Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Hats or Head-coverings?

The context of Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, in chapter 11, can only be read in a logical fashion as declaring that woman are to wear head-coverings; it shows carelessness on the part of the reader to teach otherwise. I shall not argue this point here as I have done so here.
The point I want to discuss is the matter of whether the Scripture teaches that a headscarf is to be worn to the exclusion of much more recently designed headwear such as a hat.

The only time the word 'covering' is used in the NT is -
1Corinthians 11:15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
The word covering in the Greek is 'peribolaion' and this means:
‘Neuter of a presumed derivative of [“periballo” (to throw all around)]; something thrown around one, that is, a mantle, veil: - covering, vesture.’
Does that sound like a hat to you? It sounds more like a veil or head-covering which women in the New Testament wore and which the early church wore and which women wore in the western world for most of the past 2000 years. British women, for example, have been wearing headscarves for centuries and continue to do so until today. My old landlady (who was as British as spotted dick) used to wear a headscarf when she went down the road in windy Autumn and Winter. Furthermore, the word is used elsewhere to illustrate how God will fold away creation like this particular item of clothing (Hebrews 1:12). Do we fold away hats? The word for ‘covered’ in 1Corinthians 11 is ‘katakaluptō’ which also means ‘to cover wholly, that is, veil’.

Now some would contend that to translate ‘veil’ in this manner means a woman must cover her face too, but this exaggeration is disproven by the Word of God; further to the fact that Paul describes women’s long hair as a natural precedent for the head-covering and that women do not have hair on their face as men do, we read in the Scriptures of a proper veil allowing the option of covering one’s face:
Genesis 38:14-15 And she put her widow's garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife.
When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face.
(Please note - from the context, Judah thought she was a prostitute because she had disguised her identity and was by the side of the road, not because she was wearing a headscarf or because she had her face covered.)
In fact, the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament translates the word ‘vail’ (or ‘shawl’) here as the same root word Paul uses in 1Corinthians – ‘periballo’.

So a veil is something that is large and flexible enough to wrap around a woman’s head, according to the NT, and large enough to have sufficient material to cover the face (for whatever reason), according to the OT.  Does this describe a hat? I can't say that it does.  It seems to describe a headscarf as worn by the early church – Clement of Alexandria writes of the veiling of women with a ‘shawl’ in 190 A.D. and Tertullian wrote a whole tract on the matter in 200 A.D., entitled The Veiling of Virgins, to combat the idea that only married women were to wear head-coverings. In it, Tertullian rejects the idea of wearing a coif (a type of cap) or hair tied up in small turbans at the front or back as these do not cover the whole head as Paul specifies. Other writers, as well as art, depict headscarves being worn by women in the early church. This was the unanimous interpretation of Paul’s wording in 1Corinthians 11.

Does this mean it is evil for a woman to wear a hat as a head-covering?
Women’s hats are a very recent development, following from the vanity of the 18th century milliners who produced huge wigs, plumed with feathers etc. for women of greater wealth and status. At a time when the men were wearing make-up and wigs too, the women went to ridiculous lengths to appear more effeminate than the men.
By the late 1800’s, women were converting and re-designing men’s hats for their own use.  Trilbies and Boaters were given ribbons and flowers and downsized and these became an acceptable piece of women’s clothing. This was the fashion at the turn of the 1900’s and was, I believe, one of many precursors to the feminist movement. It was an externalisation of the changing thoughts and worldviews of that time: ‘Women can wear the same items of clothing as men, surely women could vote like men, go to work like men, perform the same roles as men, go to battle like men’ etc.
Please do not mistake me; I do not believe that a woman wearing a woman’s hat or women’s jackets or trousers is some form of transvestism. Transvestism is a very real desire for a man or woman to dress and appear to be, as much as possible, someone of the opposite gender.  I am not declaring that women wear hats because they want others to think they are a man or because they want to appear masculine and offend God.
But I do believe that this is a worldly tradition and a very recent one at that.

So, in response to the question of whether it is evil for a woman to wear a hat as her headcovering, I would respond with two questions of my own:
From the verses we have examined above and a glance at history, does the Bible say (in the Greek) that women should wear a headscarf or a hat and why do you prefer a hat?
For those who would charge me with legalism and point out that the principle of wearing something, anything, on the woman’s head is what is important, I would ask them whether they would consider swapping the simple cup of the Lord’s Supper with a German beer stein and the wine for cherryade (some prefer the taste). Why not use pizza instead of the bread?  Why do we not baptize people in custard also? After all, it’s the spiritual principle that matters, not the elements…
I do not think women wear hats to be deliberately evil and confound what God has written, but I do think vanity can play a part in a woman’s refusal to wear a headscarf.  Yet, ‘headscarf’ is what the Greek and, therefore, the Holy Spirit actually say; whereas women’s hats appear to be a recent, worldly phenomenon.  One should earnestly examine themselves as to why they might refuse to wear a headscarf.

May women have the freedom of conscience to pray and reach a conclusion on this subject with their husbands. Above all, may none of us lose sight of the spiritual significance of what it means to be wearing a head-covering. This represents Christ and His authority over His bride. Let us discern our Lord and Saviour in the covering of our ladies’ heads, otherwise it doesn’t matter what we wear.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Romanticising the Heretics...

I marvel at how so-called Calvinists and those who profess to uphold the doctrines of grace in salvation are so inclined to romanticise certain Arminian or semi-Pelagian preachers.  I can only think this is done to come across as loving and pragmatic.  But, you can love someone who is in error without recommending the things they preach.  You can love someone by pointing out their errors and calling others to reflect on such matters and to pray for that confused individual.  But why do many Calvinists go all gooey at the thought of preachers like Leonard Ravenhill, Charles Finney or John Wesley?

Paul Washer, for instance, said this: ‘I would take a Leonard Ravenhill any day over 20 dead Calvinists’.
I can understand the desire to have zealous preaching, particularly on the subject of sin, to bring others to repentance, but to favour someone who is in error over preachers who were not, simply because the others are dead (and Ravenhill was still alive at the time), seems to be missing the point somewhat.

Paul Washer isn’t alone.  I have seen Lane’s vlog giving major kudos to Leonard Ravenhill also.  When I questioned the choice of Ravenhill, I was told by one of their followers that I was making an idol out of theology.
I do not personally consider the commands in the New Testament to ensure that we remain unleavened from false doctrines etc. to be idolatry.  I do not think the concern I have for Ravenhill strongly recommending heretics like Charles Finney and John Wesley is unfounded paranoia; the doctrines espoused by these men are and have been extremely damaging.  Keith Green, the famous pianist, was apparently very confused with the matter of justification by faith alone and the legalistic Pelagianism he had apparently learned from Finney; Ravenhill strongly encouraged Green to follow the teachings of Finney and directly caused this grievance.  Shouldn't we learn from this?

I am not saying that Ravenhill is not in the presence of the Lord now.  I am not saying that the man was not zealous and constant in prayer.  I am not saying that he did not have a sincere, spiritual care for lost souls.  I am not saying I despise or reject Leonard Ravenhill at all.  But, whilst I would have had him round for a cup of tea, this does not mean that I think the doctrines the man taught should be elevated to our pulpits and certainly not to be broadcast to the public in a youtube video.

‘If we had more sleepless nights in prayer, there would be far fewer souls to have a sleepless eternal night in hell.’
- Ravenhill, L. (1983) Revival God's Way, p. 52

If you profess to believe in God’s sovereignty in the salvation of men for His own glory and you see nothing shamefully wrong in the words above, I fear for you.

The romanticising of Amyraldians, Arminians and Pelagians of any colour must stop!  These doctrines are man-exalting and welcoming them with loving arms is to show no loving protection to the body of Christ.  In contrast to Paul Washer, I would rather have 1 liberated and spiritually awakened Calvinist than 1000 zealous preachers of false doctrines.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Are you an Anglican or an Anglican't?

...or Why Anglicanism is heretical

If one opens the Book of Common Prayer or visits The Church of England website, they will find written in ‘The ministration of Public Baptism of Infant to be used in the Church’ these words:

‘It is certain by God's Word, that children which are baptized, dying before they commit actual sin, are undoubtedly saved.’

This is basically the heretical doctrine of baptismal regeneration.  It is the popish doctrine which proposes the error that the waters of baptism can remove the sinful nature of man as a result of our fall in Adam (otherwise known as ‘original sin’).
The logical conclusion of this is that, once baptized, an individual could live a perfectly sinless life, as they would not be in bondage to sin; furthermore, such a person may have no need of Christ at all.

This is blasphemous and illogical for numerous reasons.  And this is why Anglicanism or Episcopalianism is heretical.   There have been many good Christians and ministers in the C of E.  But, the truth is, they were used of God in spite of the C of E.

At least the Book of Common Prayer recognises that the primary form of baptism for infants should be immersion, unless the child is infirm etc.

May God lead Christ’s sheep out of this mess or to reform this Protestant group for the good of England.  The question every Anglican needs to ask themselves is: Can we remove any sins, purely by the will of the baptizer and through some mystical power of the baptismal waters? Or can only the imputed righteousness through faith in Christ and the power of His redeeming blood, wrought in the soul by almighty God, cleanse a man from sin?

Hebrews 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Monday, 15 October 2012

The Westminster Cathecism Cataclysm

The first Question and Answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is:

Question. 1. What is the chief end of man?
Answer. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

But that’s not what my Bible says.  Oh yes, the ends of all men will glorify God ultimately, but are all men going to enjoy Him forever?  No.  Some men will continue in their lost state, cast into outer darkness where there will be no knowledge of God other than His wrath in eternal torment, the smoke of which will rise forever; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth according to my King, not enjoyment.  I find this answer to refer only to the chief end of the elect - Christ’s sheep.  I do not find a Biblical answer for the unbelieving man here.  If I had this question and answer alone, of all the Westminster Catechism, and I were a Muslim (for example), I would heartily agree and be on my way, knowing nothing of my state and the potential chief end of my existence – to continue in unbelief, having no sacrifice for my sins and to be judged rightly and fairly so that God’s perfect justice might be manifest for eternity.

The chief end of the reprobate is to glorify God, indeed it is, but there will be no joy for them.  There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I far prefer the first Question of the Heidelberg Cathecism:

Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?
Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Protestant Alliance's Arminian Confusion

When I saw that an Arminian Methodist was to speak at the Annual Meeting of the Protestant Alliance in The Reformer magazine, I was shocked.  Upon examining Penn Free Methodist Church’s website, I saw that the speaker (Peter Simpson) was quite clearly a classic Arminian.  But how could a magazine entitled The Reformer invite a speaker whom the Reformers would have deemed a heretic?
I wrote to Dr. Scott-Pearson of the Protestant Alliance to state my concern and to call him to examine this matter.  From the response I received, it does not appear that the doctor understands what Arminianism actually is.  We cannot blame him as many do not.  Many Christians think that Arminianism is the exact opposite of Calvinism; they wrongly call the Pelagians or semi-Pelagians of today 'Arminians'.  Many do not realise that Arminianism is actually subtly similar to Calvinism (a term I dislike; I prefer the term ‘Gospel’).  Arminianism is only different in that it teaches that, although men are elected to salvation by God, Christ died for each individual that ever existed and one can cast off the work of the Holy Spirit at any time.  For a closer examination of the five points of Arminianism, please view this article:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Articles_of_Remonstrance

So, let’s examine Simpson’s views and see if they match with the original Arminianism of the Remonstrance and, thus, whether Scott-Pearson is right or wrong.
Firstly, on Simpson’s website for Penn Free Methodist Church, they boast that ‘some of the preachers who first ministered to the congregation here had been personally appointed by John Wesley’.  I’m not sure why anyone would advertise this fact unless they were not aware of the fact that Wesley taught the false doctrine of Sinless Perfectionism.  This is not a good start for Scott-Pearson…
To establish that he is a classical Arminian, according to the articles of the Remonstrance, Simpson should believe that Christ loved and laid down His life for everyone:  ‘The need of the hour is for each individual to repent of sin, and to come to Jesus Christ, who, out of love for us, warned us…’  So, according to Simpson, Christ loved each individual.  I’d be wary of putting words into Christ’s mouth after He clearly says otherwise to the church at Laodicea:
Revelation 3:19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
If Christ loves everyone then He must have given Himself as a sacrifice for everyone, atoning for all sins.  After all, Paul said:
Ephesians 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it…
Simpson’s language is identical to that of one who holds to the Arminian doctrine of Universal Atonement.
The second doctrine to be established is that Simpson believes God’s grace is resistible:  He does so by drawing men to himself, working upon their hearts and consciences by means of the Holy Spirit, and thereby giving to them the potential to believe.
'Remember that he is also able to cease drawing men, and to leave them in their unbelief. Therefore it is imperative that if you feel him drawing you, you respond whilst there is time...’
So, God only gives men the potential to believe, according to Simpson.  This logically implies that they can choose to resist the Spirit of God and stop themselves from being drawn by God.  Further to this, God can just start and stop drawing people at random so one had better exercise whatever potential they’ve been given before God changes His mind, according to Simpson.

I find the Lord Jesus debunks this nonsense most succinctly:
John 6:37, 39, 44  All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
There is nothing here about giving man the potential to make a choice; the choice has been made by God in Christ from before the foundation of the world, according to Ephesians 1.  All of those chosen shall come and those drawn by the Father will be raised to eternal life at the last day, according to the Lord Jesus in verse 44 above.
Simpson therefore believes in the two distinguishing marks of a classic Arminian Remonstrant.  The Reformers who met together at the Synod of Dordt classified this as a heresy!
I find, then, the title of the magazine - The Reformer - to be a misnomer.  I do wonder how the Reformers would view Peter Simpson's doctrines; I wonder how the Earl of Shaftesbury (the founder of the Protestant Alliance) would feel about this lax attitude.  

It becomes apparent that Scott-Pearson does not know what Arminianism is when he writes statements like these:
‘We…are quite unable to concur that [Peter Simpson] holds to “classic Arminian beliefs”.’
I have shown that he does.  But, further to this, Scott-Pearson wrote that Peter Simpson has an 'excellent position with regard to the Gospel'.  The Protestant Alliance is 'required to embrace all shades of BIBLICAL Protestantism'!
According to the Reformed position, which Scott-Pearson claims to represent by the title of the Protestant Alliance’s magazine, there is little that is biblical or Reformed about Peter Simpson's Gospel.  In fact, it was condemned as a heresy.

Please join me in praying for Scott-Pearson and Simpson and for the Protestant Alliance as a whole; how they need discernment and consistency in their understanding and teaching.