A QUESTION OF
Messianic Evangelical Thoughts
on the Fall of Man, the Bible,
and Modern Philosophy
This interview was originally given in 1997. The 2017 edition contains NCAY's updated position on the Textus Receptus, which it originally prioretised over the Minority Bible manuscripts. Today we give priority to Hebraic (Aramaic and Hebrew) versions of the New Testament. Otherwise the interview has been left as it was given 20 years ago.
Q. Are human beings morally depraved by nature, without a particle of goodness in them (as Augustine and Calvin taught) or do are we, in fact, basically good? Or something in-between?
A. There has been a need for NCAY to address this very serious, as well as difficult, theological question, one which has vexed theologians for centuries and led, in some cases, to persecution. I cannot give you a definite answer right now because NCAY has never officially formulated a position but has preferred rather to make occasional observations. It is probably time that we tied up these loose ends. The chances are that we do not fit into any classical doctrinal formulation, as has been the case with other doctrines, but let us see.
Q. Perhaps we could begin by defining the positions of the various doctrinal antagonists?
A. We can at least try, but part of the problem will be to understand the religious backgrounds of such people as Augustine and Pelagius, who are the chief players in this discussion.
To begin with, let us understand that the classical Western orthodox doctrine of human nature and salvation was originated by a Roman Catholic, namely the African Bishop, Augustine of Hippo. The Church he belonged to, and therefore espoused, was a part of the Great Apostasy that had swept away true Christianity (but for a few underground assemblies) a long time before. Augustine was also responsible for formulating the doctrine of the Trinity and the infallibility of the Bible.
Basically, Augustine saw man as, to use his own words, "a mess of sin" incapable of elevating himself out of the morass in which he found himself. He was fond of quoting Yah'shua (Jesus) and Paul who said that not one single person was capable of doing good (Mt.19:17; Rom.3:12).
Q. But wasn't Paul using typical Hebrew hyperbole? He also said that no-one had any understanding...
A. Let's take a look at this passage because I think we may save ourselves from chasing around needlessly in circles if we don't understand it properly. He is quoting Psalms 14 and 53. Let's see what he writes in Romans:
If we are to make sense of this we must return these passage to their original context and we may well, in doing so, discover that they have nothing to do with the general spiritual condition of man. Let's see.
"There is no-one righteous, not even one; there is no-one who understands, no-one who seeks Elohim (God). All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no-one who does good, not even one" (Rom.3:10-12, NIV).
Q. If I remember rightly King David is talking about a particular category of person, is he not?
A. Yes. He is talking about FOOLS. Listen:
Q. That seems pretty clear - it is atheists who are here being addressed. And how can an atheist, despite all the evidence around him, deny the existence of Elohim (God)?
A. But, see, David goes on:
"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no Elohim (God)' They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no-one who does good" (Ps.14:1, NIV).
Q. That seems to be an indictment of the whole human race as opposed to just foolish atheists.
A. Not if you read on. This whole psalm is an indictment of evil men. It must also be seen in its historical context. In Psalm 12 King David bewails that:
"Yahweh looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek Elohim (God). All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no-one who does good, not even one" (vv.2-3).
This is the cry of a desperate man, of a godly man surrounded by ungodliness. This is a very human reaction. How many times have you cried in desperation such thoughts as 'everyone's against me'?
"The godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men. Everyone lies to his neighbour; their flattering lips speak with deception..." (Ps.12:1-2, NIV).
Q. (laughs..) A lot! I see your point. It's a case of hyperbole.
A. Now of course there were godly men around. It is a mistake to interpret a human crie de coeur as a doctrinal statement on the condition of every single human being. Are we to understand that there wasn't a single good person around apart from David at this time? Was the entire planet depraved as it was in the days of Noah?
Q. Well, I can think of the prophet Nathan...
A. Assuming he was still alive, yes. And doubtless many others. But let us not get hung up on just one scripture. We must, in all fairness, consider other ones. Psalm 10 is much like Psalm 12. David has had his fill of evil men. And you know what it feels like when you are surrounded by evil 24 hours a day?
Q. Yes, you begin to think that there is no goodness anywhere, like Elijah, who thought he was the last of Yahweh's nevi'im (prophets)...
A. And there were many more, weren't there? He wasn't alone after all even though he FELT he was. These psalms of David are very emotion-charged. We are reading a man deeply troubled in his heart, in contrast to other Psalms where we find him in a state of inner shalom (peace) and calmness:
Q. But if we return to Paul's discourse in Romans 3, surely the whole thrust of his argument is that we are indeed all unrighteous.
A. OK. But I think we had better go to the source of Paul's saying first, and that is Yah'shua (Jesus). We read in Matthew:
"Be still and know that I am Elohim (God)" (Ps.46:10, NIV).
I have just quoted from the New International Version, one of the most popular versions in use. Does anything strike you as unusual about that passage?
"Now a man came up to Yah'shua (Jesus) and asked, 'Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal chayim (life)?' 'Why do you ask me about what is good?' Yah'shua (Jesus) replied. 'There is only One who is good. If you want to enter chayim (life), obey the mitzvot (commandments)'" (Mt.19:16-17, NIV).
Q. No really. Why?
A. Because if you go to the Aramaic, a different story is told. (Incidentally, the KJV agrees with it):
Here's the King James for comparitive purposes:
"A certain man came and drew near and said to Him, 'Good teacher, what is good that I should do that I should have eternal chayim (life)? Then he said to him, 'Why do you call Me good? There is none good except one, Elohim (God)? Now if you desire to enter into chayim (life), keep the mitzvot (commandments)'" (Ibid., AENT).
So what's the difference?
"...'Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal chayim (life)?' And He said unto him, 'Why callest thou Me good? there is none good but Elohim (God)..." (Ibid., KJV).
Q. The NIV has dropped the word "good" from "Good Master" or "Good Teacher" and twisted Yah'shua (Jesus') answer!! The NIV focuses on the goodness of MAN whereas the KJV and original Aramaic versions focus on the goodness of MESSIAH!
A. Yes, and not just the NIV - the NRSV, NEB and a whole host of other Protestant, Catholic and even one or two Messianic Bibles (like the CJB/JNT) leave the word out. It's a perversion of the emet (truth). Do you see what these translators have done? In the original Yah'shua (Jesus) is merely showing humility before His Father in heaven - He is saying, in effect, 'Don't give Me the glory - give it to Yahweh, your heavenly Father'. That's all. And then He goes on to add that in COMPARISON to Elohim (God) the Father, there is no good man. It is a relative statement. He is not saying that there are no good human beings. He is effacing himself as a humble Hebrew son would be expected to do in order not to diminish the greatness of Elohim (God). Tell me, do you believe that Yah'shua (Jesus) was not good??
Q. Of course not! The Scripture says He was without sin!
A. So how can a sinless man be bad?
Q. He can't!
A. You see, this is a case of Hebrew hyperbole or exaggeration. John the Baptist used the same device. He effaced himself before Yah'shua (Jesus) when he publicly acknowledged Him as the Lamb of Elohim (God) come to take away the sins of the world. He said that now his ministry would decrease in importance as Messiah's increased.
Let us be clear. If Elohim (God) is good, then how can man be "good", relatively-speaking? That is the point Yah'shua (Jesus) is making. He is not making an Augustinian statement about the condition of man which the modern Greek-based translations would have us believe!
Q. I think we are already sitting on a hot potato...
Interestingly enough, this textual difference between Aramaic and Greek New Testament manuscripts for Matthew 19:16-17 repeats in the difference between the Byzantine, Majority or Textus Receptus (Received Text, of which the KJV is the best known example) and the so-called 'Alexandrian' or 'Minority' texts out of which has arisen the bogus and cultic 'King James Version-Only' movement which makes the outrageous and unsustainable claim that the 1611 KJV is the only correct and verbally infallible translation in the world. (See especially my study, King James-Only: Revising a Bible Version Issue).
Q. What is your view of the claim that the Majority Greek Text is the only authentic Bible text?
Until I was better informed and could examine more of the available scholarly data, I basically took the Majority Text line though without being a KJV-Only advocate, a reason we originally published Ian RoeBuck's essay, The Westcott & Hort Conspiracy: The True Story of our Modern Bible Translations. The thesis of the KJV-Onlyer's, Roebuck, and indeed ourselves for a while, was that by the time of Augustine there were already many corrupted New Testament manuscripts in circulation, modified by various heretical groups like the Gnostics. The Catholic Church has always favoured its own versions like Vaticanus and Sinaticus from which they produced the Latin Vulgate which was Europe's sole translation for centuries. Augustine read and spoke Latin, the language of the Roman Empire.
Q. So you and the KJV-Onlyer's took the view that Augustine based his doctrine on corrupt Latin texts?
A. Speaking for ourselves at NCAY, we considered it s possibility, though not quite likely.
Q. But what of Paul's discourse to the Romans which seems to support the Augustinian doctrine?
A. We need to look at that again now, I think. If you look at the device Paul is using in Chapter 3 you will see that it is exactly the same one that Yah'shua (Jesus) used, and which no doubt was what prompted Paul to discuss these matters here in Romans. In fact, some heretics have taken Yah'shua's (Jesus') saying and twisted it, saying that since, by comparison, Elohim (God) alone is good, we will put Elohim (God) in a better light by doing evil, since Elohim's (God's) goodness will be even more clearly seen. Paul, in effect, says to that notion, 'Don't be silly!'
Paul is discussing the place of the Torah (Law). Summarising, he says that we cannot make our self righteous by obeying the Torah (Law) - righteousness comes through emunah (faith) in Messiah.
Q. But didn't Yah'shua (Jesus) say, "If you want to enter life, obey the mitzvot (commandments)'" - surely this contradicts Paul?
A. Where? They are talking about two different things. Paul says that you cannot make yourself good by obeying the Torah (Law); Yah'shua (Jesus) says that you can't enter into chayim (life) without obeying the mitzvot (commandments).
Q. But isn't the Torah (Law) a system of mitzvot (commandments) to be obeyed? Then there is an immediate contradiction!
A. The issue here is not the "Torah (Law)" and "mitzvot (commandments)" but "righteousness" and "chayim (life)". Obeying the Torah (Law) of mitzvot (commandments) doesn't make you righteous but it does give you CHAYIM (LIFE).
Q. I don't understand....aren't they the same? Isn't to be in a state of righteousness to possess eternal chayim (life)??
A. OK, I see that we must unpack these two concepts a bit further...
Q. I hope you don't mind.
A. Of course not. We are here to understand. To begin with, righteousness is conformity to torah (law), especially the torah (law), mind, and will of Elohim (God), which is the norm of righteousness. Messiah fulfilled this righteousness because we couldn't. Do you agree with that?
A. Do you also agree that we are now empowered by Messiah because of our new chayim (life) in Him?
Q. Of course.
A. So both righteousness and eternal chayim (life) come from Elohim (God) apart from our own efforts to obtain them.
Q. Yes. But Yah'shua (Jesus) told the man in Matthew 19:17 to obtain eternal chayim (life) through obedience to the mitzvot (commandments).
A. That is right. But the requirement to obey the mitzvot (commandments) is not to establish ones own righteousness or merit before Elohim (God) but is to be an expression of true emunah (faith). You can't obey the mitzvot (commandments) and expect to receive chayim (life) if you don't actually believe. The Bible consistently teaches in both the Old and New Testaments that salvation is a gift of Elohim's (God's) grace (undeserved loving-kindness) received through emunah (faith) (Eph.2:8).
Q. It's hard but I think I see what you are saying. We're back to the old chicken-or-egg-first connundrum - which comes first, emunah (faith) or works?
A. Yes, and it's one we have answered many times before. We are saved by emunah (faith, trusting), but emunah (faith) without works is dead. And if we are not doing good works, that is proof positive that we have no emunah (faith), and are therefore unsaved, unless there are mitigating circumstances like a person completely paralysed or someone repenting just before they die.
Q. We are in danger of losing the thread of our main argument so I would like to take up on what we were saying about Augustine. Augustine said we were a mess of sin without any goodness. Is that true?
A. I know you'd like a definite answer but I can't give it to you yet. I will only say, however irritating, 'yes' and 'no' for the time being. I think we have seen from the passages cited, from which this Augustinian doctrine of the total depravity of man derives, that we are not so utterly depraved and evil that there isn't a spark of goodness in us. Common sense and simple observation ought to dispel that myth. Indeed, does not Paul himself say that those without the Torah (Law) will be judged on the basis of the good they have done by following the light of their conscience? If heathens are so utterly depraved, how could they have a conscience?
Q. There must be some light of emet (truth) in them after all.
A. And the Scriptures, as I read them, say as much. But before I look at those please do not think that I am denying original sin or the fall of Adam. These are undeniable realities. I have seen too much of human nature and the gulf that separates the righteousness of man from the righteousness of Elohim (God) to know that an inherited fallen nature is there right from the beginning. But I will talk about that later, if I may, as there are other important concepts to discuss first.
Q. Augustine said that man can no more turn to Elohim (God) than an empty glass can fill itself. Do you agree?
A. You're really dropping hard ones tonight! I probably agree, meaning, that I agree if I understand him right. Augustine taught that the initial work of divine grace by which a soul is freed from the bondage of sin is sovereign and operative. Again, I probably agree. But before I answer this question, I think we need some more contrasts. So why don't we take a look at Pelagius?
A. Pelagius, first of all, observed the corruption of the (Roman) Church around him and concluded that its moral and spiritual laxity was the result of Augustine's doctrine of divine grace.
Q. A bit like the spiritual laxity of the Hindus who believe that can sort out their problems 'next time round' when, as they suppose, they are reincarnated?
A. Mmmm, in a way, yes, so long as you aren't making a direct equation between reincarnation and Pelagianism! That could be dangerous...
Q. What I mean is that a misapplication of a doctrine, true OR false, caused Pelagius to react in the way he did.
A. That's better. Pelagius looked around him and reasoned that if man was not responsible for his good and evil deeds then there was nothing to restrain him from indulging in sin.
Q. A good point.
A. So he categorically denied the doctrine of original sin, arguing that sin only affected Adam, and that all new born babies are in the same condition as Adam was before he fell.
Q. A bit like the Mormons.
A. Very much so. Here I must disagree with Pelagius. Joseph Smith in his 'Articles of Faith' said that we are not punished for Adam's sins but for our own. That is only a half truth. We are not punished for Adam's sin directly but we do inherit the consequences of his sin, just as our children inherit our sinful natures down to the seventh generation.
Q. Does the Bible repudiate Smith?
A. Clearly. Otherwise how could Elohim (God) punish my descendants for my own sins? Yet I would hesitate to use the word 'punish' because it's more complex than that. We inherit certain weaknesses in our natures by genetic inheritance as part of Elohim's (God's) plan to progress us here on earth. Our limitations are designed to be turned around for our benefit, even if they are only to keep us humble. So 'punishment' is not necessarily the right word -- 'limitation' would be better.
Pelagius is wrong if he says that babies are 100 per cent pure and innocent. I would not care to put a figure on it but I would disagree with the Mormons when that say that children are without sin until they turn 8 years old. Rather, I would say that because they are not conscious of sin that Elohim (God) does not hold them accountable until they are.
Q. And that would presumably apply to us also.
A. Elohim (God) does not punish us in the direct sense for sins we are not aware of. We are limited by that sinful behaviour, though, even as young children are. But once we become conscious, we become afflicted by guilt which will not go away until we repent and accept the work of Messiah.
The person who said that you don't need to teach a person to be bad because he will do it of his own accord, was right. He also said that you must teach a child to do good, because of its own accord it will usually turn to evil in whatever degree. These observations are a witness to me of the truthfulness of the doctrine or original sin. Thus I can neither agree with Pelagius nor Augustine.
Q. But are we free to choose between good and evil, as Pelagius maintained?
A. Well, I dealt with this one when we talked together in one of our first interviews (see, Apostolic Interviews II: A Question of Agency). Pelagius rejected the arguments of those who claimed they sinned because of human weakness, and insisted that Elohim (God) made human beings free to choose between good and evil and that sin is voluntary...
Q. Which is what NCAY teaches?
A. Yes, we believe we are free to choose between good and evil in the daily choices we face in life.
Q. But what of our fallen human nature?
A. We have the ability to resist provided we trust in Messiah.
Q. But Pelagius rejected that idea, didn't he?
A. Pelagius reasoned that a good and just Elohim (God) would not command of fallen men that which was impossible and that anyone could live free from sin, if he so chose. Consequently, according to Pelagius, man was autonomous, unhindered, and free to choose for or against Elohim (God). The Roman Church declared his doctrine a heresy.
Q. If we are neither Augustinian nor Pelagian, does that make us Semi-Pelagian?
A. Let's see what the Semi-Pelagians said first. They maintained that man needs Elohim's (God's) grace to be saved, but that man has the ability within himself to accept or reject that grace. Thus mankind is not dead in sin, only sick. They said that there remains a moral ability within man, a remnant of virtue hidden in his soul that is unaffected by the Fall. Thus the fallen sinner still has the inherent ability to co-operate with Elohim's (God's) grace or not. In other words, man has the ability to accept Elohim's (God's) offer of salvation, or he can reject it. Thus, according to modern orthodox theologians, salvation is not totally dependant upon grace as does Augustinianism, but ultimately on man's own choice.
There are many complex concepts here which we must carefully analyse before coming to any firm conclusions. Firstly, Messianic Evangelicals would agree that man has the ability to accept or reject Elohim's (God's) grace. But at the same time we would reject the notion that a part of man remained unaffected by the Fall. We must accept that the Bible teaches a complete and utter Fall. However, we have yet to define what we mean by 'Fall'.
Q. That sounds like a contradiction to me. If we have completely fallen, how can we possibly choose?
A. Here John the Apostle comes to the rescue with a vital piece of information. And again, the modern versions corrupt it. It's to be found at the beginning of his Gospel. Follow through with me as I first read from the NIV:
The NIV does at least acknowledge another rendering of this last sentence and, in my edition, includes as a footnote:
Q. There's a big difference between the two - one (the NIV) says that Yah'shua (Jesus) is coming into the world to illuminate all those who believe in Him, but the alternative one sounds as though it is saying that everyone who is born has this light!
"There was a man who was sent from John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light (Messiah), so that through Him all men might believe. He himself (John) was not the light; he came only as a witness of the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world" (Jn.1:6-9, NIV).
A. You're dead right. Listen to the KJV:
The Aramaic confirms it:
"That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" Ibid., KJV).
I repeat so that no-one is in any doubt what the Davar Elohim (Word of God) says: EVERY MAN WHO IS BORN INTO THE WORLD RECEIVES THE LIGHT OF MESSIAH. Everyone. That means that in addition to our fallen nature which we inherit from our parents, and ultimately from Adam and Eve, Elohim (God), through an act of grace, has placed within everyone who is born into this world, irrespective of whether they choose to believe the Good News of Messiah or not, A PORTION OF THE RUACH HA-MASHIACH OR SPIRIT OF CHRIST.
"For the light was of emet (truth), that which shines on all who come into the world" (Ibid., AENT)
Q. But that sounds a bit like the Gnostic doctrine that we have a divine spark in us what we must realise, the same as the New Age teach.
A. Not so. The New Age teaches, like existentialists, that there is no sin, no fallen Adamic nature. John acknowledges original sin but adds that there is also, if you will, a 'divine spark'. But that divinity is not ours or 'us' - it is Messiah's, to lead and guide us.
Q. So this isn't the same as being baptised in the Ruach (Spirit)?
A. Not at all. The gift of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) is given to those who believe their Saviour and who seek to obey their Master. The Light of Messiah is given to EVERYONE to help guide them through life.
Q. Like one's conscience.
A. Partly. The conscience is constantly in the formation. Human nature and the Light of Messiah affect our conscience by which we interpret whether something is right or wrong. We can choose to listen to the Light or not. If we don't, then our conscience deceives us. Paul says that unbelievers have defiled consciences (1 Cor.8:7; Tit.1:15) - the consciences of fallen man must be re-educated by the Davar Elohim (Word of God) and by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit).
Q. This is a wholly new teaching that throws a different light on matters.
A. Not new, just forgotten. It's what the Bible teaches. And it's vital to our understanding of human nature and salvation.
Q. But isn't what you are saying just a different way of stating Augustinianism? If the Light of Messiah guides those who have not been regenerated, could it not be said that the Light was the medium of Elohim's (God's) sovereign grace?
A. No, I don't think so. Augustine said that we were totally depraved. We say that only a part of us is totally depraved. The Light of Messiah, Elohim's (God's) gift, cannot be so. This is not a leftover of our pre-Fall nature as the Semi-Pelagians teach but a special gift to help us be led to the emet (truth) and to confer free agency on us. Without this Light, then what Augustine said must of necessity be true.
So, let's state categorically, we are not Augustinian, Pelagian, or Semi-Pelagian, though there are elements of all three that we can identify with. If we identify with any school of thought we must look to later theologians. Which brings us to Thomas Aquinas.
Aquinas taught that man had revolted against Elohim (God) and was fallen, but did not believe that the Fall only affected man in part.
Q. Sounds like Semi-Pelagianism again?
A. Yes. Aquinas taught that people could rely on their own wisdom, which opened the door to the mixing of biblical and non-Christian teachings. He mixed Aristotelian ideas with biblical ones. This was critical, because it advanced the apostasy of the Messianic Community (Church) even further, allowing the authority of the Community (Church) to take over the authority of the Bible, which in turn led people to question whether the Bible was necessary any more.
Q. It sounds like liberal Christianity.
A. In a way, it was. We see as a result of the Aquinasian doctrine many Catholic ideas which led to ecclesiolatry, the same virus that holds Mormons in thraldom. With the freedom to mix human wisdom with Biblical emet (truth), the door was opened to humanism, the false atheistic religion of our own time.
Q. So we reject Aquinas.
A. Clearly. Any doctrine which leads to the formulation that the authority of the Messianic Community (Church) is equal to, or greater than, the Davar Elohim (Word of God), is a serious error. Aquinas taught that man's will was fallen but not man's mind. Thus man could work out his salvation through reasoned thinking alone. This is a form of gnosticism, for the Gnostics taught, as you know, that we are saved by knowledge.
Q. How does this place us relative to the Reformation and Catholic teaching on human nature?
A. Hard to say. Both the Reformation and Catholicism were basically Augustinian, though the Catholic Church came under Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism for some time as it emphasised works in order to get right with Elohim (God). The Reformation did not, in any case, have a unified doctrine on human nature - there was considerable disagreement. And when it became public on 31 October 1517, when Luther posted up his 95 theses on the door of the Palast Church in Wittenberg, this disagreement soon became evident in the different factions of the Reformation.
Q. I understand that Pelagianism was espoused by many Reformers?
A. Only a few. Erasmus springs especially to mind. (Incidentally, it was his manuscript selection that formed the ground text of the KJV). He claimed that man was sick but not dead and believed that salvation is a co-operative enterprise between Elohim (God) and man, even though man's share in its is small. Given the opportunity, he claimed, man will choose Elohim (God). The teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses and Moonies are very similar to this Semi-Pelagian teaching, but go much further - the Moonies claim to be JOINT-ATONERS with Christ!
Q. But most of the Reformers were not Pelagian or even Semi-Pelagian....
A. True. I think it is true to say that the Protestant Reformers were based around Ephesians 2:8-9 - it is the key passage of the Reformation, around which everything else revolves. Justification - that is, being made right with Elohim (God) - built upon the premise of Elohim's (God's) sovereign electing grace and man's ruin. They claimed that man did not possess free will, but was helplessly bound in sin. Elohim's (God's) grace was the cause of redemption, and emunah (faith) but the means.
Q. Didn't Erasmus and Luther have a big debate over this question?
A. Yes, they were contemporaneous. Luther and Erasmus were agreed on everything except this matter of justification.
Q. Where did John Calvin stand in this debate?
A. Calvin believed that every aspect of human beings is corrupted, including reason and will.
Q. Then why would Elohim (God) ask man to reason with Him??
A. A good question! "Come now, and let us reason together, saith Yahweh" (Isa.1:18, KJV). It follows that we reject this Calvinistic proposition, and on sound scriptural grounds too. He believed, as do many others (like most Baptists) that the Bible should only be interpreted literally, and rejected the traditional idea which allowed for allegorisation, spiritualisation, and moralisation as well. The mediaeval theologians let this get out of hand, somewhat, but that is no cause for rejecting them - indeed, some scripture can't be interpreted without some sort of mystical approach.
Q. Such as?
A. Such as Matthew 2:14-15, for example. If we interpret this literally, we must dismiss Matthew as getting it wrong, because he quotes Hosea 11:1-2a, equating Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) with Israel. Only an esoteric interpretation is possible. Without it we must dismiss this passage, and Matthew, as being in error and therefore uninspired. (See, The Four Modes of Scriptural Interpretation, in The Olive Branch, Oslo: 1997, pp.1026-1065).
But Matthew was not wrong - Calvin was. His view of Scripture was too narrow. We agree with him part of the way - that the PRIMARY meaning of scripture must be taken literally within its historical context.
Q. What is NCAY's view of Puritanism?
A. John Knox was a great man. He wished to see the Reformation taken to the next stage, to complete and final purification of both the individual and society as a whole. Great though his theocratic idea was, the timing was all wrong.
Knox's theology was basically Reformed (Calvinist) and was a part of a dissenting tradition stretching all the way back to John Wycliffe. From William Tyndale the Puritans took an intense commitment to Scripture and a theology which emphasised the concept of COVENANT.
Q. It sounds to me as though Messianic Evangelicals have more in common with the Puritans than with any other Reformation tradition?
A. I think we do, in some respects. However, the Puritans believed they could impose their theocracy whilst trying to reform human nature on an individual basis. It backfired on them, especially in England under the rule of Oliver Cromwell. Knox had a sound theocratic vision and understood the concept of covenant, but tried to implement a millennial rule before its time.
Their methods were also reminiscent of the age, the 16th century especially. They could be as violent and oppressive as the Catholic overlords the Reformation had earlier overthrown. Calvin was a heretic-burner like Cromwell. We must, in all good conscience, distance ourselves from such murderous behaviour. Thus we could not rightly call ourselves Puritans.
Q. We hear quite a bit about Arminianism. Could you tell us a little about that?
A. Jacob Arminius was originally a Calvinist but became what one might call a 'semi-Semi-Pelagian'.
Q. What does that mean?
A. It means that he sought to create a consistent interpretation of the Christian emunah (faith) without forfeiting the free will foundation.
Q. That sounds a bit like us.
A. Almost, but not quite. Arminius believed that man's will was once hindered but that Elohim (God) restored to all men adequate freedom or free will so that they can determine their own destiny.
I understand what Arminius was trying to do. He claimed that Elohim (God), through redemption, bestows a 'common grace' upon all men, thereby making it possible for the individual to exercise his free will either for, or against Elohim (God). He created the maxim: "It is mine to be willing to believe, and it is a part of God's grace to assist."
Q. I get the uncomfortable feeling that we are getting lost in a jungle of words here. We are indulging in semantic fencing like the philosophers.
A. I sympathise with your sentiment. This is not the way I would ordinarily approach this question. And if our listeners would like a different approach, then I suggest they break off here and go to our second interview, A Question of Agency. Look, this is not an easy question. It can't be answered by homing in on one or two principles - we must look at a whole galaxy of them and effect, if that is possible for the human mind, a synthesis. This is an intellectual approach, and as such it is bound to be lacking somewhat, but it is not altogether an invalid method.
The acid test must be whether we can explain the emet (truth) as easily to the common man on the street as easily as to the intellectual. If we can't then we have missed something along the way.
Q. OK, why don't we move on past Armenius and see if we can find some commonality with other Protestant traditions.
A. We can't really leave Armenius completely - but OK, let's bypass him, and return to him later.
Let's jump forwards to the first Great Awakening of 1736-43 which started in New Jersey amongst the Reformed and Presbyterians, and the Congregationalists in the Connecticut Valley to see if we can discern how the Ruach (Spirit) had endorsed various movements. This 'awakening' really put the lid into the coffin of the Puritan idea of society as a beneficial union of ecclesiastical and public life. Thereafter the only religious groups that would espouse such a doctrine were the Catholics (who have always maintained the idea of a theocratic state, but not one based on love and grace, but rather force that inevitably degenerates into pure evil) and, within their own community, the Mormons. The leaders of the 'Awakening' called for purity in the churches, even if it meant destroying Puritanism's historically close association between church and state.
Q. What is your opinion about this?
A. It was both good and bad. It was good for the Ekkesia (Church) but bad for the State, for thereafter it meant that State and Church would go careering off in different and mutually antagonistic directions. But it was clearly what Elohim (God) ordained and was right. This was Yahweh's way of telling believers that a millennial theocracy would not come about in the 'Church Age', that is, the pre-millennial age.
Funnily enough it is the liberals who have largely taken over the old Puritan theocratic model by preaching a Social Gospel in which the Church would act as a leaven in Society, gradually transforming it into its perfect form. Such a doctrine is based on a kind of reverse Darwinism, though, and is nowhere to be found in the Bible. Rather, the Scriptures teach that conditions in the world will turn from bad to worse to outright evil in which an Anti-Messiah (Antichrist) rules the whole planet. Only Yah'shua's (Jesus') personal intervention by force will bring it to an end. At that time the true Messianic Community (Church) - the Remnant - will be underground again as it was in the days before the Reformation.
The next historical unfolding was made by Jonathan Edwards in the early 1700s. Many New England Congregationalists and middle colony Presbyterians started banning the Lord's Supper from all but true believers as part of a move to purify the Community (Church). This was undoubtedly correct.
In regard to the theme we are talking about to day I should point out that Edwards taught that the 'will' was an expression of the whole person which always followed the heart's strongest motives. The heart's ultimate motives, he said, were selfish and turned from Elohim (God) because of humanity's participation in Adam's fall, until Elohim's (God's) sovereign grace brought about a change of heart.
Q. And what do you say to that?
A. There is no doubt that the human heart is desperately selfish and that even in 'love', selfish motives invariably steer us. But then there is the question of the Light of Messiah within us...
Q. Yes, we still haven't answered the question as to whether the Light of Messiah comes under Yahweh's sovereign grace or is under our control. If it is under Elohim's (God's) sovereign grace, then aren't we Augustinian after all?
A. I hesitate strongly to identify with a particular label because it isn't that simple. So let me introduce another move of the Ruach (Spirit), and that is Methodism.
Q. Ah, the Wesley brothers...
A. Yes. John Wesley's theology affirmed Elohim's (God's) sovereign will to reverse our "sinful, devilish nature", by the work of His Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), a process he called prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying grace. Prevenient or preventing grace for Wesley described the universal work of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) in the hearts and lives of people between conception and conversion. Original sin makes it necessary for the Ruach (Spirit) to initiate the relationship between Elohim (God) and people. Bound by sin and death, people experience the gentle wooing of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), which prevents them from moving so far from "the Derech (Way)" that when they finally understand the claims of the Besorah (Gospel) upon their lives, Elohim (God) guarantees their freedom to say 'yes'.
Q. That sounds a bit like Calvinism...
A. In many respects they are not so far apart, although free will is an issue. Wesley stated that he and Calvin were but a hair's breadth apart on justification. Sanctification, not free will, draws the clearest line of distinction.
Q. Methodism is in decline internationally - do you think this is a sign that its theological system was wrong?
A. I am surprised you would suggest such a thing! The fact that a particular theology is in decline does not necessarily make it wrong. Were we to measure emet (truth) by this yardstick then Catholicism would make a just claim to be on the right track.
Q. I am still rather confused. It's like a giant jigsaw puzzle with half the pieces missing.
A. I sympathise. But let's not give up yet but rather move onto the Second Great Awakening (1795-1830) which began in frontier America under the leadership of Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian itinerants. This was a revival movement which, incidentally, also spawned Mormonism, though under rather different circumstances. Many new denominations were created in its wake, including the Seventh Day Adventists. This Awakening encouraged a revivalistic, aggressive, democratic theology that shaped all American Protestantism through to the 1970s, and birthed the fundamentalist movement.
Q. So modern evangelical Christianity really owes its beginning to this time?
A. Undoubtedly. These Christians insisted that the Bible, and the Bible only, free from traditional interpretations, should be the standard for organising churches. As a result, a new litter of churches was formed - Disciples, Free Will Baptists, Calvinistic Methodists, Universalists, 'Christians', and other new groups.
The result was, in my view, chaos. The litter is so big now that one wonders if this brood of churches and denominations will ever stop multiplying.
Q. Some would say that we are a product of that 'brood'.
A. (laughs..) Yes, I suppose you could be right! Chaotic though it was, there was undoubtedly a purpose, some negative and some positive. But then this was the dangerous time in history for Christianity, when the seeds of secularism and humanism really began to sprout. Some great theological minds were to come out of this great pool of contrary opinion.
I think now of Nathaniel Taylor who founded New Haven Theology, who contributed to the rise of evangelical theology by modifying Calvinism, rendering it compatible with revivalism in the opening decades of the 19th century. His conviction was that individuals always possessed a "power to the contrary" when facing moral choices leading him to a full belief in human free will.
Q. Now that I can harmonise with Messianic Evangelical Theology...
A. So far, yes. He insisted that men are lost but denied that Adam's sin was imputed to all men and that everyone inherits a sinful nature which causes one to sin. Even though a person sins, he has power to do otherwise, thus remaining morally responsible.
Q. Amen! This is surely the Messianic Evangelical position...?
A. Absolutely. This is what we believe and teach. Whilst Edwards and Whitefield had stressed the inability of sinful people to save themselves in order to preserve Elohim's (God's) sovereignty in salvation, Taylor and the leading revivalists on the frontier tended to stress more the ability which Yahweh had bestowed on all people to come to Messiah. The will was an independent arbiter which chose among options presented to it by the mind and the emotions.
Q. And I suppose you would accept that?
A. Yes, but a little more refinement in the teaching of the person of Charles Finney is needed...
Q. Yes, when we talked about Revival I remember you came out in strong support of Finney's theology (see A Question of Revival).
A. True, to a greater extent. Finney claimed that it is possible for humans to reach the standard of Elohim (God) on our own will. The Positive Thinking Movement can be traced back to the revivalism of Finney, whose emphasis on the human element in conversion and the ability of men to create revivals. However, I would not go as far as the 'positive thinkers' whom I think border on the New Age sometimes. Finney went about as far as one could go as far as human will is concerned.
Q. I would like, if I may, to steer our discussion into Pentecostalism....
A. One more thing first: Pentecostalism is a 20th century phenomenon but before that came the very important HOLINESS movement. They were briefly joined. Although the Pentecostal movement began in the United States, itself a significant fact, its theological and intellectual origins were British. The basic premises of the movement's theology were constructed by John Wesley in the 18th century. As a product of Methodism, the holiness-Pentecostal movement traces its lineage through the Wesleys to Anglicanism and from thence to Roman Catholicism. This theological heritage places the Pentecostals outside the Calvinistic, Reformed tradition which culminated in the Baptist and Presbyterian movements in the USA. The basic Pentecostal theological position might be described as Arminian, perfectionistic, pre-millennial, and charismatic.
Q. That's quite a mouthful! I know you have said that we have much in common with Pentecostalism but at the same time much in common with the Baptists. How can we have a foot in both camps if one is Arminian and the other Augustinian?
A. Our main quarrel with the Pentecostals is in tongue-speaking, as you know, but also in the fact that their whole system is essentially a 20th century phenomenon with no historical precedent. Pentecostalism was an evangelical charismatic reformation movement which usually traces its roots to an outbreak of tongue-speaking in Topeka, Kansas, in 1901 under the leadership of Charles Fox Paxham, a former Methodist preacher. It was Paxham who formulated the basic Pentecostal doctrine of 'initial evidence' after a student in his Bethel Bible School, Agnes Ozman, experienced glossolalia.
Q. ...which you reject?
A. Yes, because the Bible nowhere requires a person to speak in tongues as evidence of salvation.
But I think the Azusa Street revival, which occurred in an abandoned African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Los Angeles from 1906 to 1909, was what really got Pentecostalism going. The services there were led by William J. Seymour, an Afro-American holiness preacher from Houston, Texas, and a student of Paxham.
Q. Isn't it true that early Mormonism was heavily influenced by a type of Pentecostalism?
A. That is an interesting question. Actually, I would suggest it was the other way round. The Mormons were tongue-speakers right from their earliest days and this continued even in early Utah but eventually died out. I would even say they were, in a funny sort of way, the first Pentecostals.
Q. Yet they were so unlike Pentecostals in other ways.
A. Yes, they were organised differently with a centralised hierarchical structure and had an open canon. Yet the Mormon belief in prophecy, visions, dreams, etc., was also eagerly embraced by Pentecostals, and to this day they remain open to such things as a general rule. In this way we are like them but at the same time have more doctrinal affinity with the Baptists.
Q. I'm beginning to get confused again...!
A. It's confusing because it's so complex. The borders aren't as neat as our orderly minds would like them to be. There is so much overlap between most of the groups, and sometimes so much so that I wonder just how important all these doctrines actually are.
What interests me the most is the process by which Elohim (God) has unfolded His purposes over the centuries. The very act of history persuades me that Elohim (God) does indeed permit us free will to a greater extent than the Calvinists would ever acknowledge, for example, if for no other reason than He has seen fit not to intervene more often. The long ages of Catholic darkness do not fit in with an Elohim (God) who gives no sovereignty to man. We MUST, I believe, be responsible to some extent for the way conditions have changed over the centuries. I see no escape from this conclusion.
Q. It doesn't look as though we are going to come to a final statement on this matter. There are still many loose ends...
A. Yes, I am inclined to agree with you. But I think we have come a long way. We have found points of identity with certain key persons and movements. The keys of emet (truth) seem, do they not, to be scattered around here and there, with Yahweh waiting to raise a people to bring them all together.
Let us finish with what has come to be called 'Fundamentalism' which was the point around which evangelical Protestants rallied, and was a countermeasure against liberalism. It was a militant reaction to Darwinism, German higher criticism, and liberal theology in general. It also included in its 'list of enemies' Romanism, socialism, Eddyism (Christian Science), Mormonism, spiritualism, and, above all, liberalism. The 'list of enemies' became narrower and the fundamentals less comprehensive.
Q. Would we then be classified as 'Fundamentalists'?
A. Well, let's see - fundamentalism primarily defended five key doctrines which were:
Q. We defend all of these, don't we?
- (1) The inerrancy of Scripture;
- (2) The virgin birth of Messiah;
- (3) The substitutionary atonement of Messiah;
- (4) Christ's bodily resurrection; and
- (5) The historicity of the miracles.
A. With certain qualifications. We believe that the original Hebrew and Aramaic autographs to be inerrant (but not the Greek New Testament translations, as fundamentalists do), but not necessarily any existing translation.
Q. So we wouldn't claim, as many do today, that the original autographs have been preserved in the Authorised King James Version, and that this is the only word-for-word accurate scripture in existence?
A. No. Once I used to believe it was the best translation - the most reliable - but not word-perfect. I don't think it's possible to defend that position any more, even if it remains a good translation and a beautiful piece of literature, the best (if now somewhat antiquated) English the Bible has ever been rendered into.
The King James Version has, in any case, gone through a number of revisions itself, and still, in our view, needs revising. The presence of words like "unicorns" (Num.23:22; 24:8; Job 39:4,10; Ps.29:6; 92:10) - a mythological animal which should have been translated as "oxen" - "Jehovah" - which should have been rendered "Yahweh" - and "Easter" - which should have been rendered "Passover" (Ac.12:4) -- demonstrates beyond question that it contains errors.
Q. But have you not written somewhere that even the original autographs contained errors?
A. Not that I can recall. How could I, since the original autographs don't exist any more?!
Q. But you have said that the scriptures contain the words of the devil as well as the opinions of men, have you not?
A. Of course, the Bible includes the sayings of the devil and Elohim's (God's) enemies, but these are within the context of a story depicting fundamental emet (truth). Thus Satan's lies on the Garden of Eden to Eve exist to provide a contrast so that the emet (truth) may be know, for example, that we are not gods, except in the sense of being called to rule and judge. And yes, Paul gave his opinions on certain matters, but these he clearly stated as being such. Had he given an opinion and not indicated that it was so, then the Davar (Word) would have been open to misunderstanding and have led to possible error.
Q. So you are saying that the STORY is Elohim's (God's) Davar (Word) to man - rather than all the individual words?
A. No, the individual words are a part of that story, and so are the Davar Elohim (God's Word). You can't dissect the Bible as you are trying to do. The Davar Elohim (God's Word) is His revelation to mankind. By using the words of Elohim (God), men and demons, a revelation is woven into a narrative which aims to convey emet (truth). Thus the many words of Job's friends are a part of the Davar Elohim (God's Word), a part of the story line, whose purpose is to teach us what true doctrine is.
Q. In the same way that Elohim (God) permits evil in the world to effect His master plan, whose end is good?
A. An excellent illustration. We look around us at the chaos, evil, and meaningless of events, but fail to perceive that a global plan of salvation is being unfolded without our realising it. The forces at work are complex and we are apt to judge only what we see in our immediate situation yet history is unfolding as Elohim (God) has always purposed, the whole drama have woven into its man's freedom to choose right or wrong.
Q. This makes sense, and ties in what you said earlier about human volition. If we have no free will, as Augustine and others say, then the whole ghastly business of evil in the world makes little sense, since Elohim (God) has worked it out beforehand. It's rather macabre, in fact.
A. I agree. A doctrine without volition (free agency) paints a pretty horrible picture of Elohim (God) - why would Elohim (God) permit such a horrendous world if it is all predestined without any sovereign will on man's part? Indeed, the whole Augustinian doctrine is Catholic to its core. And as you know the Catholics try to paint a picture of an angry male Elohim (God) who can only be appeased by the pleadings of soft-hearted Mary who, by her works of grace, puts her in a superior moral position to Elohim (God) Himself. It is the great Catholic blasphemy and is the spiritual root of the modern liberal Christian movement which has tried to overturn Elohim's (God's) divine maleness and to substitute it for a more palatable neutral god - the god of the New Age...
Q. Which turns out, in the end, to be female anyway...
A. It's own twisted version of female, at any rate. Nobody really believes in a 'neutered god', and this neutral, sexless god is, in fact, merely the back on which the final blasphemous, matriarchal, feministic New Age doctrine rides, the doctrine of the mother goddess. Look at the different occult systems and you will see that its goal is to supplant Yahweh with a female goddess...
Q. Whom I suppose is Lilith?
A. A cluster of them, in fact, including Hecate, of which Lilith is a part. It is. Their 'Gaia' and other female divinities, so-called, are none other the works of these demonesses.
Q. But such a doctrine surely works against Satan, who is himself male?
A. Satan's doctrines, which comes in many guises, do not pretend to be harmonious. His goal is not to establish a perfect, internally harmonious system or doctrine, because there is only one, and that's the one established by Yahweh. Thus he sows contradictory and even antagonistic doctrines into the hearts and minds of men, his sole purpose being to destabilise the doctrine of Yahweh.
Yet there is another interesting point I would like to make, and it's this: what do you get if you attack divine patriarchy?
Q. A form of matriarchy, I suppose.
A. Indeed. In order to attack the true divine tavnith or pattern, Satan is conceding power and authority to his demoness-consorts, Lilith, hecate and others, just as the liberal establishment (who were mostly led by men in the beginning) have had to concede power and authority to women. The result, in the latter case, has been pure feminism!
Q. One senses a battle between men and women of liberal persuasions still...
A. Yes, a big war. Deep down the men know they are selling their divine right to women for a mess of pottage, but in their minds they must attack this in order to rebel against divine patriarchy. That is why men are still trying to dominate women in the liberal establishments, and in an unrighteous way. But I fear we are digressing from our topic.
The question you asked me was about the infallibility of scripture. I think we must basically go along with the fundamentalist position even though we might perhaps argue over some of the details of that statement.
Q. What of the Virgin Birth?
A. We have always uncompromisingly defended the virgin birth. You cannot read scripture and conclude anything else. It is a characteristic of nearly all of the false systems that have been hatched by Lilith and Hecate that the virgin birth is denied.
Q. What of the Catholics and Moslems who defend it??
A. The Catholics defend it for a different reason, in order to elevate Mary, whom they say remained a perpetual virgin.
Q. But Yah'shua (Jesus) had siblings?
A. Yes, He did, but the Catholics won't have any of that, so they mean that Yah'shua's (Jesus's) "brothers" were of the spiritual kind or that they were the offspring of another, earlier wife of Joseph. But there is no evidence for such a suggestion.
Q. And the Moslems?
A. Because the Moslem doctrine was received from the Catholics, whose religion they created?
Q. Wait a minute! Are you saying that the Catholic Church created Islam??
A. Islam was engineered by the Catholic Church to stop the Arabs from converting to true Christianity. So the Catholic Church invented a new religion containing common elements with the Catholic faith. Islam was supposed to have been the Vatican's obedient son but success on Islam's military front created an unrepentant 'prodigal son' who turned on his own master. Islam eventually evolved, under the spiritual tutelage of Satan, away from Catholicism, into, first, an autonomous religion, and finally, into a totally independent one. It is interesting that Islam holds to the virgin birth doctrine but denies the deity of Messiah. In a way, Catholicism denies the deity of Messiah too by elevating Mary to the station of 'Mother of God'.
Q. So we have never had any variant teaching about the virgin birth in NCAY?
A. No. We have always taught exactly what orthodox Christianity has taught throughout the centuries.
Q. What of the substitutionary atonement?
A. Again, we go along 100 per cent with the traditional orthodox teaching. And the same is true of the bodily resurrection of Messiah and the historicity of the miracles. We affirm these 100 per cent.
Q. Thus it would be true to say that Messianic Evangelicals are FUNDAMENTALIST?
A. Provided one doesn't add to these definitions, yes.
Q. What of the question of social involvement with the world? Isn't it true that the fundamentalist creed, if I can call it that, discouraged involvement in social and political issues on the ground that the world is so utterly corrupt and evil that little can be done to redeem its structures and institutions?
A. Basically we would go along with that. But modern fundamentalism had back-pedalled on that issue. Having said this, though, we do believe that Elohim (God) is working in these corrupt institutions through men and women but not with the purpose of creating a millennial Zion through a gradual diffusion of righteousness (which the liberals teach) but in order to preach the Davar (Word). The fundamentalist Christian places his hope on the return of Messiah, the final judgement, and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth.
Q. But what of the great social reformers who, through their actions, led to the abolition of slavery in Europe and America, for example? Was this a work of Elohim (God)?
A. Of course it was. And it was necessary. Yet history reveals that mankind usually trades in one form of slavery for another. There are few who are in physical bondage to earthly masters as the negro was but both former masters and slaves are today are in bondage to a plethora of modern evils that the earlier African slaves, who became in most cases, devout Christians, never knew. Physical slavery is better than spiritual slavery.
A. As Yah'shua (Jesus) taught, don't be afraid of abuses to the body, but fear abuses to the soul. African slaves had a terrible time under their colonial masters but it would not surprise me to learn that the vast majority of them are in heaven today. Look at the modern Afro-American - like his fallen, materialistic and rebellious Caucasian brother he is more likely on his way to hell today.
But back to fundamentalism. The fundamentalists split in the 1940s, with one half staying continuing to uphold the five doctrinal standards and the other compromising in order to continue fellowshipping with the large Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist and Episcopalian denominations in the northern US states. In the end, the whole Christian value system was abandoned and exchanged wholesale for pagan ones by the latter, who yielded Biblical authority to the new neo-pagan cultural and scientific high priesthood.
Q. Such as Darwinism?
A. Such as Darwinism, or its modern offshoots, which is undoubtedly the pagan social and scientific system. From the 1940s onwards, righteous indignation and holy zeal became all but endangered species. Virtues became vices, and the most awful of indulgences became canonised orthodoxies. Risk, jeopardy, and self-sacrifice were replaced by security, certainty, and self-gratification. Thus the only urgency that drove much of the Body of Messiah (Christian Church) during this dark period in history was its own satisfaction. An easy 'instant-everything' mentality developed so that believers would not have to face up to their responsibilities or live with the consequences of their actions...
Q. What you sometimes call the 'MacDonald's Syndrome', I think?
A. Yes. But why has this state of affairs occurred? It is because, in my view, theologians in the West have taught more and more that Elohim (God) is no longer to be understood as an immutable monarch controlling human history and individual lives, but rather as a self-limiting, loving and suffering father who allows himself to be affected by his creatures.
Q. The teachings of Kung, Chardin, Cobb, Griffin, Pinnock and others...?
A. Yes. These are the heroes of liberal Christianity but enemies of the Davar Elohim (Word of God). And riding on their backs have come a swarm of demons - Malthusianism (advocating racial planning which Hitler championed), Hinduism (which may rightly be said to be the religion of the West today), Buddhism (which believes in no personal Elohim/God at all, being more akin to the idea of a 'force' popularised by the Star Wars movies), the teachings of Aldous Huxley (an evolutionist who advocated drugs as the solution to our problems), Relativism (which, like Hindusim and 'Christian Science', denies reality), the teachings of Friedrich Nietzsche (which virtually deniy the existence of Elohim (God) altogether, and flourished in the 1960s), and Humanism (which denies the supernatural in totality and has become the atheistic philosophy of the West).
Q. Humanism is, perhaps, the greatest threat...
A. It's one of Satan's tools - the New Age is just as dangerous. But I agree, it's the most dangerous if for no other reason than it is propagated by all our institutions - schools, universities, and governments.
Humanism has four pillars:
It teaches that we need no outside help because our own intelligence and strength are sufficient.
- 1. Atheism;
- 2. Evolution;
- 3. Moral Relativity; and
- 4. Pragmatism.
Q. I am reminded of the movie, Independence Day.
A. An excellent illustration. (It's great entertainment, by the way!). In the story humans unite to destroy a superior alien civilisation that has invaded the earth to take it over and eradicate humankind. Apart from one passing reference to 'May God help us' by a British newscaster and a Jewish prayer circle at the moment of greatest desperation, we are taught that human ingenuity is enough to get us out of the worst possible situations.
Q. An Afro-American fighter pilot, a rather eccentric Caucasian newspaper reporter-scientist (I'm not sure which), a drunk crop-sprayer, and a gutsy US president basically save the world, don't they?
A. Yes, and they're not the first nor will they be the only film stars who will do so as the mass media indoctrinates us with the idea that man is basically his own saviour. We've even had children saving the world. And in Independence Day, the moral heroine, who went and rescued the sick and dying after the conflagration, was a stripper! Had she been a stripper who became a believer, that would have been another matter. But we are left with the thought that we should not pass moral judgement so long as good is being seen to be done.
For the humanist, there is no problem with sin. We are basically good, they say. Some people may do bad things, they maintain, but we are not really evil. There is no need therefore for salvation, no need for a Saviour to redeem us. That is the woeful anti-Christian philosophy that our children are inheriting today.
Q. What do you say to the charge that the semi-Pelagian view of man is responsible for the rise of many of the cults?
A. This is a half-truth. Yes, of course, semi-Pelagianism is responsible, in part, for 'Christian Science', semi-Christian 'Positive Thinking' groups, Scientology, and so on. The Augustinians like to use the semi-Pelagian whipping boy, forgetting that there have been some pretty terrible cults that were purely Augustinian.
Q. Such as?
A. The Catholic Church, for one, though this body has flirted with Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism historically. Remember that Augustine was a Catholic.
Q. Let's focus on the modern Christian churches. How do you view the present cocktail?
A. What a sea of confusion! Modern Christians have, I believe, forgotten how to think. They are too simple-minded and allow themselves to be blown around by every doctrine they hear. They have been taught to believe that Elohim (God) will give them pink Cadillacs or a Mercedes Benz if they pray with enough fervour and simply 'name it and claim it'. They are on TV: gobbling away, hands outstretched, eyes closed, and asking Elohim (God) for goodies. Kenneth Copeland uses the words of Willow, telling a stadium audience that if they believe enough, they can have anything. On another channel is Oral Roberts in his prayer tower telling 'the faithful' that if they don't send ten million dollars in the next few months Elohim (God) will take him home. The largest Sunday morning TV audience is drawn to a program that preaches a humanistic gospel masquerading as Christianity. Robert Schuller's message on the 'Hour of Power' program is called 'possibility thinking', a self-esteem message.
We are being offered substitute, counterfeit 'born-again' experiences too. Carl Roberts said that we can be 'born again' by being "baptized in the fluid waters of your own self," and that "self in its unlimited potential is virtually a god." For Carl Roberts, like millions of others, human experience is the centre and source of meaning. For them self-realisation can be accomplished apart from responsibility for other persons, tradition, or an objective Elohim (God) who makes moral demands. They say that we are resonable only for our own feelings, and that only as individuals can we judge our own values. Rogers has said that "sin is a lack of faith in yourself" and that "Jesus Christ...has saved me from my sin which is my tendency to put myself down and not believe that I can do it...Negative thinking is the core of sin....Jesus died to save us our sins to change us from negative thinking people to positive thinking people" (Hour of Power, 12 April 1992).
Q. That sounds like Buddhism to me...
A. Or something like it. And as you know I was associated for Buddhism for a while in my spiritual search for the emet (truth). I can still to this day remember being criticised by a Japanese Buddhist woman when I suggested that the problem with people is human nature and its tendency to evil. She said that because I made a negative statement that it could not be true. She criticised Christianity as being 'too negative' and that the path to salvation was purely positive thinking.
Q. A lot of Christians today would agree with her.
A. Alas, yes. For many modern evangelicals, emunah (faith) no longer requires Elohim (God) as its object, but is touted as a 'positive' power of the mind that creates what we firmly and sincerely believe. One seminar by well-known Christian success/motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar, promises: "How to Get What You Want".
A popular book by Kenneth Hagin is titled, How to Write Your Own Ticket With God. Thus what we 'pray' for will come to pass, not if Elohim (God) wills it, but if we can only believe it will happen. Robert Schuller has said:
Q. This all sounds like New Age teaching to me.
"What is the magic ingredient that can insure success and eliminate failure from our lives? It is FAITH! "Possibility Thinking" is just another word for faith" (Robert Schuller, Faith, The Force That Sets You Free!, 'Possibilities', Sept/Oct 1988, pp.22).
A. It is. But it's masquerading as Christianity by misusing scriptures taken out of context. So perverse is this teaching is that nowadays what previously would have been regarded as sin is today simply viewed as a 'psychological problem'. According to this school of thought, no-one is wilfully doing evil - we are also innocent victims of a disease for which we cannot be held accountable. A plague of 'poor self-concept' is sweeping our world and that is the cause of all that has gone wrong. Thus according to this New Age theology everyone is worthy of self-esteem regardless of their behaviour. Shirley MacLaine, actress-guru of the modern Hinduism that has taken over Western thinking, proclaimed: "You must never worship anyone or anything other than self. For you are god. To love self is to love God." (20 years on and Western society is reaping a bitter harvest of this demonic philosophy. It would not be amiss to say that society has, in consequence, gone insane).
Q. But this is the very antithesis of the revelation of Elohim (God)!
A. Yes, it is the emet (truth) turned up on its head. It is declaring that white is black, and white is black. Elohim (God) is now fallen man who needs nothing but himself. It is THE perversion of the age and it is wholly satanic.
Although the seeds of this anti-Christian religion have been present from the beginning, they did not really come to fruition until the 1960s. The 1960s was the irreversible beginning of the end.
Q. Wasn't this the time that the 'Jesus Movement' started?
A. Yes, it was a Christian counter culture youth movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. The 'Jesus Movement' of the 1970s yielded an unprecedented rise in conservative biblical evangelicalism. During that time there was great interest in evangelism, Bible study, and discipleship.
Q. We have close contacts with this movement, don't we?
A. In the early 1990s we made contact with them in Norway and have been firm friends ever since. Even though our theology isn't quite the same in all areas, we have found these people honest, loving, honourable and credible. We have supported them in many ways. I believe that in the not too distant future we will be working more closely together than ever as they have remained true to the Davar (Word).
Q. You're talking principally of Småfolk ('Little People'), aren't you?
A. Yes, that's right. We have a strong mutual respect for one another and help each other out whenever possible, even though we have no formal links.
Q. Weren't the people of the 'Jesus Movement' also known as 'Jesus Freaks'?
A. Yes. Because many of them were former drug-users who came to Messiah. But not all the 'Jesus people' were once drug users or hippies and it would be an error to categorise them as such. In some respects they were a product of their time - as the hippies were against institutions of every kind, so the 'Jesus Movement' rejected all forms of institutionalised church.
Q. They were 'independents', weren't they?
A. They believed, and still believe, principally in the invisible Body of Messiah, and that the highest level of organisation is the local congregation. I don't know how the 'Jesus Movement' works in other locations but those we know in Norway are basically evangelism teams recruiting for other evangelical denominations. Whilst such a ministry is, in our view, commendable, I don't think it serves the long-term interests of the Assembly of Yahweh (Church of God) which needs greater discipling.
Q. Let's return to the charismatic movement which, though it started from a classical Pentecostal background, has influenced many denominations even, I believe, the Catholic Church.
A. Yes. Charismatics basically believe that tongue-speaking is the outward evidence of having been baptised in fire and the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) (which we reject), and that the charismata, or spiritual gifts, continue to be valid in all ages (which we agree with - 1 Cor.12:8-10).
Many mainline churches have been 'hit' by the charismatic movement, beginning with the ministry of Dennis Bennett, an Episcopal rector in Van Nuys, California. The movement has steadily grown since then, embracing such Protestant churches as Episcopal, Lutheran, and Presbyterian (early 1960s), to be followed by the Roman Catholics (beginning in 1967), and then the Greek Orthodox (in about 1971). The charismatic movement has affected almost every historic church and has spread to many churches and even messianic assemblies and countries beyond the USA.
Q. What of the Baptists?
A. I am not an expert in this subject but if I am not mistaken, it by-passed the Baptists. And if Baptists did embrace charismata, I suspect they switched denominations.
Q. Don't you find that interesting? I mean, isn't it strange that the Baptists should be missed when more traditional churches like the Church of England were also 'hit'?
A. Yes, I do find this very interesting, and I could say much more. However, it is mostly within the realm of speculation.
Q. I think our listeners would be interested nonetheless...
A. I venture with caution here but offer the following. I believe that the charismatic movement opened up a Pandora's Box of both good and evil - of both true and false charismata. Look at all the counterfeit groups it has spawned. The Baptists, to their credit, held their ground, and resisted the charismatic wave. However, I believe they have, in protecting themselves against the false charismata, also closed themselves off to choice blessings. I do understand and sympathise with them, however, and believe Yahweh uses many Baptists mightily. And even though we have had our sharpest disagreements with Baptists we are, ironically, united with them on so many points of the Besorah (Gospel). The especially take my hat off to the unregistered Baptist Churches of the former Soviet Union who remained true to the Besorah (Gospel) as they understood it without compromising with the system. They were badly persecuted and suffered terribly. The 'charismatic' churches, by contrast, had a very low profile, and unless I have my history wrong (and I don't pretend to know but the smallest fraction of it - I hope listeners in the know will correct me if I am wrong), lacked the kind of gospel depth to sustain a people in times of persecution.
Q. Which should tell us something about the Baptist way...
A. (grins). That is a question you can well ask...!
Q. In the late 1970s and in particular the 1980 campaign of Ronald Reagan for the US Presidency, fundamentalists entered a new phase, becoming nationally prominent. They offered a new direction for society by trying to influence politics. I am thinking of Jerry Falwell, Tim La Haye, Hal Lindsey, and Pat Robertson in particular. What do you think of this move?
A. It is commendable in its intention but, I believed, doomed to failure. In 1979 Jerry Falwell, a fundamentalist Baptist pastor and TV personality, founded Moral Majority, to rally politically conservative fundamentalist and evangelical Christians. The Moral Majority sought to educate and mobilise the conservative masses to support morally upright candidates for public office.
Q. Are you opposed to the principles of Moral Majority?
A. Of course not. They have spoken out against abortion, pornography, drug use, homosexuality, and the Equal Rights Amendment. They want to reverse the immoral trends in society. This is all commendable. But getting involved politically is not the right way, in my view. It is trying to change the system by working though the system.
Look at Norway. This year (1997) the electorate voted a Christian Prime Minister into power, Kjell-Magne Bondevik. He leads a coalition, minority government consisting of centrists. As a result he has had to compromise in order to stay in power. A Bible-believing Christian cannot compromise.
But let us say that he had a majority government and changed the abortion and homosexual cohabitation laws, for instance, making these criminal offences. What would be achieved?
Q. I guess you would end up with a modern version of Puritan England.
A. Right. It wouldn't last, because it is built up on the world's system. What if Moral Majority politicians obtained power? Would they be able to reverse the trends in society?
Q. Probably only for a while. But surely it's worth trying even if it is only to save the lives of the unborn.
A. I agree this is a dilemma, and I can see short-term advantages. But a society forced to live laws against it will, will eventually, throw out such a government and introduce more liberal laws.
Q. So you would concede that Christians should enter politics for short-term objectives like saving the lives of the unborn?
A. Each individual must respond in obedience to the call that the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) gives them. We cannot resist that.
Q. And what if a Messianic Evangelical received such a call?
A. Then that person would have to obey.
Q. But wouldn't that bring them into direct conflict with our teaching to be non-politically involved?
A. I do not believe that such a person would have received a call to come into NCAY. Elohim (God) would have led him to another denomination.
Q. You don't know that for sure. We have had at least one person called to NCAY who left politics but who then returned to it.
A. Yes, but that person left NCAY first. Returning to politics was one of many things she did after she had rejected the covenants. And she became an existentialist, you know.
Q. That is true.
A. Yah'shua (Jesus) said that his Kingdom was not of this world and denied the accusations make against Him that He was seeking to overthrow the political system of His day. It was because of this that Pontius Pilate acquitted Him of any charge of sedition against the occupying Roman authority. The first Christians/Messianics were not involved in politics; as soon as they were, their spiritual power vanished. When believers try to change the system from within it is usually a sign that they have failed to change it from without. And if they have failed to change it from without, it is because of spiritual stagnation. What is needed is REVIVAL to have any permanent effect on society and I would recommend that you go back over what we discussed a couple of interviews before (see Apostolic Interviews 10: A Question of Revival).
When the Messianic Community (Church) is endowed or anointed CHRISTIAN/MESSIANIC POLITICIANS ARE NOT NEEDED because the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) will cause people to rethink their views on certain policies like abortion.
Q. And it will be the secular politicians changing the laws for the better even if they aren't Christians?
A. Yes. However, if there is no revival - and there isn't one now, contrary to the claims of many fraudulent charismatic groups - then perhaps inside involvement is desirable to some extent. Look, I do not know the full providence of Elohim (God). He works how He will, and often in unexpected ways. It may well be that He positioned Moral Majority to save some of the unborn. But as a long-term movement, it was doomed to failure. (It collapsed in the late 1980's in fact). Politics will not redeem society. Only a movement of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) will.
Q. What if unbelieving Christians are converted to the emunah (faith)? Should they then leave politics??
A. Each must do as the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) leads. Those who come to NCAY may well leave.
Q. So you are not finally dogmatic about this?
A. Let me try and paint a picture for you. Someone coming to NCAY, having received Messiah as his Master (Lord) and Deliverer (Saviour), will desire to labour for the Kingdom with all his might, heart and strength. He will want to evangelise. He will likely have a secular profession, unless he is a full-time evangelist or an apostle. A politician has little time for extracurricular activities, and what little time he does have he will rightly want for his family. A Messianic Evangelical will be preparing for Priesthood ordination almost from Day 1 of full membership because he will wish to witness and help build up his local congregation.
Q. Is everyone expected to become an ordinand?
A. It has always been the goal of the Royal Priesthood. A 'priesthood of believers' is not just an abstract theological term. Everyone called to Messiah - men and women alike - are called into this Priesthood. Not all, of course, will respond. And many people will come to us who are just 'hangers-on', making no formal commitment in either baptism or chrism. Some may be baptised but never seek full membership. Amongst such might well be some politicians.
Q. Wouldn't they eventually lose their membership?
A. Wherever have you got that idea from? We don't throw people out for inactivity any more than we do for refusing a Priesthood call. Obviously a person who fails to magnify his calling in a Priesthood office will be released from it by the by but membership in the Kingdom isn't like that.
Q. But doesn't the parable of the talents indicate otherwise?
A. I think you should look back over an earlier interview we had on this matter so that we don't go over the same material twice (see A Question of Fellowship). But to summarise, the final sifting of the sheep from the goats doesn't take place until the end time. Persecution usually sifts them out when the going gets tough. We are not in the business of sifting out inactive members but we have been commanded in the revelations to keep the Priesthood pure.
I think you are looking at this issue from a fundamentally flawed angle. We are in the business of saving, not throwing out. Now in the old Independent Church days (1986-92) we were much stricter in this matter because the purpose of that body was solely to gather out the future leadership of the future NCAY. All those old structures have now gone.
Q. But not as far as the Priesthood is concerned?
A. No, if anything, that has become stricter. But this is not what we are discussing here today. We are talking principally about human nature and how it should be understood from the biblical revelation. We were talking about Moral Majority which brings us up-to-date on what is happening in the evangelical world. Moral Majority was viciously attacked by the humanist media for attempting to enact into law a particular religious viewpoint.
Q. But isn't humanism a 'religious viewpoint'?
A. That's the biggest irony. It is. Humanism is an atheistic religion and it is imposed upon us everywhere. There is no such thing as a non-religious viewpoint.
Q. But isn't the idea to permit the free religious expression of everyone?
A. If we're talking about the American system here then we are talking about a Constitution which recognises a Creator (Elohim/God). Humanism recognises neither, being evolutionistic and atheistic. Allowing the freedom of expression of religion is a part of the Constitution. Thus Moslems, Mormons and Episcopalians should be protected in their right to worship Elohim (God). The problem comes in where you draw the boundaries. What about a Satanist group?
I don't want to get into a debate on this subject now or we shall be here all night - I doubt that believers will ever agree. By my own political manifesto (were I ever to have one) would be to impose certain ethical values on society. I would support many of the Moral Majority's goals such as outlawing abortion and homosexual 'marriage' but I would not impose prayer on schools. I would allow for different types of schools so that those who wished to have prayer would be free to choose that. I would outlaw pornography.
Q. What in the Moral Majority manifesto did oppose?
A. Well, Moral Majority was very keen on a strong military machine which, though such might be desirable for a nation, is really not a Christian concern. There are many complex issues which can't really be resolved in a secular society - in a theocratic state, such as will obtain in the Millennium, the issues are straight forward. That is why I think politics is a nightmarish morass.
We live in a hedonistic society today that is neither beneficial to individuals nor productive to society at large. Individualism used to be expressed positively in the past within the context of the family, the community, the church, and the government. Personal rights were subjected to the overall good of society. But individualism today no longer observes such boundaries. The cry is, 'I want what I want when I want it.'
The focus on self, auto-centrism (or 'selfism'), and behaviourism has led our society into a fascination with pleasure, emotional and sexual stimulation, and 'personal fulfilment'. The cult of self has become an addiction. The other day I walked through a large department store in the centre of Oslo during the height of the Christmas shopping season and asked myself, as I looked around at the goods, 'Who needs any of this?' And I was reminded of the Egyptian Christian hermit who lived in the desert several hundreds of years ago. He would make an annual pilgrimage into what was then one of the great metropolises of the world, Alexandria. Once he was asked by a wealthy merchant why he made this pilgrimage, to which he replied: 'So I can see all of the things I don't need.'
In the search for personal self-gratification people have become totally depersonalised because they are seeking in a way which is totally contrary to the nature Elohim (God) planted within us.
Q. But haven't some suggested that all this self-occupation is just a defensive reaction against the loneliness and sterility of today's depersonalised modern lifestyles?
A. There is truth in this observation. We have become urbanised and disconnected. That is why I don't live in the city, and never will. Some people lack family or roots, or any reference to our Christian heritage of emunah (faith). Consequently, without the old connections and dependencies that gave life meaning, many have lost their sense of belonging, and many, if not most, have lost all sense of community. The world has become a fragmented place that presents them with a multitude of choices and offers little or no meaning or comfort. As a result, people come to believe that they are basically alone and have to answer only to themselves. Thus they find it very difficult to commit themselves to others. And left without Elohim (God), the individual's pursuit of happiness and security becomes the only source of meaning.
Q. Is this why the modern churches have become so shallow and superficial, do you think?
A. The modern church is very often merely a reflection of society at large. People are afraid of deep relationships because they have perhaps been badly hurt or abused. Building community is one of the biggest struggles the Messianic Community (Church) will have in the future because people are suspicious of one another and don't want to let the barriers down. Only the Ruach (Spirit) can do that. As ministers we must never accept superficiality and must be in the forefront of revealing our innermost desires and hopes so that people who are lonely and cut off because of a lack education on proper social relationships can reach out themselves and take a risk...
Q. Ah, the risk you mentioned earlier!
A. Yes, the Besorah (Gospel) is a risk because it requires a leap of emunah (faith).
Q. Then why do so many people hesitate?
A. Because they have been abused by the counterfeits, the cults and all their pretentious offers. The world is like a jungle. There is trickery at every corner.
Q. So how can a person know the safe way to walk?
A. By trusting in Yah'shua (Jesus) and cultivating the spirit of holiness through prayer and good works. This will equip a believer with the tools of spiritual discernment as he searches to make contact with other believers and those unbelievers hurting who desperately need the comfort of a caring soul. That takes time. Mistakes will be made, confidence and trust misplaced, but we must not give up by withdrawing into ourselves like a cacoon. We must, if at first we do not succeed, "try, try, and try again", as my mother always taught me.
Q. Many won't...
A. No, and I empathise with them. But they can know, if they trust the Davar Elohim (God's Word), that Yah'shua (Jesus) will never disappoint them.
Q. Which brings us back to the importance of trusting the reliability of the Bible...
A. Yes, that's right. But how hard that is when the whole of the media and culture around you works against such a trust. Art, music, drama, liberal theology, and the mass media have all but exterminated values. As the more Christian-dominated consensus weakened after the last war, the majority of people adopted two impoverished values:
Q. And what does that really entail?
- 1. Personal peace; and
- 2. Affluence.
A. Personal peace means, in effect, just to be left alone, not to be troubled by the troubles of other people, whether across the city of just across the street - to live one's life with minimal possibilities of being disturbed.
Q. Buddhism again...!
A. Yes, Buddha taught withdrawal, and a lot of good that did his country! When people talk about 'personal peace', what they mean is: 'let me have my own personal life pattern undisturbed in my lifetime, regardless of what result will be in the lifetime of my children and grandchildren.'
Look at the children of the 1960'ers. They are the ones who rule today and what a MESS they have made society into. What hope do their children have?
Q. None at all - unless they turn to Messiah.
A. Yes, because there is no moral foundation anymore. As for affluence, this means an overwhelming and ever-increasing prosperity - a life made up of things, things, and more things - a success judged by an ever-higher level of material abundance.
Q. What happens when that prosperity collapses?
A. That is what we are about to find out as the world goes into financial recession. But my guess is that people will do what they have always done - search for a self-centred religion that promises much but in reality gives little or nothing.
Q. Sounds like a description of a major section of the Faith Movement to me...
A. No, I think the time of the Faith Movement was, and is, for affluent times. When times of poverty come along, the 'health and wealth' merchants soon disappear, because they can't deliver anymore, let alone set an 'example'. We then find ourselves in more dangerous times - what do poor people who reject Messiah normally turn to?
Q. The occult!
A. Yes, the occult. They will desperately seek to manipulate demonic forces to serve their sensual and materialistic cravings. The occult, in the form of Hinduism, has kept the nation of India in bondage. The West will become another India - impoverished materially and spiritually.
Q. But I understand that India has quite a rich élite now?
A. It is tiny - this tiny élite is getting richer whilst the poor are getting poorer. It is happening in Russia but on a lesser scale. And it will happen everywhere. Then bloody revolution will raise it ugly head again as the poor turn on their rich and greedy overlords. You will see it happen in America.
Q. Do you mean that another civil war is coming to America?
A. Oh yes, but not over the question of lofty moral principles like slavery or states' rights. The ever growing super-poor will one day turn on the super-rich. The people won't put up with the media hype any more. The United States will even disintegrate as a country into warring factions.
Q. But I always thought you preached a unification of Canada and the USA - of greater unification, like Europe, for example?
A. Are the two irreconcilable? Look at the Russian Empire. Muscovy, Kiev, Novgorod, and other principalities united, became the Russian Empire which was then transformed in our century to the Soviet Union, which then disintegrated. What is to stop Europe uniting and then disintegrating, or any other country? Look at Britain - once separate kingdoms, which united, and are now showing signs of disintegration. Ethiopia has done it - it was one Abyssinia and Eritrea - they united - and have now split. Such processes are quite usual. Israel was once one, split into two, disappeared, and reappeared. It is now in the process of splitting again.
Q. Do you think Russia will split further?
A. Highly likely. It is a federation of different nation-states, many of which are Moslem. Chechenya was but a symptom of a wider problem. Expect Russia to break up and possibly even become reunited into a state as big as, if not bigger than, the former Soviet Union. All these things can happen very quickly. We live in increasingly chaotic times. What took centuries to effect before will happen in the space of a few years. A United Europe may become a sudden reality only to disintegrate after a short time. Look at North and South Yemen. There is little stability in our world.
Q. I think we have covered most of the questions I had planed to raise. I wonder if you could give a quick historical summary for us?
A. I have said many times that our Western society is basically Greek so I will start with the pagan Greeks who originated what we call democracy today. They found that their society - which they called the polis - was not a strong enough final authority to build upon, and it is still not strong enough today. They recognised the dilemma that still faces society today.
Q. And what is that?
A. It is this: if there are no absolutes, and if we do not like either the chaos of hedonism or the absoluteness of the 51 per cent vote, only one other alternative is left: one man or an élite, giving authoritative, arbitrary absolutes.
Q. Dictatorship, in other words?
A. Yes. Here is a simple but profound rule: If there are no absolutes by which to judge society, then society is absolute.
Q. But that's surely the worst kind of idolatry imaginable!
A. And it's the idolatry of the modern Western state. Society is left with one man or an élite filling the vacuum left by the loss of Christian consensus which originally gave us form and freedom. Absolutes can be this today and that tomorrow. Arbitrary absolutes can be handed down and there is no absolute by which to judge them.
Q. But hasn't the 'Christian consensus' change too?
A. In minor matters, yes, but not in the fundamentals. 'Christian consensus' may not be perfect (and, indeed, cannot be perfect in a democratic milieu), but is at least based on absolute truths like the Ten Commandments, for example. For all its imperfection, the 'Christian consensus' at least gives meaning and values.
Q. What are some of the most obvious effects of the loss of meaning and values, do you think?
A. The most obvious are degeneracy, decadence, depravity, and a love of violence for violence's sake. And it's getting progressively worse.
Q. Do you think that will continue?
A. Yes, and no. Society cannot actually stand chaos and will put up with so much for so long. There is a repeating historical cycle here. And it has repeated itself so many times that it's astonishing that it has happened so often without something being done about it. But human nature does not learn - indeed, it stubbornly unlearns the lessons of the past, believing that it will find yet another way without Elohim (God).
Germany after the First Word War disintegrated in much the same way that the West is now disintegrating generally. Berlin of the 1920's was decadent, depraved and regarded as the capital of western liberalism. There was economic chaos with hyper-inflation, massive unemployment, and a host of social evils. Homosexuality blossomed. The Social Democrats offered no solutions and society, abhorring a vacuum of proper authority and discipline, turned to the nazis and communists. The nazi élite that triumphed in 1933 offered arbitrary absolutes to solve the country's problems, got the economy going, eliminated unemployment, stamped out decadence, and enslaved a people.
Q. Are you suggesting that we are walking that road in the West today? That we are headed towards fascism?
A. Once economic hardship returns to Europe, that's exactly what will happen. A New Age fascist élite will offer arbitrary absolutes and they will be welcomed with open arms. The democrats will have proven themselves unable to govern society any longer so the people will turn to dictatorship again.
Q. Are you suggesting an Orwellian future?
A. Absolutely. George Orwell was, as you know, a famous British author and former member of the British secret intelligence, speculated about things probably from what he knew then as an intelligence officer. His book, 1984, is a classic, with graphic insights that have almost been prophetic.
Q. I remember when the year 1984 came along - there was great media coverage of his book and people smugly thought to themselves: 'Well, it happened in Russia, but it passed us by, didn't it?'
A. But time is catching up with the Orwellian vision. From the 1940s, when Orwell wrote 1984, he envisioned a collective semi-global system. People were slaves without free will. They were the brainwashed masses who had no concept of history, since all books were destroyed.
Q. The nazis, communists and Vatican have been great book-burners, trying to modify history.
A. Yes, that's true. In Orwell's vision, what passed the censors had been rewritten to fit the confines of permitted thought. History was skewed with new interpretations yearly. Yet his classic tale of foreboding to humankind HAS COME TRUE WITHOUT PEOPLE REALISING IT!
Q. How so?
A. Consider four areas:
Q. Isn't that going a bit far, at least in what you say about death engineering?
- (1) The new Death engineers of today are killing the handicapped and elderly in hospitals by dehydrating and starving them to death;
- (2) They are giving new-born infants who are less than perfect the same brutal treatment;
- (3) They are dismembering, crushing, poisoning, and scalding unborn babies because they are 'wrong' sex or because they are "untimely"; and
- (4) Political correctness reigns supreme not only on college campuses but in business, government and even the church.
A. No, I beg to disagree. The populace of 1984 were surrounded by subliminal messages and the centralised eyes and ears of the state. Double-think slogans were everywhere - slogans that went against the natural gut sense of the conscience and common sense, just like so many of the high-sounding social agendas of today. Orwell's 'antisex league' brilliantly foresaw the anti-sexism leagues of today - that liberal collective who have invaded college campuses with their nonsexist and anti-family agenda this new consensus of today is comprised of homosexuals, lesbians and 'minorities'. (In the 20 years since this interview was given, both new sexual 'categories' have veen invented - like 'pan-sexualism' - and transgenderism is flourishing).
In Orwell's futuristic world of 1984 there were no families, and sex rôles had been obliterated. This fact seemed very important to George Orwell. Intimacy and trust and attraction between the sexes had all but vanished. Tenderness was gone. Innocence and vulnerability were gone. Love between men and women were abolished forever. The family was obsolete. Men and women were neutered in drab uniforms. A member of the Party told a rally of the brainwashed that "unorthodox loyalties led to thoughtcrime; that the family leads to unorthodox loyalties," encouraging "ownlife". Therefore "the introduction of 'artsem' (artificial insemination) combined with the neutralisation of the orgasm will render impossible the family until it becomes impossible to conceptualise." Even the memory of the family will be blotted out of history.
Today many continue to pursue the pleasure principle even more fully than in the 1960s. Now the preferred highs are cocaine and designer drugs, different from the psychedelics of the 1960s. Being a yuppie instead of a hippie certainly fits the pleasure principle. Material success is surely an anaesthetic for the pain of poverty, which they see in so many of their 1960s predecessors who don't have very much now as far as possessions go and yet still believed in something enough to search for it and make sacrifices for this search, however misguided it may have been.
Q. I still don't see that we are already in the Orwellian world...
A. The outward forms are different but the inward realities are remarkably similar. In America many are riding on a wave of philosophical naïveté, the false borrowed optimism of former eras. The Americans are dealing with unbacked paper money in the realm of ideas. As statistics on teen alcoholism and suicide illustrate, American youth are encountering whole new levels of meaningless and alienation.
Perhaps I can answer your question more concretely and clearly by pointing you to how the reigning élite sees the future. I'm quoting from a Time article called, Beyond the Year 2000: What to Expect in the New Millennium. It's frighteningly close to Orwell's predictions:
Q. It's an horrific picture! But isn't this just the fantasy of a single writer at Time Magazine?
- (1) The family as we have known it will soon die. It is nothing more than an interesting anomaly - a mere blip in human history. We thought of it as 'normal', but we were wrong. The very term 'nuclear family' will give off a musty smell in the days ahead;
- (2) Replacing it will be multiple marriages, or what will be known as 'serial monogamy'. Divorce will be so common as to be considered normal. Some marriage contracts will have 'sunset clauses' to automatically terminate at a given age. Couples reaching their 50th anniversaries will be as rare as today's piano or cello virtuosos - gifted masters of their craft;
- (3) Many women will live with other women, much like the 'Golden Girls' are depicted on the TV sitcom;
- (4) Children will live with a bewildering array of relatives - mothers, fathers, multiple stepmothers and stepfathers, stepbrothers and stepsisters, grandparents and former grandparents, etc.;
- (5) The taboo against incest will weaken. The fractured family will consist of relatives, non-relatives and former relatives, breaking down the obsolete prohibition against intimacies at home;
- (6) There will be more older people and fewer children than ever before. The trend towards childlessness will accelerate;
- (7) Children will be routinely victimised. They will be bounced from home to home as families splinter and re-form. Many will have no one to care for them. Boys and girls will roam the streets much as they did in Charles Dickens' London, or as they do in Brazil today;
- (8) Paediatricians will teach children about the use of condoms at the time of their vaccinations against disease;
- (9) Theology will soon die. School children of tomorrow will have no knowledge of spiritual matters, not even an interest in this topic;
- (10) "The triumph of the feminist religion will cause many Christians and Jews to shun references to God in personal terms (no more Lord or Heavenly Father). This in turn will strengthen the groups that worship a mysterious nature-force to deify the self";
- (11) Forced abortion, such as China imposes on its women, will be necessary in nations with exploding populations. Representative Patricia Schoeder, D-Colo., spelled out the ideal: "The most important goal for the 21st century is family planning for everyone" (Planned Parenthood of the Obama régime);
- (12) An even more radical approach may evolve. It is reasonable to ask whether there will be a family at all. Given the propensity for divorce, the growing number of adults who chose to remain single, the declining popularity of having children and the evaporation of the time families spend together, another way may eventually evolve. It may be quicker and more efficient to dispense with family-based reproduction. Society could then produce its future generations in institutions that might resemble state-sponsored baby hatcheries.
A. Sadly, no. John Lennon sung of those who have this dream: "You may think that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one." Lennon would include those countless contemporary idealists on his wavelength. His most famous and influential song, Imagine, pictures a world with no heaven or hell. Then the key refrain soon follows: "And the World Will Be as One." Lennon's song sums up the one-world dream. One thinks of the father of American progressive education, John Dewey, and his ideas to influence youth in state schools through textbooks - schools, mind you, with no prayer and no Elohim (God). Like Lennon's Imagine, it would be a world without heaven and hell, with only exalted man to govern his own affairs.
Q. So why is all this important? What difference does it make?
A. Well, he remarkable thing is that most of the people in this debate, with the exception of the atheistic humanists, ALL AGREE THAT THERE IS AN ELOHIM (GOD) IN HEAVEN AND THAT YAH'SHUA (JESUS) IS THE SON OF ELOHIM (GOD).
Q. What??? How can that be possible? These views are anti-biblical!
A. This is the problem, my friend. There are truly born-again Christians in the denominations that espouse such anti-biblical doctrines. They have met the living Yah'shua (Jesus). BUT THEY HAVEN'T BEEN PROPERLY DISCIPLED. You will always find young, idealistic Christians who are either uninformed or assume that Elohim (God) is interested in reforming the Messianic Community (Christian Church) and are GENERALLY UNAWARE THAT CHURCH HISTORY TESTIFIES AGAINST THE SUCCESS OF SUCH EFFORTS. Then there are those who, due to tradition, family, friends, or other cares of this world, have rationalised their denominational affiliation, most likely under the banner of 'love' and have tragically compromised emet (truth) for the sake of 'peace', so-called.
Q. So how did this state of affairs come to be?
A. Pelagianism. Pure and simple.
Q. You mean the contemporary ideas of the secular society trace their roots to Pelagius' ideas?
A. Absolutely. To the doctrine that the fall did not affect all of man's nature. Remember what we discussed at the beginning of this interview?
Q. He denied original sin.
A. And if you look to see where all these contemporary ideas are nurtured in the churches, you will see that they have all been influenced, to one degree of another, by the teachings of Pelagius.
There has been a dramatic change in the theology of the Messianic Community (Christian Church) within the last century. As a whole, there has been a drift away from the Elohim (God) of the Bible. The Elohim (God) of the Bible was once one who was feared (Prov.1:7). He was one who was held in utmost awe (Ps.33:8). He was understood to be infinitely greater than man, and therefore worthy of the highest reverence (Rev.4:11). The Elohim (God) of the Bible inspired men to worship with His mighty acts (Ps.71:19). The Elohim (God) of the Bible blinded men with His glory (Ac.9:3-8). The Elohim (God) of the Bible compelled man to hold their tongues in silence lest they speak against His qadosh (holy, set-apart) Name (Ex.20:7). To swear an oath in the name of Yahweh assured that it would be carried out, even to the point of death (Dt.10:20). To blaspheme Yahweh's Name ensured instant destruction (Lev.24:15-16). To attempt to worship Elohim (God) in any way, shape or fashion other than that which is strictly directed by His Davar (Word), also meant death (Lev.10:1-7; Dt.12:32; 13). Today people speak of Elohim (God) as a doted old man. They act as though they do Him a favour by becoming Christians or Messianics. They perceive Him as their 'genie in a bottle', ever ready to mete out health and prosperity to placate the whimsical desires of their fallen nature. They have reduced Him to a celestial psychologist whose only purpose is to enhance their self image and to boost their human nature.
Q. This is so true...
A. Listen to this. John MacArthur wrote in his Grace To You Newsletter on 22 March 1994:
"Blame-shifting, guilt-bashing, and the cult of self-esteem have found their way into many congregations. Sins are no longer offences against God, they're diseases. Words like sin, remorse, and repentance are considered too abrasive, too likely to scare off potential church members who may deduce that Christianity actually places demands on one's life. As a result, churches are creating 'converts' who have never heard of guilt or repentance. With no awareness of their sinfulness and therefore nothing from which to be saved, the gospel of our Lord and Saviour is irrelevant to them. And without biblical teaching on sin, believers are unable to recognise and deal with its presence in their lives of gain victory over temptation. Sin goes unchecked, personal holiness is compromised, spiritual growth is stunted, and person by person, the body loses its effectiveness."
A. Here's another. In Charles Colson's book, Against the Night, he describes "barbarians in the pews." These are people who basically come to church on Sunday morning to get their strokes to be made to feel good, but live during the week by pagan values. And they don't even realise it. They think they are doing their spiritual duty by showing up on church on Sunday morning or messianic synagogue on Saturday morning and hearing a sermon that makes them feel good to get through the week. And then the rest of the week they live like everybody else.
Q. The Besorah (Gospel) is being compromised on a massive scale...!
A. Worse, it's being denied by many professing Christians. Liberal U.S. President Bill Clinton, who CLAIMS TO BE A CHRISTIAN, said when his No.2 legal aid, Vincent Foster, Jr., died:
Q. That's salvation by works!
"My deepest hope is that...[his] soul will receive the grace and salvation that his good life and good works earned."
A. Yes, Clinton obviously believes that so long as you do good works you are going to make it to heaven. It's unbiblical. And he's influencing a nation to think wrongly.
Where you stand in relationship to the original sin issue will determine what your perspective of Elohim (God) is and whether or not you are in need of salvation. Pelagianism is a devastating error which draws sinners into falsely believing they are saved (i.e. Christian/Messianic) when in fact they are religious and lost. It is the means by which unbelievers' minds are blinded to the Besorah (Gospel), the true message of Christian/Messianic redemption. Those who embrace the humanistic religion will sooner or later join rank with those who are "enemies of the cross of Messiah" (Phil.3:18).
Q. What would your final word be to our listeners today?
A. If man is spiritually dead, that original sin has so corrupted man that he is unable to be righteous by his own effort, then only a supernatural act of Elohim (God) can save him, and the Saviour in the person of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) provides the means of salvation. Only by Elohim's (God's) grace, only by divine intervention in changing the nature of man's fallen soul, brought about by the free agency in man to choose Elohim (God) or the devil, is a person able to out his faith in Messiah (Christ) and set his mind on what the Ruach (Spirit) desires. This is, I fully believe, the doctrine of the Bible.
Any doctrine that denies the need for a Saviour because, it is claimed, man is just sick, leads to many paths to Elohim (God). And Yah'shua (Jesus) said there was only One Derech (Way).
Any doctrine that says that man is spiritually well or good denies the need for Elohim (God) at all, let alone a Saviour to save him from anything.
The emet (truth) is simple. Unsaved man is spiritually dead. There is only one way he can become alive. And that is to admit his spiritual destitution, confess his sins, and call upon the Name of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) for Salvation, trusting EVERY DAVAR (WORD) that Elohim (God) has spoken in the Bible.
This is the only way. There is no other. And it is the one that Messianic Evangelicals stand by without compromise.
May you, the listener, if you have never known Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) as your Saviour or received the New Birth, shake off the ashes of death and find life:
Interview held in Kadesh-biyqah, Sweden, on Wednesday, 24 December 1997
"I am the Derech (Way), the Emet (Truth), and the Chayim (Life): no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (Jn.14:6).
This page was created on 24 December 1997
Last updated on 22 May 2017
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