Sunday, October 07, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
With movements like the Federal Vision and the New Perspective on Paul(NPP) redefining justification to be by the christian's faithfulness as opposed to faith in Christ, it is important to consider the position of another group damaging the cause of Christ. Zane Clark Hodges is a Pastor of Victor Street Bible Church in Dallas, Texas and a graduate of and former professor at the dispensational Dallas Theological Seminary. In lieu of his former influence at Dallas, Zane is a founder and leader in a movement that has caused much confusion in its perversions of God's word. As a dispensationalist, Zane makes no bones about his disagreements with Reformed theology. In spite of this ,however, he and his comrades at the Grace Evangelical Society(GES), a ministry organized to propagate the theology of Zane, claim to hold to the reformation tenet of sola fide and claim the support of the reformers themselves. Because of this, their teaching must be examined to see if their claims are true. This study will focus on Zane's doctrine of salvation(soteriology) as this is his major error. At the outset I want to say that Zane holds to many scriptural truths such as the Trinity, deity of Christ and the inerrancy of scripture among many others and so to agree with him in some areas does not indicate either a necessary influence or association with him or his ilk. This is important to note as many groups attempt to dissuade people from the truth by using the "fruit of the poisoned tree doctrine" knowing that most people will not be discerning enough to search for the truth.
Zane on Faith as a Gift
Zane claims to hold to a salvation that is absolutely free, and yet he denies faith is a gift from God in his book Absolutely Free! (AF) on page 219 where he states "The Bible never affirms that saving faith per se is a gift". If salvation is absolutely free it must be a gift and if faith is essential to salvation as the scriptures indicate in Ephesians 2:8, Romans 3:28 and John 3:16 then faith itself must be a gift or salvation is not absolutely free as I must do something to get it. His claim that the Bible never affirms saving faith as a gift shows his lack of knowledge of scripture as Philippians 1:29 clearly states it is given to us to believe in Christ. In his book The Gospel Under Siege on page167 Zane elaborates this thought by saying "It is often claimed by theologians that man has no capacity to believe and that faith, like salvation, must be given to him as a gift. But this view is contradicted by 2 Corinthians 4:3,4 where Paul writes: 'But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.'" and later states "God's role in bringing men to faith is therefore revelatory" revealing his blindness of scripture which states in Mark 4:11,12 "And He said to them. 'To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them.'" What is given to us is the ability to know the truth of revelation, which is faith. We can now see that Zane holds to the Arminian view of "free will" and that believing earns justification and salvation. This is called neonomianism in theology circles. Neonomianism believes the ten commandments saved in the Old Testament but in the New Testament it is, in this case, the law of faith or in other cases the law of love. In contrast, scripture teaches the elect "were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13) and again it says "it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy" (Romans 9:16). Zane and other Arminians may say yeah but in John 1:12 it is to those that receive Christ that are saved to which I say a hearty amen. But what they fail to understand is that receiving Christ equals believing in him. As the Holy Spirit baptizes the person in Christ, regenerating him, that person has received Christ and believes. I receive phone calls and mail all the time without any action of my own. When I was born in the flesh, my parents did not ask my opinion on the matter, nor does God on the new birth.
Zane on the Atonement
For all his talk of the gospel of grace being under seige, eclipsed and absolutely free, it is surprising that Zane makes only passing reference to the doctrine of the atonement in his books. In his book Absolutely Free! on page 85 Zane says " Frequently (though not always) lordship salvation is combined with a harsh system of thought that denies the reality of God's love for every single human being. According to this kind of theology, God dooms most men to eternal damnation long before they are born and really gives His Son to die only for the elect." He later states "It does not lie within the scope of this book to deal with this tragic error." The atonement is essential to the gospel. Any book trying to prove an "absolutely free" gospel must deal with the death of Christ and who He died for. It is clear,however, from his quote and reference to the book Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649 by R.T. Kendall, that Zane holds that Christ died for every human being. For this to be true,however, everyone must therefore go to heaven as Christ's death is the basis for our salvation to be absolutely free. On the cross Christ cried out "It is finished" (John 19:30) completing his task of earning our salvation. If Christ died for all humans and not just for "His people" as the Bible says in Matthew 1:21, and not all go to heaven, then salvation is not "absolutely free" and we must do something to earn it. The reformer, John Calvin , contra Kendall, believed Christ died for the elect and referred to universal redemptionists as "buffoons" in one place. Calvin states, "Besides, we note that St. Paul does not speak here of anyone but the faithful (fidelis). For there are certain buffoons who, to blind the eyes of the ignorant and others like themselves, want to cavil here that the grace of salvation is given to us because God ordained that his Son should be the Redeemer of the human race, but that this is common to all, and indiscriminate." (quoted from The Will of God and the Cross by Jonathan Rainbow p. 123) . The Bible is clear that Christ came only to serve and give His life "a ransom for many (the elect)" (Matt. 20:28).
Zane on Perseverance
Zane states in his book Absolutely Free! on page 80 " The simple fact is that the New Testament never takes for granted that believers will see discipleship through to the end. And it never makes this kind of perseverance either a condition or a proof of final salvation from hell". He later states on page 138 that Christians can reject a good conscience and suffer shipwreck of the faith as Hymenaeus and Alexander did in 1 Tim. 1:19-20. Zane has even been quoted as stating in a sermon that Christians can become atheists but should not be thought to be going to hell, as they once professed belief. Scripture is clear, however, in 1 John 2:19 that " They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us". True faith perseveres. As faith is a gift from God, we can be confident that "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6) . Zane's reference to Hymenaeus as being a Christian reveals again his lack of insight in the Word of God. 2 Timothy 2:17-21 clearly indicates that Hymenaeus is not in the faith. Verse 19 states "the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: The Lord knows those who are His" and in verse 20 we learn that " in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor". Finally, Hebrews 10:39 tells us " But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul". Perseverence is clearly a gift included in our salvation.
Zane On Faith
One area I find some agreement between Zane and myself is on his definition of faith in chapter 2 of AF. Zane holds to a literal understanding of faith as opposed to the figurative or metaphorical view of the pietists and revivalists. Theologians of today often trichotomize faith into three psychological categories notitia, assensus and fiducia. This usually leads to an unscriptural distinction between "head faith" and "heart faith". This teaching says that there are real gospel believers going to hell because they believed only intellectually and lacked "holy affections". They often quote from James 2:19 that the demons believe but are going to hell. While it is a truth that the elect love Christ because he first loved us (1 John 4:19), we must first believe in Christ in order to love Him. Hebrews 11:6 says "without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him". Belief precedes any and all "holy affections" and is the basis for those affections. 1 John 3:6 teaches that "whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him" and in 4:8 says "he who does not love does not know God, for God is love". Clearly the reprobate do not believe God. As for the demons faith, it clearly makes them tremble and so is real but faith is not what saves, Christ as the object does and we know from Hebrews 2:16 that "He does not give aid to the angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham". It is only through the definite atonement and imputed righteousness of Christ that we are saved through faith. I say only some agreement, however, because for Zane, faith is the one thing our "free will" can do to earn salvation. For Zane, faith is a magic formula akin to an "abracadabra" or an "open sesame" earning our way to heaven. Scripture teaches that it is the definite atonement and imputed righteousness of Christ that saves man. They grant new life to a person, opening blind eyes to see, and deaf ears to hear the truth of the Gospel, which is faith. It is the object of faith that saves and not the faith itself.
Zane On Sanctification
Zane sees a difference between "salvation" and "discipleship". On page 68 of AF he states that "discipleship is obviously hard, while eternal life is free", on page 74 he states that discipleship "has to a willingness to work, and to work hard" and finally on page 88 "Salvation is absolutely free; discipleship most certainly is not". This again is not in line with scripture. While it is true that not every disciple was a believer, every believer is a disciple of Christ. Every Christian answers as Peter did in John 6:68 "Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life". The word disciple means follower. Why would a Christian believer follow Buddha? Why would a person who followed Mohammed be called a Christian? In John 10:27 Jesus tells us "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me". Also, discipleship like "salvation" is by faith and not hard. Paul asks us in Galations 3:3, " having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh" and verse 5 asks "He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law , or by the hearing of faith". Jesus contrary to Zane says in Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light". Discipleship is the aspect of salvation called sanctification, where God sets His people apart from the world and sin. It is by faith(John 17:17) and it is not hard but sets us free(John 8:32).
Is Zane A Sandemanian?
Two men who are often slighted as being predecessors of Zane, and accused of holding to his errors are Robert Sandeman and Gordon Clark. J.I. Packer accuses Sandeman of this in the foreword to John MacArthur's book The Gospel According to Jesus. Also Michael Makidon of the GES wrote an article at http://www.faithalone.org/journal/2002i/makidon.pdf on Robert and his ministry. In a guilt by association way Gordon Clark is accused by Banner Of Truth as being a Sandemanian at http://www.banneroftruth.org/pages/articles/article_detail.php?719 . This is not so for either men. Both Robert Sandeman and Gordon Clark held firmly to Christ's definite atonement and imputed righteousness. To these men salvation is a gift of God from start to finish. I encourage readers to read these men for themselves, as much that is written about them is false witness. Robert Sandeman's theology is clearly presented in his magnum opus Letters On Theron and Aspasio, which is no longer in print but available on Thomson-Gale. I owe a debt of gratitude to Sandeman for my ordering of thoughts in this critique of Zane and the GES. Gordon Clark's works include Predestination, God and Evil and What is Saving Faith? and are available at http://www.trinityfoundation.org/ . Lord willing, I intend to do thorough treatments of these much maligned men in the future as they are two of my heroes in the faith. I have done a short bio of Robert at The Scottish Legacy part 2 at this site.
Zane and the GES are not in the tradition of either the Reformers, Robert Sandeman, Gordon Clark or most importantly of Scripture. I put the link to the GES so the reader can read for himself what they are saying or order his books if you so wish. His main books are Absolutely Free! , The Gospel Under Seige and Grace In Eclipse. Two other major works disseminating his theology are The Reign of The Servant Kings by Joseph Dillow and The Other Side Of Calvinism by Laurence Vance. For another critique of Zane from an Arminian and dispensational group go to the Middletown Bible Church in Connecticutt site at http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/doctrine/hodgesho.htm . This site includes many quotes from Zane's sermons I do not have access to and is important in noting the differences in arminianisms. For a critique advocating the "traditional" trichotomizing of faith see The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur and Faith Alone and other works by RC Sproul.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
As I use the term Reformed to descibe both my theology and the theology taught in the Bible, I feel it important for readers who may not be familiar with the term to understand what it means and in what context I use it. "Reformed" is dependent upon its context. In its first context it can describe and include the christian movement in the 16th century, headed by such lights as Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, John Knox and Menno Simons, which broke away from the Catholic church in protest of its apostasy. These men by the grace of God and through the leading of the Holy Spirit came to see the Bible as teaching Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus and Soli Deo Gloria. Sola Scriptura is latin for the Bible (Scriptures) alone. This means that true christians go by the authority of the Bible alone to the exclusion of church tradition, Papal decrees, uninspired writings or even human laws when these thing contradict the Bible. The Bible claims for itself this authority in 2 Tim. 3:16, 2 Peter 1:20,21 and many other places. The Bible has been completed and is not being written today as there are no apostles alive today( for more on this I direct the reader to my blog on The Holy Bible). Sola Gratia is latin for Grace alone. Reformed theology believes salvation is by grace alone (Eph. 2:8,9). Man can only make it to heaven by God's love, mercy, forgiveness and unmerited favor as "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"(Rom. 3:23). Sola Fide is latin for Faith alone. Faith is the only instrument involved in man's justification and salvation. It follows regeneration and is itself a gift of God (Rom. 3:20,28 and Eph. 2:8-10). Menno Simons differed from the others in his definition of faith but he too claimed faith alone. Menno defined faith as being active and a lifestyle, as opposed to the others, for whom faith is passive, intellectual and focused on Christ, who is the next Sola in Solus Christus. This is latin for Christ alone, whose deity, virgin birth, perfect life, death on the cross, burial and bodily resurrection is the object of our saving faith (1 Cor. 15, Heb. 12:20). Menno, again looked at Christ more as an example in contrast to the others who looked on him as a substitute, earning our righteousness to be imputed to us through faith, paying the debt of our sin. Both, however, looked on Christ as Lord. Soli Deo Gloria is latin for "to God alone the Glory". This means that our salvation and all creation are intended for the glory of God (Prov. 16:4). All creation exists to glorify God.
The second use of the term Reformed is as a denomination. Of the above listed Reformers, the congregations started by Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin combined to form the Reformed denomination. Martin Luther's congregation came to be known as Lutheran, Knox's became Presbyterian and Menno Simons followers are currently called Mennonites and Amish. The Reformed denomination is exclusive and is indicative of the churches of Switzerland, and the Netherlands and in America is sometimes referred to as "Dutch" Reformed for clarification purposes.
The third and final use is the system deduced from the Bible taught in the Reformed denomination. This use is an umbrella that can cover a number of different denominations that are in agreement with the fundamental principles of the Reformed denomination. Some denominations like the Presbyterians are closer in agreement than others such as Baptists or Episcopalians but nonetheless some Baptist and Episcopal churches are considered Reformed. The main parts of the system have come to be known by the acronym T.U.L.I.P. This stands for Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace and Perseverance of the Saints.
We hold these as Scripture tells us in Romans 3:23 "that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" and in Isaiah 64:5,6 we learn we need to be saved because all our righteousness is like filthy rags. Mankind has not kept God's law and indeed cannot perfectly and therefore needs to be saved. 1 Peter 1:2 tells us we were elect for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ and not because of them. 2 Timothy 1:9 tells us we were saved and called "not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began" and Eph. 2:8,9 says we are saved "not of works, lest anyone should boast". Ephesians 5:25 says Christ loved the church and died for her and this was according to the eternal purpose of God (Eph. 3:11). Also Christ's intercessory prayer in John 17 is not for the world verse 9 but for the present and future elect verse 20. The elect we learn are called by Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:6) and are called to be saints (Rom. 1:7) according to the divine purpose (Rom. 8:28) and that this calling is destined from and for an eternity (Rom. 8:30). Finally, we elect are confident that He who has begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6) for we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul (Heb. 10:39) because God is able to keep us from stumbling and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory (Jude 24).
This third use is the use I refer to when describing myself and is the use I mean most in using the term. As indicated by the different denominations, there are differences amongst reformed scholars. Differences involving church practices(believer baptism or paedobaptism), understanding of future events(a, pre or post millenial) and Bible interpretation(grammatico-historical, redemptive-historical or other) amongst others still persist. The biblical and soteriological emphasis involving the 5 sola's and T.U.L.I.P. listed above however define and unite us.
For more information consult What is Reformed Theology by R.C. Sproul, After Darkness,Light by R.C. Sproul Jr. and By His Grace and For His Glory: A Historical, Theological, and Practical Study of the Doctrines of Grace in Baptist Life by Thomas J. Nettles.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Monday, April 16, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Friday, January 26, 2007
In the beginning God created man in their image and according to the likeness of the Trinity( Gen. 1:26-28), giving him rational thought and the ability to communicate. At this time, Adam and Eve had direct communication with God even walking in the garden of Eden with Him ( Gen. 3:8,9). Due to the fall of man through disobedience this relationship was divorced. Man because of sin died spiritually that day and began the process of physical death. Man being separated from his creator began to experience turmoil, frustration and distress. God, however, in his grace and mercy promised a savior. God knew as the generations passed Man would forget what God had told him and so God set forth a way to communicate his instructions and reveal His Son the promised Saviour to him. Beginning with Moses, God would start what would become, what we call today, the Holy Bible.
Although the 66 books of the Bible were written by over 40 different people, every writer was inspired by God in their authorship (2 Tim. 3:16). This inspiration was not the inspiration of William Shakespeare to write his stories, however, but a moving of the exhaling of God as we learn in 2 Peter 1:20,21 "...that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." This inspiration is seen in the fact that these multiple authors writing over a span of over 1500 years coming from different stations in life as some were kings and some fishermen and others in-between all had a unanimity of purpose and design with historical and scientific accurateness. The Bible sets the standard for any work claiming to be from God, as it does, in the book of Deuteronomy chapter 18 in verse 22 where it says "when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him." In the Bible we read in the book of Isaiah chapter 44 starting in verse 28 that a man named Cyrus would rebuild the temple of Jerusalem. At the time of the writing the temple was still standing and Cyrus had not been born. It wasn't until approximately 100 years later that King Nebuchadnezzar would destroy the temple and then another 60 years that a Persian king named Cyrus would rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. Another example of scriptures accuracy in prophecy is 700 years before Jesus was born Isaiah wrote " therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel."(Isa. 7:14) and in Luke 1:35 we learn that an angel tells Mary that she will give birth to the Son of God even though she is a virgin. These are just a small sampling of the many fulfilled prophecies which set the Bible apart from other books, even books claimed to be God's word as the Koran and the Book of Mormon are.The accurateness, detail, purpose, consistency and origin also set the Bible apart from the false prophesies of men like Nostradamus and Edgar Cayce and the false books known as the apocrypha and pseudepigrapha.
The Inerrancy of Scripture
The writers of scripture, having been inspired by God, were inerrant in that writing. The scrolls penned by their hand in writing Scripture were infallible and authoritative to the church. This, however, does not mean the humans themselves were perfect or that everything they wrote was binding. In Galatians 2:11 we learn the apostle Peter had to be corrected by the apostle Paul for discrimination of the gentiles and 1 Corinthians 5:9 tells us of a letter written by Paul that was not Biblical. In writing the Bible, however, they were writing from God. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:37 "... that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord." and in Colossians 4:16 he commands his letter be sent to the other churches to be read by them as well( the Epistle in Laodicea coming to the Colossians was originally sent to the Ephesian church and was later given the name Ephesians). Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:15,16 " and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation- as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures." in which he clearly compares Paul's writings and his own to the other Scriptures. In the writing of Scripture, God used the authors personalities and unctions in most cases as in Luke 1:3 we read "it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus" but obviously in some cases God directly dictated to the author as in the case of Moses in writing the creation account in Genesis. Although the doctrine of inspiration and inerrancy only applies to the authors that actually penned the Scriptures in the original autographs, God has preserved his word through accurate and reliable copies throughout history . We read in Proverbs 25:1 that the proverbs of Solomon were copied by the men of Hezekiah, in Joshua 8:32 Joshua wrote a copy of the law of Moses, Jesus undoubtedly read from copies in Luke 4:16-21 and the parchments Paul called for in 2 Timothy 4:13 were most likely copies. Even today we have over 4700 copies of the Greek New Testament manuscripts. In some cases, as in 1 Samuel 13:1 the numbers have been lost over the years, but in none of the cases have any doctrines been lost.
The Authority of Scripture
The fact that the Bible is God's Word gives it authority. God as our creator and sustainer has a right to rule over us.The Bible is full of prescriptions of a religious, moral and ethical and professional nature. The Bible teaches us how to be proper husbands and wives (Eph.5:22-31), proper parents and children (Eph. 6:1-4), proper employees and employers (Eph. 6:5-9), proper neighbors (Matt. 22:39), proper citizens and rulers (Rom. 13:1-7) and most importantly, proper worshippers of the one true God (Matt. 22:37). The Bible forbids murder (Ex. 20:13),adultery (Ex. 20:14), stealing (Ex. 20:15), lying (Ex. 20:16), covetousness (Ex. 20:17), pride (Prov. 16:18), greed (1 Tim. 6:10), hate (Matt. 5:43), lust (Rom. 1:24), homosexuality (Rom. 1:26), false worship (Rom.1:25) and a host of other vices. Jesus, being God in the flesh the promised Saviour and Messiah, spoke with authority (Matt. 7:29). The Apostles also were given authority in the writing of scripture (2 Cor. 10:8).They were given the ability to perform miracles to authenticate their message and to reveal who they were (Matt. 10:1-4, Act 2). Apostles were ones who had seen the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:21,22) and were called by him to be an Apostle (Acts 9:1-16). To deny the Bible is to deny God's rule, His Son and to forfeit salvation and heaven.
The Formal principal of the Reformation, this Latin term means Scripture Alone. Martin Luther came to see that the edicts of the Pope and the practices of the Catholic church, with its addition of the Apocrypha, were not in accord with the Scriptures and so he started the reformation. Martin held fast to Jesus rebuke of human tradition over God's word as taught in Mark 7:5-17. The true church of Christ believes that the man of God is "equipped for every good work" by the scriptures alone (2 Tim.3:16,17) and that in walking in them we "lack nothing" (1 Thess. 4:12). The Bible has been completed. We have no apostles alive today as Paul was the last called Apostle (1 Cor. 15:8) and the Apostle John wrote the last book of the Bible in Revelation. We believe in the Bible to the exclusion of any Pope, Guru, Swami or cult leader. Although churches have pastors and elders to keep order and preach the truth (1 Tim. 3), they are to be checked ,as the Apostles were, by the Bible (Acts 17:10,11). We use Statements of Faith, Creeds and Catechisms to explain and summarize what we believe but this again is only secondary to the Holy Bible.Churches with so-called apostles in them today and ones that use books not of divine origin like the apocrypha and the Book of Mormon are false churches and deceiving people. Revelation is the last book of the Bible and we are not to add or take away from that book (Rev. 22:18,19).
3 Extremes to be Refuted
As with almost everything certain extremes have crept into the precious doctrine of Scripture Alone. The first is the idea that Scripture is the only truth we can know. Gary Crampton in his otherwise excellent book By Scripture Alone: the Sufficiency of Scripture states that "The Bible is sufficient for all the truth we need and all the knowledge we can have" (p89, italics mine). Earlier on the same page he stated that neither science,history or philosophy were needed to give knowledge.I would hope that the Doctor preparing to give surgery had read other books as well as the Bible. I am sure that the Geometry professor is using a book other than the Bible as a textbook and this is not wrong. Tying our shoes and a host of other things we can know are not in the Bible. This extreme should be avoided.
The second extreme builds on the first and is advocated by Kenneth Good in his book Are Baptists Reformed ?.This book is, as the other, a good read and has a good section on Baptist ecclesiology with which I agree. Kenneth, however, takes the position that the doctrine of necessary consequence is a violation of Scripture Alone.Necessary consequence says that Scripture has implicit teachings as well as explicit ones. To Kenneth this is Rationalism. What Kenneth fails to see is his own view is actually Irrationalism. The Bible teaches just as surely by implication as by explicit teaching. For instance, nowhere is Genesis does it say God created in a 24 hour day but we know he did because he says throughout the creation process the "morning and evening" were one day (Gen. 1).This extreme should be avoided.
The third extreme changes the doctrine of Scripture Alone to The King James Version Alone. This extreme says in essence that the King James translators were inspired by God as the Apostles were. This is clearly error as we saw earlier from scripture that Paul was the last called Apostle and only the Apostles were inerrant in their writing of scripture. This view also says only those who can speak english can read the Bible.Two good books discussing this aberrant view are The King James Only Controversy by James White and The King James Version Debate by D.A. Carson. This extreme should be avoided.
Nature and Scripture
While it is true that both nature and Scripture reveal truth, we must take into account which truths in distinction from one another they reveal. The Bible is clear in Psalm 19 that "The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows his handiwork".The word declare in Hebrew is Saphar and means to make known. Romans 1:20 also teaches that God is seen by the existence of creation. God uses his control over nature as proof of his authority over man in Job 38-42. Jesus expected some knowledge of nature as he says in Matthew 6:26 to look at the birds and in verse 28 to consider the lilies. He also assumed his disciples knew what salt was and what it was for in Matthew 5:13. Scripture alone ,however, reveals the good news of Jesus Christ as the virgin born Son of God, died in the place of sinners and was buried and three days later rose from the grave (1 Cor. 15:1-11).No mathematical formulation will reveal this. No archaelogical find will tell this truth.No microscope or telescope reveals this.Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17). So whereas nature is not a 67th book of the Bible as claimed in the book Creation and Time by Hugh Ross neither is nature to be refused its proper place.
Scripture is comprehensive and sufficient but not exhaustive. The glory and grandeur of God exceeds the binding of even the largest Bible.As we read in John 21:25 "And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen". Amen
Soli Deo Gloria
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Benjamin should have known that true Christianity bases its practice on scripture and not on tradition or "our hearts". Matthew 28:19 says to make disciples first and then baptise them, Mark 16:16 again qualifies baptism for believers, Acts 2:38 commands to repent and then be baptized and verse 41 goes on to show only "those who had received his word were baptized". 1 Peter 3:15 says to "always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you...". If paedobaptism is a Christian practice it should be scriptural and there should be a consensus on why it is performed.