Posted by: stpowen | December 31, 2012

R.E. Palgrave, BLQ and WEST Seminary

Regular readers will recall that a few months ago I wrote a critique of a booklet on Affinity and ecumenism by a lady called R.E. (Ruth) Palgrave {1}. I had considered the matter closed, but over the past week I have received a large number of ‘hits’ on the blog by people searching Miss Palgrave’s name.

Looking into this further, I find that Miss Palgrave has been busy again, this time writing an article for the Bible League Quarterly concerning the linking of the WEST Theological Seminary with a large Korean Church. The article may be read here:
http://www.bibleleaguetrust.org/articles/west.pdf It would be good to read this link alongside it:
http://e-n.org.uk/p-5454-East-meets-WEST.htm

I know very little about WEST Seminary, save that it enjoys a good reputation for sound teaching of the Bible and Reformed doctrines. I shall therefore make just two comments on Miss Palgrave’s article.

Firstly, I wonder if either she or the BLQ has contacted WEST or the SaRong Community Church before publishing this article, inviting them to comment. That would be the polite, and perhaps the Biblical way (Matt. 18:15), of proceding. If such contacts have been made, there is no indication of it in the article.

Secondly, there is a good deal said in the article about Paul Yonggi Cho, Rick Warren and Mark Driscoll. Readers should note that none of these gentlemen have anything to do with WEST Seminary.

The article is an attempt to damn by association. I admit that there are one or two things at WEST that cause me some concern. I have written elsewhere {2} that I am uneasy about the ‘Missional’ approach of the Acts 29 organization. The Porterbrook Network is closely associated with Acts 29. However, my advice to any student thinking of studying at WEST, or any church considering sponsoring a member to study there, is not to back off on the grounds of the tittle-tattle to be found in the BLQ article, but to speak to the Principal and hear what he has to say about these matters and make a decision from that. There is no reason that I can see to suppose that the Korean presence at WEST will affect its teaching adversely. Why should it not be, if God wills, that the Korean students who will come to WEST learn sound doctrines which they can take back to Korea with them, while the additional funds coming to the Seminary enable it to reach more English students and thereby their churches with the Gospel of Grace? However, only time will tell.

Finally, I am not a big fan of the ‘ministry’ of defamation. Miss Palgrave is abviously a very intelligent lady with much to contribute to the Church. If she attends the congregation that I think she does, then I once shared a pulpit with her minister. I would urge him to encourage her to dip her pen in honey instead of vinegar and write something for the building up of God’s people, rather than seeking to tear something down. I also hope that there is nothing in the article and among those sponsoring it that will lead to a division within the Evangelical Movement of Wales. The Movement has been a great force for good among the Welsh churches over many years. It would be a great service to the devil if something happened to damage it.

Notes
1. https://marprelate.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/response-to-they-have-forgotten-by-r-e-palgrave/
2. https://marprelate.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/fiec-leaders-conference-2012-missional-churches/

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Responses

  1. Dear Martin.

    Much has been said against ‘mixed denominations’ in the Christian Press and Web-sites recently, especially by writers from mixed denominations who would apparently have their readers believe that their particular denomination is the only unmixed institution left. However, all denominations are mixed as the early Baptist Confessions admitted, but the weirder denominations become, the more they declare that they are ‘unmixed’. In a way they are correct as they have separated themselves from the bulk of believers and forced themselves into a denominational strait-jacket and forced all who disagree with their narrowness out. The perpetual excuse given for this unwillingness to mix with fellow Christians is Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ unfounded attempt to throw out of Christian alliance those Anglicans who knew their church history and Reformed doctrine better than he. Lloyd-Jones move was thus a sectarian action prompted by his magisterial conviction that he knew more than his betters. So, too, Lloyd-Jones’ racist hate of the Reformed Church of England, is clearly defined in his writings such as that scandalous misrepresentation of the Reformation in his book ‘The Puritans’ in which he castigates the English for being English. When I explain this to English friends, they say, ‘Yes, but look what happened to Jim Packer. He was only half an Evangelical after that!’ To which I reply, ‘Yes, but look at what happened to the Doctor. He was only half his old self after that!’ The two halves, of course, belonged together and were only complete when united. No wonder both went astray. Note that when Packer was out, Wesley came in for the self-appointed Banner of Truth legatees of Lloyd-Jones’ work and Lloyd-Jones looked to the Pentecostals.

    At present, however, in the providence of God, the Church of England is estimated as including thirty-five per cent of Evangelical, Reformed members in their fold. What other denomination can rival with that, for a denomination, high number? Thus to talk of ‘mixed’ or ‘unmixed’ denominations is the devil’s rattle, to adopt John Ryland’s phrase, to tempt us away from uniting Evangelical Reformed Christians and allowing them without unfounded criticism to work together as the Church.

    The story of the English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh Churches shows that at the commencement of the Reformation, there was no such recognizable thing as denominationalism as illustrated by the work of Hamilton, Lambert, Wishart, the martyrologies of Crespin and Foxe, Bayfield, Bucer, Bullinger, and the Synods of Sandomir, Homburg, Leipzig and Charenton. It was the Lutheran Book of Concord and the anathemas of the non-representative pseudo-Reformed Synod of Dort (shamefully omitted from nearly all ‘Reformed’ publications of the Synod’s findings) which departed from the teaching of the Reformation as Paraeus argued and denominationalism was born as a counter-reformation project.

    In these days of ‘every man to his tent’, especially under the rotting fabric of pseudo- and para-churches, alias ‘denominations’, it is essential that we Evangelical, Reformed Protestants rally together around the gospel banner as a united band of brethren and stop this denominational ‘I am holier than thou’ bickering and boasting which is the devil’s chief entertainment.

    George M. Ella

  2. Hello George,
    There is much I can agree with in your post. Certainly there will be no denominations in heaven, and all true Christians should be trying to get along with each other since we shall surely have to do so in heaven! There is need for admonishing and rebuking from time to time but, ‘A servant of the Lord must not quarrel, but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition….’ (2 Tim. 2:24-25).

    I thank God for all the fine evangelical Anglican churches in Britain, but if 35% of Reformed evangelicals are in Anglican churches, I haven’t found them in Exmouth! My church wants fellowship with all Bible-believing Christians. We would love to have fellowship with Anglicans, but not if it means being part of Churches Together which embrases those who oppose the Gospel (1 Tim. 1:19-20).

    The time when there were no denominations in Britain was the time of Bilney, Tyndale, Barnes and Frith. When the Church of England was established under Edward VI, it became a denomination, burned Joan of Kent and put Hooper in jail because he wouldn’t wear clerical dress.

  3. Dear Brother Martin,
    Thank you for your speedy and brotherly reply. I did, and still do, appreciate your love of inter-Protestant cooperation and pray that such cooperation between the brethren will increase so that we find heavenly union even before reigning with Christ as His one Bride in Glory. Our present ‘church’ divisions make us a band of adulterous denominations, each pretending to be the true Bride. I have long been tired of militants asking me such blasphemous questions as ‘Do you belong to the Baptist Bride? Concerning ‘mixed denominations’, my remarks were, of course, aimed primarily at the Ruth Palgrave piece with which I could not entirely agree. It is sad to hear that you have not found a working minority of Evangelicals in your local Anglican Church, so I happily presume they have all joined yours which seems rather similar in concepts. A rose by any other name still smells sweet!
    You show great moderation concerning Edward’s reign, most other reigns and churches during their rules, were worse. I see the birth of denominations seriously in the years of the Usurpation, rather than in Edward’s times. Up to then, there was joint, open and occasional Communion in the Church of England in lieu of the FIEC. History shows that Joan was pronounced a heretic by both Roman Catholics and Protestants whilst Edward was only eleven and later martyrs such as John Rogers and Thomas Cranmer were still convinced that she should be convicted and sentenced to death for heresies the like of which would have excluded her from evangelical, Reformed Protestant circles today. The Continuous Reformation operates in God’s good time. It was not until 1552, three years after Joan’s execution that rapidly maturing Edward could win backing for his Reformed Prayer Book which then established the Reformed Church of England which was not established before Joan’s conviction. However, your isolated criticism of Anglicanism rather than Dissent must bear in mind that far more Anglicans than Dissenters were persecuted and martyred by subsequent Dissent in the 16th and seventeenth centuries. Bloody-minded John Knox,who destroyed the Reformation pioneered by the Lollards and Patrick Hamilton, demanded that all opposition should be wiped out by murder. However, he claimed that such mass-killings in God’s Name were by (his) definition ‘not murder’. This was also the theme of Rutherford’s Enlightenment work Lex Rex which he felt should regulate the Westminster Assembly. Remember, the revolutionary Rutherford revisionists fought all other Dissenters fiercely, calling them drunkards and malignants. One of my greatest heroes, Christopher Love, was executed by an enemy of the Reformed Church of England whom thousands of Dissenters were calling ‘the Messiah’.
    Concerning Hooper, I am neither a vestment nor non-vestment enthusiast and would not refuse to preach the gospel when asked to prefer a black gown to a white. This silly debate broke the back of the English Reformation. Given the chaos of the Vestment Controversy in which Dissenters were adorning themselves with all the latest gaudy Continental fashions, I would, then, have opted for a simple white surplice. I have a photo of a modern Free Church Continuing group of ministers, all critics of Anglican vestments, dressed in long flowing black gowns down to the floor. What Dissenting hypocrisy! By the Providence of God, Dissent reigned in Britain for a few decades by the sword. Happily the Restoration finally conquered Parliament’s rule of religion and toleration was proclaimed. Remember, the anti-toleration laws were enforced with the backing of Dissent. Sadly, this toleration is again refused Christians by today’s English Parliament which lags behind Europe on Christian freedom. Bullinger, Gualter, Calvin and Beza all criticized the Dissenter’s Vestment Controversy on the grounds that the English Dissidents had falsified their complaints to Zürich and Geneva. Dissenting historians still quote these forged reports as fact. We remember that though Bullinger preached in his best Sunday suit and Calvin dressed up in gown, tippet and four cornered hat (though his head was round). I remember sitting on a bench in my teens talking to an aged Wee-Frees Calvinist minister in Langdale, Scotland. He was in full canonicals! Let us thus put away old grudges and look forward to the paths of unity which lay ahead of us as we grow in grace together and become just men made perfect.
    George

  4. Dear Martin,

    May I make a response to your post about Ruth Palgrave’s article in the Bible League Quarterly?

    1. We did not contact WEST or SaRong church beforehand to invite comment.
    For the simple reason that this matter is not about a private offence between individuals, as Matt.18, but about information that is in the public domain for publicity purposes.

    I notice you attended an FIEC Leaders’ Conference (footnote 2) where, in that blog, you express concern about the seminar led by Steve Timmis. Yet you make no mention of contact with FIEC beforehand for comment, presumably for the same reason.

    2. It is astonishing that you should say that false teachers like Paul Yonggi Cho, Rick Warren and Mark Driscoll “have nothing to do with WEST.” They have very much to do with the SaRong church – and WEST has very much to do with that church.

    The link with Mark Driscoll [comment edited] is through Porterbrook Network and Acts 29 (the latter founded by Driscoll). WEST is becoming part of that movement, as its web site shows. You yourself express concern about its teaching and methods in the aforementioned blog. It is, however, a lot worse than you seem to think.

    And as for Rick Warren, did you not read in the article that Sam Ko, Chairman of the board of WEST, translated Rick Warren’s pernicious book The Purpose Driven Life into Korean? (BLQ, Jan-Mar 2013, page 343). Does that not mean that he agrees with its teachings? And will that have no influence on WEST? I heard Sam Ko’s “preaching” at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church (on the website) and it is the very easy-believism of Rick Warren. If this is the kind of preaching that will come out of WEST, then it is only right that all of us be warned.

    It is unfair to suggest that Ruth Palgrave has attempted to “damn by association,” when all she has done is alert us to the alarming fact that WEST is putting no difference between the holy and the profane (Ezek.22:26). If WEST repudiates the false teaching of these men, why does it have links with them? As you know, Scripture commands us to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph.5:11).

    As for Ruth Palgrave’s article being “tittle-tattle” – that borders on the insulting and offensive. How can you say that more than 5,000 words of carefully researched material, with thorough documentation, written with an aching heart of concern, is “tittle-tattle,” or idle gossip? The Bible League Quarterly has never stooped to that level; neither would it agree to publish such material.

    3. Your final point is also unfair to Ruth Palgrave.
    She has not engaged in a “ministry of defamation” but sought to draw attention to what amounts to a betrayal of the gospel by a once-reputable Bible college. The Christian public has a right to know these facts and we should be thankful they have become known.

    John Thackway.

  5. Hello Mr. Thackway,
    Thank you for taking time to reply to my brief article. I have been blessed by your ministry at the Met Tab several times. I reply to your post as follows:-
    1. Whether or not you have a direct Biblical imperative to consult first with those whom you purpose to attack in print, I think you owe them a measure of common politeness. With respect to my article to do with the FIEC, I had voiced my concerns before leaving the conference and am very hopeful that they have at least been registered.

    2. It is my understanding that Mark Driscoll is no longer anything to do with Acts 29, and certainly he is not, according to the website, involved with Porterbrook or Crowded House which are the brainchildren of Steve Timmis and Tim Chester. We may both have concerns about these organizations, but Crowded House is now a member of FIEC and therefore has committed to its Statement of Faith, to eschew involvement with Churches Together and not to employ women ministers. Under these circumstances I believe we should wait until we see what sort of teaching comes out of WEST before condemning fellow-Christians out of hand.

    I do have concerns at the apparent connections between SaRong Church and Paul Yonggi Cho. However, I note that that Yonggi Cho is not involved with WEST in any way that I can see and that most of the connections described by Miss Palgrave were more than ten years ago. The views of people and organizations change over time. I would prefer to wait and see what either SaRong or WEST have to say before making final conclusions. If anyone from either organization reads this, I will certainly give space for him to comment.

    3. Damning by association is a very unfair practice. Many years ago, the Trinitarian Bible Society was largely run by E. W. Bullinger, a man with very strange theological views. That did not stop the Society doing then, and continuing to do now, much excellent work. I accused Miss Palgrave of dealing with ‘tittle-tattle.’ Unless she (or you) is prepared actually to engage with the teaching given by WEST, then I feel that the description is not unfair. As for the term, ‘Ministry of Defamation,’ if Miss Palgrave has written several other articles of a positive nature which I haven’t read, then I owe her an apology. However, the only writings by her of which I am aware are the two that I have critiqued, and they are both, in my opinion, defamatory in that, in fooball parlance, they play the man and not the ball; that is they attack the connections of an organization, rather than what that organization actually does.

  6. Since Martin wrote this article there has been a great deal of interest in it. Also, a colleague has informed him that there is a conference coming up jointly organized by the FIEC and Acts 29 in which Sam Ko, the new chairman of WEST, is speaking. He has therefore been busily gathering more information about SaRong’s involvement with the WEST Seminary.

    First of all, this is not the first seminary that SaRong has supported. It is also involved with the Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, USA. http://www.wts.edu/resources/sarang.html I have been informed that Sam Ko and the present Pastor of SaRong both studied there, though I await final confirmation of that. That does not automatically make them orthodox in their beliefs, but they have at least received a proper theological training.

    Secondly, Mr Ko and all those involved with WEST have signed up to its statement of faith.
    Thirdly, there are four British trustees on the board to ensure that WEST keeps to its evangelical credentials.

    Finally, I have spoken to someone whom I trust who has visited SaRong Church and who knows Mr Ko, and he considers them to be ‘thoroughly evangelical.’

    None of these facts may satisfy everybody, but in these circumstances it seems both the wise and the Christian thing to do to suspend judgement on all these goings-on until we see the fruit of them. ‘Love…..believes all things, hopes all things’ (1 Cor. 13:7). To be sure, love can be deceived sometimes, but Martin would sooner err on the side of charity than on the side of suspicion and antipathy.

    I understand that there are plans afoot at WEST to encourage the planting of fourteen churches in the Welsh valleys. I don’t think anyone else is planning to do that; on the contrary, churches have been closing there in worryingly large numbers. Instead of carping, should we not be praying that the Korean involvement at WEST will bring forth fruit and blessing, both in Wales and in Korea?

  7. Dear Martin
    In your response to John Thackway’s defence of the article on WEST theological college by Ruth Palgrave published in the Bible League Quarterly, you say:

    ‘2. It is my understanding that Mark Driscoll is no longer anything to do with Acts 29, and certainly he is not, according to the website, involved with Porterbrook or Crowded House which are the brainchildren of Steve Timmis and Tim Chester.’ [By: stpowen on January 4, 2013 at 3:26 PM]

    This is an incorrect statement that in the interests of truth should be corrected, as your readers are being misled regarding Driscoll’s involvement with Acts 29. Here are the facts of the matter:

    The Acts 29 Network was founded by Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church, Seattle. The Mission of Acts 29, we are told, ‘is to band together Christian, Evangelical, Missional & Reformed churches, who, for the sake of Jesus and the gospel, plant new churches and replant dead and dying churches across the United States and the world.’ While Driscoll resigned from the presidency of Acts 29 in March 2012, he continues to play an active role in the leadership team. Indeed, to explain its the church-planting philosophy, the Acts 29 website provides a hyperlink to Driscoll’s talk ‘The Mission and Vision of Acts 29’ (November 19, 2008). The aim of Acts 29 is to influence and shape church-planting culture through both theology and contextualizing the gospel.

    In January 2009, Driscoll’s blog ‘Week in Review’ reported: ‘UK minister and Re:Lit author Tim Chester made his Resurgence blog debut this week with an article about “ordinary lives with gospel intentionality”.’

    In March 2009, Driscoll’s inaugural ‘Acts 29 World Church Planter’s Summit’ was held at Mars Hill Church, Seattle. Steve Timmis of The Crowded House, attended the ‘World Summit’ of church planters, where he led a seminar entitled ‘Total Church Community Training’, in which he gave an overview of the concepts in Total Church (2007), the book he co-authored with Tim Chester, paying particular attention to the formation and mission of ‘gospel communities’. Timmis made such an impression on Driscoll that following the Summit he was invited to lead the Acts 29 Western Europe Church-planting Network. In conversation with Pastor Scott Thomas, then president of Acts 29, Timmis expressed his deep thankfulness for the tangible support he received from Mars Hill Church and acknowledged the close fellowship they share in the gospel. With the support of Mark Driscoll, Total Church was re-published in the USA by Crossways in 2008 as part of the Re:Lit series of books. (Re:Lit is Driscoll’s publishing and media ministry). The philosophy of church expounded in Total Church is so much in line with the thinking and ministry of Mark Driscoll that the book has become required reading for community group leaders of Mars Hill Church. The book is also on the recommended book list of the Acts 29 Church-planting Network.

    In May 2011, Mark Driscoll was invited to the UK to speak at the London Men’s Convention, organised by Richard Coekin. While in the UK, Driscoll also held a number of seminars promoting his church-planting network. He writes: ‘I’ve been excited to see the growth of the Acts 29 church-planting movement into Great Britain and Western Europe under the direction of my friend Steve Timmis.’

    Acts 29 Publications currently promote 16 of Driscoll’s books. Driscoll is booked as a speaker, together with Matt Chandler, at an Acts 29 boot camp in Los Angeles, planned for September 2013.

    To help your readers understand Ruth Palgrave’s article, I trust that you will correct your misleading statement regarding Mark Driscoll.

    Dr ES Williams

  8. When I wrote that Mark Driscoll was ‘no longer anything to do’ with Acts 29, I meant that in an organizational sense. It is my understanding that Mr Driscoll is no longer the President or on any organizing committe of Acts 29. I hope that clarifies the matter.
    That the people involved in these organizations speak to each other and sell each other’s books is no surprise to me. Readers can make up their own mind about the significance of these matters.

    For the record, I do not support Mark Driscoll or his ministry in any way, shape or form, nor do I recommend his books. Nor do I recommend or have any connection whatsoever with Acts 29 or Porterbrook. If anyone has a link to a good critique of either of these organizations that concentrates on what they do and teach rather than on whom they may be friendly with, I will be happy to publicize it. If there is a book that covers these matters, I shall be happy to hear of it.

    I can add one more piece of clarification to my last comment: Sam Ko did indeed study at Westminster Theological Seminary. The current pastor of SaRang Church did not; he studied at Calvin College.

  9. Here is a response to all this from WEST Seminary.

    http://www.west.org.uk/negative-publicity/2378/

  10. Dear Martin

    In response to my note, pointing out that Mark Driscoll is part of the leadership team of Acts 29, you assert:

    ‘When I wrote that Mark Driscoll was ‘no longer anything to do’ with Acts 29, I meant that in an organizational sense. It is my understanding that Mr Driscoll is no longer the President or on any organizing committee of Acts 29. I hope that clarifies the matter.’

    You comment does not clarify the matter, but continues to mislead your readers, for Driscoll is on the Leadership Team of Acts 29. The Acts 29 website, under Leadership & Staff, lists 5 members of the Leadership Team, with a photo of each: Matt Chandler, the President; other members are Darrin Patrick, Vice President; Bruce Wesley, Executive Board Member; John Bryson, Executive Board Member; and Mark Driscoll, Co-Founder of Acts 29. Readers of your blog can confirm these facts for themselves, by looking on the Acts 29 website.

    http://www.acts29network.org/about/leadership/

    You should acknowledge your error, which has been used to cast doubt on the accuracy of Ruth Palgrave’s article on WEST.

    Dr ES Williams

  11. You are quite right, Dr. Williams. I was mis-informed and I apologize to anyone who has been misled.
    Readers can assess for themselves the significance of this. For my own part, unless you, Miss Palgrave or someone else can actually provide a critique of what these organizations actually do and teach, I still regard such details as mere tittle-tattle. As I have said, I will happily give space to such a critique. I have my own concerns about Acts 29, which I have already given, and would welcome more detail.

  12. In Ms Palgrave’s article we followed connections such as WEST faculty->WEST board->board member taking service at a church->song chosen by someone at that service->the video made by the band who composed the song, and such as WEST faculty->WEST board->Church in Korea to which several board members belong->Person speaking at conference held by that church 10 years ago->Other things that person has done. The problem with making this sort of critique is that either you must be quite inconsistent and selective in making it, or that you have to basically fellowship with nobody who does not agree with you on everything – otherwise you too will find that you have such connections.

    Bringing in that kind of material is OK if it is supporting some other body of evidence. But when I tried to assess the article, it appeared that this was the *only* kind of material in it. There was nothing said about the teaching or practice going on in the college itself; only what people-connected-with-people-connected-with-people-connected with it were up to, and things of that kind. If the author had concluded with “we ought to be troubled by some of the associations being entered into”, then that would be one thing; but she concluded with (I quote from memory) “WEST is no longer a reformed college”, which was something else entirely.

    David

  13. Some of the fruit of ministry of WEST’s postgraduate students in Poland is evident here: http://www.strateias.org/wroclaw.htm
    It vindicates RP and BLQ’s call of alarm.

  14. Mr. Soper,
    I have allowed your link because I think there are issues raised within it that should be answered. This blog is getting a lot of hits at present, so maybe someone will read it who knows more about the situation in Poland than I do.

    However, your complaint is against Carey Baptist Church, not against FIEC; and unless you are telling me that this man Clegg (of whom I know nothing) is somehow connected to WEST, I do not see what possible relevance the matter has to that orgaization.

    The FIEC, as I have told you before, is the Fellowship of INDEPENDENT Evangelical Churches. What part of the word INDEPENDENT do you not understand? The FIEC has NO authority over whom Carey B.C. may choose to support and neither should they. My church would not accept the FIEC poking its nose into our missionary giving, and I’m sure that Carey feel the same way. So long as Carey complies to the FIEC Statement of Faith, does not join Churches Together and does not have female elders, the FIEC has NO authority over it.

    With regard to any graduate of WEST who may or may not have gone ‘ecumenical,’ that is regretable, but if every seminary was responsible for the behaviour of every person who studied there, then I think there would not be one such place that would stand. Jonathan Stephen, the Principal of WEST, studied at Dr. Masters’ London Reformed Baptist Seminary. Does that make LRBS an apostate organization in your eyes?

    I hope you get answers to your concerns about Mr. Clegg, but if I may say so, I think your whole attitude is wrong. Your attitude is so aggressive that I am not surprised if Carey decline to have anything much to do with you. I think you will find that friendliness and patience with your Christian brothers will get you better results than the hostility displayed in the link.

    I have noticed that this blog has quite a few readers in Poland. If one of them wishes to make a post on this matter, I will gladly publish it.

  15. Thanks, I do appreciate that.
    I think the website makes it fairly clear why we believe the FIEC has been inconsistent with its own policies and inconsistent with much firmer actions in other past ecumenical situations for several reasons. I could detail these, but spare your readers this here.

    The main purpose of posting this has nothing to do with CBC, her missionary, FIEC, or Affinity, it has to do with WEST’s postgraduate students and their advanced ecumenism – much more deeply than John Stott, J. I. Packer, Rick Warren or other notoriously ecumenical neo-‘evangelicals’.
    In the case of the first, now the academic dean at Wroclaw, it also has to do with annihilationism, a liberal view of Pauline authorship, a love of Elton John-like rock and overtly sexual lyrics for ‘evangelism’, and representing a faculty that actively promotes a liberal attitude to sodomy – all of which has now been in the public domain for some years. If that isn’t cause for specific concern about WEST’s fruit, in the way RP and BLQ have been raising, in my view very properly – what should be? WEST still lists them on ‘its roll of honour’, despite this and remains apparently unconcerned. I would be anxious about a young Christian friend heading there for training.

    Poland’s evangelical churches have evidently become involved a morass of adulterous ecumenism with Rome, liberalism, Orthodox churches, and even Islam. Many Western groups have repeatedly turned a blind eye, or even aggravated the situation, rather than address it.

  16. Mr Soper,

    As I try to understand the positions of both sides in this controversy, I read your document and specifically the most recent entries in it, I understood from it that you believe you have clear evidence that two WEST graduates who have minister in Poland have been involved in deep spiritual compromise, and that you charge this to WEST. In particular you say,

    “Supporters of WEST may respond by saying that WEST cannot be held responsible for the actions of its graduates after they have completed their studies. On the other hand one is bound to ask how it is that five years of Biblical study in Wales at WEST’s supporters’ expense is not effective against the erroneous views Mr Smolarz holds, or why both he and Mr Lorek feature in WEST’s roll of honour.”

    I looked up the citation that you provided for this “roll of honour”, and the only mention of the names of the students you named upon the indicated page was under “Some examples of the published work of former research students are given below”.

    The mutation of this into a “roll of honour” reads to me like the kind of thing that WEST described as “scurrilous”. As a Christian, one should always seek to frame the position of someone you disagree with in the strongest possible terms. From reading your document, I got the strong impression that WEST wanted to hold up Mr. Smolarz’s present ministry as an example of everything that they would commend. When I went to the citation on WEST’s website (I’m glad you did provide one, by the way) to check this out, I found something quite different.

    It looks like you’ve tried to partly cover this angle by arguing that WEST is responsible for insulating all of its students against all erroneous beliefs and practices in their future ministries after graduating. If you believe that, then that is your remit to do so. However, honesty would compel you to admit that working out that view *consisently*, in a *principled* way (i.e. not arbitrarily), would require us all to hold that all seminaries (that have been going long enough to graduate a reasonable number of people) must also be basically apostate. On this basis we can leave behind Miss Palgrave and BLQ etc. as small fry – we’d actually have to separate from Christ himself (who trained Judas), Paul (who had many of those he loved turn away from the faith), and many others. Have none of those you have ministered to ever turned away from Christ? It’s quite painful. People I’ve ministered to have.

    Having spotted this disconnect, I then decided to look further at the references in your document, and read it more closely. Frankly, it was quite a depressing experience. You appear to have a chronic problem with overstating the evidence for your case. Here are a few things I picked out on a quick reading, whilst knowing nothing about Poland or the places you describe in it:

    * You fault WEST for “making the surprising claim that the article’s author ‘gives no evidence of false teaching by the WEST lecturers’”. The impression is given that you are about the give some such evidence. However, in fact, you then proceed to say nothing about any false teaching by any WEST *lecturers*, and concentrate exclusively upon two WEST *graduates*.

    * Later, after discussing the activities of people connected with a seminary apparently in Poland, you say “Reference was made at the beginning of this article to WEST’s implicit suggestion that there is no evidence of false teaching among ministers and missionaries trained at WEST.” I think this kind of thing must be what WEST meant by using the word “scurrilous”. The WEST statement said “no evidence of false teaching by the WEST lecturers”; but you migrate this into a claim of “no evidence of false teaching among ministers and missionaries trained at WEST.” Keep your eye on the ball here – do you understand the difference between these two claims? 1. “Jesus never taught false teaching” (true). 2. “None of the twelve trained by Jesus ever taught false teaching” (false).

    * I then looked at WEST’s response to see what it claimed about its missionaries, and if there was any “implicit suggestion” that anyone it trained who went out into mission had never taught falsely (which would be an astonishing claim). The only mention I found in your cited document of missionaries at all was this: “she [R E Palgrave] does not mention the long list of esteemed ministers and missionaries that have been trained at WEST”. That is a claim that there is a long list of esteemed ministers and missionaries that have been trained at WEST. (c.f. “Jesus trained a number of esteemed apostles”). To migrate that into a claim that *all* those trained should be esteemed is an abuse of the English language.

    * For Mr. Lorek, I looked up the citation which in your article was given to prove that WEST had a “high opinion” of him and his ministry generally. Again, I found no such claim. I found a mention of Mr. Lorek’s PhD thesis, as an example of the academic quality of PhD supervision. The PhD was on the topic “The motif of exile in the Hebrew Bible: an analysis of a basic literary and theological pattern”. Your claim was that somehow WEST was responsible for Mr. Lorek’s doctrine of annihilation. The only way that you can get from A to B here appears to be a general belief that WEST, when it supervises PhD students, thereby becomes completely responsible for *all* doctrines they expound upon, forever thereafter. But remember – if you make that claim, then you implicitly condemn everyone who’s ever trained ministers. Even our Lord himself did not manage to keep the standard you’ve set up.

    This is not particularly a defence of WEST, because it seems to me that as yet no substantial charges have been brought against them. This is a defence of Christian honesty, and of making only allegations that can be substantiated by the evidence that is brought to accompany them. In the law of Moses, God required two or three witnesses. “My neighbour’s dog looked at me in a way that meant I knew my neighbour was guilty” is not one witness, or even quarter a witness; and piling together 8 witnesses of that kind will not get you up to the mark of two Biblical witnesses. Let the reader understand!

    David

  17. Now that I review my post, it appears that I’ve myself overstated what WEST say on their website about the two men mentioned in Mr. Soper’s article.

    Mr. Soper said that WEST was commending them and their ministries.

    I said that having looked at the link Mr. Soper provided, it looked like WEST was commending their PhDs as examples of the quality of WEST’s PhD supervision.

    In fact WEST just lists them on a list of people who’ve had their PhD work published by publishers.

    The implication appears to be that WEST is obliged to monitor all former PhD students who have their work published, make sure they never deviate from the truth, and if they do so, then they are meant to pretend that no such person ever existed, and delete them from any lists they previously appeared in. This springs to mind: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Newspeak_words#Unperson

    David

  18. Thanks for your comments and your previous correspondence on this topic. I am happy to let others weigh the evidence carefully to form their own judgement. The words ‘roll of honour’ are in inverted commas, but I accept they are not a precise description of a list of MPhils and PhD graduates. However the clear impression is given that these two ministers left in good standing with higher degrees obtained under WEST’s supervision. The page for example claims their studies were selected for ‘edifying the church worldwide and the School must be able to provide suitable supervisory team.’ Do you think these two men suddenly went rotten when they returned to Poland and assumed senior responsibilities in what must be one of most dangerous Bible colleges in Europe (EST)? They had after all both graduated from EST before arriving in Wales.

    It is also noteworthy that Dr Lorek’s thesis starts off albeit critically with a reliance on Martin Roth’s liberal late (7th c.) dating for Deuteronomic history and repeatedly refers completely uncritically to a ‘second Isaiah’ author (Deutero-Isaiah). In other words, the supervised thesis contains clear references to well advanced unbelief. This does raise questions about his supervision, and those who proof read and approved the text.

    There are two other questions. The first is the connexion of the principal of WEST to Carey and the long period of time he was directly responsible for its missionary to Poland, including sitting under his ministry at Carey. This missionary has an astonishing record of leadership in ecumenical compromise, including having helped establish EST, fostering Roman Catholic fellowships and encouraging his students to attend masses. This while Carey’s pastor was helping approve the 1996 FIEC statement on ecumenism! This indicates a serious lack of rigour, and questionable institutional judgement in his selection. The second is the recent appointment of a director to WEST who is also international director of the highly ecumenical Lausanne Movement, detailed in RP’s article.

  19. Mr Soper,
    I have decided not to approve your last post as it contains aggressive accusations against people of whom I have very limited knowledge.
    I feel that you are using this blog to conduct some sort of vendetta against WEST for reasons that I am not aware.

    The WEST Statement of Faith is on their website. It is my understanding that all members of the teaching staff have to subscribe to it. If you wish to prove that certain lecturers have either subscribed falsely or changed heir positions then you need to do one of two things:
    1. You need to find a recent graduate of WEST who will testify to having been taught liberal theology or
    2. You need to show from the lecturers’ published works that they are not evangelical.

    To show that there have been students at WEST who have become liberal in their theology does not mean that they have been taught badly, as Mr Anderson has shown. Nor does the claim that a Grace Baptist missionary previously studied at a liberal college mean that he is not now sound in his theology. Many of the Reformers were educated by the Church of Rome.

    Finally, I cannot see that to produce a letter from the WCC to the Lausanne Movement means anything whatsoever. If you can find a letter in the opposite direction, that would perhaps be a different matter. I was privileged to hear Lindsay Brown speak at last year’s EMW Aberystwyth Conference. He is held in high esteem in the EMW and, having listened to his talks, I would say rightly so.

    If the situation in Poland is as compromised as you say, then that is very sad. The way to oppose this is not constantly to ‘heresy-hunt’ organizations a thousand miles away, but to preach the Gospel over there, or encourage others to do so, and trust God to bless His word.


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