Dear praying friends,
Writing to believers in Thessalonica Paul told of how they had “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” [1:9]. This obviously brought great joy to his heart. I fear that if Paul were to look at professing Christianity in the British Isles today his heart would be grieved and his spirit would be once more “stirred [provoked] in him” just as in Athens [Acts 17:16]. On 8th October Prince Philip opened a new wing at the Anglican Walsingham Shrine where each year a statue of Mary is paraded through the town. Next year, the one who promotes the idolatry of the Roman Catholic Mass, the Pope, is scheduled to visit Great Britain and rumour has it that he may stay at Buckingham Palace.
In September the Vatican announced that ‘the next International Eucharistic Congress, to focus on the Eucharist as communion with Christ’ would be held in Dublin, Ireland in 2012. On 20th October Rome announced formal plans to accept disenchanted Anglican clergy. Our lead article will highlight the march of Roman idolatry in the UK and the capitulation to it of the Church of England. God’s Word is short and simple “flee from idolatry” [1 Corinthians 10:14]. Locally in October that very subject evoked differing responses from an evangelical politician, the ‘culture minister,’ and a currently prominent evangelical ‘clerical minister’. The former quite rightly would not countenance attending a Mass under any circumstances whereas disappointingly the latter would. The politician was right – he realised that God’s glory ‘trumps’ community relations. John MacArthur summed such situations up perfectly when he wrote in his latest book ‘The Jesus You Can’t Ignore’ (p 70) “Jesus knew something evangelicals today often forget. Truth doesn’t defeat error by waging a public relations campaign”.
Your servant for Christ
Expanding Marion idolatry in England
Chapter 8 of Bishop J C Ryle’s book ‘Warnings To The Churches’ was first published as part of another of his books titled ‘Knots Untied’ in 1877. This chapter 8 is titled ‘Idolatry’ and the scripture reference cited is “Flee from idolatry” [1st Corinthians 10:14]. The opening lines of this chapter [p142] read as follows –
‘The text which heads this page may seem at first sight hardly needed in England. In an age of education & intelligence like this, we might almost fancy it is waste of time to tell an Englishman to “flee from idolatry”. I am bold to say that this is a great mistake…I believe that idolatry is near us, & about us, & in the midst of us to a very fearful extent. The second commandment, in one word, is in peril. The ‘plague’ is begun’.
It would seem that what Bishop Ryle referred to as a ‘plague’ is set to become an ‘epidemic’. In the ‘Introduction’ to a book called ‘The Cult of the Virgin Mary in Early Modern Germany: Protestant and Catholic Piety, 1500-1648’ by Bridget Heal we read –
Building on the Christian humanist critique of man’s propensity to focus on external rites rather than on inner spirituality, reformers such as Zwingli argued that if images survived men would inevitably be drawn to worship them. For, Zwingli wrote in his Brief Reply Given to Valentin Compar (1524/25), ‘man falls by his nature on the thing that is placed before his senses’.
Zwingli perhaps had in mind the Israelites and their use of a ‘Golden Calf’, an incident that Bishop Ryle refers to [pp143-144] in these terms –
‘The children of Israel never thought of renouncing God when they persuaded Aaron to make the golden calf…the feast in honour of the calf was kept as “a feast unto the Lord” [Exodus 32:4-5]…But…a great sin was committed. The honour due to God was given to a visible representation of Him. The majesty of Jehovah was offended. The second commandment was broken. There was, in the eyes of God, a flagrant act of idolatry’.
One of the ‘by-products’ of the Reformation was that as a result of the recovery of Biblical truth regarding the glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, nationwide, many of the idolatrous ‘trappings’ of the false religion of Roman Catholicism were dismantled and removed. Such purgative actions would certainly not be permitted in today’s multifaith/multicultural ‘politically correct’ United Kingdom but the actions then were I believe motivated very much by a desire to honour the God of Heaven who declared in Isaiah 42:6 “I am the Lord; that is my name; and, my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images”. Slowly but surely the Church of Rome has been seeking to reassert its influence and power in England as in former pre-Reformation days and a further example of its success in this respect has come with the announcement concerning the plans of an ecumenical grouping known as the ‘Art and Reconciliation Trust’ to erect a large statue of Mary at a cost of £1.25 million at the side of the river Thames – a statue that is due to be unveiled on 13th October 2009. In the Catholic Herald of 9 May 2008, Simon Caldwell wrote –
Plans have been unveiled for a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary to stand in London in reparation for the destruction of the medieval Catholic shrines during the Reformation. The work will be called “Mary Most Holy” and will stand on land alongside the River Thames at Chelsea’s Embankment Gardens that was once owned by St Thomas More, the Lord Chancellor who was beheaded in 1535. It has been commissioned by the Art and Reconciliation Trust, a charity set up to promote awareness of the negative affects iconoclasm can have on culture. It will cost in the region of £1.25 million. The sculptor is Paul Day, whose previous work includes a 2002 memorial of the Battle of Britain on the bank of the Thames in central London; the Meeting Place at St Pancras station, London, and a memorial to the Queen Mother outside Buckingham Palace in the Mall.
The proposed work, a bronze triptych on a granite plinth, will feature a statue of a “beautiful” Virgin Mary holding up the Child Jesus against the backdrop of ruins. One of two side panels will show iconoclasts beheading the statues of saints – one cradling the head of the Virgin Mary – while the other panel depicts reformers mocking a crucifix. Unveiling a model for the sculpture at the Charterhouse in London last week, Mr Day said that its purpose would be “to recall events in Chelsea’s local history that were of national importance and whose effects can still be powerfully felt in present day Britain.
The destruction of England’s medieval shrines and devotional images, conducted by Thomas Cromwell, was part of Henry VIII’s programme for reform,” he said. “In the summer of 1538 Cromwell was ensconced at Chelsea Manor to conduct his affairs because of an outbreak of the plague in central London. “From there, he ordered the most important Marian shrines in England be brought to Chelsea so that he could witness their destruction. The dissolution of the monasteries and destruction of popular pilgrimage sites heralded an end to the traditional expression of Christianity as passed down through the Middle Ages in England and Wales. “It is therefore hoped that this sculpture may be sited on or near to the location where the foremost Marian shrines were burnt.” Mr Day said he also wanted his sculpture to express the “supremely negative impact” of iconoclasm [the destruction of religious images or objects]…”Iconoclasm seeks to destroy the objects that define a community by beliefs,” he added. “History shows that it can, under certain circumstances, be followed by a desire to efface that very community from existence altogether, leading to genocide.” Mr Day said that the sculpture would create a place for faith communities to reflect on reconciliation by confronting the truths of the past. A total of 84 shrines were destroyed in England and Wales during the 16th century and hundreds of statues of the Virgin Mary were burned… Frances Scarr, chairman of the trust, said the idea for a statue came after a pilgrimage by a group of Catholics and Anglicans to the sites of the shrines destroyed during the Reformation. Mrs Scarr said that erecting the sculpture would be an act of reparation for the destruction of the ancient shrines and might, she added, help to reconcile people of different faiths. “I hope that when we come before this monument we will ask for God’s forgiveness and through the intercession of Mary Most Holy we will pray that she will help us put behind our turbulent past and lead us forward in unity, peace and reconciliation,” she said.
Mr Caldwell’s article also included a picture of part of the model Mary and the ‘’child Jesus”
In the extracts quoted from Simon Caldwell’s article I have underlined some particular aspirations expressed by the chairman of the Art & Reconciliation Trust, Mrs Frances Scarr. In these aspirations we see the unscriptural nature of Roman Catholicism that God graciously exposed to the light of His Word at the time of the Reformation, rearing its ungodly and idolatrous head once more. Mrs Scarr said – ‘When we come before this monument’ – Bishop Ryle rightly identified Roman Catholic idolatry as ‘flagrant’ and as breaking ‘the second commandment’. We read of that commandment first in Exodus 20:4-6. Later in Deuteronomy chapter 4 Moses proceeds to ‘flesh out’ that commandment from God in these words – “Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves…lest ye corrupt yourselves and make you a graven image, the similitude [likeness] of any figure, the likeness of male or FEMALE…Take Heed unto yourselves lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image of the likeness of ANYTHING which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee. For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, a jealous God”.
Just as a husband or wife would be rightly jealous if their spouse to whom they have given their undivided and undying love started to ‘flirt’ with another, so God, who has given His undivided and undying love to His people [The bride of Christ] is likewise moved to jealousy and the ‘consuming fire’ of this jealousy was displayed in the ‘Golden Calf’ incident when we read in Exodus 33:20 “And he [Moses] took the calf which they had made and burned it in the fire”. Perhaps this action by Moses prompted the similar 1538 action taken in the burning of Marian shrines at Chelsea as mentioned in Simon Caldwell’s article. Mrs Scarr went on to say – ‘we will ask for God’s forgiveness and through the intercession of Mary Most Holy’ – What delusion, to believe that people can, in what constitutes a ‘flagrant’ act of idolatry [coming before a statue of Mary], ask for God’s forgiveness on other unrelated issues that fail to take into account the exceedingly sinful and God-angering manner of this very method of petitioning. Then we also see the usurping by Rome of the unique intercessory role in heaven of the Lord Jesus Christ [see 1st Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 7:24-25; 1st John 1:9 & 2:1] as they place Mary on a par with Christ as a second heavenly ‘intercessor’. Finally Mrs Scarr said – ‘we will pray that she will help us put behind our turbulent past and lead us forward in unity, peace and reconciliation’ – again I turn to the words of Bishop Ryle to respond here to Mrs Scarr –
‘idolatry is a natural product of man’s heart. It is a weed…which the heart is always ready to bring forth…we read of the constantly recurring idolatries of the Old Testament Church – of Peor, and Baal, and  Moloch, and Chemosh and Ashtorath – of hill altars…and images…Does it surprise us when we read in history how idolatry crept in by degrees into the Church of Christ…until in Canterbury men offered more at the shrine…of the Virgin Mary than at that of Christ…I for one am not surprised at the quantity of idolatry existing both in the world and in the visible Church. I believe it perfectly possible that we may yet live to see far more of it than some have ever dreamed of…Romanism in perfection is a gigantic system of Church-worship, Sacrament-worship, Mary-worship…image-worship…in one word, a huge organised idolatry…idolatry has decidedly manifested itself in the visible Church of Christ and nowhere so decidedly as in the Church of Rome…the Church of Rome is walking amongst us with renewed strength…I offer some practical safeguards against idolatry…
(1) Let us arm ourselves…with a thorough knowledge of the Word of God…if we once leave that for any by-path…we must never be surprised if we end with worshipping images…
(2) Let us arm ourselves…with a godly jealousy about the least portion of the Gospel…Let us beware of tampering with anything of a Romanising tendency. It is foolishness to play with fire…
(3) Let us arm ourselves…with clear, sound views of our Lord Jesus Christ and of the salvation that is in Him…Christ rightly known, Christ truly believed and Christ heartily loved is the true preservative against ritualism, Romanism and every form of IDOLATRY’ [pages 148-149; 158-159; 167-170].
How sad that the Church of England no longer possesses men with the scriptural awareness and application of Bishop Ryle but instead is currently led by Rowan Williams who last year visited the Marian shrine at Lourdes as you will see in the picture [from the British Church Newspaper of 10th October 2008] at the end of this article. Clearly Mr Williams is living proof of the observation quoted earlier by the Reformer Zwingli – ‘man falls by his nature on the thing that is placed before his senses’. Mr Williams and many of his flock are certainly hastening the Reversal of the Reformation and the very public re-emergence of Idolatrous Romanism. Another example of this from the Roman Catholic Zenit bulletin of 28th September 2009 reads –
The bishops’ of England and Wales estimate some 68,700 people visited the relics of St. Thérèse during the first 10 days of the tour of her relics. The relics of St. Thérèse of Lisieux will be visiting the United Kingdom through October 16. They arrived September 16. The relics have gone through some 40 countries. During the U.K. tour, the relics have just one stop at a non-Catholic site: the York Minster, a cathedral of the Church of England. The dean of York, Very Reverend Keith Jones, said, “I am thrilled that the relics of St Thérèse, the Little Flower, are coming to York Minster, at the request of the Catholic bishops’ conference. “She is a gift of God to us all, and this is a chance for Christians of different traditions to pray for unity and renew our faith and our love.”
‘Mary Most Holy’ relocated
Some months after I wrote this idolatry article a further article appeared in The Catholic Herald. Reproduced here is the article and I have emphasised some portions in bold. Thanks should be given to God that this planned idolatry is being restricted to an existing site of idolatry and therefore will not be further inflicted on the general public, as had been the original intention with the Thames-side location.
- Statue to commemorate destruction of shrines By Simon Caldwell: 20 March 2009
One of Britain’s leading sculptors is to erect a statue of Our Lady and the Child Jesus on the site of London’s medieval Marian shrine. Paul Day will spend a year creating the work, called Mary Most Holy, outside the front entrance of the Church of Our Lady of Willesden, north London. It will commemorate the Marian shrines destroyed during the Reformation.
The sculpture was originally intended to stand on land alongside the River Thames at Chelsea where King Henry VIII ordered the statues taken from 64 Marian shrines to be burned on huge bonfires in 1538. But Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council denied planning permission at the last minute, forcing the Art and Reconciliation Trust, the charity that commissioned the work, to look elsewhere. Brent Borough Council has now formally approved the plans. “As we couldn’t have Chelsea the next obvious place was at Willesden,” said Frances Scarr, chairwoman of the trust, which was set up to promote awareness of the negative effects iconoclasm can have on culture. “It is a medieval shrine dating back to 939,” she said. “It is one of the original shrines. It was the only shrine to Our Lady in London at that time. It even pre-dates Walsingham. “We now all agree actually that where it is going is more appropriate and will also foster a great deal more prayer. If it had been at Chelsea it would have been in a garden with a lot of other statues but now it is outside a church and a very active church at that. She said that she was seeking £500,000 in donations to help to pay for the work. “If all goes to plan Paul Day will start on the memorial this September,” she said. “It will take about a year. When we get started I will be able to think of a date and I would like it to be on a feast of Our Lady. It is too early to start thinking about that yet.” Previous works by Mr Day includes a memorial of the Battle of Britain on Victoria Embankment, Westminster, and the Meeting Place at St Pancras Station, London. His latest work was a statue of the Queen Mother unveiled in February on the Mall outside Buckingham Palace.
The proposed statue of the Virgin and Child will be a bronze triptych on a granite plinth. A “beautiful” Virgin Mary holds up the Child Jesus against the backdrop of ruins and two side panels show reformers beheading and smashing up the statues of saints and destroying a crucifix. When he first unveiled a model of the statue Mr Day explained that the “ruined setting evokes rather than represents the dissolved monasteries of England”. He said: “The setting must be contemporary. Ruins mean war and the destruction that we have caused to our world, the broken world into which Christ came and the broken nature of the relationship between God and mankind.”
Devotion to Our Lady at Willesden can be traced back to the late Anglo-Saxon period. Willesden means “spring at the foot of the hill” and there was a well with supposedly miraculous properties. The well and the Marian shrine that grew around it were connected to the Church of St Mary that was mentioned in a 10th-century royal charter. By 1249 there were two statues at the shrine, one of which was a Black Madonna encrusted with gold, silver and precious jewels. During the medieval period pilgrims travelled in their thousands to pray at the shrine. St Thomas More was a regular visitor and made a pilgrimage just months before he was arrested for refusing to take an oath attached to the Act of Succession. Willesden became an active shrine in the late 19th century following the establishment of a Catholic mission at nearby Harlesden. A replica Black Madonna was made and blessed by Cardinal Herbert Vaughan in 1892. The Romanesque – now Grade II-listed – church was opened in 1931. When Pope Pius XII declared in the “Marian Year” of 1954 that every diocese should have a Marian shrine, Willesden was chosen as the centre of Marian devotion for the Archdiocese of Westminster. For most Catholic Londoners the Marian Year culminated in a Mass at Wembley Stadium in which 94,000 people saw Cardinal Bernard Griffin crown the Black Madonna. A total of 60,000 pilgrims visited the Willesden shrine that year. In 1958 the shrine would
Joy Has Dawned: ‘Take Heed’ to what you sing!
Last December I was in a situation where a song by Keith Getty was sung called ‘Joy Has Dawned’. As carols go it was very pleasing to the ear and all went well until the opening lines of the fourth verse. They read as follows – ‘Son of Adam, Son of heaven, Given as a ransom’. As soon as I heard the phrase ‘Son of Adam’ my theological alarm bells started ringing loud and clear. In consequence I sent an email to the ministry of Keith Getty on 7th January 2009 and in that email I wrote –
I ‘choked’ theologically on the phrase ‘Son of Adam’ – the whole point of the virgin birth was so that the Lord would not be a ‘Son of Adam’ for “as in Adam all die” [1st Corinthians 15:22] – all humans born since Adam by natural pro-creation enter this world condemned and unrighteous in the sight of God because the sin and disobedience of Adam is imputed to all such. Christ was not procreated He was incarnated by the power of the Holy Spirit and so did not enter the world as a ‘Son of Adam’ and so by the unique nature of His birth and His subsequent sinless life He was qualified to offer an acceptable atoning sacrifice for sin. A simple change… would correct what is a serious theological error in an otherwise beautiful carol
I received a swift and polite response as follows –
Thank you for your feedback.
I have passed this on to our team.
Best Regards, Arlene Crymble, Gettymusic.com
By 27th April sadly I had received no serious feedback to the important theological issue raised by myself. From what I have read it would appear that Keith and Kristyn Getty do take seriously the theological accuracy and implications of the lyrics they compose and so from my perspective it is very disappointing that they did not apparently take time to address what is a very serious error in their lyrics for ‘Joy Has Dawned’ concerning the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. I hope sincerely that at some stage in the future they will recognise the gravity of this error and change the lyrics to agree with what the Holy Scriptures testify concerning the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ in His humanity. On 27th April 2009 I sent the following email
Be assured that it brings me no pleasure to have to contact you again but sadly I have heard nothing following your email to me of 25th March. In consequence I have drafted a short article for posting to our ministry website but I want to send the text of it herewith in the hope that it may spur some reaction from Keith and Kristyn on the theological error in the lyrics of ‘Joy Has Dawned’. If I have had no response from them on this matter by  Monday 11th May I shall sadly be left with no alternative but to post the article publicly to our website. Yours in Christ
Sadly I received neither an acknowledgment nor a response to that email and so an article was posted to our website. In it I also invited readers, supportive of my position to email Getty Music and ask them to rethink and rephrase the ‘offending’ expression ‘Son of Adam’. I’m glad to report that quite a number of readers of the article did, as invited, make contact with Getty Music to express their solidarity with my concerns and they eventually received a ‘standardised’ reply, although I myself did not personally receive any such communication. I want now to reproduce this ‘standardised’ reply as the various folks received it and to intersperse into it, in ‘bold type and boxed’, my response to their comments. This was the ‘standardised’ reply –
Although we respect the fervour with which Mr Andrews is keen to root out and expose anything he sees as heresy in the Christian church, on this point we feel he has jumped to a heretical conclusion that is not there in our text.
I would simply reaffirm that I view the expression ‘Son of Adam’, when applied to the Incarnate Lord Jesus Christ, to be injurious to both His sinless Person and the perfection of His atoning sacrifice. In scripture this title is never applied by or to Him nor for that matter is the title ‘Son of Heaven’.
The line “Son of Adam, Son of heaven” points to the uniqueness of Christ – His full humanity and His full deity – a cornerstone of the Christian faith. Jesus wasn’t half-man, half-God; He wasn’t ‘God in human form’; He was fully human, while remaining fully God. That’s why the Bible can state, for example, that He was “tempted in every way we are, yet without sin”.
I must confess that I find this paragraph somewhat confusing and indeed contradictory when in the midst of statements about Christ’s humanity and His deity, about Christ being human and remaining God, statements that I would agree with, we then read – He wasn’t ‘God in human form’ – surely this expression totally contradicts the expressions that immediately precede and then follow this phrase !.
undermines precisely what for example the apostle Paul affirms in Philippians chapter two as you will read shortly. [chapter 2 :9].
As Trinitarians we believe that The Father is God, The Son is God and The Spirit is God – and so with the birth of Jesus Christ we do have ‘Immanuel, which being interpreted is God with us’ [Matthew 1 :23] – Consider also these scriptures – ‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Who, being in the form of God [Cecil – His divine pre-existence] …took upon him the form of a servant [Cecil – added humanity to His person at the Incarnation] and was made in the likeness of men’ [Philippians 2 :5-7] ‘Wherefore when he [Cecil – the pre-existent divine Son of God] cometh into the world, he saith…a body hast thou prepared for me [Cecil – the added human dimension of Christ through His Incarnation]’ [Hebrews 10 :5] ‘Jesus saith unto him…He that hath seen me hath seen the Father’ [John 14 :9] [Cecil – Jesus is obvioulsy not here referring to His physical appearance when He stated this but rather is referring to His attributes such as for example complete Godliness and miraculous powers that mirror some of the attributes of God The Father – this lines up with how Christ is referred to in Hebrews 1:3 as being ‘the express image’ of ‘God’ already referred to in verse 1] ‘Great is the mystery of godliness ; God was manifest in the flesh’ [1st Timothy 3 :16]
When tempted by Satan to fall down and worship him, the Lord replied ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God’ [Matthew 4 :10]. Keeping that in mind we see Thomas, when confronted by the risen Christ, declaring. ‘My Lord and my God’ [John 20 :28] and I could cite other instances when people clearly ‘worshipped’ Christ and He did not rebuke them for doing so. But acknowledging Christ’s humanity as a ‘son of Adam’ does not automatically imply Jesus had a fallen sinful nature. Jesus refers to Himself as the “son of man” – which can of course be translated “son of Adam”, as “Adam” means “man”.
Whilst the Hebrew for man is ‘adam’ its roots are from the Hebrew ‘adamah’ meaning ‘ground’ and that of course is where the ‘material’ that God used to create the first man Adam came from. I think it would be good to gather our thinking on this issue and ‘take stock’ of humanity.
(1) Adam was formed from the dust of the ground
(2) Eve was formed using a rib from Adam’s body
(3) Although Luke in Acts 17:26 does identify that ‘all nations of men’ trace their pro-creational bloodline back to ‘one’ (Adam) because they have all entered into this world BY this process of PROCREATION we must also bear the following in mind
(4) The Lord Jesus Christ did not enter this world by pro-creation which would have made him of the pro-creational bloodline of Adam, [and keep in mind the principle of federal headship] but He entered by INCARNATION (only someone who pre-existed can incarnate) – He did not enter through pro-creation and so although being fully human this kept Him separate from the pro-creational bloodline of Adam. We must never forget that Mary conceived the Lord Jesus when she was overshadowed by the power of the Holy Spirit – the conception of Christ did not arise as the result of a fallen Son of Adam impregnating her.
In all the Bible translations that I have looked at not one, for example in Matthew 16:13, uses the expression ‘Son of Adam’ – they ALL translate the phrase as ‘Son of Man’ and this title ‘Son of Man’ appears in numerous other passages of Scripture but NEVER, in relation to Christ, do we find the expression ‘Son of Adam’ used in scripture. I believe it is absolutely vital NOT to refer to Christ as a ‘Son of Adam’. Unlike all the pro-created, bloodline, genuine sons of Adam, including you and me who were “born in sin and shapen in iniquity” [Psalm 51:5] the Lord Jesus Christ was and is in His humanity, because of the Incarnation, “holy, harmless, undefiled, SEPARATE from sinners” (He was not tainted with original or any actual sin, unlike all true sons of Adam) see Hebrews 7:26.
Although Christ grew up in a family situation with a married couple, Mary and Joseph and the offspring they produced, they all, without exception, entered this world by the process of pro-creation, as sons and daughters of the federal head of the human race, Adam, and so they entered as condemned sinners in need of a Saviour, UNLIKE the Lord Jesus. (“The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in me” John 14:30 – Satan, ‘the accuser of the brethren’ [Revelation 12:10] had absolutely no grounds for making any accusation against the Lord Jesus).
Bearing in mind that our exchanges have been triggered by what I consider to be a serious theological error in an otherwise fine hymn perhaps I could quote some lines from another great hymn this time by Charles Wesley that sum up well the essence of what I’m trying to say. In verse 3 of ‘And can it be’ Wesley wrote of Christ that ‘He left His Father’s throne above’ and a few lines later, referring to Calvary he writes of how Christ ‘bled for Adam’s helpless race’. Some, perhaps may think that I’m ‘straining at gnats’ over this phrase ‘Son of Adam’ but I don’t believe that I am and the Apostle Paul encouraged Timothy, and so by implication all who would publicly proclaim the truths of the Word of God, to “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” 2nd Timothy 2:15.
‘Rightly dividing’ could also be translated ‘accurately handling’ and it implies a degree of TOTAL accuracy as in the case of a carpenter who must make sure that something is cut with total precision otherwise whatever he is making will not fit together or also in the case of a stonemason who must cut stone with total precision otherwise a building will be ‘off plumb’. So it is with God’s Word, if we wrongly, as I believe, apply the unbiblical term, Son of Adam to Christ then we do damage to His sinless perfection as a person and we would also render His sacrifice for sin as being unacceptable as such a sacrifice had to be without blemish and without spot [1st Peter 1:18].
In the Marshall Pickering ‘Evangelical Dictionary of Theology’, in their section on ‘Adam’ we read the following on page 11 ‘Adam was the head of the race and brought death to everyone in it; Christ is the head of the new humanity and brought life to all within it…The scriptural use of Adam, then, stresses the solidarity of the human race, a solidarity in sin. It reminds us that the human race had a beginning and that all its history from the very first is marked by sin. But ‘the last Adam’ has altered all that. He has replaced sin with righteousness and death with life’. Question 22 of The Larger Catechism of The Westminster Assembly reads as follows: ‘Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?’ And the answer given reads: ‘The covenant being made with Adam as a public person, not for himself only, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation (Acts 17:26), sinned in him, and fell with him in that first transgression’ (Genesis 2:16-17 compared with Romans 5:12-20 and with 1st Corinthians 15:21-22). ‘Sons of Adam’ are those who ‘descend from him by ordinary generation’ and the Virgin Birth thus rules Christ out as being designated a ‘Son of Adam’.
Louis Berkhof in his book ‘Systematic Theology’ makes these important points (p 334) – ‘The Incarnation constituted Christ one of the human race’ and he goes on to say ‘Christ assumed His human nature from the substance of His mother…If the human nature of Christ was not derived from the same stock as ours but merely resembled it, there exists no such relation between us and Him as is necessary to render His mediation available for our good’. Keeping these thoughts in mind perhaps we get a better understanding of God’s Words back in Genesis 3:15 where, in the wake of sin entering into the world through the sin of Adam, God in grace makes this promise when addressing the serpent “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and HER SEED; HE SHALL bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel”. Keeping in mind the importance of the virgin birth, in that for the birth of Christ, Mary was not impregnated by a fallen Son of Adam, Berkhoff wrote on page 336 ‘If Christ had been generated by a man, He would have been a human person, included in the covenant of works, and as such would have shared the common guilt of mankind. But now that His subject, His ego, His person, IS NOT OUT OF ADAM, He is not in the covenant of works and is free from the guilt of sin. And being free from the guilt of sin, His human nature could also be kept free, both before and after His birth, from the pollution of sin’.
The early chapters of two gospels go to great lengths to list Jesus’ human lineage as a ‘son of…’, going all the way back to Adam in Luke’s gospel.
The genealogy listed in Matthew’s gospel is that of the ‘legal’ or ‘foster’ father of the Lord, namely Joseph, and is there to validate Christ’s Kingly and Messianic credentials, beginning as it does with Abraham. John MacArthur, in his bible study notes in the introduction to Matthew writes, ‘Matthew is concerned with setting forth Jesus as Messiah, the King of the Jews… The opening genealogy is designed to document Christ’s credentials as Israel’s king… Matthew shows that Christ is heir of the kingly line… All other historical and theological themes in the book revolve around this one’. Matthew Henry in his commentary writes, ‘Concerning this genealogy of our Saviour, observe the chief intention. It is not a needless genealogy. It is not a vain-glorious one, as those of great men often are. It proves that our Lord Jesus is of the nation and family out of which the Messiah was to arise. The promise of the blessing was made to Abraham and his seed; of the dominion, to David and his seed. It was promised to Abraham that Christ should descend from him, [Genesis 12:3; 22:18] and to David that he should descend from him, [2 Samuel 7:12; Psalm 89:3 & 132:11] and, therefore, unless Jesus is a son of David, and a son of Abraham, he is not the Messiah. Now this is here proved from well-known records’. The purpose of this genealogy was not to trace Christ back to the first man, Adam but to confirm His Messianic credentials through the line of his ‘legal’, ‘foster’ father Jospeh. When we turn to the genealogy in Luke’s gospel we find that although it does make reference in Luke 3:23 to Joseph, the genealogical line then traced is that of Mary and it does go back to Adam and for the reason already stated (‘Christ assumed His human nature from the substance of His mother’) – this established His right to truly be our ‘kinsman redeemer’ – if someone sold himself into slavery, he could be ‘redeemed’ [bought back into freedom through an acceptable payment] by one of near kin.
When Adam sinned he sold all of humanity into slavery to sin and its condemnation and so only one who truly possessed human credentials could pay God’s price to set people free from their slavery to sin and from His just condemnation and Peter tells us clearly who our gracious kinsman redeemer is in 1st Peter 1:18-19 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver and gold… But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot”. It is theologically untenable to insist on a physical bloodline from Adam directly to the birth of Christ in order to preserve the full humanity of Jesus Christ. It is also theologically untenable to express in song or word the idea that God incarnate can still be fully God and yet born of the bloodline of Adam as one of the sons of Adam. To say that Jesus is a ‘Son of Adam’ undoes His true and full humanity and undoes His full deity. This is why this terminology is inappropriate and not used when referring to Jesus in the Bible. It is absolutely foreign in both concept (idea) and word usage (terminology) in the Scriptures.
“Son of Adam” therefore implies humanity in the same way as “Son of David” implies kingship; to conclude that either implies a genetic inheritance of a sinful nature we feel is a misapplication of the phrase.
The condemnation that Adam’s original sin brought was imputed to ALL his pro-creational, bloodline descendants both male and  female for “as in Adam ALL die”. All such sons and daughters of Adam are subject to the effects of the fall one of them being ‘Human depravity’. W H Molland in his little booklet on ‘Salvation’ wrote, ‘To understand the relationship between Adam and his posterity is essential to a right understanding of Holy Scripture. The depravity of the human heart stems from the original offence committed in Eden’s garden…Adam acted, not for himself as a private individual, but he transacted for all who would issue from him. (Cecil – This is why it was crucial that Mary was not impregnated by any fallen Son of Adam but was instead overshadowed by the power of the Holy Spirit) Adam stood as federal head and as such legally represented the whole human race (Cecil – this is why Christ is referred to as ‘the last Adam’ as He represents a new ‘redeemed’ human race) … The sentence passed upon Adam is upon all the race. If this was not the case no infant would ever die for they have neither capacity nor opportunity to commit actual sin (Cecil – a hypothetical question – if the Lord Jesus had not been sent into this world to die an atoning death by voluntarily allowing Himself to be taken by cruel hands and crucified, would He have died – unlike all true ‘Sons of Adam’ the answer surely is ‘no’ for He was overall sinless and “the wages of sin is death”).
Of course we recognise that in Rom 5 and 1 Cor 15 Paul draws the contrast of being “in” Adam or “in” Christ, but that is a particular application Paul uses for us to understand the redemptive work of the man Christ Jesus as the ‘second Adam’, and does not negate the use of the reference to Adam as the father of the human race.
Again we see the use of an unscriptural term – just as Christ is never referred to in Scripture as ‘Son of Adam’ so He is not referred to as the ‘second Adam’ – He is referred to as ‘the last Adam’ and Paul goes on to contrast how this ‘last Adam’ differs in many ways from ‘The first man, Adam’ [see 1st Corinthians 15 :45-49].
In conclusion, then, we stand by the line in the song as being true and reliable. We acknowledge that there is room for individuals to misinterpret this and any other line we have written. And no doubt Mr Andrews will continue to interpret the line in any way he chooses for publication on his website – but that is something beyond our control, and engaging in dialogue with him on this we feel will generate more heat than light. Best Regards,
I have sought to show from God’s Word and comments of gifted Bible commentators, why I am fully persuaded that the line ‘Son of Adam’ in Mr Getty’s song, is not biblically ‘true and reliable’ – I believe it crosses the boundary from ‘poetic licence’ into ‘heretical quicksand’ and ends up misrepresenting God’s Word. In doing so I have sought ONLY to preserve the sinless Person and the sacrificial perfection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord’s 2000 year old questions ‘What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he ?’ [Matthew 22 :42] are still as relevant today as they were when He first asked them.