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.]

Daily Bible Verse

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Gordon Fee Endorses N. T. Wright

I guess it's official. A leading Pentecostal scholar thinks N. T. Wright is great. It seems that any scholar who even remotely attacks the Protestant Reformation is on the side of the Pentecostals since the doctrines of grace, particularly Sola Scriptura, undermines the Pentecostal and  gnostic theology of super-spirituality.


Joel said...

I wonder if you really knew Gordon Fee or if you had sat under his teaching if you could possibly say about him that "the doctrines of grace, particularly Sola Scriptura, undermines his gnostic theology of super spirituality." It's a ludicrous comment. I am not remotely Pentecostal.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Joel, I have read Fee's commentary on 1 Corinthians and other short pieces of his. I am also well aware of Fee's ordination with the Assemblies of God and his commitment to Pentecostal theology.

I wonder if Fee thinks Oneness Pentecostalism is a heresy since it denies the trinity? I sincerely doubt it given the direction of most "Evangelical" Pentecostal scholars these days. The vast majority think the Oneness or Apostolic Pentecostals are "separated brothers" rather than enemies of the Christian faith.

I stand by what I said. I would be more than happy to retract if Fee can prove otherwise. Anyone who thinks N.T. Wright is great after his attack on the Gospel according to St. Paul deserves no benefit of the doubt in my opinion.

Sean Flowers said...

Mr. Ray,

Fee mentions elsewhere he certainly doesn't agree with Tom Wright on certain issues. Here is where you may read that comment:


Likewise, I believe Fee is a great biblical scholar, and someone who cares more for God's Word than for pushing a certain denomination's theology. Here is a great short article I thought you might like, and that might address some of the concerns you have (esp. your concern about his being Pentecostal and how that might affect his reading of Scripture):


Again, Fee is strongly trinitarian, and would in fact reject "oneness theology". He is so, because Paul is so. For a good primer, read "Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God", pp. 36-48. For the exegetical basis for what is included there, see his much larger tome "God's Empowering Presence" (the former book should point you to the appropriate places in the latter).

Lastly, without wishing to overload you with reading, see also pp. 85-86, and 97-98 in "Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God" for where Fee stands on certain issues of interest to Calvinists.

I wish you the very best, and I sure hope you'll read and enjoy those pages!

Best Regards,

Charlie J. Ray said...

Sean, I have skimmed the book you recommended when I saw it at the local seminary library.

I'm quite aware that Fee is himself a trinitarian. But that isn't the issue I raised. Does Fee think denying the trinity makes oneness Pentecostals heretics and in need of salvation? The last I checked the doctrine of the trinity is necessary for saving faith.

Furthermore, you should know that graduated from an Assemblies of God Bible college, Southeastern... I'm well aware of Pentecostal theology and their Arminianism. I'm also aware of the fact that the Society for Pentecostal Studies has no requirement for belief in the trinity for membership. For that reason oneness Pentecostals have been members and have presented papers to the society.

In other words, the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement is heterodox at best and heretical at worst. The two main reasons I rejected my Pentecostal views is the oneness Pentecostal influence in Pentecostal scholarship AND the fact that the Word of Faith/prosperity heresy is present to one degree or another even in "classical" Pentecostals circles these days.

I've done my share of reading in Pentecostal theology, including Roger Stronstadt, Fee, et. al. I am troubled by the fact that Pentecostals seem to grab on to any liberal who will give them attention, including Harvey Cox and N. T. Wright.

I recently saw an article where Frank Macchia endorses the New Perspectives on Paul and argues against justification by faith alone and in favor of a semi-Roman Catholic view whereby justification comes from the infusion of the Holy Spirit. This is to commit the same error as Rome, which teaches that there is no distinction between justification and sanctification but that righteousness is infused into the heart rather than a legal/forensic declaration.

And lastly, the Pentecostal/Arminian theology is semi-pelagian, especially regarding the adoption of Wesley's theology of prevenient grace. Prevenient grace restores free will and denies Luther's doctrine of the bondage of the will which is also accepted by the Calvinist side of the Reformation.

This is only a brief summary of the problems I see with the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement. While Fee is one of the few credible scholars from the Assemblies of God his blatant Arminianism and his presupposed Pentecostal reading of Acts and the Pauline epistles prejudices his work, imo.

BTW, I became a Calvinist while a student at Asbury Seminary, a solidly wesleyan seminary in the holiness tradition. The weaknesses of Arminianism became all too apparent during my study of that theology.



Charlie J. Ray said...

Sean, the link you provided is more or less meaningless drivel. However, it does confirm my suspicions that Fee is more concerned with his circle of friends than with biblical truth.

James D. G. Dunn is one of the worst offenders in regards to the NPP.


simmmo said...

I wonder if you realise how ironic it is for a puritan to be labelling others gnostic. Let's see...

obsession with the doctrine of total depravity (goes hand in hand with the complete comtempt of the physical world in classic gnosticism)

extreme iconoclasm (explains itself really... N.T. Wright was right when he said that iconography can lead to idolatry but iconoclasm leads to dualism)

The puritanical religion you espouse is timeless, reductionist, deeply suspicious of God's creation and completely other-worldly and you accuse Fee of Gnosticism.

Might I suggest a good book for you: Against the Protestant Gnostics by Philip J. Lee. If anyone in modern Christendom is gnostic, it is the hyper-Calvinists. If there is a more gnostic doctrine than penal substitutionary atonement I'm yet to hear it.

Line up all the Reformed heroes, Calvin, Edwards, Bunyan, Spurgeon etc... they are all quasi-gnostics.

Now we'd be all better off simply ignoring the silliness and sheer bigotry of the Reformed types. But it is fun taking down their pseudo-intellectual arguments. The broader church has much more to offer than this loud, but mistaken bunch.

Charlie J. Ray said...


The Reformed tradition places Scripture, not personal revelation, at the top of the authority structure. Scripture is revealed directly from God to man in written form. Even the plow boy who knows the Scriptures knows more than the pope or a pentecostal with their extra-biblical "revelations". (2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21; 2 Peter 3:15-16).

Second of all, the Reformed confessions all indicate that creation is good and was so from the beginning. God did not create man wicked nor did he create the physical world evil.

Heidelberg Catechism: LORD'S DAY 3

Question 6. Did God then create man so wicked and perverse?

Answer: By no means; but God created man good, 1 and after His own image, in 2 true righteousness and holiness, that he might rightly know God his Creator, heartily love Him and live with Him in eternal happiness to glorify and praise Him.3

Question 7. Whence then proceeds this depravity of human nature?

Answer: From the fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, 4 in Paradise; hence our nature is become so corrupt, that we are all conceived and born in sin.5

Question 8. Are we then so corrupt that we are wholly incapable of doing any good, and inclined to all wickedness?

Answer: Indeed we are; 6 except we are regenerated by the Spirit of God.7

1 Gen. 1:31;

2 Gen. 1:26-27; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24

3 Eph. 1:6; 1 Cor. 6:20;

4 Gen. 3:6; Rom. 5:12, 18-19;

5 Psa. 51:5; Gen. 5:3;

6 Gen. 6:5; Job 14:4; Job 15:14, 16;

7 John 3:5; Eph. 2:5;

That would be the dualistic view of the Charismatics and Pentecostals, not the Scriptural view. Furthermore, the Bible itself says that the physical universe was affected by the fall of Adam. I guess you reject the plain teaching of Scripture? (Genesis 3:17, 18; Romans 8:20-22).

I call Pentecostalism and the Charismatic movmement "gnostic" because of the influence of the Word of Faith movement in even "classical" Pentecostal denominations like the Assemblies of God and the Church of God. D. R. McConnell's book, A Different Gospel, shows clearly that Hagin thought he had additional "revelation knowledge" alongside Scripture that the plow boy who reads Scripture does not have access to.

Finally, your view seems to be pelagian if you think that the fall of Adam had no effect on the human race, in which case there would be no need for Christ to become man, the mediator of the elect, or redeemer of the elect. (Romans 5:12-14; 1 Timothy 2:5; John 3:16; Matthew 1:21; John 10:11, 15).

It is humorous that you generalize Calvinism to be "hyper". Since you have not defined what you mean by the term "hyper-Calvinism" I can only speculate. Calvinists believe in human accountability and responsibility as much as anyone else. We also obey the Scriptural command to evangelize and send out missionaries. Scripture and the Gospel are God's appointed means for saving the elect (Romans 10:10-15; Matthew 28:18-20). The only "hyper-Calvinists I know of are the hardshell Baptists or Primitive Baptists since they do not teach Sunday school or evangelize the earth.

The New Perspectives on Paul and N.T. Wright are simply pelagianism repackaged.


Charlie J. Ray said...

I wonder why it is that you post anonymously? Are you afraid to stand by your words with your own reputation?

Charlie J. Ray said...

The Penal Substitutionary Atonement is revealed in Scripture. How you could characterize a doctrine revealed in the propositional truths of Scripture as "gnostic" is a bit odd.

Westminster Confession: Ch. 8, Of Christ the Mediator

6. Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after His incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof, were communicated unto the elect in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices, wherein He was revealed and signified to be the Seed of the woman, which should bruise the serpent's head, and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world being yesterday and today the same, and for ever.1


1 Gal. 4:4,5; Gen. 3:15; Rev. 13:8; Heb. 13:8.

simmmo said...

Where have I stated that the fall had no effect on creation? Of course, because of the fall, man subjected the whole creation to the futility of sin and death. The work of the Messiah in the person of Jesus was to defeat the powers of sin and death.

God's creation, though fallen, remains essentially good. Humanity, though fallen, has still the potential to do good. Our image beating capacity has been marred by sin and death. But no where in the scriptures does it say that we have ceased bearing the image of God. No where at all in scripture does it say that man is totally depraved. Proof texting a couple of verses that seem to say what you want them to say is not very convincing.

The caricature of penal substitution that the Reformed types are dogmatic about is just not found in scripture. And was never believed anywhere by any of the Fathers. Anyone familiar with Aulen's monumental work would know this. Anyone familiar with the Eastern Orthodox would know this too. The penal substitution theory of Piper, MacArthur, and other Reformed zealots in America (this is basically who a "hyper Calvinist" are - usually "fist-in-your-face" ungracious Reformed Americans who thinks that they and they alone are the elect (another Gnostic idea - an inner group within the whole)) etc is basically Epicurean. God was incarnated, died was raised so that we could be saved from the wrath of God... well what about all that Kingdom of God stuff in between? Why did the Word live among us? This very truncated gosepl has nothing to say about this. The atonement is far more complicated than any one theory can capture. No one theory captures it completely, but historically the Church (before Protestantism) mostly thought about it in terms similar to Christus Victor or the Ransom theory. C.S. Lewis' depiction of Aslan ransoming the boy in the Narnia book is a good illustration of a valid theory. This very truncated form of penal substitution theory is just not found or espoused in the early Church. Is there a valid substitutionary theory of the atonement? Yes. But sadly the Reformed cold, dry and very odd understanding of PS is simply wrong - anti biblical as N.T. Wright labelled it in his review of Jeffery, Ovey and Sach's book on penal substition. btw the book's section on the Fathers was woeful and was completely taken apart by Derek Flood in a peer reviewed setting. Why is that that these hyper Calviists are starting to resemble the neocons - setting up there own publishing houses, think tanks, seminaries etc? Can't get into proper peer reviewed journals and universities to propogate your ideas can you??

Anyway over at the Jonathon Edwards Society website, there's a very good article explaining the Gnostic tendendancies among the American Puritans and Jonathon Edwards in particular.


simmmo said...

And this tired old depiction of the New Perspective as some form of Pelagianism really shows that you either haven't read Wright and Sanders, you are unable to understand what they are saying (perhaps because you have been blinded by your own ideology) or you are deliberately misrepresenting what they are saying.

Read What St Paul Really Said. Wright says and shows that first century Judaism is the correct paradigm to view Paul's writings. And that the questions and answers Paul gives here are very different from later issues raised in the Augustianian/Pelagian controversy and in the Reformation. You are just not or perhaps do not want to listen to what is being said. You have cleaved cult-like to your own narrow worldview. There is a whole world of Christianity out there that basically does not share your convictions on peculiar doctrines such as limited atonement and particular election.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Well, no. The correct paradigm is letting Scripture speak for itself. There is nothing in the text that even remotely says what the NPP says. In fact it is a well established fact that the Greek term for righteousness refers to a declared righteousness. Even the Catholic scholar Raymond Brown concedes that. The fact that you resort to ad hominem only makes your position look weak.

It would be odd indeed if the great Reformation scholars all without exception misunderstood the Greek text. That is particularly true since they were much better at reading Greek and Hebrew and Latin than modern scholars since Latin and Greek were taught from an early age in those days. The Renaissance was a rediscovery of the original language texts of Scripture and those methods were applied in comparing the Roman Catholic traditions and Latin Vulgate to what the textual critical readings of Greek and Hebrew said.

It's also fairly obvious that N.T. Wright's agenda is ecumenicalism and Tractarianism, not Evangelicalism or the English Reformation. You admit as much when you say that the NPP is a "paradigm" for reading the Scriptures. Call it "rose colored glasses." History, the reformation, and even the scholastics do not agree with the innovations of the modernists.

Charlie J. Ray said...

For someone who disagrees with Reformed theology you seem to major on straw man arguments. Total depravity does not mean "depraved" in the sense of someone who is as evil in degree as possible. Instead it means that the human nature and all its faculties of intellect, will, emotion, and being are tainted in every area such that the divine image is totally corrupt. It is therefore impossible for man to believe in Christ unless God first regenerates the elect so that they are now able to believe. The doctrine is also called "total inability", which is what the 39 Articles teach:

Article IX
Of Original or Birth Sin
Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated, whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek phronema sarkos (which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire of the flesh), is not subject to the law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess that concupiscence and lust hath itself the nature of sin.


Composed in 1552/3 by the English reformers.
Article X
Of Free Will
The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will.

As for creation, you're now backpeddling. The Reformed view was never that creation is evil. It simply says that creation has been affected by the curse of God since the fall.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I got a chuckle out of your opinion of Piper and MacArthur since I consider both of them more on the works side of things. Piper is an advocate of "future vindication", which is similar to the NPP view of Sanders. In fact, Piper had connections to Daniel Fuller, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, who was an open advocate of NPP and "future justification" in the last judgment.

Johnny Mac teaches a view of "lordship salvation" that confuses imputed righteousness with infused sanctification. The two are distinct in Scripture. I reject both Piper and MacArthur because they are more Anabaptist than magisterial Reformed and covenantal.

As for the substitutionary atonement, it follows naturally from particular election that the atonement is likewise particular. And in fact Scripture many times over teaches penal substitutionary atonement. (2 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:5, 11; Hebrews 9:28; 2 Corinthians 5:21). There are many more Scripture passages that teach this doctrine, including Matthew 1:21; John 10:11, 15.

Eastern Orthodoxy rejects the sovereignty of God and, like Rome, teaches semi-pelagianism and synergism. The Scriptures teach the absolute sovereignty of God and human responsibility. (Daniel 4:34-35; Ezekiel 18:4). God can harden hearts (Romans 9:18) or open hearts (Acts 16:14).

I don't need a church to tell me what to believe. I can read the Bible for myself. When the plow boy knows the Bible better than the pope or a patriarch then we have something.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Jonathan Edwards does not speak for the whole Reformed tradition. He's good on some things and not so good on others. His appeal to existentialism and pietism is a problem. However, the classical Reformed view is that Scripture alone is the final authority. That means that experience, piety, and mysticism are irrelevant if they in fact contradict the verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture and inerrancy.

Article VI
Of the sufficiency of the Holy Scripture for Salvation

Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.

Charlie J. Ray said...

It's a bit silly to accuse Edwards of gnosticism. The Reformed view of the sacraments is pretty much the Zwinglian view, including the Catechism of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the 39 Articles of Religion:

Article XXV
Of the Sacraments

Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses and effectual signs of grace and God's good will towards us, by the which He doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm, our faith in Him.

There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord.

Those five, commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures; but yet have not the like nature of Sacraments with Baptism and the Lord's Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.

The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same, have they a wholesome effect or operation: but they that receive them unworthily, purchase to themselves damnation, as S. Paul saith.

The Catechism says:

HOW many Sacraments hath Christ ordained in his Church?
Answer. Two only, as generally necessary to salvation, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.
Question. What meanest thou by this word Sacrament?
Answer. I mean an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof.
Question. How many parts are there in a Sacrament?
Answer. Two: the outward visible sign, and the inward spiritual grace.
Question. What is the outward visible sign or form in Baptism?
Answer. Water: wherein the person is baptized In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Question. What is the inward and spiritual grace?
Answer. A death unto sin, and a new birth unto righteousness: for being by nature born in sin, and the children of wrath, we are hereby made the children of grace.
Question. What is required of persons to be baptized?
Answer. Repentance, whereby they forsake sin: and Faith, whereby they stedfastly believe the promises of God made to them in that Sacrament.

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