Thursday, November 30, 2006

J.N. Darby on Psalm 22:22

by John Nelson Darby

Psalm 22:22

Note, if we remark what the force of this verse is, we shall see what the character of our praise, in worship especially ought to be; for what, sice Christ leads it, must His sense be of the nature and completeness of this deliverance before God, and His new position?

Note, Christ does not declare God's name as known to the great congregation, nor call them brethren- it is the same God He praises, no doubt- nor does He say "in the midst of the congregation." In truth, His praise of Him "in the great congregation" etc. sets His rather alone, though as publishing His name, leading them to praise Him. So also He pays His vows "before those that fear" God. It is evidently more Jewish for the deliverances than the revelation of the Name, founded on verse 24, which refers to the act but not to the Name which He revealed when delivered. See Psalm 145, and then John 17, where Psalm 22 is fully brought out.

Verse 22 gives thus in Jewish sort "Thy name," but as Christians we have more. This was on resurrection, "My God and your God." But then He had more for His disciples which He had been afresh, or as a new thing, revealing to them all His life- the Father; now this was fully declared in John 17. Not only did He own Jehovah as His God and walk accordingly, but being One, the Father was seen in Him. This is quite a new thing by virtue of the divine union of the Persons, and yet He is not ashamed to call them brethren. Therefore He says too: "My Father and your Father." This was not merely Jewish, see John 4, where this begins to be openned out. Therefore this time is not mentioned in the Epistle to the Hebrews, nor introduced in force- but God, being of all the children, as such, by faith. But then this address to them in the name of brethren introduces them into the place of children as in John 1, "to them gave He authority to become the sons of God," because He was to praise for redemption in the midst of the congregation. The difference of the relationship to the Jews of Christ in the flesh, being concealed and smothered, is the root error of Irvingism. It is the devil's abuse of His relationship in the flesh to them, as of His mother linked with them on earth, though holy. This rejected One "Who is my mother?" is of His Father (heavenly), and so the children, and not knowing the earth save as subject, and therefore knowing Christ after the flesh, knowing Him no more, and therefore kaine ktisis (a new creation). All their good and special knowledge is just what Christ has set aside, and they even held that unholily and it is evil; just as in Galatians, the Jewish ceremonies to a Gentile, united to Christ in resurrection, was the same thing as going back again to His own idols- quod nota- have their natural headships, not God's family and the like. Verse 22 however, being in resurrection necessarilly involves sonship, for He therein was declared Son of God with power, and it is only after the resurrection He says "Go tell my brethren" but thence it is addressed to be the means of calling Kol- Israel (the whole of Israel) that they that feared should praise.


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 in which removing shoes in homes is customary.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Why did I change the title of this Blog?

This post is probably a bit late coming.

One reason I changed the title was that I hate the word 'worldview.' After I put the word 'worldview' in the title, I wrote a post practically apologising for it. The term 'worldview' smacks of pseudo-intellectualism. You can say something really ignorant, but throw in the word 'worldview' and it sounds really intellectual. Evangelicals love talking about the word 'worldview' because they value an educated and academic image.

The main reason for the change to 'This is a Cult. Want to Join?' was a typical attempt at being funny.

However, there is a serious point. Christianity is meant to be a radical religion. Christianity is in opposition to this world. It can have no friendship with it (James 4:4). Yet too often Christians have courted the favour of this world and sought respectality and acceptance by the establishment. If Christianity is truly practiced, it ought to be viewed by the establishment as a cult (which is the way Evangelicalism is viewed in some countries).

However, Christianity is not radical in a political sense. Too many so-called Christian leaders want to turn Christianity into a radical political movement which is occupied with this world. We are not here to change the world; we are to turn from it and to discover the heavenly life that is found in Christ. The Church is called to be a new community; an heanvenly community that is set apart from the world.

The word cult suggests radicalism and I would like to see more radicalism in Evangelical thinking about the church. We are too often influenced by tradition. I have written posts before on the subject of house church meetings and communal living, radical ideas that I favour. They are not things that I would necessarilly be comfortable with, but I think they would be very helpful if used effectively.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Patristic Page

The Patristic Page

Why not join me in reading the Early Church Fathers?

MetaSchema: FAQ - What is Assurance?

MetaSchema: FAQ - What is Assurance?

Great discussion going on over on Earl's blog on assurance. I disagree fundamentally with Earl's explanation of assurance.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Crowd Pleasing?

A few years ago, I was out street preaching with Andrew and some others

I spoke to a man who said all manner of heretical things to me. He was a very strange chap. I think he might have been a manic depressive.

After he had spoken to me and argued with a couple of others who were out doing evangelism, he spoke to Andrew. He said to Andrew:

I really enjoyed what you said. I think you are a great preacher.

Andrew stared at the man, looking very sombre (he is very tall and has a huge moustache):

If I was a great preacher, you would be kneeling on the ground begging God for mercy. I did not preach those things for you to enjoy them.

I think he is a bit less fierce in his approach since becoming a full time street preacher. But maybe that sombre message was not the worst thing the guy could have been told.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Where are the Zealous Dispensationalists?

Where is the zeal among Dispensationalists? Thankfully I know a few bloggers who are enthusiastic Dispensationalists- Rose~ and John, Sarah, St. Jeremiah and others.

But very few Dispensationalists have the zeal that so many in the Reformed camp seem to have. Just look at a lot of their "avatars"- so many of them chose images of famous Calvinists instead of their own faces.

There seem to be so many Reformed people who are just so eagar to devour as much Calvinistic literature as they can get hold of. I have a Calvinist friend who took home a whole box of Puritan books that was going spare. These guys really love their theological system.

There are plenty of Christians who are fanatical in their enthusiasm for Premillennial eschatology; but this does not always translate into enthusiasm for Dispensationalism as a system that affects every almost area of theology.

There is such a vast body of Dispensational, Brethren and Keswick literature that seems to be unknown to most Christians. Writers like William Kelly, C.H. Mackintosh, (early) A.W. Pink, L.S. Chafer, F.B. Meyer, Graham Scroggie, W.H. Griffith Thomas, Eric Sauer, Robert Anderson and so many others.

In contrast, Reformed literature seems to have an enduring popularity. I must own over ten books published by Banner of Truth. I never set out to collect them, they just accumulate. Far too many Dispensationalists have bookshelves that are filled with Banner of Truth writers, most of whom seem to have Murray for a surname. Even many Charismatics seem to enjoy reading those Banner of Truth books. Those Puritan paperbacks are a Trojan Horse for Reformed and Covenant theology.

I would just love to see more Christians delving into the intricate system of Dispensationalism in its classic form. Dispensationalism is a theology for the modern world; Puritanism is for the 17th century and may as well stay there.

Police Reality Programmes

I just so love police footage shows. They are so fantastic.

It is great to watch the cops chasing and sorting out those men and women who think that abiding by the law is optional.

These programmes really appeal to my fascist streak.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Why I do not like the Archbishop of York

He is always talking about justice.

Does Dr. John Sentamu never speak about the wonderful work of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? Why has justice become the main message of this Christian leader?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I don't want to hear a word about Political Correctness

Times Online: BA worker loses appeal in row over cross

A British Airways employee has lost an appeal in a religious discrimination allegation. She had refused to return to work after being told she could not display a cross with her uniform as a check-in worker. The woman claimed this was discrimination because female Muslim workers were allowed to wear headscarves with their uniforms.

No doubt a lot of people are going to go on about the political correctness of this verdict and about how Muslims are treated more favorably than Christians by the establishment (which may sometimes be true). The Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, has already condemned th BA policy. However, I think this decision is perfectly fair.

It is quite unreasonable to compare a Christian who feels that she would like to visibly display a cross every day and a Muslim who believes that she has the religious obligation of wearing an headscarf. The woman had not been stopped from wearing her cross and she was not under any genuine religious obligation to wear it.

If British Airways do not want their staff to display visible jewellery, that is their business. If you employ a person, you expect them to do what they are told. The woman was even offered a non-uniformed job, in which she could have worn her cross. However, she refused that offer, preferring to be a martyr (or a victim?).

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Irish Clergyman v The English Muffin

Yesterday, I asked the question of whether Baptists teach their children to be disciples of Christ before they are ready to be baptized (in their view).

Libbie the English Muffin provided an excellent response to the question:

I suppose we have a moderated covenant approach. That is, we do not believe our children are automatically part of the covenant and therefore should be baptized, as the Presybterians do. For them, baptism and circumcision are directly correlated. I disagree. In my understanding, our entry into the new covenant is purely based on our faith, and that baptism is the subsequent sign, it's not a pre-emptive.

However, I do believe that in God's providence, to be born into a Christian family is a privelege. Perhaps I feel it more keenly because I emphatically wasn't.
If that privelege means anything, it must mean that my children have the benefit of hearing and seeing the gospel lived out everyday.

I want to elaborate on how J.N. Darby, the 'Irish Clergyman' would have responded to Libbie's Baptist view.

Libbie believes that the children of Christian parents are in a special position of privilege. Darby entirely agreed. The difference was that he made this view central to his argument for the baptism of infants.

It is necessary to understand that Darby distinguished between the body of Christ, the Church and the house of God. Darby based this distinction on the teaching in 1 Corinthians 3 and 2 Timothy 2:

1 Corinthians 3
9: For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
10: According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11: For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12: Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

2 Timothy 2
20: But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
21: If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.

The house was an external structure built by men which was composed of both believers and unbelievers. The church and the house had originally been co-extensive, but because of the ruin and apostasy of the visible church, the house had become Christendom an hopelessly corrupt entity and yet one which was still a sphere of privilege for those within. It was a sphere of profession which had the visible mark of baptism in the name of Christ and of the Trinity.

The house was also co-extensive with the Kingdom of Heaven in the present dispensation, in Darby's view. In the present age, Christ was sat on the Father's throne and the government of God had assumed a spiritual character through God's new dealings with the converted Gentiles. Darby saw, in the parables of Matthew 13, the characterisitcs of the present state of the kingdom of heaven. In the parable of the sower was seen the preaching of the Gospel and the resulting fruit in varied conversions. In the parable of the wheat and tares was the introduction of the kingdom to the world spiritually and its defilement through false believers. The parable of the mustard seed showed the growth of the kingdom of heaven into a worldly power that embraced all of Christendom, both converted and unconverted. The parable of the leaven showed the doctrinal corruption of this body.

Being part of the house and a subject of the kingdom of heaven entailed responsibility. Darby pointed to Romans 11 as teaching the judicial cutting off of Christendom and the Gentile dispensation:

Romans 11
16: For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
17: And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
18: Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
19: Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
20: Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
22: Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

Judgment always began in the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). The judgment of Christendom would have its ultimate conclusion in the judgment of the Great Whore of Revelation 17. Under the Baptist, system, Darby argued that there was no true false Christian profession outside of the Church which could be judged as such. The Roman Catholic church and other apostate bodies professed to be churches and they would be judged under that responsibility.

Thus, the sphere of the kingdom embraced those who had not truly believed and their membership of this sphere of profession was seen in their baptism. This was the mark of the entrance to dicipleship and kingdom obediance. It was thus right and proper, in Darby;s view for smal children who were brought into the sphere of profession and kingdom obediance to be baptized. Though small children could not believe they werte brought into a distinct relationship to the house of God and were sanctified by their parent's faith (1 Corinthians 7:14) As Paul taught, Christian children were holy and no longer unclean. Darby believed that the Baptist system destroyed this principle and left Christian children in the world, Satan's sphere of government.

key words: John Nelson Darby, Plymouth Brethren, Exclusives, covenant theology, Dispensationalism, dispensation, Bible Prophecy, ecclesiology, paedobaptism, infant baptism

Why don't we do some reading together?

I thought we would all have a reading party. I will post the first chapter of the Celestial Hierarchy by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and then we can discuss it together. I have never read it before so this should be fun.

This text is a classic work of Byzantine mystical theology.


To my Fellow Presbyter Timothy.1 Dionysius the Presbyter.

That every divine illumination, whilst going forth lovingly to the objects of its forethought under various forms, remains simplex. Nor is this all. It also unifies the things illuminated.

Section I.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights."

Further also, every procession of illuminating light, proceeding from the Father, whilst visiting us as a gift of goodness, restores us again gradually as an unifying power, and turns us to the oneness of our conducting Father, and to a deifying simplicity. For all things are from Him, and to Him, as said the Sacred Word.

Section II.

Invoking then Jesus, the Paternal Light, the Real, the True, "which lighteth every man coming into the world," "through Whom we have access to the Father," Source of Light, let us aspire, as far as is attainable, to the illuminations handed down by our fathers in the most sacred Oracles, and let us gaze, as we may, upon the Hierarchies of the Heavenly Minds manifested by them symbolically for our instruction. And when we have received, with immaterial and unflinching mental eyes, the gift of Light, primal and super-primal, of the supremely Divine Father, which manifests to us the most blessed Hierarchies of the Angels in types and symbols, let us then, from it, be elevated to its simple splendour. For it never loses its own unique inwardness, but multiplied and going forth, as becomes its goodness, for an elevating and unifying blending of the objects of its care, remains firmly and solitarily centred within itself in its unmoved sameness; and raises, according to their capacity, those who lawfully aspire to it, and makes them one, after the example of its own unifying Oneness. For it is not possible that the supremely Divine Ray should otherwise illuminate us, except so far as it is enveloped, for the purpose of instruction, in variegated sacred veils, and arranged naturally and appropriately, for such as we are, by paternal forethought.

Section III.

Wherefore, the Divine Institution of sacred Rites, having deemed it worthy of the supermundane imitation of the Heavenly Hierarchies, and having depicted the aforesaid immaterial Hierarchies in material figures and bodily compositions, in order that we might be borne, as far as our capacity permits, from the most sacred pictures to the instructions and similitudes without symbol and without type, transmitted to us our most Holy Hierarchy. For it is not possible for our mind to be raised to that immaterial representation and contemplation of the Heavenly Hierarchies, without using the material guidance suitable to itself, accounting the visible beauties as reflections of the invisible comeliness; and the sweet odours of the senses as emblems of the spiritual distribution; and the material lights as a likeness of the gift of the immaterial enlightenment; and the detailed sacred instructions, of the feast of contemplation within the mind; and the ranks of the orders here, of the harmonious and regulated habit, with regard to Divine things; and the reception of the most Divine Eucharist, of the partaking of Jesus, and whatever other things were transmitted to Heavenly Beings supermundanely, but to us symbolically.

For the sake, then, of this our proportioned deification, the philanthropic Source of sacred mysteries, by manifesting the Heavenly Hierarchies to us, and constituting our Hierarchy as fellow-ministers with them, through our imitation of their Godlike priestliness, so far as in us lies, described under sensible likeness the supercelestial Minds, in the inspired compositions of the Oracles, in order that It might lead us through the sensible to the intelligible, and from inspired symbols to the simple sublimities of the Heavenly Hierarchies.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Questions for Baptists

Do you teach your children to become disciples of Christ before they are baptized?

If so, what is your theological basis for separating baptism and discipleship?

If you do not teach your children to be disciples of Christ, what moral principle do you teach them?


Despite having a degree in theology and being a doctoral student in historical theology, I must confess that I am not quite certain what the word hypostasis means.

I have probably read about it before. I think it means something to do with union with Christ, but I am not certain. I have never needed to know what it means.

I am a pretty light-weight theologian.

Still Looking Good

I bought some beer from the supermarket. Evidently, the lady at the check-out doubted I was 18 because she asked to see my ID. I am flattered.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Loads of Books

I went to the university library today to get some books. I borrowed a huge pile of them.

The university does not have the best collection of religious and theology books around, but it does have some interesting stuff.

Free Grace Theology:Repentance Averts Temporal Calamity

Free Grace Theology:Repentance Averts Temporal Calamity

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Has anybody read The Celestial Hierarchy?

Has anybody read The Celestial Hierarchy by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite?

Is it any good?

Preaching from the Hymnbook

We had a guest preacher the other day who was preaching from the hymnbook. By this, I mean he was excessively quoting hymns to make doctrinal points. He recited sevaral whole verses from hymns and quoted the whole of one popular hymn.

I think this is a very unfortunate habit for a preacher to develope. It is fine to quote the odd line from a hymn, but this ought to be kept to the minimum. We have the inspired words of God in our Bible. Why quote hymns to teach doctrine when we have such a divine resource? Christians need to be taught to find their doctrine in the Scriptures.

It is probably true that Christians learn much of their theology from hymnody. This in itself is not an evil, though it puts great responsibility on the assembly to sing hymns that are doctrinally edifying. Given that any congregation is already learning much of its doctrine from hymns, it should be quite unnecessary for preachers to preach from the hymnbook.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Some Amateur Anthropology: Red Poppies

I bought a Red Poppy today. I was not sure if I would, but some nine-year old girls came up to me and asked if I wanted to buy one. I could not refuse. However, I do feel very uncomfortable this time of year. I find the whole atmosphere of Remembrance Sunday a bit militaristic and scary.

The tradition at Halloween is to put out a carved pumpkin to ward off the spirits of the dead. In Japan and other parts of Asia, there is a strong belief in ghosts and spirits of dead people. It is believed that charms and rituals ward off such spirits. Sacrifices are offered to appease the dead and keep them from taking out their anger on the living by doing mischief. Ancestors must be revered, or there are consequences for the living.

It occurred to me that maybe the custom of wearing a Red Poppy to remember those killed in the two world wars might be similar.

This might seem a strange comparison because of the heavy Christian symbolism bound up with Red Poppies. However, I suspect that this is only on the surface.

The whole memorialism of this custom just seems very irrational. Everybody believes that they have to wear these Poppies. There is a great unease about dissent from it. If anybody asks why it is necessary to respect this tradition, they will be told it is to remember those who died fighting for their country. Yet why is it necessary to remember them? They are dead and may or may not be aware of whether they are being celebrated. Less and less people are still alive who remember the wartime dead. Why will it be necessary for the next generation to remember the dead? There is no rational reason.

I suspect that behind the Stoicism and Christian morality, there is a deep, irrational fear of death and the dead that pervades this custom. There is a superstitous belief that the dead must somehow be appeased and that there are consequences if the dead are not remembered (revered).

To the world death is a fearful thing. It is to enter a place of uncertainty. Therefore those who are already dead are connected with that. Hence, across the world there are so many customs about appeasing the dead and keeping them from the living.

The thought of thousands of young men dying in war is horrible when you think about it. All those young lives wasted. Is suspect that this creates a deep anxiety in the public subconscious. Hence the fear that if these dead persons are not remembered (revered) there will be fearful consequences.

Blogger Beta

With all due respect to Blogger (I love your service, guys!), I hate Blogger Beta.

The Beta comment pages take forever to open up. Most of the time I do not bother trying to post comments on Beta blogs.

Street Preaching Today

Both Andrew and myself were out preaching today. We were also joined by Derek, who is far less frequent, but who is certainly a good friend to us both, and a man from the Elim Pentecostal church who I do not know so well. He preached, for the first time with us. He was not very loud, but I am sure that would improve if he keeps it up.

I preached twice on our Lord's words 'My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?'

I met Craig the Taoist. Is he born-again? He professed to believe that he had received eternal life through Jesus Christ. He seems sincere about this, though he may have mixed this up with some New Age notions. He repeated John 3:16 as I quoted it in my preaching. Craig is still involved in a lot of awful stuff; he is teaching others Tai Chi and believes that he is doing this for Christ. However, he seems a very different person from the man I knew a few years ago. He has none of the anger and rage that he used to display. May he become a true disciple of Christ.

After preaching, we had coffee at Coffee Republic. Andrew got talking to a couple of Albanians (he served as a missionary in Albania). One of them was a Christian, the other was not. Derek urged the one who was not a Christian to turn to Christ.

Friday, November 10, 2006

J.N. Darby defends Infant Baptism

(views expressed here do not necessarilly reflect my own)

A letter of John Nelson Darby

Dear Mrs. Walter, - I should never, and never have, as you know, pressed any to baptise their children, or introduced the subject. Indeed, while fully recognising it as a christian ordinance, I am disposed to think that it is in scripture, for our present condition, purposely left in the background. While eternal life and union with Christ are fixed and sure in Him, the ordering of all on earth till Christ comes, and even then, is provisional; not that we have not duties in the state of things we are in; duties belong to that: but the ordering of things passes. We have a kingdom that cannot be moved, eternal life, membership of Christ; but this in actual full possession is to come, and what we have now, even of divine ordinances, is passing. But I repeat, our duties are now. I shall only therefore present to you what scripture affords me on the subject, for if ever I hesitated, and, like others, I was exercised about it, I have NO doubt as to infant baptism of the children of a Christian. But I have a full feeling that Christ did not send me to baptise; I leave to others activities on either side. The twelve were sent to baptise, but as to ecclesiastical matters, we are under Paul.

This for such questions is an all-important remark, because the commission to the Gentiles (on which you and all Baptists rest) was given up by the leading apostles into his hands. But in general he, and he only, taught what the Church was, and it is on that ground we are. Further remark, the commission to the twelve was not from heaven, nor consequently immediately connecting with heaven, but from Galilee, and a commission to bring the nations into connection with an accepted remnant of Jews on earth - not to bring Jew and Gentile into the body in an ascended Christ, which was Paul's commission especially, preaching withal reconciliation from heaven to every creature under it. His original commission is remarkable in this respect. A heavenly Christ was revealed to him - "delivering [separating] thee from the people and from the Gentiles, to whom now I send thee." He belonged neither to Jew nor Gentile in his service, but to heaven. Hence he in baptism knows nothing but baptising to death to all man is, and at the utmost resurrection with Christ into a new state of things. With Peter it is: you have crucified Christ, God has raised and exalted Him. Hence they were to repent and be baptised for the remission of sins, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Nor does he even go to our death with Christ, or our resurrection with Him. Nay, in Acts 3 he proposes to the Jews to repent, and Jesus would be sent back, and the people would be blessed by the times of refreshing of which the prophets had spoken.

You will say: This is a long story on what is simple; but it is on the mission of the twelve you found your doctrine. That was only to disciple Gentile nations and baptise them. Of the carrying out of this we have no account in scripture: the nearest to it is in Mark, the last verse. But we have an enlarged account of Paul's taking their place; and it is remarkable that Roman Catholics and Puseyites all rest on the commission to the twelve, not on that to Paul. But where in Mark baptism is spoken of it is upon wholly another ground: "he that believeth and is baptised, shall be saved." It was the gospel to a lost world, to every creature, and if a man believed and was baptised, he was saved. It concerns a heathen or a Jew confessing Christ, who before did not, and what is called joining Christians, and as "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness" so "with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Here it had a saving force founded on faith, but that is not the question now. No one can in this sense say a man is saved by baptism, but that is the only use of it in Mark. The Campbellites have this view of it as an ordinance, but with grievous errors, and false in itself, as man's act and not as becoming a Christian. Further remark, that the hundred and twenty first formed into the Church by the coming of the Holy Ghost, or, at any rate, the twelve, were never baptised. I know it is said they had John's baptism, and no doubt rightly, some certainly, and all with little doubt; but that was the opposite of christian baptism. It was to receive Christ; christian baptism is to His death - to a rejected Christ as such at God's right hand; and one baptised with John baptism had to be baptised again, as in Acts 19.

The command was to baptise, not to be baptised, and this makes all the difference. It is not an act of obedience, in this the scripture is quite clear. Acts 8. (verse 37 is not genuine*), he says, "what doth hinder me to be baptised?" it was a privilege to be obtained; but the words do not allow the idea of obedience, but exclude it. So Acts 10, 47, "can any man forbid water?" - a privilege, no idea of obedience, but an admission into the christian estate consequent on the proof that God would have him: and indeed it would be cruel to make it a matter of obedience, as no man can fulfil it; another must do it for him. The admission to a privilege cannot be a matter of obedience, though obedience gives privileges as such. But the real point is, the passages prove that it was the act of the baptiser, not of the baptised. And this changes its whole nature. It is said, Where are children commanded to receive baptism? of course they are not, nor believers. Ordinances are never the subject of commands. They are ordained and rightly used, but never obedience in him who profits by them; it would deny the very nature of Christianity, and destroy the blessing for him who partakes of it.

{*Griesbach rejects it, and it is cancelled or rejected by Grotius, Mill, Wetstein, Pearce, Tittman, Knapp, Lachmann, Tischendorf, and others; it is not found in the Vatican MS., nor in the ancient Syriac.}

Another important principle destroyed by the Baptist system is the existence of a divinely instituted place in which blessing is, independently of the question of personal conversion, and to which responsibility is attached according to the blessing: as the olive tree in Romans, whose branches are broken off and grafted in again or replaced by others who are broken off afterwards, branches where the root and fatness of the olive tree is, yet they come to nothing; so Hebrews 6, 10. So 1 Corinthians 10, where the sacraments, so-called, are shewn to be the ground of this in Christendom, and so the house in 1 Corinthians 3, where wood, hay and stubble are built in with false doctrines, but it is God's building. And in 1 Peter 4: 17 judgment was to begin at the house of God, alluding to Ezekiel. So we see it as a principle in Romans 3: "What advantage then hath the Jew? . . . much every way." But he was condemned, not converted. So the wicked servant who ate and drank with the drunken: was "that servant" the same as the faithful one and Christ his Lord?

Another principle used by Baptists is that it is a formal testimony to what a person has already. This is quite unscriptural. We are baptised to death - not because we have died - rise therein, if I bring in resurrection: it saves us, says Peter - is not used as a witness of being saved. "Arise and be baptised (says Ananias) and wash away thy sins," not in confession that thy sins are washed away. Thus the whole system of Baptists I find to be unscriptural. It is not obedience: that the Baptist brethren now admit: it is not testimony to what we have. The apostles were not baptised, but the twelve were sent to baptise the Gentiles, being themselves received by Christ. Paul was not sent to do it at all, though he was formally sent, from and by a heavenly Christ, to the Gentiles by a new commission, the leaders of the twelve giving theirs up and going to the circumcision.

What is it then? A formal admission into the place of privilege. Water cannot be refused to Cornelius: nothing hindered the treasurer of Candace from being baptised. 1 Corinthians 10 clearly shews that it is the admission into public outward association with God, as when Israel crossed the Red Sea, as the Lord's supper is a sign and expression of food and drink in the desert. It is not a sign even of life - not of being baptised into Christ's body, nor of being made children. In Paul's teaching it is death; in Peter or Ananias, saving, washing away sins, as a sign, a passing from the state of sinful man into the place where God's privileges were, specially the presence of the Holy Ghost, who is among the saints in God's house as Satan is in the world. Paul in Titus 3 recognises the same truth.

The question then is, are children entitled to be received? are believers? Believers, clearly, if they have not yet been; if they have, they cannot be again. But supposing they have not, they are clearly received by baptism; and, in an ordinary way, at the beginning, those in received the Holy Ghost, as said in Acts 2, and may be seen in Acts 8. Can children, or are they to be left out where Satan rules? Scripture, I believe, gives a Christian parent a title to bring them to Christ, but this can only be now scripturally by death as baptism figures it, for "that which is born of the flesh is flesh." If baptism be the reception of children where the Holy Ghost is, and where they can be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and taught to obey, which till they are Christians as to position they cannot be, the question is, Is a christian parent obliged to leave his child outside with the devil, or allowed to bring him in where the Holy Ghost and the care of God's house is? Scripture tells one that children of a christian parent are holy, have a right to be admitted, are not as children of a Jew who had married a Gentile unclean, that is, unfit to be admitted among God's people, but holy. I know it is said the husband was so too. It is not true where the sense is looked to, The Jewish husband was profaned not profane, could not be profaned if he had been: it is what is holy that is profaned, nothing else can be. Now it is grace, and the unbeliever is "sanctified," not holy; the child is "holy". The Lord Himself has said, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." It is said, Why not give them the Lord's supper? Because that is the sign of the unity of the body, and it is the baptism of the Holy Ghost that forms that. Baptists always reason instead of going to scripture. I have no difficulty with Baptists who think they have never been baptised; of course they ought to be. They have never been regularly admitted among Christians on earth; they may be of the body (as Cornelius) by the baptism of the Holy Ghost, but they have never been formally admitted to the house on earth, the place where the Holy Ghost dwells.

This answers another question you put - the converted and unconverted being baptised together. If it is admission into the house they are all admitted together, cannot be on any different principle. If it be obedience, then indeed there is; but scripture is in the teeth of this: to separate them would be to deny the principle on which any are baptised at all.

I respect the conscience of a Baptist; I repeat, if he think he never has been baptised he ought to be, but it is as clear to me as the day that his principles are totally unscriptural.

Nothing can be clearer then, that in the New Testament it is never treated as obedience. If it were, we were saved by our own obedience, have our sins washed away by our own obedience; for this is what is said of baptism. I understand quite well that a heathen coming to baptism does administratively receive the remission of his sins: every one is baptised to it. I understand too that one who has been as a heathen and converted coming to the faith - to such it is practically a first confession of Christ and that they are very happy - but obedience of a believer to an ordinance is all wrong from beginning to end; as to the Lord's supper as well as baptism. If a man think it is - I do not blame him for doing it, but it is wholly unintelligent. If a friend was to say, keep this in remembrance of me, and I said, I will do what you bid me, my friend would have no thanks to give me. The gift was not valued. You see it is a wide subject, but the great principle is that the children of a christian parent are holy; and so far from children being unfit subjects, "of such is the kingdom of heaven" - not Christ's, note, on earth.

The truth Baptists have to learn is that there is a place, a system established by God, where the blessings are found - the olive-tree fatness - without the question of conversion being settled, in which heathen, Mohammedans, and now for a time Jews are not, but in which these last will hereafter again be, though not on our footing. I know it is said you are bringing us back to Judaism. I answer, in this respect the apostle does in 1 Corinthians 10 and Romans 11: and baptism does not refer to the body with which they had nothing to do, nor to giving life (which, if they had, was not brought to light, and they had it only in the state of servants), but the dwelling-place of God, which they were then, which Christendom is now, and according to which, or as which, it will be judged - a very weighty consideration. All is so in confusion that this house is hard to own, but that does not alter the truth of scripture.

A word as to the place of parents; God has given them children; but "that which is born of the flesh is flesh." But the love of God is trusted, and the grace of Christ who receives such, and also the word believed that blessing is there where God has placed it. They cannot leave their children without in Satan's world; they bring them to be received as holy, as regards God's ways and dealings. The Church cannot receive them but through death, but receives them in Christ's name as if receiving Him, as He says, and the name of Jesus is called upon them through this image of His death too; and while received into God's congregation where the Holy Ghost is, and where all should be a pattern to them, they are given back to the parents in grace with Jesus' name on them to bring them up for Him, not for the world, "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." I receive them then because they are holy relatively, because Christ received them, and "of such is the kingdom of heaven," and I can receive them in no other scriptural way - with the sign of Christ's death and of His love.

I have no objection to any one reading this letter, but . . . it is not the time to occupy the church with ordinances.

Ever sincerely yours in the Lord.

Elberfeld, November 4th, 1869.

key words: Paedobaptism, Baptist, church, ecclesiology, ordinances, Dispensationalism, kingdom of heaven, House of God, Christendom, dispensational, Exclusive Brethren, Plymouth Brethren

Raking Leaves

It is the time of year for raking up fallen leaves.

For the last few weeks I have used the blowing machine to blow them onto the lawn, but they had reached the point of completely covering it. Hence, they needed raking up.

It will be good practice for brushing up snow in Japan and other menial task that I will be given. I really need that 'servant heart' thing.

I hate to nag, but I do hope you are all remembering to pray about my trip to Japan in January.

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: Modernist Aesthetics

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: Modernist Aesthetics

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Turkey and the E.U.

Times Online: Ultimatum may end Turkey EU hope

An ultimatum has been given to Turkey that if they do not open up their ports and airports to Cypriot traffic, they can kiss goodbye to membership of the European Union. It is unlikely that the Turks will comply with this ultimatum and it may be that the Turks will give up their bid for E.U. membership. The obstacles in the way of Turkey joining are cosiderable. The longer the process is delayed, the less the Turkish public is going to be enthusiastic about the idea. They may just give up in the end.

While there are problems involved, I do think that it would be wonderful if Turkey eventually became a member of the European Union. The long-term strategic benefits in terms of building a bridge between the West and the Islamic world would be enormous.

Conservative Party Policy on Immigration

Times Online: Tories to promise significant cuts in economic immigration

The Conservative party is propoasing to set specific numerical limits on immigration from outside the European Union.

While you need to control immigration, I am really not sure that it is feasible to come up with a specific numerical figure. I am also sceptical about proposals to set up a special border police force. Just how are they going to pay for that and will it really be worth the cost?

The Conservatives are in a difficult position when it comes to immigration. There is a significant section of public opinion that wants to cut down on immigration. However, if the Conservatives talk too much about immigration they will spoil their new liberal image.

I do wish the Conservatives would adopt a more libertarian attitude to immigration. The party pays lip service to the economic benefits of legal migration, but it keeps falling back on populist anti-immigration measures as a way of appeasing the less enlightened sections of the general public. Maybe I should be the one who emigrates.

I am also disappointed that the Conservative party seems to support the government's plans to restrict immigration from Bulgaria and Romania when those countries join the European Union next year.

Free Grace Theology: Is Eternal Security an Optional Component of the Gospel?

Free Grace Theology: Is Eternal Security an Optional Component of the Gospel?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

J.N. Darby and the Jews

John Nelson Darby believed that God's promise to Abraham was unconditional and that one day the Jewis people would be converted and restored to the land of promise in connection with the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom. When Jewish people were converted he rejoiced.


- Darby did not give money to the Zionist movement.

- Darby did not encourage the Jews to build a temple in Jerusalem.

- Darby did not publish magazines all about events in the Middle East.

- Darby did not start special prayer meetings focused on the Jews.

- Darby did not think that converting Jews had a special priority over and above preaching the Gospel to all.

- Darby had no sentimental fondness for the Jewish people.

- Darby did not display the Star of David anywhere.

- Darby did not encourage converted Jews to call themselves 'Messianic Jews' or to set up 'Messianic Synagogues.'

- Darby did not think converted Jews had some special insight into the Word of God.

- Darby did not listen to 'Messianic music'.

- Darby did not do Jewish dancing in the assembly.

- Darby did not expect a revival among the Jews before the rapture.

- Darby did not refer to our Lord as Yeshua, Y'shua, Yahshua or any variation of this name.

- Darby did not refer to the apostle Paul as Sh'aul.

- Darby did not celebrate the Jewish feasts and did not see them as a way to evangelize the Jews.

Darby did, however, believe that the Antichrist would be a Jew, that the Jews would fall into ever deeper apostasy as the end approached and that many doctrinal errors could be traced to Judaizing.

Key words: J.N. Darby, Jews, Israel, Messianic Judaism, Christian Zionism, Zionist, Dispensationalism, Premillennialism, Premillennial, Hebrew Roots

Monday, November 06, 2006

Were they right to let him speak?

When I was a lot younger, my family and I once attended an evening service at a church in another town. A friend of my family was to preach there.

An homeless man attended the service. As such people generally do, he brought his dog in with him, which made a little disruption during the service. This man also attempted to ask questions at one point in the service.

Just as our friend was about to preach, the homeless man got up and took the microphone. He spoke, in a surprisingly well-spoken voice:

I think it's time I said something.

It was obvious that the pastor of the church knew who this man was and had talked to him before. He asked the man to go back and offered to speak to him outside. But the man continued:

Mr- thinks I am going to say something terribly bad. But I'm not. I just want to say this: There is so much darkness in this world. When I leave here tonight, I am going to be all alone.

At this, a number of people in the congregation shouhted out things like 'Youre not alone' and 'Jesus loves you.' The man continued:

No, I am completely alone. But I understand what it is all about tonight. There is all this darkness in the world, yet here there is this little bit of light. We need to keep on fighting that darkness with this little light.

After he had said this, he took his dog and left the church. Our friend then proceeded to deliver his sermon.

Were they right to let the man speak? Was he not bringing a message of darkness?

Or did he desperately need to open up and say what was on his heart?

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: Choice

Shoes Off at the Door, Please: Choice

Times Online: Bishop accuses Muslims of having victim complex

Times Online:Bishop accuses Muslims of having victim complex

I agree with the Bishop of Rochester.

Theological Discussions

I vistited a friend's house after church yesterday evening, along with some other friends.

We ended up talking about theology until midnight. We did discuss the Trinity and creation, but the longest topic was Dispensationalism v Covenant theology.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Justification by Faith Alone Is an Essential Part of the Gospel

Justification by Faith Alone Is an Essential Part of the Gospel

GES article by Bob Wilkin

Free Grace Theology: Additional Thoughts on the Second and Third Soils in the Parable of the Sower

Free Grace Theology: Additional Thoughts on the Second and Third Soils in the Parable of the Sower

J.N. Darby on Women

by John Nelson Darby

I do not accept a woman’s going out to evangelise. I never saw a woman meddle in teaching and church matters, but she brought mischief upon herself and everyone else. If she sits down with a company before her to teach them, she has got out of her place altogether. We read of Tryphena and Tryphosa, who laboured in the Lord, and the beloved Persis too- each in her own place of service. You find all honour done to women in the Gospels; but the Lord never sent a woman out to preach; neither did a man ever go and anoint Christ for burial. The woman’s prophesying was not preaching. There came inspired teaching to which they gave utterance. I believe it was in an extraordinary way, as Phillip's daughters. Women can by used, as Mary magdalene was sent by Christ to His disciples. If Christ sent a woman to carry a message, the best she could do would be to go and carry it, it is but a message. Suppose it was written down and was special instruction, the teaching then was in the message, not in Mary Magdalene's place. Scripture says, "I suffer not a woman to teach." She was not to teach at all. She can lead on those who have been converted without setting up to be a teacher. Teaching is expounding to people put under you to recieve certain doctrines.

The apostle is not speaking of wearing the sign of subjection at all times, but I believe it would be very comely. "For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels," v.10. She is therein a spectacle with all present to the angels, and angels ought not to see disorder among Christians. The whole subject is modesty, and order, and comeliness, and things in their right place. Therefore the woman ought to have power on her head on account of the angels, that is, the sign of subjection to her husband. Angels should learn something in the church.

Taken from Notes of Readings in 1 Corinthians in Collected Writings, vol.26, p.255