Saturday, 3 November 2012

John Calvin and the Reformation (1509-1564)

John Calvin (1509-1564) was the great organising brain behind the development of the Protestant Reformation in sixteenth century Europe.  His enormous output of writings - sermons, commentaries, Institutes, tracts, letters, etc was exhausting to think about.  It was Calvin who taught John Knox who was then lumbered with the blame for establishing Presbyterianism in these islands and throughout the world. 

We can read Calvin's Institutes, something I would recommend, explore his excellent commentaries, be encouraged and challenges by his letters, be armed to dispute with heretics of variious kinds threough his tracts, but of you want to get to know the real John Calvin, then you must read his sermons.  It is Calvin and Gospel preacher who is the authentic John Calvin.

It is very sad that people who hold to Arminianism do so because they have been tainted by ill-informed preachers who thought they were Calvinists, but in fact were not.  What these preachers presented was an extrapolation of Calvin's teaching and this ended up being something Calvin would not own as his.

Calvin was an excellent preacher and one only has to read his published sermons to see the depth of his grasp of the biblical revelation.  If preachers reading this want to learn how to apply the message of the Bible to their own day and generation, listen to Calvin in his sermons.  Timid or frightened preachers ought to be deeply challenged when they compare their feeble preaching with Calvin's bold expositions.  He took on even the greatest opponent in the cause of truth, but many in today's pulpits are restricted in their preaching to what the people will accept.  They only minister by the consent of the people - called the concent principle.  How this works itself out is that they only preach what their people want to hear.  If they do otherwise, you know they will be removed from their pulpit.  They preach what the people want to hear and are prepared to tolerate. 

Calvin preached what was intolerable to many in his day, and even to come in his church.  But he declared "the whole counsel of God" and thereby delivered his conscience before God.  Pray to God to raise up men like Calvin who will do likewise.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Republican Terrorism Rides Again in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has seen visited upon it once again the horror of republican terrorism in the murder of Cookstown (Co. Tyrone) prison officer, David Black (52).  The father of two children, husband, brother and son, was gunned down on the M1 motorway as he made his way to work at Magheraberry prison.

Two republican terrorist gunmen drew up alongside him as he drove to work, and shot him several times, causing his car to veer off the road and crash into a ditch being partly submerged.

His son drove past the scene 15 minutes later, not knowing that it was his father who had been murdered.  The family has been utterly devastated by this current republican terrorist murder.

"Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint," says Proverbs.  Where sinful people are not coming under the preaching of the true Gospel, they have no boundaries that keep them under restraint.  These people obviously have "cast off restraint."  If they go to church at all, they are not hearing the law and Gospel being preached in proper proportion.  God reveals Himself through the Gospel, and where this is not preached, He does not reveal Himself in this particular way to sinners. 

The fact that there is moral meltdown in our country testifies to the fact that the biblical Gospel is not being preached in our churches.  There just is no restraint being exercised - see the desire for same-sex marriages, abortion on demand and abortion by suggestion by GPs, the legalisation of sodomy (homosexuality), etc.  There is rampant clerical child sex abuse being perpetrated by priests of the Roman Catholic 'church,' and corruption taking other forms within many Protestant churches.  The people have "cast off restraint."

Pious platitudes are inappropriate, despite their being generally true.  What is needed instead is solid and passionate Gospel preaching that possesses an element of aggression, and anointed by the Holy Spirit.  May God grant that this will be a reality anmongst us at this time.

The prayers of the Christian people are being offered for the Black family at this traumatic time.

Thursday, 1 November 2012


Augustine was right: "God has some the church hasn't, and the church has some that God hasn't."

Do you belong to Christ, yet are not a church member?  Or do you belong to a church yet not
to Christ?  You can be the one or the other, but its better to be both.

Keep close to God - D M LLoyd-Jones

Another translation [of Psalm 73:28] could be this, 'But as for myself, nearness to God is good for me' ... His chief ambition is going to be just that, to keep near to God ... We are all either far from God or near to Him ... so that it is vitally important that we should arrive at this man's resolve, to be near to God.

... what was uppermost in his mind was something like this. Reviewing his sad experience he came to the conclusion that what had really been wrong with him ... was just the fact that he did not keep near to God. He had thought it was the fact that the ungodly seemed to prosper while he experienced nothing but troubles.
But now, having been given the enlightenment which he had in the sanctuary of God, he sees quite clearly that this was not the root cause of his trouble at all. There is only one thing that matters and that is man's relationship to God. If I am near to God, says this man, it does not really matter what happens to me; but if I am far from God, nothing can eventually be right ...

This is the beginning and the end of wisdom in the Christian life. The moment we move away from God everything goes wrong. The one secret is to keep near to God. When we fail, we are like a ship at sea that loses sight of the North star, or whose compass fails. If we lose our bearings, we must not be surprised at the consequences. That is what this man discovered. 'This is what I need,' he says; 'not blessings, not the prosperity other people have ... Therefore, this is my resolution. For myself, I am going to live near God. That is always going to be the big thing in my life. I am going to start with that every day as it comes. I am going to say to myself, Whatever else happens that this is the essential thing, to be near to God.'

How Will You Vote (Part 1) - Kay Arthur

How Will You Vote, Part 1
Kay Arthur
Precepts for Life

“When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan.” (Proverbs 29:2)

I’m sure that you have heard the statement that everything rises and falls on leadership. On November 6th America is going to the polls to elect the next President of the United States of America. Are there any parameters that might help us as a nation choose a man who will take us into the future, for a future, rather than destruction? Let’s study together and see what God’s Word tells us about the qualities of our leaders.
Proverbs 28:2 says, “By the transgression of a land many are its princes, but by a man of understanding and knowledge, so it endures.” What is God saying? If we want a land that endures, if we want a nation that continues, a nation that does not experience the wrath of God, leadership is key. We need a man of knowledge and understanding. America is in trouble, because the things that we once called evil we are now calling good and Beloved, evil and good do not change.

God is a God of principles, and He has laid out for us in His Word the principles and precepts for life. In Psalms 119 we read, “Through Thy precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.” (Psalm 119:104, KJV) An evil way is a false way, and that evil has a beginning; it has a source, and that source is the enemy of our souls. In John 8:44, Jesus turns to religious leaders of the people, leaders that are spiritually blind, and He says, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and…he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) Satan is defined and described as a deceiver, destroyer, and as an angel of light. In other words, he appears to be good; he appears to be light, when really his kingdom is that of evil darkness. And so you and I have to have our eyes open. We have to know what the Word of God says, and we have to realize that when we go to the polls in November and we mark who we want as a president, that leader can affect the future of the United States of America.

Now there’s another aspect in the level of the free will of man. But there is a parallel truth that goes with that, and that parallel truth is the sovereignty of God. And they run like a railroad track, two tracks that get the train there, but that are parallel and that really never meet, because if they meet then the train would go in the wrong way. So the tracks may change, but there are still two parallel tracks. One track is the sovereignty of God, which means God rules over all. And God tells us in the book of Samuel, and He tells us in the book of Daniel, that it is He who sets up kings; it is He who takes kings off their thrones. Many times He allows wicked people to rule over a nation because God is judging that nation.

In Ezekiel 14, God says if a nation or country sins against Him, He will judge that country. "How Will You Vote, Part 1" article continued.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

495th Anniversary Of The Great Protestant Reformation

31st October each year marks an event that was to usher in fundamental changes in Europe's political, social, economic and religious history.  When a young monk wanted a public discussion about the abuse of indulgences in and by the church, he nailed a notice with the issues to be discussed in the door of Wittenberg Cathedral.  Hence started a series of events that would have world-wide repercussions, and that brought liberty from darkness and superstition to many beleaguered people right across Europe.

Dr Martin Luther was the young monk who initiated, under God, the Protestant Reformation in Europe.  He was concerned initially about the abuse of indulgences which the poor bought under the pretext that in so doing their loved one's soul would get a quicker release from purgatory.

luther.jpg (6131 bytes)
Dr Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Beyond doubt, Luther dominated the Reformation.  At age 17 he entered Erfurt University, Germany's most important seat of learning. It was here that the centre of conflict between the Renaissance humanists and those known as scholastics was located.  These scholastics were expert at combining medieval philosophy and theology.  In the Faculty of Philosophy, Luther studied law and theology in addition to philosophy.  At this time he also read widely in the classical authors, especially Cicero and Virgil, gaining his Master's degree four years after entering the university in 1505.

It was then that Luther rejected the world and all it had to offer.  He experienced  the first great event in his life after being struck by a lightning bolt, which was for him a kind of conversion experience, though clearly not of the truly evangelical kind. Crying out to St. Anne, he promised to become a monk.  He felt that God was in everything and found it impossible to reconcile his faith with his worldly ambitions. He was plagued with an overwhelming sense of guilt, fear and terror. The one thing he wanted - and most people who experience this kind of turmoil - was to be rid of his guilt; so he joined the Augustinian Order of monks where he would be protected from the distractions of the world and find the true pathway to heaven. Poor old Luther fasted and prayed and inflicted pain on himself using scourges; but to no avail.  The peace of God eluded him and his doubts remained unabated. 

Luther was a keen biblical scholar and one day while at his books he opened his Bible at random and the page that was before him had the words of Rom.1:17, "For the justice of God is revealed from faith to faith in that it is written, for the just shall live by faith."  Others assert that it was while he was teaching his students from Paul's letter to the Romans that the light of the truth dawned upon him, and he was savingly converted to Christ. 

The import of this verse gripped him like a vice and refused to let him go.  But more later.  In 1512, he returned to Wittenberg and all he wanted to do was to preach the Gospel and teach the Scriptures in the University. He ignored the scholasticism of his day and focused on the humanities.  He wasn't particularly unhappy to be a monk in his church, but with the passage of time, ecclesiastical politics were working and senior churchmen were hatching plans to make themselves important and wealthy by telling to poor that if they wanted the early release from purgatory of their deceased loved-ones, they had better buy indulgences from the Pope.  These were documents that the Pope sold to the faithful and that will shorten the time for loved-ones to spend in purgatory.  One senior cleric, Albert of Hohenzollern, got very wealthy through the religious scam and the construction  of the basilica of St. Peter's in Rome was done by the other half.

This religious scam and abuse of the poor could not go on unchallenged, so on 31st October 1517,  on the even of All Saints Day, and according to Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560) ( a friend of Luther's and a professor of Greek at the university) Luther nailed a copy of his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg.

The die was cast and the storm was coming.  Luther wanted to dispute these 95 statements which focused on the prevalence of indulgences. The date chosen by Luther was significant because all of Wittenberg was crowded with peasants and pilgrims who had come to honour the consecration of the church there.  The interest was such that the theses had to be translated from the Latin into German so that the people could read them.  Once printed, the document spread throughout Germany like wildfire.  The printing press was a God-send for Luther at that time and the message was spread far and wide. 

Rome's agent in Wittenberg was Johann Tetzel, a Dominican friar, whose job it was to raise money for the building of St Peter's.  By attacking indulgences, Luther was in reality attacking the entire theology and structure of the Church of that day.  He was claiming that salvation was received by faith in Christ alone, thus abolishing the need for the church, priests, sacraments, confession to a priest, penance, the lot.  This made the otherwise indispensable church dispensable so far as salvation was concerned.  What a challenged Luther presented to Rome!  Salvation was received by faith, not by good works of any kind.

Thank God for a man like Dr Martin Luther.

We Fail - Our Faith Does Not!

Christ said to Peter that He had prayed for him that his faith would not fail.  We know that Peter failed when he denied knowing the Saviour, resorting to cursing and swearing in a vain attempt to distance himself for the accusations being made against him.

This is very encouraging and Christians can take great comfort from the fact that even though we fail the Lord in numerous ways and on many occasions, our faith will not fail. This is because the prayers of Christ undergird and uphold our faith.  How do we know it won’t and doesn’t fail?  Well, we find ourselves coming back to the Lord even after failure.  And Christ welcomes His children back when they come.  He delights to see them returning ‘home.’  And when we return ‘home,’ we find ourselves in His presence.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

In times like these, the tempter is not far away.  We have had a few brushes with him over recent days, but thankfully we were able to identify his activity and command him in the strong Name of Jesus Christ to leave us.  He has triggered old hurtful emotions and has injected deep disappointment into our lives.  Thankfully, we were able to ‘look out’ for each other in such times.  And what did we find?  That when we drove the devil away, the awareness of Christ’s presence was so real.

That’s why our prayer always is, “Lord, abide with me.”

You may have noticed that I used the term, ‘sweetness,’ in recent updates.  That term comes from both Jonathan Edwards and from Samuel Rutherford. They wrote about the sweetness of Christ to the believer’s soul and that God sometimes sweetens trials and tribulations. I found this a useful term so I used it in these updates. 

Election of the US President - Dr Donald G Barnhouse

Articles By Dr. Barnhouse and the Bible

Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse photo
For Whom Will You Vote?
Roy Blackwood

For whom will you vote when you enter the ballot booth this year?

God is concerned about your choice. He provided a precedent when He said to Israel:
"I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land..." (1)

And the last recorded message King David gave his son Solomon was a warning:
"He that ruleth over men must be just (righteous), ruling in the fear of God." (2)

The checkered history of good and bad Jewish kings teaches us to be discerning of the character (the just-ness or "righteousness") of those who rule over us. The trend in the Bible seems to be toward putting more of the responsibility for the choice of civil rulers into the hands of ordinary citizens; from an emphasis on using a prophet or a priest to make the divine appointment, toward more emphasis on the responsibility of the individual citizens in the choice of their own rulers.

God said "The government shall be upon his (i.e. the Messiah's) shoulders." (3)

But more voice in the choice does not mean we are more independent of God. As "voters" we are actually more dependent and more responsible to God; to discern and to choose that particular man whom God has already equipped for a particular office. So the election process does not make us more independent of God's appointments. It simply means God is now using us to make His appointments. This is why Peter described civil government as: "an ordinance of man," (4) while Paul said: "The powers that be are ordained of God" and the man in office is to be "a minister of God to thee for good...a terror to evil." (5)

Civil government cannot be "an ordinance of man" in any sense in which it is independent of God's purposes and standards. And so we become even more responsible as the "voters" whom God will use in making His choice and appointment. Now we become the priests or the prophets responsible for finding and making God's appointment for each office. So be careful. Be discerning. Evaluate men for office on the basis of their character. Let the Messiah Christ be the perfect standard in your evaluation of the character of those who are asking you to vote for them.

The following outline is designed to help you in making your choices.

A Person Who Is Respectable

God taught the Jews to beware of rulers who are "children" who "eat in the morning" (6) and the angel promised Mary that Jesus Christ would be "great — the son of the highest." (7) And He was. Four Biographies, called the Gospels, describe His personal dignity. Whether it was a storm at sea, the handling of the friendly and unfriendly crowds, the confrontation with a demoniac, the selection and appointment of His disciple cabinet, or His arrest and trial before Pilate, He was in calm, dignified control of every situation. Time did not threaten Him, He controlled it.

We need people with that kind of dignity and respectability to be our representatives, senators, judges and administrators today, in order that we might not be ashamed or embarrassed by their immature antics and lack of self-control, that we might be justly proud of them, and that they would help to bring respect and bearing to the government of which they are a part.

But such a person of dignity can seem to be aloof and unapproachable.

A Person of Near Relationship

God taught the Jews to elect "one from among thy brethren" (8) and born citizenship is a Constitutional requirement for eligibility for office in the U.S. today. Christians believe this was why God ordained Christ to be fully man as well as God. He was able to represent man to God, as well as God to man. An angel couldn't have this near relationship. The records show Jesus was one who could be "touched with the feelings of our infirmities.'' (9) He was always available, always interruptible, always interested in people. People responded to Him and respected Him because of His "open door" policy.

We need people with that kind of near relationship (empathy) in office today. Judges who can be broken-hearted over the contents of-their dockets, and lawmakers who make time to listen to "us" during non-election years; administrators who can live in the White House or the governor's mansion, surrounded by the media, and federal budget figures, and still identify with "me." People who understand the very faith that is in my heart.

But such a person of dignity and near relationship may or may not be a very wise person.

A Person Who Is Wise and Understanding

God commanded Jewish rulers to "be wise." (10) Christians believe Jesus Christ is "the wisdom of God" personified. His biographies tell us that people called Him "Rabbi" and from the time He was twelve, they were amazed by the wisdom and power of His words. (11)

We need people with this kind of mind in public office today. Not just clever and quick witted or with a good memory for names and faces, but men who are wise. We need people who know:
- The people they serve and govern
- The laws and system of government in which they must function
- The God ordained purpose for civil government.

And people who understand what they know. They will see themselves as "a minister of God to us for good" and "a terror to evil."

But a person of dignity, near relationship and a good mind may or may not be able to get things done.

A Person Who Has Power

God commended this feature of character to Daniel and the Jews, "for wisdom and power are his." (12) Christians believe that "all power" has been given unto Christ and the Gospel records show He did control in such a way as to get the job done: (13)

Angels (both good and bad)
Creation (both inanimate and animate)
Men (both those who believed in Him and those who did not)
We need people with that kind of energy of mind and strength of character. People who can operate with a minimum of organization and a maximum of efficiency. People who can get things done!

But dignity can be a ticket to sin; near relationship and knowledge can provide more opportunity for evil; wisdom can make a man "a more clever devil" and power can be a means of seducing people. There is a need for moral quality.

A Person of High Moral Excellence

God commanded that those who ruled his people the Jews must "love righteousness and hate wickedness," being just, ruling in the fear of the Lord. (14) Christians believe Jesus Christ was the perfect example of that. "Just and true are the ways of the King of saints." (15)

We need people like this in public office today. People who have:

1. Right intentions or motives. Not only doing right things but doing them for right reasons, not for personal gain, or even the gain of his own constituency at the expense of others, but for the glory of God and the good of all.

2. Right administration of means. The effects of his work show he is impartial. No one is wronged that another may be benefited. Rights, liberty, and property of all are equally protected.

3. Right personal conduct. Wise laws, good intentions, and fair dealing can never make up for bad personal conduct. No government can be successful when it is conducted by known profligates. People won't continue to respect laws written by lawbreakers. They will not continue to accept decisions from corrupt judges. And they will not keep on responding to administration by selfish administrators.

A Person Who Loves People

God taught the Jews that "mercy and truth preserve the king, and his throne is upholden by mercy. (16) Christians believe Jesus Christ demonstrated this point perfectly, in His care for the sick, the bereaved, the lonely, hungry, tired and thirsty people with whom He lived. He provided the most practical answer to their every need, especially for the little children and for His mother. "When He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion." (17)

And we need that kind of person in office today. People who don't become hardened or bored after one or two terms of office, people who just keep on loving people and that becomes a reason for their continuing in office.

A Person Who Can Handle Authority

In the record of the tragedies and successes of the succession of Jewish kings, we are warned that not everyone can handle authority. (18) Lord Acton (1834-1902) said, "Power [tends to] corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Christians see in Jesus Christ the perfect example of how to handle, and to delegate power. He said: "All power is given unto me. " "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God." (19)

We need people in public office today who know that the right to use the powers of their office does not come solely from the fact that they have been chosen by the votes of those who have elected them to office; nor does their authority come only from a healthy sense of responsibility for their constituency, e.g. "I have chosen you and I will represent you well." We need people with a sense of both those things, but beyond this, who know they have been chosen and called by God, through the vote of the people, to serve God first and their constituency second, through public office. Their right to use the powers of their office does come ultimately from God. In that office they are His agents, the instruments of His power and authority, "a minister of God to us for good, arid a terror to evil."


      1     Ezekiel 22:30 NJV
      2     2 Samuel 23:3 KJV
      3.    Isaiah 9:6
      4.    1 Peter 2:13 KJV
      5.    Romans 13:1,3-4 KJV
      6.    Ecclesiastes 10:16-17 KJV
      7.    Luke 1:32 KJV
      8.    Deuteronomy 17:15 KJV
      9.    Hebrews 4-15 KIV
    10.    Psalm 2:10 KJV
    11.    Luke 2:41-47; John 3:2; 1 Timothy 1:7 KJV
    12.    Daniel 2:20 NIV
    13.    Matthew 8 KJV
    14.    2 Samuel 23:3; Psalm 45:7-8 KJV
    15.    Revelation 15:3 KJV
    16.    Proverbs 20:28 KJV
    17.    Matthew 9:36,14:14 KJV
    18.    2 Kings 8-25
    19.    John 1:12; Matthew 28:18 KJV

Copyright 1996, Roy Blackwood.

Revised 2011, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Philadelphia, PA. All rights reserved.
This article may be duplicated in its entirety and without edit, including this full disclaimer for personal, small group, non-commercial use. No more than 200 copies may be made. No electronic use beyond email is permitted. Any use other than those listed herein is forbidden without prior written permission. All rights reserved. ARJMB060

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Blessings of Bad News

When news of any serious illness arrives in a home, it leaves an unforgettable impact.  One of these impacts is that it makes you sort out your life’s priorities. You see with a very clear eye what’s important in life and what’s not.  The things we once thought were important pale into insignificance, while the things we did not give proper priority to take top spot. 

Sometimes the Lord in his grace has to teach us this lesson in this way because He knows that we would not learn it in any other way.  We all get so caught up in our daily routines that the important things in life are put on the back burner.  We concern ourselves about education and career and a level of financial independence, our house and car and holidays, but we do not always think seriously that one day we will die and leave it all behind.  Living for this world and for the things of this world will prove to be utterly disappointing when we stand before God.  Somebody once asked what a very wealthy man left when he died.  “Everything,” was the answer.  We will leave everything behind when we close our eyes for the last time and stand before the righteous God, the Judge of all the earth. 

So in the sure providence of God, we are given time to pause and reconsider our lives and our latter end.  That can only be good.  To sit back and realise that we are mortal human beings who are only here for a while, then we are gone, is good for us – if we take it seriously. 

That’s where we are right now, in the good providence of God.  And because He is in it with us, we are content.  “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold,” Job 23:10.  We have surrendered ourselves into the good hand of God our Saviour, and He will do what is best.  And in this confidence we rest.

Monday, 29 October 2012



D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, "What is an Evangelical?" Banner of Truth Trust: Edinburgh, 1992.

While we thank God for the great work of Christ in the past, e.g, the Reformation and other minor reformations, not even this work was complete because the reformation of the church according to the Word of God is or ought to be an ongoing task semper reformanda.  This is why we must not be "slaves to them", he says.  "This is the way to develop a kind of scholasticism and an arid intellectualism," (p.36).  These twin evils grow out of exaggerated adoration for past achievements, and not least in confession writing.  "It is as important to define the evangelical as being against a form of Protestantism or even reformed scholasticism, as it is that we should define the evangelical by contrast with those who are heterodox in their practice and their belief, " (p.34).  So DML-J was not impressed with scholasticism because he could see clearly the results of such an approach to theology. 

He preaches: "The devil has wrought havoc in the Church in general, as well as in individual lives, many times throughout the centuries by producing a kind of scholasticism," (p. 156).  The evangelical, he argues, is not interested in Protestant scholasticism (56).  The danger of this is clear to be seen, he contends, and results in the eventual denial of the Gospel.  Owen has clearly imbibed Aristotelian philosophy and presented this content and methodology in his theological formulations regarding the death of Christ.  His undoubted influence on the composition of the Westminster formularies is acknowledged, and was a prominent participant as deliberations proceeded.

The trouble with Roman Catholicism and with those who follow a similar methodology is that they say they believe the Bible when in fact a different authority carries more weight and influence.  The trouble with the schoolmen, both ancient and modern, is that they tend to add Aristotelian philosophy to their belief in the Bible.  Or, they arrive at their interpretation of the Bible via Aristotelian philosophy.  The result is that they interpret the message of the Bible in Aristotelian philosophical terms.  Further, the Gospel message is hidden under this sophistry. This is seen when the atonement is 'interpreted' and preached by those influenced by the schoolmen.  It was this battle that Luther fought, and won. 

"...the [Roman Catholic] church was not so much tied to the teaching of the Scripture as to the teaching of Aristotle and other Greek philosophers," therefore she got herself into difficulties that led to her denying what is truth and fact. (77).  The effect of this is to force the interpretation of Scripture through the Aristotelian sieve.  The teaching magisterium becomes the final authority of the church and every other moral or dogmatic viewpoint must find its support in that official didactic.

This is also an issue for reformed Christians to consider, whatever their denominational affiliation.  It is especially true in Presbyterian and Congregational churches but Baptist churches are not immune from this malady, according to Dr Geoffrey Thomas in a conversation with the author in February 2012.  This problem is especially pertinent where men take their theology and ecclesiology seriously.  Their concern is for “the Ark of God,” the Church, and the purity of her doctrine, a commendable policy to take. 

However, in their (proper) desire for purity of doctrine, two things tend to occur; first, the confessional standard tends to replace, in practice, the Scriptures as the church’s supreme and sole authority in all matters of faith and practice; and second, the situation tends to degenerate into religious formalism, as happens in some Presbyterian churches. 

If a church believes that by tying its officers (teaching and ruling elders) to a confessional form they are thereby protecting the purity of the church, they are badly mistaken.  Having a doctrinal standard by which to identify what a church believes is right and proper; but when this man-made document replaces the Scriptures as “the only infallible rule of faith and practice,” and is used to bind men’s consciences to every “jot and tittle” of its content, Scripture is de facto demoted to the category of a subordinate standard within that church. 

Churches must take care not to adopt confessional standards that are not demonstrably biblical in content, emphasis and balance.  Sub-biblical confessions must never be made to bind men’s consciences, therefore the whole issue of subscription must be re-opened and subjected to thoroughgoing discussion and debate with a view to demonstrating that the Scriptures are the only, full and final authority of any given church or denomination.  To bind men’s consciences to anything other than the Word of God is open to serious opposition.