CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The Bitter Fruit of Apostasy

Sep 16, 2008

Theologically speaking, apostasy has to do with turning away from the faith, and denying the basic truths thereof. It is a renunciation of the faith, and an abandonment of it. This can be true of individuals, but it can also be true of whole denominations.

Some denominations have so jettisoned the basics of the Christian faith, that they can only be described as apostate. And when the basics of the faith are abandoned, then anything goes. We have a perfect example of this in Francis Macnab, a Uniting Church minister in Melbourne. According to a story in today’s Age, the minister has taken his theological liberalism to its logical outcome. Here is part of what the article said:

“‘The Ten Commandments, one of the most negative documents ever written.’ With that provocative claim posted high over two city streets, controversial cleric Francis Macnab yesterday launched ‘a new faith for the 21st century’, a faith beyond orthodox Christianity. Dr Macnab says Abraham is probably a concoction, Moses was a mass murderer and Jesus Christ just a Jewish peasant who certainly was not God. In fact, there is no God, in the usual sense of an interventionist deity – what we strive for is a presence both within and beyond us. Dr Macnab, a noted psychotherapist and executive minister at St Michael’s Uniting Church in the city, said the new faith was necessary because the old faith no longer worked. ‘The old faith is in large sections unbelievable. We want to make the new faith more believable, realistic and helpful in terms of the way people live,’ he said.”

The article continues, “St Michael’s is promoting the new faith with a $120,000 campaign over several months, involving newspaper and radio advertising, the internet, banners and billboards. Dr Macnab is being advised by Barry Whalen, who was the media guru for Cardinal George Pell when he was Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne. According to Dr Macnab, the new faith transcends denominations and religions. It is about searching, not dogma. It seeks the good, the tender and the beautiful, and finds it in Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, Christianity and Judaism.”

So it seems the good minister has abandoned his Christian beliefs altogether, and is now pushing for a pantheistic soup where any belief is as good as another. Indeed, as he said, God is not even needed in this new faith. Just look to the god within.

Of course such nonsense is nothing new. Every day some renegade, heretic or apostate is coming out with such foolishness. The important point to note here is that these things do not arise in a vacuum. Apostasy does not occur overnight, but is part of a process.

The Uniting Church has been known for decades as a denomination which has for the most part abandoned orthodox Christian teachings and has adhered to rabid theological liberalism. Thus Macnab’s new faith is simply the logical outworking of a watered down and corrupted faith.

Of course many prophetic voices in the past have warned about the dangers of a liberalised theology. For example, J. Gresham Machen penned a little, but explosive, book entitled Christianity and Liberalism in 1923. In it he argued a simple and clear thesis: liberalism is not Christianity. When you so water down basic Christian teachings, you no longer have biblical Christianity.

Said Machen, “In the sphere of religion, in particular, the present time is a time of conflict; the great redemptive religion which has always been known as Christianity is battling against a totally diverse type of religious belief, which is only the more destructive of the Christian faith because it makes use of traditional Christian terminology. This modern non-redemptive religion is called ‘modernism’ or ‘liberalism’.”

Liberalism is non-redemptive because there is nothing in need of redemption. We are just fine the way we are, thanks. Indeed, if god is within us, we must be doing pretty well. So who needs a saviour? In the 1930s H. Richard Niebuhr had warned about this very thing. He lamented the emptiness of liberal Protestant theology in which “a God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.” That is the essence of theological liberalism, the likes of which is being pimped by our good minister.

Machen continues, “But manifold as are the forms in which the movement appears, the root of the movement is one; the many varieties of modern liberal religion are rooted in naturalism, that is, in the denial of any entrance of the creative power of God.”

Indeed, God is dethroned in liberalism, and man is deified. It’s the oldest trick in the book. It worked in the Garden with our first parents, and it’s been occurring ever since. Thus the liberal theologians stand as one with their atheist colleagues, as they embrace naturalism and deny supernaturalism.

Dorothy Sayers, perhaps better known for her Lord Peter Wimsey crime detection novels, was also very concerned about the importance of sound doctrine. In 1940 she gave a very important address entitled “Creed or Chaos”. She was quite right to argue that when we abandon creed and doctrine, we end up with chaos. And that is just what we see here with Francis Macnab.

Sayers put it this way: “Official Christianity, of late years, has been having what is known as bad press. We are constantly assured that the churches are empty because preachers insist too much upon doctrine – dull dogma as people call it. The fact is quite the opposite. It is the neglect of dogma that makes for dullness. The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man – and the dogma is the drama. Christ, in His divine innocence, said to the Woman of Samaria, ‘Ye worship ye know not what’ – being apparently under the impression that it might be desirable, on the whole, to know what one was worshiping. He thus showed Himself sadly out of touch with the twentieth-century mind, for the cry today is: ‘Away with the tedious complexities of dogma – let us have the simple spirit of worship; just worship, no matter of what!’ The only drawback to this demand for a generalized and undirected worship is the practical difficulty of arousing any sort of enthusiasm for the worship of nothing in particular.”

She also said, “The thing I am here to say to you is this: that it is worse than useless for Christians to talk about the importance of Christian morality unless they are prepared to take their stand upon the fundamentals of Christian theology. It is a lie to say that dogma does not matter; it matters enormously. It is fatal to let people suppose that Christianity is only a mode of feeling; it is vitally necessary to insist that it is first and foremost a rational explanation of the universe. It is hopeless to offer Christianity as a vaguely idealistic aspiration of a simple and consoling kind; it is, on the contrary, a hard, tough, exacting, and complex doctrine, steeped in a drastic and uncompromising realism. And it is fatal to imagine that everybody knows quite well what Christianity is and needs only a little encouragement to practice it. The brutal fact is that in this Christian country not one person in a hundred has the faintest notion what the Church teaches about God or man or society or the person of Jesus Christ.”

This is exactly what we see coming out of a very liberal Uniting Church. Macnab’s new age mumbo jumbo is the bitter fruit of the rejection of sound doctrine and biblical truth. He has simply sold out his faith and embraced the spirit of the age. Of course Jesus warned about this very thing.

For example, he warned about false prophets who would come along and deceive many: “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect – if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time” (Mark 13:22-23)

Paul and Peter also warned about this apostasy. Paul gave this warning in 2 Tim. 4:3,4, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

Peter said similar things: “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves” (2 Peter 2:1).

So we should not be surprised by such apostasy. It should shock us, grieve us, worry us and move us. But it should not surprise us. It will probably only get worse. All the more reason for those of us who still are true to Christ to redouble our commitment to him and to defend Christian theology anew.

www.theage.com.au/national/new-faith-throws-out-the-ten-commandments-20080915-4h3d.html

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46 Responses to The Bitter Fruit of Apostasy

  • The statement that ‘old faith no longer worked’ is a subjective statement. Orthodox Christianity still works for hundreds of thousands of westerners. Its not the faith that should be changed but the traditions.
    By traditions I mean that most denominational post reformation churches have a contextualized gospel for a culture that existed 60 years ago, THAT’S WHAT DOESNT WORK!
    Churches like Mars Hill in Seattle contextualize the Gospel to today’s western culture but still preach the same old Gospel that saves people as good today as it did nearly 2000 years ago. That Christ died for our sins according to (old testament prophetic) scripture, was buried, and was resurrected from the dead on the third day according to (again old testament prophetic) scripture.
    This Gospel has never changed because truth does not change, the FORM changes and should change according to culture, but the CONTENT has remained the same!
    Change the content and it’s no longer a Gospel that saves people. The biblical/historical Jesus is and will always be the only Savior.
    Joshua Ferrara

  • I am so grieved when I hear that a church that is supposed to be dedicated to Christ and His glory preaches that which is an abomination. I have seen a slogan on one Uniting church that said, ‘Risks living the way Jesus lived’. Sadly, I think a more apt slogan would be ‘Risks blaspheming the Son of God’.

    When people preach a gospel that removes the offense of the Cross, that Jesus only suffered to empathize with humanity rather than drinking the cup of the wrath of God against our sin; when they start seeing man to be any more than born in the depravity of sin and haters of God; when the cross is seen as a sign of how much man is worth rather than how depraved we really are; when man is given a cause for boasting in his salvation even in the slightest extent: that preaching is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Any who preach such are by the Scriptures, accursed.

    I know there are a very small handful of Christians in the Uniting Church who are faithful to God’s Word, but that number seems to be getting fewer and fewer. I was very much encouraged when I heard an Anglican bishop preach the biblical Gospel and make a very strong stand against the movements of liberalism in the Anglican Church, even to the point of calling the liberalistic ministers as wolves who are putting their congregation’s salvation at risk. God knows those who are His.

    Unfortunately, it is not penetrating just the Uniting Church or the Anglican Church. It is affecting all other churches, in varying degrees, including Baptists and Pentecostals, in the form of teachings, movements, and programs. I am deeply concerned about the so-called seeker sensitive movement. Scripture clearly teaches us that man does not seek God in his naturally depraved state. God is the only true seeker, and if we are to be friendly to someone, we ought to be friendly to God. We come to Him on His terms, not ours.

    God bless you Bill. Thank you for standing up for the truth of God’s Word.

    David Clay, Kununurra

  • Bill,

    Another excellent assessment of the apostasy that is infiltrating many churches, the Uniting Church being one of them. Your email helped to motivate me to write this letter to The Age and sent a few minutes ago.

    Letters to the editor,
    The Age

    Dear Editor,
    Why does Francis Macnab of the Uniting Church (Age, Sept. 16) want to continue to associate with a Christian church when he denies the fundamentals of the faith? It is like hiring a motor mechanic who no longer believes in engines.
    To make matters worse, your article online said that “he did not seek wider approval for the campaign.” Why, then, is he spending $120,000 to promote this new faith?
    There’s nothing new in Macnab’s betrayal of Jesus. I recall one Judas Iscariot before him.

    Sincerely,
    S. Gear, Hervey Bay, Qld.

  • Great post! People in the U.S. like to ban the display of The Ten Commandments in public places, however, I don’t recall reading about any “new” church claiming that it is “one of the most negative documents ever written.” Of course, such a sentiment is the mantra of the atheistic ACLU agenda.

    Bill, I have a post up at my blog regarding heretical conferences and meetings and whether or not it is:

    Good To Infiltrate Heretical Territory.

    What are your thoughts about “infiltrating” heretical groups and conferences and sharing the Gospel Truth with the audiences there?

    Do you think that this type of action just might be badly needed in this day and age?

    Or, do you think that showing up for such conferences damages the credibility of any born-again, Bible believing and teaching pastor/speaker/evangelist?

    Opinions among Christians on this are probably all over the place. Would love to read your take on it. You can just post here if you do not want to log into blogger.

    Thanks!

    Christine Watson, US

  • Thanks Christine

    Actually it raises a slightly larger question. Not only can one ask about seeking to turn heretical or cultic groups around, but what about if one finds oneself in a church or denomination which started off good, but has since gone off the rails? Does one stay and fight and seek to bring the group back to biblical orthodoxy, or does one leave if it is getting too far gone?

    It is a tough question, and one which must be prayerfully considered by each individual in that situation. The same with cults: should one spend a lot of time seeking to reach people in cults? I suppose if God calls you to do that, then go for it. On the other hand, we are told not to cast our pearls before swine. One may get too much caught up trying to win cultists who are often pretty set in their ways, and lose out on reaching those who still have not made any decision yet for the Gospel.

    So again, one must find out what God wants one to do. Sadly, the history of heresy in the churches has not been too good. We have many examples of good things going bad, and the only real course of action is to leave. For example, Princeton Seminary was once a godly institution but it eventually was corrupted by theological liberalism, so many of the orthodox professors left and founded Westminster Seminary.

    So the question is – as in this case with the Uniting Church in Australia – do I stay and fight and hope to bring the church back to where it should be, or do I leave because it has gotten so bad that reform is no longer possible? These are big questions which must be prayerfully and thoughtfully dealt with.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill, this is a tough call as to whether to persist in witnessing to cultists when there are so many unreached Aussies.

    For the last few months on a Christian forum I have been debating with a Seventh Day Adventist over his support of the Sabbath, the Investigative Judgment, hell, soul sleep, etc. and I seem to be getting nowhere. He’s so entrenched in his thinking that I am concluding my engagement with him.

    On the other hand, my wife and I have Sri Lankan friends who migrated to Australia and were met at the port in Perth by SDAs and the Sri Lankans became SDA members and promoters. However, this couple showed interest in a health product promoted by a Baptist pastor and the pastor shared the Gospel with them. They became born-again Christians, leaving the SDAs. They have been in a Bible study group led by my wife for a couple of years.

    These folks are now fellowshipping with an evangelical church in regional Qld. and are growing in the grace and knowledge of the Saviour. It is delightful to see their growth in the faith.

    I believe it amounts to Holy Spirit discernment as to whether there is a genuine interest by the cultist or whether this is shadow-boxing in biblical matters.

    Spencer Gear, Hervey Bay Qld.

  • Hi Bill,
    Thank you for your diligent response to this minister who is deciding to build upon the sandy foundation of false doctrine. It’s a shame that people don’t love the Truth and that they would rather choose to believe a lie. I feel for the people who will follow after such a man’s teaching; for their lives will be a reflection of such an all embracing theological mish-mash with no true foundation. I’ll be praying that this man to humble himself and turn his eyes to Christ (The Word of God) the sure Rock of our Salvation.
    Michael Dawson

  • Thanks Michael

    Yes I have been praying for him as well. Sometimes it is hard to know how exactly to pray for such people however! Perhaps it may be legit to pray that God will improve or remove such people from their positions of influence.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • In the Uniting Church in Australia, the response to the those ‘turning to another gospel’, has come, historically, in the way of the various moves to seek reform from within. Amidst this real struggle, one becomes aware of the long term effects of crook scholarship, crook teaching, a highly politicised agenda, a good reserve of funds, and many apathetic culture-bound local churches, when they all combine and conspire together.

    This has led to (1) the Fellowship for Revival (FFR), (2) Evangelical Members of the Uniting (EMU), (3) The Reforming Alliance (RA), and now, (4) the Association of Confessing Congregations (ACC).

    The far longer term effects, however, of Christ as Lord of the Church, and churches, and him dealing with each of them (as in Rev. 2-3), in severity and in mercy, needs to be rediscovered and appreciated.

    Francis Macnab will one day die. The big billboards will come down sooner, probably, rather than later. Christ and the gospel will proceed on.

    As one old Scottish divine said: ‘The Church is an anvil which has worn out many hammers’!

    Trevor Faggotter

  • Quite right Trevor

    And we need to pray for these groups and those members of the Uniting Church who are seeking to hold the line on biblical truth in the face of growing apostasy. They need great wisdom as to whether they should stay and fight and seek to save the UCA, or whether they should leave altogether, believing that it is all a lost cause. They need wisdom and discernment as to the best way to proceed.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • The thing that troubles me about all the growing apostasy is that these liberals are dominating church leadership. They make these radical statements, water down of the gospel message, deny the basic tenets of faith, and then exhort the rest of us to conform or shut up so as not to risk alienating the secular world by portraying a lack of unity in the Body of Christ. Or shock! Horror! Daring to criticize the “Anointed Ones”.

    I sincerely pity those caught up in such a situation. The falling numbers in the Uniting Church suggest that many are voting with their feet. My earnest prayer is that they don’t become embittered and blame God for what has happened. Ultimately we need take responsibility ourselves to be thoroughly grounded in the Word of God and continue to challenge those who distort the Gospel message. We do have a responsibility as watchmen to warn them, but if they refuse to listen, then it’s God’s affair.

    Our relationship with God is too important to risk being perverted by liberal ideology. God desires us to have full, blessed lives, which can only happen if we fully believe and understand that His truth indeed sets us free.

    Glenda Morgan WA

  • Hi Bill, The Uniting Church is said by the less reflective clergy to have lost the plot. But you cannot lose anything unless you once had it. Again, it is is amazing that the more reflective can say ”we still have the Basis of Union”; however even this is nonsense. The Basis of Union has just this week been waved around by the Acting Moderator [Victoria] in order to Distance this church from Doctor Macnab. This move is hollow. The Uniting Church has a working theology at variance with its basis of union. To this the Anglicans say ”we too”.
    Stan Fishley.

  • Albeit twenty years ago, the theology of a mainline biblical based evangelical church required a large group of us to do ‘church’ their way or leave.

    A powerful Holy Spirit presence had brought about an amazing love among us, saw many to salvation, many delivered, many healed, and an overflow of giving.

    We left in love and continuing friendship with prayer with the rector. Christ must be Glorified and Honoured above all for Love is His nature.

    With such a dynamic reference point, all outside a responsive dialogue with Holy Spirit of Christ Jesus, for me personally, is apostasy.

    Ray Robinson

  • I have been a follower of the Christ for over 40 years now, and I believe that the Jesus Way is still capable of bringing the realm of God ‘on earth as it is in heaven’.
    But I also believe that many read the bible as if it was one book, and able to be understood by 21st century readers without an understanding of the cultures of the human writers, or the points of view they held.
    Our understanding of God has changed dramatically from that portrayed in the writings of the old testament. Jesus spoke of God as ‘dad’, unlike the old testament god who in certain biblical writings was claimed to have called for the destruction of individuals and tribes.
    And so, I have no problem with us continuing to journey towards an understanding of God which helps us live in our time and generation, making some sense of our faith and our lives.
    The bible is not inerrant, and so we surely have a responsibility to apply our minds to our faith. We might not agree with Francis Macnab on every point, or for that matter with the Uniting Church in Australia. But I for one am proud to be part of this denomination, and to count as a brother said Macnab. I think Jesus would have enjoyed a conversation with him.
    (I am also touched by Macnab’s humility – on his church’s website are many statements violently critical of him, but he allows people to air their points of view. A very Christ-like example.)
    Andrew Prior

  • Thanks Andrew

    But your phrase “the Bible is not inerrant” is the heart of the problem here, both for you and the Uniting Church. If the Bible is not the authoritative, inspired and inerrant word of God, but just a collection of myths and stories written by mere men, then there is no Christianity. Then we might as will give it all away – which is just what Dr Macnab and much of the UCA seem to have done. Either we accept God and his word, or we tell him that we know better.

    And with all due respect, I find it hard to reconcile the claim to be a follower of Jesus with an apparent endorsement of Dr Macnab and his beliefs. I do not see how anyone can call oneself a follower of Jesus if we deny the very things which he said, including John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me”. Macnab says there may not even be a God, or that he lives in me, that Jesus is not divine, and that other religions are on a par with Chrsitianity.

    If Jesus is who he claims to be, then Dr Macnab is simply wrong. Not only that, but he can no longer call himself a Christian. A biblical Christian is one who believes and obeys the words of Christ and the rest of God’s word. Either Jesus is the only means to salvation, and all other roads are false roads, or Jesus was merely a madman making grandiose claims. But one cannot have it both ways.

    I would urge you to reread the words of Christ in the four Gospels. There is no way they can be squared with the heretical remarks of Dr Macnab.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Here is a good explanation of the ten commandments.
    Go to the link and then to part two
    http://www.lumenverum.org/apologetics/Law&Life/page.html
    Michael Webb

  • Andrew,

    Our understanding of God may change but the Bible’s doesn’t. The one and only God is the same God for both OT and NT. The God who destroyed individuals and tribes in the OT is the same God who will say to unrighteous unbelievers, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).

    Of course there were different operations of God under the Old Covenant vs. the New Covenant.

    You say that “the bible is not inerrant.” To the contrary, the Scripture in the original documents are confirmed as inerrant or infallible. Since “all Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Tim. 3:16 ESV), given through the instrument of human beings directed by the Holy Spirit (I Peter 1:21) and God is perfect (Matt. 5:48), we can be confident that God’s Scripture is inerrant/infallible. I recommend a reading of Norman L. Geisler (ed.), 1979, Inerrancy (Zondervan) in which a number of scholars defend the inerrancy of Scripture.

    Dr. Macnab’s reported understanding of Christ and his being a fellow of the Jesus Seminar confirm that he does not support orthodox Christianity. He admits that he himself is launching a new faith for the 21st century. Far from Jesus’ enjoying a conversation with Macnab, he probably would have declared: “Depart from me, I never new you.”

    Rather than exercising humility, Macnab has arrogantly declared that his view of God is superior to God’s view of Himself. His may appear to be a “very Christ-like example,” but his statements indicate that he is presenting a Jesus who is another Christ. Sounds more like a wolf in sheep’s clothing to me!

    Spencer Gear, Hervey Bay, Qld.

  • Thanks Spencer

    You are quite right in all that you say. The Bible is absoltuely clear as to its claims to inerrancy. What critics of the Bible do is assume that somehow they are greater than God. They think they can sit in judgment over God’s word, when it really it sits in judgment over us.

    The objection offered by Andrew does not stand up in the least. The fatherhood of God is fully affirmed in the Old Testament, just as it is in the New. Consider a few passages: Deut 32:6; Psalms 89:26; Isaiah 9:6; 63:16; 64:8; Jer 3:4; 3:19; etc.

    And God in both Testaments is the author of life and death. God has every right to judge those who reject him and disobey him. Jesus speaks constantly of the judgment of God. Indeed, he speaks more about hell than any other person in the Bible. And coming judgment is as much a theme of the NT as the OT. Try reading the book of Revelation for starters, where Jesus comes back in judgment, brandishing a sword to strike down his enemies.

    There is no conflict here whatsoever. It is only in the minds of the enemies of Christianity, or of Christians too lazy to do their homework. For those wondering about alleged errors in the Bible, there are numerous excellent resources which nicely deal with such difficulties. Consider for example:

    Archer, Gleason, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Zondervan, 1982.
    De Haan, M.R., 508 Answers to Bible Questions. Zondervan, 1952.
    Geisler, Norman and Thomas Howe, When Critics Ask. Baker, 1992.
    Haley, John, Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible. Baker, 1874, 1977.
    Kaiser, Walter, et. al., Hard Sayings of the Bible. IVP, 1996.

    There are no errors in Scripture. There are admittedly difficulties, however. None of them are insurmountable, and most apparent contradictions are easily dealt with. The problem lies in our human understanding, not in God’s inerrant word.

    So the issue here is ultimately one of authority. Either we let God be God, and take seriously what he says about his own revelation, or we tell God that we know better than him, and that we will call the shots. “Let God be true, and every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4).

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Greetings Bill and other participants

    I wanted to pick up on the ideas about the bible being inerrant.

    I agree with your thinking, Bill. If the bible is not inerrant, we do have to re-evaluate the way that we read it, and maybe even the way in which we understand our faith. The example I find helpful is that of a chemistry book of formulae that you use in your factory. One feels comfortable relying on the formulae for the production of chemicals or whatever, until one finds an error in a formula. Then, suddenly, one realises that if there is one error, there could be more, and perhaps that causes one to re-evaluate how much authority one can put in that particular chemistry book of formulae.

    The challenge is that there are many errors in the scriptures. There are moral errors, in my opinion. Where slavery is condoned in the New Testament, for instance. Today, we would simply say, “slave masters, let your slaves go, for slavery is an abomination”. But in the NT, slaves are told to “submit to their masters” (Titus 2: 9-10). In fact, is is obvious that Christians had slaves (1 Timothy 6:1-2). Surely something like slavery is always wrong. And there are many other examples.

    And then there are the kind of errors of fact which are actually extremely clear, on the whole, because they are contradicted in other parts of the bible.

    Some examples that include OT and NT passages.
    2 Kings 8:26 says “Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign…”
    2 Chronicles 22:2 says “Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign…”

    2 Samuel 8:3-4 says “David smote also Hadadezer…and took from him…seven hundred horsemen…”
    1 Chronicles 18:3-4 says “David smote Hadarezer…and took from him…seven thousand horsemen…”

    1 Kings 4:26 says “And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots…”
    2 Chronicles 9:25 says “And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots…”

    2 Kings 25:8 says “And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month…Nebuzaradan…came…unto Jerusalem”
    Jeremiah 52:12 says “…in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month…came Nebuzaradan…into Jerusalem”

    1 Samuel 31:4-6 says “…Saul took a sword and fell upon it. And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead and…died with him. So Saul died…”
    2 Samuel 21:12 says “…the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa.”

    Gen 2:17 says “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die [note: it doesn’t say ‘spiritual’ death]
    Gen 5:5 says “And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.”

    Matt 1:16 says, “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus…”
    Luke 3:23 says “And Jesus…the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli”

    James 1:13 says “..for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.”
    Gen 22:1 says “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham…”

    Gen 6:20 says “Of fowls after their kind and of cattle [etc.]…two of every sort shall come unto thee…”
    Gen 7:2,3 says “Of every clean beast thou shall take to thee by sevens…Of fowls also of the air by sevens…”

    Luke23:46: “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.”
    John 19:30 “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”

    Gen 32:30 states “…for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
    John 1:18 states, “No man hath seen God at any time…”

    This is by no means an exhaustive list, of course, and I have attempted not to use emotive issues so far as the problems with the scriptures are concerned. Some of these passages can sometimes be explained, but usually the explanations force one to do a kind of mental gymnastics that is a little embarrassing. But to me at least, they show that the bible is not inerrant. Of course, realising that the bible is not inerrant is challenging, but surely does not necessarily make faith impossible.

    And I’m not so sure about many of the passages quoted as supporting inerrancy. Passages like 2 Tim. 3:16 surely don’t refer to our bible as a whole, in that much of it was not written or recognised as scripture when that verse was written.

    Thanks again to other participants in this conversation for their gentle replies, even if or when they disprove my potentially incorrect position.

    Andrew Prior

  • Thanks again Andrew

    It looks like I may need to do a whole article on the issue of alleged errors in the Bible. As I already mentioned, the Bible is free from error, but there are nonetheless some difficult portions, which enemies of Christianity of course are happy to seek to exploit. However, if one is wanting more than just to go along with the cheap shots of the secularists, and the theological liberals, but in fact to look closely and honestly into these issues, it turns out there are many good answers indeed, and most supposed problems quickly fade away.

    As to the slavery issue, my best reply is to refer you to a full-length piece I did on this very issue: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2007/07/25/the-bible-slavery-and-morality/

    It is not worth repeating here all that I said there. Simply put, the NT does not condone slavery. The biblical insistence on the equality of all people as made in the image of God spelt the end of the institution of slavery. Jesus and the early disciples of course had other things on their minds, than to challenge long standing social institutions at first. But it was people acting out of the Christian worldview who led the charge to eventually stamp it out. So your big example of “moral error” turns out to be nothing of the kind.

    Concerning your particular “errors of fact,” as I say, it looks like another article is in order. But again, if you are really asking honest questions about these, instead of simply trying to push an agenda, then the five books I mentioned in my previous comment would more than adequately answer all of your concerns. So the real question is, how serious are you at getting to the truth of all this? If you are serious, instead of just wanting to engage in idle debate, I would think grabbing a few of these volumes and giving them a thorough read would be a good indication of your genuineness here.

    Indeed, with all due respect, it sounds to me like you may have been reading too many books by people like Dawkins! He makes a very juvenile attempt to discredit the Bible with such examples, but he fails miserably in the attempt. I of course expect atheists to try to pull such tricks. But I would expect better of people who claim to be followers of Jesus. So please give some of these titles a go, and see what you think. Looking forward to hearing what you think of these books.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill, I look forward to your “whole article on the issue of alleged errors in the Bible”. Please let me know how to find it when it is completed.

    A word of introduction – I value the scriptures highly, and ponder them deeply as I attempt both to live my life in something like a Christ-like manner, and as I share my learnings with others who recognise my teaching.

    Regarding slavery, I disagree with your position most strongly. Jesus found plenty of time to stand up against any number of long-standing social institutions. And without wanting to in any way say that these are unimportant social issues, I humbly submit that standing up for slaves is every bit as important, if not moreso, than standing up for social outcasts like prostitutes and tax-collectors. If Jesus had time for these, I submit he could have made time for a word or two condemning slavery! The important point, however, is that the bible encourages slaves to submit to their master, even if the masters are believers! This to me is a condoning of slavery, which is far more worrying.

    I thought I might list a few volumes of my own for you to read also, as we engage in a serious debate. I would encourage you to take a look at some fairly modern and scholarly writing, like:
    Peake’s commentary on the Bible, completely revised edition, ed. M. Black, H. H. Rowley, Nelson (1962).
    This is a very readable book, and what I would classify as fairly conservative in many ways. But it is also written by recognised experts in their fields. This was a prescribed book when I studied Biblical Studies at university twenty-something years ago, and I suspect it would be recognised across a wide spectrum of theological positions as an authoritative reference.
    Interestingly, and pertinent to our discussion on inerrancy, the article on “The authority of the Bible” in this commentary includes the following quote:
    “The discrepancies in some of the narratives make the acceptance of them all as factually correct to be virtually impossible”. (p6)

    I would encourage you also, if you are interested in an academically responsible study of this matter, to look at the following books also, by some of the leading and recognised leaders on this topic:
    C.H.Dodd, The Authority of the Bible (rev.ed. 1938)
    C.W.Dugmore (ed.), The interpretation of the bible (1943)
    A.G.Hebert, The Authority of the OT (1947)
    They are also part of the bibliography in the article in Peake’s quoted above, and thus give some idea of the scholarship that has gone into said article.

    I welcome any discussion of the numerous contradictions I mentioned also.

    Once again, kind regards to you all.
    Andrew Prior

    P.S. I don’t believe I’ve ever read anything by Dawkins…

  • I don’t know why this Andrew Prior doesn’t just join an atheist group. He’s obviously parroted one of the “lists of Bible contradictions” from one of the gutter misotheistic sites inhabiting the darker hovels of the Internet. All old hat of course, and ignorant of the context. See for example Answering a List of Biblical Contradictions.

    Blind Freddie’s deaf guide dog could reconcile these, e.g.:

    Ark animals:Gen 6:20: general command that applies to overwhelming number of case: a male and female: Gen 7:2,3: specifies certain instances which include the two but add two more pairs and one sacrifice.

    Genealogies of Christ: it’s obvious from the context and the Greek grammar that Luke is giving Mary’s line, as I explained here.

    Who killed Saul? Try watching Rob Roy: when a distraught girl, Betty, hangs herself, Mrs McGregor rebukes the villainous Killearn as having murdered her just as surely. Saul was driven to kill himself because of the overwhelming defeat of his forces by the Philistines, who would have killed him after capture.

    Seventh or tenth day of the month: a later copyist error, common because the Hebrew used letters for numbers: “Seventh” = shin-beth-ayin-he while “tenth” = ayin-sin-yodh-resh. In Hebrew letters from the fifth through ninth centuries BC, and beth and ayin look quite similar (compare cursive e and c in our alphabet, or 1, I and l). And the additional change between shin-beth and ayin-sin is due to a fairly common transmissional error of transposition of letters. See also Copyist Errors and Estimations by James Patrick Holding. Copyist errors are very rare, but more likely in lists and numbers due to well known analysis of scribal errors.

    The death of Adam: the literal translation of Genesis 2:17 is ‘dying you shall die’. The extra occurrence of the word ‘die’ is in the infinitive absolute, which is used to intensify. This is best explained by taking the promise of death in an ingressive sense—that is, a verbal form that designates the beginning of an action, state or event. In other words, the focus is on the beginning of the action of dying, which results in the translation ‘… for when you eat of it you will surely begin to die.’

    Consider this analogy: if a branch is chopped off a tree and it falls onto hard concrete, one can say that it’s already dead, cut off from the source of life. But the process of physical death takes some time?the cells in the leaves will continue to photosynthesize for several days at least. Similarly, when Adam sinned, he immediately cut himself off from the Source of life, but the dying process took 930 years

    Tempting: the Hebrew nasah in Gen. 22:1 should be rendered “tested”, as per NIV.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Andrew,
    I don’t have the space to address each one of your alleged discrepancies, but I’ll try just two of them:

    2 Kings 8:26 vs 2 Chronicles 22:2
    In 2 Kings 8:26, Ahaziah (in some Bible translations) is said to have been 22, while 2 Chron. 22:2 says that he was 42. We have enough additional information to demonstrate that the correct number is 22. Second Kings 8:17 says that Ahaziah’s father, Joram ben Ahab became king when he was 32 and he died 8 years later at the age of 40. So, it is impossible for Ahaziah to have been age 42 at the time of his father’s death.

    How do we explain the discrepancy in some Bible versions like the NRSV, KJV, etc., where 2 Chron. 22:2 has 42? The explanation was given as far back as Gesenius (Hebrew & Chaldee Lexicon to the OT). His view has been adopted by most critics: The copyist mistook one numeral letter for another. This is why, when we speak of inerrancy, we speak of the “autographa” (the original writings). [With help from Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, 1982, Zondervan]

    Thus the ESV & NIV of 2 Chron. 22:2 read that ‘Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king” (NIV). The footnote of the NIV for 2 Chron. 22:2 reads, “Some Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac (see also 2 Kings 8:26).”

    2 Sam 8:3-4 vs. I Chron 18:3-4
    There was a war against Hadadezer of Zobar and David had a great victory near Hamath in which he captured many prisoners. In 2 Sam 8:4, it is listed as “a thousand and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen.” But in 1 Chron. 18:4, the number taken is “a thousand chariots and seven thousand horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen [i.e. infantry].”

    It is obvious that these two verses are referring to the same incident. Why the difference? There seems to be a scribal error or two in Samuel or Chronicles. In fact, Hebrew scholars, Keil & Delitzsch, in their commentary on 1-2 Samuel (p. 360) give this solution: The word for chariotry (rekeb) seems to have been omitted by the scribe copying 2 Sam. 8:4, and that meant that the second figure, 7,000 for the cavalrymen (parasim) was thus reduced to 700 from the 7,000. The removal of rekeb may have happened through an earlier scribe and the figure of 7,000 reduced to 700 would have happened as a chain reaction when copied by another scribe. This leads Gleason Archer to state that “in all probability the Chronicles figure is right and the Samuel numbers should be corrected to agree with it” (p. 184). [With help from Gleason Archer]

    Thus the ESV translates 2 Sam. 8:4 as, “And David took from him 1,700 horsemen and 20,000 foot soldiers.” (Similar for NIV).

    Andrew, your other discrepancies can be analysed in a similar manner.

    Then to your statement: “Passages like 2 Tim. 3:16 surely don’t refer to our bible as a whole, in that much of it was not written or recognised as scripture when that verse was written.” This is a straw man argument because it matters not WHEN the Scriptures were written but the fact is: “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Tim. 3:16 ESV) who is the perfect God.

    Spencer Gear, Hervey Bay, Qld.

  • Thanks once again Andrew

    But all the books you mention are around 70 years old! You are obviously not up with modern scholarship. If you want to claim to be open to where the debate is now at, you of course would need to be aware of where biblical scholarship stands today. (BTW, I have read most of these older authors, including Dodd and Peake.)

    So I repeat: if you are really serious about this debate, then you will grab a few of the volumes I mentioned and give them a careful perusal. If you don’t then I must suspect that you would rather cling to outdated – and mostly liberal – theology, and a predetermined position, instead of following the evidence where it leads.

    As to slavery, you again set yourself up as a judge of God. If the NT writers are inspired as they claim to be, then they have more authority on these matters then you or I. The early disciples were primarily concerned with spreading the gospel, something which was difficult enough in the early centuries with government persecution coming down on them so heavily. They were hardly in a position to challenge long-standing political and social institutions. They were struggling simply to stay alive – they were in no position to be social reformers, as you seem to think they should have been.

    And what Jesus mainly challenged in his time were the reigning religious institutions and customs, not the political and social institutions. The latter was not his purpose. Sure, many first century Jews wanted him to do this: to be a political liberator and a revolutionary, but that was not why Jesus came to earth. He came to die for our sins, not to turn political institutions around.

    Plus you are being selective in your concerns. Paul also said that in Christ there is neither slave nor freeman, (all believers are slaves to Christ) (Gal. 3:28); and both master and slave were accountable to God (Eph. 6:5-9). He also said that if a slave had the opportunity to procure his freedom, then he should so (1 Cor. 7:21 )

    The fact that anywhere from one half to two thirds of all people in Paul’s day were slaves made talk of overturning the institution fairly unlikely. And slaves were treated much better back then than slaves of more recent times – say those in America in the 19th century. Many could purchase their freedom, and many chose to stay with their masters. So your moral concerns seem to be greater than those of God’s.

    Indeed, the fact that neither Jesus, Paul nor the early disciples agitated for the end of the institution of slavery still has nothing to do with whether the Bible claims to be the inerrant word of God. It simply tells us that you do not like what Jesus and the disciples did about this issue. In which case, you are claiming to be more moral and righteous than Jesus was. That is a fairly arrogant position to hold I would think.

    But I will try to get to the article I promised soon.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Far from Christianity deserving rebuke for slavery, slavery was ubiquitous, and it was only in the Christian west that it was finally abolished. See also Anti-slavery activist William Wilberforce: Christian hero.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Gently, gently. I’m sure we all want this to be a ‘safe place’ where we can discuss important issues without ridiculing or cruelly criticising each other. I don’t think encouraging me to “join an atheist group” or criticising a source I use as “one of the gutter misotheistic sites inhabiting the darker hovels of the Internet” is a particularly helpful, or perhaps even Christ-like attitude to display.

    To begin with, questioning God on issues is not apparently a problem according to the scriptures, so let’s not be too concerned about that.

    Ark animals? Unfortunately, the issue is not being addressed. The numbers of a specific animal are incorrect, apparently.
    Genealogies? I have looked at the texts again, and the wording is quite clear, and there is no need for that embarrassing mental gymnastics I referred to earlier.
    Who killed Saul? Let’s just be honest and say that one of the reports is factually incorrect, i.e. not inerrant…
    Errors of days and years? “A copyist error” according to one of our discussion members. An “error”, but the bible is inerrant? Am I the only one who sees the logic break-down here?
    The death of Adam? This is actually an argument that makes some sense to me, and I want to acknowledge that.

    2 Tim. 3:16. “This is a straw man argument because it matters not WHEN the Scriptures were written but the fact is: “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Tim. 3:16 ESV) who is the perfect God” says one of our participants. (I don’t know what to say. This is surely a circular argument, as well as illogical so far as the dating of scripture is concerned. We are surely not saying that the bible is true because the bible says that it is breathed out by God, so it must be true?!?!?!)

    I have to say I am actually becoming more and more concerned about the discussion here. One of the criticisms levelled at me is the age of reference works (“70 years old”) given in a bibliography of an article I quoted. And yet the same critic has given references to books published in 1952, and apparently originally in 1874?

    “De Haan, M.R., 508 Answers to Bible Questions. Zondervan, 1952.
    Haley, John, Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible. Baker, 1874, 1977.”

    (I might humbly add that I purposely didn’t quote contemporary scholars like Marcus J. Borg – Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion at Oregon State University, or other members of the Jesus Seminar, as I didn’t believe that would be helpful with people who might not be comfortable with some of those writers.)

    I have just shown this page to an academic, university lecturer and researcher who was flabbergasted by the lack of logic on this page, and I honestly encourage us all to try and imagine how an ordinary person – the kind of person we believe Jesus wants us to touch with God’s love and purpose – would judge the heart and mind of some of these writings.

    May the Holy Spirit be our guide.
    Andrew Prior

  • Andrew,

    You claim a contradiction between:
    Gen 32:30 states “…for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
    John 1:18 states, “No man hath seen God at any time…”

    In the ESV, these verses read:
    Gen. 32:30: “So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.'”
    John 1:18: “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”

    At first glance these verses do seem contradictory, but let’s look more closely.

    1. The context of the Gen. 32:30 passage for Jacob is that “a man wrestled with him” (v. 24) and Jacob prevailed (v. 25). Who was this “man”? Martin Luther said with regard to v. 24 that “every man holds that this text is one of the most obscure in the Old Testament.” It is a difficult one, but the biblical commentary on what happened at Gen. 32:30 is found at Hosea 12:4, “He strove with an angel and prevailed” (ESV). Therefore, Jacob’s seeing God who is spirit was actually seeing the angel. With this understanding there is no conflict between Gen. 32:30 and John 1:18. However, theologians from Jerome & Augustine to the present have debated whether the “angel” was a created angel or the second person of the Trinity. Jerome & Augustine considered he was a created angel.

    2. But there are a couple of other verses with which to contend. Ex. 33:20 states: “‘But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live'” (ESV). How does this harmonise or conflict with Ex. 24:11, “And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank” (ESV)? In the latter verse, it does not say that Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu saw God face to face.

    Spencer Gear, Hervey Bay, Qld.

  • Thanks Andrew

    You speak of the ordinary person’s reaction. But the truth is, Macnab (and apparently you) want to tell the ordinary person that Jesus is not God, the Bible is not God’s inerrant word, and at the end of the day, we should basically believe anything that we want. I do not see how that will help the ordinary person in the slightest. All that will do – from a Biblical point of view – is result in a lot more people going to hell (although most liberals deny that Biblical doctrine as well). I am not sure how sending people to a Christless eternity is an example of “God’s love” which you mention.

    As to where you are coming from, it seems the heart of the matter is this: for years it appears you have steeped yourself in liberal theology and have fully latched on to those who want to rubbish Scripture and tell us it is a mere human artefact, riddled with mistakes and error. If you want to live in the world of theological liberalism, that is your choice.

    But if you are claiming here to be open-minded about these matters, and willing to learn what modern conservative Biblical scholarship is saying about all this, then you should be giving it at least as much attention as you have to Bible-denying and orthodox Christianity-attacking theologians. That is why I provided a short list of titles: I was hoping you were asking honest questions and were really open to getting to the truth.

    You appear to me much like my many atheists friends who come here: they raise all sorts of objections and claim to be interested in hearing what I have to say: yet when I provide answers and suggest some titles which will give them another point of view, they steadfastly refuse to even look at these works or acknowledge what I have just said. In others words, their minds are already made up, and they are simply more interested in arguing and debating than they are really searching these things though. To such people I have to say, I am not interested in playing mind games, or tickling their intellectual palates. Life is too short and these issues are far too important.

    So I put it to you as well: are you really interested in pursuing the truth here, or are you just happy to run with your theological liberalism (which as J Gresham Machen warned years ago was the real enemy of Biblical Christianity)?

    The Jesus Seminar is an extremist fringe movement widely discredited by mainstream Biblical scholars. I also have plenty of titles that I can refer people to here if they are interested in getting alternative points of view. The volumes (by top notch NT scholars and theologians) on the Jesus Seminar, the so-called Third Quest, and recent Christological revisionism are these, for starters:

    Boyd, Gregory, Cynic, Sage or Son of God. Victor/Bridge point, 1995.
    Boyd, Gregory, Jesus Under Siege. Victor Books, 1995.
    Copan, Paul, ed., Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? Baker, 1998.
    Eddy, Paul Rhodes and Gregory Boyd, The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker, 2007.
    Eddy, Paul Rhodes and Gregory Boyd, Lord or Legend?: Wrestling with the Jesus Dilemma. Baker, 2007.
    Evans, Craig, Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels. IVP, 2006.
    Groothuis, Douglas, Jesus in an Age of Controversy. Harvest House, 1996.
    Johnson, Luke Timothy, The Real Jesus. Harper Collins, 1996.
    Komoszewski, Ed. James Sawyer and Daniel Wallace, Reinventing Jesus. Kregel, 2006.
    Marshall, David, The Truth About Jesus and the ‘Lost Gospels’. Harvest House, 2007.
    Pate, C. Marvin and Sheryl Pate, Crucified in the Media: Finding the Real Jesus Amidst Today’s Headlines. Baker, 2005.
    Strimple, Robert, The Modern Search for the Real Jesus. Presbyterian and Reformed, 1995.
    Strobel, Lee, The Case for the Real Jesus. Zondervan, 2007.
    Thomas, Robert and F. David Farnell, eds., The Jesus Crisis. Kregal, 1998.
    Wilkin, Michael and J.P. Moreland, Jesus Under Fire. Zondervan, 1995.
    Witherington, Ben, The Jesus Quest. IVP, 1995.
    Witherington, Ben, What Have They Done with Jesus? HarperSanFrancisco, 2006.
    Wright, N.T., Who Was Jesus? SPCK, 1992.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • AP said: Errors of days and years? “A copyist error” according to one of our discussion members. An “error”, but the bible is inerrant? Am I the only one who sees the logic break-down here?

    Remember, as SG pointed out, it is the autographa that is said to be inerrant, not our current manuscript. I.e., God did not inspire error in the original text, but copying errors might occur later. Thus, in our current manuscripts, one might expect to find a minor error in a number somewhere (due to a copying mistake), but not an account of a battle that never took place, or a description of a king who never existed.

    Samuel Sparks, Qld

  • Andrew,

    You state: “2 Tim. 3:16. ‘This is a straw man argument because it matters not WHEN the Scriptures were written but the fact is: “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Tim. 3:16 ESV) who is the perfect God’ says one of our participants. (I don’t know what to say. This is surely a circular argument, as well as illogical so far as the dating of scripture is concerned. We are surely not saying that the bible is true because the bible says that it is breathed out by God, so it must be true?!?!?!)”

    This is no circular argument that I have given you, but a biblical statement about the ORIGIN of Scripture. It comes from God Himself and He is perfect. His works are perfect.

    How can the dating of Scripture (when I used 2 Tim. 3:16 to indicate its origin from God) be considered illogical. This is a straight-forward argument but your theological liberalism is preventing you from seeing the obvious.

    You stated: “I have just shown this page to an academic, university lecturer and researcher who was flabbergasted by the lack of logic on this page.”

    Is this an academic who is supportive of the Jesus Seminar ideology? I’m more than familiar with Marcus Borg, Burton Mack & the late Robert Funk. I’m well into my doctoral dissertation (PhD) that examines the authority of Scripture in the writings of Jesus Seminar fellow, John Dominic Crossan.

    N. T. Wright’s tomes against the Jesus Seminar’s ideology expose the lengths to which these theological liberals/postmodernists will go to defend their cases. See:
    Wright, N. T. 1992, The New Testament and the People of God, series in Christian Origins and the Question of God, vol. 1, Fortress Press, Minneapolis.
    Wright, N. T. 1996, Jesus and the Victory of God, series in Christian Origins and the Question of God, vol. 2, SPCK, London.
    Wright, N. T. 2003, The Resurrection of the Son of God, series in Christian Origins and the Question of God, vol. 3, Fortress Press, Minneapolis.

    Spencer Gear, Hervey Bay.

  • I doubt that I need correction in logic from an unnamed academic, who hasn’t demonstrated any errors in logic. But if you really want something illogical, it’s our liberal’s pseudo-pious bunk about being “Christ-like” while contradicting Him when He said, “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).

    The Jesus Seminar is a joke: radicals taking a vote with coloured beads on what Jesus said. N.T. Wright’s book Jesus and the Victory of God documents their premise and how they “cook the discussion in advance”. For example, Premise 45, “Only a small proportion of the sayings attributed to Jesus in the Gospels was actually spoken by him.” Yet the Leftmedia present this as a conclusion of their research when it was actually a presupposition!

    See also Crouching Liberals, Hidden Atheists, or, Exposing The “Funk” of Two Thousand Years. This documents that the late Funk brought his a priori materialistic bias into the Seminar. But once again, the Leftmedia portray the Seminar’s dismissal of miracles as the conclusion of their research rather than a starting point.

    Of course, there is a huge difference between: God inspired the original manuscripts of the Bible which are thus without error, but have not always been copied perfectly” and “the original manuscripts were flawed”. With the former, textual criticism enables us to reconstruct the original text accurately, by pointing out how scribal errors could explain the extant manuscripts. The latter view removes Scripture as a reliable source.

    And of course, God inspired the OT in Hebrew (with some Aramaic) and the NT in Greek. We don’t claim that God inspired English translators. Yet our liberal’s reading of Luke’s genealogy treats it as an English newspaper report and ignores the Greek grammar and rules of Jewish genealogies, as documented in the article.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Greetings, friends.
    Firstly to Bill. I appreciate your booklist, in that you’ve taken the trouble to put it together. In reality however, I spent a fair percentage of my life with fundamentalist and literalist writings as my staple diet, and eventually found them to be intellectually unsatisfactory. (I am not saying this is a description of every book in your list, but the general line of thinking in this discussion certainly tends towards that line, in my humble opinion.)
    In any case, I would make exactly the same challenge to you – if you are interested in a serious and intelligent conversation, you too need to take an unbiased (in as much as that is possible for any of us) look at some of the writings and authors that are written off as “a joke” by some of our participants. Remembering that one of the biggest presuppositions that can make a mockery of intelligent thinking in this matter, again in my opinion, is the idea that of necessity, the bible is inerrant, and the word of God.

    And then a more general question, but I would appreciate your response particularly, Bill.
    I am honestly – and I mean that – trying to understand WHAT you believe, and WHY you believe what you do.
    I am honestly – and I mean that – not sure if I understand what you are saying. I am trying to find some starting point in this discussion, and maybe I have missed something pivotal (this is not a sarcastic comment – I am trying to understand your ideas.)
    Are you saying that the bible is fundamentally inerrant, because the bible says that is is inspired by God?

    Kind regards as always.
    Andrew

  • Thanks Andrew

    But if you want a respectable debate, you do not help matters at all by using pejorative terms (which liberal are always happy to throw around) such as “fundamentalist and literalist writings”. It not only shows your liberal bias and disrespect of those you disagree with (eg, those who have a high view of Scripture), but it also shows, with all due respect, your apparent ignorance. If you can refer to the work of world-class New Testament scholars and theologians such as NT Wright, Ben Witherington and Craig Evans as “fundamentalist and literalist writings” then you clearly are out of your depth, as well as simply dismissive of anyone who challenges your all-pervasive liberalism.

    And it also shows you are quite unfamiliar where biblical scholarship is at these days. As I said, I will believe you are really interested when you stop your stock-standard liberal clichés and objections and in fact read a few of these authors and then engage with us. But your refusal to even admit that you might need to be well read in some of these areas does not really convince us of your authenticity here.

    And yes I have read plenty of liberal theologians. Given that I lecture at various theological colleges, I have to be aware of what is being said and written by the liberal camp.

    You ask what I believe. My beliefs are quite simple here. Very briefly put, the Bible is the word of God, and God cannot err. Thus his word in its original autographs is without any error and is wholly true. Of course the word of God is a joint work of divine/human authorship, but God by his Spirit was quite able to get what he wanted through those human authors. But since you claim to have been there and done that, then you presumably know how the argument is developed.

    These beliefs simply reflect what biblical Christianity has always insisted on for two thousand years: that Scripture is the authoritative, trustworthy and true word of God. In that I simply stand with the tradition of the church, and its teachers, be they Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Luther, Warfield or Packer.

    It is the theological liberals who are on the outer here. They are the ones who have veered away from historic Christian teaching, and in the case of Macnab (the original topic of this post) have drifted into clear heresy.

    So as I say, until you actually read some of the authors you are now so dismissive and evidently contemptuous of, I am not sure how much further an intelligent debate can in fact proceed.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Bill.
    Firstly, I’m not sure if you view the terms “fundamentalist” and “literalist” as pejorative because you prefer other terms, or because they are not descriptions of your position. I was under the impression, rightly or wrongly, that people holding those positions were quite comfortable with that. In the same way that I am quite comfortable with being called a liberal, although this is obviously being used pejoratively in our discussions of me. And do you not view it as something of a double standard that you are quite comfortable with others throwing the “liberal” accusation at me at every turn, pejoratively, but immediately become a little sensitive at the “fundamentalist” and “literalist” badge? You are also not shy about slipping in innuendos as possible descriptions of my thinking, like “you clearly are out of your depth” etc.

    But more importantly, I am not sure if you’ve answered my question in a clear way. I’m not sure what you would like to call your position, but whatever you want to call it, it seems to be based on presuppositions with little or no foundation – the very same accusation you seem to make about liberal scholars.
    You make statements like “Very briefly put, the Bible is the word of God, and God cannot err”.
    Why do you call the bible the word of God? Do you say this because the bible says so?
    Why do you say God cannot err? Do you say this because the bible says so?
    Does it make sense to say that something you read in the bible must be true because the bible says in a round about way that it is true? One could write a book but that wouldn’t make any statement one makes in the book true, just because one says somewhere else in the same book that everything that one has written is true. (Remembering of course that the bible is not really one book anyway.)

    Then you say, “These beliefs simply reflect what biblical Christianity has always insisted on for two thousand years: that Scripture is the authoritative, trustworthy and true word of God. In that I simply stand with the tradition of the church, and its teachers, be they Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Luther, Warfield or Packer.”
    If by “Scripture” you are referring to the bible as we know it today, then you are incorrect in both your chronology and, I suspect, your facts. At least one of the “teachers” you list was not at all satisfied with the canon (Luther regarding James?), and the bible in its present form is not 2000 years old.
    “Thus, the present NT canon of twenty-seven books surfaces for the first time at the end of the fourth century and is accepted, almost generally, from the end of the sixth century. It should be self-evident that one should take care not to speak of ‘the church’ having closed ‘the canon’ at a particular date.” (Eckhard Schnabel, “History, Theology and the Biblical Canon: an Introduction to Basic Issues,” Themelios 20.2 (1995):18)

    Again, just to say that I have read much conservative? writing, through to fairly modern authors like N.T.Wright. But again, when I have compared their arguments to those of people like Marcus J. Borg (and might I recommend “The Meaning of Jesus – Two Visions” which Borg and Wright write together – a good opportunity to compare the liberal and conservative arguments), I find the liberal position far more academically honest, with far fewer unhelpful and irrational presuppositions.

    So, those questions again, referring to your statement, “Very briefly put, the Bible is the word of God, and God cannot err”.
    Why do you call the bible the word of God?
    Why do you say God cannot err?
    And, of course, why do you say that the bible is inerrant?

    Andrew Prior

  • Andrew,

    I do not have access to the biblical content of much of Francis Macnab’s belief and teaching, apart from what I read in the public media. However, since he is a member of the Jesus Seminar, he is keeping company with people such as John Dominic Crossan, a former co-chair of the Jesus Seminar.

    Does Crossan believe that the Scriptures come from God? The Gospels contain fiction as propaganda and have created an extraordinary lie, writes Crossan:

    “It is no longer possible in retrospect to think of that passion fiction [in the Gospels] as relatively benign propaganda. However explicable its origins, defensible its invectives, and understandable its motives among Christians fighting for survival, its repetition has now become the longest lie, and, for our own integrity, we Christians must at last name it as such” (Crossan 1995, p. xii).

    Speaking of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, Crossan claims that fact, fiction, history and mythology intermingle. He wrote:

    “Is this fact or fiction, history or mythology? Do fiction and mythology crowd closely around the end of the story just as they did around its beginning? And if there is fiction or mythology, on what is it based? I have already argued, for instance, that Jesus’ burial by his friends was totally fictional and unhistorical. He was buried, if buried at all, by his enemies, and the necessarily shallow grave would have been easy prey for scavenging animals” (Crossan 1994a, p. 160).

    Crossan regards the Gospels as “consummate theological fictions” (1991, p. 390). Crossan stated that,

    “although the basis of all religion and, indeed, of all human life is mythological, based on acts of fundamental faith incapable of proof or disproof, Christianity often asserts that its faith is based on fact not interpretation, history not myth, actual event not supreme fiction. I find that assertion internally corrosive and externally offensive” (Crossan 2003).

    Does Macnab’s interpretation of the Bible come close to any of Crossan’s views?

    I hope you are beginning to understand why some of us are deeply concerned by the propagation of the theology of Macnab that seems to run counter to the Bible’s claims. Labelling any of us as “fundamentalist” or “literalist” is name calling instead of dealing with the issues at stake.

    Spencer Gear, Hervey Bay

  • Bill,

    This doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture which you and I defend, is not only supported by the Scriptures but was affirmed by the early church fathers.

    In Augustine of Hippo’s Letter 28 to Jerome (ca. AD 394 or 395), he wrote:

    ” It seems to me that most disastrous consequences must follow upon our believing that anything false is found in the sacred books: that is to say, that the men by whom the Scripture has been given to us, and committed to writing, did put down in these books anything false. It is one question whether it may be at any time the duty of a good man to deceive; but it is another question whether it can have been the duty of a writer of Holy Scripture to deceive: nay, it is not another question— it is no question at all. For if you once admit into such a high sanctuary of authority one false statement as made in the way of duty, there will not be left a single sentence of those books which, if appearing to any one difficult in practice or hard to believe, may not by the same fatal rule be explained away, as a statement in which, intentionally, and under a sense of duty, the author declared what was not true” (see: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102028.htm).

    Augustine wrote to Jerome (Letter 82) in ca. AD 405:

    “For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the manuscript is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it.” The books of the prophets or apostles ” are free from error “(see: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1102082.htm).

    The inerrant Scripture in the original documents (the autographa) is no novel idea from “fundamentalist literalists” but it the solid teaching of the early church. We also see it defended in the writings of Irenaeus in Against Heresies and in the writings of Jerome and other church fathers.

    I highly recommend the chapter by Robert D. Preus, “The view of the Bible held by the church: the early church through Luther” in Norman L. Geisler (ed.) 1979, Inerrancy, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI, pp. 357-382. Preus states: “That the Bible is the Word of God, inerrant and of supreme divine authority, was a conviction held by all Christians and Christian teachers through the first 1,700 years of church history” (p. 357).

    Spencer Gear, Hervey Bay, Qld.

  • Thanks Andrew

    The original discussion here was Francis Macnab. Gresham was quite right to argue that theological liberalism is not a brand of Christianity, but the enemy of Christianity. It is clear from Macnab’s own words that he no longer can be called a biblical Christian. He has rejected the very heart of the Christian faith, which declares Jesus Christ to be the supreme and final revelation of God, the incarnate Word of God, attested to by the written Word of God in both Testaments, the sole means of reconciliation with God, and the final judge of all mankind.

    All that is rejected by Macnab, so he has of his own volition forfeited the right to be called a follower of Jesus Christ. A follower of Jesus is one who obeys his commands and agrees to the truthfulness of his words. Theological liberals deny that Scripture is the word of God, and so tell Jesus he is simply wrong, when he proclaims, for example, “Thy Word is Truth” (John 17:17).

    I share the same impatience and uneasiness with liberalism and false doctrine that Jesus and the disciples had. They in fact made it quite clear that we are to watch out for false prophets, false Christs, those who would reject sound doctrine, and so on. They did not mince their words. Paul said those who reject the gospel should be accursed, and so on. The NT is full of strong language and stern warnings for those who would depart from the truth and lead others into deception.

    As to your concerns about Scripture, I continue to find them rather disingenuous. On the one hand, you want me to explain my position on biblical inerrancy, as if you want to know how it can be argued for. On the other you claim to have “spent a fair percentage of my life with fundamentalist and literalist writings as my staple diet” and “have read much conservative writing”. But if you are so familiar with these writings, then you should fully know how those with a high view of Scripture make their case. Thus there is no need for me to repeat the arguments here. They are easily found, and I can again recommend numerous books which reflect my position. (But given your apparent lack of interest in any of the titles I have thus far recommended, this seems rather pointless.) So you evidently know the arguments all too well but have simply rejected them.

    But if you really don’t know the case for a high view of Scripture, then your claims to have been there and done that are only so much bluff and bluster. In which case, we then need to urge you to stop pretending you have rejected the historic Christian position, and really start to study what biblical scholars are saying about these issues.

    Thus I grow weary, to be honest, with what looks like more games being played here. They are just like what I get from my atheist buddies. Same thing exactly.

    And as I say, you sound exactly like my atheist friends with your objections. You seem to be singing from exactly the same song sheet. You trot out the same old lame objections, heard over and over again, all of which have been readily answered, time and time again. The red herring about Luther is another one of those. His theological concerns about James and the place of works in no way detracts from his high view of Scripture. He never declared the book of James to be non-canonical and he included it in his translation of the NT.

    And you are equally unhelpful on the issue of the NT canon. All 27 canonical books were recognised from early on, and what culminated in the fourth century was already well in place in the Muratorain canon (AD 170), and the Apostolic canon (300), for example. The Fathers of the second century cited every book of the NT except 3 John. But again, according to your earlier comments, you know all this already; it is just that is has not been found to your liking, so you have rejected it.

    I tire of these juvenile objections which I so regularly hear being trotted out by the atheists and folks like Dan Brown. As I tell them when they come to this site, there are plenty of great answers to all of their objections if they are really serious. But it usually turns out that they are not at all serious. They have already made up their minds, and they simply want to argue for argument’s sake.

    They remind me of what Paul warned about: those who are “ever learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). Theological liberals put their supreme trust in human reasoning, not in Jesus Christ or his Word.

    I certainly have time for the proper use of reason, as the 900 articles on this site demonstrate. But I have little time with those who have decided they have rejected God’s word and the claims of Christ, and peddle instead the unhelpful pap of liberalism.

    As I say, it seems that you have made up your mind here. That’s fine. But then, as I argue in my commenting rules, feel free to push your agenda on your own website. Time is too short, and there are too many people heading to a lost eternity, that need to hear biblical truth. It seems Macnab does not give a rip about that, with his “new faith”. And it is not entirely clear that you do either.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Friends,
    I want to thank you for your continued participation in this discussion.
    Of course I would love to convince you of the value of my position on inerrancy.
    But then, I hope you too would love to convince me of yours, because what you are sharing is something you value and treasure.
    Spencer, thank you for the gently manner in which you put your last two entries. I appreciate that.
    I also want to apologise for my use of the terms fundamentalist and literalist, as this appears to have been hurtful to some.
    I want to assure you that I too grapple with these issues. And it is important to me, and to those I seek to encourage. I led two worship services today, and assisted with a third. I am part of a smallish church family which seeks to follow the ways of Jesus, perhaps emphasising certain teachings, like the ideas found in Matthew 25, the sheep and the goats, and the importance of the love and compassion we do, as against what we say. So how we view the old and new testaments is obviously critical.

    But I am disappointed that Bill has still not answered my questions, I don’t think.

    From my reading, and discussions with others, it seems to me that those who propose the inerrancy of scripture do so for 4 basic reasons (and I think this also sums up, to a large extent, what many scholars who are proponents of inerrancy would state:
    1. They believe the bible is historically accurate.
    2. They believe the church’s tradition and its history point to acceptance of inerrancy.
    3. They believe that the bible claims its own inerrancy.
    4. And their own individual experience of God leads them to trust the scriptures are inerrant.

    Again, I humbly submit, Bill, that if you follow this thinking, it doesn’t seem to me to make for a very strong case.

    In point of fact, if I understand it correctly, then I can understand the potential pain in Spencer’s quote from Augustine of Hippo’s letter: “It seems to me that most disastrous consequences must follow upon our believing that anything false is found in the sacred books: that is to say, that the men by whom the Scripture has been given to us, and committed to writing, did put down in these books anything false”.
    The idea is painful for us. It certainly was for me, for I was raised in what I call, (speaking of myself), a fundamentalist, literalist Presbyterian congregation. And moving from that position, as I felt I had to do, as I studied the scriptures and writings of scholars which made sense to me, without some of the presuppositions I’d been raised to accept for whatever reason, was one of the most emotionally, and spiritually frightening and painful journeys and periods of my life. And yet, I would humbly, gently say, that although I wish I could go back to the security I felt in that earlier place, (what appeared to me to be a “black and white” world, where everything was clear, and seemed to have it’s place), once those presuppositions were removed, I could not, and still feel I cannot.

    For (referring to the 4 points above):
    1. Even if the bible is historically accurate, which you know I don’t believe, I don’t believe that necessarily or logically proves inerrancy. The bible is surely not just history.
    2. Even if the church’s tradition and history point to acceptance of inerrancy, the church has been mistaken on so many issues, and I believe logically still is, because of the vehement disagreement between its branches, for instance.
    3. As you know from my earlier comments, I have found nothing in the OT or NT to make a good argument for inerrancy, 2 Tim 3:16 being, in my opinion, a very bad argument, for instance.
    4. And our own individual experience of God is another exceptionally dangerous argument to use, because of the subjectivity of our experience, and the ease with which history shows we are found to be mistaken.

    I plead with you to consider these points, and if you feel I have missed something pivotal, share it with me. Because I believe that one of the strongest reasons for taking me seriously is that I would actually love, in a way, for you to be able to convince me of your position. I would, in a way, love to be able to view the bible and the stories of Jesus as I once did. But I can’t, at this stage. And maybe the question for you to ask then, is why not?

    (I will be away from my laptop for a few days, but again, thank you for your time and interest).
    Kind regards
    Andrew Prior

  • Andrew,

    I have been following this whole dialogue and it seems to me that one of the fundamental ingredience that a man needs to live as a follower of Christ is Faith.

    Faith in what? Faith in God’s word being the ‘Truth’ and Faith in God’s Character.

    A child doesn’t have to have a comprehensive understanding of ‘Food & Water’ before eating. The only thing that the child requires is faith or the knowledge that without eating and drinking such ingredience he will die.

    Jesus himself says,
    “Assuredly, I say to you, whosoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (Luke 18:15-17).

    It sound’s too simple doesn’t it?! That’s because God didn’t make it difficult to enter into eternal life (even unto the simple). But to those who think that by their own abilities that the can achieve this everlasting life, God doesn’t allow in. (Rom 1:28-32)

    Its common among people to desire safety and security and to exalt reason beyond faith, however Faith equals Risk. And some times we need to respond to God like Mary (the mother of Jesus), “Let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

    We also need faith in God’s Character. Either he is or he isn’t the Way, the Truth and The Life (always good, all knowing, powerful, ever present, unable to lie) – as absolute and unchangeable.
    If we build upon the foundation (our Doctrine) that God is ‘unknown’ in his Character. Then we’ll be looking for some other ‘thing or being’ to reflect our own personal preferences and choice of values. And the result (the fruit) of our lives will reflect our choices of what we build upon.

    Jesus loves you Andrew, but a condition of entry into the Kingdom of God is humility, faith and repentance. I pray that you find Jesus when you seek him with all of your heart.
    Michael Dawson

  • Thanks Andrew

    But we need to wrap this thread up. If you would really “love” to be convinced, then do some suggested reading. No one can make the case for an important biblical and theological principle in 100 words (as these comments are meant to be!), or even in a 1000 word article. As I say, you claim to have read all these arguments anyway.

    But one last chance here. I present a dozen volumes which all make the case for inerrancy in particular and infallibility in general, along with some other related concerns. We will be convinced of your “love” to be convinced when you get back to us, after having read at least a third of these volumes. They are:

    Boice, James Montgomery. Does Inerrancy Matter? International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, 1979.
    Carson, D.A. and John Woodbridge, eds., Hermeneutics, Authority and Canon. IVP, 1986.
    Carson, D.A. and John Woodbridge, eds., Scripture and Truth. Zondervan, 1983.
    Geisler, Norman and William Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible. Revised edition. Moody Press, 1968, 1986.
    Geisler, Norman, Biblical Inerrancy. Zondervan, 1981.
    Geisler, Norman, Systmatic Theology, vol. 1 Introduction, Bible. Bethany Huse, 2002.
    Helm, Paul and Carl Trueman, eds., The Trustworthiness of God: Perspectives on the Nature of Scripture. Eerdmans, 2002.
    Montgomery, John Warwick, ed., God’s Inerrant Word. Bethany Fellowship, 1974.
    Nicole, Roger and J. Ramsey Michaels, eds., Inerrancy and Common Sense. Baker, 1980.
    Sproul, R.C., Explaining Inerrancy: A Commentary. International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, 1980.
    Wright, N.T., Scripture and the Authority of God. SPCK, 2005.
    Young, Edward, Thy Word is Truth. Eerdmans,, 1957.

    Happy reading.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • The authority of Scripture is the water shed between Biblical Christianity and theological liberalism. This is the great divide; if the Bible is not the word of God then we can believe whatever we want; there is no objective truth. If truth is in the mind of the beholder Francis Macnab can say the most outlandish things and no one can contradict him; there is no objective authority by which his beliefs can be judged. Here is where the Uniting Church comes unstuck. The Basis of Union left them with a wishy washy statement one can drive a bus through. If Macnab was a minister of the Presbyterian Church he would have been brought before the courts of the church on a charge of heresy so fast his feet would hardy touch the floor. In the Uniting Church there is no basis on which to bring such a charge. They can agree on almost anything because they believe almost nothing. Once the Bible has been discarded as God authoritative rule for faith and practice the downhill slop gets very slippery indeed. Apostasy is the gaping hole at the bottom. It seems many have made it there and beckon others to follow them.
    Des Morris

  • There was an item on Macnab and St Michael’s UC on yesterday’s (October 4) ABC TV current affairs show Stateline. Spencer Gear’s letter to the editor (mentioned in comments above) was actually focused on by the camera at one point. The heading it appeared under in The Age was “Judas Macnab”.
    Ewan McDonald

  • Of course I meant October 3 not October 4. The transcript of the show is now available here. The transcript doesn’t include everything. There was some footage of him leading a Sunday service and then greeting people at the door as they were leaving. One of the congregation was heard to describe Macnab as a “legend”!

    Ewan McDonald.

  • A legend in his own mind, like most liberals.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Really fine writing and thought in this. I saw on-doctrine unfold within the United Church of Canada–now a non-Christian collection of ‘nice people’, with the same now occurring within the hi-jacked Presbyterian USA church. All of it predicted in scripture as noted in the piece. So folks…the Bible says those of us who believe the whole shebang are going to ‘lose’ and be swept aside by those who are more progressive, intelligent and educated than those of us who believe like foolish children. Eventually, we’ll be turned in to authorities by our neighbors and kids and…many of us will be put to death.

    Hey where can I sign-up?! The anti-Christ will be a hero ending the GREAT GREAT depression that is perhaps about to descend, and he will search us out and destroy us. So let us remember, that God will always keep a remnant for His purposes. And in the end…we win.

    Rich Fallis

  • Having been to ten Vic/Tas organised Uniting Church official meetings and read the heavily Presbytery backed booklet by Adelene Mills I have come to the conclusion that she has no belief in the verbal inspiration of Holy Scripture, nor does she think that there is only one “path to the Divine”, a view common in Uniting Churches. What troubles me most is the long held view that the universal Gospel will save you and that despite taking no action whatever to receive faith in Christ. That is very apparent in her book. She gives her testimony and like the others in regular administrative positions that have done so lately, there is not one mention of a time or event in their lives when they came into a personal knowledge of sins forgiven after confession to God. Just some floaty kind of assurance that they can have confidence now as a church leader. I get so tired of the sickening titles used for God by UCA supported venues and speakers. Nowhere in scripture do I see Him described as a “Womb” or Rainbow Spirit or “Midwife” etc. Yet all of these blasphemous terms are being encouraged. The latest push to include false gods within a preamble to the Basis of Union if passed at the upcoming Assembly in Sydney will ensure a wider rift within the church after having lost 4,500 parishioners when voting to support homosexual leniency in leadership several years ago. Watch as God’s blessing of the Uniting church evaporates in the near future.
    Geoff Dean, Scottsdale U.C. Secretary

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