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 Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beware the Bible Gateway Blog: N.T. Wright on “the Whole Sweep of Scripture” | Bible Gateway Blog

I use Biblegateway.com frequently as a source for an online Bible. The site has many versions to read and compare online. Unfortunately, those who support the site are pushing the ideas of N.T. Wright by way of introduction. Once they get you hooked on to one good idea of Wright's, like reading Scripture as both whole and part (synthetically and particularly), then they can introduce Wright's heresy of the New Perspective on Paul:

Dr Tom Wright, now Bishop of Durham, following the line of thought introduced by E P Sanders in his book Paul and Palestinian Judaism has in recent years given a new meaning to the concept of justification. The emphasis in justification, says Dr Wright, falls not on God's judicial pronouncement that a sinner by faith in Christ is deemed to be righteous. It is not, as our Reformed and Protestant catechisms have always taught, that Christ's righteousness is imputed to the sinner at the moment of his believing in Christ. Rather, justification is, according to Wright and others who hold to this 'New Perspective', to be viewed as 'covenant community status'. This is more ominous than it might sound. Wright can say:

'This declaration (i.e. justification) is in turn closely correlated with baptism, in which one becomes a member of that family in its historical life'.

But while baptism brings a person into the visible church it does not necessarily make him a child of God in a spiritual sense. It is, in our view, dangerous talk to suggest that baptism has power to place anyone, in a spiritual and eternally-saving way, into the covenant community of God. This is the highway to ritualism and formalism, surely.

Other 'New Perspective' writers of prominence include Professor James Dunn and Dr Alister McGrath, the former a Presbyterian and the latter an Anglican. A justified person, according to the teaching of the 'New Perspective' writers, is re-defined as one who is in the membership of God's covenant people. Put briefly it is this: The sinner gets into God's covenant by faith; but he stays in it by his good works. The term 'righteousness' in the thinking of Wright, means something different from what our catechisms have taught us to think. A sinner, he says, is righteous when he is in the membership of the covenant. He thinks that Luther's way of putting it was in some ways 'misleading.' [The New Perspective on Paul and Other Errors, by Maurice Roberts at The Banner of Truth site.

The NPP denies all five of the solas of the Protestant Reformation, including Sola Scriptura. Wright denies that we can read Paul and take Paul's statements about imputed righteousness at face value. Instead we have to have Wright's secret insights into the Jewish temple and the community of faith in order to properly understand Scripture. This flies in the face of the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Peter 1:19-21) and the priesthood of believers (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; 5:9-10; Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 61:6).

N.T. Wright's views are essentially a sell out to Anglo-Catholicism and liberalism, an attempt to undermine the Protestant Reformation and the final authority of Holy Scripture and to replace that authority with the authority of an episcopate church. Remember. You first heard it from me. Sounds vaguely analogous to the Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1888. The NPP is the inspiration for the Federal Vision heresiarchs in Presbyterian circles as well.

Any emphasis on "transformation" above "justification by faith alone" is to make salvation dependent on sanctification rather than an imputed righteousness. Justification is not infused in the heart. That would be the Papist/Roman Catholic/Anglo-Catholic view:

There are also very serious ecumenical implications attached to these new views. Alister McGrath, an expert in historical theology, and a 'New Perspective' writer, is of the opinion that the doctrine of justification should be given a wider meaning than the one found in the Bible. He would distinguish between the idea of justification as found in Paul and the doctrine of justification as taught in the church. He views justification in terms of man's relationship with God as a whole and not just as the one act by which God imputes Christ's righteousness to the believing sinner. He can say: 'In justification God offers to dwell within us as his temple.'

Such teaching however is foreign to the Reformers and is far different from Paul's teaching on justification and that of the New Testament as a whole. As Philip Eveson points out in regard to McGrath's teaching: 'McGrath's definition of justification using transformational language reminds us of Rome's position.' It is highly to be regretted that Dr McGrath's view of justification is a step towards the Roman Catholic teaching. We remind ourselves that Luther's position was that justification is the 'article of a standing or else a falling church.' To this position we must adhere with all our might.  (Ibid.).

Rather justification is a legal declaration of "not guilty" (Romans 4:4-9). Sanctification, on the other hand, is infused in the heart and is always short of perfect obedience (1 John 1:8-9; Psalm 143:2; 1 Kings 8:46; Romans 3:9-10, 23). All continue to sin in thought, word, and deed in this life. This is why the 1662 Book of Common Prayer has a general and corporate confession of sin with a Gospel absolution in the Morning and Evening Prayer services and in the Lord's Supper. Only at glorification at death do the elect become sinless. (See Articles 9-18 of the 39 Articles of Religion).

On guard!


To read the post in question at the Biblegateway blog, click here: N.T. Wright on “the Whole Sweep of Scripture” | Bible Gateway Blog

From the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, Morning Prayer service:

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us; but if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 St. John i. 8, 9.
DEARLY beloved brethren, the Scripture moveth us, in sundry places, to acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness; and that we should not dissemble nor cloak them before the face of Almighty God our heavenly Father; but confess them with an humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart; to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of the same, by his infinite goodness and mercy. And although we ought, at all times, humbly to acknowledge our sins before God; yet ought we chiefly so to do, when we assemble and meet together to render thanks for the great benefits that we have received at his hands, to set forth his most worthy praise, to hear his most holy Word, and to ask those things which are requisite and necessary, as well for the body as the soul. Wherefore I pray and beseech you, as many as are here present, to accompany me with a pure heart, and humble voice, unto the throne of the heavenly grace, saying after me;

A general Confession to be said of the whole Congregation after the Minister, all kneeling.
ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou them, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou them that are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesu our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

The Absolution, or Remission of sins, to be pronounced by the Priest alone, standing; the people still kneeling.
ALMIGHTY God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he may turn from his wickedness, and live; and hath given power, and commandment, to his Ministers, to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the Absolution and Remission of their sins : He pardoneth and absolveth all them that truly repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy Gospel. Wherefore let us beseech him to grant us true repentance, and his Holy Spirit, that those things may please him, which we do at this present; and that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure, and holy; so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The people shall answer here, and at the end of all other prayers, Amen.


n00bie51 said...

"The NPP denies all five of the solas of the Protestant Reformation, including Sola Scriptura. Wright denies that we can read Paul and take Paul's statements about imputed righteousness at face value. Instead we have to have Wright's secret insights into the Jewish temple and the community of faith in order to properly understand Scripture. This flies in the face of the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Peter 1:19-21) and the priesthood of believers (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; 5:9-10; Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 61:6)."

None of those passages of Scripture tell us that the 66 canonical books put together are "perspicuous" for any person to come to an authoritative interpretation of what the Bible tells them. None of those authors who wrote that were talking about the 66 books we have now. Also, 2 Peter wasn't written by Peter or anybody he knew personally. Old Perspectivists will accuse New Perspectivists of following men like Wright as opposed to "reading God's Word for what it is," of relying on extra-Biblical findings to determine what Scripture says.

The issue I have with this is that I don't see how perspicuity is any less a man-made tradition or assumption about Scripture, and consequently, any more viable to believe and hold authoritative than trying to study the socio-historical context of when each book of the Bible was written.

Also, nobody who studies the Bible this way actually tries to "change" the meaning of Scripture, and not all of them have some absurd immoral agenda to pervert it. They're just trying to find out what Paul has been saying all along in light of the evidence they come across. It's solid historical method. All our dogmatic assumptions about perspicuity won't change the fact that there are some parts of the Bible we can't practically and authoritatively interpret without understanding historical context (ex: 1 Corinthians 11:2-16).

Perspicuity of Scripture is a man-made tradition/assumption of the 66 canonical books we have. It's just not a convincing argument.

Another thing, this New Perspective is closer to what early Christians believed. Nobody (or maybe some) believed in imputed righteousness until the Reformers. Are you going to tell me, then, that all these Christians had it wrong until Luther? Probably not. Early Christians, and I would argue Paul, believed in a present-day justification by faith and trusting that Jesus is Lord as the resurrected Messiah, and a future-day vindication based upon the accumulated works of the believers' life time.

Ecclesia semper reformanda est.

Charlie J. Ray said...

2 Timothy 3:15 obviously refers to the Jewish canon, which for us today would be the 39 books of the Old Testament. And your argument against the canon ignores the fact that all of these books were in circulation early on and were in the complete lists of both Athanasius in the east and Jerome in the west in the 4th century.

The deuterocanonical books of Rome were to be read only for edification and not for dogmatic doctrine. This is established history.

And if you doubt the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture then that would make your argument for NPP even less compelling than mine. After all, Wright claims to base his theology on what Scripture says, does he not?

Furthermore, 2 Peter 3:15-16 indicates that early on in the first century Paul's writings were already considered as "Scripture". It seems to me that the higher critical views on authorship, source criticism, and form criticism is a bit subjective and arbitrary. Anyone doing a comparative study of the various higher critics can see that they cannot agree amongst themselves on what is "objective" truth. I would favor canonical criticism whereby we accept the canon as we have it unless and until there can be discovered significant proof that any other book should be added or taken away. For all practical purposes that is not going to happen.

I might add that your view undermines the doctrine of divine inspiration of the canonical books since you do not seem to believe there is a canon in the first place.

The verbal plenary view of inspiration holds that every single word in the original autographs was inspired of God and is infallible and inerrant. Since textual criticism has established an eclectic critical text of both the Old Testament and the New Testament we have a reliable reconstruction of what was in the original autographs. Translation and textual issues do not affect any of the major dogmatic doctrines of the Christian faith.

And in closing, I could point out that Roman judicial law would not have been foreign to Paul or those who heard him preach or those who read his epistles. Therefore, it is silly for N.T. Wright to focus solely on Jewish customs and then to read them back into the historical and cultural setting in which Paul found himself. That Paul uses legal terms from the Roman system of law should not be surprising to N.T. Wright or E.P. Sanders, Alistair McGrath, James Dunn, et. al. It is a bit odd that a handful of men with an innovative idea could know more about patristics and the sitz en leben of Paul's time than the Protestant Reformers--all of whom were thoroughly trained in scholastic theology and the humanities. Surely Calvin and Luther and a host of other Reformers would have known Roman law and Jewish law via their studies?

Basically, N.T. Wright has an agenda. His agenda is ecumenicalism and he thinks undermining the Protestant Reformation is the way to accomplish his goals. Faith plus works is anathema!

Charlie J. Ray said...

The idea that there is a "future vindication based on the accumulated works of the believer's lifetime" is the Roman Catholic view. Basically, it says that justification is an infused righteousness in the heart. Every sin committed before baptism is wiped out via the perfect infusion of righteousness. (Semi-pelagianism). Every sin committed AFTER baptism must be paid for by the believer himself, hence the Roman Catholic system of penances, merits, purgatory, etc.

IF salvation depends on your works, THEN Jesus died on the cross in vain since He did not pay for all your sins. If even one sin deserves an eternal punishment in hell, then if you sinned even once after baptism an indefinite period of penance and purification in purgatory would never be enough to redeem you from your sins and satisfy the wrath of God.

ONLY a divine and a human person could be a mediator between God and men. Only a divine/human substitute could pay the eternal penalty for the sins of the elect.

The Heidelberg Catechism puts it clearly:

Lord’s Day 5

12. Since, then, by the righteous judgment of God we deserve temporal and eternal punishment, how may we escape this punishment and be again received into favor?

God wills that His justice be satisfied;[1] therefore, we must make full satisfaction to that justice, either by ourselves or by another.[2]

[1] Ex 20:5, 23:7; Rom 2:1-11; [2] Isa 53:11; Rom 8:3-4


13. Can we ourselves make this satisfaction?

Certainly not; on the contrary, we daily increase our guilt.[1]

[1] Job 9:2-3, 15:15-16; Ps 130:3; Mt 6:12, 16:26; Rom 2:4-5
14. Can any mere creature make satisfaction for us?

None; for first, God will not punish any other creature for the sin which man committed;[1] and further, no mere creature can sustain the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin and redeem others from it.[2]

[1] Ezek 18:4, 20; Heb 2:14-18; [2] Ps 130:3; Nah 1:6


15. What kind of mediator and redeemer, then, must we seek?

One who is a true[1] and righteous man,[2] and yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also true God.[3]

[1] 1 Cor 15:21-22, 25-26; Heb 2:17; [2] Isa 53:11; Jer 13:16; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 7:26; [3] Isa 7:14, 9:6; Jer 23:6; Jn 1:1; Rom 8:3-4; Heb 7:15-16


Lord’s Day 6

16. Why must He be a true and righteous man?

Because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which has sinned should make satisfaction for sin;[1] but one who is himself a sinner cannot satisfy for others.[2]

[1] Rom 5:12, 15; 1 Cor 15:21; Heb 2:14-16; [2] Isa 53:3-5; Heb 7:26-27; 1 Pt 3:18


17. Why must He also be true God?

That by the power of His Godhead[1] He might bear in His manhood the burden of God’s wrath,[2] and so obtain for[3] and restore to us righteousness and life.[4]

[1] Isa 9:5; [2] Dt 4:24; Isa 53:8; Ps 130:3; Nah 1:6; Acts 2:24; [3] Jn 3:16; Acts 20:28; [4] Isa 53:5, 11; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Jn 1:2


18. But who now is that Mediator, who in one person is true God and also a true and righteous man?

Our Lord Jesus Christ,[1] who is freely given unto us for complete redemption and righteousness.[2]

[1] Mt 1:21-23; Lk 2:11; 1 Tim 2:5, 3:16; [2] Acts 4:12; 1 Cor 1:30


19. From where do you know this?

From the Holy Gospel, which God Himself first revealed in Paradise,[1] afterwards proclaimed by the holy patriarchs[2] and prophets,[3] and foreshadowed by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law,[4] and finally fulfilled by His well-beloved Son.[5]

[1] Gen 3:15; [2] Gen 12:3, 22:18, 49:10-11; [3] Isa 53; Jer 23:5-6; Mic 7:18-20; Acts 3:22-24, 10:43; Rom 1:2; Heb 1:1; [4] Lev 1:7; Jn 5:46; Heb 10:1-10; [5] Rom 10:4; Gal 4:4-5; Col 2:17; Heb 10:1

See Heidelberg: Lord's Day 5 and 6

Charlie J. Ray said...

See also, Article VI of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, English Reformation.

I should add that it does not surprise me that modern Pentecostal/Charismatics are attacking the doctrine of Scripture and siding with those who place authority in the "community of faith" or in a super-spiritual elite. That's because for Pentecostal/Charismatics the Scriptures are not the final authority. The ongoing gifts of the Spirit as they ecstatically experience them are their authority, not Scripture. For this reason we see classical Pentecostals jettisoning the traditional views of prior generations and accepting instead an authority based on the episcopate or the church. For Pentecostals/Charismatics miracles substantiate their extrabiblical traditions much the same as Roman Catholics look to extrabiblical traditions as divine revelation on equal standing with Holy Scripture.

I've noted elsewhere in my blog the tendency of modern Pentecostal scholars to jump on board with every liberal trend that would lend credibility to their own heretical views. Frank Macchia, being one of them, has officially rejected imputed justification and sided with a "transformational" justification. This is nothing short of selling out the Reformation to Rome. Why don't Pentecostals just join up with Rome and be done with it? After all, they believe in miracles, too!

Support Reasonable Christian Ministries with your generous donation.