This is good. It also illustrates that, try as you may, if you simply state a biblical conviction, no matter how laden with caveats, you will be perceived as judgmental! Did you ever think Joel Osteen would be regarded as judgmental?
We know the truth, not only through our reason, but also through our heart. It is through this latter that we know first principles; and reason, which has nothing to do with this, vainly tries to refute them. The skeptics have no intention other than this; and they fail to achieve it. We know that we are not dreaming. Yet however unable we may be to prove this by reason, this inability demonstrates nothing but the weakness of our reason, and not the uncertainty of all our knowledge, as they assert . . . Our inability must therefore do nothing except humble reason — which would like to be the judge of everything — while not confronting our certainty. As if reason could be the only way in which we can learn!
Blaise Pascal in Pensées 110
Both secular professors and conservative theologians agree that Genesis 1 -3 was intended by the author to be understood literally. The only difference is that the secularists don’t believe it. It is Theistic Creationists that bend normal hermeneutics to accommodate atheistic science. James Barr was no friend of conservative evangelicals but consider this: (more…)
The man who today forbids what God allows, tomorrow will allow what God forbids. ~ R.B. Kuiper
I want to push back. A Fundamental Baptist pastor has alerted his people to the dangers of Bob Bixby, saying that I am a New Evangelical and have opened the door to compromise and worldliness. I think a push-back is necessary because truth that is more important than my reputation is at stake. Quite honestly, the concern that this pastor and other Fundamental Baptist pastors may have about me is more flattering than realistic. The fact is that the people leaving their churches will, in the main, find my church to be utterly uninteresting to them. We take church and the gospel too seriously for most disgruntled fundamentalists.
But the psychological phenomenon of sectarian groups of attacking most vociferously the people closest to them remains a reality in the Fundamentalist world and though I could dismiss the criticisms as another illustration of how out-to-lunch some of these leaders are about the real situation they are facing, I feel compelled to write something because I know that there are many people from those churches who peek at my blog while in the secrecy of their own homes. And gospel truth matters. So, let me put it plainly:
I am more fundamentalist that many of the fundamentalists who criticize me because I actually believe that fundamentals are fundamental and non-fundamentals are not fundamental. If everything is a fundamental, nothing is a fundamental. The Gospel and the biblical outworking of that Gospel in life and practice, both individually and corporately, is a fundamental and to hold on to that Gospel without caving to the pressures of sectarianism or legalism is the tenacious commitment of anyone who really cares about the fundamentals.
You often hear the camel’s-nose-in-the-tent or slippery slope argument applied to the new electric bass in the church or the use of drums or the abandonment of a strict dress code for youth activities. We are told that these are evidences of a slide toward New Evangelicalism (ignore the fact that the term is anachronistic and irrelevant except in the Fundamental Baptist sect). The reality is that legalism is a long slippery slide into antinomianism and most leaders in Fundamental Baptist circles don’t have to look much farther than their very own children to see the proof of this. Thus, it is laughable that they should even perceive our kind of church as a threat because the reality is that most people who abandon fundamentalism are leap-frogging right over Gospel-centered churches and landing right in the thick of the most man-centered ooze of evangelicalism that they can find. They rush from Hyles to Hybles. The hard truth is that most leaders in hyper-separatistic fundamentalism should be filled with joy if their child would come to a church like ours. And some of them would privately rejoice even though they would faithfully denounce our supposed “new evangelicalism” in their ministries.
Having been relentlessly enculturated by a flippant treatment of the Scriptures and an unbiblical understanding of the nature of man many fundamentalists either stay in their churches where they can preen in holier-than-thou clubs without actually being a disciple or, not agreeing with the cultural taboos of the club, escape to another place with fewer if any cultural taboos to bask in another man-centered environment that will feed their self-righteous flesh while studiously avoiding any real Gospel demands. They mistake true discipleship as legalism.
This is because most fundamentalists have been nurtured to think that the legalism that they adapted to was discipleship. Consequently, when they see discipleship in a Gospel-practicing church — real discipleship – they mistake it for legalism. That is why most fundamentalists who leave the far right will go to the far left overnight. They may pass our congregations on their way, but it is only to fuel up for their real destination, a haven where their self-righteousness can still be fostered minus the pesky and silly rules of right-wing cultural fundamentalism. Minus discipleship.
What is Legalism?
The working definition of legalism is “anyone who is more strict than me.” No one thinks he is a legalist. We all look down our noses at people who get their underwear in a wad about something we find completely acceptable. Thus, the term is really difficult to use because people to my right will dismiss what I have to say because they are assuming that I’m looking down my nose at them for being more conservative than I am on various issues. However, I would like to assert that I struggle with legalism everyday and appeal for the sake of this article that we understand legalism with the following basic points in mind:
1. Legalism is righteousness or morality outside of Christ. It is anything I do that is good and upright that is not Christ doing it in me.
To effectively communicate the Gospel cross-culturally a preacher must identify the righteousness of the people, not their sins. It is our righteousness, not our sins, that is as filthy rags before God. Our righteousness is our sin. Before a person is saved he is completely in the flesh and every good thing he does is an abomination to God. “Even the plowing of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord.” When the person repents of his righteousness and submits to the righteousness of Christ he is a new creature but he still has his old nature that likes to do good. So sometimes he goes to church in the Spirit; it is Christ who is doing it through him. Other times he goes to church in the flesh. At that point he is doing good and living by a law that is other than the law of Christ and he is being legalistic.
2. Everybody is a legalist outside of grace.
We all live by rules. We either live by the rule of grace and walk in the Spirit or we live by our own rules. We make up laws all the time. The rules may be an attempt to please God or another god, but it is still rule-making. “Every man does that which is right in his own eyes.” The key is “that which is right.” Even the atheist does “that which is right” (righteousness), but it is a rightness that conforms to the laws of his own making. In this sense, everybody is a legalist in that it is our nature to “do that which is right,” but we do it according to our own way. Only grace rescues a person from that which is right in his own eyes.
3. Thus, there is a false dichotomy between the “legalism” and “licentiousness.”
It is common, particularly in Fundamentalist circles, to defend themselves against the charge of legalism by using a two-pronged defense that eviscerates the Gospel in the process.
The Two-pronged Defense Against the Charge of Legalism
A. “We are not legalists because we believe that man is saved by grace alone.”
This answer is obviously a simplistic reduction of the problem of legalism and essentially creates a straw man that is easily rebuffed. The fact of the matter is that few people are charging them with the heresy that they have to work for their salvation. Ironically, they are often charged with easy-believism. However, the simplistic reduction of the term legalism to mean only works-based salvation may score points in the immediate with unthinking congregants, but in the long run it fails to understand what the Gospel is. The Gospel is not only about saving people from hell, but saving them from their sins. It is not only that grace provides a way to heaven, but that grace is the way. The Good News is not merely that God has given us a ticket to the Pearly Gates through the work of Jesus Christ, but that the life of Jesus Christ in us is the only acceptable life we can offer to God even after our conversion.
B. “The opposite of legalism is licentiousness and we must live in the balance of liberty.”
My Christian college tried to explain legalism as polar opposite from licentiousness and that Christians were to exercise their liberty with great care as if the ditch on either side was something to be avoided. It was understood, however, that legalism was the lesser of the two evils. But this is a false dichotomy.
The opposite of legalism is liberty. Period.
Some legalists are culturally restrictive. Other legalists are licentious and unrestrained. They both flesh out their own righteousness. Thus, this second argument misses out on the main point of the Gospel. Legalism is just as anti-Christ as licentiousness. Legalism and moralism are more dangerous in that they are so deceptive. As one old-fashioned preacher opined during the Prohibition Era, “If the Devil gets a hold of this city he’ll see to it that every bar is closed and all crime has ceased.” The wicked enemy is all about passing himself off as an “angel of light.” If the Devil had his way everybody would be going to church insofar as they did not come to Christ. Because churchgoers are far less inclined to see a need for another righteousness than the hooker in the gutter. Both the churchgoer and the hooker have lived life by “what is right,” but both of them need to be freed from their legalism and learn to walk in the liberty of Christ’s righteousness.
Now back to my points on legalism:
4. Legalism is operating by a different set of rules, a different law.
I’ll argue this more thoroughly, Lord willing, in another post on judgementalism, but suffice it to say right now that this is the point that James 4:11 teaches. If we presume to be able to speak evil about a brother outside of the parameters of the Scripture (we must judge at times), then we are making ourselves higher than the law and the Giver of the Law. By speaking evil about a brother, by passing judgment where the Bible is silent, I am speaking evil of God and His Law and thereby saying it is insufficient. I’m operating by a set of different rules. I’m making up new laws. I’m a legalist.
It should be evident by now that fundamentalists do not have a monopoly on legalism. Some of the most legalistic people that I confront, hyper-judgmental individuals, are often people from evangelicalism. Fundamentalists merely have a monopoly (we must admit) on a host of often-silly cultural taboos which is only one of many forms of legalism.
Therefore, it is completely legalistic of Fundamentalists to be worked up about T4G and the Gospel Coalition and literally scare their people from joining places where “pseudo-Fundamentalists” are enjoying the fellowship of these conservative evangelicals. These “bad boy mavericks” like myself are unabashedly enjoying fellowship around — gasp! – the fundamentals. And you people that are in the FBF type churches need to understand that we actually have more in common with historic fundamentalists than your churches; doctrinally, ethically, and socially. The Gospel and the practical outworking of the Gospel in the local church is the focus of a real fundamentalist church and therefore I would say that the tragedy of the times is that the name “Fundamentalists” has been hijacked by a movement represented by the likes of Jack Schaap and the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship.
The reality is that I am the fundamentalist and a growing group of churches and pastors who have begun to understand soteriology and ecclesiology and the importance of Christian discipleship and are no longer bullied by the intimidation of the mother-ships. I relinquish the title to Jack Schaap and Brad Smith. They may have it. They share the common fallacy of adding to the fundamentals so many things that their own followers cannot discern up from down. Soon they begin to think that the real fundamental, the one that really matters, is loyalty. Loyalty to the pastor’s description of the movement. Loyalty to “the man of God.” Loyalty to the one or two favored institutions. Loyalty to a mishmash of incoherent and contradictory teaching and practice that make no logical and biblical sense once a person begins the process of thinking. The title of fundamentalism is theirs.
I will not, however, relinquish the claim that it is I, not these other men, who is the real fundamentalist. And I will argue that it is a matter of faith and doctrine that their legalism and unscriptural practices must be denounced. Go to an FBF meeting and look at their leaders beginning with the president and do a study of their adult children. (The last one I attended in 2009 it was obvious that most of the attendees were old enough to have adult children.) You will find that the second-generation of Fundamentalism results very frequently, if they are graced by God, in abandonment of their fathers’ ideology while retaining true fundamentals (thankfully) or, sadly, a whole-hearted plunge into antinomianism. Do a survey of all the graduates of any Christian school in Fundamentalism and discover what many of us know and others refuse to acknowledge. You can tell a tree by its fruit. And the fruit of legalistic fundamentalism and its unbiblical application of separation from the world and the Body of Christ is rotten.
My brother pastors in fundamentalism: if you think that your disgruntled are going to come to our churches, you’re mistaken. Most of your disgruntled will find that we take the Gospel and the Church too seriously. So, for the sake of the Gospel and the health of your churches, I plead with you to stop embarrassing yourselves by making us the enemy. Our enemy is lurking in our hearts. It’s our anti-gospel flesh.
That is what I’m fighting. That is what I wish you’d fight.
John Murray was right:
Many … Christians today seek to impose standards of conduct and criteria of holiness that have no warrant from Scripture and that even in some cases cut athwart Scripture principles, precepts and example. The adoption of extra-scriptural rules and regulations have sometimes been made to appear very necessary and even commendable. But we must not judge according to the appearance but judge righteous judgement. Such impositions are an attack upon the sufficiency of Scripture and the holiness of God, for they subtly imply that the standard of holiness God had given us in His Word is not adequate and needs to be supplemented by our additions and importations. When properly analyzed this attitude of mind is gravely wicked. It is an invasion upon our God-given liberty just because it is an invasion upon the sufficiency of the law of God, the perfect law of liberty. It is therefore, appearances to the contrary, a thoroughly antinomian frame of mind. It evinces a lamentable lack of jealousy for the perfection of Scripture and invariably, if not corrected and renounced, lead to an ethical looseness in the matter of express divine commands. In the words of Professor R. B. Kuiper, “The man who today forbids what God allows, tomorrow will allow what God forbids.”
Legalism is the slippery slope. And some fundamentalists are finally beginning to get off the slope and find a firm footing in the grace of God and true biblical discipleship.
I’m going to buy multiple copies of Paul S. Jones’ little booklet What is Worship Music? and give them out to anybody who will read it and take his thoughts seriously. I like it that much. I will also promote the booklet in church.
Paul Jones’ premise is simple: “We need to follow biblical principles for worship music, not the world, youth culture, or ideas based upon mistaken notions of success.” Nothing original there and almost anybody in the gamut from “liturgical robes and organs to flip-flops and digital drum sets” would at least pay lip service to that premise. However, Jones goes on to give a very simple outline of the purpose for congregation worship music.
I. Praise: the lauding of God for his acts and attributes, acknowledging his supremacy in all things.
II. Prayer: communication addressed to God.
III. Proclamation: any activity that proclaims the Word of God – quotations, explanation, teaching, and preaching.
Recently I conversed with a man in a large church that had just acquired a new “worship leader.” (As we all know nowadays, “worship leader” does not mean pastor. It means the guy who plays the guitar.) Anyway, he specifically poked fun at my church because we have “the guy up front still waving his arms” instead of a “praise and worship team.”
Well, first of all, I have always wondered if the redundant “praise and worship” wasn’t a subconscious double emphasis on the part of its proponents to convince themselves that what they call “praise and worship” is really worship! But, secondly, in our church “the guy up front still waving his arms” is on the pastoral team, if not a pastor. When the music necessitates, he directs with his hands, but when it is unnecessary, he leads with his voice.
All that is secondary, however. The main point is that the pastors are the worship leaders and it is God’s plan that corporate worship be led. Period. Even in heaven worship will be led by the elders. “Music is not in competition with pastoral work; rather, it is pastoral work” (Emphasis his). He says later, “Music in worship cannot be conformed to biblical standards unless it is actively supported by the church leadership in word and deed and is adequately funded.” I’d add “and led by the pastors” as well.
I personally do not have a problem with guitars, bass guitars, drums, and tambourines. I have grown past the superstition of my fundamentalist upbringing. And I love organs and grand pianos. I think they all have their place in corporate worship, but I strongly believe that if the pastor is to take his responsibility of worship leadership seriously he will diligently research the music choices he selects or allows to see that the ensemble of hymns offers up a balanced diet of praise, prayer, and proclamation. He will very soon discover that limiting himself to the best selections is not a matter of superiority or legalism, but merely of common sense. You can only sing so many songs in a year or in one service. Also, once the pastor realizes that the congregational music is supposed to have a corporate emphasis (“we” instead of “I”), he will once again be limiting his selections. In other words, pastoral thoughtfulness naturally imposes huge restraint on what the congregation sings.
I have suggested elsewhere that the “three C’s of congregational music” are:
2. Continuity. This is singing songs that have been in the Body of Christ for a long time and help us celebrate the unity of One Body. As T. David Gordon said in Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Rewrote the Hymnal about Bernard of Clairveaux’s 1153 “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded,
Set to Hans Hassler’s 1601 musical setting, translated into German by Paul Gerhardt in 1656 and into English by James Waddell Alexander in 1830, and, yes, harmonized by an obscure German composer named Johann Sebastian Bach in 1729. From Bernard to Alexander, 677 years passed. It took nearly seven centuries for this hymn to travel from medieval Latin to modern English. After seven centuries of input form some of the church’s finest musicians and theologians (James W. Alexander was the son of Princeton Seminary’s first professor, Archibald Alexander), who was I to prevent my church from knowing it?
Ouch! It’s so obvious. But we regularly have educated Christians pass up our church because they can’t tolerate the old hymns. Gordon graciously refers to these people as idiots! “I observe from the term idiotes (from the adjective idios , “one’s own”) was not originally a term of contempt (as our word idiot normally is); rather, it was used to describe people who could speak only their own language, their own idiom, and not those of others.” We minister to people who are naturally “idiots,” but we need to teach them a different musical language. Thus, you will see in a service that offers a variety of styles (as our does in a moderate sense) some people only responding to the music that is “one’s own.”
I notice, for instance, in “blended” or “supplemental” worship services that the congregation dutifully, and sometimes surprisingly, heartily, sings the traditional hymns and musical rubrics, such as the Doxology, Gloria Patri, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei. But when the guitars come out, and we sing the contemporary songs (with repeated refrains between the verses), the place takes on another aura: it gets funky. At this point, middle-aged women start to get down with Jesus, swaying and singing as they did thirty years ago at Grateful Dead concerts. People who would find it odd if we repeated the Gloria Patri or Doxology four times don’t find it odd that we repeat the refrains to these choruses numerous times, even if they are less theologically significant. (Gordon 11).
Gordon acknowledges various cultures and the legitimacy of dance, even, in some cultures, but his point is that there is a huge problem of “one’s own”-ism going on in the worship service. Pastors need to connect the local body with the Body.
3.Thirdly, Contemporaneity. By this I mean what Jones says: “We must meaningfully interact with people immersed in popular culture, yes; but we do not have to take on its character or speak with its trendy musical accents.” Granted, Jones might not like some of our musical choices (or even instrumentation), but I think that we agree in the main and our selections are far, far from being trendy. They are, however, conscientiously interacting with the culture of our day.
I strongly encourage the members of my church to read Paul Jones’ book. You’ll see that we don’t see everything eye to eye. For example, I’m not sure that we must sing Psalms every time we congregate. However, I am willing to be corrected on this matter if I can be convinced that we are erring at this point. Nonetheless, the main heartbeat of his booklet is something that mirrors our heartbeat.
If you want to go a little bit deeper, read T. David Gordon’s Why Johnny Can’t Sing. This would be a particularly good read for the many people throughout the years who have sniffed at my insistence on hymns in the church as legalistic obscurantism or who have blown off my concerns by saying I am being elitist or — usually this is the case — that they don’t understand it so it doesn’t matter. Maybe they’ll see that I am probably not the one who is ignorant. Gordon again:
I am not suggesting that is is sinful or shameful for an individual to be unfamiliar with the sociology or philosophy of music. Each of us is ignorant of many things. I, for instance, do not understand the fundamental theorem of calculus, and could not explain differentials or limits (when “x approaches zero,” my understanding of the fundamental theorem approaches zero also). But I do not deny that the teorem exists, nor do I deny that it is important. Similarly, it is fin for some individuals to take no interest in the sociology of music, or in musicology per se; but it is not fine for them to deny that such areas of study exist, or to deny that significant individuals have taken them seriously.
It’s sort of like my third grader telling me that studying math makes no sense to her and will be totally un-useful. Ignorance always pontificates on the invalidity of the subject it knows nothing about. At the very least, if you want to admit that it is a complex matter and that your leadership takes it seriously, Paul Jones’ booklet will be a great introductory read. I’m going to order some right now!
I sat at the table with the dean of a well-known Christian college in Presbyterian circles. The conversation was Federal Vision, the CREC, and some high-profile figures who have moved back toward Romish views of justification. This is when I asked the tough question.
False teachers have always made a show of humility. Lately, however, humility seems to be in vogue. It’s almost over the top. And who are the purveyors of the new humility? Only those people who are shaking to the core the foundational teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ and basic, fundamental Biblical doctrine. The new humility may be found among the authors from the Emergent Village and the theorists of the New Perspectivism. Bedfellows, I think.
Don’t be duped. This is the modus operandi of those who are acutely conscious of the fact that they are insinuating a radical contrast while all the while pretending loyal conformity. There is nothing more sheep’s-clothing-like as humility. And the wolves know this.
In Preaching Re-Imagined, Doug Pagitt, one of the leaders in the Emergent Village, meekly tucks his tail between his legs and gives the equivalent of a verbal puppy-dog look with these words:
I am sitting inside the Open Book writing center in Minneapolis on a summer day in 2004. My head is full of wonderings. I wonder who you are. I wonder what kinds of people will read a book about preaching in the emerging church. I wonder if I have anything to say on the topic. I wonder if I have written a single line of any value. I not only wonder, but I also worry. I worry about the opinions of people who don’t think a pastor and author of a book about preaching should worry about things. I worry about people reading my sometimes-uncertain thoughts about preaching. I worry about coming across as someone who thinks of himself as an expert – someone who knows more than you and will tell you how to preach. So please, as you read, keep your worried, wondering author in mind.
Poor thing. One can hardly suppress the urge to give the poor, uncertain soul a hug. But, hold on! The puppy is wolf-like. His double-speak throughout the whole volume is a classic example of getting your message across without actually saying it lest you be accused of saying it. Though Pagitt begs his readers to be kind to him, he misrepresents the doctrine of preaching by building a straw man and then brutally misrepresents D. Martyn-Lloyd Jones; not only by poisoning the well before he quotes him, but by pretending that Jones is promoting something he is not. All the while, Pagitt clearly has issues with what Jones really believes; he just lacks the courage to say it.
Pagitt’s hero (mentor?), Brian McLaren is just as “humble.” Even the sub-title of one of his books seems so humble.
Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, anabaptist/anglican, methodist, catholic, green, incarnational, depressed-yet-hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian.
How generous. How humble. And yet this same depressed-yet-hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian claims that the book of which this was the subtitle, along with all the other books he has written, was the build-up to his real message, “The Secret Message of Jesus.” Apparently, the world has been in darkness for nearly two millennia until McLaren came to enlighten us. Again, for a guy who doesn’t know what he is (one who is everything is nothing), this is a very confident thing to do!
But then McLaren feels a kinship with N.T. Wright, the most well-known proponent of New Perspectivism. N.T. Wright along with Dallas Willard is the one of the authors who has had the most influence on McLaren according to an interview at Relevant Magazine. “N.T. Wright’s books and lectures have helped me so much,” says McLaren. “They sent me back to the gospels and to Paul’s writings. In a way, when I’ve heard N.T. Wright speak or when I’ve read his books, it’s just been very, very radical. And even though people may argue about a detail here or there, I think that virtually everybody agrees that he is saying things that have to be reckoned with and that they push the message of the kingdom as the central message of Jesus” (emphasis mine).
Very, very radical. Interesting. But N.T. Wright is almost hurt, wounded by criticisms, by the strong reaction from orthodox theologians toward his proposals, his “modest proposal,” as he would say. He meekly mentions his grief, but Ligon Duncan is right to find it “funny” and he says so in the following lengthy quote from his excellent exposition on New Perspectivism.
Two Funny Reactions
On the one hand, he’ll say, “I don’t know what all the fuss is about. This is not a big deal. I’m just trying to be faithful to the Bible’s teaching and to Paul. I’m not saying that everything Protestantism has said in connection with justification is wrong. If you adopt my view you can keep the best of what the traditional doctrine of justification gives you, with a whole lot more thrown in for no extra charge.”15 In other words, he sometimes tries to downplay the contrast between his reading of Paul and that of the Reformers, and complains that the traditional camp is just making a mountain out of a molehill in its reaction to his new articulation of Pauline theology.
On the other hand, you can find him speaking of the doctrine that Luther called the article of a standing or falling church, and which Calvin identified as one of the two keys of the Reformation, as “a second order issue.” To boot, he throws in that “imputation” is a pious fiction, and that justification isn’t about soteriology, it’s about the eccesiology [sic]. Indeed, he comes close to claiming to be the only person who has ever understood Paul.
But when he is in either of these modes he is defensive, a little hurt and seemingly uncomprehending at the vehemence with which some have met his proposals. He is “shocked” at the reaction of Lutheran, Reformed and conservative evangelicals who see his views as undermining the Gospel and the Reformation principles of salvation by grace alone and through faith alone.
Now, I have to say, I find this amusing in the extreme. Were I a Roman Catholic scholar, doing a little groundbreaking exegetical work on Mary, in which I question the deliverances of the nineteenth-century Roman Catholic church after Vatican I regarding her status in the workings of mediation, and assert that the idea of the co-mediation of Mary has not a shred of exegetical basis in the New Testament – I would not be surprised when the church’s hierarchy responded with deep displeasure. When the reaction came, I would not plead with tremulous voice, “I just don’t understand what the fuss is.” It seems to me that I would have to be fairly dense about what my church had believed for a long period of time to respond in such a way. So, it’s an interesting kind of response from Wright when he acts a bit amazed and offended at the vehemence of the rejoinder to his “modest proposal.”
Surely he knows better. One of his first published pieces was done for the Banner of Truth Trust. He’s an Anglican Bishop who is supposed to know just a little bit about the Thirty Nine Articles. He was Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey, where they once-upon-a-time had a little gathering of theologians who produced the most important post-Reformation Confession of Faith, a monument of Protestant Orthodoxy — a document that had a little to say about justification. Surely he knows that to monkey with justification is to touch the primal nerve of Protestantism. I would understand an quasi-Athanasian response from Wright to his orthodox critics — “of course you are upset, I’ve just said you’ve been dead wrong for five hundred or fifteen hundred years, on a doctrine that you think is the difference between heaven and hell, and you are wrong, but I don’t care, because I’m right, and it’s important for the church that we get Paul right.” That response, I can understand. But the reaction of “you chaps are making a storm in a teacup” is just downright thick.
How typical of teachers who are undermining the truth. They will simultaneously feign shock that there is even a reaction to their teaching and play the wounded puppy-dog for being criticized when they were merely daring to question and voice their fears.
You don’t have to be a brilliant theologian, folks, to see through the hypocrisy. Paul warned the Colossians about “false humility” and those things that merely give a “shew of humility.” The humility spoken of by Paul is “will-humility.” It’s put on. The winsome and charming way of these “humble” teachers will dupe many, but my prayer is that most will realize that their interest in our good is really nothing more than what Paul accused the Jews of in Galatians 4:17:
They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them.