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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 beseech 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

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Book Review: Sincerity Meets the Truth, by John Pedersen

A Review of “Sincerity Meets the Truth”, by John K. Pedersen



John K. Pedersen. Sincerity Meets the Truth. (Audubon: Old Path Publications, 1997). 56 pages.


Every now and again I am pleasantly surprised by books I read. In this case I was more than surprised as I read Sincerity Meets the Truth. I found myself murmuring, “Amen!” over and over again. I met John K. Pederson via the FaceBook social network. Talking in private messages I learned that we have much in common when it comes to Reformed theology. As Carl Trueman once noted the Reformed tradition is multifaceted and cannot be defined by one modern denomination or even one Reformed confession from the sixteenth century. The term “Reformed” cannot be reified. Hence, we have the Reformed Forum blog claiming to speak for us all from the “center”. Such could never be true since the Reformed Forum is essentially advocating the theology of the neo-Calvinists and of Cornelius Van Til. Pedersen makes this all the more clear by his critique of modern ecumenicalism and Arminianism via an allegory.


Moreover, John Pederson has written a succinct and modern allegory similar to John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. Ironically, a foreward was written by Michael Horton of The White Horse Inn. Unfortunately, future copies of Sincerity Meets the Truth will not include Horton's endorsement. Horton himself has written a book critiquing Evangelicalism called, Christless Christianity, the thesis of which says that many Evangelical churches and denominations promote what can only be called “pelagian pragmatism”. In his foreward, Horton insightfully says:


But John Pedersen has provided us with a fresh story. In this remarkable little tale, the “pilgrim” is a man by the name of Sincerity. A denizen of Evangelical Religion, Sincerity and his neighbors have the town of “Badstuff,” just across the tracks, as their enemies. But when a faithful minister visits Kindlove Reformed Church, a jewel in Evangelical Religion's crown, everything is turned upside down. Suddenly, instead of enjoying a false unity based on their coalition against “Badstuff,” the inhabitants of Evangelical Religion soon learn more about themselves than some might have wished. (Page iii).


However, one could reasonably question Horton's sincerity since he himself seems unwilling to take on the blatant ecumenicalism within Evangelicalism and the Reformed movement. Be that as it may, John Pedersen has succinctly laid out the anti-theological bias of even Reformed congregations today. Although the book was originally written in 1997 it is as pertinent today as ever. I personally experienced a similar bias against dogmatic theology at a local Presbyterian Church in America congregation. After all Arminians and Roman Catholics are just unclear on doctrine. They are not really lost and in need of conversion, are they? Think again.


Gordon H. Clark has said that a paradox is a charlie horse between the ears that can be removed with rational massage. If Arminianism and Roman Catholicism openly oppose the doctrines of grace and the five solas of the Protestant Reformation, one can only conclude that these two traditions are teaching another Gospel (Galatians 1:6-9) and another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).


As Pedersen says in his preface:


False doctrine is worse when it goes under the cover of truth, and when it quotes Scripture, and sings Amazing Grace. Satan is always at his best in opposing the truth when he does it in the name of Christ. There has never been a more subtle expression of false doctrine than that which affirms all the “truths” of the Christian faith on the basis of human effort, merit of works, foreseen faith, or “free will.” To affirm grace on the condition of works is the ultimate perversion. It is The Lie. (Page vi).


The plot of the story is when a pastor of a broadly evangelical Reformed congregation opens his pulpit to a Reformed preacher, Not-His-Own. One of the members of the congregation, Sincerity, is forced to confront his adherence to false doctrine and Evangelical liberalism. When the sermon upsets the majority of folks attending the worship service the resulting conversation reveals the root of the problem, being relativism and ecumenicalism in theology.


The validity of this critique should not escape the reader. If two confessions of faith are mutually exclusive of the other—A cannot be both A and non-A at the same time—then one or the other of those confessions of faith is false. One is faithful to Scripture and the other is not. This is in fact the basis of the Protestant Reformation. The Reformers said that Rome had gone apostate and officially so. The canons of the Council of Trent still officially condemn the Gospel and the doctrines of grace taught in Scripture. The Synod of Dort officially condemned Arminianism as a heresy. The Reformed confessions and standards are a systematic summary of the teaching of Holy Scripture. Either those confessions are propositionally true or they are not. Since Reformed theology and Arminianism and the five points of the Remonstrandts are mutually opposed to one another one has to wonder how modern neo-Calvinists can with a straight face advocate Arminians and Papists as “brothers in Christ” when both are essentially false religions. Be careful about stating this openly in a broadly Evangelical Reformed congregation. One might find oneself excommunicated. I speak from experience here.


Pedersen's comment via Not-His-Own here is applicable:


In other words, by tolerating many different and contradictory 'versions' of the grace of God in the gospel, the assumption is that such tolerance is reasonable and legitimate due to the supposed fact that the truth of God's grace is 'not easy' to understand—as if it were not wholly impossible to understand apart from the ministry of the Holy Spirit. (Page 40).


And with Not-His-Own's pithy observation I fully agree:


By suggesting that the 'Arminian' version of grace—which makes grace conditional on human effort and merit—is a legitimate, though 'less clear' version of grace, it is inferred that God cannot guard his own grace in the confessions of his people to exclude confessions which actually deny it. For example, to say that I believe in Jesus because of some inclination, some free-will, or some 'foreseen faith' is to say that grace is a response to something in me, which makes it a payment. This is a denial of true, biblical grace. The Bible clearly teaches that God is the Author of a person's faith and is the One by whom a true confession is made. (Page 42).


I highly recommend Sincerity Meets the Truth. To obtain your copy contact John Pedersen via FaceBook or e-mail at: pjump56 AT gmail DOT com.



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Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer

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