Dear praying friends,
Last October (2009) marked the 20th anniversary of my leaving secular employment to seek the Lord’s will for full-time Christian service and God willing this coming September (2010) will mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of ‘Take Heed’ Ministries. Enclosed with this newsletter is a personal letter to all on the mailing list indicating that another ‘landmark’ event is now showing up on the radar of my life – an event that may signal some changes in the future strategy and functioning of ‘Take Heed’. Time is such a precious gift from God – Moses saw his life divided up into 3 ‘chapters’ of 40 years each and without doubt the first 2 ‘chapters’ [Egypt and Midian] prepared and equipped him for probably the greatest ‘chapter’ of all – the last one when he was commissioned by God to go to Egypt and secure the release of God’s people from their bondage and to lead them towards the Promised Land. Bearing this in mind the words of Moses as recorded in Psalm 90:12 – “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” – clearly come from the heart of one who had learnt this great truth along his journey of life. C H Spurgeon commented ‘It is most meet (fitting) that the heart which will so soon cease to beat should while it moves be regulated by wisdom’s hand. A short life should be wisely spent.’ John MacArthur commented ‘The Psalmist had the right perspective in Psalm 90:12… Wisdom numbers the days, sees the limited time and buys the opportunity. Don’t be foolish – shun opportunities for evil, but seize opportunities for good’. These words have been easy for me to type and for you to read – may God help us all to apply the wisdom learnt as our days unfold. May you all know His blessing in 2010 and beyond [DV].
Your servant for Christ
J I Packer and ‘Mother’ Teresa
At the beginning of this year I was contacted by a friend and fellow-believer in England who asked me if I had any information or views on an addition included in the second printing of a book by J I Packer called ‘Rediscovering Holiness’. This addition dealt with Mr Packer’s views of difficulties/doubts experienced by the late ‘Mother’ Teresa. I had not been aware of this addition to Mr Packer’s reprinted book and in the course of my investigations I came across a very helpful article on this link
http://strengthenedbygrace.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/j-i-packer-continued-disappointment/ and I plan now to reproduce this article here (I have highlighted in bold some important portions) and then by way of conclusion I shall make some comments –
J. I. Packer: continued disappointment:
December 3, 2009 by ‘Strengthened By Grace’
My understanding of who God was, was tremendously increased by reading J I Packer’s classic ‘Knowing God’. God used this man to teach me about the Puritans in his excellent work ‘The Quest for Godliness’. And ‘Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God’ is a brief but wonderfully profound text bringing scriptural balance to that issue. But I have been disappointed over the last several years in Packer’s signing and ringing endorsement of the document ‘Evangelicals and Catholics Together’ and his signature on the recent ‘Manhattan Declaration’. Packer’s book ‘Rediscovering Holiness’ has also been an encouragement to me in my pursuit of sanctification. So I was sad to hear about this addition to the second edition. Dr Dave Doran of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, my alma mater, discusses Packer’s praise of Mother Teresa in the book’s afterword. Here is Dr Doran’s blog post:
“Shortly before the Manhattan Declaration came out I was very disappointed by a discovery I made at the back end of the second edition of J I Packer’s ‘Rediscovering Holiness’. This new edition contains an afterword entitled ‘Holiness in the Dark: The Case of Mother Teresa’ I scanned it quickly then, but did not make time to give it a thorough reading until this morning. Very disappointed is an understatement.
To cut to the chase, Packer wants to address the ‘problem of felt abandonment by God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, within the frame of full commitment to God: in other words, the desolation and seeming desertion of the deeply devoted’ (italics original, p 249) and he believes that Teresa’s struggles can be helpful for all of us – even to the point of thanking God ‘for Mother Teresa’s example, which points the way ahead for us all’ (p 263). In case you are unaware of her struggles, Packer informs us that ‘after two decades of constant joyful intimacy with Christ from 1948 on – that is, for 49 years, during the whole time of her leadership of the Missionaries of Charity – felt abandonment was the essence of her experience. Behind all the cheerful, upbeat, encouraging, Christ-honoring utterances that flowed from her during these years in a steady stream lay the permanently painful sense that, quite simply, God had gone, leaving her in aching loneliness, apparently for all eternity” (p. 250).
Packer bases the entire afterword on the premise that Teresa is a genuine believer, in spite of her devotion to Roman Catholic teachings. Packer tries to explain how she could experience such darkness and begins by explaining away several options: (Packer writes)
· “This was not an experience of doubt …. She was always sure of the historic Christian faith and of the grace that flows from Jesus, particularly as she believed through the Mass; she had no doubt about the administrative procedures of the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church; she had absolute confidence in the love of the Lord Jesus for herself and for everyone else, including the poorest of the Indian poor, whom Hindu society wrote off as valueless; she was totally convinced that she was called to take the love of Christ to them; and she was ever a human dynamo in furthering this project” (p. 261).
· It was not “passing through the dark night of the soul as Catholic tradition conceives it; for that darkness, however similar while it lasts to Teresa’s, is temporary, leading on to experiential union with God, whereas Teresa by her own testimony had known experiential union with Christ in particular for 20 years before the pain of inner darkness became her permanent condition” (p. 261).
· “Nor, again, was she undergoing an experience of detection, God sending her pain to alert her to issues of repentance and obedience that she had evaded. Quite apart from the fact that the inner darkness spanned her whole half-century of leadership, it is safe to say that there were no problems of that kind in Teresa’s life” (p. 261).
This is so mind boggling that I am not sure where to start. How Packer can conclude any of this is beyond my ability to understand – he is prepared to look into her soul and assure us that she had no doubt, that she truly experienced union with God, and that she had no problems with repentance or obedience? I know Packer is much more intelligent than I am, but I don’t think even he can see inside a soul with such clarity.
And his conclusions fly in the face of sound theology. How can she not have doubt when her salvation is based on the administration of the Mass rather than the finished work of Christ? I’ve seen no evidence that Teresa believed the gospel of grace and significant evidence from her own words that would suggest she didn’t. Packer seems to ignore the possibility that her devotion to Jesus was not gospel-based, or that it might not have even been the Jesus of whom Paul preached (cf 2 Cor 11:4).
Some wonder why many of us are making such a big fuss about the Manhattan Declaration, and I’d submit that it is because some of us see a dangerous drift happening. Packer, who signed the MD and also the original ECT document is representative of this drift. It seems, and this deserves further exploration, that Packer’s initial steps in this direction started in the mid-1960s, then bloomed more fully in the decade following. Packer’s biographer, Alister McGrath, acknowledges that Packer’s support of ECT “can be seen to rest on precisely the theological foundations developed by Packer in England during the 1970s” (J I Packer p 160) Specifically, Packer took the side of evangelical ecumenism in opposition to Lloyd-Jones in 1966, then co-authored a work with two Anglo-Catholics in 1970 (Growing into Union) that many evangelicals felt conceded too much biblical ground on critical doctrinal issues. The publicationof that work led to the formal break between Lloyd-Jones and Packer, bringing an end to the Puritan Conferences.
I think this backdrop is important so that we see this issue in relation to the larger issues. Too many defenses of the signers of the MD err precisely by seeing only this document, not the larger questions on the table and trends at work. Once ecumenism has been embraced, common ground becomes the goal. That almost without fail means that differences are minimized or dismissed altogether. Perceived piety or devotion to good works gradually trump soundness on the gospel as the evidence of genuine Christianity. That seems like the only way to explain how Packer can claim that Teresa is a model Christian because “what one does for others is the real test of the genuineness and depth of one’s love to God, and specifically to Jesus Christ the Lord (p 262).
As I said earlier on this subject, the Manhattan Declaration represents another step toward accepting the false notion that being a Christian is demonstrated by doing something about social issues. It seems clear to me that J. I. Packer has taken that step”.
Cecil’s concluding comments
1. You will note that Dr Doran made reference to ‘The Manhattan Declaration’ that appeared on the scene in the latter part of 2009 and the next article in this newsletter will deal with that particular issue. I should mention, that as well as J I Packer having signed it, another ecumenical compromiser, and so–called ‘evangelical’ that I have written about in times past, Ravi Zacharias, also signed this Manhattan Declaration.
2. Dr Doran in his posting made reference to the break that occurred in 1970 between Martin Lloyd-Jones and J I Packer. Mr Lloyd-Jones was not prepared to follow the path of ecumenical compromise that was being pursued vigorously by J I Packer [and also John Stott] and so he separated himself from them. Dr Doran made reference to what I would term, the ‘final straw’, which was the publication of Mr Packer’s book ‘Growing Into Union’ and in his excellent book ‘Evangelicalism Divided’[pp 94 & 110] Iain Murray wrote the following ‘Growing Into Union… appeared to give sanction to errors which evangelicals in the Church of England had hitherto always opposed… The truth is that the book was rather a justification for the alliance with Anglo-Catholics… and it brought to breaking point the link between Packer and Lloyd-Jones… For Lloyd-Jones the public parting with John Stott in 1966 and finally Jim Packer in 1970 marked the saddest period in his life.
3. Dr Doran in his posting also made reference to Dr Packer’s endorsement of ‘the original ECT document’ and this of course refers to the 1994 document ‘Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission for The Third Millennium’. As in the case of the recent Manhattan Declaration, one of the main architects of ‘the original ECT document’ was the arch ecumenical compromiser and so-called evangelical, Charles Colson, who almost single-handedly has managed to undermine huge swathes of genuine evangelical outreach to souls, spiritually lost, in and because of the Roman Catholic religion.
4. Former Roman Catholic, Rob Zins in his incisive book ‘On the edge of Apostasy: The Evangelical Romance with Rome’ devoted quite a lengthy chapter to the role of J I Packer in the 1994 ECT document and Mr Zins wrote [pp 171-172] ‘There is a popular hymn which we often sing in our church which starts out with the lyrics “What more can He say than to you He Has said?” We have that same song running through our mind as the evidence mounts up against Dr J I Packer… Rome is in. Dr Packer would have thousands of missionaries to France, Mexico, Brazil and Central America – not to mention Italy – give the new gospel “Go and return to your Roman Catholic churches and get serious about Romanism”. According to ECT, Colson, Packer and all those signing and supporting this dreadful document, missionaries the world round should put an end to pressuring Roman Catholics to change churches. What more can we say than Dr Packer has said? … The gospel is very flexible in the mind of Colson and now has been stretched beyond our recognition due to the efforts of Dr J I Packer’.
5. Dr Doran made this supremely relevant statement in his article ‘Packer bases the entire afterword on the premise that Teresa is a genuine believer, in spite of her devotion to Roman Catholic teachings’. To any faithful and discerning Christian it should be patently clear, in the light of ‘Mother’ Teresa’s own words, that she was a spiritually lost soul, sadly a high-profile victim of Rome’s false ‘gospel’ and practices. Fomer Roman Catholic priest, Richard Bennett examines the question of ‘Mother’ Teresa in his article ‘Mother Teresa: A Lost Soul?’ I have also read two other helpful articles on this subject by David Cloud. Mr Packer made reference to ‘the dark night of the soul’ and David Cloud fittingly concluded the second of his articles with these words ‘This is the hopeless maze through which Mother Teresa roamed for her entire life. She had the Bible, but she did not accept its teaching, and she was doubtless confronted with the gospel of the grace of Christ through other means. She put her faith, rather, in Rome, and hoped vaguely in Mary and the Mass. That is why she had such a long dark night of the soul.’
6. In the C H Spurgeon ‘Evening’ thought for 19th January, when he is reflecting on Luke 24:45 “Then opened He their understanding that they might understand the scriptures”, Mr Spurgeon wrote ‘How many men of profound learning are ignorant of eternal things! They know the killing letter of revelation, but its living spirit they cannot discern; they have a veil upon their hearts which the eyes of carnal reason cannot penetrate’.When asked in the past for my views on J I Packer, I have often commented that whilst he appears to have great ‘head-knowledge’, knowledge that he has often put down in writing, when he is actually confronted by real-life situations there appears to be a very serious ‘heart-blockage’ problem in applying in those situations the knowledge that he has claimed in writing to believe. In my view these comments by Mr Spurgeon, that I have just quoted, find perfect application in the compromising, ecumenical track record of J I Packer.
In conclusion I would say that it is high-time, in fact the time is well overdue, for those who claim to be ‘evangelical Christians’ to totally distance themselves from J I Packer who more than 4 decades ago forfeited the right to be viewed as a faithful ‘evangelical Christian’.
‘The Manhattan Declaration’ Why faithful Christians SHOULD NOT sign it.
In many parts of the world today God’s people are truly horrified by much of the God-defying legislation that has been enacted by their governments in areas such as abortion, gay rights, same-sex partnerships, the total re-defining of marriage and civil liberties. In conscience this poses many problems about whether or not in these situations Christians should take a government-defying stand “to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). In such cases Christians often feel a real sense of helplessness or impotence when it comes to opposing these vile laws and to declaring publicly God’s views on these subjects in a meaningful way.
In such a situation, on 20th November 2009, a document called ‘The Manhattan Declaration’ was published as a kind of ‘Christian warning shot across the bows’ of governments around the world. It was signed by many leading figures from across the professing ‘Christian’ world and an invitation has been extended to those in sympathy with its stated views to add their signature to the document. As I write this article somewhere in excess of 405,000 signatures has so far been added. The question that faithful Christians have to now consider is – should I sign this document? On the opening page of the web site the following statement is made –
‘We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them’.
Then in the actual declaration itself we read this –
‘We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence. It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season. May God help us not to fail in that duty’.
It is clear that all those who initially signed this declaration have publicly affirmed that they view each other as fellow ‘Christians’, separated only by ‘ecclesial differences’ and united in a combined effort ‘to proclaim the Gospel of OUR Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness’.
This means that those who claim to be ‘evangelical Christians’ fully and publicly recognise the signatories who are either ‘Orthodox’ or ‘(Roman) Catholic’ as being their fellow ‘Christians’. The ‘evangelical Christians’ claim merely to have crossed ‘lines of ecclesial differences’ [differences only in church structure and government] in uniting with the ‘Orthodox’ and ‘(Roman) Catholic’ signatories but the reality is that they have also crossed ‘lines of soteriological differences’ [differences in the understanding of the doctrine of salvation]. The ‘evangelical Christians’ by the reference to ‘our duty to proclaim’ have fully and publicly indicated that they affirm that the ‘Orthodox’ and ‘(Roman) Catholic’ signatories dutifully ‘proclaim the gospel of OUR Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’. What are faithful Christians to make of this declaration and the call to sign it?
Faithful Christians will I hope recognise this document for what it truly is – another attempt to ecumenically ‘fuse together’ Evangelicals and Roman Catholics plus Orthodox and present them unitedly to the world as fellow ‘Christians’.
For this reason and this reason alone no faithful Christian should sign this declaration as to do so would represent a sell-out of the true Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and a capitulation to those who are the enemies of the true Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amongst the signatories on the ‘evangelical’ side are many of those who endorsed the infamous 1994 ‘Evangelicals and Catholics Together’ document – people like Charles Colson and J I Packer. Others who on this occasion have also signed, but whose ecumenical credentials I have referred to in previous articles, include Ravi Zacharias, James Dobson, Timothy George, Richard Land and Richard Mouw, so no real surprises there.
However, some people may be surprised to see also the name of Josh McDowell and I was personally extremely disappointed to see the name of Dr Al Mohler. On the blog site of the American VCY Crosstalk radio programme I penned the following entry
‘I am grateful to wearymom2 for drawing attention to this article by Dr Mohler, someone I have had great respect for in times past. Sadly, on this occasion I believe he is wrong to have signed this – he wrote ‘I cannot and do not sign documents such as Evangelicals and Catholics Together that attempt to establish common ground on vast theological terrain. I could not sign a statement that purports, for example, to bridge the divide between Roman Catholics and evangelicals on the doctrine of justification’ – the reality is that this Manhattan document is just as damaging to the cause of Christ as was the ECT document [look how many ECT signers are in on this one – Colson, Packer etc] that Dr Mohler refused to sign because this Manhattan document states ‘We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences’ – in putting his signature to this document Dr Mohler has affirmed Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy as being valid expressions of true Christianity and of course because of their ‘systems of sacramental salvation’ they most assuredly are not. The sentiments expressed in this document are commendable but I appeal to Dr Mohler to withdraw his signature as he has obviously unintentionally ‘set his seal’ upon false gospels that are ‘anathema’ to God.’
Am I alone in calling upon faithful Christians NOT TO Sign this declaration? Thankfully not. I want to conclude by quoting some fellow, faithful Christians who, like myself, have expressed their biblical opposition to God’s people signing this declaration.
Back in 2001 my guest here in Northern Ireland was former Roman Catholic, Mike Gendron, who is the director of Proclaiming the Gospel and on the same VCY Crosstalk radio blog site mentioned earlier Mike wrote the following –
The Manhattan Declaration is clearly another attempt to bring ecumenical unity to all of professing Christianity and blur the lines that separate apostates from true Christians. Many of the signers of the Evangelicals and Catholics Together Accord have given their name to this accord as well. Purposefully, the Gospel is never defined or explained in the Manhattan Declaration. This is because of the contradictory and opposing views on the issue of justification and salvation that are held by the signatories. The implication throughout the document is that Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant Evangelicals share a common faith. This blatantly ignores the fact that there can never be unity between true Christianity and apostate Christianity, between believers and unbelievers or between light and darkness (2 Cor. 6:14-18).
Whereas it is good to unite as co-belligerents with a united voice to fight moral and political issues, any accord that attempts to overlook, dismiss, nullify or compromise the Gospel is antithetical to the command for all Christians to earnestly contend for the faith. We can never deny the profound importance of protecting the life of every baby and the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. We must earnestly contend against those who seek to destroy both. However, we must remember that this is a spiritual battle which can only be won through fervent prayer and the proclamation of the one and only true Gospel, a Gospel that is denied by every Catholic priest when he offers the Eucharistic Christ upon his altar for the forgiveness of sins. Charles Spurgeon said “To pursue union at the expense of truth is treason to the Lord Jesus”. Since we have been sanctified by the truth, let us remain separate for God’s glory and purpose. Let us pray, proclaim and contend earnestly for the faith.
Dr James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries posted his response to the declaration and in it he wrote
‘there are a number of troubling things that I cannot get past in examining this document and considering its implications. When I see some of the leading ecumenists in the forefront of the documents’ production, I am made uneasy, and for good reason. Great damage has been done to the cause of Christ by those who have sought to promote the Kingdom by compromising the gospel, the only power given to the church that can change hearts, and hence change societies. By relegating the gospel to a matter of opinion and difference, but not something that defines the Christian faith, these ecumenists have left their followers with a cause without power, a quest without a solution. And though their open-mindedness fits better with our current post-modern culture, from a biblical perspective, they have truly betrayed the apostolic example… If we are going to give a consistent, clear answer to our culture, we dare not find our power in a false unity that overshadows the gospel and cripples our witness.’
Dr John MacArthur in his Shepherds Fellowship posting wrote
‘Here are the main reasons I am not signing the Manhattan Declaration, even though a few men whom I love and respect have already affixed their names to it… the document falls far short of identifying the one true and ultimate remedy for all of humanity’s moral ills: the gospel… It assumes from the start that all signatories are fellow Christians… the implicit assumption (from the start of the document until its final paragraph) is that Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant Evangelicals and others all share a common faith in and a common commitment to the gospel’s essential claims… The Declaration therefore constitutes a formal avowal of brotherhood between Evangelical signatories and purveyors of different gospels… it ought to be clear to all that the agenda behind the recent flurry of proclamations and moral pronouncements we’ve seen promoting ecumenical co-belligerence is the viewpoint Charles Colson has been championing for more than two decades… In short, support for the Manhattan Declaration would not only contradict the stance I have taken since long before the original ‘Evangelicals and Catholics Together’ document was issued; it would also tacitly relegate the very essence of gospel truth to the level of a secondary issue. That is the wrong way – perhaps the very worst way – for evangelicals to address the moral and political crises of our time. Anything that silences, sidelines, or relegates the gospel to secondary status is antithetical to the principles we affirm when we call ourselves evangelicals’.
Former Roman Catholic, Rob Zins, director of A Christian Witness to Roman Catholicisim wrote in response to the declaration
‘The text of the declaration, along with the title, gives us no reason to doubt that the authors consider themselves to be Christians writing from a distinctively Christian point of view… The result has been a watering down of true Christianity, and the putting forward of a sub-Christian philosophical ideology in its place. This new “Christianity” has room for just about everything that is remotely associated with God’s Word or His Gospel… It is clear enough that those writing this document consider one another to be Christians albeit each having ecclesial differences with the other… It appears undeniable that the assumption of the designers and signers is that Roman Catholics are to be considered Christians. There is no caveat, or asterisk, or explanatory footnote, or endnote that attempts to quell this obvious conclusion… We find in this latest attempt at ecumenism that the designers and signers of the Manhattan Declaration are in cahoots all over again. The deepest most fundamental divide between the Roman Catholic religion and Christianity is now called an “ecclesial difference.”… But just how do we relegate such things as baptismal regeneration, purgatory, papal infallibility, indulgences, incremental justification, merit based salvation, transubstantiation, and sacramental salvation to mere “ecclesial differences”? Rome denies the heart of Christianity by disavowing justification by faith alone. Rome neutralizes the authority of Christianity by rejecting Sola Scriptura. So, how can these essential doctrines, by which we define Christianity, be safely designated as “ecclesial differences”? We say they cannot be… The danger of the Declaration is that it does in fact “mark out a definition of Christianity.” By nonchalantly including Roman Catholics as Christians the document re-invents Christianity and obliterates the well-defined boundaries of Christian doctrine upon which all of true Christianity depends. For this reason it should not be tolerated within Christian circles and those who signed it, if Christian, should repent of their act… Does it matter if some well-known and trusted Evangelical Christians sign such a document as this? We think it does matter… Because of the hefty number of “trusted” Evangelicals who have signed the Manhattan Declaration, it will take time and equal exertion to undo what has been done. May this critique be a small step in the right direction.’
The central error of ‘ONENESS’ refuted
Alan Cairns in his ‘Dictionary of Theological Terms’ has this entry on page 121 under the heading of ‘Sabellianism’ – ‘A form of Unitarianism named after Sabellius, a third century African Bishop; the heresy of modalistic monarchianism. It is the view that God is not only one single essence but one single person. Thus the names Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not personal names but modes or relations of the one divine person in His dealings with man. According to Sabellians the term Father referred to this one divine person when His incomprehensible greatness and sovereignty were in view. Son referred to His revelation to men and His becoming incarnate. Holy Spirit referred to His operating immediately upon the creature in the works of creation, providence or grace. In modern times Swedenborgianism and some so-called “ONENESS” sects have adopted Sabellian views’.
In early January I was contacted by a sister in Christ from Canada who was seeking information on what ‘Oneness’ groups believe, as a friend’s daughter had apparently recently become involved with one such grouping. Worldwide one of the largest of these groupings would be the United Pentecostal Church and locally here in Northern Ireland we have The Churches of God.
The ‘Oneness’ movement arose as a result of a claimed ‘revelation’ [of ‘oneness’] supposedly given to R E McAllister at a Camp Meeting held near Los Angeles in 1913. The fall-out from this ‘revelation’ eventually led to a split by adherents of this ‘Oneness’ teaching from the Assemblies of God in 1916.
This teaching was, according to what we read on page 27 of John Montgomery’s booklet – ‘Evangelical or Heretical? An examination of the Churches of God in Ulster’ – “brought to Ulster by Gordon Magee about 1955. The following statement from his book confirms this – ‘The author of this booklet [Gordon Magee] was used by God to pioneer the Oneness revelation in the British Isles. His ministry was particularly fruitful in Ireland’ [p 2]. The ‘fruitful’ ministry in Ireland means Mr Magee’s success in converting the Churches of God from Trinitarianism to Oneness”.
One of the early pastors/preachers in the Churches of God, James Forsythe stated ‘We believe that there is one God who has manifested Himself as Father, as Son and as Holy Spirit, He is the Father in the manifestation of His deity, He is the Son in the manifestation of His humanity, and He is the Holy Spirit dwelling in the hearts of His people…. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are merely 3 offices of Jesus Christ in the same way as He is prophet, priest and king’ [John Montgomery – page 9].
Some years ago [as you will see at a time when Tony Blair was Prime Minister of the UK] I spoke by invitation on the subject of the local ‘Oneness’ grouping here, the Churches of God and this is how I addressed their views of ‘Oneness’ and their use of the terms Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Church of God as we have just seen claim that ‘Jesus ALONE’is GOD and as God He holds 3 ‘offices’ ‘FATHER’ ‘SON’ and ‘HOLY SPIRIT’
Now let’s reduce this to ‘human terms’ – it’s like saying that Tony Blair could hold ‘3 cabinet posts’
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Now let’s suppose there is a ‘court case’ and Tony’s friend Peter Mandelson is in the dock and in his defence Peter Mandelson says ‘I can call 3 witnesses’ and he then proceeds to call
The Prime Minister
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
The Foreign Secretary
Each time it would be Tony Blair stepping into the witness box. Can you see the court accepting that 3 witnesses have testified? Of course not! In their view only 1 witness (holding multiple offices) would have testified Multiple offices but only 1 witness
Now, let me quote from John chapter 8: 13-14
“The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.17It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.18I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.”
According to the Church of God theology,
Jesus would be ‘bearing witness’ in 2 ‘roles’ OR ‘offices’ as FATHER and SON Multiple offices but only 1 witness
YET JESUS QUOTED DEUTERONOMY 17:6 TO SHOW THAT HE AND HIS FATHER ARE TWO SEPARATE WITNESSES
The Church of God does not honour the God of the Bible for Jesus Himself said in John 5:23
“He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him”
The ‘Oneness Doctrine’ of the Church of God is simply a ‘dressed-up’ version of the 3rd Century heresy known as ‘Sabellianism’ [named after a 3rd Century African Bishop who introduced it]
Is the teaching of ‘Oneness’ a matter over which to be seriously concerned? – emphatically the answer is ‘yes’ for we read from the opening 7 verses in 2nd John of the apostle John’s absolute delight with those believers to whom he is writing and it is couched in these terms “unto the elect lady and her children whom I love in the truth and not I only but also they that have known the truth. For the truth’s sake which dwelleth in us and shall be with us forever… I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth… for many deceivers are entered into the world”.
Adherence to gospel truth brought immense joy to John and then in verse 9 he plainly stated the seriousness of holding to or teaching error pertaining to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ – “Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, HATH NOT GOD. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath BOTH the Father and the Son”.
‘Oneness’, which is a clear violation of ‘the doctrine of Christ’ and indeed of the whole Triune Godhead, is serious to the point where, according to John, those who believe it ‘have not God’. ‘Oneness’ followers worship another ‘god’ and proclaim another ‘gospel’.