Archive for category Issues with Christianity in England today

Why we need another ‘Reformation’

“For the time is come that the judgement must begin at the house of God”
1 Peter 4: 17

St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh  © 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh
© 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

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

Kendal Parish Church © 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

Kendal Parish Church
© 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

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.

DIVISION

“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.

CONCLUSION

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.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Women bishops? Church of England votes no!

Church tower © 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

Church tower © 2013 Simon Peter Sutherland

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.

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment

David Cameron criticised by Richard Dawkins

Laurel & Hardy of ScholarshipRichard 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

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments

David Cameron: “Revival of Christian Values”

John WycliffeDavid Cameron while giving a speech at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford has attacked the moral decline of Britain and has openly called for a revival of Christian values in England and stated that people should openly proclaim explicit values of Christianity.

He also presented critique of the ideas that claim that by standing up for Christian values, we do somehow put down other “faiths”.

He also hailed the King James Bible.

Despite the distinctive observation that the word “faiths” is a historical fallacy concocted by political minds, the word ‘Religions’ is a better description, Cameron rightly spoke against Islamic extremism and claimed that an “almost fearful, passive tolerance of religious extremism” has resulted in Islamic Extremism to remain unchallenged.

One of the things which stands out regarding Cameron’s speech is that he spoke of a “revival” of Christian values and England certainly needs reform and a Christian awakening.

England is forgetting her own history.

Reform is certainly in the air and would involve a new Reformation and a restoration of Truth. But before a reformation of this nature could begin, the Church must get her own house in order first. And since Cameron said this to the Church of England, that is the context and this would call for reform within the Church of England, who has neglected the Bible in favour of passing trends, cultural pursuasions and theological windrushes.

It would be hypocrisy and a burying of ones head in the sand to imagine that the Church of England is in a good way, but there is always hope of reform.

Likewise there is always hope of a Christian awakening within the hearts of the people, but the Church and Parliament must get their own house in order first and remove the plank of wood that is in their own eye, before they can attempt to even suggest that their are splinters within anothers eye. In other words, you cannot expect the people to respect or embrace Christianity and Parliament, if much of Christianity and Parliament has become a harlot. People will not listen to anyone if they do not practice what they preach and the Church and the houses of Parliament of today have not presented themselves without fault.

However there is hope that things can change and it is out of hope that charity is born for without love and charity, ministers and politicians can give speeches all day long, but if they have not charity, they “become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13: 1

And as Paul says, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth” 1 Corinthians 13: 1-8

Will Parliament be willing to seek a restoration of Christian values within England while at the same time feeding the poor of England? Or will it offer a restoration of certain morals only? Is Cameron being genuine at all, or is he just playing a voting game, using Christianity to gain popularity?

If he is being genuine in then I humbly suggest that we must go all the way with this or not at all.

However, regarding Camerons speech, it is interesting to note that in this very same Cathedral that he gave this speech, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer was publicly “degraded” in 1556 and in the 1720’s John and Charles Wesley were ordained as Priests in the Church of England.

Thus, just as great awakenings and reform did come in times past through the church, they can also do so once again in the future.

Thus, these three remain, “Faith, hope and charity” 1 Corinthians 13: 13.

Simon Peter Sutherland
17th December 2011

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

On the death of Christopher Hitchens

Blessed are those who die in the Lord…” Revelation 14: 13

When someone dies who is a popular figure, I find it a little obvious that so many people would write an article concerning them. Likewise, I find it a little obvious that when a heretic dies or gets ill many Christians conclude that it is a judgement? Yet in reality, all people be they heretic or Christian die sooner or later, some young, some old. Death is something that comes to all people. But the scripture I have above quoted speaks of a blessing when a person dies while in Christ. But if authority over life and faith were placed within the hands of many modern atheists, there would be no one on earth who dies in the hands of the Lord.

Modern atheism seeks to destroy Christianity.

Sadly, Christianity today is in a poor condition and deserves criticism and the reason, I think, this time has come about is because much of Christianity does not hold to the word of God anymore, but holds more to the opinions and ideas of men.

I see Christianity today being rather like a temple which is being attacked by many outsiders while so many Christians merely sit behind closed doors and watch and keep silent through either spiritual slumber or fear.

But the thing which strikes me about the scriptures is the prophetic nature of so many passages, while other religions would promote believers to keep the faith alive, the Bible states that it is God who will keep the faith alive and that it is He who will bring about a great falling away and a great delusion. We see this in 2 Thessalonians 2: 11-12. “…God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

In reality, the scriptures teach that it is God who is the boss and it is He who is in control, not man.

Yet still, Jesus warned believers that false teachers would come. Likewise, Peter, John, Luke, Jude, and Paul all warned that heretics would come speaking lies. The warnings are clearly visible in Scripture so that Christians must not fall for the slippery persuasive words of men. This is consistent throughout the New Testament. Yet like all lies, there is a fraction of truth within a lie, if only here and there.

We see this in the writings and talks that Christopher Hitchens gave. Hitchens mixed the truth with a lie, he claimed to love Thomas Cranmer’s prayer book (The Book of Common Prayer) and the King James Bible and stated that they will be with him till the very last hour, yet at the same time he attacked the very foundations of the faith and the things contained in both Cranmers prayer book and the Bible.

In one quote Hitchens said this; (Christianity) “is a wicked cult, and its high time we left it behind“.

How untrue!

In reality, what Hitchens did during much of his lifetime was to feed the many issues and possible doubts which even the average Christian has concerning God and His character and conduct and used them to promote his ideas. He picked out and explored selective Biblical texts which even the average Christian was not aware of, ignoring the context while at the same time promoting a twisted logic as though his interpretation of the narrative was actually final. He used many selective errors from Christian history and yet at the same time created an almost twisted logic to interpret them. However, I certainly would argue that much of his logic came through depression and the influence of alcohol.

Yet, having said this, there can be no doubt in my mind that Hitchens was a devout heretic who even crept into the Church at times and was given the time of day.

The problem is that alcohol merely brings out what is in the heart and clearly by listening to the words which Hitchens spewed out, we know what was in his heart.

However, although I confess that Hitchens did make people think and did even open many eyes to issues and ideas, and also spoke against many issues which I myself struggle with concerning modern day Christianity, I also confess that one of the many problems with Hitchens is that his logic was both human and demonic, based upon human philosophy and lies.

I say this because I am sure that if satan himself did preach, he would open many eyes to things they never thought about before. The thing is that, Satan is old and has been around for eight thousand or so years. He has much experience and thousands of years worth of practice at causing people to doubt the word of God.

It is clear to me through the text of Genesis 3: 1 that doubt is satans calling card and whenever I hear anyone leading people into doubting the word of God, I know satan is near.

It is also clear to me that Hitchens was a thinker, but his thinking was merely humanistic and not spiritual. I don’t see how any man can understand spiritual truths through human logic, its like trying to ask a child to understand what it is like to be an older man, experience can only teach such things.

I think the New Testament is clear that heretics come and go and that they will always be on the earth until Christ returns. But one thing I think Christians should grasp is that there are some men who were for ordained a long time ago, as Jude says; “…these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities…these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.” (Jude 1: 8-9)

Jude also says this; “beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (Jude 1: 17-21)

I could say more, but Jude does well.

I think in closing, I would like to say that I can have little sorrow in my heart concerning the death of a man who set out to destroy Christ’s church. Hitchens did mock God, he denied the Holy Spirit, he denied Christ, he denied and mocked Christ’s church and he spoke evil of God’s word and the character of God.

The problem is that although he has gone, his influence remains and I often ask myself, what or who is coming next?

Thus, in conclusion, I would like to leave you with some thoughts from the scriptures.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Galatians 6: 7-8)

“Keep the faith”

Simon Peter Sutherland
16th December 2011

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments

Jerusalem: The making of a Holy City – BBC Four – A critique

Simon Peter Sutherland @ The Tombs of the Kings, Paphos, CyprusOn Thurday 8th December 2011, BBC Four aired a documentary “Jerusalem: The making of a Holy City” 1. Wellspring of holiness.

In this documentary, author and historian Simon Sebag Montefiore offered a chronological history of Jerusalem beginning with the Canaanites, moving through to the life of Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and concluding at the 7th century AD.

Despite the obvious conclusion that these documentaries are well produced and present splendid location footage, the problem I find with so many documentaries such as this is that the presenters often refer to selective scholars and archaeologists such as the likes of ‘Israel Finkelstein and so often offer no contrasting objection to ‘Finkelstein’ and his claims concerning King David and the historical accuracy of the Old Testament. I often find that the claims made in documentaries such as this leave the learned mind wondering, “Where on earth did he get that conclusion from?”

One of the main problems I found with this documentary, for all its research and location footage, it apparently lacked in a major way concerning details of the life of Jesus.

For example, at around 40 minutes into the documentary, the life of Jesus came into the script and the presenter claimed that Jesus never said He was the Messiah. I found this to be deeply problematic since Mark 14: 61-62 records that when Jesus was asked by Caiaphas the High Priest if He was the Messiah/Christ, Jesus replied, “I am” (Mark 14: 61-62)

Thus, the claim that Jesus never said He was the Messiah which can be found at; 41 minutes, 1-22 seconds, is a distinct error and one that makes me wonder if these types of documentaries are very honest with themselves?

Likewise, the author also appeared to deny the Virgin birth when he claimed that Joseph was Jesus’ father. This can be found at; 40 minutes, 1-20 seconds, which is contrary to the synoptic gospels, which makes me wonder, what Jesus is being presented here? And what source is being followed?

It don’t want to appear over critical here, but claims such as these only fuel wrong concepts into the minds of the viewing public who’s knowledge and reading of the Bible is already in decline.

I often suspect that so many documentaries which are aired on screen today are more concerned with a political agenda rather than truth and textual knowledge of source material. But whatever the agenda and whatever the source, it certainly is not entirely authentic nor does it offer any absolute integrity towards the cannonical gospels.

Simon Peter Sutherland (B.Th, Th. M)

3 Comments

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

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment