back to bible basics - the author's response and our reply

BACK TO BIBLE BASICS – THE AUTHORS RESPONSE AND OUR REPLY

Following last months review of Beyond Bible Basics, when we demonstrated the unsoundness of the book with regard to it’s teaching concerning the alleged “Inconsistency of God”, and His Word, we have received a reply from the author, Duncan Heaster, which we reprint in full below, followed by a rejoinder. It is regrettable that the Author, in seeking to defend the indefensible, found himself compelled to follow the tactics of the flesh by utilising dishonest, and subversive methods to silence his critic, rather than to address the points raised from Scripture. Our review was also circulated via e-mail to many brethren and sisters who are “online”, hence Mr Heaster’s opening remarks.

Mr Heaster’s Reply:

“Bro. Chris has never had any contact with me and he certainly hasn’t raised any of these matters with me. I find myself in a strange position- facing one the biggest e-mail mud-slingings that has probably gone on in recent times within Christadelphia. Bro. Chris seems to have sent his slander to as many e-mail addresses as he knows. Well, here then are my comments, although reluctantly given, and with prayer for bro Chris and those who may be disturbed by what he is doing. Life is so tragically short, and our energies need to go into the Lord’s work rather than fighting off those extremists who seek to disfellowship one. Anyway, you are free to forward these comments to anyone who is concerned by this disruption.

The Scriptures reveal that it is those who attract to themselves a large following that are in a position to wreak havoc in the Ecclesia. This was the teaching of the inspired Apostle to the Ephesians: “I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, TO DRAW AWAY DISCIPLES AFTER THEM”. The fact is, that Mr Duncan Heaster, through his missionary activities, has attracted to himself a mass-following, is in a highly prominent position – and is therefore in a position to do much damage in the Central Fellowship.

I am unaware of any mass following I may have. And before God, and before His Son whom we all preach, I can say that God forbid me if I am seeking to draw men away after myself. As far as I know, I seek to lead men and women only after the Lord, “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ…not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 2:17; 4:2). “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (1 Thess. 2:3). This is how I sincerely feel. If one has made many converts over the years, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are drawing away disciples “after them”. The two things don’t follow. Paul and Peter made mass conversions but their disciples were disciples of Jesus. They followed Paul as a father only so that they might follow Christ. Bro Chris’s line of reasoning makes me suspicious. I do hope the motive of this onslaught isn’t simply jealousy.

Mr Heaster’s teaching that Scripture contains “contradictions” which are “irreconcilable”, and that “God is very often inconsistent”.

I can only recommend you to peruse what I wrote. My whole emphasis was that there are “apparent contradictions”, but these are only irreconcilable within the mortal mind. “God is very often inconsistent- to our human eyes … it is apparent that God is going to act in ways which are totally and inexplicably inconsistent to our eyes. We live under an illusion of logicality. We are ultimately illogical creatures. Surely the purpose of God’s (apparent) inconsistency is to shatter our perception that we are ultimately rational and logical. We are not. We need to learn to accept that we have no sense of what is true logic; God’s reasoning, His logic, is not ours…It seems to me that God’s word and His ways being stamped with this (apparent) inconsistency is the greatest proof that God is God, that the Bible is His word… God is God, not man. His word is not contradictory”. These were my words. God’s word is not contradictory. And yet bro. Chris has wilfully misinterpreted me as saying that the Bible contradicts itself and is therefore not reliable.

Perhaps bro. Mark Vincent can express what I am trying to in words that bro. Chris will find less objection to: “They are part of the way of things “under the sun”; they are not puzzles to be “solved” by a crusade of reconciliation…God’s ways are ultimately inscrutable to human view. There will always be things that we cannot fully understand…for the Preacher tells us that we “shall not be able to find it”” (‘Yes…But….’, The Christadelphian Tidings, Vol. 62 No. 5 p. 178).

It ought to be said at the outset however; that we are well aware of the prominence of Mr Heaster, and this critique is in no way intended to question his good character, or the value of his preaching activities.

I don’t know if this is written seriously or sarcastically. Having spammed hundreds if not 1000 Christadelphian e-mail addresses with Paul Moore’s claims that I am a Trinitarian, Jesuit influenced, not preaching the Truth, and then himself to say that I have arisen speaking “perverse things” to lead away new Christadelphian converts after myself…well, this critique is evidently intended to question the value of my preaching activities.

Mr Heaster claims that God is fundamentally inconsistent in His Ways.

No. I didn’t say this. I said that from our limited, human perspective, He may appear to be inconsistent. He Himself in ultimate terms is of course ‘consistent’.

Despite the poetic terms he uses, this is the thrust of his teaching, – that in the declarations of “God’s self-revelation”, there are profound inconsistencies, and the more we ponder the ways of the Most High, the more we realise our “inability to reconcile them”.

Again, this is just not what I said. I wrote: “God is God…the Bible is His word… God is God, not man. His word is not contradictory”.

Throughout His Word, the Lord declares His fundamental consistency: “I am Yahweh, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Mal 3:6). What proof is there then, that that Yahweh does in fact change – that He is “inconsistent”?

I quite agree. Bro. Chris seems to be setting up a straw man and knocking it down. I didn’t say Yahweh or His word are inconsistent. I said that we can perceive Him as being inconsistent, although ultimately He isn’t.

…a list which is rather akin to the claims of the unbeliever, seeking to undermine the Divine Revelation by presenting discrepancies. And indeed, many of the items in his list are merely the regurgitations of the same old standard arguments presented to us time and time again by many a critic.

Please Brother Chris, understand that I believe the Bible to be totally inspired. I wrote in BBB: “The Bible is God’s inspired, infallible word. Therefore we will read, preach and study it with a zest no other piece of writing can command. The wonder of the fact that this book really is the words of God Himself needs repeated meditation…. Because the word is so pure, therefore we love it (Ps. 119:140). John Carter rightly observed: “Upon our understanding of what the Bible is, our attitude to it will be determined” (Dare We Believe?)…. The Bible is inspired by God. Therefore every detail is correct and significant… We come down, therefore, to something very basic, something in the foundation clause of the BASF: that the Bible is the inspired word of God. But if we believe that, if we hear that voice of Yahweh, we will inevitably, axiomatically, speak it forth to others”. Frankly I don’t know how much more traditional I could be in my presentation of the doctrine of inspiration in BBB. Now brother Chris, is it really possible to interpret this as meaning that I am akin to the higher critics “seeking to undermine the Divine Revelation”? Or are you just seeking an issue with me, and engaging in personal defamation on a scale few other Christadelphian brethren have had to endure? Only a few weeks ago I gave a lecture about the total inspiration of the Bible, in the presence of many Western Christadelphians. In it I pointed out the danger of any belief in partial inspiration.

The standard evangelical idea of “predestination”, evidently believed by Mr Heaster, essentially states that God chose in advance who will be in His Kingdom – that their “destiny” is therefore predetermined and unchangeable (hence pre-destination). The concept is, that nothing a person can do can alter their predetermined destiny – they will be made to conform – their plot in life is inescapable. But as Mr Heaster admits, this doctrine is contradictory to Scripture which teaches Free Will.

Well I am confused. I don’t believe in any form of Calvinistic predestination [see my section about this in Bible Basics]. Bro. Chris says I do believe this, and then he says I don’t believe it.

But the evangelical idea (and Mr Heaster’s) is wholly unscriptural… And the being in Christ’s image here is not in this life, as Mr Heaster (and the Evangelicals) claim, but is future.

But surely we are requested to seek to take on the image of Christ now? Isn’t this the very essence of the new creation? Chris, are you really saying that we are not to take on the image of Christ today? I am being set up as being ‘evangelical’. Yet one of the repeated themes of my book is that we should be critical of the evangelical movement, and resist its encroachments upon our brotherhood. And this is why BBB is not popular with the more liberal element of our community. Consider just a few examples: – we must be aware of the ‘cheap grace’ in this area peddled by the ‘evangelical’ movement and their happy-clappy songs – He sheds His Spirit upon us at baptism (Tit. 3:5,6). This statement is not to be taken as many an evangelical would read it. – we do have to be careful to avoid the extremes of the apostate ‘Evangelical’ (so-called) movement. They fail, utterly fail, to appreciate the fact that the Father was manifested in the Son – We live in a world and a brotherhood increasingly under the influence of the ‘evangelical’ movement, with its ‘happy-clappy’ music and emphasis on love. Whilst there is nothing wrong with such emphasis or music in itself, there is a very real possibility that we can be influenced to relate to God without any sense of fear. And yet there is repeated Biblical emphasis on the urgent need to fear God. – …If this is what the ‘evangelical’ movement has to now admit about itself, Christadelphians should not be taken in by their apparent joy and peace, and lack of fear of God.

This almost anti-Evangelical feeling is to be found in my other books, especially chapter 2 of Bible Basics.

The Scriptures plainly declare from Genesis to Revelation that the Messiah would be the only begotten son of the Most High; a fact which was essential for him to overcome sin

Since when did the Divine begettal of Jesus mean that thereby He wouldn’t sin? This is neither Biblical nor Christadelphian teaching.

The Eternal Spirit has chosen to express eternal principles is such a way to teach particular lessons, not to show that Grace becomes paradoxical and contradictory when expressed in terms common to man.

But surely grace is paradox. Brother Chris, have you ever really wept for your wretched inadequacy as a human being, with Paul to say “O wretched man that I am”, to wonder how ever, ‘fairly’, you who deserve only death, can come to eternal life? If so, you will know what our hymn rightly calls “redemption’s mystery”. We will be saved, by grace. When, as David with Bathsheba, according to God’s own law we deserve only death. The whole thing is wonderful, and it can’t be wrapped up in some intellectually pure, logical understanding; at least, within the terms of human logic.

From the above, however, we find that it is not the love of the Almighty which is “illogical” (an outrageous claim in itself when we consider the implications of such a statement)…

The implication seems to be that God’s logic and human logic are the same. Sorry Chris, they aren’t. His logic, His reasoning, His ways, are as high above ours as the heaven is above the earth.

No theory of Atonement can explain the paradox of redemption? But this is not true! Scripture gives 2 detailed epistles which beautifully expound the Atonement in all it’s details – Hebrews (to the Jews) and Romans (to the Gentiles). The solution to Mr Heaster’s paradox is simple… The “mystery” of the atonement is revealed in Scripture without paradox, and for a clear exposition of this, we recommend “The TRUTH Concerning the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ”, available from the present writer.

Many of our hymns express more finely than I can the paradox/difficulty of understanding which we have when we face the cross and the reality of the salvation achieved for us. I really must say that the atonement cannot be ‘simply’ explained the more we reflect upon it. Of course on one level, it is wonderfully simple – Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and rose the third day. But when one starts to probe deeper; why it had to be death on a cross, how His nature was like ours and yet He never sinned…the matter becomes anything but simple. I do really wonder whether the atonement has been pondered and felt by some of us, or whether it has all become a question of legalities and intellectual compartments. I have read most of your book, Chris, which you claim is a clear and simple exposition of the atonement. I may be obtuse, but it hardly came over like that to me. The essential paradoxes remain unanswered. All I know is that I rejoice in the salvation by grace that has been won by the Lord, even if my mind cannot grapple with all the hows and whys.

The constraints of space limits our analysis to but one more example – the confused presentation of Prophecy which Mr Heaster Teaches.

But prophecy isn’t a first principle matter. You can’t say that because I don’t share Bro. Chris’s prophetic views e.g. on who the beast is, therefore I am seeking to lead men away from the Truth and after myself.

Consider the following: “Scripture interprets scripture. Yet this leads to the conclusion that the beast in Revelation is a symbol of Arab opposition to natural Israel in the last days”. This is set against: “Scripture interprets Scripture. Yet this leads to the conclusion that the beast in Revelation is a continuation of the Roman empire in a religious form …”. The claim here then, is that by allowing Scripture to interpret itself, it is possible to arrive at two perfectly valid, yet contradictory interpretations of prophecy. Mr Heaster comments, “It is hard to reconcile these two interpretations. Yet both are Biblical”. ..The answer therefore is simple. One of the interpretations is wrong! As we hope to show at some point in a future article, the claim that the Beast in Revelation is referring to the Arabs is not Biblical. And therefore it is only logical that it contradicts the other interpretation which is.

On this line of reasoning, each Bible verse has only one interpretation- that which bro Chris gives it. I really fear for where this mindset can lead to. I saw plenty of it in my days in the ‘Dawn’ community. Yet the OT is often quoted more than once in the NT and given a different interpretation each time. Consider how Psalm 2 is applied to Hezekiah’s time, to the death of Christ, to the opposition to Him at His second coming, and to the rebellion at the end of the 1000 years.

From this brief comparison therefore, we have demonstrated the fundamental unsoundness of Mr Heaster’s position, as taught in “Beyond Bible Basics”. Rather than to accept the words on the pages of Scripture as being perfect, and without contradiction or discrepancy, he allows his interpretations to go way beyond basic Bible teaching.

But I do accept the words on the pages of Scripture as being perfect. I wrote in BBB: “The Bible is God’s inspired, infallible word. Therefore we will read, preach and study it with a zest no other piece of writing can command. The wonder of the fact that this book really is the words of God Himself needs repeated meditation…. Because the word is so pure, therefore we love it (Ps. 119:140). John Carter rightly observed: “Upon our understanding of what the Bible is, our attitude to it will be determined” (Dare We Believe?)…. The Bible is inspired by God. Therefore every detail is correct and significant”.

He claims that because his interpretations are inconsistent and conflicting, “contradictions and paradoxes are woven throughout the fabric of God’s self-revelation to us”.

Err…where did I claim this?

Bro. Chris says that he has never come across the idea of there being paradoxes in the Bible in Christadelphian literature. Well, there are many, many such examples. Consider C.C. Walker: The Atonement: ““The Lamb,” by divine paradox proclaimed in the context as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” opens the divinely-sealed scroll of human history, and receives the ascriptions of the praises of the “redeemed” for whom he was slain (Rev. 5). Under the “sixth seal” the whole pagan world comes to an end before “the wrath of the Lamb” (6:16), another divine paradox”.

I only hope we can all soon get on with more profitable things, and refocus our community’s energy on taking God’s Truth out into this desperate world, rather than beating the fellow-servants through endless disputing and fault finding. I am happy to give the most categoric assurance that I believe, preach and baptize upon the Statement of Faith, and usually give a copy of it to those I baptize”.

Our Response:-

We very much regret that Mr Heaster regards our review as “mudslinging”, as what we aim towards the direction of his book is not “mud”, but the Word of the Living God. In Scriptural terms, mud, or “mire” stands as a figure for the filth of the world, amongst other things; and is used as a symbol for the wicked (see Ps 69:14, Is 57:20, 2 Pet 2:22). One who “mud-slings”, to be keeping with Scripture, would therefore be one who takes hold of defiling things of wickedness; seeking to aim them at another. By contrast, our review literally did nothing else, but to openly compare a book with the Word of God – and point out the differences. The Scriptures exhort, “if any man speak, let him speak as the Oracles of God” (1Pet 4:11). By contrast, isn’t the accusation of “mudslinging” rather culled from the worldly (defiled?) speech of contempt for one’s critics? It certainly is not from Scripture. We may well ask then, Who is it that is really taking hold of the language of the world’s defilement, and levelling it at his brother!?

But this type of talk is very telling. Rather than to rebuke me by speaking “as the Oracles of God”, Mr Heaster merely issues emotive terms of contempt – terms derived not from Scripture, but from the world of ungodliness. Moreover, rather to restrict his remarks to the actual issues raised in the review of his book, Mr Heaster seeks to turn the affair into a personal issue, by making certain allegations and implications against the reviewer which are not simply misleading, but blatantly false. It is with much regret that we find the need to answer these before examining the other points Mr Heaster raises.

Mr Heaster speaks of me “having spammed hundreds of not 1000 Christadelphian e-mail addresses with Paul Moore’s claims that I am a Trinitarian, Jesuit influenced, not preaching the Truth …”. This, however is more than disingenuous – it is a blatant lie. I did not send Bro Paul’s review out to anyone, prior to receiving this reply (on 15/7/200). If it is true that there were 1000 copies send out from my e-mail address, it should be easy to prove this, simply by examining the “message source”. We give the direct challenge to Mr Heaster to give proof – knowing that he will be unable to produce any proof at all.

However, upon an examination of Bro Paul’s review, we did advertise it several weeks later in The Christadelphian Waymark, and have therefore subsequently send out copies to others. For this, we offer no apology – after all, Mr Heaster himself was the originator of the idea! But aside from this, the claim that Bro Paul alleges Mr Heaster to be “a Trinitarian” is not true. The claim that Bro Paul states he is “Jesuit influenced” is not true either. It should be easy for Mr Heaster to prove the point – let him give the quotes where Bro Paul applies these terms to him! If it were true, we would not be distributing Bro Paul’s review, for we do not believe that these statements are justifiable.

Again, after speaking of the present writer’s “slander”, Mr Heaster writes, “ … Our energies need to go into the Lord’s work rather than fighting off those extremists who seek to disfellowship one”. But our review did not mention the matter of disfellowship, or even imply it! The introduction of this issue is disingenuous, for it has no bearing on the matter in question – which is simply this; Does Beyond Bible Basics harmonise with Basic Bible teaching or not? Whether or not Duncan Heaster should or should not be regarded as a Christadelphian or not (disfellowshipped or not) is a different issue which fell outside of the scope of our review.

Again, he says, “Bro Chris’s line of reasoning makes me suspicious. I do hope that the motive for this onslaught isn’t simple jealousy”. But, at no time, either publicly, or privately have I questioned Mr Heaster’s motives. Why should he question mine? The Lord of all the earth only knows the thoughts and intents of men’s hearts; therefore rather than to question one another’s motives, why not simply focus on the issue at hand? So it is, that rather to deal with the actual issues in question, by raising such charges against the writer, Mr Heaster seeks to construe the whole affair into a personal issue – which it manifestly is not. Evidence of this is seen in his reference to “beating the fellowservants through endless disputing and faultfinding”, and again, his query, “ … are you just seeking an issue with me, and engaging in personal defamation on a scale few other Christadelphian brethren have had to endure?”. The answer is no! Proof that I am not engaging in personal defamation is seen in that I have specifically limited my remarks to the book in question, rather than the character and behaviour of the writer. In fact, I specifically stated (in all sincerity), “this critique is in no way intended to question his good character, or the value of his preaching activities”. But Mr Heaster does raise charges against the reviewer – some of which are demonstrably false. We do well to ask who it really is that is engaging in personal defamation!

COULD SOLOMON REALLY HAVE BEEN THE MESSIAH?

Our earlier review drew attention to certain teachings of Beyond Bible Basics, particularly relating to the allegation of “contradiction” in Scripture – and it is significant that Mr Heaster ignores the most significant of them. For instance, we cited BBB as teaching, “it seems Solomon could have been the Messiah, if he had continued in faith …”, and contrasting this with the proposition that “there is a fixed date for Christs return, arranged by God from the beginning …”. This, he claims “particularly is a paradox which defies reconciliation”. The issue here is not simply that the case is cited as showing how “contradictions and paradoxes are woven throughout the fabric of God’s self-revelation to us” – but also the very nature of the “contradiction” itself. Mr Heaster claims that Solomon could have been the Messiah! Does not this question the utter necessity of the miraculous begettal of the Messiah? Does it not suggest that a ‘normal’, man could have been the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world? It is notable that when we raise issues such as these, rather than to address the actual issues, the author of these notions simply claims that we are “engaging in personal defamation”! Yet it is surely not right to sweep aside the issues with such empty rhetoric. They must be addressed. The implications of them are too serious to be ignored.

INSPIRATION – DID PAUL REALLY FORGET HIS QUOTATIONS?

Another feature Mr Heaster fails to answer, is the claim of BBB that under inspiration, either Paul chose to be deliberately vague – or just forgot his quotations: “Sometimes the Bible is very vague. Under inspiration, Paul seems to have forgotten the exact quotation, or to have been deliberately vague”. Mr Heaster construes our remarks as being a claim that he does not believe in inspiration. He pleads, “Please, Bro Chris, understand that I believer the Bible to be totally inspired …”. Quite so. We have never at any time, either privately or publicly suggested, or implied otherwise. The review nowhere claims that Mr Heaster does not believe in Inspiration. What it did show however, is how BBB teaches that Inspiration actually caused Paul to either forget his quotes, or be deliberately vague – which is equally as serious. That Inspiration has actually caused the Bible to contain “contradictions and paradoxes” – Mr Heaster’s words, not mine. Mr Heaster in his reply appears to have changed his position. He states “I didn’t say Yahweh or his word are inconsistent. I said that we can perceive Him as being consistent, although ultimately He isn’t …”. But compare this with the words of BBB. “ … God is only like a father to us in some ways. He is God, not man; so He won’t be consistent as a human father should be”. Again, “the closer we analyse the Bible, the more we meditate upon God’s ways, the more evident it becomes that contradictions and paradoxes are woven throughout the fabric of God’s self revelation to us” (Mr Heaster asks, “Err … Where did I say this? It seems a little odd to have to remind the writer where he wrote his words, but maybe like the apostle Paul (he claims), he forgets his quotes. In fact, they are from the second paragraph of study 8:3, entitled, The Inconsistency of God (a title, which we now learn, does not suggest that God is inconsistent?!). And as he illustrates those “contradictions” purely in terms of his own conflicting interpretations, this is his claim. That because his conclusions of Scripture conflicts, therefore Scripture contains contradictions).

It is true that in BBB, Mr Heaster wrote: “ … God is God, not man. His word is not contradictory …”, as he suggests in his reply. But in BBB, the sentence does not end there, rather it continues: “… But ensuring this, God does not sink down to the level of a man who wanted to write a faultless book, carefully ensuring that every figure exactly tallied. He has a spiritual culture much higher than this”. So then, if the Bible is a “faultless book”, it would mean that God has sunk down to Man’s level! But although it is evidently not “a faultless book”, it “is not contradictory”! Here we have illustrated not “The Inconsistency of God”, but the inconsistency of Beyond Bible Basics. Either the Bible is faultless, or it is not. We fully agree that there are aspects of Scripture which the weak and mortal mind cannot fully comprehend – that God’s ways are higher than man’s ways – that is not the point in dispute, and it is disingenuous for Mr Heaster to introduce this point, as though I don’t accept it. But BBB goes way “beyond” saying this, to actually claiming that Scripture is not “a faultless book”, for that would belittle it’s Divine Author!

Finally on the point of whether or not BBB teaches the Almighty to be “inconsistent”, Consider also the following, in it’s context: “God forgets our Sins. God can’t by nature forget”. Conclusion: “He will insult His own nature to show us the extent of His forgiveness. He can even limit His omniscience” Supporting Scripture: None. Does God “insult His own nature” – ever? No, never. “I am Yahweh, I change not”. This claim in itself is a matter of grave and deep concern. It is nothing short of blasphemy against the most High God – even if written unwittingly. The qualities of Mercy, Grace and Forgiveness, rather than to be an insult to the Nature of the Most High are actually part of the Divine attributes revealed to Moses (see Ex 34:6-7).

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

For want of space, we deal with the other points of Mr Heaster’s reply briefly. In the e-mail sent to various bre and sis, we stated, “The Scriptures reveal that it is those who attract to themselves a large following that are in a position to wreak havoc in the Ecclesia. This was the teaching of the inspired Apostle to the Ephesians: “I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, TO DRAW AWAY DISCIPLES AFTER THEM”. Hence Mr Heaster’s opening remarks. This citation was by way of illustration, not of Mr Heaster’s motives, which we do not judge, but of the general fact that those who attract to themselves a following are those who are in a position to do much damage to the Household of Faith. The fact is, that Duncan Heaster has attracted to himself a large-following, and is in a highly prominent position (if he denies this; we would well ask, what he feels we have to be “jealous” of?), and is therefore in a position to do either much good – or much damage.

With regard to the presentation of predestination in the cited parts of BBB; we submit to our readers that if they present it to our evangelical contemporaries, they would be in agreement with it. Mr Heaster states “I don’t believe in any form of Calvinistic predestination … Bro Chris says I do believe this, and then he says I don’t believe it”. We thank Mr Heaster for clarifying his belief on this matter; however, the Calvinistic view is presented in his chart as being one of those items which can be “supported by many Bible verses and doctrines”. What I actually said, was that Mr Heaster believed it, yet recognised it contradicts Scripture teaching concerning free-will – and surely the recognition of this contradiction was the whole point of it’s inclusion in the chart?

With regard to being in the image of Christ; I do not deny that we should manifest the likeness of our Lord now – there are indeed several passages which teach that. My point, however, is that the passage in question is not one of them, rather relating to the future, when we shall truly be in the Divine Likeness; by nature as well as in character.

With regard to our statement that “the Messiah would be the only begotten son of the Most High; a fact which was essential for him to overcome sin”, this is normal Christadelphian teaching (and Bible teaching, more importantly), that by virtue of his Divine Begettal, the Lord Jesus Christ, whilst inheriting the propensities of sin from his mother, was “made strong” (Ps 80:17) that he might have the ability to overcome. The Divine Begettal therefore was essential for Christ to have the ability to overcome Sin – else why the Virgin Birth? It would appear to be Mr Heaster’s failure to appreciate this point that leads him to claim that Solomon – a mere man – could have taken our Lord’s place.

Finally, some correspondents are concerned that the principles of Mat 18:15-17 have not been observed, especially in the light of Mr Heaster’s opening remarks, “Bro Chris has never had any contact with me and he certainly hasn’t raised any of these matters with me”. The words of the Lord Jesus, in Mat 18, however specifically apply to personal offences – not affronts to the Truth. “If thy brother shall trespass against thee …”. The Scripture prescribes different procedures to deal with affronts to the Truth “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others may fear” (1Tim 5:20, see context). In fact, there is a precedent for this action in Scripture, as recorded in Gal 2:14 – (again, see context), where in the case of Peter’s misdemeanour, rather than to follow Mat 18, he followed the principle of 1Tim 5 : “I said unto Peter before them all …”. And once again, it is not strictly true for Mr Heater to say that I have never had any contact with him – I sent him a copy of the review, not only so, but he has previously communicated approving comments to me concerning one of our other publications (the Haggai booklet). And in passing, it should be noted that before producing our review, we did consult closely with others who had already approached Mr Heaster on the matter – and continue to do so.

However, a case where the words of the Lord Jesus would apply is, say, if we feel our brother has trespassed against us by engaging in “mud-slinging”, out of “jealousy”, seeking to engage in a “personal defamation” against us. Then, we must approach him in the spirit of Mat 18. But rather to do this however, Mr Heaster sought to have his critic cut off from the Internet, by writing a letter of complaint to our Internet Service Provider, protesting at the “denigratory” material we are alleged to be sending, claiming I am “threatening” to send more (I have a copy of the letter, with proof that it emanated from Mr Heaster’s e-mail address). Of course, the ISP, being of the world, had no interest in such matters as those we raise. No action was taken. But the fact that Mr Heaster finds it necessary to appeal to the unenlightened heathen to silence his brother, surely is a reflection of the unscriptural nature of both his methodology – and weakness of position. So much for Mr Heaster’s own regard of Mat 18.

Christopher Maddocks