Here in Australia same-sex “marriage” is higher on the agenda then it has been for several months. There are a number of attempts, following on from the Irish referendum and the more recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, to push the issue forward with a number of private members’ bills being presented in the Federal Parliament and the usual round of politicising and media support.
Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but at the same time not just one but two bishops in the Anglican Church of Australia have chosen to allow and even subtly push the revisionist position forward.
First, in Grafton Diocese the Daily Examiner reports back in June…
THE ANGLICAN Diocese of Grafton will canvass its congregation for their views on marriage equality over the next year.
In a wide-ranging interview on ABC radio yesterday, the Bishop of Grafton Sarah McNeil [sic], spoke of the recent diocesan synod held in Port Macquarie.
Bishop McNeil [sic] said members of the synod had discussed a number of political issues, including gay marriage, asylum seeker policy and climate change.
The bishop said the synod decided to assess the views of the congregation on gay marriage in the next 12 months, then to present this to the 2016 synod.
Bishop McNeil [sic] said the Anglican Church’s views on marriage were constrained by Australian law.
I have been unable to obtain a recording or transcript of the interview cited. Minutes from the synod are awaiting ratification by Bishop in Council.
Bishop Macneil is an acknowledged supporter of revision on the church’s received view on sexual ethic, having even conducted at least one service that was understood by those attending to be an affirmation of a same-sex civil union. Sources in the diocese tell me there is little doubt that the consultation will come back with an affirmation of gay marriage. More than one has also noted that this is a helpful way for Macneil to push the agenda gently forward, while leaving the responsibility with her synod.
The reality, of course, is that the bishop has a power of veto. While in the ABC interview Bishop Macneil states “the Anglican Church’s views on marriage were constrained by Australian law” there are those in the diocese who will also consider that they are constrained by Scripture.
Bishop Macneil agreed to the Australian Bishops’ Protocol which maintains a conservative orthodox position on human sexuality. davidould.net has also been told previously by Grafton Diocese that,
[Bishop Macneil] states clearly and publically: I will not break the discipline of the church on this matter.
Elsewhere, in the Diocese of Newcastle, Assistant Bishop Peter Stuart has made a post on Facebook that highlights a recent post by theologian Bill Loader.
At that Bishops’ meeting Dr Loader was one of two speakers. I am told that his position presented there could be summed up very simply:
- That the Bible is unequivocably and uncontestably against same-sex sexual activity and any attempts to argue otherwise were deeply flawed. One member of that meeting of bishops described his exegesis of all the key texts to me as “absolutely clear”.
- That the writers of the relevant Scriptures, most notably the Apostle Paul, were in error.
Hence, Bishop Stuart’s comment,
An aspect of our conversation centred on hermeneutics – the way we receive, interpret and understand texts.
Notably, Bishop Ross Nicholson, Assistant Bishop in Tasmania, posted a comment,
I heard Bill Loader’s talk at that bishop’s conference and the interesting thing was that he said that the bible clearly teaches that homosexual behaviour is wrong. That’s why he wrote above ‘And most in the Christian community who see same-sex relations as wrong do so because the Bible says so.’ He debunked all the arguments that revisionist want to make, like Sodom was about inhospitality, etc. If you read the articles we read for the conference you would see the work of a very careful scholar being faithful to the biblical text. In fact, exegetically, he arrived at a very conservative interpretation, Gavin Parsons. The reason why Bishop Peter Stuart writes ‘an aspect of our conversation centred on hermeneutics’ was because of this very conservative reading of the text, but then Loader concluding in essence ‘but we know more about homosexuality today than Paul did.’ That is not an exegetical statement rather it reveals a hermeneutical position. This post by Loader assumes evangelicals believe that homosexuality is an ontological problem. Bryce is right that it is more nuanced than Loader implies in this post. Whether ‘all people are heterosexual’ is not at issue. It is the behaviour which the bible condemns as it condemns all sins. Even Bill’s inperpretation of the change in views on slavery, divorce etc, is an insight into his hermeneutic at work.
Sources in Newcastle Diocese tell me that Bishop Stuart is widely understood to be sympathetic to the revisionist position and have suggested to me that this facebook post, while not openly advocating support for Dr Loader’s view, is most obviously understood to be an attempt to “subtly promote” it.
In 2012 Bishop Stuart gave an address at an ecumenical dialogue on issues of human sexuality where he closed with these words:
In this conversation I am a bishop and, as a representative of the universal church in the local, it is for me to speak and act only in the manner that represents the fullness of the current Anglican position as understood by the Newcastle Synod and the college of Bishops. I do this as one who is committed to study, listen and learn so that God’s will may be done on earth as in heaven.
There are certainly some in Newcastle Diocese and beyond who would not consider active promotion of a revisionist view as consistent with that statement, or indeed any bishop not actively upholding promoting and defending the position of the church as properly “representing the universal church”.
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Bishop Peter Stuart refused to sack the well known and ashamedly progressive Rev Rod Bower, Rector of Gosford Anglican for his false teachings and denial of the Body Resurrection, the Ascension and the Miracles of Christ, whilst he was Bishop Administrator some years ago.
This is not subtle evidence of liberal leanings, this was outright refusal to do his job as Bishop.
Second, this Bishop, along with the Bishop of Newcastle have recently ‘promoted’ this very same false teacher to Archdeacon.
Both Bishops have now demonstrated their clear inability to do their jobs and their underlying sympathies for liberal progressive theology.
I have called for them publicly to both resign.
I am still of this opinion.
Should read *unashamedly progressive*
Given the liberal drifting of segments of your denomination, it’d be more intellectually honest if there was just a split. Let the liberals and conservatives take different names so that people know what they are getting in to. As an outsider, if i were to walk into a random anglican church, it might be biblically sound, or it might be screamingly liberal. At least with the split that formed the uniting church, you knew with greater certainty where each church probably landed.
It is above your pay grade to lobby or agitate for this, but as an observer from outside it does seem like the current situation is trying to hold together two groups whose worldviews are running in opposite directions.
You are exactly right …
A good example of this … is Kincumber Anglican, and Gosford Anglican. Right next to each other. Chalk and cheese. Evangelical (Kincumber), and diabolically progressive (Gosford).
What’s so “progressive” about being against the Bible?
In the words of Rod Bower in a blog some time ago, he has “moved on” from a literal view of the Bible, that no longer works for him, so he has ‘progressed’ …
I would suggest he has merely progressed down the wide road, way past the wide gates, and is merrily on his way to an eternity away from the Living God, unless he repents, whilst there is yet time.
Bruce, why do you even care? You have left the denomination…left us for the Uniting Church, so why not concentrate on your own playground?
Not terribly ecumenical of you, Greg.
Hi Greg Colby, thanks for your interest.
I believe you blocked me on FB some years ago, as you did not seem to like any thing I had to say as an Anglican, of the reformed, Sydney evangelical persuasion operating in the Newcastle Diocese.
As a trainee priest, why do you make such an unfriendly comment.
I care deeply for my Anglican friends in Newcastle.
I do not want to see any of them taught falsely and mislead by such as the likes as the Anglican Rector of Gosford, aided and abetted by the aforementioned wayward Bishops who have not disciplined against teachings such as his, at least not in public. Yet, if this continues, many will not enter eternal life in Heaven, but rather damnation.
Have you signed the Jerusalem Declaration yet Greg, as I have ?
If not … why not ?
Do not listen to the wayward liberal progressive teachings of Rod Bower.
I do trust you neither teach such a false gospel either, but rather submit fully to the 39 Articles ?
My point is that I don;t understand why one would leave a denomination just to continue to go back to chasten it’s leadership and seemingly not paying as much attention to the weeds in the new garden Bruce has occupied.
Bruce, I’m not a trainee priest; I hope to become one, but for now I occupy the ranks of the discerning laity.
David, I wonder was Jesus being ecumenical when he suggested the scribes and Pharisees check the planks in their own eyes before gong after the speck of dust in another?
Bruce if you were half as passionate about social justice as you are about right thinking you would be an amazing man. I admire greatly the passion and call to arms being issued by the Reverend Rod Bower – it’s a shame more priests aren’t supporting him rather than attacking his theology.
Greg, I’m surprised to see someone spruiking Rod Bower’s “theology”. It’s difficult most of the time to even realise that he is connected to a religious institution. Most of his offering is political commentary and attacks on the government presented on a face-book page where no dissenting views are tolerated or accepted. Jesus did not have a socio-economic-political message, he had a spiritual message so why is Fr Bower using the church as a political platform.
He also advocates and teaches ‘gay marriage’ which is contrary to Biblical teaching, the teaching of his church, reason and common-sense. The basis of his theology appears to be humanism – his appeal is to ‘humanity’ not to the divine/Jesus as divine. He seems to miss the point that we are only truly human when we model our lives on the divine. Maybe it’s because he is trying to appeal to atheists but how will it help them to deny and twist the teachings of scripture to agree with their mistaken ideas.
Yep, you could walk into a biblically sound Anglican Church, or a new calvanist reformed one…either way, God is still in the business of healing, restoration and forgiveness of sins.
John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.
Acts 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
etc. etc. etc. etc.
Sound. Anglican. and, of course, Biblical
This doctrine turns God into an ogre. It takes away the joy of personal salvation in favour of personal fear and doubt as to the future salvation of the believer’s most loved ones.
This of course was addressed by the Synod of Dort which compromised the doctrine to some extent, but left many questions unanswered.
However, it could be used to confirm in the minds of homosexuals that they were in fact “born this way” and predestined by God to live out the life-style.
Maybe we need another “Dort” to re-address this doctrine and not interpret some texts so that they be “repugnant to another”. (Article XX)
You might think that, Ron. The Anglican position is that it is (to quote Article XVII) “full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God”.
That is, of course, the official position of the Anglican Church of Australia as set out in our constitution.
Just by the way, you don’t need an Anglican Priest for the forgiveness of sins, just a repentant heart and faith in Christ Risen. But a loving sound teaching Church sure helps keep one in the faith.
Its the ‘keeping in the faith’ that becomes so problematic with liberal progressive UCA & Anglicanism ….
No body has said anything about ‘needing’ an Anglican priest for forgiveness to occur….unless of course it is the Anglican priest seeking forgiveness…then you need an Anglican priest…to repent and be forgiven, the priest that is the one doing and being
You stated” I admire greatly the passion and call to arms being issued by the Reverend Rod Bower – it’s a shame more priests aren’t supporting him rather than attacking his theology.” and I have to ask”are you serious?”He preaches that Jesus did not die on the Cross for the sins of mankind and you want him supported?You are joking right?
Just a few thoughts from England. May the Lord bless you and strengthen you in preparation for the whirlwind power storm of the LGBT rights campaigners.
We had a debate in our Parliament and all we heard was that we were bigots and homophobes for keeping apart 2 people who love one another. Within 3 weeks 500,000 people had petitioned Parliament against redefinition and were ignored. As soon as the ink was dry on the Act we began to be told that this was not just 2 people, we had to accept also bisexual and transgender people. The books had already been written in readiness for schools with 2 mothers and 2 fathers, but not good enough Stonewall chief said Kindergarten teaching too. This is a fight for our value system. Anyone who optimistically thinks that this is going to be good for our society is seriously spiritually blind.
I watched a clip from the Brazil Pride where a young boy only wearing some skinny shorts was surrounded by a group of trans people cheering him on to dance lewd moves and wept. My grandson attended a 7 year old girl’s birthday party a few weeks ago where a little girl announced “I’m going to marry Lydia when I grow up”. My grandson obviously does not have such progressive parents and replied “Don’t be silly, you can’t marry a girl” and was fully informed on the matter, to which he replied “that is gross, and I don’t want talk about it anymore”. He was visibly upset and the mother hosting the party rang my daughter to let her know. We are obviously now dreading the “cross dressing classes” that the Italian parents have been protesting about.
This is a direct assault on an ordered society as God wills for us human beings. As St Paul said – “they have no excuse as they have the whole of nature which bears witness. Mother, father, parent, child in All creation.
Hi Tricia, you come across as a straight forward, common-sense person. I believe that if one gets the right interpretation of scripture it is pretty much going to agree with common-sense and reasonableness. God is Love – perfect love and love is not perfect unless it is also wise so God is not going to do anything contradictory or without purpose. With God we know exactly where we stand because He does not think, judge or rule by whim or fancy as humans so often do.
We (adults) can so easily become lost in ratiocinations that spring from selfish and sensual desires untied to the reality of usefulness, rather than go straight to the truth as a child untrammelled by worldly desires and expectations, does. “Out of the mouths of babes/young children …” (Matthew 21:16) The idea, for example, of two mums or two dads replacing mum and dad is too ridiculous for words yet it is now being forced on kids.
I always mentally connect the story of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ with this topic. So many, including well meaning people, are duped by the presentation of ‘gay marriage’ as an ‘equality’ issue. So many are afraid to speak up because they might be thought of or accused of being bigoted and homophobic.
I wonder if the Anglican Church’s views on Jesus are also constrained by Australian law?
The picture at the top of your article is very appropriate, btw.
What an ‘enlightened’ age we live in! (being facetious of course). We’ve managed to completely twist what the Bible calls a perversion into a matter of ‘equality’. O how wise and smart we must be!
I think Bill Loader does a good job of stating the case for both sides of the argument but then he aligns himself with scientific opinion rather than the plain teaching of the Bible using the lame excuse that because the creation story isn’t literally true (the belief that it was literally true only originated a few centuries ago) then God’s plain and common-sense teaching about gender and sexuality isn’t necessarily ‘true’ either.
The teaching about sexuality is not only located within the allegorical Genesis creation story. It is implicit and obvious throughout the entire Bible and Christ restated it (in the NT) without additions or caveats when answering a question about divorce. To be a God believer and follower is to build one’s life and character on the truths/reality as taught in God’s Word/Sacred Scripture not on the whims and fancies (including ‘orientations’) that present themselves to our fallen nature as true and good. (The house built on a rock versus the house built on shifting sand).
In the ‘sex’ arena some people are far more oriented towards the problem behaviour of adultery, others towards polygamy or pedophilia. Is there any question of making those things matters of ‘equality’? Obviously not.
Loader reiterates the question “Is everyone heterosexual or not?” and I think that is the key question. The answer is that God made them male and female.There would be no point if God did not intend them to join together (as He commands). Deviations (which do not come from God but through mankind’s free choices) occur because of evil done in the ancestry from which inclinations or orientations can be passed down but these do not permanently belong to the person (as an attribute of character) unless they affirm them and choose to make them a part of their lives.
The alternative is to choose God’s way or they’re not up to believing in God yet, common-sense and an altruistic moral/ethical view can also serve. I think it’s a huge mistake to stereotype/label people as homosexual/gay and even worse for them to do it to themselves. If that false assumption becomes the basis for reasoning then one can see where the equally false ‘equality’ (of relationship type) conclusion comes from.
Hi Ralph. I think you have made a very valid point about the gay liberation movement. They have promoted the idea that you can self identify by your sexual preference as if this is an identifiable brand of humanity and then majored on the injustices heaped upon the people who identify in this way. It has been a clever ploy which has linked very well into the cult of self – self improvement, self gratification, self knowledge. As a Christian I am called to deny myself and pick up my cross and follow Christ. A Christian should never identify themselves as Gay, which is of course a word made up to fit in the 1990s. You are a Christian who is same sex attracted and as such are called upon to fight this just as you would fight any urge to look at pornography, commit incest or adultery. But this of course runs counter cultural to the celebration of self in which we now live. It is imperative we make our children understand the truth in this argument. What about the doctor in Boston who has been sacked for disagreeing with LGBT advocacy shown by his hospital administration. He has been fighting this for 10 years. He has brought before them evidence of the dangers inherent in the lifestyle as his specialism is urology, his evidence is not questioned, his expertise and the manner he deals with all patients is not questioned but he won’t shut up because he cares for the welfare of people. As he says “do we promote alcohol and tobacco – we warn of the dangers.
I dunno. Unless, of course, you’re accusing others here of Pharisaism (which it appears you are), in which case I’d love to see you substantiate that accusation or otherwise withdraw it.
I made no such claim – and therefore have nothing to withdraw. I do however think it well worthwhile paying more attention to the planks in our own eyes rather than focusing on the sin we think we see in others.
So your argument is that you, Gregory, have a plank in your own eye and therefore should stop criticising others for the speck that they, I and others, have in our eyes? Or the other way around? If the former then why are you criticising myself and others?
If the latter then what is the plank in our eye that we clearly cannot see but you, due to your tiny speck, have clear vision of?
I fail to see what i’ve criticised you for David?
Your response to me, when I asked Bruce why he was seemingly more interested in his perceptions of the evils of the Newcastle Diocese than in the issues of his denomination of choice, was to accuse me of being less than ecumenical. My response to that simply asked if Jesus was less than ecumenical when he asked people to concentrate on their own backyards rather than others? Seeing as the sect of the Pharisees no longer exists, it would be hard to accuse someone of being one.
I’ve long thought it rather embarassing when peope throw accusations at others, accompanied with a little name-calling (in this case “Pharisees”) but when their bad behaviour is called for what it is won’t take responsibility for it.
It would be helpful for readers of this thread to note that when Jesus speaks of planks and specks (e.g. Mat.7:3-5 = Luke 6:41-42) He has nothing to say about Pharisees. They’re not even in view – it is part of the Sermon on the Mount spoken by Jesus to His own followers. The notion that Pharisees were involved is an insertion by Gregory. But, of course, Gregory meant nothing by it. Of course not. And certainly not to imply that Bruce and myself should be in any way understood to be Pharisees. Of course not.
That is correct. My point was the specks and planks and my comment was addressed to Bruce. it might help readers to understand that at no point did I reference David in my original comment about specks and planks – that is an insertion by David. Thanks you for clarifying the word of the texts and missing the spirit of it entirely….just like, oh, wow – just like the Pharisees used to do!
well then simply reanswer my comment with reference only to Bruce, not to myself.
I see, however, you couldn’t resist the opportunity to label me as a pharisee even while denying that previously you had. No doubt the irony will not be lost on everyone.
Thanks so much for your avid interest in my Church life. At the risk of indulging David’s patience on his blog, I am more than happy to share with you.
But before, I do, thank you David for your accurate and helpful comments. Also Greg, it seems you have tried to side track the purpose of this blog thread by trying to shoot the messenger using the classic technique of the ‘ad hominem’ attack. This automatically tells the discerning reader you have little credible substance to your complaint.
The reason I am currently worshipping with UCA at Karuah, which maintains a reformed evangelical outlook within the local Hunter Presbytery (there are a few others in this same vein), is due to the previous Anglican Bishop discerning and counselling me in this direction in the circumstances. I am currently an Elder with Karuah UCA and active on the local Church Council.
Our current local Anglican Church at Seaham only worships once a month, down from a fortnightly pattern some years ago. The local parish priest is employed (paid) one day a week to serve five congregations. It is a dying parish. Attendances locally less than 6 locals. During ministry in mission, and local listening, Karuah UCA, which maintains an active multicultural congregation of 20-25, and an active children’s ministry was in need of trained ministry people, and the timing and skills supplied by the Anglicans made the fit just right. So I moved Churches at the counsel of the Anglican Bishop in the circumstances.
Following the recent launch of ‘Weaving a New Cloth’, I am looking at formation of a joint local evangelical congregation to be affiliated with Australian GAFCON and the Assembly of Confessing Congregations within UCA.
So you see, Anglicanism and UCA, with both their reformed evangelical wings are coming together beautifully.
As for pointing to the wayward teachings of the Gosford Anglican Rector, he is regularly quoted within UCA circles. His liberal progressive false teachings encourage many liberal progessives with in UCA. There is an unholy cross fertilisation between liberal progressives with in Anglicanism and with in UCA, that needs to be highlighted and pruned back. Sadly, both the Assistant Bishop and Bishop of Newcastle seem to do nothing of public substance to discipline Fr Bower, thus aiding and abetting his false teachings regards the essentials of the faith contained in the Creeds, to which he openly denies.
Thanks again for your interest Gregory.
May God bless you with a saving and sin repentant faith in the Risen Christ, literally physically raised from the Dead by the power of God.
Oh, and Gregory, unless you also feel I have also strayed from the track of this thread, Fr Rod avidly supports what he calls ‘marriage equity’, and this is unsurprising given his well known liberal progressive theology, that denies the physical Resurrection of Christ, denies the Miracles, and denies the Ascension as fantasy. Thus his support for this dangerous doctrine is to be questioned and opposed.
As Fr Rod who does not teach the saving faith once entrusted, but a different unsaving gospel, shrouded by the thinly disguised cover of a social justice politic which includes gay marriage, and ably supported by his aiding and abetting Bishops, all the above are to be rightly and justifiably censured against false teachings and the lack of suitable Episcopal authority being exercised in protection of the saving Gospel, entrusted to these aforesaid Bishops as so agreed in their vows, including all the Articles of Religion.
And the net result of these is the theme of this thread which David has indeed pointed to openly.
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Even a sinful Anglican Priest needs not another Priest to receive forgiveness of sins. We have but one High Priest. Jesus.
Thank you David,
Yes I know the “official” position, and have unquestioningly held to the Articles all of my Christian life, but some of the doctrines have been part of the controversies of the church since the days of the early Church. Even the Articles state:
Of the Authority of General Councils
General Councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of Princes. And when they be gathered together, (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God,) they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of holy Scripture.
However, Anglicans Online OMIT Article XXI
My point is we ought never discontinue discussion on the Articles as they admit themselves that Councils, Archbishops, Bishops, and clergy can be wrong.
I’m not meaning to get off the point of this post though, but If I was a homosexual person claiming to be Christian, I would certainly be looking to use Article XVII to defend my stance on SSM and homosexuality.
And while Article XVII goes on to say ““full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ….” this is a subjective point and quite selfish when it comes to being predestined to salvation when lined up with your loved ones who may not be predestined (I’m all right Jack – sorry about you).
Where then is the pleasant unspeakable comfort in this doctrine?
The comfort is set out in the Article itself.
As for “I’m alright Jack – sorry about you”, I have no idea where you’re getting that from. It’s certainly nowhere in the Article.
What I’m also confused about is that you claim to unquestionably hold the Articles and then launch into questioning the Articles.
That they’re a response to controversy is no surprise to anyone. They’re also an answer on controversial subjects. The point of raising them here, of course, was to note that they are the Anglican answer to those controversial subjects and thus one cannot claim that the authentic Anglican position is held in opposition to them.
The “I’m alright Jack” comment is simple – I cannot enjoy the “sweet, pleasant and unspeakable comfort” of my own election, if the ones I love above my own life are condemned to hell since before the foundation of the world. Can you?
That should break our hearts and drive us to deep grief and tears (and by extension, grief over the lost neighbour as well).
The unquestioning of the articles was “have held unquestioningly” (past tense); now I feel free enough to think the issues through again without feeling, or being, disloyal to my Anglican heritage.
I don’t think our Lord minds us re-exploring the issues that are raised every now and again. Even XXI tells us that the councils of men can be wrong. Maybe that’s why we have denominational differences.
I agree that Bishops et al. who act in total opposition to them cannot claim to be authentically Anglican, but authentic Anglicans are not unthinking people.
i.e the controversies of Dort looked at whether infants of believers who died were elected to eternal life. This controversy exists even today among Reformed theologians.
I hope that clarifies things.
What is the problem you have with pre-destination Ron … its really very simple ….
From God’s standpoint …
Either someone is saved, or they are not saved, pre-destined for election to Eternal Life … by the grace of God alone through Christ alone. And God already knows whom, whose names are written the Book of Life … ie; He has already chosen ..
From our standpoint …
Either someone is saved, or they are not saved, by their own choice … if they, in this life time repent and believe, and be saved unto Eternal Life in Christ, or choose their own destiny without Christ.
Everyone of our loved ones has the same choice to make. And it is a personal choice.
God already knows the outcome, since before the World was created … but it still has to play out in order for this pre-knowledge to be born out and for anyone alive to potentially become *actually* saved.
Jesus warned, did He not, in Matt 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” and again in Luke 13:24 “”Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”
And again in John 3:36 “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God stays on him.
And also John 3:15,16 “That whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life…”
All this seems crystal clear to me, and Article XVII seems equally clear and direct.
In no way does any of this take away personal choice if someone chooses Christ and eternal life, and salvation over the alternate, hell and the second death and the grinding and gnashing of teeth in torment forever and ever.
Also seems a simple choice really does it not ?
Any puts the wood even more on us to spread the Gospel ASAP to as many as possible that many will choose life
last line should read … “And this puts the “wood on each of us who are saved” even more to spread the Gospel ASAP …
The problem is as I thought I had stated quite clearly David.
I am re-thinking the issue through and cannot see how any Christian parent can be confident that their children are “elect”; in fact they may well not be. Therefore there can be no “comfort” in the doctrine as the Article wants to tell us.
So better off not to have children at all than even risk an eternity in hell for them. If they have not been chosen, then they will never repent and be saved.
Now “foreknowledge” is a different matter (and even the theologians can’t agree on what that means).
If it means that God acts on earth according to His knowledge of future Gospel responses by people – that I can go with.
Others will say that foreknowledge is God setting His love upon certain people (but not others) to bring their salvation to fruition.
In other words God cannot love everyone equally if He arbitrarily chooses some and not others.
This was a huge dilemma in the early reformed church for parents of infants who died (about a 40% mortality rate) and the issue was addressed by the church, but as far as I can see judgement was made with no Biblical foundations for thinking that their children were in fact saved for Heaven.
That is a pastoral problem still, both within and outside the Church today.
Sorry – should read Bruce, not David
Hi Ron … thanks for thoughtful responses … I can begin to see your journey of thinking, here some more …
Some thoughts …
First, we know God has commanded us to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ … so it is within God’s remit that we have comfortably have children, knowing this is God’s clear command to us … and
Second, we do this, if we have not otherwise ‘chosen to be eunichs’ (single life, or married no children life choice / outcome) for the sake of the Gospel …
Third, this all presupposes when we come to Christ … we could come to Christ after we have kids …. we may be in Christ before we have kids, but not really be well studied on these things ..
Fourth, by Pre-destination, we understand God meticulously planned and prophesied and executed all the things pertaining to Jesus being born into the lineage of David, both through the blood lines of the blessed Virgin Mary and her espousal husband Joseph (not physical father of Christ, but legal human father)
Fifth … that children of believers are numbered amongst the saved, (before they are of age), seems a well enough established Reformed Protestant doctrine that can be comfortably demonstrated from a Berean study of the Scriptures …
Sixth, that we are arrogant and arguably lacking in faith in God, if we seek to thwart the will of God by not having children, merely on the reasoning that not having kids means we will not potentially be bringing children into the world who may end up not being saved to eternity … it is not our choice as to who will or will not be saved, it is God’s … and it is within God’s commands to us in having children, that the mere act of having children causes us to be blameworthy of their eventual final salvation status …
Seventh, parental responsibility to ‘bring up children in the Lord’ is one matter, but another is or becomes the personal responsibility of each person to become ‘confirmed’ in the faith (from our standpoint) when of age …
Eighth … It still remains the case, that nothing takes away from the personal decision any person needs to make about ‘Christ’ … ie: ‘he who has ears to hear, LET HIM HEAR’ in regards the Gospel …
Nineth … we are all ultimately here on earth, by the express will of God, made in His image, with the free will of choice, upon whom gives all sufficient time and revelation, whether by general revelation, of specific Christian revelation, to know about God, right and wrong, and make choices …
Tenth .. even Judas the betrayer, could have chosen at any time to be in Christ, and not to do what evil he has previously set the course to do, yet he did not, even when Jesus gave him an opportunity to do so ….. whilst God had pre-ordained this, yet it was in the end, Judas’ choice, not God’s fault …..
Eleventh .. It remains that we are God’s creations .. and we belong to Him, as does ALL creation, seen and unseen, and some are created to honour, and some to dishonour … yet we all still have choice to choose Honour … and even though God cares and knows about even the hairs on our heads …
Twelfth … we are called to fear God alone … and nothing or no-one else (Luke 12:7)
Nothing in the above conflicts for me with the Articles of Religion …
Does this help ?
Thank you Bruce for your response to my dilemma.
I take on board your points.
Ultimately, I believe that this particular article needs far more discussion and we shouldn’t run from the questions that arise out of it.
Example: “Fifth … that children of believers are numbered amongst the saved, (before they are of age), seems a well enough established Reformed Protestant doctrine that can be comfortably demonstrated from a Berean study of the Scriptures …”
(I don’t know a Berean study of the Scriptures, but I can’t find any teaching on that established doctrine in my NIV)
Questions that arise from this view could also be plentiful. i.e We can be assured that children before they are of age are saved.
However, this leaves it open that when they are “of age” (whatever age that may be) we can no longer be assured that they are saved.
The implication here is that children can “move out’ of being saved, into being “lost”.
Of course this would mean that they were never “saved” in the first place, nor were they among the “elect”.
This could then lead us to ask what happens to children of unbelievers if they die before they are of “age”.
If they are eternally lost, then what comfort does the Gospel hold for the parents as we take their children’s funerals?
Yet many people DO turn to the Lord in their hour of need.
These are age old questions and I think any number of “views” are held, but it would seem that they are held more from an emotional hope, rather than by revelation of God in the Scriptures.
(By the way I would never suggest that we refrain from having children in case they are not elect. Generally by nature,we all want children if at all possible. I just think that a person is better off never having been born than to suffer an eternity in hell)
Of course other questions apart from those about children arise too. i.e Adam’s race are all under condemnation by nature.
Jesus, the second Adam, paid the penalty for the whole human race. So why would God only “elect” certain members of the human race to be saved?
Now I know what the commentaries say about this, but their answers are less than convincing and seem more like “spin” to justify their positions rather than from a decent interpretation of Scripture.
So, I think that the classic pre-destination doctrine should be discussed afresh from time to time as new converts come into the Church and we should not be afraid to question whether we have really understood how it all fits together.
New families come into the Church. They lose babies, or parents, or siblings and they have lots of questions. I don’t see how they can be comforted if they think any of those loved ones are suffering eternal damnation in hell.
I wonder how long it is for instance, since you or I either preached or heard a sermon on Romans 9-11? Weeks, months, decades ?
In fact have we ever heard a sermon in church on predestination? Or do preachers avoid it because they know it will raise many questions?
Well thank you Bruce for the time and effort you’ve put into this discussion.
I will continue to think it through, particularly as I take a fresh look at covenant theology in the coming weeks.
(P.S. I still think that if I was a homosexual claiming to be a Christian, I would spin the doctrine of election to my advantage!)