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:

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.