Archive for category Issues with Christianity in England today
Cultural secularists in 21st century Britain have implemented radical changes upon the people of this nation.
More often than not, certain political and social reforms reflect the views of ‘the powers that be’ rather than the traditions and beliefs of the people of Britain.
More often than not we find that anyone who publicly speaks against certain winds of change and presents views that differ to the cultural mainstream are labelled “uneducated” fanatical” “fundamentalist” being victims of ‘ad hominen’ attacks, branded with the hot irons of the powers that be and the penetrating growth of media mind seeds.
The contradiction must be that ‘freedom of speech’ appears to have more flexibility in Britain with those who agree with cultural secularism than those who don’t.
Shamefully, the people of 21st century Britain are seeing more and more of this prejudice directed toward them. People are being emotionally blackmailed into keeping their opinions and beliefs silent, lest they cause offence. Even many within the state Church are falling into these deceptive political snares. Many ‘Anglican Churches’ are failing to reflect the beliefs and traditions of the Christian community or the Bible on the whole, presenting a more politically correct form of Christianity rather than an authentic position.
Many’ ‘Anglican’ churches fail to represent authentic Christianity in favor of religious and cultural liberalism. This decline has been forming for many years and we regularly hear ‘Anglican’ Bishops presenting positions and beliefs contrary to authentic Christianity.
This certainly the case with one of the current affronts to the Christian faith. On Sunday 14th February 2016, St Chrysostom’s church in Manchester, presented a play featuring a “transgender Jesus”. This play is called “The Gospel according to Jesus, Queen of heaven”.
Despite the fact that this play is “blasphemous” and inconsistent with Christianity and “repugnant” to the Word of God and the 39 articles and Cannon Law, St Chrysostom’s had decided to re-interpret the cannon, and stage the play.
However, I’m not going to overstate the play and insult them, that’s just what they want. On the contrary, it is they who are attacking Jesus Christ and they would not do this with ‘Mohammad’. Thus, they pick on Christians knowing they can get away with it in this life. Yet insults to the Christian faith are nothing new and fallen Churches are nothing new. People have been insulting Jesus since He first came to earth and they will do so until He returns to judge them. Likewise, St Chrysostom’s Church is ‘liberal, inclusive and anglo-catholic’ so I don’t expect anything else from them however, St.Chrysostom’s claims to represent the Christian church and are part of the Anglican communion and the Parish of Manchester and have clearly broken the clear meaning of article C1X of Canon law (Constitutions and Canons Ecclesiastical) and its laws on plays being “consonant with sound doctrine”. A penalty for failing to observe canon law is the “removal from such office or membership as afore said” (Constitutions and Cannons Ecclesiastical 1X)
I am convinced this is but a glimpse into what is coming in the future. It is clear that somewhere behind the scenes, the ‘Anglican’ communion is being either forced or persuaded to bow her religious and political knees. But “there’s an East wind coming all the same”. The question is, what’s the bigger agenda?
Church leadership for women is changing. What with female activists and activist goals, the culture has been shifted by the media and many people have been persuaded by rhetorical speeches and sensuality. On 3rd July 2015 a second woman bishop was consecrated at York Minster. The Church of England remains divided upon this ‘unbiblical’ practice and during the consecration at York Minster, the Rev Stephen Holland Protested, walking through the Minster calling for the “Church of England” to “return to the Bible”. The Rev Holland is not an Anglican minister but there are many within the Church who disagree with the way things are going.
Since the 4th century AD to the 19th and 20th centuries, the Bible has been the dominant book of Western society, and in some sense, it still is. The relationship, which could be likened to a marriage between the West and the Bible has been interrupted by the gradual appearance of another lady. Society has become like a man who wants to keep parts of his wife while embracing the fancies of his sensuality. The situation we face today in the Church of England is a political structure which is attempting to re-define the Church in order to keep itself alive and financially secure. In doing this it ignores the Bible when it contradicts the liberal and feminist agenda, and merely re-interprets the rest to fit with changing times.
The door is closed to the polemical position of women bishops. The majority C of E elite recognize Ecclesiastical history but merely look upon it as past, and claim ‘we need to move on from that now’. The problem is however, people can’t change things when there is no backbone to keep standing upright to witness the fall.
In 2008 a published study claimed that should the current decline of Anglican congregations continue, by 2050 Sunday service attendance could fall to 87,800. This seems to me the motive behind the current winds of change. By using the influence of historically significant and controversial changes and twisting them to suite the current agenda’s, the Church of England has merely lowered itself from integrity to rhetorical intellectual dishonesty. Repeatedly we hear the intellectually dishonest claims that modern liberation movements are mere continuations of great historic works such as ‘the Abolition of the Slave trade’ and those who oppose them are merely the same ‘sort’ as those who opposed freedom back then.
Intellectual dishonesty is not the way forward if you are in the right!
The facts remain that some of the greatest works the West has ever known have been established by fundamentalist Christians. And the establishment of the Church of England would do better to hold fast to its long standing historical tradition, than to have tasted Truth and turned its back upon it.
The very reason the 19th – 21st century decline of the Anglicanism came about was because of the spread of liberalism. A movement which dramatically failed to bring about evangelism to the salvation of souls thus giving people a reason to go to Church. Thus, the Church of England was swept away into irrelevance. Biblical Christians either attending or moving on to other more Biblically loyal Denominations, thus understandably bringing about more divisions for which they are not responsible.
Jesus’ command was for His disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations” not mere Church goers. The true soul winning Church has historically been anything but liberal. In fact, the Church of England was founded by people who would now be labelled ‘fanatical fundamentalists’.
The establishment of the Church of England dates back to the 6th century and was led by Augustine of Canterbury and in the 16th century when the Church broke from Rome, could either of these these foundations have been laid by anyone but ‘fanatical fundamentalists’? The facts remain that this establishment was once grounded upon the Biblical text and the historic writings of the Church fathers and ecclesiastical creeds and devout evangelical Christianity. Fair enough the Church of England/Anglican Church has many Godly people within it and has many devout Christian bishops and because of this the Church is divided on issues such as women bishops, but today, it seems that the elite ‘society for the prevention of Christianity’ has become so liberal and politically motivated, that the liberal lobby have trampled upon 2000 years worth of Ecclesiastical history and even Cannon Law. Thus making the present Church of England either irrelevant or illegitimate and guilty of intellectual dishonesty.
Cannon Law reads like so;
- “The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in the teaching of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church, and is particularly contained in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal.” (The Cannon Law of the Church of England. Of the Doctrine of the Church of England. V)
The Holy Scriptures read like so;
- “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife…One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity…(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” (1 Timothy 3: 2-5)
- “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.” 1 Timothy 2: 11
- “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” (1 Timothy 2: 12)
- “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” 1 Corinthians 14: 34
The writings of the Church fathers states the following;
- “Even if it is granted to a woman to show the sign of prophecy, she is nevertheless not permitted to speak in an assembly. When Miriam the prophetess spoke, she was leading a choir of women … For [as Paul declares] “I do not permit a woman to teach,” and even less “to tell a man what to do.” (Origen, Fragmenta ex commentariis in epistulam i ad Corinthios)
- “It is not permitted to a woman to speak in church. Neither may she teach, baptize, offer, nor claim for herself any function proper to a man, least of all the sacerdotal office.” (Tertullian. On the Veiling of Virgins. 2nd century)
Finally the 39 Articles states the following;
- “And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another.” (39 Articles of Religion. Article XX. OF THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH)
What has become clear today is that we are living in strange times. The Church has become like the world and seeking to appeal to it, which is contrary to Scripture (Romans 12: 2) But where does that leave the Church of England? In light of Scripture she paints a very bad picture of herself. As Thomas Cranmer once wrote;
- “But if the church proceed further to make any article of the faith, beside the Scripture, or direct not the form of life according to the same; then it is not the pillar of the truth, nor the church of Christ, but the synagogue of Satan, and the temple of antichrist which both erreth itself, and bringeth into error as many as do follow it.” (Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. Works of Archbishop Cranmer, Parker Society I, p 377)
So what I ask is where does this historical yet eternal reality leave the Church of England? What of our modern liberal bishops who have choked the breath of historic reliability? I can understand that some bishops are genuinely working for the survival of the Church, but they are going about it the wrong way. It was Jesus Himself who said “I will build My Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”. If the bishops were willing to submit to Scripture then Jesus would draw His flock to Shepherds true to His word. But in reality, too many bishops are not going to change for they are not willing. They have set themselves up as rulers and gods. They are not following any measuring line but their own ideas. The argument is not even about Scripture anymore, it has gone beyond that. They merely use Scripture to promote their own agendas. So in reality, there can be no way forward but to outnumber the liberals and win back the majority. In doing that, there needs to be an outpouring of true evangelism throughout Britain and the unbreakable power of the Holy Spirit. Then and only then will the Church be returned back to the truth, when Christians, not political spin doctors, are in the pulpits.
I greatly admire Christmas and it is at this season of the rolling year that I have a few traditions of my own. One such tradition I have is my reading of ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens.
First published in 1843 after a visit to Manchester, Dickens clearly wrote the book with the aim of reforming the festival that was starting to fade. I think he did a good job of it. His term “humbug” was a masterly description. The problem is, Scrooge was in fact correct, Christmas was a “humbug”. A 19th century definition means ‘fraud’.
In the 21st century, Christmas is in fact a time for paying bills, acquiring heavy debts and a time where people indulge in constant spending, socialising, gluttony and alcoholism in an industrious commercial institution that focuses upon materialism and not the person of Jesus Christ. In that context Scrooge was correct; ‘Christmas sir is a humbug’.
But for me and many Christians, Christmas is not merely a time for gaining material or spending, and I certainly do not drink alcohol or indulge in gluttony. Christmas for me, is a time for remembering the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and in that, Christmas is with me 365 days a year.
However, despite the fact that a secular Christmas has little to do with Jesus Christ, there is little doubt in my mind that many people today, Religious and none Religious would seek to abolish Christmas, and replace it with something else or nothing. In many ways, secularist culture has done just that, it has abolished the true historical meaning of Christmas.
Likewise, the use of the abbreviation “X” rather than “Christ” can be argued that the secularists have used a historic meaning. The letter “X” is from the Greek “Χριστός” which means Christ. The problem is that the majority of people, especially the secularists or average soul, has little or no knowledge of the Greek language, so “X” to them is just a letter.
Secularism has turned Christmas away from a festival where people celebrate and remember the birth of Jesus and turned it into a time of worldliness and sin and selfish gain. People are celebrating the sins that Jesus came to set us free from.
In the year 1647, the Puritan government in England banned Christmas and regarded it as little more than a snare of “Antichrist” and “Popery”. But today in the 21st century it is difficult to connect Christmas with the Roman Catholic Church or even as a Religious festival. We all know that for many people in the West, particularly in Britain, Christmas has little to do with the Lord Jesus Christ.
But for me as a Christian, the season is very much related to our Lord Jesus. He is everything! And even though we do not know the exact date or year when Jesus was born, we do know that the early Church made the decision to celebrate His birth at this time of year.
Because of a 4th century reference to Christmas in the calendar of 354 AD, we know that early Christians at Rome regarded the Nativity to have taken place on 25th December. However, Christians in the East celebrated the Messiahs birth on January 6th.
Moving forward in history toward the Protestant Reformation, I would think that no accurate case can be established to claim the 16th century Reformers denied Christmas. It is true that governmental 17th century English Puritans banned Christmas, but such was not the case with the 16th century Reformers. The facts remain that 16th century Lutheran, and Church of England Reformers continued to celebrate Christmas: that point is clear from history and the Book of Common Prayer.
Christmas reminds me in many ways of the Jewish season of Hanukkah, recorded by Jewish historian Josephus as “The festival of lights” (Antiquities X11) In this festival the Jewish people commemorate the establishing or rededication of the Holy Temple, and is an eight day holiday which starts on the 25th day of kislev. This can occur from late November to late December. Concluding for many on what we call ‘Christmas eve’.
It is clear to me that the things which Jewish people celebrate in Hanukkah were fulfilled in the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I see that in and through Jesus, Judaism is made whole. Without Him I see little conclusion or fulfilment of the Torah and the Prophets. Not only is Jesus the “Light of the world” and not only has did He fulfil the prophecies but He has rededicated the Temple and purified it in His people. And if one desires to see Jesus in this, a good place to start would be throughout the Gospel of John, where Jesus is at the Feast of dedication during winter (John 10: 22-23) and also the book of Hebrews.
I think Christmas has been hijacked by secular culture and I think that unless peoples hearts and minds are won over to the Truth, there is little that can be done about that. Christmas for secularists merely implies faith, hope and gluttony:
- Faith in “Evolution”.
- Hope in “Science”.
- Indulgence in the flesh.
A person cannot honestly take Christ out of Christmas and continue to celebrate the festival as though He never was who He said He was, it is intellectually dishonest. And as for the mess that the world makes of Christmas, should we really expect anything else? The world would turn every celebration into a hotchpotch of drunkenness and fleshly pursuits, and entertainment. So what more can we expect? It is up to each one of us to be different, because we are different. We are not of this world, if we belong to Christ. Thus, it is up to us to know and understand what we believe and it is up to us to show the people of the world the historic Truth behind the Christmas many know and love.
Many Christians are speaking out for the Truth, but far too many Christians in Britain desperately need to start speaking out!
In 1763, Cambridge University printer and atheist John Baskerville produced a fine Bible. This Bible is known as ‘The Baskerville Bible’. Tis a fine piece of work and not merely because of its contents, but due to the fine clarity of the fonts.
The story goes that Baskerville wanted to produce a Bible which people could read with absolute clarity and not those old Gothic type prints that can be found throughout many early English Bibles.
The Baskerville Bible was first printed in Folio (Cambridge edition) in 1763. He also printed at Birmingham. His work, although criticized by some, became an inspiration to many, including Benjamin Franklin.
John Baskerville died in 1775 and according to his wishes, his body was buried in unconsecrated grounds but his memory lived on. It is believed by many that his name was borrowed by Arthur Conan Doyle for the title of the Sherlock Holmes mystery, The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Today, many prints of these original Bibles still exist. Having looked at a good number of these prints in research and devotion, I am thankful to Baskerville for this work and these prints, they are indeed a sight for sore eyes. And inspiring too! Since these days, at least on the surface, atheists appear to be against the Bible and Christianity, but such is not the case with established history. For this version furthered the printing of Bibles for centuries, even to this day.
Just goes to show, that God can even use atheists to accomplish His will on earth.
Every Christmas I hear John Lennon’s voice singing “And so this is Christmas, and what have you done…” It saddens me almost every time.
Today, I thought of that line and turned things around a little. I was thinking about this tonight, that today is reformation day, 31st October 2013, the religious holiday where some reformed congregations remember that day when Martin Luther posted what is known as “The 95 thesis” on 31st October 1517.
Back then the church was a bit of a mess. People did not believe that salvation was by Gods grace alone, and the essentials of the Christian faith were either not presented or had become muddled up and fuzzy due to the unscriptural claims of church leadership.
Not much has changed. Today in England, 2013, we still see the same old mess and many leaders of the Christian church being the very people who somewhat decronstruct the church and turn it into either a social gathering or a self centred platform for ear pleasing, man made doctrines. The Word of God is so often denied for the word of man.
If it was not for God Himself, His Holy Spirit and His Word of Truth, I would, apart from Christian history, I confess it, be ashamed to be called a Christian and not because of the message or the claims of Christian creeds, but because of what Christianity has become in Britain. And what do Christians do to see things change? Do they even see the need for change? Or are they so busy building their own lives and founding their own careers, being so steeped in that that they see little need for church restoration?
Luther did not nail his thesis to the church door so that this statement could be trodden under foot. Jesus did not say He would build His church so that Christians could sit back and let Him do all the work. No. He said He would build His church upon His chosen people and does that exclude you in this very generation?
If Jesus Christ was truly God and truly man, and He was born of a virgin and truly raised the dead to life and was crucified, dead and buried and rose from the dead, then He is the singularly most important person this world has ever known or will know. And if He said, “I will build my church”then the church is the singular most important establishment on the face of the earth.
Thus, with this in mind, I ask you all, what is more important; your own lives, your own wealth, your own homes and careers or the church of Christ?
Thus, I say it again, and so this is reformation day, and what have you done? Are you going to sit and watch the church fall and fail and say ‘it is not my calling’ and leave the work for other men to do or are you going to do something about it?
The choice is yours, but from this day forwards, you can never again say that you were unaware of this urgent need!
Recent reports have stated that a Christian street preacher was arrested in Scotland this week for simply preaching on the street. He was accused of being “in breach of the peace”.
Reports also suggest that the man was not actually using any amplification yet he was accused of having an MP3 too loud. When the preacher stated he was not using amplification, the police officer stated the noise was not the issue but that a complaint had been made against him.
This is not the only time such an event has taken place recently. This is one of three wrong arrests of this nature which have taken place in three months.
Clearly something is wrong. This is a violation of our ‘Freedom of speech’ and ‘human rights’ and is evidence of Britains growing bad attitude towards Chrisianity and Christians who are willing to spread the faith.
What is clear is that history is repeating itself, since in history it was common place for Protestant Christians to be arrested for preaching. In 1658, John Bunyan was arrested for street preaching yet he was not imprisoned for that. He did however spend many years in prison for his faith.
Clearly Britain is marching back even further, not only into the 17th century but into those glorious days of the 16th century where Protestants were arrested even for believing the truth.
It clearly shows signs of religious intolerance and inconsistency of thinking, since the police officer stated he arrested the man for being in ‘breach of the peace’ yet are the authorities going to arrest street musicians, buskers, street entertainers and all people who take part in noisey street events and festivals also? Since they certainly make a lot of noise! Could it not be argued the preacher caused offence? Yes, but could it not also be argued that many public events and festivals cause offence? Are those partakers too going to be arrested?
I am offended everyday by things I see in Britain. I am offended by attitudes, language, blasphemy, bigotry, prejudice and intolerance, yet do those offences matter? No, clearly not to some people. Or maybe my offences do not matter because I am a Protestant and perhaps, a very loyal one.
Here are a couple of links to articles on this troubling matter.
This comment was not made in any context on his part or historic reference to dinosaurs as creatures of importance or anything like that, but a very childish and immature insult on his part toward those people who are genuinely concerned about upholding a historic and proper view of marriage and freedom. Clearly Mr Clegg likens people who uphold to traditional views of marriage as ancient obscure beings who are from the past.
The immature and childish insult given by Nick Clegg offer the people of Britain a further insight into just how childish British Politicians can be at times. Perhaps it just goes to show how much a mess Britain is in, when its apparent leaders embrace such immaturity that they have to insult people who do not agree with them, while at the same time profess to be Liberal in the name of democracy? Clearly liberalism is just another word for a default position, which embraces anyone but those who do not fit in with their worldview.
As if the people of Britain do not tire enough at seeing the leaders of this country arguing week after week like teenagers in the house of Lords, Mr Clegg feels now to insult millions of people in a childish non-intellectual way because they do not agree with his world-view.
Is it not enough that people who stand up for their right to defend traditional marriage have to put up with being labelled ‘bigots’ as victims of some kind of stupid game which uses fear based words to accomplish its aim rather than plain reason?
Is that democracy? Well, in order to find out the answer to that, we Protestants should be consulted, after all democracy in Britain came from us in the first place.
Nick Clegg should really be more careful with what he says and he should remember that the wind of the air and the tide of the sea can change direction very quickly. People are generally like fish, they swim in shoals with the tide, and when the tide changes, they go with the flow.
Mr Clegg should remember that time is only but a moment and what is present now will later be past and what is seen as modern now, will later be history.
The times will change Mr Clegg, and they are changing, and when the time of this generation is over, a new generation will come and when all our bones are in the ground, a new people will rise up and the winds of change will fill the streets.
Mr Clegg should really have a care, for come election day he will find, he may need these dinosaurs.
“For the time is come that the judgement must begin at the house of God”
1 Peter 4: 17
In the immediate context of the given passage of 1 Peter 4: 17, we can derive from the text that Peter is addressing the now historical Temple in ancient Jerusalem and the destruction which Jesus prophesied would come about upon the temple, as recorded for us in Matthew 24: 2.
This prophecy was fulfilled in AD 66-70 when prince Titus by order of Vespasian destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem with his army and not one stone of the historical Temple complext was left standing upon another. Yet, aside from the historical aspect and literal reading of the text, we can derive from the following text of 1 Peter 4 and verse 17 “and if it first begin with us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” that the Lord’s aim of rebuking and judging His church is that the church might be restored so that judgement might begin upon the world so that they too may come to Him and repent. This initial context of this passage being the Jews who did not obey the gospel, but rejected Jesus as Messiah. But on a broader and wider application of the text, this can also apply to judgement falling upon Christ’s church who so often fall, as did the ancient Jews by either denying Jesus, continuing in sin or denying what is written in favour of their traditions. Jesus is the Word of God, so deny the Word, you deny Christ. Thus, Christ so often calls out for His people to repent that safe territory and good teaching may be offered them who are new to the faith. But how can this come, when the much of the church is fallen and those who stand are not teaching accurate doctrines?
We see that in the days when Jesus walked upon the earth, the established Jewish church was in an ungodly condition, they were very prosperous, critical scholars, arrogant, believing that they were chosen and others not, the pharisees were ruling by their own authority, they were wealthy and they were ‘to speak in modern terms’ the head professors of the scriptures, the literal interpreters of the scriptures, yet as common with powers up at the top, they were the ones who were actually denying the scriptures and leading others away with them in their errors.
CHRISTIANITY IN ENGLAND TODAY
Now, today within the body of Christ there is much confusion and division. From a perspective viewed from England, some Protestant congregations within the UK are falling in numbers, and the many evangelical congregations who are holding to Biblical truth are forced to separate themselves and form independent gatherings of their own, these gatherings often happen in houses and other venues such as public halls and rented rooms. The churches which succeed in these areas are often flourishing in numbers.
The more established official state church such as the Church of England are largely divided and many are liberal in thinking and hold to modern ideologies and theologies and I certainly would argue are re-interpreting the Bible in favour of evolutionary science, feminism, varying times, passing winds, popular cultures and so forth.
The Church of England today certainly does not hold to its foundations and the likes of Pilkington and Cranmer would turn in their graves if they could. There can be little doubt that the Church of England is in desperate need of reform, a reform which may be happening from within. However, I fear that unless the Church of England is reformed, then Christianity in Britain will be reduced to a powder within the next 200 years and a less tolerant religion will take its place in an England that will never be the same again.
Yet, unlike the Church of England and its attempts to re-interpret Biblical truth with modern evolutionary science and feminism and so forth, some Baptist churches which are loyal to the Bible and have a good grasp of Biblical Theology are growing in numbers and God is with them. Whereas, independent Congregational and reformed gatherings in England are largely stuck in the puritan past and lack the Biblical movement and the presence of the Holy Spirit and more modern visual presentation. All too many reformed gatherings in England are greatly lacking and will not move from 20th century presentation to 21st century. Many even fail basic evangelism due to some form of hyper Calvinism.
In short and with all these denominations and people in mind, to sum the situation up with a few lines: one congregation follows one doctrine and another follows another doctrine. One Christian believes one doctrine and another believes another doctrine, both being faithful to the Biblical narrative in one way or another.
Yet many evangelical churches within England are influenced by the more leading figures of Christian teaching which is coming out of America. Today however in contrast to England, in America cults are fast growing and many Christian denominations are also popular and spreading. However, research reveals that many of the more faithful larger and modern American churches, from denominations such as Baptist, reformed and even Arminian Churches, many are moving and growing fast, much of them being reformed or Arminian in doctrine and young in their approach are multiplying. Celebrity pastors are on the rise.
Yet much division can still be seen amongst the people, and far too many genuine Christians are all too often at war with each other, un-reasonable, often slanderous and yet both sides are part of the same coin. Many being faithful in some way to what they see in the Biblical narrative.
Yet Modern Reformed Christianity, often linked with so-called ‘Calvinism’ particularly in America claims to hold firm to the ideals of the 16th century Reformation, yet many within that denomination are so systematised by their own interpretation of the scriptures that they make a heretic out of anyone who does not agree with their theology. When all the time, it may be they who need reforming!
It is my opinion that Reformed doctrine in its 16th century form is very Biblical, yet much modern reformed doctrine has moved away from its 16th century stand point, but even still, I think modern reformed doctrine is much more Biblical than the Arminian view, and I hold to much Reformed doctrine as good doctrine and agree a great deal with the principles and Theology of the 16th century reformation. However, I believe with the authority of scripture, that some modern Reformers do greatly err on doctrines such as double predestination and limited atonement. However, modern Reformers believe they are correct and often present themselves as almost exclusive to the truth and often claim that ‘Arminians do not worship the God of the Bible’. Yet at the same time many embrace John Wesley and sing Weslyan hymns. Thus, the claim that Arminians worship another God is pathetic, since some of the greatest revivals in church history came through the likes of John Wesley, so how can anyone claim that God stand not with Arminians? Likewise Arminians also fall into this pathetic argument when they battle against Calvinists and believe they are more Biblically accurate and often refer to Calvinists as worshipping another ‘god’ which is not the God of the Bible. (Note: I use the lower case ‘g’ in referrence to both arguements) However, this arguement of Calvinists and Arminians worshipping two gods, is pathetic and untrue. Differing on interpretation of certain doctrines such as predestination, election, universal offering of salvation, limited or un-limited atonement is one thing, but worshipping another god is another matter.
The question I ask is this: Is not possible that both Calvinists and Arminians could be correct in some way and what the areas which lack in Arminianism can be answered in Calvinism? And the areas which lack in Calvinism can be answered in Arminianism?
Many may laugh or hate my asking that question, yet if we look at the original Reformation teaching of Wycliffe and Tyndale, many modern Calvinistic reformers who limit the Bible to their systems would say that both Wycliffe and Tyndale were Arminians, and although Wycliffe, Tyndale and Luther believed in predestination, neither believed that anyone was predestined to hell. So which doctine is truly reformed?
It seems to me that what is said to be reformed doctrine in the 21st century, is not 100% reformed, but 5 point Calvinism, a system of thought which Calvin himself may not have actually taught and dates back to the 17th century and not 100% accurate to the original 16th century Reformation teachings which were held in 16th century England by Tyndale, Cranmer, Pilkington, Hooker and so forth. This can also be said of Luthers reformation which certainly did not agree with 5 point Calvinism.
One problem is, that many today think of the word reformed as implying Calvinism, which is untrue. That is just one branch of reformed thinking, made popular by our American brothers and the revival of Puritan books.
“If a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
Mark 3: 24-25
Jesus said a house divided cannot stand, yet Christianity today is massively divided and much of this division comes through a wide number of issues, some are loyal to the Biblical narrative, some are not. Some are honest, some are lying. Who then is correct?
Thus, I must ask: Where is the Bible and the Holy Spirit in all this muddle? Is the Holy Spirit who leads a man into all truth as found in the Biblical text itself not what the heart of the reformation was all about? That the Bible was to be in the hands of everyman, and that the Holy Spirit who reveals all truth would guide a man into the truth of God? Thus, the Spirit and the Word, the Word and the Spirit. If yes, then why is there so much doctrinal and personal division within Christianity today?
Thus, division is nothing new, we can find it throughout church history, and if we look at today’s church, we will see that many of the same errors happening in our time as what we saw during the time of the reformation.
There is little doubt to me that the church has gone around in circles and needs to return back once again to what the Bible actually teaches, and to cease from denying what is actually written in favour of personal bias, traditions, established creeds, confessions and ideas of men both from history and from the moderns.
Thus, if the church is to ever move forwards and be truly united in Christ and in His truth, then the leading sides of Arminians and Calvinists, need to cease from denying texts in re-interpreting them, to fit their doctrines and many of today’s major leaders within Christianity, who’s influence upon Christendom is vast and, must return to the actual Biblical narrative once again.
Thus, this is not a call out to dismiss all that has gone before or what God has done throughout the history of His church, but more a call out for the leaders to move on and return to the future.
In total contrast to the desire many have for revival, it will not come until the house of God is put in order first. It is reformation we need, not revival.
For, I believe the time is now that God by His Spirit is calling out for a fresh reformation of His church and her doctrine and is calling for the leaders in both England and America to whom He has given great authority and power to lead His people, to seek Him more now than ever before, and to awake and prepare for the reality of a coming reformation of Christ’s Holy Church.
The news comes to us yet again, another topical debate once more. The Church of England has voted out the so-called “Women Bishops”
I guess there is room after all to believe that there are some Bible believing Christians still remaining within the Church of England.
But there are times when I doubt it.
After countless debates and attempts to reason with ministers within the Church of England and the Anglican Church, I never fail to see why the church of England or the Anglican Church so often attempts to modify its beliefs to fit with an ever changing and dying world.
Time and time again I have listened to sermons and ministers attempting to make the Biblical text fit with the idea that women can be bishops, leaders, pastors or whatever an organisation desires to call that ministry, within the body of Christ.
Not content with ‘thinking’ that the theory of evolution and Genesis can actually harmonise in some way with the Bible, many attempt to make feminism fit with the Bible also.
The mind boggles when I sit and listen to people attempting to make the Old Testament fit with Darwinism and New Testament fit with feminism.
Does the Bible not state that Eve was “the mother of all living” Genesis 3: 20
Does the Bible not claim that God made them Adam and Eve?
Was it not Eve who was deceived?
Did Jesus not choose 12 men to be His Apostles?
Is it not written “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man” 1 Timothy 2: 12
I fail to see why so many so-called Christians attempt to argue their way out of this and more passages in an attempt to make the church fit with the dying world? Correction, I do understand. The evidence suggests that they are little more than Darwinian fairytale believers and liberal feminists who do not believe the Bible or history but favour the sad hopeless opinions and ideas of men over the Truth of God.
I don’t know why they just don’t admit that?
Well, it seems that there may well be a few that actually do? And if they hold fast to the Truth, God will abide with them and even if the world rejects them, and hates them, what of it.
The Gospel cannot be denied for the word of man.
Richard Dawkins offered critique of David Cameron’s speech which was given on Friday 16th December 2011 at Christ Church Oxford, that Britain needs to return to Christian ideals. Dawkins, as typical, lashed out with verbal hand grenades at this claim by saying the Bible is, “an appalling moral compass”.
Dawkins also said, “The Christian bible will help us with our literature,” and “It should therefore be taught in schools in literature classes, but it’s not going to help us with our morals, far from it.”
Dawkins also said; “The bible is a terrible moral compass, if you think about it. Of course, you can cherry pick the verses that you like, which means the verses that happen to coincide with our modern secular consensus, but then you need to have a rationale for leaving out the ones that say stone people to death if they break the Sabbath, or if they commit adultery. It’s an appalling moral compass.”
Dawkins is correct that people cherry pick the verses they like, but clearly he is more guilty of this than the average Christian. The problem with Dawkins is that he has a very poor Theological understanding and a surface level interpretation of the Biblical narrative. He seems to willfully ignore context and historical settings.
He seems to think that when the Law of Moses commands stoning for adultery, that that command is somehow absent of any abrogation.
Dawkins stated in his criticism; “you can cherry pick the verses that you like, which means the verses that happen to coincide with our modern secular consensus, but then you need to have a rationale for leaving out the ones that say stone people to death if they break the Sabbath, or if they commit adultery.”
How long must we put up with this credulous argument?
When Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate and Pilate spoke to the Jewish people, they wanted to crucify Jesus and Pilate said to them; “Take ye Him, and judge Him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death” John 18: 31.
Clearly John 18: 31 states that the Jews in the time of Christ were subject to Roman law and not Mosaic law.
The question is why does Dawkins continue to claim that stoning people to death for breaking the Sabbath or for adultery is part of the Christian faith? Did Christ not say to those who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery; “he who is without sin among you let him cast a first stone at her” John 8: 7
Who then is without sin?
What is clear to anyone who knows the Bible chronologically, is that the books which Dawkins likes to refer to are part of the Torah, the Pentateuch, being the first 5 books of Moses, which contain the ancient Law of Moses. This law which Dawkins often quotes was an ancient law given to the historical nation of Israel. It was not a law written or given to the Gentiles.
The historical Law of Moses was divided into three sections:
1) The Commandments
2) The ordainances
3) The judgement
The context of the Law suggests the following;
1) We must distinguish between the Ten Commandments and the Law of Moses. For the ‘moralia’ or ‘the 10 Commandments’ were not written by Moses but by God Himself. This means that the moral code of the Ten Commandments have not been abrogated.
2) The Law and ordainances were given to ancient Israel only. Exodus 19:3, Leviticus 26:46 and Romans 3:19, 9:4 clearly states this. Deuteronomy 4:8, Romans 2:12-14 clearly states that the Law of Moses was not given to the Gentiles but to Israel. Acts 15:5-24, Romans 6:14 and Galatians 2:19 likewise confirm this. This includes the ceremonies and rituals, of which is at no time are they imposed upon the Gentile Church (Acts 15:5 – 24).
3) Christ stated in Matttew 5: 17 that He fulfilled the Law, that is to take the punishment of it upon Himself. Paul confirms this when he states in Romans 10:4 that Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness. From this it is clear that the Bible states that righteousness does not come through the law but through Christ alone.
What is clear from correct study of the scriptures is that the judgement and penalties for breaking the Law of Moses was abolished in and through the life death and resurrection of Jesus. In other words, the wrath and harsh judgement of the Law was poured out upon Jesus.
The problem with atheists like Dawkins is that they are clearly ignorant of the Bible they freely critique.
Perhaps Mr Dawkins would care to give me an example of Christians who stone people to death? Or perhaps Mr Dawkins would care to join me in Biblical research or maybe he would care to read a book of Systematic Theology or evangelical Theology? Or better still, maybe Mr Dawkins would be better to leave the Theology to the Theologians and spend the next ten years in Biblical research and until then, cease from slandering a book he clearly does not understand.
It is clear to me that Dawkins has an agenda and his agenda is to slander Christianity and to abolish faith schools, because in reality, Dawkins appears to be a mere scientist, but inwardly he is a ferocious wolf who is part of a pack that seeks to spiritually devour Christ’s sheep and any lambs who may come to Him. But in reality, they cannot overcome the good Shepherd. For He cares for His sheep of which Richard Dawkins is not one of them (John 10: 25-29).
Simon Peter Sutherland
20th December 2011