Monday, December 11, 2006

The Scottish Legacy Part 3

Edward Irving (1792-1834)- Theologian and Leader in the "Catholic Apostolic Church" movement a Precursor to the Pentecostal/Charismatic movements. Ordained in the Church of Scotland, he became the assistant to Thomas Chalmers at St. John's in Glasgow. Even at this time he had a rather flamboyant style which did not appeal to the Scots and so he accepted a call to the Caledonian Chapel, a Scottish congregation in London. It was here that his ministry took off as the congregation of fifty soon jumped to a thousand. Edward held to a premillennial understanding of the book of Revelation and preached it fervently. The postmillennialist author and Banner of Truth founder, Iian Murray credits Edward with making premillennialism the dominant eschatalogical view of that time in his book The Puritan Hope. Edward soon came into controversy with his Presbytery, however, with statements he published of Christ's humanity. It seems that Edward held that although Christ is God, he took on "sinful flesh" just like every other man and was only able to overcome through the power of the Holy Spirit. Edward soon came to teach that we to could overcome sin through the power of the Holy Spirit. Edward at this point also came to accept glossolalia(speaking in tongues), prophecies and miraculous healing, believing these to be signs of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Edward himself never exhibited any of these gifts but he welcomed their manifestation. When the General Assembly heard of this they locked up the building to Edward and the congregation worshipping there. After renting a location, his church formed as a congregation in the Catholic Apostolic Church. Edward would not lead the new group long as he came down with consumption and died even with the "healers" in his church. The movement is, however, still attributed to him as the followers of the movement are called "Irvingites". The movement eventually died down but similar movements in the Pentecostal/Charismatic movements still exist although there is no direct evidence of a link to the Irvingites. On a side note, it is often assumed that the pretribulational rapture doctrine was initiated by Margaret MacDonald , a prophetess in Edward's church, through a vision she had. There is however no evidence to connect a link from Margaret, whose vision is purported to have been in 1830, to John Nelson Darby who had written on this doctrine as early as 1827. This is usually perpetuated by vehemently anti-dispensationalists. Those who disagree with this view should earnestly endeavour to deal with it honestly and not bear false witness. For a good antidote to the charismatic teachings of Irving's church read Charismatic Chaos and Reckless Faith by John MacArthur and Satisfied by the Promise of the Spirit by Thomas Edgar.

William Cunningham(1805-61)- Historian and Free Church Theologian, William succeeded Thomas Chalmers at the New College of Edinburgh as Principal. His magnum opus,the two volume Historical Theology , is essentially a systematic theology as in it he focuses on the debates throughout church history, presenting various sides and then presenting his view. It is because of this work that some consider William to be Scotland's greatest theologian. His theology is faithful to Westminster even to the point of criticising the Reformers themselves. Although he did not feel the difference between Westminster and the Reformers was as extreme as William Hamilton believed, William did think the Reformers statements on assurance were often "rash and exaggerated" and that their view was "erroneous". He was especially mystified by Calvin's definition of faith: "We shall have a complete definition of faith, if we say that it is a steady and certain knowledge of the divine benevolence towards us, which, being founded on the truth of the gratuitous promise in Christ, is both revealed to our minds and confirmed to our hearts by the Holy Spirit" and that it was generally though not universally received for the greater part of the century by protestant and reformed divines. Westminster on the other hand held a clear dichotomy between faith and assurance. William also disdained Calvin's view of the Lord's Supper saying that it was "altogether unsuccessful... as unintelligible as Luther's consubstantiation. This is, perhaps, the greatest blot in the history of Calvin's labours as a public instructor." William held to and defended Zwingli's view of the supper from those who said he held to a "naked and bare sign". William did, however, defend Calvin from the Amyraldists, stating that it is unfair to hold Calvin up on a position never put to him. William felt Calvin would have held to a definite atonement although some of his statements were ambiguous. Finally, William defended his predecessor Thomas Chalmers and Jonathan Edwards although disagreeing with both of them on their determinist views. Some were saying that their views were antithetical to the Westminster Confession with its chapter on "Free Will". William believed that the confession allowed for their view despite his belief that there is a difference between predestination and determinism. Another popular work by William is his The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation.

John Murray(1898-1975)- Theologian who taught Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia for 36 years. Although a systematic theology professor, John, following in the footsteps of his mentor Geerhardus Vos, preferred the discipline of Biblical Theology and incorporated this into the classes he taught. The discipline of systematic theology takes scripture as a whole recognizing that there are "hard sayings" (2Peter 3:16) in scripture that need to be interpreted in light of other less hard sayings. Biblical theology takes every verse, every word, at face value and pieces them together for a system. Systematic theology looks at the forest; biblical theology looks at the trees. Problems for systematic theology are systems built on presuppositions without Biblical precedence and inappropriate inferences from scripture which are unfounded. Biblical theologians however sometimes hold two contradicting doctrines in their system and live with the tension calling it a mystery because they believe both to be taught in scripture. Examples of this would be holding to predestination and freewill or salvation by grace alone but also baptismal regeneration. John's emphasis on biblical theology led him to deny a covenant of works which caused much debate and tension among his contemporaries. To John, a covenant of works was a contradiction in terms. John held that Adam, even in the Garden of Eden, would have needed God's grace not to fall. Despite this denial John did hold to the doctrines of original sin and the imputed righteousness of Christ but he did so at the cost of consistency according to his colleagues. So according to John there is just a covenant of grace contra Thomas Boston who held to a covenant of works and grace and John Cameron who held to a covenant of works, grace and redemption. John's most famous works include his 2 volume Commentary on Romans, Redemption-Accomplished and Applied and his book Divorce in which he defends the Westminster, Reformed and most importantly scriptural view that divorce is allowed only in the case of adultery or desertion and that re-marriage is allowed. For more on the "Covenant" debate see Covenant Theology in Reformed Perspective by Mark Karlberg or the works of Meredith Kline.

This completes my look at Scotland's legacy. This small sampling is not exhaustive by any means but these men for the most part represent movements, denominations, or doctrines which for good or bad have impacted the world. I realize no man is an island and these men all had help, but the Lord raised these men up in a special way. I have tried to be fair and objective in my presentation of these men's views, despite in some instances, my disdain for their theology. I want this to be the ground work for more extensive studies, later, as I refer to these individuals. I hope this look at Scotland's legacy has been informative and enlightening.

Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Scottish Legacy Part 2

Thomas Boston(1676-1732)- Theologian and leader of the Marrow Men who were involved in the Marrow controversy resulting in Secession from the Church of Scotland. Upon his reading the book, The Marrow of Modern Divinity written in 1645 by Edward Fisher, a presbyterian layman whose occupation was a barber-surgeon, Thomas had a personal awakening. He became enthusiastic about the book feeling that the current orthodoxy was focusing too much on the law to the exclusion of grace and so he gave copies of the book to his colleagues. James Hog, one of Thomas's friends and a fellow Marrow man had the book republished in Scotland. The book was written four years before the appearance of the Westminster Confession and tried to mediate Neonomian and Antinomian views in season during that time. After its republication, the General Assembly in 1720 initiated the Black Act condemning the book and prohibiting its reading. The Black Act leveled 5 charges against Thomas and the Marrow Men. The Assembly condemned the Marrow as teaching, 1. assurance of salvation is of the essence of faith, 2. universal atonement, 3. holiness is not necessary to salvation, 4. fear and punishment and hope of reward are not proper motives for Christian obedience, and 5. that believers are not under the law as a rule of life. Thomas held firmly to the doctrine of predestination and agreed with Calvinist orthodoxy on this. Thomas did however hold to a two fold purpose in the death of Christ, believing that it definitely saved the elect but that also Christ is the only "Savior of the world," so that there is a gospel warrant for offering Christ to the whole world. Thomas believed the Bible taught only two covenants, contra John Cameron and the Calvinist orthodoxy of his day, denying the covenant of redemption. He believed the three covenant system violated the scriptural and reformational principal of grace alone. Thomas believed faith precedes repentance but accepted that knowledge of the law was necessary to come to the gospel. Thomas believed saving faith was inexorably tied to the scriptures as God's word is the only foundation for salvation. Thomas like Calvin denied implicit faith and held to a knowledge of Christ and the gospel doctrines as saving. Thomas did believe that assurance was grounded in Christ and his work alone and believers' obedience was to be out of love and gratitude and not law. Thomas's most famous work is Human Nature in Its Fourfold State and his study notes in current publications of The Marrow of Modern Divinity. For more on Thomas Boston consult Calvin and Scottish Theology by M. Charles Bell.

John Glas (1695-1773)- Theologian and founder of the independent Kirk of Scotland known as "Glasites" in Britain and" Sandemanians", after his son-in-law, in America. Originally in the Church of Scotland, John came to disagree with the establishment on National covenants and asserted that the church is a called out people as Christ's kingdom is not of this world. He led his congregation in this direction and was ousted by the Church of Scotland. John believed in taking the scriptures in a more literal sense and desired a return to a more primitive christianity. He rejected the use of confessions, believing them to be inappropriate substitutes for the sufficient scriptures. He held that "saving faith" is the bare belief of the bare record of scripture. To deny this is to deny both "Faith Alone" and "Scripture Alone". Despite these views he continued to hold to infant baptism. His most influential work is The Testimony of the King of Martyrs written in 1725. The movement he started would be extended and defended by his controversial and able-minded son-in-law Robert Sandeman.

Robert Sandeman(1718-71)- Theologian, Author, Glasite Elder, missionary and Popularizer of "Sandemanism". As an elder in the Glasite Church and husband of John Glas' daughter, Katherine, Robert popularized the Glasite faith in his magnum opus, Letters on Theron and Aspasio. Robert wrote this as a reply to the popular Puritan work, Dialogues Between Theron and Aspasio by James Hervey. In this classic work, Robert covered such topics as Christ's atoning work on the cross, how the gospel is to be presented, the natures of mystery and reason in the scripture, and finally the Biblical meaning of saving faith. Robert's understanding of saving faith was in contrast to that of the "popular preaching" of his day. Although a Calvinist himself, the Puritans' idea of faith as including the will and "holy affections", as taught in Dialogues, seemed to Robert a works-oriented salvation. For Robert, "Everyone then who is born of the spirit lives merely by what he hears without his performing any duty at all unless we shall say it was the duty of Lazarus to hear and live upon the uttering of the call come forth" (Letters, p88). Again he says on page 126, "It is a commandment not requiring anything of us but bestowing life by the knowledge which it conveys: for the belief or knowledge of Christ is happiness as Jesus says this is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent. The belief or knowledge of a comfortable truth is not work or labor but rest and peace...". For Robert, salvation was by Christ's work alone and known by the gift of faith alone. Robert led churches in Edinburgh and London for many years until 1764 when he brought his teaching to America. He formed churches in Pennsylvania and neighboring states and finally came to reside in Danbury,Connecticut where he is buried in the Old Wooster Cemetery in which his head stone reads, "Here lies until the resurrection the body of Robert Sandeman, a native of Perth, North Britain; who in the face of continual opposition from all sorts of men, long and boldly contended for the ancient faith that the bare work of Jesus Christ, without a deed or thought on the part of man, is sufficient to present THE CHIEF OF SINNERS spotless before God; To declare this blessed Truth as testifyed in the Holy Scriptures, he left his Country, he left his Friends; and after much patient suffering, finished his labors at Danbury, April 2 1771 AE. 53" and on the lower part is the poem "Deigned Christ to come so nigh to us As not to count it shame, To call us Brethren, should we blush At aught that bears his name? Nay, let us boast in his reproach, And glory in his cross; When he appears, one smile from him Will far o'erpay our loss". His teaching outside of Scotland became known as Sandemanianism, (more properly Sandemanism.) Although his church in America is no longer in existence and there are only a handful of Sandemanians (Glasites) left in Scotland, variations of his influence have been represented in reformed denominations at some point in time and still are to this day.

Archibald McLean (1733-1812) -Former member of the Glasite church and a cofounder of the Scotch Baptists along with his mentor Robert Carmichael. Archibald and Robert found John Glas's interference in a disciplinary matter in their Glasgow congregation too intrusive and withdrew from his association. Having sympathizers in Edinburgh the men went there and started a new congregation with the seven former Glasites there. Archibald had been having doubts about paedobaptism anyway not finding it in the Bible and felt to truly get back to "primitive Christianity" baptism should be of believers only. He confided his convictions with Robert who agreed and went to London to be baptized by the famous Baptist pastor John Gill. Robert then returned to Edinburgh and baptized the congregation there. Robert shortly thereafter, left the Bristo Place Scottish Baptist Church for a church in Dundee, leaving Archibald as the primary elder. Archibald wrote voluminously on the doctrines of scripture causing much controversy even with his former associate John Glas over believer's baptism. Archibald, nonetheless, agreed firmly with Glas and Sandeman that faith is simply belief of the truth and that any additions denied sola fide. This later brought him into conflict with Andrew Fuller, the pastor of the baptist church at Kettering, England who is popular for his moderating calvinism. Fuller upon reading McLean's views on faith responded, eventually leading to his Strictures on Sandemanianism. McLean is considered to be the founder of the Baptist church in Scotland as Scottish Baptist churches formed over Great Britain through his books and articles he wrote for John Rippon's(Gill's successor) Annual Register 2. The Scottish Baptist Churches differed from their English and American counterparts in church government as the Scottish Baptists believed in a plurality of elders to run the affairs of the church and of course his views of faith which were considered Glasite/Sandemanian and hence the animadversions of the English Baptist pastor John Brine and the American Baptist pastor Isaac Backus to the work of Robert Sandeman would apply to McLean as well. His works also inspired the Irish born, Scottish educated Alexander Campbell who along with Barton Stone started the Restoration Movement in America. This movement ,however, taught in the Christian/Disciples of Christ/Churches of Christ churches, does not faithfully represent McLean as it degenerated into Arminianism and Baptismal Regeneration. See the 6 volume works of Archibald M'Lean for a detailed analysis of his doctrine.

Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847)- Mathematician and Theological leader in the Free Church movement in Scotland. Thomas became disgusted with the current social conditions of his time and set about a return to the scriptural way of relief for the poor. He taught the poor should work (2 these. 3:10), relatives should care for there own (1 Tim. 5:4), and only as a last resort charity from neighbors, the rich and the church. Thomas came to see the need for a disjunction in church and state and headed up a group which led to the formation of the Free Church in Scotland. Thomas was a Calvinist in his theology and held to a Scottish Common Sense Realism. Thomas is also the formulator of the "Gap Theory" of creation which says that their is a gap of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 lasting for millions or billions of years in which dinosaurs and other early lifeforms lived and Lucifer fell bringing down God's judgment and subsequent recreation starting with Genesis 1:2. This view was elaborated on by George Pember in his Earth's Earliest Ages and popularized by C.I. Scofield in his Scofield Reference Bible which has come to be called the "Divine Judgement theory".

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Scottish Legacy Part 1

Throughout the years, Scotland has been the impetus of some of the most landmark movements in history. The thinkers behind these movements have made so great an impact that to this day, whether for good or bad their legacy still survives. In this article, I will list a number of these movers and shakers and give a brief bio of their importance in history.

John Duns Scotus-(1266-1308), a Roman Catholic theologian and philosopher of
the Franciscan order famous for his views, which were often at odds with the highly revered thought of the Dominican Thomas Aquinas. John Duns is actually his name but "Scotus" was added indicating he was from Scotland. Some of the key ideas of "Scotism", the name given his philosophic thought, are first, John believed in a univocal concept of God contra Thomas Aquinas or "Thomism" which held to an analogical concept of God. This means that for Scotism truth has the same meaning for God as it does for his creatures. Thomism, however, believed truth, although related , is different for creatures due to their aquiring knowledge though the senses. Scotism held to what many believe to be a more "realistic" view of reality as opposed to Thomism which held a more conceptual view of reality. Scotism also held to a more voluntarist view, believing God makes something good by commanding it as such as opposed to the essentialist view of Thomism which held that something, the law for instance, is inherently good and therefore God is just announcing it as such. Finally, Scotism believed in "prime matter," contra his fellow Franciscan Bonaventure, which says that angels being spiritual beings, exist without form or matter. Bonaventure held that created spirit beings have some form or matter which distinguishes them from the being of God.

John Knox(1514-72), The father of the Reformation in Scotland, he came to protestant beliefs through a tutor named Thomas Guillaume and then was further influenced by George Wishart who inspired his call to preach. Wishart was learned in the views of both Luther and Zwingli and taught them to Knox but when Wishart was martyred, Knox came to what he called "a perfect school of Christ" in Geneva, Switzerland where he was trained by John Calvin. Knox led Scotland in the doctrines of the reformation which are salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone. He also consistently applied these doctrines and faithfully taught the doctrines of grace which are the Total depravity of man, or that man cannot save himself from his sin, Unconditional election, or God chooses whom he saves on the basis of his grace and not human works, Limited atonement, or Christs death definitely accomplishes its purpose to save God's elect, Irresistable grace, or God's grace saves man without human aid, and the Perseverance of the saints, or God's children(elect) are given eternal life and cannot die by losing their salvation. These doctrines are called by the acronym of TULIP and are often referred to as Calvinism.

Andrew Melville(1545-1622), The founder of Presbyterianism in Scotland and around the world.Most people think John Knox founded the Presbyterian denomination but that honor is due to Andrew Melville. While it is true Melville built off of Knox and the two agreed essentially in theology, Knox was friendlier to episcopacy, or the Anglican church, than was Melville. Knox considered himself a preacher of the gospel and not an ecclesiastical organizer. Melville was opposed to all forms of "prelacy" and so laid the foundation of the presbyterian structure for the kirk(church) of Scotland. Melville also introduced the thoughts of Peter Ramus to the academia of Scotland in contrast to the Aristotelian logic commonly taught which caused no small controversy.

John Cameron(1579-1625), The founder of the school of thought known as Amyraldism often called 4 point calvinism and sometimes moderate calvinism. Cameron was a firm advocate of Ramist philosophy and therefore departmentalized knowledge instead of systematizing it and so was comfortable with apparent contradictions. Cameron agreed with the orthodoxy in his acceptance of the doctrine of predestination and his rejection of the Arminian scheme but disagreed in his belief that Christ died for the whole world, elect and reprobate, and not the elect alone. Cameron held to a "hypothetical universalism" in that hypothetically if a reprobate person were to believe he would be saved but because he does not believe this is the cause of his judgement and damnation as spoken in John 3:18. Although he was charged with novelty Cameron denied this vehemently and quoted John Calvin extensively. The english theologian and representative to the Synod of Dort in 1618, John Davenant, agreed with Cameron and, while holding firmly to predestination and despising the Arminianism of the Remonstrants, attempted to keep out the doctrine of limited atonement. This same spirit would rear its head in the Westminster meetings 30 years later in Edmund Calamy who declared "I am far from universal redemption in the Arminian sense; but that I hold is in the sense of our divines in the Synod of Dort, that Christ did pay a price for all... that Jesus Christ did not only die sufficiently for all, but God did intend, in giving Christ, and Christ in giving himself, did intend to put all men in a state of salvation in case they do believe...". Cameron also held to the unorthodox views of denying the active obedience of Christ is imputed to believers for justification, and he held to a three covenant system as opposed to the traditional covenant of nature and covenant of grace system. Cameron was successor to the illustrious Calvinist, Franciscus Gomarus at the University of Saumer in France as the professor of Divinity. Saumer was in that day one of the largest protestant schools in the world, in large part to the reputation of men like Gomarus, and so the influence of Cameron's teaching would be felt all over. Although Cameron's life was cut short by being beat to death by a crowd of people in a riot in France his cause would be taken up by one of his prized students by the name of Moise Amyraut. Later popular Amyraldists would include the presbyterian and sometime antagonist of the puritan John Owen, Richard Baxter and the baptist John Bunyan. For current Amyraldist works consult Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649 by R.T. Kendall, Atonement and Justification by Alan Clifford, The Extent of the Atonement by G. Michael Thomas and Did John Calvin Teach Limited Atonement? which is Appendix A in Curt Daniel's Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill . For critiques see The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by John Owen and The Cause of God and Truth by John Gill and more recently The Will of God and the Cross by Jonathan Rainbow.

Thomas Reid(1710-96), Founder of the school of philosophy called Scottish Common Sense Realism or the Scottish School. This school taught that man has a common sense which is not learned inductively or by polls but by intuition. According to Reid the principles speak for themselves. People know things cannot contradict and both be true intuitively. No one can deny everything they see, feel, hear,touch or taste as being real consistently. To live as if you are the only person in the universe or to deny these principles is to live a lie. This philosophy was brought to America by John Witherspoon, signer of the Declaration of Independence and President of the College of New Jersey now Princeton University, and was the prevailing philosophy in the glory days of old Princeton under Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge and Benjamin Warfield displacing the philosophy of Jonathan Edwards. It's influence was felt in conservative Christian and Calvinist schools all over the country until the early part of the twentieth century when the Dutch School and its offshoot presuppositionalism starting making inroads. The Dutch School being led by such thinkers as Abraham Kuyper and Herman Bavinck and presuppositionalism by Cornelius VanTil and Gordon Clark has now eclipsed the Scottish School among Calvinists. Other leading Scottish Realists include James McCosh and Thomas Chalmers. For current treatments read Classical Apologetics by John Gerstner, R.C. Sproul and Arthur Lindsley and Where in the World is the Church by Michael Horton.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Lamentations # 2

Cornelius Van Til was a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary for many years before his death in the mid 1980's and trained many young men in the doctrines of Grace and for that God be praised. His apologetics, however, leave much to be desired. In his book, An Introduction to Systematic Theology, he states on page 11 "Christians should therefore never appeal to the law of contradiction as something that as such determines what can or cannot be true." The Bible, however, states in 1 Corinthians 14:33 that "God is not a God of confusion but of peace." The law of noncontradiction flows from the Logos. Jesus tells us in Mark 3:24 that "if a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand". In Galatians 1:8 we are told " if we or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!" We better use the law of noncontradiction to determine what is being preached to us.

Lamentations # 1

Every once in a while a person who should know better makes a statement that is utterly ridiculous. But as James 3:2 states "...If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man..." As I come across these, I will list them as Lamentations.

In his review of the book, Classical Apologetics, by John Gerstner, R.C. Sproul, and Arthur Lindsley, Gordon Clark writes "The authors state, 'Non-Christians cannot use reason and logic to keep down the truth. They have to violate them.' Again this is a false statement. Non-Christians do not have to violate logic. Many of their arguments are perfectly valid."

Jesus says in John 14:6 "I am the way, the truth and the life..." In John 1:1, Jesus is called the Logos. Nothing can keep down the truth by logic. Any "logic" that is not true is a "science falsely so-called" 1 Timothy 6:20. Who has a "valid" reason not to believe in God? In Job chapters 38-42 God shows there are none.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Gordons and the Reformation in Scotland

The Gordons are a clan of nobility and distinction in the annals of Scottish history. Although also owning lands in the Dumfries area of southern Scotland, the heraldry of the Gordons comes from the lands in Strathbogie in Aberdeenshire granted them by King Robert the Bruce in the highlands. According to R.R. McIan in his book The Clans of the Scottish Highlands " the Gordons of the north were at one time all powerful, and single handed, were at times opposed to government." Being the lieutenants to the north ( the Campbells were the Kings lieutenants to the south) the Gordons were given the nickname "the cock of the north". The Gordons took their charge seriously and had a penchant for battle. This led them to many conflicts with neighboring clans, especially the Macintoshes, Camerons and the Murrays. They loved conflict so much that they fought with smiles on their faces and hence earned the nickname " the gay Gordons". These facts ,however, would lead to their inevitable downfall but also ensure victory for John Knox and the Reformation in Scotland.

George Gordon the 4th Earl of Huntly was the chief of the clan in that day and was a leading Catholic stalwart. George was an unpredictable man, however, and was according to Antonia Fraser in her book Mary Queen of Scots , "totally untrustworthy in the final analysis, in all except that which intimately concerned his own clan." George ,with the power of the Gordons making him a rival to the monarchy, was quite open about his disapproval of some of the policies of Queen Mary Stuart. Although Mary and George were first cousins and George had been raised by her father James the 5th, she would brook no dissension. Mary knew, however, that it would take something serious for an assault on such a powerful and prestigious clan as the Gordons. Her wait was short lived.

John Gordon, one of George's nine sons, severely injured Lord Ogilvie while fighting on a street in Edinburgh. John sought refuge from his father and fled to Huntly. Mary insisted on George turning over of John for prosecution but was refused. This lit the fuse which would finally explode when in September 11, 1562 Alexander Gordon, another son of George, refused Mary entrance into her castle at Inverness which he kept for her while she was away due to his position as Sheriff of Inverness. After hanging Alexander, Mary wasted no time in going about doing away with her rivals to the north. This victory for Mary was a political but pyrrhic one as without the Gordons, the north was opened to the reformers. This civil war of powerful Catholics caused division and thankfully by God's grace allowed the truth to be heard in Scotland. John Knox's prayer of "give me Scotland" was graciously answered in the affirmative.

Although a Gordon, my faith in the doctrines of Grace and scripture alone contrary to Papal lies, make me thankful that the truth was made available so that my forebears and the rest of Scotland were able to hear the truth. For more information on the Gordons go to and also check on a search engine for Gordon's Calvary as it was a Gordon who may have discovered Golgotha and the garden tomb of Christ in Jerusalem.

Monday, September 04, 2006


The existence of evil in light of God's omnipotence and goodness appears to some a problem . Those who hold to Free Will think they have the answer by saying man's free will creates evil and that it is only a problem for Calvinists. Conservative theologians grant God's omnipotence and so the purpose of this discussion is to reveal from the scriptures that God determines everything that happens and that everything that happens is for his pleasure and therefore good. The answer to them is a simple reference to the scriptures in Romans 9:20 which says "who are you, O man, who answers back to God?" It is a presumption to think we can decide for God what is good.

Inconsistencies from some who hold to predestination add fuel to the free willer fire. John MacArthur, a popular Pastor, Author of the MacArthur Study Bible, and a Calvinist, says in reference to God's hardening act in Romans 9:18, that it does not refer to God's creating unbelief but that he merely withdrew his influence from Pharaoh. He later shows from his comments on verses 22 and 23 that he believes God only allows or permits sin. A short time ago, I read the minutes of an ordination service of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, a conservative Calvinist denomination, where they ordained an elder who denied that God ordains sin. The ramifications of this thinking are devastating. The fall becomes just an accident, Christ's death a chance happening, and ultimately God is not in control.

The Bible in distinction says in Isaiah 45:7 that God causes peace and creates evil. In Proverbs 16:4 we learn that God creates the wicked for the day of evil, in Lamentations 3:38 we learn that from the mouth of the most high comes both good and evil, and Isaiah 63:17 asks "Oh Lord, why have you made us stray from your ways and harden our heart from your fear?" These verses clearly articulate that God is the ultimate cause of everything. God is glorified by demonstrating his wrath and judgment on the reprobate.

In his book, Chosen But Free, Norman Geisler argues that man's actions are caused by himself or "self-caused actions." Geisler does this under the rubric of moderate Calvinist. This line of thinking leads him to redefine all 5 points of Calvinism and therefore disqualifies him as even a moderate Calvinist. True moderate Calvinists, like W.G.T. Shedd, Curt Daniel, and John MacArthur, as listed above, although alot more careful theologians than Norman Geisler, come very close to this in their denial of God's ordaining evil.

Moderate Calvinists argue that James 1:13-18 is proof that God does not cause evil. The purpose of these verses is however to indicate that God is not the immediate cause of evil but not to contradict the verses listed above which clearly indicate he is the ultimate cause of evil. They also claim this from 1 Corinthians 14:33, but once again, this is merely God's preceptive will for speakers in the church and not indicative of God's decretive will. In 2 Chronicles 18:19-23, we learn that God used a spirit to lie in the mouth of the prophets so that Ahab would fall. In 2 Thessalonians 2:11, we learn that God will send a strong delusion that people will believe a lie. God [Rex] is ex lex. God cannot steal as everything belongs to him. God cannot murder although he kills all the time. God's jealousy is perfectly justified and righteous.

This precious doctrine should not lead to a "qué será será" way of thinking nor does it justify sin. The elect will hear God's voice, love him and follow him, keeping his commandments. However, I can rest that my sin will not frustrate God's plans as "we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God to those who are called according to his purpose" Romans 8:28.

For further enlightenment on this very important matter, I highly recommend God and Evil by Gordon Clark, The Justification of God by John Piper, No Place for Sovereignty by R.K. McGregor Wright, The Serpent of Paradise by Erwin Lutzer and A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith by Robert L. Reymond.