Posts Tagged Manchester Cathedral

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.

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The Anchorites Cell

DSC03686On 22nd January 2013, I attended a lecture at the Manchester Theological Society by Alex Jacob. The lecture was on the topic of Mr Jacobs book “The Case for Enlargement Theology”.

This polemical lecture explored the relationship between Christianity and her mother religion ‘Judaism’.

Although the lecturer did not put too fine a point on it, Alex Jacob briefly refuted the somewhat inconsistent and popular doctrine of ‘Replacement Theology’.

As always, a question and answer period was offered after the lecture. Many at this point made statements rather than ask questions. Cannon Andrew Shanks asked a question and made a rather problematic yet interesting statement during that session. The point was that in his position he would argue that the 21st century person cannot live by the standards set by St Paul since “we are at a different point in history”.

Obviously, if I am taking this point correctly, it would not involve ‘all’ the standards of St Paul, since many of those standards are still relatively common, common sense, but some of them. The question would also be that many Anglican’s claim we should live according to the words of Jesus, which when consistently studied, are not contrary to the letters of St Paul.

However, in the natural and the historical, that is according to the natural man I could be inclined to agree with the statement by Cannon Shanks? But according to the spiritual man, I could not agree. The reason would be according to my knowledge, understanding and experience of the Holy Spirit and His power to cause a man to live not by bread alone (the natural) but by the Spirit and the Word.

That in order to obey the spiritual we must transcend the natural.

However, following from this line of thought, I would like to add that when an interesting comment or point is raised to me, I often ponder it for a long time.

Being a Christian within the 21st century and maybe not even the Christian I would like to be, I struggle with sin. It is an awful and difficult thing in many ways to be a committed Christian and to live in a 21st century city where modern conveniences and fleshly delights are ever before my sin. The question then haunts me like a ghost; How does a Christian live in modern times according to the standards set before us in the New Testament?

The answer must be ever continual flowing grace from God.

The Anchorites Cell, SkiptonIn February I visited the town of Skipton in North Yorkshire with my wife and children and the ancient Holy Trinity Church which dates to around the turn of the 14th century and contains 15th century alterations.

Within the Holy Trinity Church there can be found what is known as “the Anchorites cell”. Apparently this cell dates back to the middle ages and was used by a female Anchorite.

For those who may not know, an Anchorite was a person who withdrew from the world and lived alone in a cell for the rest of that person’s natural life. The word itself stems from the Greek, meaning to withdraw. It is a form of the monastic life.

In the Anchorite cell at Skipton, people were permitted to visit the Anchorite in the cell which was attached to the church. He or she spent the rest of the natural life in this cell in prayer and also offering advice to any visitors.

Food was given through a small window of which the Anchorite had a view of the altar.

The proposed challenge for those today is to spend time apart from the world to meditate and to pray and in this sense the Anchorite’s cell is just as important today as it was in history, only the application is different.

The question is does a person need to cut themselves off from the world in order to live the Godly life? The answer is no. It cannot be yes or there would be no Christian witness in the world. Thus, as the Christian slogan says, be ‘in the world but not of it’ the matter is obviously clear. But even better than that Paul in Romans 12: 2 instructs us be none-conformists in the sense of not conforming to this fleshly world and in Galatians 5: 16 he gives us the means to do this, “walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh”.

How then do we walk in the spirit? The answer is in the meaning of verse 13, ‘Freedom’ and not the freedom to do as you wish, but freedom within, freedom from sin.

The answer can be found in Jesus, “Look unto me all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11: 28

Look to Jesus wherever you are and not to yourself and you will be delivered from yourself.

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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.

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Genesis 1: 27 and the new wave of gender-inclusive Bible translations

Bible trodden under foot

Bible trodden under foot © 2014 Simon Peter Sutherland

On November 10th 2011 I attended a lecture at Manchester Cathedral During this lecture John Parry made mention of gender-inclusive translations of the Bible and how he supports this idea.

This is not a new idea or a ‘new thing’ or exclusive to Mr Parry and his teachings, for many Christians today support new translations of the Bible which are re-worded to fit with gender-inclusive language.

However, for those who do not know what gender-inclusive language is within a Biblical translation context, it reveals itself as a modern scholarship idea created through the root of feminism and employed by some theologians and so-called Christians who seek to appeal to the modern world by arguing that God is neither male nor female?

I marvel that anyone can make this claim and believe in the God of the Bible. Yet, today there are a number of translations which have employed this use of language and no doubt many more will come. Concerning this issue, I see no need to move into a review or exploration of the many arguments which are used to support gender-inclusive language for Bible translations, for, it is an accepted Christian truth that the Bible is the Word of God, therefore, let us go to the Bible first and see if gender-inclusive language would translate the Bible correctly? Firstly, there is not a single passage in the Bible which claims that God is neither male nor female. If God were neither male nor female, He would therefore be sexless and the entire Bible and its revelation of God would be fundamentally different. He absolutely reveals Himself in scripture in a masculine context.

Genesis 1 contains the Biblical account of Gods creation of the universe and of the life of man and beast. Verse 27 of that chapter says this, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” (KJV)

The New King James version translates this text a little clearer and reads as follows: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them”. This text presents a clear case and absolute confirmation that the creation of Adam and the creation of Eve were not one and the same event. There were two events and not one single event and the text shows this.

The Biblical account claims that in the image of God, God created Adam and He created him male, thus God is male. The text makes this point very clear. That “in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them”. The text distinguishes the two points of the creation of Humans, that in the image of God, God created Adam first, that He created Him male, the text then adds that in the image of man God created woman. The text distinguishes this by saying that God created Adam first, the then moves to say, “male and female He created them”. The text is very clear on this. When the Bible says, “God created man in His own image” the Hebrew word employed in this passage is literally “Adam”. That is an important fundamental point to distinguish.

I would further argue that Genesis 2 acts as a kind of commentary or expounding of Genesis 1. I say this for a reason. Genesis 2: 7 reads as follows; “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

Thus, the creation of Eve does not fit the context of this verse and was thus was not created out of the dust of the ground, but from Adams rib. Adam was created out of the dust of the earth, not Eve. Thus, she was not created first and therefore, not created in the image of God, but of Adam.

Paul affirms this in 1 Timothy 2: 12-13 in his argument against female teachers within the Body of Christ and what could be seen as Paul writing against feminism? Paul says thus; “I do not permit a woman to teach, or to have authority over the man, but to be in silence.” Paul continues with this theme and gives his reason from out of the scriptures; “For Adam was first formed, then Eve.”

He then goes on to argue that “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (1 Timothy 2: 14) Paul is clearly writing within an ancient context and also warning future generations that the modern feminist movement is directly in line with what happened back in Eden, that because of woman, men are denying Gods word in favour of the deception of satan.

Further evidence that God created woman after Adam can be found in Genesis 2:18. The text reads as follows; “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make ‘him’ an help meet for ‘him”. This text confirms that the Genesis account is claiming that Adam was formed first.

Genesis 2:21-22 likewise reads; “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”

The Bible is very clear that God created Adam first and Eve was created from Adam, no one can rightly argue against the fact that the Bible makes this claim and if any so-called Christian chooses to ignore this or hate that fact that both I and the Bible do say this, then I fail to see why you would call yourself a Christian, since you clearly do not believe what the Bible says?

Now a person could argue that God does not have gender, yet this claim also would be very weak and not in line with the entire Biblical text. God has always revealed Himself male, this can be consistently seen in throughout the Old and New Testaments. God appeared to Abraham as a male (Genesis 18) He appeared to Moses in a masculine way (Exodus 3) He is consistently named in scripture as “He”. Search the scriptures for yourself and see if it is not so?

Likewise, I would also point out a very Christian fundamental truth. That truth would be found in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Himself, who was born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit and live as a man and died as a man. If God is neither male nor female, then how do we account for Mary’s conception?

How do we account for Christ being a man? Is He is not the very image of God? Was He not conceived in a masculine way? How then can anyone argue that God is not male?

The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind, and I would plead with the church as did Paul when he warned us not to not be blown this way or that because of changing winds of doctrine, (Ephesians 4: 14).

I leave you once again with the text of Genesis 1: 27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” KJV

I ask every individual believer and Christian alike who reads this article, to look to Christ my brethren, bind yourself to Him and He will show you more clearly than I can, that He is who He is (Exodus 3: 14).

I would further add and plead with the Body of Christ that you must not deny the Word of God and forsake His testimony in favour of men and modern winds and an ever changing world. Be faithful to Him and His word and know His love and blessing which are given to those who love Him and keep His word (Exodus 20: 5-6) lest you make God angry and find yourself cast out of His garden and left to wonder through the world.

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The truth of the oldest New Testament fragment

In John Rylands Library, Manchester, houses the oldest fragment of the New Testament to date. During this present age of critical modern scholarship and its heavy critique of Biblical texts, we have a great testimony in direct contrast to many critical claims of modern textual scholars.

Many claim that the New Testament accounts were written much later than they actually were, and when I see this fragment as I do on a regular basis, its surviving words never cease to amaze me. They are a pure testimony to the reality of the absolute identity of Jesus Christ, son of God, who was and is, and is to come, “The Truth”. Not ‘a’ truth, but ‘The’ Truth.

The Greek fragment, of John 18: 31-33, on the recto reads as follows, ,

“the Jews, “For us it is not permitted to kill
anyone,” so that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he
spoke signifying what kind of death he was going to
to die. Entered therefore again into the Praeto-
rium Pilate and summoned Jesus
and he said to him, “Thou art king of the
Jews?”

The Greek fragment of John 18: 37-38, on the verso reads as follows,

“a King I am. For this I have been born
and (for this) I have come into the world so that I would
testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth
hears of me my voice.” Said to him
Pilate, “What is truth?” and this
having said, again he went out unto the Jews
and said to them, “I find not one
fault in him.”

Is it not amazing that the oldest fragment in the world of the New Testament, dated possibly earlier than 100 AD and no later than 150 AD, speaks of such a great testimony to the word of God? Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Matthew 24: 35.

This is certainly true. Glory to the Lamb of God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would also like you to remember York Minster!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simon Peter Sutherland.

Manchester. 11th November 2011

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The importance of Theology and the problem of religion

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

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

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

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

A PROBLEM OF RELIGION, NO JOY

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

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

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

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

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