Archive for November, 2011

The problem of the red Heifer and the pre-milliennial view

Ephesus Simon Peter SutherlandJews in Israel are now claiming that they are re-building thee 3rd Jewish Temple. This is a huge isssue, since many Biblical scholars and theologians believe that God is going to re-establish His Old Covenant sacrifices when the re-building of the so-called 3rd Jewish temple in Jerusalem is complete.

Many pre-milliennial theologians employ 2 Thessalonians 2: 2-12 to proclaim that antichrist will do this? But the problem is that this re-establishment of old covenant sacrifices is based upon one interpretation of Daniel 9, which claims that Daniel was prophesying that at the end of days, antichrist will set up and image of himself in the new temple at Jerusalem and will briefly put an end to sacrifices which have been re-established by a levitical priesthood.

However, despite the controversy which surrounds escatological interpretations, it is clear that Daniel 9 is a prophesy concerning the coming of Christ, who, according to many modern scholars, put an end to sacrifice and offering in the middle of the Jewish week and not Friday, as many claim to be the day in which Christ was crucified. However, the problem remains that the building of a 3rd temple in Jerusalem is not a mere matter of theological interpretation of the scriptures, or problematic only because the levitical priesthood does not exist anymore and cannot be reinstated by any priesthood, but, it is a problem regarding the Red Heifer.

According to the Bible, the Red Heifer was a bull used by levitical priests in accordance with the Law of Moses as part of the ritual sacrifices for the so-called cleansing of sin. These requirments are found in Numbers 19: 1-22, which is contained in the Bible and in the Torah and cannot be broken by anyone accept God Himself. So the problem remains, that there is no longer a pure Red Heifer anymore. The Red Heifer genetically gained white markings sometime over the last 2000 years or more. The white markings now found on the Red Heifer make it impossble for the laws of purification to be fulfilled according to the word of God. Jewish scholars and pre-millennial theologians have got a problem. Nothing other than a pure Red Heifer at the age of 3 can be a satisfactory offering (Genesis 15: 9)

So until a pure Red Heifer comes along, there is no signal for the end of days and the sooner people realise that the re-building of temple was made complete in the followers of the Lord Jesus, who are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, then the better for all of us.

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Concerning “A modern sikh interpretation of the Bible” a lecture given by John Parry – November 10th 2011 – Manchester Cathedral

It is out of great concern and deep conviction that I am writing this post today. I write concerning a certain lecture I attended last evening and regarding a situation which I see is ever present with us in England today and is cause for great concern regarding the future of Christ’s church.

The title of the lecture in question was, “A modern Sikh interpretation of Jesus” and although the title itself could be seen as polemical and problematic, I was happy to attend and pleased to know that the lecture was free from admission charges, which is shamefully inconsistent with the many practices of modern Christendom but at least this act bore witness with the direct words of Christ, “Freely you have recieved, freely give” (Matthew 10: 8).

In his talk which began at 7pm after Cannon Andrew Shank’s introduction, the well spoken, humble and polite Mr Parry explored the apparent similarities between the Jesus of the historical canonical Gospels and the so-called Jesus of the Sikh religion. As part of the lecture, the majority of the text which Mr Parry explored was taken from the writings of Gopal Singh and a Sikh work on Jesus which I am not familiar with entitled “The man who never died”.

Gopal Singh’s text makes mention of certain topics which could be seen as Biblical, including ‘regeneration’, rising from the “state of death” and dying to self and yet “being  alive to what never dies within you” which I felt was a little Gnostic or mystical?

The writing then moved on to Jesus healing the sick and “bringing them back to themselves” and the historical facts that Jesus was worshipped as God, son of man, that He was scourged and crucified and the resurrection. Other themes also included the Grace of God and the “Samaritan woman” of the gospels.

In itself, the work written by Gopal Singh appeared to me to be not unlike the many poems and the writings of philosophers, and religious works past and present, and not unlike the ancient Gnostic writings and ancient apocryphal works such as “the Gospel of Judas’ or “the Gospel of the Essenes” or even “the Gospel of Thomas”. All such works which on the surface appears in-line with the canonical Gospels, and yet when examined more closely, they could and I would argue ‘do’ reveal themselves very far apart on the fine tuning of fundamental doctrines and established Christian truths.

This could be argued in the context of the Sikh text which Mr Parry presented, that due to the fact that the Sikh religion rejects the fundamental Christian doctrines of ”The incarnation of Christ” as testified to in the  2nd article of the 1562 ‘Articles of Religion’ which the Church of England continues to use and of the Trinity contained in Articles 1 and the Deity of Jesus which is an established Christian truth. Yet, Gopal Singh’s work “The man who never died” appears to embrace the historical identity of the historical Jesus and the Jesus of Faith? But I wonder if Gopal Singh even believed in the absolute identity of the Canonical Jesus or the fundamental Christian truths of who Jesus really was? I doubt it.

In Mr Parry’s lecture, he made mention of certain fundamental truths of the Christian faith and that the Sikh religion does not agree with these truths. yet at the same time seemed to be presenting the inter-faith argument that Christianity and Sikhism has much in common? That could well be argued in the context of philosophical themes and there may be evidence of similarities. But, these similarities, including morals and ethics may also be found in Buddhism, Islam and other faiths, yet the problem is that Philosophy, morals, ideas and such cannot save a single soul from eternal damnation. The Bible is clear that morals cannot save a man from damnation. This is likewise confirmed in article 11 of the 1562 Articles of Religion of the Book of Common prayer which states that neither good works nor mere belief can save a man, but the person and work of Christ on the cross is sufficient to save and justify those who embrace Him as savior and Lord. Thus, good works alone cannot save a man and faith alone or belief alone in Jesus cannot save a soul either, for, faith and belief which does not present works as a fruit of faith and not the root of faith is evidence contrary to real salvation. As it is written in James 2: 14 “What does it profit a man, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?”

If the fruit of faith becomes twisted with the root of faith, then the fruit is spoiled and destroyed and will be burned up. However, justification is a huge debate in itself and subject to reason, but few can deny that the fruits of a tree do not make that tree good or bad, but merely reveal to others if that tree is a good tree or a bad tree. I believe this is clear from scripture and good doctrine that the fruit of the Holy Spirit which manifests not only in the outward deeds of a person, but within the soul of a person brings forth good works and not the other way about, as stated in article 12 of the 1562 Articles of Religion.

Now, my readers may say what has this got to do with the topic at hand? Well, the answer is that although the people of the Sikh religion may be moral people, may be seen as nice friendly folk, they may even believe in a Jesus or certain aspects of ‘The’ Biblical Jesus, yet in reality, they do not believe He is the one and only, absolute savior and Lord God and the only way to heaven. This is contrary to the Word of God, as Jesus said, “I am the way, the Truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Me“. (John 14: 6)

Could a Sikh Jesus make such a claim? I doubt it, thus he cannot be the same Jesus!

 The Biblical narritive of John 14: 6 is clear that outside of the mediatorial work of Christ there can be no salvation. That although salvation may exist outside the church, it does not and cannot exist outside of Christ! That the fundamental Christian truth according to God’s Holy Word is that if you do not have and know Jesus Christ as Lord and savior and have received the Holy Spirit, you do not have eternal life.

Jesus claimed to be “The way, the Truth” not ‘a truth’ or ‘a way’ to God, but “The Way”. He claimed to be the great “I am” as it is written in the scriptures, “Before Abraham was I am”. (John 8: 58) Now, either a person argues their way out of this text and other texts by questioning the authority of divine scripture or by claiming that the Sikh religion is part of that mediatorial work of Christ, then that would be implying that God is not sovereign over His word and that the Holy Scriptures are not written by the inspiration of God, but are merely the product of the evolutionary thought of men of God and traditions and collections of ancient myths and verbal testimony of the Jewish people. Such is contrary to the claims of scripture and historical Christian theology.   

Paul writes, that he says that the things he spoke to the Corinthian church were spoken “for your sakes that you may learn not go beyond what is written” (1 Corinthians 4: 6) and likewise, the scripture declares that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4: 4)

Thus, did not the commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20: 3) not come directly from the mouth of God? Or would the liberal theologian deny this established Christian truth?

Now, if the Church neglects these fine tunings and examinations of the Biblical Jesus and the character of God and embraces the people of the Sikh religion as though Jesus has provided another way to eternal life and the Sikh religion is part of that, the Church is guilty of denying the fundamental Christian truth’s and denying the Word of God and breaking the commandment of God and embracing other gods. That is dangerous place to be!

“There are few more warnings in scripture than this: “Remember lots wife” who did not obey Gods word.

I would also like you to remember York Minster!

It is clear to me that what the main problem with the lecture and theme and continuing theme which My Parry and the Church of England are moving deeper and deeper into, is that the inter-faith movement is not only a mere dialogue or the exchanging of ideas and thoughts, but of universalism and a denial of the narrow and absolute mediatorial work of the Biblical Christ, who is God made manifest in the flesh, the only Son of God as it is stated in the 39 articles of Religion, which still remains in the Book of Common Prayer.

Now, in conclusion I mention these things for the good of the Church and out of my love of the Brethren. I wish to make known that I have no problems with Sikh people and am not implying that Christians should avoid Sikhs or not reason and debate with them, but my issues are with bad doctrine. Likewise, I wish to make it known that I do not seek to argue with the church or attack her but to defend her with more than mere opinion. The gospel cannot be denied for the word of man, neither can we ignore the Biblical passages which I raised in my brief and voluntary public debate with Mr Parry during the service on the 11th Novemer, that the Sikh religion denies many sides to Gods character and attributes, and denies His power to do as He wishes and to make Himself incarnate (2 Timothy 3: 5) and as I mentioned in my critique of of the Sikh claim that “God has no hate in Him” that the text from Malach 1: 2-3 and Romans 9: 13 does not authenticate the Sikh claim, for God does hate certain people who are not only liberal but deny Him, as I mentioned in my debate. Hate is an attribute of God which many would ignore, as the scripture reads, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” Romans 9: 13 – Malachi 1: 2-3. Why did God hate Esau? Well, there are many thoughts and ideas within that theme, but one theme is clear is that he sold his birthright.

Please note, many of the highest Biblical scholars and NT Greek experts agree that the word employed by Paul is clearly communicating that one attribute of God is that He does hate. However, this does not mean that He is not love or has not love, but that He has a side of Him that contains hate, a side that many do not know or understand. But who are we human beings to say that God cannot do this or that? We are only men and not gods.

Thus, Such an aspect of the character of God, which I would argue is distinctly mentioned in the Biblical narrative and is within the text for a reason, it is a side of God which many people of our generation of Church goers and leaders do not like to confess. Yet the warning is given for you, that you may have a care, lest you too sell your birthright and fall from the grace of God and give away your inheritance for the flesh, typified in the form of a plate of lentils and some stew.

That if you deny the commandment of God to have “no other gods before me” and thus whore after other gods and do like the ancients of old who did trust in lying words, and did stand before God in His house, which is known by His name and say “We are delivered, only to go on doing all these abominations” (Jeremiah 7: 10) then I fear that just as the judgement of God came upon His beloved temple in Jerusalem because she did “walk after other gods” (Jeremiah 7: 9) that let us not fool ourselves and deceive our minds that His judgement will not come upon His church once again.

The scriptures inform us time and time again, that Jesus warned about deception in the church more than any other topic, that false deceptive teachings and teachers would come into the church and as Peter said “secretly bringing in destructive heresies and denying the Lord who bought them” (2 Peter 2: 1) 

Thus, in conclusion, and after hearing Mr Parry and his lecture and giving this matter much thought and prayer, I must conclude that the theme was and is heretical and the interfaith movement which is coming stronger than ever and of which Mr Parry is part of, is an absolute heresy and has no business with the Christian Church or her people.

I say this in love and I mean it with all sincerity and please know that I write this out of concern and with a heavy heart for the good of Christ’s body; for I believe that the Church in England is in the condition it is in because she has forgotten her firstlove, and is not holding to Biblical truth. Please repent of this sin and turn back again to the truth of scripture by the power of the Holy Spirit and He will pour out His spirit upon this nation once again.

This day, I plead with the Church of England and all her liberal theologians and ministers who may be denying the truth of Gods word in favour of modern winds of doctrine and out of fear of what people might think? I would like to add that ministers, theologians and leaders should not give people what their itching ears want to hear or be a people pleasing modern concept. I plead with you who are involed in the inter-faith movement and resist the word of God according to modern man made ideas, to Repent and come back to the truth of Gods Holy Word and recieve the blessings that God by His Holy Spirit will send and restore and bring His church into a new era if His people repent and turn back to Him and His Word. Of this I am certain, that judgement does not fall upon the world, unless it has fallen upon the house of God first. As it is written in 2 Chronicles 7: 14 and also in the words of St Peter, and I believe this should be must spoken today in England, that “the time has come for the judgment to begin and it is beginning with Gods own household”  (1 Peter 4: 17)

Simon Peter Sutherland.

Manchester. 11th November 2011

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The Sinai Texts and the ESV translation

Simon Peter SutherlandEvery word of God is pureProverbs 30: 5

 In May 1844, a German scholar by the name of Constantine Tischendorf travelled to Egypt and during his trip he visited St Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai, the traditional site of where Moses recieved the Ten Commandments.

During his visit and tour around the monastery Tischendorf saw some manuscripts in a waste basket and found the basket to contain 129 ancient handwritten Bible leaves. When Tischendorf enquired concerning these treasures, he was told that two previous baskets had been already consigned to the fire and that the contents of the basket were about to be gathered up and burned.

Tischedorf was given the manuscripts and they are part of what we now know as ‘Codex Sinaiticus’.

 Click the link to view the manuscript http://codexsinaiticus.org/en/

This historical event is one of the most interesting and important events in the history of modern Biblical scholarship, and although many deny that Tischendorf found ‘Codex Sinaiticus’ in the rubbish bin, there is good evidence to believe the story. The account of the discovery of Codex Sinaiticus as I have given in this article comes from directly from the British Museum.

In 1859, Tischendord made another visit to the monastery and he was shown more leaves and in total he received 347 leaves.

These manuscripts found by Tischendorf were part of hand-written copy of the Greek New Testament and are now accepted to date as early as the 4th century AD, which included half of the Greek version of the Old Testament. The manuscript also contained other books, including the none-canonical epistle of Barnabus and the Shepherd of Hermas.

Today, most of the New Testament manuscript is housed in the British Library and the rest of the manuscripts are housed in four libraries around the world and although the manuscripts are very important in Biblical history and New Testament scholarship, it can be deduced that the text now known as ‘Codex Sinaiticus’ was in fact a group of ancient Bible leaves, hand written by a Catholic monk. It can also be deduced that they were the work of a monk who scribed out text after text of Biblical narrative as part of his day to day life as a monk.

The problem we face today, is not concerning these manuscripts, but the conclusions which have been made as a result of their find. Modern versions of the Bible such as the NIV and the ESV amongst others, include these manuscripts as evidence and support for their edits of verses from their translations of the New Testament.

But many questions remain regarding this practice of editing the word of God and verses such as Deuteronomy 4: 2 condemn the practice.

THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD OVER HIS WORD

Today, many use these manuscripts as so-called evidence that certain passages of the Bible are not actual scripture, but either parts of other scriptures or later editions. This conclusion is drawn up based upon, the so-called oldest manuscripts which do not contain certain texts.

As a result of these claims, the popular current version of the Bible ‘The ESV’ has included many edits within its text.

The problem remains that the many leading Reformed figures and much of Christianity today who embrace more modern versions the Bible, versions such as the ESV and likewise defend its edits of certain texts, are in fact staunch believers and proclaimers of the Sovereignty of God, yet in doing this they prove themselves inconsistent when they deny His sovereignty by claiming that these verses are not authentic and so claiming that man has put them into the Bible. Many honestly believe they are getting closer to the actual Biblical Narritive. Yet, what about God? Has He not permitted the edited verses to have remained within the New Testament throughout church history? Has He not permitted them to remain in all His Bibles from the dawn of the New Testament through to the handwritten Bibles and from the dawn of the printing press around 1440 AD and the translations drawn up during the reformation and until now?

Yet scholars now appear to be under the impression that they have more knowledge than God Himself and they appear to believe they have the authority to edit Gods word, yet does any man alive truly have the authority to edit the word of God? I fail to see why endorsers of the ESV proclaim the Sovereignty of God or claim the Bible is the word of God, when in reality, their actions and words reveal that they do not fully believe the Bible is the word of God, but that the older Greek New Testament fragments are the word of God are the true word. That the early Greek New Testament compilers and early English translators were totally mistaken? If this is true then these modern scholars are claiming that Jerome was mistaken, John Wycliffe was mistaken, William Tyndale was mistaken, Luther was mistaken and the King James translators were mistaken also. In fact all Bibles throughout history were in fact in error, that is until modern Bibles such as the ESV came into publication.

Thats a pretty big and arrogant claim.

Thus God has kept generations upon generations from having the pure word of God and under the authority of a text that might be the work of a mere scribe?

Then what do we have? The word of man or the Word of God?

ESV

“If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the book of life”

Revelation 22:19

When I first heard that a new translation the Bible had been made and it was called the English Standard Version, I was told it was excellent and that it was endorsed by many leading evangelical scholars, and that J I. Packer was over the whole translation. I was happy to hear this and so I purchased a copy of the ESV and began to read it. My initial response was that the translation in question was very well translated and read well and clear, but then I began to notice verses missing from the text, and it was then that my spirit was stirred and I began to ask why these verses were missing.

I accept that scholarship is progressional and that ideas move and update and progress, but editing the Bible is not within the authority of scholarship.

I began to ask why these verses were missing and why would men like John MacArthur, John Piper and many more leading figures add their names alongside this version? And why would they continue to endorse this translation? It made little sense. However, it could be concluded that this is a prime example of how Satan works within the church, he uses people have have gained the trust of the church for 40 years or more, and then sneaks in a damnable heresy and many of the sheep who follow their shepherds do find themselves persuaded by their trusted leaders. Even if their ministers speak contrary to the text of scripture itself.

I’m am speaking of course, of the ESV and the leading scholars who have composed it and those who have embraced and endorsed it. Many of whom may or may not even be aware themselves of how huge an error such edits are?

Regardless, the scriptures warn us time and time again concerning errors creeping into the church. The ESV is one of them, of which the translation committee was composed of inter denominal evangelical scholars led by theologian J. I. Packer, is now very popular throughout Christianity, yet I would advise that Packer must be approached with strong caution, since he holds to to some very questionable things, including connections with the theory of evolution.

However, within the context of the ESV, here are some of the missing New Testament verses from the English Standard Version:

Matthew 6: 13. Note: Prayer edited

Matthew 12: 47

Matthew 17:21

Matthew 18: 11

Matthew 23: 14

Mark 7: 16

Mark 9: 44

Mark 9: 46

Mark 11: 26

Mark 15: 28

Luke 9: 56. Edited. “For the son of man came not to destroy men’s lives but to save them”

Luke 11: 2-4. Edited.

Luke 17: 36

Luke 23: 17

John 5: 4

Acts 8: 37

Acts 15: 34

Acts 24: 7

Acts 28: 29

Romans 16: 24

1 John 5 7. (An important doctrinal text editied)

Now, a major point of distinction here is that when I began to see the missing verses from the ESV, I was compelled to look at the W & H, and when I did review the missing verses, I found these very same verses are also missing from the 1885 Westcott and Hort Greek New Testament. This Greek New Testament is known by many for its corruption of the Greek text.

What is clear is that the ESV translators employed the W & H and made no mention of this in their PREFACE to the translation.

It is also clear that the ESV is a revision of the RSV and not a fresh translation from the actual original Greek New Testament. Thus, the translators have an agenda, not to do a fresh translation, but to revise an corrupted translation.

FACTS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

 1) These texts were in the 4th century Latin Vulgate and continue to remain in the Latin Vulgate

2) They are in the 1388 Wycliffe New Testament

3) They were in the 1550 Stephanos Greek New Testament

4) They were in the Textus Receptus Greek New Testament (The textual basis from which we gained much of the Protestant reformation and the King James Bible)

5) They are in Theodore Beza’s 1565 Novum Testamentum

6) They are in the 1521 Luther Bible

7) They are in the 1524 Tyndale New Testament

8) They are in the 1560 Geneva Bible

9) They are in the 1535 Coverdale Bible

10) They are in the Douay Rheims 1582-1609

11) They are the 1611 King James Bible

In fact, all English Bibles and translations in all languages have contained these verses right up until the more modern translators omitted them, and although, many will critique what I am saying in this article and claim that I am making something out of nothing, and the verses in question are not important and contain no doctrinal verses. To whom my answer is that such is a human way of looking at things and is not seen from God’s perspective, the argument which you have in your brains has come from your leaders and those who defend the ESV. Yet such a claim is untrue, for Gods word says, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God2 Corinthians 3: 6. Note the text: “Every word”

Thus, do we believe the Bible is word of God or not? Or do we believe it is the word of man?

I am very concerned for the church of our time and I am convinced that the ESV is one of the many distortions and deceptions of 21st century Christendom. Satan knows how much of an offence it is to God to take away from His word and how those who perform or embrace such actions will not escape the judgment of God.

If the modern evangelical scholars who have translated the ESV so desire to have the Bible accurate to the original, (or so they claim) then they should also have to erase chapter distinctions and book titles and even a distinction between the Old and New Testaments, since such is not in the original manuscripts. Likewise, they should also include the apocryphal texts.

Now, before I conclude, permit me to say that I admire theologians such as J I. Packer, John Piper, R C. Sproul and the many more leading figures who have endorsed this Bible, but if such teachers continue to defend the status of the ESV and persuade ‘the sheep’ that the edits are acceptable, my hope is that they reconsider their actions, for to add or take away from the word of God clearly brings forth a curse or destruction and no man, be he Christian or not will escape the judgment of God, as Paul says, “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and will give an account for the deeds done while in the body, be they good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5: 10)

I am not a KJV onlyist, but issues and actions such as this one cause me to reject many modern translations and enjoy more older versions.

May the authorities who have committed this error add the texts I have mentioned back into their translation and thus save themselves and their flocks from their own destruction.

Simon Peter Sutherland

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On screen violence and its spreading Influence – The British Board of Film Classification and “The Human Centipede” 1 & 2

Few can deny that many modern movies and television programmes have not lowered in their standards over recent years. Violence, foul language, explicit sex and total depravity and disregard for human life are ever present on screen.

Censorship has not yet completely gone, but it may as well be gone, because it’s not very good. Now, many would argue against me on this and I too would argue against them, that the influence violent movies have upon the mind are affecting the societies we live in. Recently, a totally sick film, and I mean sick as in its old usage in connection to ‘vomit’ was released and passed by the British Board of Film Classification. The film of course was the ‘human centipede 2’. In the opening scene, the film presents a visual representation of a man who had been watching “The human centipede 1” and thus, it is clear that the script and film is communicating that the 1st film influenced the person and he then goes out to do what he saw in the 1st film and the plot gets more and more ‘perverted’ and twisted.

I will not go on to say what happens in the film, and I have no intentions of exploring this filth, but I will say that I believe and know this film is evil and has no place whatsoever in a modern society and has no place within English culture or society. It is not art. It is not good, it is just filth and perverted and its influence is potentially dangerous to society.

The problem is that films like this when permitted to be released only add fuel to the already spreading fire. What is coming next?

I would like to ask some questions; Is this what people call art? Is this what films are about? Or has the world completely lost it standards and morals or has it gone so far into extreme ideas and depravity that it has forgotten basic common sense and humanity?

I don’t believe I stand alone on this topic and I know that many people out in our day and age do know that what I say is true. Now, in a world so full of evil, wretchedness and wars and much lack of humanity and regard for human life, do we need or should we permit films like this to be played on our cinemas and put on DVD and played in homes? No, I say, no.

The British government and the authorities must wake up from their slumbers and do something about this mess before the infection spreads out of control. I say it again, evil, twisted, sick movies have no place in western civilization and in the interests of the public and basic humanity and for the progress of our modern world these perverted movies should be banished from our society.

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William Tyndale, Poverty to riches and the problem of culture

“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.
The Obedience of A Christian Man. 1528

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

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The importance of Theology and the problem of religion

The problem of religion © 2018 Simon Peter SutherlandThe importance of Theology is and has always been needed within the walls of the Christian life. If we sit outside the walls or on the walls we do very little but watch the sun go down and the sunrise. In other words it’s like sitting on the fence, or guiding sheep into a field where there is no grass. They don’t eat and the work does not get done. We and they, are wasting time and energy. Now suppose we do not sit on the fence or outside the walls but rather stand within the walls and not only take in the scenic views, but internalise them and embrace them, as one would do when he or she returns or marries the love of his or her life. We kiss, we hold each other, we embrace. We become one.

Now if we do not make the first move we will never know what lay before us or what we could have had or known if only we would make the move and ask the question, just as a nervous teenager asks a girl for a date. If he never asked, he would never know and that plaque would haunt him for the rest of his life. Now suppose he asked the girl, ‘would you like to come out with me for a date sometime?’ and she replied, ‘Sure, I’d love to’. Would he not be the better for it than if he had never taken the step to ask the question? Of course he would and the same can be said of understanding ‘Biblical Theology’. Asking questions is vital, but more than that, we need to listen to the answer or answers and take them on board. Remember the movie, ‘It’s a wonderful life’ where James Stewart and Donna Reed are challenged by an elderly guy sat on his porch, and he says, ‘Why don’t you just kiss her instead of talking her to death’. James Stewart could talk the ears of a wooden Indian and yet despite his true feelings, he hesitated to act upon them. But little did he know that in time he would marry the girl and raise a family. Thus we do not always know where we are going when we follow impulses but destiny and providence is working its hand in all our lives. There was a time when I was compelled to purchase books, yet all the time a war was going on within me to reject the books and buy something else rather than a book that inspires thought towards the truth of God. The human will would have you follow the world and feel the impulse of the human will, ‘go sin some more’, whereas Christ would say, “Go and sin no more”. Thus the war is underway in the search to find a Theology that can find us and place us where God would have us be. This Theology is the means appointed to us for eternal life. We need it, we should love it, and we should always apply it to every moment of life. But there are times when we don’t. We are men and women and we fail. But that does not mean that we cannot and should not continue to try. We should look at our human nature and say, ‘Wait a minute…if I don’t drink coffee for two weeks, I won’t have the desire to drink anywhere near what I did before’. Thus the nature of the will can be lessened by the practice of a Theology that is both vital and important for everyday living. Not a Theology that can often lead nowhere, but a Theology that can hold us, sustain us, keep us, watch over us, comfort us, bind us and keep us so near to Christ that we can hardly stand a brief minute being away from it. Its something that is practised and enjoyed. Like a Theology of the attributes of God. Who is He? What is He like? What does He talk like or what does He like? What offends Him and do I offend Him knowingly or unknowingly? And if so what can I do about it? This is what I would love to hear belted out from the heart and the mouth of every preacher in every nation. Truth, a Theology of Truth. A Theology that sustains and sticks to every word of the Bible like glue and does not ignore a single text that either contradicts or compliments a single Theology or a single creed. I’m talking about holding on to the word of God in every corner and every last syllable and every last text that our eyes and hearts embrace. Not ignoring a text or pulling out the old context or Greek interpretation ploy whenever its convenient. But asking God and ourselves, ‘What does this truly mean? Have I erred?’ If only humans would truly say to themselves, ‘I don’t care if I contradict a creed or a leader by not swaying from a single text of the Bible’. Or as Luther said, ‘My conscience is captive to the Word of God, and to go against conscience is neither right nor safe’. Thus, a Theology that is put into practice before God, ourselves and man, is far greater than a theology put down on paper or belched out from the pulpit but not lived. There’s only one thing to do with such theoretic blasts of wind and that is to strike a match and burn the stench.

God gives warnings to His people, ‘get it right’ and we only have this life to do it in and then comes the judgement. Not judgement for indwelling sin, but being neither cold or hot. God would have us be one or the other. Same to can be said of our Theologies, are they cold or are they hot. I don’t know about you but I prefer the hot days rather than the freezing cold ones. I’d rather be in the blazing heat than in the dusty old cold cellar where there is little light or beauty. The beauty is in the light of the sun and the light magnifies the beauty of all things good. Thus when we open the pages of the Bible, what good would it be to open them in the dark and attempt to read it? Why not call out for a light as the jailer in Acts 16: 25-31 and fall to our knees and believe? That’s what Salvation is all about, believing and asking “What must I do?” (Acts 16: 30) It’s not a salvation that requires a man or women to sit and simply read or do nothing, it’s a salvation that at first requires belief and second beliefs to good works. Just as the Phipippian jailer believed and then washed the stripes of Paul and Silas and after the event of his baptism continued in good works and made Paul and Silas a meal (Acts 16: 33-34). In other words the Theology I am speaking of is a Theology that is put into practice and one that says, ‘Let’s talk about it over dinner’ and more than that, ‘I will cook the food for you’.

In other words Paul never spoke of a faith that is idle or so stable that it can hardly move. No it’s a faith that is so strong and active that there is little room for inactivity. Paul’s Theology was like a lion, it works best when you turn it loose. It’s not something that can be caged or contained within the limitation of words, books and preaching. It’s something that requires a person to get up off their backsides and do something about. It’s not a Theology that once learned stays behind closed doors or stained glass windows. It something life changing, threatening to authorities and governments, leaders and control freaks. It’s something that once turned loose, can cause a whole City to turn into uproar. This is what we have read about in the journals of Wesley, and the Foxes book of Martyrs. It’s a total uproar, a Theology that once learned must be practised and lived to the point of death. It is something so strong, so powerful, so addictive, so un-measurable that once tasted can never be erased from the taste-buds of our hearts and minds. It captivates people, arrests them and throws them into the prison and binds them in the chains and stocks of Christ. We must hear the word of God, believe all that is written and be astonished at the doctrine of The Lord.

A PROBLEM OF RELIGION, NO JOY

Many people dislike “religion” and view “religious people” as often miserable and tense, extreme and strange. Of course this is not always the case for many people admire others who have faith in something because they often fail to have any true faith themselves. Many find in their own characters and conduct a sustaining faith that influences their own selves, many say to me, “I believe in myself” and “I cannot believe in a God that I cannot see”. And although I can understand and identify with such people, it must be pointed out that such is not the case with “true religion”. One common view is that many people blame the many world religions as the one of the many problems that often provokes world wars? And although there is some if not a very lot of truth in that fact, I must state that true religion is not the cause of world wars. It is the power trips of certain evil dictators that cause war, it is not true religion. There would have been no wars in the Bible times if evil did not wage war upon goodness, therefore we cannot be blinded to true religion because of war. True religion is not a mystical faith that is nothing more than a leap in the dark, and a voyage to nowhere. “True religion” is true faith and true faith is an eye opener and a joy to behold. True faith is not a leap in the dark but is a leap from the dark into the light. It opens our eyes to who we are and who God really is. The problem we face with “religion” today is the many self appointed religious leaders who attempt to lead men to themselves or to God as though they are a necessary channel or mediator to the heavens. We see this with men like the Pope who are presented to the public as messianic type figures who claim to have the authority to anathematise people or bless them. False religions promote a threat that unless you join the certain church you are going to end up in hell. But true religion does not attempt to ensnare the individual into becoming a member of “the denomination church” but invites them to be reconciled unto God and to be at peace with Him through Christ. Religions such as Islam and Roman Catholicism all teach that unless you join the certain denominational church you cannot enter heaven. While on the other extreme some Religions claim that everyone will go to heaven with or without Christ or God. Yet Jesus did not teach this. On the contrary He said, “accept a man be born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” John 3: 3. And no where does the Bible state that a man can only be born again when he or she is part of the denominational Christian Church. Christ said, “come to me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11: 28. “The truth shall make you free” John 8: 32. You see that Christ pointed people to Himself and not the denominational Church, and offered peace and rest for the individual in Him and not dismal church sacraments and dull services. While on the other hand Christ stated that without Him, there can be no hope of salvation for anyone. Christ did not say, “Come to the church” or “Come and receive the sacraments at your local church and inherit heaven through the church”. On the contrary, if one is truly saved and born of God, he or she will want to join other people of like mind and be blessed and built up by their company. That is what the Bible says is the true church. Thus, the distracting claims that religion promotes often clouds the eyes of many people and the actions of the church distract people from the personal conduct and salvation freely offered to the individual.

All such religions as Roman Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, and many branches of so-called Christianity including the Church of England, Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses all have one thing in common. They all promote the individual religious and sacramental workings of a man as a necessity of inheriting eternal life with God. But the problem is that true religion should promote the fact that God Himself came down to earth in order to reach man and reason with him concerning righteousness and heaven. God Himself came down onto earth and reasoned with Abraham, (Genesis 18: 16-33) God Himself came down onto mount Sinai and gave Moses the tablets containing Ten Commandments (Exodus 19-20: 17). God came down to earth and said “Come now, and let us reason together” Isaiah 1: 18. God Himself came down to earth in the form of Christ and offered mankind the opportunity to reason with Himself and receive the free and unconditional gift of salvation. All man had to do was receive the gift and believe that God has made a way for him to inherit a gift that he was unable to achieve by human efforts. All those who believe in Jesus are saved to good works not by good works. This for me demonstrates that real God given Christianity is the true religion and the most powerful. For all other religions teach a certain way for man to find the truth and not the truth finding him. Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life” (John 14: 6). But Mohamed came along over 500 years after Jesus and based all his ideas upon what was already written by Moses centuries earlier. He could not say that he was the truth and neither could Buddha’s The sayings of Buddha for such writings only attempt to point people to human wisdom being nothing more than a form of the truth taught by Solomon in the book of Proverbs and Moses many years previous.

It has to be said that the problem we face today with our current religious and none religious generation is that there is no healthy fear of God and no healthy fear of authority, for religion has blinded many peoples eyes to the truth. In my opinion much responsibility for this is to be blamed upon the theory of evolution as a presentation and enticement that creation account recorded in Genesis is just a myth and evolution is factual religion. But such evolutionists fail to inform their hearers that the scientific world is 50-50 regarding the creation account and the Darwinian theory.

If only man would embrace the God given gift of eternal salvation and eternal freedom and wash away the clouds that religion blows in front of their eyes he would hear and know that what the Bible states is the truth of all hope and pleasure in the glory and beauty of almighty God. Therefore the problem of religion is that it blinds peoples eyes and blocks the ears to the actual text of the Bible beyond disputes concerning, the creation account or the Lords prayer or the virgin birth. Religion never finds the treasure because it never looks up from the map. If only the public of today would know that true religion is a joy to hold, it is an honour and a delight to embrace. It is filled with the spiritual truths, joy, pleasure and insights and unimaginable truths. But religion without joy is like a spare tyre with no jack and a spare tyre without a jack is like a Church without Jesus.

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