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THREE GREAT EXCISIONS OF PRECISION
SNIPPED WITHOUT AUTHORITY OF THE WORD OF GOD
It is a sad reality that often, what reforms what is to be discarded, alerts what is grown fat, purges the bucolic, the merely bellicose, the warped and the wanton, may itself become in time, like an ideology that has long lost its youth, ideationally obese and fractiously heady; or even obtusely sunk in what becomes little more than tradition.
The Reformed and Presbyterian corps in the Reformation had much in general to commend them, and with great names growing, some became their background in writings, leading on to that rebellious attitude to Pauline teaching in I Corinthians. Here it was forbidden to personalise your preference, naming your approach, party and so forth, after some mere man or other, who has achieved eminence in these circles - such as Calvin, Luther, Wesley (I Cor. 3:21-23). Not only is this strictly forbidden, but with good reason; for if the star be 90% correct, then that 10% may gain - such is the perversity that human nature sometimes shows- a popularity that is distinctive. Besides, is the divine NO! not enough! (Luke 6:46, I Cor. 11:1).
However there were three significant falls, fault planes that are not necessary to their Reformed contribution, but which tended to appeal to many, and develop, steering back so much befouling to the correction, where it would take it. These have crept into some, stormed into others, and crept in and out elsewhere. To some they are emphases even to be desired.
It is shame so to defile, almost as if having left Romanism, some felt it necessary to make ungoverned traditions of their own, if less central.
THREE MAJOR OMISSIONS, CONSTRICTIONS
Some turn more, or less, from God as Genesis Creator, contriving various abuses of the text, or originalities of grammar, as if God forgot to place in it what it needed to demonstrate His meaning, these using what is neither written, nor warranted, nor supported elsewhere in the Bible in form and format, type and perspective, implication and explication, for their grist. Textually these flurries lead to the function of God expressing for Himself something in confrontation, differentiation or both with a shower of grammatical and normative, contextual, semantic and relevant constraints, as if to obey the desire of the wandering, or follow their direction.
This has in much been exposed in SMR in Chs. 1 and 7, pursued in part in Ch. 2, pondered in its scientific method distortion in Scientific Method ... and The gods of naturalism have no go! especially from where marked at Ch. 79, to now current Ch. 90.
Thus both the bathetic spur to the horse of change of meaning and the spur itself constitute a doubly devious disaster for hermeneutics; but it need not suffer, any more than a mountain suffers at a frown. It is at times a seemingly furious, but always spurious endeavour, so well illustrated in the Lewontin Declaration of Rights, which appears a statement merely of philosophic putsch, neither uncommon nor logically effective, indeed the reverse (cf. Repent or Perish Ch. 7).
Both scientific method and the syntactic suffer.
Now we turn to the second thrust into error, hyper-streamlining cut.
Many through their words act as if to short-circuit the intensive extent of the love of God toward the lost in their theological conundrums. In this, they are often found omitting His saving desire for those who will be lost, as if omnipotence had no principles and cancelled character and scripture alike.
The need as always likely to be included, is that one aspect takes the fancy or thrusts itself into the system, like a Longitude line on a map, but others are omitted, as if Latitude had never been heard of, was disjoined or disreputable.
Vagueness or outright denial follows. One says, Ah yes (and this happened with a distinguished theologian), God loves them, those to be lost, but not in the same way as He loves those who are to be found. Now the topic was not the relish for the found, but the comparative love for those who ARE to be found and those who ARE to be lost.
The point ? But is not heaven and hell as a destiny and destination rather more than a matter of loving more or less, except for mathematical points which have neither deserts nor feeling!
The question here is not the rigours of judgment, when it comes, but the APPROACH, in its logical sequence before judgment, the initial attitude and discernment, which in due course leads on to this or to that result, citable as outcome at any time.
It is just that the Bible does not refer to things in any way like that. Whether it be the attitude in Ezekiel 33:11, or I Timothy 2 or Ezekiel 20, or Psalm 78, or John 3, where God did not even COME in His saving thrust, to condemn the world but to save it (and ingenious ways to try to extort the opposite or some variant do not alter the text, which is insisting on the EXTENT, MAGNITUDE and QUALITY of this love for the world, but ending this phase of presentation with the robust statement that there is indeed a condemnation which may be found).
This comes, we read, not from the just noted near intransigence of the love of God and its vast extent, its sublime desire, but from a very simple consideration: THIS is their condemnation in this unlikely seeming milieu of John 3:16 -19: yes ? What is it ? the logical pursuit of truth might ask, why are some condemned despite this love, then ? . But there is no need to wonder. It is explicitly stated. Despite this magnificent kindness on the part of God, a matter with which the Wesleys were justly occupied in emphasis, it is that men have preferred light to darkness. That is what you need if hell is what you are after, despite the adversity of being SO loved as we have just been told.
Is the love of God to some minds in their flaring flames of self-thrusting passion, found to be intolerably oppressive, invasive, limiting ? Is it rejected because of desires at this or that level ? Is it here then, in such a milieu, that the thrust to escape comes on the spiritual scene of operations for sinners ? Is it for them to be so pre-occupied or otherwise occupied, that past all mind, in very essence, yes as foreknown before they were even created by the God of all wisdom and apart from the deeds that are to come in their fallen state, in very essence their free thrust, meaning, essence, their direction is known ? It is assuredly known before sin hit our globe, or our globe was there for it to hit, or we to be taken!
WE did not make the choice for or against God and therefore for or against Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:4); and so make history.
We were not there, but hypostasis, the reality as known to God but not yet invented into its coming format. GOD it was who understood and so acted, foreknowing the reality, the spiritual actuality, and it was He who took the action, our fall at that time being something still to come. He FOREKNEW all states and stages, all underlying reality. He understood freedom, because it is in His own image, as man is. The knowledge came first, the predestination logically followed (Romans 8:29ff.), and so did history with its marred surface; but the sequence in safety of those foreknown continued into history, to justification and glorification. His love (for nothing contrary to this quality usurps place), facing reality of sin overcomes its penalty and does not even force, but knowing in advance, selects with that very thrust, that He would have all to be reconciled to Himself (Colossians 1:19ff.).
God does all things well, and knows the freedom He created: past all human finding out, HE finds out. HE knows and to God go those whom He knows, who know Him, through the blood of the cross and faith in Him (Colossians 1:19), adopted to be children of God. It is He who, even if there be spiritual disease, fall, warping by fall, yet knows beyond all fall and pretence, what is the truth of it, and according to truth, His love finds its place, and HE foreknew it. So the freedom finds its outcome, and it is He who knew it in reality, and how to make it operative truly.
Were some repugnant ?
To be sure, as explained before, it is possible with One of God's infinite knowledge, for Him to state or declare the outcome of this love and human liberties granted, as utilised by God. Even if this human liberty be compromised, even if the function of freedom itself is marred by sin, yet He who penetrates past all, knows where and what it is, its tenor and its result. He does not contradict Himself in judgment, but fulfils the love which does not shanghai or simply seize, like a felon, but takes rather as a lover. Many seem to leave God out, in almost naturalistically conceived assessments of things and conditions, in a way worse that those who, at the human level, leave out the results of antibiotics. You CAN leave out God, but it is more realistic to see what He says He will do, is doing, and to attribute this to Him. He is not blind in His own universe! It is man who frequently specialises in being spiritually blind (cf. Matthew 15).
He KNOWS always (time is a slot in creative institution) what will happen ever. He also knows why and says so, the depths and scope of the love and the antidote to it for the sagacious sinners who know better than to take it! Results are foreknown, worlds apart (Ephesians 1:4). Reading them out shows NOTHING of how they were gained. Noting someone is unconscious says nothing about how it happened, whether by drugs or a blow or a car impact. The fact can be read out. The cause is not always stated, and when result is in focus, so it is stated.
That does not even touch the precise method of HOW it happened, how the matter was resolved at that outset, how it comes to be so, or in terms of what auspices. We know WHY and for Christian apologetic purposes may readily envisage in total harmony with every word of the living God, HOW. But that is a personal matter for Him who not only is in the form of God, but IS God.
There appears a great deal of confusion on this not so recondite subject. There is only one safe way to read scripture (as a minimum), and that is to take seriously all it says, and not to compel it at any point to come into one's philosophic desire, theological tradition (Colossians 2:8, Mark 7:7ff.) or ambit of willingness. Take it as it comes, and this is in one way, like scientific method. If it is empirically there, don't squash it, but watch it and record it. That is the case of course before scientific method became so compromised with many as noted of the model of Lewontin from his own statement, linked above.
On this topic, there are many presentations in depth and detail on this site and some are listed below*2.
Some do the same sort of thing to Israel, cancelling its national restoration from prophecy, which has already verified itself at that level in step after step, much in our own lifetime, or at least in mine! Expelled is the irrefragable, repetitive, undismissible testimony of the prophets and of Christ to an amply defined and resolutely predicted restoration of their city, and yes of many to their returned nation, brought back to their land, from which sin evacuated them as predicted (Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 32), and also to their Saviour (Romans 11, Ezekiel 36-37 and others listed in the references*3 below).
There is accordingly no slightest appearance of outfacing the unqualified, categorical and vastly emphatic testimony of God to their return through prophecy and its fulfilment, so markedly precisely as foretold, and precisely as now part of our Middle East history, in very considerable detail for checking. As in Isaiah 34, in connection with another race, of what is foretold, not one item is missing, none lacks, what lives does not lack its mate. Nor is any word superfluous in the directive foresight; for as it was to be, so it is. The infinite Being with infinite knowledge has no difficulty with this; nor does history break-down, but it is built up, whether for rebuke or restoration of whatever the Lord has in mind. While then what His word declares is what comes, WHY He had it in mind is deep, but how often He spells out the reason in vast detail and lively moral, ethical, spiritual, national and spiritual grounds. How often is His mercy thrust into an apparent total failure, in the ebullience of bounty, in the depths of deliverance!
Israel is not only an example (cf. Jeremiah 31:20ff.), but it is a classic one; it is moreover one which has been instrumentally used on a massive scale, in history, with kings, internationally and symbolically, as prelude and as one of the concluding items in the entirety of spiritual world history. Removing it by awesome abstraction by the cranes of theology, is like removing the heart, with an inexpert surgeon.
Despite the confusion of some and the inventive designations of others, the restitution of Israel to the Lord, in part, and actually in evidently large part (Zechariah 12) to the Lord, does not mean that God does not like to honour His word, His personal word, above the land assigned that historic nation, and its historic founder, nor the time of its alignment when history moves as foretold; or as if God could not think things together and had to limit, or cancel one of these starkly stated and clearly l inked data. He weighs and judges, remits and relieves as the case is before Him, at times even leaving evil to flare to it makes its own evil so great that His treatment of it is pure reiief.
They appear jointly or in unison in so many definably clear contexts, that the attempted severance or cancellation of one could be like cutting off a finger, not just cancelling a writing.
Such activities becomes a divorce of what God has put together, both in promise and in prophecy. However the Lord simply proceeds to bring these things to pass, one by one, with outstanding fidelity (cf. SMR Chs. 8 - 9 for example), whether what appear the neo-Mars personnel like it or not. How profound is His wisdom, how vast is honour, how penetrating His love, how passionate His mercy, how faithful His word, oh how reliable!
THE THREE DEPREDATIONS IN SERIES
Is it any any oddment that all three of these trends in some Reformed circles are downward from the word they have a few centuries ago so lauded and honoured, the word of God ? If earlier they did some excellent reformation, under the general leading of the Lord, in many areas, does this mean that some of the areas less restored now become desirable, even to the point of a progressive dumping into their doctrine of more errors, though less than what they replaced, by the very pathway of their recovery ? Indeed, it is not just gain or regaining that is needed, and lessening of the additives, but an entire and fearless conformity to every part of the word of God, not a resolute droning of misplaced tradition, or waving of severed limbs.
An excellent article in Journal of Creation Vol. 29 (2), gives a review of William van Doodeward's work, The Quest for the Historical Adam: Genesis, Hermeneutics and Human Origins, and the Church History writer who provides the book has shown a very substantial coverage of who said what on the topic, supporting the position. Until very late in the early Christian period, past Clement, Justin Martyr, Theophilus of Antioch to Nicholas of Lyra, it was nothing odd to find early Genesis interpreted a straightforward reading of the Genesis text, and the movement when they did occur could be for a shorter creation period rather than longer.
Nor was there great variation in the Medieval period, with such names of Anselm, the 'Venerable Bede' and Peter Lombard prominent, even Jewish commentators of note arguing against allegorical trends. Not surprisingly so did Martin Luther favour the creation in what in the review is terms of "the traditional" and non-allegorical, With Zwingli, Melanchthon, Calvin 'wrote clearly about the creation of Adam and Eve.' Lightfoot and Usher are credited with the same. However increasing emphasis came to be placed by not a few on various concoctions, cocktails of thoughts and in some measure innovatory schema, for various reasons as time skirted more recent centuries to the present. This is summed up with the overview that since biblical orthodoxy was left more and more, loved less and less in more modern times, it is not surprising various types of configurations and revisions of thought were attempted, some more conservative though still radical in intrusion into the character of the text, seeking adjustments.
Such is the coverage in short form which in the book reviewed we learn, is taken age by age. Slow, growing and heavily expanding in later years appears the summary over time in this period, the movements in kinds of assessment or intensity of them, moving like cattle stampeding, expertly incited. As I have moved to train and to teach in different nations, it has been impossible not to taste things for myself, and see something of their boldness and bankruptcy of all reason.
Interest in this divisive, disruptive and impoverishing phenomenon, where it increasingly appears as if the most distant possible connection at some point in the biblical text replaces conformity to its teaching, where in addition impossibility of demonstrating the views taught as if from that text becomes almost the song of it, and departure from the grammatical norms and textual background seem prompted by this and that, till the term textual discipline does not appear a fluent fit with that chosen, but often a flight from it. Indeed, rather does it appear a mockery, a brash attention-seeking or a conformity to another word from another source, to which the Bible is an appendage.
The folds and thrusts of originalities of other authors, have increased as the modern and post-modern fidgets of philosophy have sighed their deepest. Just as the underlying views are sought to be taught through the Bible (or through many other things), in philosophy and modern myth (II Timothy 4), so has the direction of flow back of these quaint quirks become more and more painfully ludicrous, evidentially. See on this The gods of naturalism have no go!, DEITY AND DESIGN, DESIGNATION AND DESTINY, such works as Dr Sarfati's Refuting Compromise Ch. 2 with some reference to The Genesis Account Ch.2, SMR pp. 171-196. The spirit of an Age, such as one debauched with disjointed and obscurantist dynamism, our own, readily adds one fluidity to another, and comes in degraded pockets, a spirit of riotous enterprise increasingly replacing reason, discipline rationality and sobriety, till it becomes like a flood with many inputs.
Overview shows that just as oddball thrusts of long process into creation produce as for example in theistic evolution, a god of goodness so heavily compromised as make it an assault on this quality of His, so it leads to much more than a slur! Who would want 'goodness' like that! It is not God who gives such compromised shilly-shally and divorce between word and deed, but imagination. That makes it easier to understand the fuss and lust so often found lying behind such assaults on Him and His glory as made in this twisting of the context and teaching of His word on creation, whether in Genesis or in Colossians or in Revelation 4.
Similarly, in 2) on the topic of the scope of the love of God and His desire for salvation (as in Colossians 2:19ff., John 3, I John 4, for example cf. SMR Appendix B), there is a short-circuit of the divinely stated area of desire for reconciliation, that it become partial instead of concerning "all things" as in the text, while there has long been a trend, "God so loved part of the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever in that part of the world believed in Him ... "*1 .This again distorts the biblical expression of God, this time in the field of love, and once again, in an indelibly horrible manner. IF any were born for hell as the prime focus, and not in any sense as a personal resultant, as Spurgeon correctly notes, what sort of a god is being touted! If something better than this is in view through the transitionists from biblical text in tis field, it is necessary to clear away this mess first.
As to 3), the dereliction view of God's promises to Israel, here is being created a God of dishonour, who makes promises not kept, provides premises of permanence while earth lasts, and reneges. Such an account of parts of His word are so given that even when it is ALREADY fulfilled in detail, the same wry cry comes up: He did not mean it. What is it like ? It is like a young solider going off to war to preserve his people, and being sent a white feather for his home-coming.
Thus honour and goodness and love, the magnificent features all of God, are assailed as many once more near to the Bible, and even some reformers, take new liberties as if there were as in ancient Israel, with an uncontained mood and mode to have high places.
What was lower than their high places!
THE DEPARTED WHICH YET REMAIN
So whether the depiction
of misled and vagrant theologies be in terms
of the divine deployment in creation,
or of the expansive and uncompromised love of God (cf. I John 4:7ff.),
or of His faithfulness to the relevant party in Israel in its own terminology and assurance,
what then ?
Then commonly found is even a minus accorded for His oft-repeated deepest assurance before and after the fulfilment to His honour, of His word, of His comfort in our own day, a lofty distortion of the Lord's reason for judgment and extent of seeking and an adding of mockery or marksmanship against Israel as though God had issued no warnings, made no predictions and did not have on repeated record the vast depth of His undertaking. Indeed, He has posed in Jeremiah 30 and 33, a challenge concerning the heavily defined term in this context, 'Israel'. IF you can control astronomy and show the majesty for the purpose, then you could consider entering for the anti-God stakes. That is, THEN you could consider a realistic challenge to the entire power of God which is set for the continuance of what He has given to Israel. Included have been shown, and this frequently, a working site called Israel, and a working Saviour, who has now finished His eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12).
Yet there is often found a growling. Through these depredations one and all: there is a vacancy where the written word of God has a presence, silence where it speaks and there are truncations where it towers.
This is for an exhortation.
*1 See on this topic, for example:
The Glow of Predestinative Power 4, 8, 1,
The Christian Pilgrimage 3,
Great Execrations, Greater Enervations, Greater Faith 7 and 9,
To Know God, the Power of Christ's Resurrection
and the Fellowship of His Sufferings 1, Key to the Comfort of the Kingdom of Christ ... 7,
The Way of Truth and the Way of Error 7,
Serenity, Serendipity ...12
Helpless Hitches and Holy Healings,
Godless Glitches and Divine Dealings 2 ,
The Open Door, The Closed Mind and The Call of Christ 1,
The UnComprehending Darkness and the Self-Revealing Light 11
(scope and nature of love of God toward man, sp. ref. Hab. 2:13).
Christ's Ineffable Peace and Grace 2 .
See for example, amid the heptad on these associated areas:
The Glow of Predestinative Power Chs. 4, 8, 1,
The Christian Pilgrimage, Ch. 3,
Great Expectations... Greater Faith Chs. 7 and 9,
To Know God, the Power of Christ's Resurrection ... Ch. 1,
Keys to the Comfort of the Kingdom of Christ Ch. 7,
Helpless Hitches ... and Divine Dealings Ch. 2 ,
The Open Door, the Closed Mind and the Call of Christ Ch. 1,
Going with God ... Ch. 2,
SMR Appendix B.
CONVENIENT LIST CONCERNING
ISRAEL AS ISRAEL
AND NOT SOMETHING ELSE and related topics
Department of Bible ... Vol.2, Ch. 6 (foundational),
Vol. 2, Ch. 1, Appendix,
Vol. 4, 10,
Vol. 3, 10
Department of Bible ... Vol. 5, Ch. 4, Ch. 5, and Vol. 1, Ch. 10,
Vol. 6, Ch. 12,
Why Not Believe the Lord's Christ! Ch. 5,
SMR Appendix A,
Galloping Events Ch. 8, *2,
Bay of Retractable Islands ... Chs. 19, 18
(in this case, the almost equally deplorable dispensationalistic extreme is exposed, as in Biblical Blessings Ch. 3, for example),
Red Alert Ch. 10,
Things Idly Lost, Divinely Found ... Ch. 2,
Pilgrims and Strangers ... Ch. 3,
The Christian Prescription
The Christian Prescription Ch. 5,
Red Alert Ch. 10, second part,
Highway of Holiness Ch. 6, SMR Appendix A,
Department of Bible ... Vol. 5, Ch. 4, Ch. 5,
and Vol. 1, Ch. 10, Vol. 2, Ch. 1 Appendix, especially *1;
Vol. 3, Ch. 10; Vol. 6, Ch. 12; Vol. 10 , Ch. 14, Vol. 11, Ch. 2.