News From The Front – March 2007

Dear praying friends,

The quotation that I gave in our December newsletter from the article at the front of our gift Study Bible provoked some very favourable feedback and also stirred memories of some lines that tell of how God’s Word is like an anvil that over the centuries has resisted the hammers of error. These lines, written by someone unknown [but not to God] go as follows –

Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door and heard the anvil ring the vesper chime: Then looking in, I saw upon the floor old hammers, worn with beating years of time. “How many anvils have you had,” said I, “to wear and batter all these hammers so?” “Just one,” said he, and then, with twinkling eye, “the anvil wears the hammers out, you know.” And so, thought I, the anvil of God’s word, for ages sceptic blows have beat upon; Yet though the noise of falling blows was heard, the anvil is unharmed . . . the hammer’s gone. One friend also shared these lines from the front of her father’s Bible – Prove all things by the Word of God….all ministers, all teaching, all preaching, all opinions, all practices — prove all by the Word of God. Measure all by the measure of the Bible. Test all in the crucible of the Bible. That which can abide the fire of the Bible receive, hold, believe and obey. That which cannot abide the fire of the Bible, reject, refuse, repudiate and cast away.

If professing Christians were more knowledgeable of ‘the anvil’ and used it to “prove all things” there would a lot less need for the cry of ‘Take Heed’ to go up. But the need is still there and so we do value your love and support of us.

Your servant for Christ

CECIL ANDREWS

  • Has Jonathan Edwards’ “dream” turned into a “nightmare”?

In our June 1993 NEWS FROM THE FRONT I wrote a short article entitled ‘Daydream Believer’ telling how the British athlete and professing Christian, Jonathan Edwards, had done a u-turn on not competing on Sundays. Up until then, rather like Eric Liddell whose similar decision had featured in the movie ‘Chariots of Fire’ Jonathan Edwards had shunned Sunday competition. However through a dream that a ‘3rd party’ had had and which was then interpreted by another ‘3rd party’ Jonathan was convinced that God was now telling him to compete on Sundays. In his own words he was to take ‘a leap of faith’ and to ‘serve God by competing on Sunday’. Part of my assessment of this decision stated ‘I am concerned to see that he has bowed to the authority and “interpretation” of a dream rather than listening to…the Word of God…which according to the Psalmist is “a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” [Psalm 119:105].

Jonathan Edwards went on to win Olympic Gold medals and World Championship titles, many of which took place on Sundays. After he retired, the BBC employed him in a variety of roles, some sporting but also as a presenter of their Sunday ‘Songs of Praise’ programme. An article in the Daily Mail of 3 February was headed ‘Edwards jumps job after crisis of faith’ and stated ‘Olympic gold medallist Jonathan Edwards, whose devout Christian beliefs prevented him competing on Sundays early in his career has lost God in his life to the extent that he is to stop presenting the BBC’s Songs of Praise…he told corporation bosses that the loss of his previously super-strong Christian faith meant he no longer felt comfortable fronting the show or any similar output…He once said “My relationship with Jesus and God is fundamental to everything I do. I have made a commitment and dedication in that relationship to serve God in every area of my life”. But Edwards is understood to have re-evaluated his Christian beliefs last summer. The family man used to tell friends he objected whenever his work kept him away from his wife and two sons on Tyneside – but he now spends a lot of time in London where he has a flat. His commitments in the capital include being the athlete’s representative on the London [Olympic] 2012 organising committee and an adviser to sports communications company Vero’.

In the wake of this article 2 scriptures came to mind – “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto…” [2 Timothy 4:10] and “what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world [Olympic & World titles] and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” [Matthew 16:26].

In recent years there had been a number of ‘alarm bells’ ringing for me regarding the professed ‘faith’ of Jonathan Edwards. Working from memory, and I stand ready to be corrected if wrong, my recollection is that the closing event of a youth-targeted ecumenical initiative in the year 2000 called ‘History Makers’ was held in Belfast’s Kings Hall and it featured leading figures from the ‘4 main churches’, including Roman Catholic Archbishop Sean Brady and sharing a platform with them was Jonathan Edwards.

Then in 2005 Jonathan presented on BBC television a series of programmes called ‘Spirituality Shopper’. In these programmes he basically ‘shopped around’ for ‘spirituality’ in places like a Carmelite Monastery and a food distributing Sikh Temple. He also ‘sampled’ Yoga, Tai Chi, Islamic prayer and Pagan Drumming. I, as a Christian could not personally, in conscience and in the light of my understanding of God’s Word, either ‘sample’ or promote in a favourable light [as Jonathan often did during the series] these systems and practices that are often condemned by and stand in opposition to the God of the Bible.

How do I now assess what has happened to Jonathan Edwards? When I read the Daily Mail article I was drawn to the expression of how in times past Jonathan Edwards had stated ‘’I have made a commitment and dedication in that relationship [with Jesus and God] to serve God’. This statement reminded me of a challenging little leaflet that I came across early in my own Christian life and I will close this article with these extracts from it –

‘150 years ago Britain was a respected nation pleased to be called a Christian country. Satan could not allow this to continue, he determined to distract the people of God from the vital task of preaching the gospel. The central theme of forgiveness of sin through the substitutionary death of Christ had to be sidetracked. Words like repentance, atonement, justification and salvation had to be phased out. What was needed was something that appealed to the natural desires of men and yet appeared to be super-spiritual, a substitute for “conversion”. Satan’s masterstroke was to introduce into the Christian vocabulary “commitment”. Commitment sounds very spiritual but in fact is a subtle change of emphasis from “grace” to “works”. Commitment is not “faith”. Faith places all confidence in God’s ability to uphold the believer. Commitment is the opposite as it emphasises man’s duty to hold on to God by his own effort [and sadly that can fail as we currently see in the life of Jonathan Edwards]. Commitment is not “perseverance”. The Biblical doctrine of “The perseverance of the Saints” is centred on God and not man. Commitment is not “conversion”. The increasing “fellowship” between Protestants and Roman Catholics is not on the basis of “conversion” but on the basis of “commitment” to the Lordship of Christ. Commitment is the common denominator with all the modern cults. It is used to bring “believers” into bondage if they will commit themselves to the total authority of men “false brethren unawares brought in secretly to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus that they might bring us into bondage” [Galatians 2:4]. Are you trusting in the finished work of Christ or in your own commitment?’

Perhaps the answer to that last question might help explain the current sad circumstances, from a Christian perspective, in the life of Jonathan Edwards.

  • “This he said …because he…had the bag” John 12:6

The Biblical track record of the spirituality of those charged with the responsibility for handling ‘communal finances’ is not always good as we read in this incident in John 12: 1-8 in the life of Judas Iscariot. This ‘keeper of the purse’ would ultimately betray the Lord Himself. I thought of this as I read this report from the Roman Catholic Zenit News Agency

VATICAN CITY: 9 February 2007: (Zenit.org). Britain’s Treasury chief, Gordon Brown, extended a personal invitation for Benedict XVI to visit the United Kingdom. Brown made the offer today during an audience with the Pope in the Vatican, where he participated in the launch of a project to provide vaccines to millions of children in the developing world, reported the British newspaper Website the Guardian Unlimited. The site reported a Treasury spokesman saying that Brown spoke privately with the Holy Father. The chancellor gave him a book of collected sermons by his father, John — a Church of Scotland minister, and received a Vatican medal.

Gordon Brown hopes in the next few months to succeed Tony Blair and become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. By extending an invite to the Papal Antichrist to visit the UK he is betraying Christ every bit as much as a former financially motivated “son of perdition” [John 17:12].

  • WHOSE ‘EVOLUTIONARY FEATHERS’ HAVE BEEN RUFFLED?

In the hard-copy issue of one of our 2004 NEWS FROM THE FRONT newsletters you would be able to go back and look at a short article headed ‘Campaigning for Creation’ in which I reproduced a short item that appeared in the January 2004 issue of Evangelical Times. That item gave details of an organisation that had been set up called ‘Truth in Science’ and their stated aim was ‘to compliment the work of existing Creation groups by targeting education in particular’.

Last year ‘Truth in Science’ sent literature and other materials to many schools outlining the case for ‘Intelligent Design’. This sparked a furious reaction from evolutionists and others opposed to the idea of a Creator and in the vanguard of opposition was unsurprisingly Professor Richard Dawkins whose book ‘The God Delusion’ was a bestseller in the run-up to Christmas 2006.

One of the ‘Truth in Science’ men listed in my previous article was Professor Andy McIntosh and the local Sunday Sequence programme broadcast by Radio Ulster devoted its entire programme on 10 December 2006 to a debate between professors Andy McIntosh and Richard Dawkins [This was surprising as earlier in the year I had seen Richard Dawkins say basically in a television programme that no evolutionist should waste their time debating with creationists on what for him was a total ‘non-issue’]. I will make reference to this debate later in this article.

My reason for writing this article is that it was drawn to my attention by a Christian pastor/friend that I was ‘listed’ on the ‘WHO IS WHO’ page of a website dedicated to promoting Darwinian Evolution and to refuting Biblical creation. I went to the website in question and downloaded the following about the organisation known as the British Centre for Science Education.

About the British Centre for Science Education – What is the BCSE?

The British Centre for Science Education is a single issue pressure group dedicated solely to keeping creationism and intelligent design out of the science classroom in publicly-funded schools in the United Kingdom.

  • Who is behind the BCSE?

BCSE is a co-operative, with a formal constitution, of like-minded people. It is run by a committee elected by its members. The seven committee members at present are:

Michael Brass is a published archaeologist, holding archaeology and history degrees from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and an archaeology Masters degree from University College London. He has a web site and lives in Cambridge.

Roger Stanyard is a management consultant working in the satellite communications and broadcasting sector. He lives in Winchester. He has a BSc joint honours degree in economics and geography (University College, London) and an MBA (Cranfield).

Ian Lowe is an IT consultant and a former company director working in IT within the Education sector. Ian holds a BSc in General Science from Strathclyde University. He lives in Glasgow.

Alan Bellis is an entrepreneur who lives in Middlesborough. He is active in criticising academy schools and has a web site.

Dr Brian Jordan BSc (Hons), MSc (Distinction) PhD who lives in Yorkshire, is a retired clinical biochemist. He studied chemistry and chemical engineering and worked as a development engineer. He has been a school PTA chairman, parent governor, scout committee chairman and chairman of a branch of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

Tim Chase is a software engineer resident in Seattle in the USA. He holds a BA Philosophy from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA, and an MA (MALA) (Great Books Program) from St. Johns College, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.

John Germain is a businessman and member of MENSA who lives and works in Jersey in the Channel Islands.

I then went to the ‘WHO IS WHO’ page of their website and downloaded what they said about me. Rather than reproduce that I will now include the text of a detailed, corrective email letter that I sent by way of response to each member of the committee of the BCSE.

Dear Mr

As a member of the committee of BCSE I am sure you would not wish to be a party to anything posted to the group’s website that is inaccurate or that could be construed as being there purely for the purposes of demeaning and insulting someone. I’m sure like myself you want only to deal in facts as far as they can be positively known. It has been drawn to my attention that on the BCSE website there is an item under ‘Who is Who’ relating to myself and it is certainly inaccurate in several places and in others it does give the impression of being demeaning and insulting purely for those purposes.

In the opening line of the article I am described as being both ‘hardline’ and ‘fundamentalist’. If these adjectives are there merely to demean and insult me then they should be removed. However if ‘hardline’ is there to indicate that my ‘line’ of thinking on ‘origins’ is fixed [hard] and not for reshaping, in a similar fashion that Richard Dawkins’ thinking on ‘origins’ is fixed [hard] and not for reshaping, then that is fine. If ‘fundamentalist’ is there to indicate that I view the teachings of my source of ‘truth’ on ‘origins’, namely the written Word of God, as being accurate and trustworthy, in the same way that Richard Dawkins views the teachings of his source of truth on ‘origins’, namely the writings of Charles Darwin, as being accurate and trustworthy, then that is fine.

In paragraph 2, mention is made of me possibly having worked for an estate agency – I have never worked for such a business. As to my ‘theological qualifications’ – they fall into the same category as for example those possessed by the Apostles Peter and John following the Lord’s ascension to heaven – regenerated and indwelt by our teacher, God the Holy Spirit who, according to the Lord Jesus Christ in John 16:13 guides into all truth.

In paragraph 3, the article states about my ministry that “This appears, loosely to be an independent Baptist ministry stuck somewhere in the 17th century”. Being factually inaccurate on 2 counts one is left with the impression that the purpose of this statement falls mostly into the ‘demeaning and insulting’ category. We are not a ‘Baptist’ ministry nor are we “stuck somewhere in the 17th century” as we are dealing very much with live, 21st century issues, some of which have of course been around since the dawn of creation.

This same paragraph also states “Andrews has pointed out that he is not anti-Catholic but anti-Catholicism but it is hard to see what the difference is”. Just at this point I do have to ask myself why such a statement is included on the website of a group that is seeking to refute belief in Biblical Creation and to promote Darwinian Evolution – is it there purely as a personal, demeaning and insulting attack upon the individual in question, namely myself? That aside, whilst I am most certainly opposed to the false teachings of Roman Catholicism, if I were also ‘anti-Catholic’ then I would not be seeking to rescue Roman Catholics from going to hell by exposing them to the true, saving Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

A little further into the article we read, “It appears that even the protestant Belfast Telegraph finds Andrews to be extreme”. I have to confess that I really did smile when I read the expression “the PROTESTANT Belfast Telegraph”. On this link [website link quoted] you read the following – ‘Independent News & Media PLC (“IN&M”) has received formal clearance for the purchase of the Belfast Telegraph titles (“BTNL”) from Trinity Mirror plc. The consent of Britain’s Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Stephen Byers MP, was received today; the clearance of the Irish Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Tanaiste Mary Harney TD, had already been received’

The leading figure in ‘Independent News & Media’ is former Irish Rugby player [Sir] Anthony O’Reilly and on this link [website link quoted] we read – “Sir Anthony “Tony” [born 7 May 1936] is a Dublin born billionaire who holds both British and Irish nationality. He is best known through his chairmanship of the Dublin-based Independent News & Media Group (INM)… Anthony Joseph Francis O’Reilly was born in Dublin. He was educated at the JESUIT-RUN Belvedere College,” So much for “the PROTESTANT Belfast Telegraph”.

In the same paragraph your article states “In one letter he wrote to it Andrews claims that Christians should not allow Catholics to be in a position of leadership”. Whilst your article does then give a quote from the letter in question that helps to clarify what I meant by “leadership” – namely a “leadership” role in worship services organised by Evangelical Christians – anyone reading the first statement and not bothering to read the letter would be left with the impression that I oppose any and every form of “leadership” by Catholics and that would be grossly untrue.

As for me being “blacklisted” by the paper, what appears to have happened is that they seem to have taken a decision to radically change the nature of the letters published in their Saturday night edition [where letters on religious matters normally appeared] and so not only I but also others from a Roman Catholic perspective are no longer given column-inch space. The paper itself has a clear ‘liberal/ecumenical’ ethos and agenda that is reflected in the writings of its Religion Correspondent, Alf McCreary and also in the writings of the ecumenical-friendly writers of the weekly ‘Thought For The Weekend’.

In relation to the creation videos that were sent to all MPs your article states, “By Andrews’ own account, nearly all of them appear to have ignored it”. This is totally inaccurate and this is actually what I wrote – ‘Feedback’ from MP’s in relation to the video has been minimal… perhaps humanly speaking it might have been nice to receive greater ‘feedback’ from more MP’s but I am content to leave this matter in the hands of the Lord’. NOWHERE did I state that ‘nearly all of them appear to have ignored it’ – I was merely commenting upon actual responses to me – the fact that these were few is no indicator that recipients “ignored” the videos sent to them.

Towards the close of the article, reference is made to an audiotape outreach to Roman Catholic priests in Ireland made by the ministry back in 1997. Again I do have to question the motive for including this section on the website of your group that is seeking to refute belief in Biblical Creation and to promote Darwinian Evolution – is it there purely as a personal, demeaning and insulting attack upon myself?

That aside, the newspaper article quoted was grossly inaccurate in some of the assertions made in its article and in consequence, perhaps for the sake of factual accuracy, you should remove it from the BCSE website. To find out just how wrong their article was I would encourage you to go to this link [website link quoted] and you can listen to 5 Irish radio interviews that I gave in December 1997 as the outreach was drawing to a close.

In closing, let me say I count it a special honour to be listed on your ‘Who is Who’ website, for the Lord Jesus Christ Himself said to me in Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake”.

I’m so glad that my eternal salvation did not depend upon my IQ but rather as we read in 1st Corinthians 1:21-27 “In the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God [but rather] it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe…because the foolishness of God is wiser than men…God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise”.

In closing I commend to you the only Saviour of sinful men, the One who created all things as we read in John 1:3, the One who was “made flesh and dwelt amongst us” [John 1:14] – I refer of course to the Lord Jesus Christ before whom, in a coming day, “every knee shall bow…and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord, to the glory of God, the Father” [Philippians 2:10-11].

I am your servant for His sake

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries

Following my sending of the email to the committee members I received the following gracious response from one of them – Alan Bellis.

Hi Cecil,

Thanks for taking the time to e-mail me with your concerns, it is a little late for me to investigate this issue fully, I think the best bet is to pass your e-mail across to Roger, as I believe he is the author of the report you are taking issue with. As far as I am concerned, any inaccuracies should be put right immediately.

Best Wishes, Alan. [Bellis]

Upon visiting the BCSE ‘Who is Who’ website page on 23rd December I noted that following my email they had slightly altered the entry about myself and they had also posted my email in its entirety. The changes to their entry make for interesting reading!

  • Original Wording

‘He is understood to have either worked for a building society or an estate agency before becoming involved in religion’.

  • New Wording

This sentence has been completely omitted from the revised BSCE ‘Who is Who’ article.

  • Cecil’s comments

I was working as a Building Society Branch Manager in Portadown when I was converted to Christ in 1984. Shortly thereafter I moved to manage a Building Society Branch Office in Belfast City Centre until I left in 1989 and subsequently established ‘Take Heed’ Ministries in 1990.

  • Original Wording

‘This appears, loosely to be an independent Baptist ministry stuck somewhere in the 17th century’.

  • New Wording

‘This appears, loosely, to be an independent Baptist ministry (1) stuck somewhere (like much of the rest of Northern Ireland) in the 17th century’. (1) Cecil Andrews has close connections with the Crich Baptist Church in Derbyshire.

  • Cecil’s comments

Despite my advising that our ministry is not ‘an independent Baptist ministry’ they have persisted with this ‘label’ and in an effort to justify it have cited ‘close connections’ with Crich Baptist Church. I spoke on a number of occasions in Crich Baptist but last year I also spoke in Presbyterian, Congregational, Independent Methodist, Free Presbyterian Churches so how do these square up with the ‘independent Baptist’ label? Having decided to retain the insulting ‘stuck somewhere in the 17th century’ jibe about ‘Take Heed’, BSCE have now seen fit to extend the insult to ‘much of the rest of Northern Ireland’ – this particular insult appears to be evolving rather rapidly,

  • Original Wording

No previous reference

  • New Wording

Here is an article where Andrews takes exception to John Paul II being described as a ‘fine Christian man’ [Link Broken]

  • Cecil’s comments

This sentence has been inserted following my statement that I am ‘anti-Catholicism but not anti-Catholic’ – and it would appear the link to this article has been inserted to ‘prove’ that I am in fact ‘anti-Catholic’. I hope people will go to the article for in it I challenge the description of the late Pope John Paul II made in my presence by J I Packer when he described him as ‘a fine Christian man’ – and I do so on purely doctrinal [‘anti-Catholicism’] grounds.

PS Could this BCSE statement ‘Belief in creationism is rampant amongst Northern Ireland Protestants’ possibly be construed as ‘anti-Protestant’?

  • Original Wording

‘It appears that the mildly unionist Belfast Telegraph finds Andrews to be extreme’

  • New Wording

‘It appears that the mildly unionist Belfast Telegraph finds Andrews to be extreme’

  • Cecil’s comments

When BSCE first labelled the Belfast Telegraph as ‘protestant’ their intent was clear – it was to convey the impression that this ‘protestant’, Cecil Andrews, was even too extreme for a ‘protestant’ newspaper to handle. Having identified the foolishness of their ‘protestant Belfast Telegraph’ label in my email, BSCE have now resorted to applying a ‘political’ label to the Belfast Telegraph – I simply ask why they feel it necessary to apply any ‘label’ to the Belfast Telegraph in view of the fact that its change in strategy about publishing letters on religious matters appears to apply equally to Protestants like myself and also to Roman Catholics. I sincerely hope BSCE are not now trying to attach some ‘political’ label to Cecil Andrews and ‘Take Heed’ Ministries for our ministry and motivation have absolutely no political attachment or agenda.

Overall this BSCE article has a ‘Richard Dawkins ring’ to it. What do I mean by that? Well as I mentioned earlier, on Sunday 10 December 2006 Mr Dawkins took part in a ‘Creation v Evolution’ debate with Professor Andy McIntosh on the Radio Ulster programme ‘Sunday Sequence’. My reaction to Mr Dawkins’ performance was summed up as follows in an email that I sent to the local CALEB Evangelical Group

“I thought the debate went very well from a Biblical Creation point of view – Dawkins was pitiful – reduced to personal attacks on Andy McIntosh and openly admitting that he hasn’t discovered yet how ‘life’ came into being – once it did come into being then according to him evolution ‘kicked in’ but whatever ‘sparked’ life, as far as he is concerned, it wasn’t God and that atheistic view colours ALL his thinking.”

The reference to ‘personal attacks’ by Richard Dawkins against Andy McIntosh is where this BSCE article about myself seems to have a ‘Richard Dawkins ring’ to it. In both cases, Richard Dawkins [where Andy McIntosh is concerned] and BSCE [where Cecil Andrews is concerned] appear to have adopted the approach of ‘I don’t like the message so I’ll shoot the messenger’. If no evolutionist [including Richard Dawkins by his own admission] knows how life originated then on what scientific grounds is a Creator God totally ruled out of the equation? Perhaps this quotation [p 25] from Pastor John MacArthur’s book ‘The Battle For The Beginning’ may shed some heavenly light on the issue

‘To put it simply, evolution was invented in order to eliminate the God of Genesis and thereby to oust the Lawgiver and obliterate the inviolability of His law. Evolution is simply the latest means our fallen race has devised in order to suppress our innate knowledge and the biblical testimony that there is a God and that we are accountable to Him [see Romans 1:28]. By embracing evolution, modern society aims to do away with morality, responsibility and guilt. Society has embraced evolution with such enthusiasm because people imagine that it eliminates the Judge and leaves them free to do whatever they want without guilt and without consequences’.

The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is an ‘antidote’ to the problem caused by sin when it entered this world through Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden – countless millions of Christians down through the centuries have been and are living proof of that visible reality that they have become “new creations” in Christ [see 2 Corinthians 5:17]. The Gospel of Christ offers real life-changing answers to the sinful and soul-damning woes of this world that are everywhere evident and that have increased in line with the truths in the quote above. In contrast what does atheistic evolution offer? – answers on a postcard please! Earlier I gave a quote from John MacArthur’s book ‘The Battle For The Beginning’ – the 19 January 2007 issue of the British Church Newspaper included a review of this book and part of that review said –

‘Just at the very time when evolution is coming under renewed pressure from discoveries in biochemistry and the inescapable conclusion of “Intelligent Design” [unless one is spiritually purblind] it is a little sad and ironic that so many in evangelical circles seem ripe to ditch their forefathers’ heroic battle for the truth and accuracy of scripture. It is this threat to the integrity of evangelical witness that MacArthur is concerned to expose and counter in his book…The result is a splendid and elegantly written insight into the wonderful world of science…interwoven with a stimulating exegesis of the creation account in Genesis. This book will give plenty of ammunition to those seeking to expose the inconsistencies of the evolutionist/old earth ‘creationist’ views…Evolutionists detest a young earth scenario and wilfully resist evidence for design as these topple them towards theistic conclusions. MacArthur is one of evangelicalism’s most impressive spokesmen with many stimulating insights…a book well worth investing in.

  • Concerns with Belfast Bible College

Another disturbing matter that arose from the broadcast radio debate was a contribution made to it by Professor Robert Keay, a lecturer at the Belfast Bible College. In a circulated email the local CALEB Evangelical Group wrote – ‘What was most disappointing in the debate was the attitude of the Belfast Bible College lecturer, Professor Robert Keay… Mr Keay…indicated that he believes in evolution, (William Crawley [presenter of the programme] remarked – An ‘evangelical Christian’ arguing that Creationists are misreading the Bible!) and was completely confused when David McConaghie [assisting Professor Andy McIntosh] quoted Romans 5:12…! Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, obviously believed in a literal six-day creation and a young earth!… Confronted by the implications of the text, Keay tried to ‘spiritualise it’ away! Now, we must ask ourselves, “What on earth are they teaching at Belfast Bible College?” Is it really an evangelical establishment, or has it fallen from its previous standards, following the lure of academic acclaim? I intend to ask!’

Like CALEB I too emailed the Belfast Bible College on 19 December –

Dear Belfast Bible College,

During the ‘Creation v Evolution’ debate broadcast on Radio Ulster on Sunday 10 December 2006 there was a contribution made by one of your members of staff, namely Professor Robert Keay. A brief summary of 2 points that Professor Keay made would be as follows –

1. Creationists [those who accept 6-day Creation as affirmed by God Himself in Exodus 20:11] have ‘misread’ the Bible in relation to Genesis 1 & 2 where God Himself outlines His work of creation.

2. Paul’s statement in Romans 5:12 teaches that the result of sin was merely ‘spiritual’ separation from God and not also physical death.

In the light of your published ‘Doctrinal Basis’ that states – ‘The guilt and depravity of human nature in consequence of the Fall’ my question is simply this – are these expressed views of Professor Keay fully compatible with your ‘Doctrinal Basis’?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries

On 1st February 2007, [having previously sent a reminder] I eventually received a response from David Shepherd, Principal of Belfast Bible College. Herewith are some extracts from that email –

Dear Cecil (if I may),

Thank you for your email. While I myself might take a different position than Dr. Keay with respect to the best way to read the opening chapters of Genesis, I am satisfied that his position falls within the breadth of evangelical thinking on the subject [no mention of the College Doctrinal Basis]… I’ve asked Dr. Keay to elaborate on his position and include his response below. Dr. Keay writes:

‘I am in full and hearty agreement with the doctrinal basis of Belfast Bible College. My views on Genesis and creation are typical of mainstream and historic Evangelical thought, as is represented by many Evangelical works and commentaries on Genesis…[There then followed quite a lot of academic comments that did nothing to address the points raised in my email]…I consider it a blessing to be serving the Lord at Belfast Bible College, an Evangelical institution that recognizes that no one denomination or movement owns the truth’. In a further email to the College on 2nd February I wrote –

I have received your response for which I thank you. I’m just heading over to England but perhaps I could meantime ask this further question –

Your ‘Doctrinal Basis’ makes reference to ‘The guilt etc in consequence of THE FALL’ – can you please explain the College position on how and when ‘THE FALL’ occurred – was it as God’s Word states after He had created all things in 6 days or have those who take this meaning from God’s Word ‘misread’ what appears to be a clear narrative?

It’s a fairly simple question and I look forward to your clarification of your ‘Doctrinal Basis’.

To date I have not received a reply to this email. This incident just compounds another worry that a student at the College alerted me to and that was his own concern about a lecture given by the ‘trendy’ Presbyterian Chaplain at Queens University, Steve Stockman who was endorsing favourably the ‘spiritual walk’ of rock-band U2 whose lead singer is the well-known Bono. In an interview Bono commented on the Roman Catholic Church and a meeting he had with the late Pope and he said – ‘Let’s not get too hard on the Holy Roman Church here. The Church has its problems, but the older I get, the more comfort I find there…The Pontiff was about to make an important statement… During the preamble, he seemed to be staring at me. I wondered. Was it the fact that I was wearing my blue fly-shades? So I took them off in case I was causing some offence. When I was introduced to him, he was still staring at them. He kept looking at them in my hand, so I offered them to him as a gift in return for the rosary he had just given me. Not only did he put them on, he smiled the wickedest grin you could ever imagine. He was a comedian’.

The papal Antichrist is many things but not ‘a comedian’. In the light of these incidents and also the platform given at the College [February] to Eddie Gibbs of Fuller Theological Seminary to promote his views of ‘Emerging Churches’ true evangelical concerns about Belfast Bible College are well-grounded and fully justified.

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