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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

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Phillip Jensen and David Knox: Gospel Growth/People Growth Conference in Chicago



[Since the writing of this article my views on the incarnation of Christ have changed.  I now agree with the late Dr. Gordon H. Clark's view that Jesus Christ was not only fully God but fully human.  That would entail that Jesus had two minds and two persons.  A person is defined as the propositions he thinks.  (Proverbs 23:7).  That would mean that the human nature of Christ is not impersonal since He has a reasonable human soul and that human personality or mind is limited in every way we are.  Yet Jesus was fully God and indwelt by the second Person of the Godhead, the divine Logos, the eternal Son of God who has no beginning and no end.  I recommend that you read The Incarnation, by Dr. Gordon H. Clark.  Charlie J. Ray, January 14, 2015.]

The Sydney Anglicans are about as "evangelical" as you're going to find in the Anglican Church in Australia. However, I have many problems with their irrationalism on several theological issues. One of which I can state up front is the ordination of women to the diaconate. I fail to understand how Sydney can claim to be against women's ordination while ignoring the qualifications for deacons in 1 Timothy 3:12. Clearly deacons are to be men. It has been rightly pointed out that this opens the door for the ordination of homosexuals because the only way a woman can be the husband of one wife is that she be a lesbian.


What is troubling about Sydney, despite their strong evangelicalism, is that like Americans they seem to be unconcerned about the theological and doctrinal implications for their decisions as they affect future generations. A compromise here will be a greater compromise later.


Furthermore, the Amyraldianism of Sydney seems to open the door to a pragmatic form of Arminianism where the discussion of the decrees of God are discouraged as if they were unbiblical. A concern for a human-centered presentation of the Gospel is essentially pragmatism rather than a concern for biblical truth and propositional truth. The real irony here is that the conference was called Gospel Growth/People Growth. The impression I got, however, was there is more concern for being "seeker sensitive" than for being "Gospel driven" and "Bible driven." What we ought to be doing is pushing for the Scripture driven life, not catering to sinful rebels who are not going to hear anything we say anyway.


I am troubled also by the emphasis in the Selected Works of D. B. Knox on the "ignorance of Christ" and His need for "faith" and his interpretation of the objective genitive as "faithfulness" rather than Christ as the object of our faith. The de-emphasis on the deity of Christ divides his humanity from his deity and for all practical purposes makes Christ less than God. One minister from Sydney mistakenly thought that Jesus "emptied himself of deity" in the incarnation, which is essentially a 19th century liberal heresy.


The problem today is not that Christians ignore the humanity of Christ but rather they ignore his deity. Pentecostals and Charismatics seem to emphasize the person of Christ as only a Spirit-filled man, an error repeated by D. B. Knox in volume 1 of the Selected Works. I'm finding over and over again that D. B. Knox has a random way of doing biblical exegesis, usually to emphasize his presuppositional commitment to Amyraldianism. This is why he has to downplay the deity of Christ so that he can justify using Arminian techniques in evangelism and to downplay the moral law in worship. Knox says the sabbath law is not binding so we only come together in order to fellowship with one another and not for worship since worship is for every day of the week. So I guess the 10 commandments are reduced to 9 commandments according to Knox. Maybe this is why Sydney does not like the 1662 Book of Common Prayer since the reading of the decalogue is supposed to precede every service of the Lord's Supper?


Unfortunately, my opinion of Sydney is falling lower and lower as I discover more compromises and their essentially Anabaptist approach to doing theology. While D. B. Knox does to his credit say that the working of signs and miracles passed away with the apostles, his theology is essentially in agreement with the higher life movement embraced by Martyn-Lloyd Jones and other charismatic type ministers. Pietism is inherently a return to Roman Catholic emphases on infused righteousness and genuine "heart change" as in an emotional experience. Knox denies being an "enthusiast" but I fail to see how he can escape the charge when he thinks that faith and obedience are pretty much the same thing. On the one hand, Knox says that justification is by faith alone but on the other he continually confuses the doctrine of justification by faith alone with "obedience." This smacks of synergistic conversion and over-emphasizes sanctification to the point of making works something which merits our salvation.


The Prayer Book of 1662 and the Articles of Religion, however, clearly place faith above obedience! Without faith our works are unacceptable in the first place. We do not go to church to be "re-charged", i.e., "refreshed", "filled" or "infused" with the Spirit. No, we go to church to hear the word of God preached and to worship God together as a congregation of believers who are justified before God on the basis of faith alone. We are made right by faith and not by being "obedient"! Obedience is always imperfect and cannot therefore be any part of our being just. Rather, our being just produces obedience but an imperfect obedience. How "obedient" do we need to be in order to make it to heaven?


No, at the moment of our conversion we are at that moment ready to enter into heaven no matter what should happen after that point and no matter how short or long or high or low our level of sanctification. The ground is level at the cross. Read Hebrews 11:1ff sometime and then search the Old Testament on the "saints" listed there. You will find every single one of them to be sinful and even rebellious at certain points. This can only indicate that salvation is on the basis of God's sovereign choice and not on our level of sanctification. Salvation is a gift from first to last!


There is no division in Scripture between "carnal" Christians and "spiritual" or "higher life" Christians. This is a gnostic idea. Rather, the division in Scripture is between those who believe in Jesus Christ as the sole author and finisher of our faith and our salvation and those who think good works merit something in addition to what Christ has done once and for all for us.

The real question is not, "What would Jesus do?" but "What DID Jesus do?" How you answer those two questions will determine where you spend eternity!

3 comments:

Reformation said...

I'm having my questions also. Especially the support given to ACNA.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Curious post.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Well, there are warning signs. Tony Payne, the young side kick of Phillip Jensen, remarked that, "Justification by faith is not the Gospel. It is an aspect of the Gospel." Things like that send up red flags in my mind, especially when ALL of the magisterial Reformers said that justification by faith alone is the doctrine by which the church stands or falls! The 39 Articles makes it clear that the doctrine of justification by faith alone IS the Gospel!

I recently had a debate in the Sunday school class I teach. The debate was over the doctrine of kenosis. The pastor thought that Jesus emptied himself of deity, a 19th century heresy. He later backed off that position. But needless to say it is because in the Selected Works D. B. Knox over-emphasizes the humanity of Jesus to the point that Jesus was simply a "Spirit-filled man" and that Jesus needed "faith" to perform his miracles, etc. This smacks of Pentecostal and charismatic heresies of the same nature. It divides the two natures of Christ and is therefore Nestorianism. The hypostatic union might be hard to understand but we cannot sacrifice either the full humanity or the full deity of Christ in one person, Jesus Christ.

(See: Nestorianism at Wikipedia

See also RC Sproul article at:

Jesus Christ: Fully Human and Fully God

The trouble with taking extreme positions on Christ's humanity is that such views lead to further compromises down the road. I think the greater danger today is denying the complete deity of Christ. I recently saw a video posted by Mark Thompson where Jesus is "venerated" rather than "worshipped." This is a further indication that Sydney is not as committed to Scriptural truth as you might be led to think.

In Christ,

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

Perhaps I'm too radical. But for me the Bible takes precedence over "making friends." If you run with the papist crowd, eventually you will become one. Running with the charismaniac crowd will lead to similar heterodoxies and heresies. We ought to be strong enough to stand on the Bible alone just as Luther did and say, "HERE I STAND, I CAN DO NOTHING OTHER!"

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