Posts Tagged Manchester Theological Society
The Anchorites Cell
Posted by simon peter sutherland in Christianity, The Bible, Theology on March 5, 2013
On 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.
In 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.
Genesis 1: 27 and the new wave of gender-inclusive Bible translations
Posted by simon peter sutherland in Christianity, England issues, Theology on November 13, 2011
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.
Concerning “A modern sikh interpretation of the Bible” a lecture given by John Parry – November 10th 2011 – Manchester Cathedral
Posted by simon peter sutherland in Christianity, England issues, Issues with Christianity in England today on November 11, 2011
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