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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we bessech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Episcopal Stations of the Cross: Christianity Today Blows It Again

[Note:  Since this blog article was originally posted Edith Humphrey converted to the Eastern Orthodox Church.  The theology of the EOC churches is notably semi-pelagian and not monergistic.  Ironic that Dr. Humphrey remains a professor at a mainline "Presbyterian" seminary.  It only shows how far down a seminary and a denomination goes when it rejects Scripture as the final authority and the classical Reformed confessions of faithIn the place of Scripture common grace, general revelation and reason become the ruling authority and from there relativism and irrationalism are the final word.  Note that Dr. Humphrey was at one time ordained with the Salvation Army.  Does anyone doubt that Arminianism leads to Rome or Constantinople?  Think again!  Click on the title above to see the Christianity Today article.  2/27/2012.  Charlie.]

In a recent critique, Christianity Today criticized the Episcopal Church for advocating a replacement of the traditional liturgy for the stations of the cross with goals for eliminating world poverty in the third millennium. While this was a worthy attempt at a critique, Christianity Today woefully blew it by distorting the Gospel themselves.

The author of the article, Susan Wunderink, quotes from Edith Humphrey, a professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (Presbyterian Church USA, which is itself liberal) to show Humphrey's disagreement. However, in posting Humphrey's remarks Wunderink tacitly endorses Humphrey's own distortion of the Gospel in Matthew 25's parable of the sheep and the goats:

"Like the song, "God Has No Hands But Our Hands," it forgets the sovereignty of God," she said. "God does use us, but he's the initiator. It's so sad to see the gospel diluted to simply being kind to others. I don't think that a gospel like that really communicates the grandeur of God and what he's done for us in Christ."
So far so good. However on page two of the article, Humphrey goes on to say:
The Episcopalian materials urge meditation on Matthew 25, Jesus' parable of the sheep and the goats, as "the mandate of Episcopal Relief and Development." Humphrey emphasized that there is much justification for the principles of the Millennium Development Goals in Scripture, but said that's not the point of Jesus' parable. Jesus, she said, was talking about how he will honor non-Christians' mercy and service to his representatives.


"It simply shows to me a lack of care in using the Scriptures in context," Humphrey said.


And here is the problem with Professor Humphrey's criticism of the liturgy. She herself winds up distorting the Gospel by allowing that "non-Christians" are somehow going to be saved simply by the good works that they did in mercy to Christ's "representatives." This is just another example of how Christianity Today has implied that justification is by faith plus works or has attacked the doctrine of justification by faith alone (sola fide), a cornerstone of the Protestant Reformation and the very Gospel itself. It seems obvious to me that Miss Humphrey is supportive of the Anglo-Catholic tradition which denies the doctrine of justification by faith alone which is taught in Scripture and in the English Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. Either that or her liberal theology has biased her against the exclusiveness of the way of salvation through the cross of Jesus Christ. It is indeed a sad day when an allegedly "evangelical" magazine pushes works righteousness as a means of justification before God for salvation.

The truth is that Matthew 25's parable of the sheep and the goats is directed to Christians in the visible church. By their fruits you will know who is a genuine Christian and who is not a genuine Christian (see Matthew 7:15-23). Likewise, in the final judgment many false Christians in the church will be exposed as goats and not sheep. Those who turn out to be false Christians will be lost. But this parable in no way implies that we are justified before God on the basis of our own merits, good works or any such thing. When interpreted in the total context of the Bible, including the pauline passages, sanctification is a necessary result of being justified by faith alone. However, sanctification is merely an outworking of a genuine conversion, the fruit of justification by faith alone. It is not and cannot be the means of justification before God for Christians or even non-Christians for that matter.

The fact that Jesus is talking about Christians is obvious from Matthew 25:34 where he refers to election from before the foundation of the world and verse 37 where he refers to them as "righteous." Since we know from Paul's apostolic teaching that the "righteous" are righteous by faith alone, then Matthew 25:37 cannot possibly refer to "non-Christians" as Miss Humphrey contends!

Miss Humphrey has betrayed her misunderstanding of the Gospel and so has Miss Wunderink by printing the comments without further criticism or remark. Miss Wunderink in effect has implied that Humphrey's remarks are correct, which they are not.

The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion clearly disagrees with Humphrey's interpretation of the Gospel:
XI. Of the Justification of Man.
WE are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort; as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.

XII. Of Good Works.
ALBEIT that good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins and endure the severity of God's judgement, yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.

XIII. Of Works before Justification.
WORKS done before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea, rather for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.
This is just another frustrating example of the ignorance of so-called "Evangelicals" who have no clue as to what the Gospel actually is. I am beginning to wonder if Christianity Today has any right to make any claims about the Gospel at all since the magazine is continually getting it wrong. I am by no means a "fundamentalist." I am merely a Protestant who holds firmly to the doctrines of the Bible and stands in the tradition of the Protestant Reformers.

May God have mercy!

Addendum:



Article XVIII


Of obtaining eternal salvation only by the name of Christ

They also are to be had accursed that presume to say that every man shall be saved by the law or sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that law and the light of nature. For Holy Scripture doth set out to us only the name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.
(See:  Stations of the Cross — Without the Cross  and Stations of the Millennium Development Goals
for the context of my comments and quotes for this article).

03/08/2012.  Addendum 2:  Since this story was written Edith Humphrey has converted to the Eastern Orthodox Church.  See:  Edith Humphrey:  About Me.  Apparently Pittsburg Theological Seminary does not have a problem with having professors on board who are not Protestant or Reformed or even Presbyterian.   See:  Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.  You will also notice that she was ordained with the Salvation Army for five years.  Does anyone doubt that Arminianism leads to Rome or Constantinople?  Think again.

Charlie

Addendum:  Matthew 7:21-23 makes it clear that the unrighteous think their works will justify them.  Only those who trust in the merits of Christ are truly justified and that justification is by means of the gift of faith alone.  The ground of justification is the objective work of Christ on the cross.  (John 19:30).

14 comments:

Dizma said...

The only difference between "liberals" is that some distort one and other distort another part of the Gospel. The result is no gospel at all.

Regards :)

Gil & Dennis said...

Hi Charlie:

This is off topic, but I appreciated coming across an "old" post talking about how one group (REC) has drifted from evangelical and Protestant Reformed roots.

Bear with me, but I'll get to a quick question after brief background:

I grew up "Dutch" Reformed. Much later in life God graciously brought me to faith in a "nondenominational community" church setting (it helped to have some people there using Sproul's "Holiness of God" and other sound teaching material).

Many had to leave that church because of departure from Biblically-based reverent worship, lack of discipline, etc. (all the things so common in broader "evangelical" circles today).

We landed in a 1928 BCP parish, kind of expected more of a Biblical fervor and theology expressed by J.I. Packer and others. Didn't get that at all, it was instead Arminian and--though low-church--not really tied to Thirty-Nine Articles and spirit of Reformation. (I know other Anglicans who can appreciate Sproul, Packer, MacArthur, Piper, etc. This parish didn't.)

We have moved and don't even have options such as this in area. If we did pursue Anglican church plant or seek others with similar bent, what "umbrella" groups would be most sympathetic to evangelical and Reformed? I know you mention Anglican Orthodox Church as one possibility. Any others? Just curious. THANKS again, even if you can't provide feedback.

Any input would be great. We do have a conservative Presbyterian option in case a church plant seems infeasible.

As an aside:

We've also learned a lot about how certain 1928 BCP changes were in fact departures from Biblical-Reformation theology in 1662 BCP.

Robin G. Jordan has been posting various comments about an "updated" 2008 BCP at a link I mention below, and has good insight into this history. Beside his article, even better to see his last lengthy remark near bottom of comments (under a heading The Anglican Tradition of Common Prayer)to see some comments on this topic.

It's an eye opener for some of us with limited Anglican background. http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=7921

Charlie J. Ray said...

Unfortunately, the Virtue Online website you mention is Anglo-Catholic. The Anglican Mission in America is in common cause with Anglo-Catholics, which is my complaint against the Reformed Episcopal Church. Basically, the Episcopal tradition here in the US has either gone charismatic/pentecostal or Anglo-Catholic, both of which are heretical movements which in effect deny the 5 solas of the Reformation either directly or indirectly.

The Traditional Protestant Episcopal Church is the only denomination I can find that is faithful to the English Reformation and the Reformed tradition. Unfortunately, they are apparently KJV only and bit on the fundamentalist side of things.

Hope this helps.

Edith Humphrey said...

Hey, you guys.

You know, since we are Christian brothers and sisters, you could contact ME if you have something to say about suspected mistakes in my theology, and not simply talk about it among yourselves. I really am approachable...remember what the Lord says about going to the person first???

About the parable of the sheep and goats. I may be wrong about that. The reason why I think that Jesus meant those outside the convenant is that is speaking about the "nations" in that parable--these are usually contrasted with those in the covenant family. In Jesus' own time, as he spoke the parable, this would have meant those outside of Judaism.

I certainly have no desire to suggest that people are redeemed on the basis of their own efforts. Jesus is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, and the only one who can reconcile us with God. He is also the true Man who will bring us into full humanity, by the Holy Spirit, to the glory of the Father. If I am correct about Jesus' intent in the parable, then I am thinking of a situation like that of C.S. Lewis's "The Last Battle," where the young Calormene goes through the door, and finds that, because of his refusal to mix up Tash and Aslan (not to talk nonsense) and because of his longing for the good, when he sees Aslan, Aslan tells him that all that he has done, in error, for the sake of Tash, was really done for Aslan.

This doesn't mean that the young warrior is accepted because of his goodness, but because of Aslan's goodness. But it does mean that our hearts and our actions will, when we see the Lord, match with his mercy. The ground of our salvation and sanctification is ALWAYS the work of God--yet somehow our fruit will match. Check out Romans 2, where Paul, at the beginning of his work on justification, speaks about a final judgement connected with our WORKS. And don't forget James.

Again, I may be wrong about this particular parable. Perhaps Matthew meant to suggest by the word "nations" Gentiles. But it would be an odd term for Jesus to use in his own day if he didn't mean those outside of the covenant family.

Anyway, the point of the critique of the stations was that TEC has forgotten, by and large, the majesty and wonder of Jesus' passion and death, and substituted as a focus for worship our own activity. This is very sad, and was the purpose of my comments.

Please, do talk to me directly next time you have a quarrel--we belong together, at the table of God, and there are enough people who don't care about the creeds or the Lord that we need to be working together to help. It is not seemly that we should be at emnity with each other.

Best to you all,
Edith

Edith Humphrey said...

Oh, by the way: I am MRS. Humphrey, gratefully married for 33 years, and in no way or shape liberal. I am not as allergic to Anglo-Catholicism as some of you seem to be. And Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is no longer completely liberal, but has a mixed faculty, with the likes of Robert Gagnon (who has written extensively on the Bible's teaching regarding sexuality). We are the only Presbyterian Seminary that is acceptable to a conservative PCUSA group like the Layman.

I am, myself, not a Presbyterian, as you will have guessed. My background is Salvation Army, and I am an Anglican in Bishop Duncan's realigning diocese. Please do pray for us in Jerusalem and Jordan from June 16 to July 1.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Public remarks are subject to public criticism. In the future perhaps you should not imply that non-Christians are somehow justified or "righteous" by their works.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Your background in the Salvation Army explains a lot. I am a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary, the flagship of so-called "Evangelical" Wesleyan Arminianism. Actually, it was my experience at Asbury that converted me to Calvinism. Before that I was from an Arminian background in the Assemblies of God.

I found Asbury to be on a slippery slope toward neo-orthodoxy and even liberalism. A thoroughly conservative "Evangelical" seminary is hard to find these days.

Honestly, I am appalled for what passes as "Evangelical" these days. I am a bit surprised that you even heard of my relatively obscure blog.

Be that as it may, I make no apologies for speaking the truth.

Charlie J. Ray said...

BTW, I'm no fan of C.S. Lewis. I did like his book, Mere Christianity, which is a reasonable use of the moral argument.

My complaint with Lewis is that he leans too much toward Anglo-Catholicism and toward semi-pelagianism. My own views lean more toward Augustinianism and Calvinism.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Matthew 25 cannot be a reference to those outside the invisible church. In fact, Matthew 28:18-20 clearly says that we are to evangelize the nations. Clearly Matthew is directly speaking to evangelizing Jews and Gentiles among all the peoples of the earth. To say otherwise is to read modern criticism back into the text. Jesus himself evangelized the gentiles at several points in the Gospels. And I might mention that Matthew's Gospel mentions the "elect" at least once in connection with those who are part of the invisible body of Christ. Matthew 24:22,24,31 clearly speaks of an election in which it is impossible that they should be deceived. This term is used again in Mark and Luke with the same emphasis on God's sovereignty in choosing.

I might go on to mention that in private e-mails Edith admitted that she is "not against" Anglo-Catholicism and is not an advocate of "trans-substantiation." I noted that she stopped way short of saying that she's not an Anglo-Catholic. Many Anglo-Catholics will play word games and say they don't believe in justification by works but then hedge by confusing the final judgment of Christians with the doctrine of justification by faith alone. The final judgment of Christians is a judgment based on rewards and not to determine whether or not they get to heaven. Many advocates of the semi-pelagian view make this mistake and they do so based on a terrible misreading of Matthew 25 and James' epistle.

The terrible error of semi-pelagianism and pelagianism is to confuse justification with sanctification. While sanctification is a necessary fruit of justification and conversion, it is by no means a ground for our acceptance before God either here and now OR in the final judgment.

For the life of me I cannot understand how modern Evangelicals can accept into fellowship those who directly attack the Gospel of grace with a false gospel of works. Billy Graham and other prominent Evangelicals have made this error. Even the great Charles Hodge, who advocated that Roman Catholics should be converted, allowed that they were "Christians" and implied that they were saved based solely on their adherence to the "catholic" creeds. This was a minority view even in Hodge's day. In my own opinion, it opens the door for Evangelicals to be deceived into converting to Romanism and Anglo-Catholicism. Until we are willing to call heresy heresy, compromise and liberalism will continue to win out and deceive those who are not rooted and grounded in the Gospel taught by Paul and Jesus.

If there is any doubt that Edith is an Anglo-Catholic, please contact me and I will be more than happy to give you more specifics from the private e-mails.

Peace.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I'm further appalled that Edith suggests that people can be saved without a conscious conversion to faith in Jesus Christ. According to the 39 Articles good works done before conversion cannot please God.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Here is the proof that Edith says that salvation is apart from an explicit conversion to Christ and faith in Christ appropriated by individuals: "Aslan tells him that all that he has done, in error, for the sake of Tash, was really done for Aslan."

"This doesn't mean that the young warrior is accepted because of his goodness, but because of Aslan's goodness. But it does mean that our hearts and our actions will, when we see the Lord, match with his mercy."

If C.S. Lewis intended to suggest that unreached people will be saved by some implicit faith they don't know they have, then Lewis is clearly on the liberal side of things. Apparently, this is the view taken by Edith as well. However, the Apostle Paul clearly says that salvation comes only from hearing and hearing by the Word of God by faith. (Romans 1:16-21; Romans 10:10-19). Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation (John 5:24; 14:6)

Without evangelism and world missions those who have not heard the Gospel will most certainly perish. There is no salvation apart from an EXPLICIT conversion to faith in Jesus Christ, not some hidden, unknown faith. This is gnosticism and mysticism, not Christianity!

Charlie J. Ray said...

Revelation 5:9-10 shows that God has elect from every nation and John 10:15-16 refers to those elect who have yet to be regenerated and converted. Clearly Matthew 25 refers to the elect who are sheep and the goats are those who try to be justified on the basis of good works. (See Matthew 7:21-23).

Charlie J. Ray said...

Revelation 5:9-10 shows that God has elect from every nation and John 10:15-16 refers to those elect who have yet to be regenerated and converted. Clearly Matthew 25 refers to the elect who are sheep and the goats are those who try to be justified on the basis of good works. (See Matthew 7:21-23).

Charlie J. Ray said...

This article by Robin Jordan survived at Virtue Online: An Anglican Prayer Book (2008): The Order for the Holy Communion - Part III. My articles were all deleted because I dared to state explicitly that Anglo-Catholicism is not just a matter of adiaphora within the village green. Anglo-Catholicism is a false religion on the same order as Rome or Constantinople.

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