Posted by: stpowen | March 10, 2013

Bible League Quarterly and Biblical Separation

Romans 12:10. ‘Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honour giving preference to one another.’

Isaiah 65:5. ‘[People] who say, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am holier than you!” These are smoke in My nostrils, a fire that burns all day long.’

Fame at last! The Marprelate Blog has earned a whole footnote in a new article from the Bible League Quarterly {1}. The article is an ‘extended review’ of the booklet, They have forgotten by R. E. Palgrave. I have already reviewed this work and another by Miss Palgrave {2}, so I don’t intend to say any more about the booklet, but I do want to comment on the review where it makes the following comments:-

One need only cite again the admission of a United Reformed Church (a member of the WCC and of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland) as an Independent Corporate Partner. Affinity’s non-­‐mention of the evils of the EM and WCC has made this wider connection possible, giving the impressionthat the old battle lines are no longer important. Also, perhaps, for this reason individuals are assessing the current situation too sanguinely, forgetting (as the booklet says) the real issues lie behind it. One writer on his blog does this, and gently chides Miss Palgrave for her unfairness to Affinity. The writer then makes the astonishing claim concerning Affinity’s above-­‐mentioned position on ecumenicity,

‘These statements clearly lay out Affinity’s position as non-­ecumenical. Member churches that are actively involved with the ‘Churches Together’ movement would clearly be in breach of them.’

Yet, as we have seen, Affinity has a URC church as a partner– a denomination that is part of Churches Together!

I am the ‘writer’ mentioned and the URC church in question is Grange United Reformed Church in the Wirral, to which the BLQ provided a link {3}. It is most unfortunate that the BLQ did not take the time to investigate the link, which would have answered its questions. Grange URC has servered its links with Churches Together and seeks fellowship with other Bible-believing churches. Its website states that it desires, ‘to co-operate with Bible-centred churches, missions and Christian agencies at home and abroad’ (emphasis mine). On its ‘Links’ page, there is no mention of Churches Together. Churches that remain in C.T. cannot join Affinity as I stated, but Grange URC does not desire to, and has adopted a separated stance, which has caused the congregation much difficulty within the denomination.

Another thing that the Bible League could have done, but seems to have chosen not to do, is either to attend the church or to listen to its ministry on line. To dismiss it without any reference to what it actually teaches is both unfair and unbiblical (eg. 1 Thes 3:5). not to mention poor journalism. I have taken time to listen to the minister, Rev’d Richard Landon, preaching on Romans 2. It is fair to say that Mr. Landon is not Spurgeon, but I heard a faithful sermon that centred on sin and the need for repentance. Christians in the Wirral looking for sound Gospel ministry could do a whole lot worse than visit Grange URC.

So, should Grange Church leave the URC? Unquestionably yes. Why does it not do so? There could be a variety of reasons. The denomination may own the premises; to leave may cause a church split; the minister’s employment rights and pension may be affected. None of these would matter if the church were being forced into a liberal stance or were obliged to have visiting preachers who did not teach the truth. But in the absence of these circumstances, it is enough for me that Grange URC preaches the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ faithfully. Indeed, I wish many more URC churches would join Affinity for it will mean that more congregations are turning away from the false ecumenicity of Churches Together and coming to true Christian fellowship with fellow-believers. May God speed the day! My strong advice to the Bible League is to end its carping and to concentrate on its core mision, which, according to its website is to,
•Encourage belief in the inspiration and sufficiency of the Word of God
•Resist the varied attacks made upon Scripture
•Promote the reverent study of the Bible
None of these require attacks upon other Bible-believing Christians who are trying to serve their Lord as best they can.
‘Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own Master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be able to stand, for God is able to make him stand’ (Romans 14:4).

Notes
{1} http://www.bibleleaguetrust.org/articles/publication-for-our-time.pdf

{2} https://marprelate.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/response-to-they-have-forgotten-by-r-e-palgrave/
https://marprelate.wordpress.com/2012/12/31/re-palgrave-blq-and-west-seminary/

{3} http://www.grangeurc.org.uk/index.html

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Responses

  1. Thank you for the fair balance found in your previous blogs relating to Miss Palgrave. Her strongly worded but poorly researched comments are leaving a trail of confusion in the church. We need a cofident voice that with care answers unfairness without acrimony. well done.

  2. Dear Martin,

    Glad you are basking in your new found fame! Seriously though, may I respond to your points?

    1. I did take time to look up Grange and investigate it.
    Also, Richard Landon (the minister) and I spent nearly two hours together in my house over these things. We exchanged views in a brotherly spirit, and at the close we prayed together for God’s blessing upon our respective ministries. It would not be fair to disclose the contents of our discussion, but he did agree with much of Ruth Palgrave’s well-researched booklet and my extended review. His own situation is difficult, and clearly he is doing what he can. There is no question of the integrity of Richard’s ministry at a personal level, nor of what he seeks for the local church of which he is minister.

    2. In your quoting me, may I remind you of exactly what I wrote.
    The relevant words are these: “Yet, as we have seen, Affinity has a URC church as a partner – A DENOMINATION that is part of Churches Together!” (capitals mine). Affinity’s inconsistency lies in admitting Grange URC church as one that still belongs to the URC denomination – a denomination that is thoroughly liberal, ecumenical (including CT), social gospel, ordains women ministers and supports the lesbian, gay and transsexual agenda. It is not Grange in isolation but the denomination as a whole that matters here. The old BEC would only admit a local church belonging to such a denomination if the minister’s stated purpose was to secede from it. Affinity does not insist on this, therefore Affinity does not pursue the policy of the old BEC. This was the point being made.

    3. The Bible League’s “core mission,” as you state, was formulated during the 19th century Downgrade Controversy.
    It saw nothing inconsistent with pursuing that threefold objective while at the same time highlighting departure from orthodoxy and compromise of association. “Edification” (2 Cor.10:8) as well as to “earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 3) is the duty of a magazine editor – and, might I say, of every blogger.

    John Thackway.

  3. Martin, I really shouldn’t have emailed you that footnote, it has gone to your head dear boy 😉

  4. T
    Mr. Thackway, thank you for your reply. To take your points in turn:-

    1. I am delighted that you have spoken with Richard Landon. I had noticed that his church was not too far from yours. You now know more about this gentleman and his church than I do. Surely you can see that this church and its minister deserve support and encouragement rather than rejection and isolation?

    2. I am well aware of the nature of the United Reformed Church- probably the most liberal and apostate denomination in Britain- and that’s saying something! You know better than I the reason why Grange Church has not yet left. I cannot speak for Affinity, but my position is that I do not recognize denominations of any kind. There are none in the Bible and I’m quite sure there will be none in heaven. Churches in the New Testament are independent; but connectional rather than isolationist . (eg. Rom. 16:16; Col. 4:15). My church and I seek fellowship with all Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching churches regardless of denominational ties. Concerning Affinity, I would say that because it has welcomed Grange Church into fellowship, that does not mean that it endorses either the U.R.C. as a denomination or any other church of that denomination. My prayer is that more URC churches will embrase the Gospel and if they do they should be welcomed and supported.

    3. I am well-acquainted with the BLQ. I used to buy a copy whenever I visited the Christian bookshop in Weymouth, now closed, alas. There were always good articles in there, helpful and edifying, but I never felt able to take out a subscription because of the magazine’s isolationist stance. As I have written elsewhere, the schism within Reformed evangelicalism is undoubtedly grieving to the Lord. I believe that a wave of persecution is coming upon the churches of Christ before too long such as we have not seen in this country for very many years, and it would be far better if we were united in spirit rather than fragmented.

  5. I wasn’t aware until today that my name (Richard Landon) had figured here! Perhaps I could explain the position of Grange URC in the light of some of the comments above, which are largely accurate.

    I received a copy of “They Have Forgotten” when it was published, and following the Bible League Quarterly’s review met with John Thackway at my request, to which he readily acceded. We did indeed have a good meeting as he says, and I did agree with much of what Miss Palgrave and he have written insofar as it reflects the published views of Dr Lloyd-Jones and the period to which they relate; but Stephen Clark’s recently published reply on behalf of Affinity (available on their website) expresses very well my understanding of the ways in which the biblical principles he taught may be applied in the different situation today.

    I also contacted Miss Palgrave with a view to meeting and explaining Grange URC’s position, but it hasn’t yet been possible.

    Grange URC was accepted as a partner church of Affinity in 2006, having satisfied the representatives who visited us that we had emphatically declined to be involved with the local Churches Together, and had informed our denominational authorities at local and national level. I wouldn’t say that the URC has caused us “much difficulty” over this, being largely content to leave us alone. We are regarded as being somewhat troublesome, but we can live with that! We do not cooperate with other URC churches and ministers who do not hold the biblical gospel, and have also made that plain to denominational leaders.

    In July 2012 the URC General Assembly agreed to allow local churches, if they so wished, to be registered for Civil Partnerships. This was the culmination of a long debate on human sexuality over 20 years, including a seven-year moratorium when pro-homosexual views became more widely accepted, reflecting the trend in society. Grange URC saw this as a definitive adoption of unbiblical teaching, and church meeting agreed to consider whether to secede from the denomination. However, the denominational representatives disagreed with our contention that the URC had effectively changed its position from its formation in 1972, claiming that to allow a church to do something was not the same as endorsing it (we still fail to appreciate the distinction!) As a result we would not be able to leave with our premises, and a substantial majority of church members decided that we were not ready to secede without them. (Incidentally, the matter of my own pension and housing are not an issue.) The matter remains open for further consideration, and the support of Affinity and others like yourself has been positive, and is much appreciated.

    Thank you for your kind comments about my preaching, and I appreciate John Thackway’s kind comments about my ministry.

    To debate these matters with those whom we disagree in a Christian spirit is most desirable, and I look forward to Affinity’s proposed guidlines (see their website).

    In the meantime we look to the Lord to safeguard and guide his church.

    Richard Landon

  6. Dear Brethren,I always find BLQ articles most informative,then prayerfully consider with whom the Lord would have me fellowship we cannot take such decisions without information and sometimes it is necessary to quietly withdraw from those who depart from the old paths,it is the general thrust that counts,not solicitor like debates,any one can win a debate, but not everyone has Godly discernment and grace.


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