when talking to an fellow American brothers be they preachers or Theologians, it appears that they are more concerned with the implications of a doctrine rather than absolute loyalty to the text itself. Much of this issue appears to be due to over emphasis upon Calvinism or so-called ‘Calvinism’ being part of the foundations of ‘American History’. Such is not wrong in itself, for England herself has a massive Christian history and the Protestant reformation began in England and resulted in the publication of the King James Bible in 1611. Thus, one problem of today would be due to the memory of likes of Edwards, Whitefield and loyalty to ancestral heritage, the Biblical narrative is seen largely through these perspectives. Rather than being faithful to the Biblical text, our American brothers could get caught up in this cultural issue and its implications, and before one can even attempt to be loyal to the text, the presentation is viewed upon its implications rather than its loyalty to the Biblical narrative. Even larger than this is the influence that our American preachers and theologians have upon English ministers and the rest of the world, which if true to scripture would not be a problem, but many often fail to recognise this cultural issue which all too often stands in the way of absolute loyalty to the Biblical narrative. And due to the pursuasive words of the author, be they past or present and his convicing words that pursuade the reader that he is being loyal to the actual text, is not always loyal at all, but is more loyal to his culture and not the Biblical narraitve. This is why the many of the more profound Biblical Theologians in history have come out of England, one because English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world and two because English people are, by nature not blinded by prosperity and culture but are open to explore varied opinion and cultures, even if it differs from what we believe.
Poverty and suffering for the gospel is likewise viewed through what culture dictates suffering to be and not what the Biblical text actually says that suffering is. But English Biblical theologians have a reputation for not being over influenced by English culture, but rather desire change culture to conform to the Biblical text and to find the Biblical setting and let that Biblical culture demonstrate what the Biblical narrative actually says. History has proven this by the fact that many English reformers and theologians have gone against their country when the country has gone against the Bible. That poverty must be viewed from a Biblical perspective and not a cultural perspective. That ministry must be viewed from a Biblical perspective and not a cultural perspective.
Now you may ask, well, why are you relating this to America Simon? when all of Western Christianity is near enough corrupt? Well, the answer is that much of the corruption that Christianity has embraced has come from American theologians and the proserity movement to boot, just as the corrupted modern critical scholarship movement came from Germany and has spread throughout scholarship. American multi-miliion dollar instrustrious ministers and their hidden prosperity gospel manifests itself on radio and tv networks and this ministry influences, yet many do not research the background theology behind each preacher.
Thus, as current affairs and history shows, England is very open to America and her people, and we love her, but from a Christian perspective and based upon spiritual loyalty to the Biblical Narrative, the problem happens when our fellow American ministers may all too often fail to acknowledge their Christian influence upon people in other parts of the world who do not see things as they see them, yet they all too often ignore the fact that their influence spreads around the world and their works are read, yet in reality, what are they spreading, is it Biblical truth or culture?
Simon Peter Sutherland