Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Funding Deceptive Philosophies: Bishop NT Wright and Assessments
Stand Firm ^ | 1/03/2007 | Matt Kennedy

Posted on 01/04/2007 7:42:58 AM PST by sionnsar

Two weeks ago Bishop NT Wright of Durham wrote a rather scalding response to the “Covenant” statement signed by many notable British evangelicals including The Rev. Dr. John Stott. I disagreed with most all of what Bishop Wright said. But nothing was more disturbing to me than the following section regarding the payment of tithes...

Two weeks ago Bishop NT Wright of Durham wrote a rather scalding response to the “Covenant” statement signed by many notable British evangelicals including The Rev. Dr. John Stott.

I disagreed with most all of what Bishop Wright said. But nothing was more disturbing to me than the following section regarding the payment of tithes:

16. The next section is Money. More threats. And unbiblical, too. Imagine this letter: "From Martinus, presbyter in Corinth, to Paul, our one-time apostle; we hear that you are coming to us to take a collection on behalf of - those false believers, those Jewish 'Christians', those works-righteousness people you warned us about! Surely 'funds are expected to be directed towards the churches and causes in line with the beliefs and expectations of those who give'? You're in dereliction of duty, Paul. Maybe your Jewish roots are resurfacing after all! We can no longer support ministries or structures we deem inappropriate. Don't bother coming back to Corinth; we shall give generously to those ministries that 'share the same values'. Grace be with you (and it had better be, otherwise you're in trouble)."

17. The real problem - speaking from one of the poorest dioceses in the country - is this. I'm truly sorry to say it but it must be heard. The threat in question looks arrogant and self-serving. Of course the churches represented by the authors and signatories are well off. Goldman Sachs is well off - it doesn't necessarily mean you're doing God's will all the time! Of course there are failing churches with corrupt and heretical clergy; and we bishops spend a lot of time trying to turn those situations around, and deeply regret in some cases throwing good money after bad. But there are also a good many parishes in areas of high unemployment and deep post-industrial depression, where with the best ministry and the soundest gospel they struggle to pay a small parish share, and need to be helped by richer neighbours in the smarter areas of the diocese. When, and only when, the church networks represented by these signatories show that they're prepared to leave their wealthy enclaves and support churches who (all right, may not be aware of the finer intellectual points of the gospel, but who) are living the gospel on the street day after day - then I might take them seriously.

Before I explain why I find this so disturbing, let me first say, right upfront, that I understand the difference between what is happening in England and what is happening in the United States. Clearly the situation for orthodox parishes (evangelical and anglo-catholic) in the US is far worse than the situation in the UK.

Secondly, I am not going to delve into inter-evangelical political tussles. I don’t know enough about the situation to comment on whether the Covenant evangelical parishes are as wealthy or as self-focused as the bishop suggests.

My concern has to do with the principle of tithing and the question of when, if ever, it is appropriate to discontinue tithes and offerings toward an heretical body.

Let me lay down a principle that I think is thoroughly biblical

1. Satan uses heretics lead souls away from Christ and toward eternal damnation.
2. Christians are called to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.
3. Heretics, consciously or unconsciously, thwart the Great Commission by subverting the gospel and distorting the faith into which the nations are being called. Those who are seduced by and follow heretics are not being made disciples of Christ, but disciples of an anti-Christ, an idol made to look like Christ but with no power to save. Their souls, along with those of the heretics themselves, are in grave and eternal danger.
4. Thus, heretics are not to be supported by believers.
5. Funding a heretic or a heretical body facilitates the heretic’s ministry or the ministry of the heretical body.
6. Funding the heretical ministries constitutes a participation in the heresy itself.

I do not think for a moment that Paul would suggest sending money to support the bewitching legalists he anathematizes in Galatians 1:

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-9)

Nor do I think John would countenance tithes sent from his churches to the false teachers who he describes as going “ahead” in his second letter:

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we [1] have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

The same goes for those Peter addresses in 2nd Peter 2 Peter or those Jude describes throughout his book.

Of course, all of the heretics identified by the apostles claimed to be part of the church and for that reason, were their claims correct, all would be entitled to offerings and financial support from Christian bodies.

What defined a teacher as a false teacher, in every case, was his/their rejection of the apostles’ teaching. Paul berates the Galatians because they were unable, on their own, to recognize the difference between the apostolic gospel and the false one. They were not admonished, and this is telling, because they failed to ask the apostles in Jerusalem to render judgment. They were admonished because the error ought to have been evident enough.

Moving forward to our own day, certain heresies and distortions are obvious.

I don’t believe that NT Wright would approve as a matter of ecumenical good will, sending money to the Jehovah’s Witnesses or to the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints. I think he would probably agree with the six points above with regard to these two sub-Christian cults. I doubt he would define the relationship between Anglicans or other Christians and the Mormons or JWs as “ecumenical” and I also doubt that he would compare it to the relationship between the Jewish and Gentile Christians of the first century. Mormons and JW’s are clearly not Christian bodies.

But what I find disconcerting is that he does seem to think the differences between the orthodox and revisionist positions in the Anglican Communion is not a difference between false and true teaching, but between two different but valid conceptualizations of Christianity. How else to explain his comparison of our differences to the differences between Jewish and Greek Christians?

The council of Jerusalem as recounted in Acts 15 resolved not to force the Gentiles into conformity with ceremonial aspects of the levitical law but, likewise, it also did not force Jewish Christians to give up their ceremonial observances. Apparently, Jew and Gentile were supposed to live side by side. This decision served as a corrective to the legalist judaizers who considered observance of the ceremonial laws including the law of circumcision essential to faith and to salvation.

In other words, the council of Jerusalem in keeping with the words of Christ recorded in Mark 7 and God’s revelation to Peter in Acts 10, determined that observance or non-observance of the ceremonial laws is a non-essential (though not unimportant) issue, that need not divide the church.

The Bishop of Durham’s comparison of the current troubles to the differences between Jewish and Gentile Christians gives the reader to think that he considers our present crisis to have erupted over similar non-essentials.

If that is indeed the case, then no wonder there is so much turmoil. Those who signed the Covenant, Dr. John Stott included, obviously see the differences between revisionist and orthodox Anglicans as essential, touching on core doctrines that go to the very definition of the faith.

For that reason, they cannot in good conscience support revisionist leaders and teachers. To do so would be to violate very clear New Testament proscriptions against supporting heretics.

Bishop Wright, apparently, sees revisionist Christianity in England in as just one more valid expression of the apostolic faith.

Again, I am no expert on the crisis in England.

But in the United States, the crisis is, in my opinion, clear cut. The Episcopal Church has embraced heresy. While it is certainly necessary to financially support those orthodox bishops, dioceses, and parishes within her, it is not only unnecessary but may in fact constitute a violation of the scriptures to financially support revisionist bishops and dioceses.

Doing so will directly contribute to the ministry of those who are actively leading souls away from Christ and toward damnation.

The orthodox cannot afford to fund false teaching or bankroll heresy.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: newperspectivepaul
For discussion.
1 posted on 01/04/2007 7:42:59 AM PST by sionnsar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: ahadams2; Zippo44; piperpilot; ex-Texan; ableLight; rogue yam; neodad; Tribemike; rabscuttle385; ...
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-9 pings/day).
This list is pinged by sionnsar, Huber and newheart.

Resource for Traditional Anglicans:
More Anglican articles here.

Humor: The Anglican Blue (by Huber)

Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 01/04/2007 7:43:45 AM PST by sionnsar (††|Iran Azadi| 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY) | UN: Useless Nations)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: MMkennedy


3 posted on 01/04/2007 7:44:19 AM PST by sionnsar (††|Iran Azadi| 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY) | UN: Useless Nations)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: sionnsar

Bishop Wright, although a self-identified British evangelical (theologically different than an American evangelical) and a champion against radical revisionists, such as those of the Jesus Seminar, is not an orthodox Anglican. In his teaching and promotion of the Sanders/Dunn "New Perspective on Paul" school of Pauline exegesis, Wright has openly denied the substitutionary atonement of Christ, and attempted to redefine justification.

It is no wonder Wright brought up the "Judiazer"example in his writing here, as the basis of "New Perspective" theology is that Christianity was merely an extension of 1st Century Judaism, which was not the legalism which Protestant theology from Luther onwards has understood as a given. Wright has said that on the most fundamental level, Protestant theology has been completely wrong on the issue of justification...that central issue of contention with Rome.

The Jerusalem Church was under the authority of James and likely a few of the 12 too, there's no evidence that the Judiazer party controlled the Jerusalem Church...they merely CLAIMED it's authority, when meddling with the new gentile Churches in Asia. Had the Judaizers completely taken over in Jerusalem, I have no doubt Paul would not have been raising money for them from the gentile churches...but we know from the history in Acts that simply was not the case.

With the overwhelming control of revisionists of churches and even whole old longstanding positions of authority, the situation today is entirely different than that of the 1st Century Judaizers. 50 or 100 years ago the situation may have been more similar...when the theologically liberal were the unusual avant garde, filling the minds of the gullible with odd anti-orthodox ideas (like the Judiazers), but they are the very firm establishment now, on both sides of the Atlantic.

I've heard Wright speak at a C. S. Lewis institute conference, and I've read a couple of his books--and besides being an excellent communicator, he's very good on a number of things. However, we cannot compare him to John Stott or J. I. Packer in terms of orthodoxy. Giving away justification is a pretty big deal (a lot bigger deal than calling for tolerance for Stott has done), in my opinion, even if Wright is courageously orthodox about most other things.

4 posted on 01/04/2007 7:58:32 PM PST by AnalogReigns
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson