Tuesday, October 31, 2006

C. Gordon Olson on the Missionary Calling

C. Gordon Olson wrote:

"Today in America we have the spectacle of modest churches receiving hundreds of resumes from prospective pastoral candidates. Something is 'out of whack'! Mission boards don't even receive two applications for each openning on the field. They are happy to get even one. Bible colleges here in America receive many resumes from qualified applicants for each open teaching position. It is strange that Bible insitutes and colleges abroad have a hard time filling faculty positions. The ministry is the same (albeit usually it is in a different language). Could it be that some mysterious 'calling' is lacking in one case but not the other?

Perhaps our western notion of 'falling in love' contributes to the confusion. The Bible says nothing about 'falling in love' before getting married. Isaac's marriage was arranged by his father's servant with a girl he had never seen before. Our western romantic notion of 'falling in love' seems to be a dismal failure because far too many Americans seem to be 'falling out of love,' and the divorce rate is a national scandal. There may be a parallel with the romantic notion of the 'missionary call.' Just as we expect to be struck with 'falling in love' before marriage, perhaps we also expect to be struck with a 'missionary call' before becoming a missionary."

What in the World is God Doing: The Essentials of Global Mission, p.87

Monday, October 30, 2006

Date for Mission Trip

It looks like I shall be going to Japan in the second week of January. I shall be going for two months. This is provisional on satisfacory references being obtained, of course.

I need your prayers, people. Please pray for:

- Financial provision.

- Safe travel.

- My ability to adapt to different circumstances and situations.

- Humility and willingness to serve.

- Good relations with the missionaries and others that I meet.

I think my Dyspraxia is likely to make this harder for me than it would be for other people in a number of ways. This really is going to be a big challenge.

Adam Smith to appear on £20 Notes

The image of the father of Free-Market Economics, Adam Smith is to appear on £20 notes. Is there a greater Scotsman than Adam Smith?

This is wonderful news. It is great that the British establishment is publicly acknowledging that Capitalism really is a great system.

When I was 21, I read Adam Smith's classic work The Wealth of Nations. I read it with great reverance, as though it were some ancient holy book.

The Wealth of Nations is surely the greatest secular book ever written.

Musings of an English Muffin: The Green Indulgences?

Musings of an English Muffin: The Green Indulgences?

The English Muffin's thoughts on climate change.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

13 Reasons Why I am a Dispensationalist

1. The Bible teaches Dispensationalism.

2. All Dispensationalists believe in the Inerrancy of the Bible.

3. Dispensationalists are firmly committed to Premillennialism, which is more clearly taught than almost any other doctrine in the Bible.

4. Dispensationalism is the handmaiden of Fundamentalism.

5. Most Dispensationalists recognize that Roman Catholicism is a Satanic and antichristian system.

6. Most Dispensationalists reject the errors and extremes of both Calvinism and Arminianism.

7. The Dispensational system is highly compatible with Free Grace theology.

8. Dispensationalists have a strong sense of prophetic urgency.

9. Dispensationalism encourages fun speculation about the end-times.

10. Dispensationalism provides an instant response to Left-wing freaks who try to use Jesus teaching in the Sermon on the Mount and the Kingdom of God to justify their Socialist wickedness.

11. The Japanese people sensibly follow the custom of removing their shoes in homes. They have a strong concept of purity in their culture. They make a firm distinction between indoors and outdoors. Likewise, Dispensationalists have a similar mentality. They believe in 'rightly dividing the word of truth.' That is, keeping distinct those parts of Scripture that relate to heavenly things and earthly things and those parts of the Bible that relate to the Church and to Israel.

12. Some people have argued that Dispensationalism has an element of Gnosticism. Cool. Gnosticism is kind of like the New Age Movement.

13. Dispensationalism is a bit weird, like the teachings of a cult. If you believe in Dispensationalism, you can pretend you are part of some far-out cult.

Key words: typical, feeble attempt at being funny, silliness, shallow, supralapsarianism

Friday, October 27, 2006

Luther or Calvin?

I once knew a Christian music teacher who held very strong opinions. I was having a conversation with him once about church history. He said he admired Martin Luther, but he did not admire John Calvin. At the time, I was not especially knowledgeable about church history, but it seemed a rather crass comment.

I doubt the man knew very much about the theology or historical circumstances of either man. If he was more familiar with their theology, I expect he would have found aspects of Calvin that were preferable to Martin Luther. Both men had personal flaws and made mistakes. To portray Martin Luther as good and Calvin as bad, betrays huge ignorance. He was probably not even aware that Luther was just as predestinarian as Calvin.

Children of the Heavenly King

Children of the heavenly King,
As ye journey, sweetly sing;
Sing your Savior’s worthy praise,
Glorious in His works and ways

We are traveling home to God,
In the way the fathers trod;
They are happy now, and we
Soon their happiness shall see.

O, ye banished seed, be glad!
Christ our Advocate is made;
Us to save, our flesh assumes—
Brother to our souls becomes.

Shout, ye little flock, and blest,
You on Jesus’ throne shall rest:
There your seat is now prepared—
There your kingdom and reward.

Lift your eyes, ye sons of light,
Zion’s city is in sight:
There our endless home shall be,
There our Lord we soon shall see.

Fear not, brethren; joyful stand
On the borders of your land;
Jesus Christ, your Father’s Son,
Bids you undismayed go on.

Lord, obedient we would go,
Gladly leaving all below;
Only Thou our Leader be;
And we will still follow Thee.

John Cennick

Can be sung to the tune of 'Hark my soul it is the Lord. Those of us who hold to consistent Free Grace theology would point out that taking a throne in the kingdom is a reward, not a right of every believer. Those who sing this hymn should bear that in mind. If we do not keep our eyes fixed on the Lord and walk in His ways in our piligrimage, we will not inherit the kingdom (but we would still enter heaven).

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Trip to Japan

I do hope you are all praying about my trip to Japan.

I got an email from the missionaries I shall be staying with last week, which was nice.

I sent an email to the agency today, to see how things are going with the plans. They sent me a medical form to give to a doctor to sign. I also got a document with loads of information for those going short-term.

Apparently, I shall be shovelling a lot of snow while I am there. Along with other menial tasks. It will be good experience at getting that thing very spiritual Christians call a 'servant heart.'

Please keep praying for me.

Married

Apparently, a couple at my parent's church believed (gave intellectual assent to the fact- or did they really believe it?) that I was married. Evidently, they remembered that I had been engaged to be married a couple of years ago, but had either forgotten or were unaware that the wedding had never taken place.

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: Open Home Policy

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: Open Home Policy

Free Grace Theology: 1 Corinthians 6:8-11 / Experientially Unrighteous Christians will NOT Inherit the Kingdom of God

Free Grace Theology: 1 Corinthians 6:8-11 / Experientially Unrighteous Christians will NOT Inherit the Kingdom of God

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Government Loss of Nerve on Immigration

BBC News: Reid outlines new EU work curbs

The government has given its backing to the home secretary, John Reid's plans to impose temporary limits on immigration from Bulgaria and Romania when they join the European Union. For up to seven years, only skilled workers and unskilled workers in agriculture and food processing will be able to emigrate from Bulgaria and Romania to the UK

I think this is a real shame. Britain could benefit enormously from the labour market flexiblity of a new wave of migrants.

There will be disadvantages to the new policy. Many of the people who would come as legal migrants may decide to come illegally. It is always better to get immigration the legal way. Furthermore our diplomatic relations with the new member states could be damaged by the policy. Bulgaria and Romania decide to vote against us in key decisions in the European Parliament.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Saved Roman Catholics?

I get very alarmed when I hear Evangelicals talking about Roman Catholics who they consider to be saved. I am also concerned when I hear about evangelical revival movements in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox communities.

Now it is certainly true that a person could have come to a genuine faith in Christ while still remaining in the idolatorous churches of Popery. We are saved by trusting in Jesus Christ for eternal life, not by separating from idolatry, important as that is. Those who believe in Lordship Salvation would have to say this is impossible, as they believe that believing the Gospel cannot be separated from commitment to obediance. That is a grave error that destroys the nature of grace.

However, I am not certain that those who talk about 'born-again Catholics' and 'born-again Eastern Orthodox folks' are really using the right criteria to determine whether those people are really regenerate. The Roman Catholic church and the Eastern Orthodox churches teach a different gospel. They deny that eternal life is a free gift received only by faith. They deny present posession of everlasting life. They deny that justification is a judicial act of eternal consequence. A person who teaches a false gospel must be accursed. A person cannot be saved through believing a different gospel.

A Roman Catholic is not saved because she professes to have been born-again. A person may have had an experience that seems like conversion, but unless there has been trust in Christ for eternal life and assurance of receiving it, the person has not really been born-again. It is vital to beware of confusing true conversion with emotional experiences or changes of conduct or attitude.

A Roman Catholic is not saved because she professes to love Christ. I dare say the vast majority of Roman Catholics would profess to love our Lord. But what is it to love Christ? It is keeping His commandments (1 John 5:3). A Roman Catholic does not keep the commandments of our Lord because she is an idolator. Those who judge Catholics as regenerate because they profess to love our Lord and confused about true Biblical love.

A Roman Catholic is not saved because she has been 'baptized in the Holy Spirit'. The Charismatic movement managed to impact the Roman Catholic church as well as the majority of Protestant churches. Too many Christians came to the disastrous conclusion that speaking in tongues and being involved in Charismatic stuff was a sign that a person was truly born again. It must be said that many of these Charismatic Catholics crossed over into Charismatic Evangelical churches. It may be that many of them had come to embrace the true Gospel. But no doubt others had only drifted into the legalism and doctrinal confusion of much of the Charismtic movement without ever truly being born-again.

A Roman Catholic is not saved because she is eager to study the Word of God for herself. Such an attitude is positive and may lead the Catholic to the truth, but in itself it is not a sign of salvation. Knowing much of the Bible is useless to save unless one knows the truth of the Gospel.

A Roman Catholic is not saved because she appears to be 'spirit-filled'. The fruits of the spirit are signs of a consecrated life in a believer (Gal 5:22-25), but they are traits that can be found in unbelievers at times. Unbelievers can at times be gentle, joyful and meek. If Satan is manifested as an angel of liget, let us not be surpised if the devotees of false religion do not at times appear to be spirit-filled.

A Roman Catholic is not saved because she is keen to witness for Christ. The Roman Catholic church has been sending out missionaries for far longer than any Protestant denomination. It does not alter the fact that they bring a false gospel. And very few Christians can match the evangelistic fervour of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

A Roman Catholic is not saved because she is uncomfortable with the teaching of the Vatican. This is a blessed step and may yet lead to her coming to the truth, but it will not save in itself.

There is only one certain test of salvation.

A Roman Catholic is saved if she has come to believe that Jesus has granted her everlasting life on the basis of her faith alone. She needs to be lead away from the monstrosity of Romanism, but her salvation is only in her coming to believe in that free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

Our award to countries where removing shoes in homes is customary.

A lot of Coins

A while ago (2 years ago?) I got into the habit of saving up change for parking fees. I counted up the money today and to my surprise, even with my taking out money to pay for car parking, I had seventy pounds saved up! Amazing how much money you can accumulate when you save money.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

J.N. Darby on the Presence of the Holy Ghost in the Church

by John Nelson Darby

We may take notice in all this that it has nothing to do whatever to do with the dwelling in an individual. It was a distinct thought altogether. The serious question is, are we worse off now as to this? There were then also operations of the Holy Ghost in the way of prophecy and testimony, but it was a distinct thing. We may expect this to be modified in many ways when the Holy Ghost was sent down from heaven; because in Christ, where our proper acceptance is, we are characterised rather as dwelling with God- in His house. Still the other is true by the Holy Ghost sent down. What we have to inquire is, whether the presence of God in the midst of His people is spoken of in the New Testament, and that distinct from His gracious presence in the individual. If there be any material modification of it, this may also claim our attention. It would be difficult to suppose that there was less real presence of God in the midst of His people now than under the Old Testament. It is true we look for His presence in glory; but surely meanwhile the main doctrine, as to the actual condition and existence of the Church, is the presence of God sent down from heaven, as truly and really the presence of God in the midst of His people as the Shecinah of glory. If God was in His holy temple then, God is in His holy temple now- most truly, though after another manner: not merely in individuals, the aggregate of whose individual blessing is the blessing of the whole, but in His spiritual temple, the Church of the living God. And here I would remark further, that His personal presence as acting in any power in the Church is wholly denied. It may not be in words(this I should think much less of; the faith of simple saints might at once meet it); but it is undermined and taken from us without our being aware of it. It is vain to cry out about its not being fair to impute to a person what he denies. Are the saints to be robbed of their heritage and blessing, because he who does so denies he is doing it? It may be through ignorance, but it is much fairer to detect than to deny it, if the thing be so. Man may speak of the Spirit, may use Him, may act under His gracious influence, but He, the Holy Ghost does not act. That would be impulse. No one pretends to inspiration in the way of new revelation, but simply that the Holy Ghost acts in leading, guiding, filling and using the vessel. That is, He acts by us. The distinction, however, is wholly unscriptural. The Holy Ghost speaking by a man and a man speaking by the Holy Ghost are used as equivalent terms; as Acts 1:16; ch.6:10; ch.20:24; ch.21:4, 11; compare chapter 11:28, ch.28:25; Mark 12:36; compare Matthew 22:43. The difference of the expression most clearly amounts to the lowest Arminianism as to the Holy Ghost. That is, man acts by it, but the Holy Ghost does not act by man. And I beg the attention of brethren to this- it is just simply not believing in the personal presence and actings of the Holy Ghost. I am satisfied that it is simply unbelief in the presence and actings of the Holy Spirit.

And now to the statements of the New Testament on the subject. That the presence of the Comforter is the distinguishing truth of this dispensation, founded on the work of Christ, I ought not to be obliged to insist on. Suffice it to say, that it is on the fact of this presence that the Lord grounds the advantage of His going away. 'If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go away, I will send him unto you.' And all the blessing, communion, and testimony (save the personal testimony of the disciples as living with Him, and that was by His bringing all to their remembrance), if founded on the presence, personal presence of this other Comforter. This is evidently of the last importance. Here it is well to remark on the force of this word 'Comforter.' He was One who, by being down here, was to take the place of Jesus when He went away; and was to take up and carry on the cause of the disciples as Christ had done, only more powerfully in a certain way because of Christ's work and exaltation. It is the same word as is said of Christ, 'we have an advocate with the Father'- one who is charged with and maintains our cause. This the Holy Ghost was to do, and to guide, comfort, sustain and direct the disciples as Jesus had done, with the difference noted. And further, He was not to leave them as Christ had; He was to abide with them for ever. This name of One come down to take Christ's place, and abiding for ever is of all moment in this case; for as the Holy Ghost, come as the Paraclete, who was to be among them in His stead (though glorifying Him), and to act among and for, and by them; and lead, and guide, and correct, and direct and sustain them, and to be with them for ever. This was not merely natural qualities sanctified by grace, and man acting by the Spirit; it was a living divine Person acting for them, and by them. That, He being grieved (and withal in the sovereign counsels of God), much of that in which He shewed His power is lost, is true; but to say, because man has abused this grace, and feebleness has followed, because God has not honoured those who did not honour Him, or because the flesh has abused the doctrine, that He does not dwell amongst us, is merely that kind of unbelief hateful to God, which is called in Scripture, 'tempting God.' The palce was called Massah and Meribah, 'because they tempted God, saying, Is the Lord amongst us or no?' And here I will remark on the 'with us,' and the 'in us.' The distinction is perfectly scriptural. The Lord said (John 14:25), 'These things I have said unto you, being yet present with you'- the exact phrase of in Greek which is used concerning the Holy Ghost, translated 'He dwelleth with you.' Christ was yet dwelling with them, but another Comforter was to come whom they would know (though the world would not, because it di dnot see Him) because He dwelt with them; and then He adds, as to the manner (which was not so of Jesus come in the flesh) a new thing, and therefore put in the future tense, 'He shall be in you.' This new paraclete was to be their Counsellor, Guide, Orderer (as Jesus had been), manage their cause and affairs as dwelling with them. Hence we see the importance of distinguishing this living presence and acting of a Comforter from a man's using his talents in a sanctified way by grace.

But, further, this is fully brought out in Scripture as a distinct thing from being in individual members. Both are spoken of to different purposes in Scripture. 'Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, whcih ye have of God; and ye are not your own?' etc. (1 Cor. 6:19). Here accordingly it is applied to personal sanctification. 'Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are,' 1 Cor.3:16,17. Here it is clearly the Church of God, the building of God whcih some might corrupt by false doctrine. They were God's building. The Spirit of God does then clearly distinguish the dwelling in the body. And this is so much the same thought and connected with the idea of the presence of God in Israel, that in 2 Corinthians 6:16 it si distinctly introduced. 'For ye are the temple of the living God: as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God and they shall be my people.' And now I would ask, What is there debasing in the blessed doctrine that God dwells in His holy temple? We might perhaps say (were it not for that precious blood of Christ which has cleansed us) that it was a debasing idea that the Holy Ghost should dwell in our poor wretched bodies as His temple. But His testimony is to the value of that precious blood as cleansing us, so that His presence in the believer is a glorious testimony to the infinite presciousness of Christ's work, and His presence at the right hand of the Father. But His presence in the Church as His temple, though no doubt founded on the same great truth, is at least more easily apprehended. Because when I think of the Church, I do not think of the flesh, but only of the redeemed people of God on earth. Here my soul says easily, the Holy Ghost can dwell. It belongs to Christ, whom the Spirit glorifies. Both, we have seen, are true; but when I think of a man, I think readily of what he is in his infirmity; and (though it would be wrong) might be easily led to say, Can the Holy Ghost dwell in such poor vile creatures? But when I think of the Church, I do not think of the first Adam state. I think of the fruit of Christ's redemption. Here, my heart says, the Holy Ghost ought to be.

Taken from The Presence of the Holy Ghost in the Church in Collected Writings of J.N. Darby, vol.3, p.346-350

Key words: John Nelson Darby, Plymouth Brethren, ecclesiology, church, Holy Spirit, Pneumatology, indwelling

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Wickedness of the Labour Government

Times Online: Hospitals in Tory seats are 'targeted for closure'

The Labour government is playing politics with the health service. According to leaked emails from Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, hospital closures are being limited to areas that are represented by Conservative or Liberal Democrat members of parliament. That way, Labour's election prospects will not be too badly damaged by cuts in the health service.

This is very devious and not at all honest.

Language

I do hope you are all praying about my two-month trip to Japan, which will hopefully take place in January. My parents have already bought me a warm coat for the freezing-cold weather.

I did start trying to learn some Japanese. However, I recently read a very useful missiology textbook by C. Gordon Olson (Non-Calvinist, Dispensational Fundamentalist). It said that one is better off not trying to learn the language before going out on mission:

Rarely is it wise to start language study at home unless a qualified native speaker is available to teach. Better to wait for the total immersion expeience on the field.

C. Gordon Olson What in the World is God doing? The Essentials of Global Mission, p.339

This makes sense. My attempts at learning Finnish at home using books and C.D.s, was hardly satisfactory. Often home language courses do not really teach the true vernacular of a language.

This Lord's Day, a young Portugese Christian, who I met once while street preaching, came to my church with my friends, Andrew and Caroline Geuter.

The young man told me a strange word and said it was the Japanese word for hello. I replied:

I thought the Japanese word for hello was konnichiwa.


He replied:

Oh. Maybe it is the Japanese word for goodbye. Or maybe it is Chinese or Korean.


I thought to myself:

Thanks. That is really helpful.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Street Preaching Today

I went out street preaching today. It was the first time in ages that I was not preaching on my own. Andrew was preaching today. John joined in just before I left.

I preached twice, the first time on the Lord's Coming and the second time on Jesus being the Resurrection and the Life.

After my first sermon, Andrew and I talked to some people from China. They were here to study English. They were very curious about what we were doing, but they knew absolutely nothing at all about Jesus Christ. I am not sure how much of what we said they understood.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Defining Fundamentalism

Many thanks to everyone who commented on the last post. If anybody else wants to share their thoughts in the comments there, they are welcome.

My supervisor asked me today how I would define Fundamentalism. I replied that it was impossible to give a single definition of Fundamentalism, as the word was used in different ways in different contexts.

There are several possible definitions:

The Historical Definition

A Fundamentalist is one who believes the five Fundamentals

This was the original meaning of the word when it was first used in the early twentieth century in controversies between conservatives and liberals in American denominations. The five Fundamentals were usually listed as:

1. Inspiration of Scripture.
2. The deity of Christ.
3. The substitutionary death of Christ.
4. The resurrection of Christ.
5. The Second Coming of Christ.

Some removed the Second Coming and added the Virgin Birth. This list of essentials is very broad; a conservative Roman Catholic could agree with them all. Some of the men associated with the Fundamentalist controversy were Theistic Evolutionists who would never be described by most Evangelicals as Fundamentalists (and they would not have applied the name to themselves anyway).

This is close to the way in which Rose~ applies the word to herself. She calls herself a Fundamentalist, by which she means one who believes certain fundamental doctrines. Her list of fundamentals would be narrower than those of the 1910 list, however it would probably be a list that every conservative Evangelical could agree with. Ironically, this is quite similar to how the liberal James Barr uses the word in his book Fundamentalism, by which he means Evangelicals, whether they accept the word Fundamentalist or not.

A Broad General Definition

A fundamentalist is the follower of a religious tradition who believes in the absolute authority of religious texts in that tradition.

The word fundamentalist has come to be used outside of Christianity. By this definition, most Evangelical Christians, conservative Catholics, most Eastern Orthodox, all Muslims and the followers of cults are fundamentalists.

I think this definition is too broad to be any use.

A Narrower General Definition

A fundamentalist is the follower of a religious tradition who believes in the absolute authority of religious texts in that tradition and advocates literal interpretation of those texts.

This definition is very useful when it comes to Islam. This definition enables us to distinguish between Muslims who advocate rigid interpretations of Islamic law and ethics and those who are more moderate and flexible in their interpretation of legal texts.

However, the problem with applying this definition to Christianity is the scope of literal interpretation. For instance, many Reformed or Calvinistic Christians would insist upon the literal interpretation of the days of Genesis 1 as 24-hour periods, yet would reject the literal interpretation of the thousand year reign of Christ in Revelation chapter 20. As for Jehovah's Witnesses, their teachings seem to switch between literal and non-literal interpretation according to the particular views of their organisation, without any apparent hermeneutical principle.

The Ecclesiastical-Traditional Definition

A Fundamentalist is an Evangelical Christian who's theology and methodology is significantly influenced by elements of the Fundamentalist movement of the Twentieth Century.

This is perhaps a little vague as a definition, but I believe it is an helpful one.

When I describe myself as a Fundamentalist, this is what I mean. If I am asked about my theology, I will describe myself as a Dispensational Fundamentalist.

A person who fits this definition will be absolutely committed to the Inerrancy of Scripture. Such a person will take a polemical and confrontational approach to wrong doctrine and will insist upon separation from those who teach and uphold it. She will have no sympathy with the Ecumenical movement. Such a person will reject the theory of Evolution, though not necessarilly Six-Day Creationist.

The Fundamentalist, by this definition, will be favorably disposed to Dispensational Premillennialism. She will be hostile to the modern world, recognising it as under the dominion and influence of Satan. She will have a strong sense of prophetic expectation.

While strong Calvinists may find themselves within this definition, they will tend to take an intermediate view between Arminianism and Calvinism, varying from Four-point Calvinism to a Synergism that maintains the eternal security of the believer. The Fundamentalist is likely to take an approach to sanctification that has been influenced by the Plymouth Brethren and the Keswick movement.

The Fundamentalist will support energetic evangelism and missionary endeavour. She will make use of apologetic persuasion.

The Fundamentalist will have a great concern for personal holiness. Traditionally the Fundamentalist favours abstinence from alcohol (I guess I cannot get it right all the time!) and from worldly activities.

There is of course a whole spectrum within this definition of Fundamentalism, from a Southern Baptist pastor who has studied at Dallas Theological Seminary to KJV-Only ultra-separatists. The Plymouth Brethren are closely related to this tradition.

If we apply these definitions to two regular visitors to this blog, Rose~ and Libbie, we find that both ladies would qualify for the Historical Definition and both would qualify for the Broad General Definition. Rose~ would probably qualify for the Narrow General Definition, being both Six-Day Creationist and Premillennial, but Libbie is a little lss certain, being Amillennial. Scofield-reading Rose~ would certainly qualify on the Ecclesiastical-Traditional Definition, but not Libbie, who has her theological roots more in the Puritan tradition.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Questions for Readers: Fundamentalist or Evangelical?

How many of you call yourselves Fundamentalists? And what does that mean?

Or do you prefer to call yourself an Evangelical? Why?

Or do you think both terms are unhelpful?

I dare say some pious soul will say 'I am just a Christian.' So why don't you go on and say it?

Dr. Ian Paisley

I think there is something very surreal about the prominence of Dr Paisely in British politics.

Britain is a supposedly a multi-cultural society (though the 'liberal' establishment seem to want to move away from that concept) whcih tolerates diversity and tolerance. The Protestant churches have wholeheartedly embraced Ecumenicism and have no problem with Catholicism anymore.

And yet the entire peace process and the establishment of regional government in Northern Ireland depends upon a Bible-believing preacher who uses the King James Version and considers the Papacy to be the Antichrist. It is simply incredible that this one man who refused to bow the knee to religious pluralism and the liberal establishment holds the government to ransom.

For those of you who are not British, Dr. Ian Paisley is the head of the Free Presbyterian church in Northern Ireland. He is also the leader of the largest party in Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist party and a member of parliament.

Many consider Paisley to be an anti-Catholic bigot and an enemy of peace in Northern Ireland. I believe he is a great man and his sucess in the politics of Northern Ireland proves this to be the case. Even many who dislike the man admit that many of his suspicions about the IRA and Sin Fein (the IRA's political ally) were correct.

Today a meeting is taking place in St. Andrew's, Scotland to determine the future of government in Northern Ireland. Unless Dr. Paisley agrees to share a power with Sin Fein, the second largest party, the Northern Ireland assembly in Stormont will have to close and the process of devolution of government will be in ruins.

Of course, it is not all down to Paisley. He is not the only stubborn one. So far Gerry Adams and Sin Fein have refused to give their support to the Northern Ireland police force. This would also be a very crucial step.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Visiting my Sister (and her Shoe Box)

I visited my sister, Heather, this weekend in Poole, near Bournemouth. I had a really wonderful time with her. I love my sister, she is so kind, generous and warm-spirited.

I was delighted to find that my sister had come to adopt the practice of shoes off at the door. Most people in her block of flats leave their shoes outside their apartments. She and her boyfriend had adopted the same custom. However, a letter from the landlords had warned that shoes being left in the corridors presented a fire hazard. Hence, Heather and her boyfriend, Gary, are putting their shoes in a big box outside their apartment. A very sensible idea, as they have a really beautiful modern carpet. I am not sure how I would describe this carpet, but I loved it. Sadly, Heather did not see fit to enforce her shoes-off policy and she put her shoes on while in the apartment once or twice while I was staying. However, it is encouraging that young people like my sister and her neighbours are more inclined than the previous generation to keep their homes shoe-free.

Gary was away this weekend, so I had Heather all to myself. She showed me Bournemouth, Westbourne, Poole and Christ Church.

While we were in Christ Church, we visited the Priory, an Anglican Church. I doubt the theology there was terribly sound (on the pews, they had apostate NRSV Bibles), but I was delighted to find that they used the Book of Common Prayer. I am no Anglican, but it is sad to see the decline in the use of the Book of Common Prayer in favour of beastly modern liturgies.

As might be expected, with the two of us together, we ate an awful lot of food and drank plenty of alcohol. Heather introduced me to a couple of pubs that served great beers. The C-family love our food and drink.

Bournemouth has a reputation as a place where old people go to retire. However, I was quite surprised by the large numbers of young people there. The city was swarming with young folks. Some were from the university, others were foreign students at the English language school. However, there were also quite a few lower-class young people, especially in Poole. For instance on the bus, there were some teenage girls who felt the need to use the F-word in every sentence.

I always try to buy my parents a present when I go away. As usual, I bought them a bottle of wine, a Spanish white Chardonnay. I do not drink wine, so I have absolutely no idea whether it is any good, but the shop was very selective in what it stocked, so it presumably had the shopkeepers' approval.

My sister is really enjoying her new job as a Waste Management Officer for the town council in Poole. She loves her job most because of her enthusiasm for recycling. When she gets her warrant, she will have the power invested in her to fine people who drop litter. She already has the responsiblity to report people who throw litter out of their cars. I am so proud of my sister, the government official!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Politician feels the need to tell people how to live their lives

BBC News: Straw asks women for veil rethink

Jack Straw the former foreign secretary and leader of the House of Commons now has a policy of asking Muslim women he meets to remove their veils. He feels that the veil interferes with communication.

I think this is a very unhelpful move. Frankly, it is none of his business how Muslim women dress. If his constituents are unable to communicate to him properly because of their veils, that is their loss, not his. As a member of parliament, it is his responsiblity to represent his constituents, including those who do not share his values. Making Muslim women uncomfortable because he does not like their use of veils seems to me very unhelpful and not a little arrogant.

I think this story illustrates a point I keep making. That is, that Britain is not becoming domminated by Islam. The British people for the most part are not naieve about Islam or terrified of bothering the Muslims. In fact, there is a huge amount of resentment and hostility towards Muslims amongst the general public here.

That is why I think claims that Britain is in danger of being Islamicised is absolute nonsense. Britain is far more likely to become a Fascist dictatorship than an Islamic theocracy.

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: This Week's NATIONAL ETIQUETTE AWARD

Our award to countries where removing shoes in homes is the norm.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Conservative Party Political Broadcast

The Conservative party broadcast on television was absolutely brilliant.

The first thing that David Cameron said was to admit that Blair's government had got some things right. He then went on to say that politicians spend too much time attacking each other.

David Cameron understands what is needed in a way that other Conservative leaders have failed to do. I have felt for years that Conservative polticians have been far too negative in their comments about the Blair government. Most people believe that Blair has done quite a good job of running the country, that is why they kept voting for him.

It is remarkable that it has taken so long for the Conservatives to discover this new style of positive politics.

Conservative party members love to hear the government derided and mocked; the general public hate that kind of talk. The Punch and Judy era is over.

The Danger of Teaching the Erroneous Doctrine of "Vicarious Law-Keeping"

The Danger of Teaching the Erroneous Doctrine of "Vicarious Law-Keeping"

A critique of Reformed error on justification from Middletown Bible Church

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

J.N. Darby on Separation and Holiness

by J.N. Darby

Holiness, then, is separation to God, if it be real, as well as from evil; for thus alone we are in the light, for God is light. This is true, in our first sanctifying- we are brought to know God, brought to God. If we come to ourselves it is, "I will arise and go no farther." If it is restoration, "If thou wilt return, return unto me." Indeed a soul is never restored really till it does; for it is not in the light so as to purge flesh, even if the fruits of the flesh have been confessed; nor is sin seen as it is in God's sight. Hence love comes in, in all true conversion and restoration, however dimly seen, or through however dark workings of conscience. We want to get back to God; there is forgiveness with Him that He may be feared; otherwise it is despair which drives us further away. Indeed, what would or could restoration be if it were not to God. But, in the full sense of gathering, that is to common fellowship, it is clearly the blessed object which reveals that in which we are to have fellowship, which so gathers. We are to have fellowship in something, that is, with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. This, then, must draw hearts to itself, that in their common delight in it their fellowship may exist. The principle of the tract is this, that in doing this it must separate from evil. It is 'this-then-is-the-message' part of the statement. So Christ says, 'If I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.' Now here was perfect love, entire separation from all sin and condemnation of it. 'In that He died, He died unto sin once'- separation from the world, and deliverance from the whole power of the enemy and the scene of it. It is perfect love drawing from everything to itself; shewing all was evil, absorbing the soul into what was good, in a saving way from it. But when we follow Him into life, all is gone from which He separated. 'In that he liveth, he liveth unto God'; that is His whole being, so to speak. Now He is, in this life, made higher than the heavens- the divine glory I do not hear enter into, but the life. It is a heavenly place He takes, and our gathering through the cross is to Him there, in the good where evil cannot come. There is our communion- entering into the Father's house in spirit. And this, I apprehend, is the true character of the assembly, of the church, for worship in its full sense. It remembers the cross, it worships, the world left out, and all known in heaven before God. He gave Himself that He might gather into one. But here I anticipate a little, for I am speaking as yet of the object, not of the active power. I apprehend that what separates the saint from evil, what makes him holy, is the revelation of an object (I mean, of course, through the Holy Ghost working), which draws his soul to that as good, and thereby reveals evil to him, and makes him judge it in spirit and soul: his knowledge of good and evil is, then, not a mere uneasy conscience, but sanctification; that is, sanctification is resting, by the enlightening of the Holy Ghost, on an object, which by its nature, purifies the affections by being their object- creates them through the power of grace. Even under the law it had this form, 'Be ye holy for I am holy'; though I admit, it there partook necessarilly of the character of the dispensation. In the cross we have these two great principles perfectly brought out. Love is clearly shown, the blessed object which draws the heart; yet the most solemn judgment of and separation from evil; such is God's perfectness- the foolishness and weakness of God. Divine attraction in love, evil in all its horror and forms, perfectly abhorred by him who is attracted and attaches himself to that. The soul goes with sin, as sin, to love, and goes there because love thus displayed has shewn him that it is sin, in being made sin for us. This is the power objectively that separates from evil, and ends all connection with it; for I die then to all the nature I lived to. Evil ceases to be, through faith, as I live hereafter in blessed actvity in love. But I have, perhaps, dwelt long enough on what ojectively gathers and gives fellowship; and surely, our fellowship, communion, is in that which is good- and as heavenly by no evil being there. Imperfectly realised no doubt here, but so far as it is not, fellowship is destroyed, for the flesh has none. Hence it is said: 'If we walk in the light as God is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.' But we cannot walk out of darkness but by walking in the light, that is, with God: and God is love, and were He not, we could not walk there.

Taken from Unity and Gathering in Collected Writings of J.N. Darby, vol.1, p.372-373

Key words: John Nelson Darby, ecclesiology, Exclusive Brethren, Plymouth Brethren, separation, sanctification, church

Monday, October 02, 2006

Conservatives are not Promising Tax Cuts

It is the Conservative party conference in Bournemouth this week (where my sister lives).

David Cameron the Conservative leader has aroused dissatsifaction from some on the Right of the party over his refusal to promise tax cuts.

I sympathize with the critics. The taxes are too high. The 'tax and spend' approach of the Labour government is very bad. However, we cannot afford to promise tax cuts without being accused of planning cuts in public services.

The Conservative party cannot win the election by talking about the economy. People are simply too satisfied with high public spending and welfare. The voters want big spending on schools and hospitals. We need to give them what they want and pretend to be a party of the Centre. You cannot be a Centre party and at the same time promise tax cuts.

We must bear this indignity and look to the future. There is no reward in being a party of opposition forever.

A Review of a Review: 'The New Christian Hymns- A Critique' by John P Thackway

Last week I received a pamphlet copy of the Bible League Trust review of the new edition of Christian Hymns, written by John P Thackway. I had already read this when it was published in their magazine. I thought I would write a review of this review.

I find myself in an odd relationship with the Bible League Trust (not to be confused with the American Bible League).I share their support for the Authorized King James James Version and their disgust at trends in contemporary worship and the Charismatic movement. However, I think their Puritan Reformed theology stinks and they would no doubt be even more disgusted at my theology.

Christian Hymns is an hymnal published by the Evangelical Movement of Wales. This hymnal is used in many conservative Evangelical congregations in the UK, particularly those of more Reformed theology. It has to be said that any hymn book these days is in a precarious position because of competition from chorus books like Mission Praise, OHPs and the popularity of modern choruses.

Personally, I am not a huge fan of Christian Hymns. It strikes me as a rather cerebral hymn book. I much prefer Bell's Golden Hymnal (My favorite- sadly no longer in print) and even Redemption Hymnal (watch out for the Pentecostalism). However, I do have a slight sentimental attachment to Christian Hymns. For a year, I attended a Reformed Baptist church which used Christian Hymns. I had a most blessed time in that place. It was so exciting to hold in my hands an old hymnbook containing hymns I had never heard of before. What a change from singing banal choruses from an OHP!

The Bible League's response to the new edition of Christian Hymns is overwhelmingly negative. Thackway finds a few good things to say about it, such as the change in its size and the removal of 'Lead Kindly Light' (J.H. Newman). However, on the whole the review is seriously upset by the changes to Christian Hymns.

While the review is disappointed by the reduction in metrical psalms (many of the Bible League's supporters hold to the position of Exclusive Psalmody, that only psalms should be used in worship) the main objection of the revision is the inclusion of a number of modrn choruses and worship songs, some of which originate in the Charismatic movement. Some of the new song writers included in the new Christian Hymns include Graham Kendrick (11 songs), Michael Baughen, Stuart Townend and James E Seddon. I must admit when I held that Christian Hymns in my hands back at that old Reformed Baptist church, I never imagined that a villain like Graham Kendrick would be included in a future edition. Thackway's comment on the Kendrick chorus 'Led like a Lamb to the Slaughter' is quite delightful:

It is not as bad as the other Kendrick material in Praise! Nonetheless, it lacks exalted doctrine and majestic poetry that bring one into the presence of God. It is typically sentimental and repetitous- the halmark of Charismatic/ ecumenical songs.


Thackway seems to be even more appalled by the inclusion of 'Seek Ye first the Kingdom of God.' I like to steer clear of that song for fear of stirring up nostalgia for my Charismatic days.

Thackway argues that the inclusion of Charismatic chrouses in an otherwise Reformed hymnal represents a serious concession to the Charismatic movement. I believe that this is the most serious danger of accomodating to the trend of contemporary worship. These songs are the fruit of the Charismatic movement, a movement that has contributed to the spread of wrong doctrine, worldliness, non-Dispensationalism, Messianic Judaizing and apostate Bible translations.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that a church which happily sings Charismatic songs may be less inclined to take a strong stand against the Charismatic movement. The church I attend makes use of many songs of Charismatic origin. Although the main pastor is quite uncomfortable about the Charismtic movement, he would never actually publicly condemn Charismtic theology. He even apologises for condemning prosperity teaching.

It is quite remarkable how the Charismatic movement and Reformed theology are increasingly getting along fine. In Wayne Grudem, we have a former Vineyard pastor becoming the main route of introduction to Reformed theology for many young people. Other well known Refromed figures such as John Piper seem to be able to accomdate the signs and wonders of the Continuationists.

However, even many of those Reformed people who reject the actual doctrines and practises of the Charismatic movement seem ready to make use of the Charismtic worship style. I was amazed to find Cessationist and Calvinist students attending and praising such shallow youth events as Soul Survivor.

I might not like Reformed theology, but I will say this; it is serious stuff. The Reformed guys have given us one grandiose and majestic system of theology. To my mind there is nothing more ridiculose than the thought of a person who follows the theology of Westminster Confession of Faith or the London Baptist Confession singing 'Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God' or 'Spirit of the Living God'. if I believed in Effectual Calling or the Covenant of Grace, could I really lower myself to sing 'I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart'? The Calvinists really need worship that reflects the glory of their theology, not to borrow the shallow trends of the Charismatics. Thackway writes:

Such limited and subjective material in a serious hymn book is a lurch backwards. Many of us, embracing the doctrines of grace, gladly "put away childish things" (1 Corinthians 13:11) and moved to doctrinally-rich and experiential hymns from better times. We also avoided the carnal and catchy productions of moderns who had little interest in biblical truth and separation from ecumenicism.


It was this serious and sober attitude that impressed me about Reformed people years ago. I was shocked and disappointed to find that so many Reformed congregations had adopted the frivolity of the Charismatics.

Where I take issue with this review is the contention that the new Christian Hymns represents a failure of leadership by its publishers, the Evangelical Movement of Wales. What Thackway is referring to is the fact that the publishers canvassed 50 Evangelical churches in order to establish what ought to be included. He argues that this is simply a surrender to the downward trends in Evangelical worship.

I must confess I am a little puzzled by the idea that the Evangelical Movement of Wales should be exercising leadership over churches. Is the movement the master or the servant of the churches? Surely the hymn book is published for the benefit of the churches that use it and pay for it. Is it not reasonable that their wishes should be taken into account in drawing it up?

Thackway points out that 30 Evangelical ministers signed a petition objecting to the revision of the hymn book. However, this group is likely to represent only a small percentage of those who make use of Christian Hymns. What is more there are some conservative Evangelical churches which use Mission Praise or Praise! whcih might consider switching to the more conservative new edition of Christian Hymns.

Much as the new Christian Hymns represents a downgrade in the quality of worship, the truth is that it better reflects the reality of what can be found in most conservative and Reformed Evangelical churches than the older edition. For instance, I recently preached in a very conservative and Calvinistic church which used Mission Praise. If a such a congregation insists on accomodating contemporary worship, is it reasonable to expect that many churches will continue to make use of a hymn book that makes absolutley no concession to the popularity of Stuart Townend?

It may be that the revision will attract some churches to Christian Hymns that would otherwise use Mission Praise, though this is perhaps a little over-optimistic.

I will conclude with Thackway's final observations:

Also ironic is the advertisment that appears on the website, "Don't forget, that if you are wondering what to do with existing copies of the old Christian Hymns you can make a real difference to folks in Africa and India by giving them your used copies... They will find a 'good new home'"

So, believers in Africa and India, whose first language is not English, are happy to use the old Christian Hymns with it's "old hymns", yet we in the UK must have a modernized and compromised edition! A similar advertisment appeared in Evangelical Times requesting Authorised Version Bibles for Africa! What an indictment of today's Christians in our favoured land.