A REVIEW OF THE ENDEAVOUR MAGAZINE (AUGUST 2000)
The word of the Lord through Paul gave the exhortation to Timothy: “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap up to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things” (2Tim 4:2-5). So it was, that even in Apostolic times and soon after, there would be a time of “falling away” (2Thes 2:3), when men would no longer adhere steadfastly to the revealed ways of Truth as recorded in the pages of Scripture. They would seek teachers who taught “smooth things” (cp Is 30:10), which made provision the satisfaction of their evil lusts. They would not “endure sound doctrine” being taught, for the Way as taught by Christ is too “narrow” and restrictive for their liking. So, they taught a broader way, promising freedom from the confines of the Way of Truth, that they might be at liberty to fulfil the lust of the flesh: “when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption” (2Pet 2:19).
And so it is in our day. The fundamental tenets of Truth – the Truth that saves, the vital principles of Salvation, enjoin upon those who hear the Word a way which is far too restrictive to men of the flesh. And so there are calls for a broader way to be adopted, for provision to be made for the expression and discussion of human speculations, and fables which allow scope for men to do as they please, yet retaining “a form of godliness” (2Tim 3:5). In words, “they profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Tit 1:16).
So it is, that as “the Spirit speaketh expressly”, some are departing from the faith (1Tim 4:1), being led along the broad way of destruction by the serpentine voice of subtlety – not by open contention or argument – but by insidious, peaceful means; means which beguile the hearers into believing that those who cry out, lifting their voices like a trumpet (Is 58:1) are the aggressive ones, being harsh, and uncharitable towards those “good Christians” who simply “interpret the Bible in a different way”. And in our times, this subtle permeation of loose thinking, and of drinking with those who are drunk with the wine of Babylon (cp Mat 24:49) finds a mouthpiece through the magazine entitled “The Endeavour” – a publication which, by its own admission exists to provide a forum for the heresies not tolerated by most Christadelphian publications: “We are convinced that there is a much wider spectrum of views on many issues in our community than is currently acknowledged by most Christadelphian publications, particularly by those that will not cater for the expression of views regarded by them as deviant. There is still then a need for a magazine which promotes discussion of such issues, allows different points of view to be expressed, and encourages us to listen to one another” (The Endeavour, June 2000).
THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE DENIED
So then, The Endeavour exists in order to cater for the expression of “views” regarded by most Christadelphian publications as “deviant”, or in Bible terms, the “fables” of men, also styled “damnable heresies” (2Pet 2:1), which lead the hearers only to the darkness of sheol. But with all these “views” being expressed, what is to be the guide in determining which one is correct? According to The Endeavour, not the Bible, for it claims, “read in a particular way, the Bible itself can lead us to wrong conclusions” (June 2000, p 1). And again, in a review of a publication setting forth Bible Truth on Creation, in dealing with the question of whether or not Creation took place approx. 6,000 years ago: “The anonymous author’s reply is that the Bible says so. But the Bible also speaks in terms which were long taken as proof that the earth is flat … And those who believe in a supernatural devil also quote Scripture and insist that there is no escape from the literality of the words.” (December 1999). So then, the magazine by it’s own admission simply exists to discuss “deviant” doctrines, to promote the airing of a plethora of “views” on those doctrines – yet with no authoritative basis to determine Truth, for to say “the Bible says so” is not good enough! The Bible can “lead us to wrong conclusions”! But who determines that those Biblical conclusions are “wrong”? The editor of Endeavour?
THE CLAIM OF HOLY SPIRIT POSSESSION
In harmony with their professed rejection of the Word of the Most High as an authority to determine absolute Truth (contrast Jno 17:17), the current issue of Endeavour, contains several teachings which are greatly at variance with the most basic precepts of Scripture.
For instance, in an article written by Julia Booth, we are presented with the claim that believers have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them, and influencing them: “WE KNOW THE HOLY SPIRIT LIVES IN US because of the gift of the spirit – love!” And again, “those under the influence of the Holy Spirit can be recognised by their attitude to JESUS (1Cor 12:3). Their lives are spirit directed (Galatians 5:25), which spirit guides them away from self-indulgence (Galatians 5:16-18) … Those in whom the spirit dwells acknowledge the divinity of Christ (1 John 4:13/14). THE INDWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT is a co-operation between the spirit of God and the spirit of man, and an assurance of eternal life” (June 2000 p 14, all emphasis in this paragraph, as per original).
Again, following the article there appears a citation from a certain Frank Gabelein, thus “We may take it as a rule of the Christian life that the more we are filled with the Holy Spirit, the more we shall glorify the Lord Jesus”. So then, it is being claimed that believers have one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit; Love, and where that is present, there is a knowledge that “the Holy Spirit lives in us”. The Holy Spirit is the force which “guides them away from self indulgence”. And the proportion by which we give glory to Christ is a reflection of the measure of the Holy Spirit by which a believer is filled. But the logic of this is patently flawed. If a person only gives a little glory to Christ, because he is too busy indulging himself in the affairs of this life, he can simply blame the Lord himself, for not filling him with enough Spirit! And irrespective of Endeavour’s claim that the Bible can bring us to wrong conclusions, the Word itself directs us to compare the teachings of men with it’s precepts: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Is 8:20). Our true endeavour, therefore, must be to look solely what the verses of Scripture inform us.
In Psalm 119, the Psalmist prayed: “My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word. Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgements have I laid before me …”(Ps 119:28-30). So then, the means whereby Yahweh strengthens his servants are those means as described by, or according to His Word. People may well assume that we can be strengthened by other means, and speculate as to what those means may be – but to do such would be foolish. The Lord strengthens us according to the means He has Revealed to us in his Word. And significantly, no verse of Scripture ever describes a believer being “strengthened”, “guided”, “influenced”, or “directed” as a consequence of being given the Holy Spirit. But what is the means of the Divine strengthening for which the Psalmist so earnestly prayed? He prayed “grant me thy law”, suggesting that it is the Law of God which becomes the motivating force in the life of the believer, strengthening him to do the Lord’s Will. Along this vein, the Spirit through Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1Thes 2:13). So then, the influence which works within a believer is not the Holy Spirit, but the Word, when it is received with meekness (Jas 1:21). Whether or not we engage in “self indulgence” is purely our choice – we are under no mysterious influence to guide us away from such, for we can choose to either be lovers of pleasure, or lovers of God – the choice is entirely ours. And if we choose to be lovers of God, then God has provided the “power” whereby we might perform His Will – not the Holy Spirit, but the Word of God, which is the “power of God unto salvation” (Rom 1:26) cp 1 Pet 1:5).
In The Christadelphian for 1870, Bro Roberts spoke against this heresy that it is the Holy Spirit dwelling within believers that ensures their faithfulness: “if the act of faith were due to the volition of Christ acting upon us, there would be no need for the exhortation …: “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus”. If a faithful state of mind were preternaturally engendered from without, after the manner of inspiration, there would be no need for those precautions and exercises which tend to preserve us “grounded and settled, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Col 1:23).
There is then, no mysterious power, or Holy Spirit available to us, which so influences, and guides man to behave in particular ways, pleasing to his Maker. It is true that in the case of the Pentecostal outpouring of the First Century, believers did have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, as a power enabling them to perform miraculous signs which testified to the Truth of what they taught. But even then there is no evidence that this power directly influenced the possessors thereof for their moral good. On the contrary, the case of the misuse of Spirit Gifts at Corinth, and the spiritual state of the Ecclesia there, rather shows that those in whom the Spirit dwelt could become degenerate and corrupt – if they failed to heed the Word of Truth. The Revealed Word, not the Imparted Spirit was always the power to transform the mind of the believer, so strengthening him to obey the call of his Maker. But besides this, the gift of Holy Spirit possession was not permanently granted to all believers throughout history – it was limited to 2 generations, during which time the work which necessitated it’s bestowal would become complete: “then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:38:39). Notice that point – 2 generations only – “unto you and to your children” (not grandchildren, or great grandchildren), and not just to the Jew, but Gentiles also who lived afar off from the land, as many as would be called in that time. There is then, no authority for believers today to claim that the Holy Spirit dwells in them in any other sense than that the Spirit-Word permeates their thinking (Rom 8:9) through much diligent Bible Study.
IS GOD REALLY MALE?!
In his editorial, Les Boddy heavily criticises those who claim that man was made in God’s image. He parodies them as saying “doesn’t Genesis 1:26 tell us that God made man in his own image and doesn’t that mean that God must be in the shape of a human being? The argument is sometimes taken even further by saying that not only is God in the form of a human but he must be male too, for why else would Jesus call God his Father? And of course it then follows that sisters are seen as second-class citizens in the church. To some these are more than plausible arguments and are seen as part of revealed truth”. But this is simply Les Boddy’s parody of the argument (albeit, presented in such a way as to lead the reader along a certain pattern of thought) – what does he himself think about the matter? “I would wish to maintain that to follow the line of reasoning noted above is to engage in a subtle form of idolatry …” And again, “if, for example, the idea that “God is male” is accompanied by a lifestyle that makes females second-class citizens in the church, then that should arouse our justifiable suspicions”. So then, the line of reasoning which deduces the masculine identity of our Eternal Father, and that man is made after his physical, as well as moral image, is actually a “form of idolatry”! This logic really is too absurd for serious refutation. Bearing it’s condemnation on it’s face, to state it is to destroy it. The Eternal Creator has graciously revealed Himself to Man in a particular manner as being a literal Father (not Mother!) of the Lord Jesus, and our Father also, if we believe in His Truths. To parody such an understanding in this way is disingenuous to say the least, especially as in Scriptural terms, the role of Sisters in the ecclesia is rather a consequence of things relating to the fall of man (1Tim 2:11-15). This questioning of the Creator’s gender is merely the adoption of the heathen philosophies of our day, whereby the unenlightened blasphemously portray our Father as a woman. The sincere student of the Word will have no time for such foolish thinking.
FELLOWSHIPPING IDOL-WORSHIPPERS AT TAIZÉ
Not only is it the case that The Endeavour teaches the doctrines of the Churches around us, whilst falsely claiming to be “Christadelphian”, it also encourages its readers to “fellowship” members of those Churches. In the current issue appears an account by Richard Gaston and Becky Leng of their trip to a multi-denominational gathering at a place called “Taizé” in Burgundy, France. Taizé is a community of around a hundred different self-styled “brothers”, from over 25 countries, and many different “Christian” traditions. It comes highly recommended by the Pope, who during his visit to the place on 5th October 1986, said: “like yourselves, pilgrims, friends of the community, the Pope is just passing through. But you pass through Taizé as you pass close to a spring of water”. And in keeping with it’s multi-denominational character, the site is not just recommended by one Church leader, for in August 1992, Dr George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury spent a week there, with 1000 young Anglicans from all over the UK. It is then, a site highly claimed by the leading clerics of our day – that class of theologians whom our Lord styled “blind leaders of the blind”, leading their followers down the paths of falsehood and deceit, eventually descending into the ditch (Mat 15:14). And it was to this place – recommended by the man of sin, the head of that system of Harlotry which is responsible for the torture and murder of thousands of our own brethren and sisters, who will direct the forces of Europe in war against Christ at his coming (Rev 17), it was to this place, I say, that 2 individuals professing to be a brother and sister of the Lord Jesus went, to spend “time together in friendship as well as fellowship”. And evidently, they agreed with the learned opinion of the leader of Antichrist, for they describe their journey as “a pilgrimage to the ‘wellsprings of faith'”.
The community at Taizé, was established by one of the semi-heathen divines, – a man who R Gaston and B Leng refer to as their “brother” – “brother Roger”. “Brother” Roger was the founding member, styling the affairs of the community after a Monastic pattern, and has been greatly rewarded for his labours by the admiration of many. In 1974, he received the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, an award received by “Mother” Teresa only the year before. Also, in 1988, he was awarded the UNESCO prize for Peace Education, and in 1992, he was given the Robert Schuman Prize, for his “contribution to the construction of Europe”. This is truly a man held in high esteem by the benighted world around us, and it was to this centre of serpentine philosophy that R Gaston and B Leng went, to be led in their studies of Scripture by one of “brother” Rogers’ fellow ministers, whom these two nominal Christadelphians also describe as their “Brother”. At that place, they met with Catholics, Methodists, a Pentecostal, a Presbyterian, and a Dutch Free Church member, and speaking of these, they say, “we learnt much from spending time together in friendship as well as fellowship”. They evidently regarded the members of these semi-heathen communities of idolatry as being “followers of Christ”, as well as they, being members of what they call “a divided Christian Church”, which Church they seem to regard Christadelphians as being a part, for they say, “despite our very different national and denominational backgrounds the trials and problems of living as followers of Christ were identical, although we often found the example of their faith-in-action humbling”. In fellowship with these blind followers of the blind, our “brother” and “sister” joined in communal worship: “The services, including the thrice-daily gatherings for prayer (a discipline hard at first, then eagerly anticipated) took the form of songs, sung and spoken prayer, Bible readings and a long time of silent prayer, contemplation and meditation”.
The perceptive reader may well ask, “what difference is there between worshipping with Churchgoers in France, and going to their Churches in Britain? This practice is resoundly condemned by Scripture, “for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?” (2Cor 6:14-16). In scriptural terms, it is not simply the case that the Churches interpret things slightly differently. Their adoption of the Trinitarian Myth, the supposed immortality of the soul, the personal devil, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ, and so on means that the Gospel they preach is different to the Gospel taught in Scripture. Here is what Paul wrote to the Galatians concerning the manner in which they were being led by the Judaisers, the beginning of the apostasy: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel … There be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:6-8). How tragic it is, that nearly 2000 years later, a magazine claiming to be Christadelphian publicly endorses that activities of 2 of our nominal members in being led in worship by the “accursed” professors of a perverted Gospel.
Here is the description with R Gaston and B Leng give of “the Church of Reconciliation” that they attended: “the building was filled with silent worshippers as the brothers, dressed in white habits, filed into the space reserved for them in the centre of the Church. Icons in the Eastern Orthodox tradition decorated the walls; candles flickered in terracotta pipes”. Could we honestly image the Apostle Paul attending such a place to “fellowship” the church goers there? Here is his inspired command, “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph 5:11). And again, “come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2Cor 6:17). By contrast, The Endeavour evidently encourages its readers to go in amongst them – don’t be separate, but “fellowship” them, for they claim that the method of Taizé false worship “fulfils Paul’s command to us: ‘whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him’ (Colossians 3:17)”.
One of the stated objectives of the Taizé community is this: “the community encourages participants to return home and to take back what they have discovered and put it into practice in the concrete conditions of their life, their parishes, their work or study, their families.” And this is what R Gaston and B Leng also recommend, having eaten and drunken with the drunken” (Mat 24:49), partaking of the feast of dainty things provided by the Babylonian harlot, under the specific approval of the Man of Sin. They say that they are “hopeful that it’s visions and lessons of practical living will translate into positive influences for us, our church and our community”. And herein lies the real truth behind Endeavour errorists. They adopt the ways, customs, practices and beliefs of the heathen, and seek to present them as “influences” into the Body of Christ. But what is being done to counter these pernicious “influences”? Where are the faithful warriors of Christ, who, being adorned with “the helmet of salvation”, clad with “the whole armour of God”, and protected by “the shield of faith”, skilfully wielding the “sword of the spirit”, in their efforts to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Eph 12-17, Jude 3)?
For our part, how much we yearn for the final destruction of that abominable system of harlotry which is slaughtering our brethren and sisters through beguiling them away from the incorruptible crown promised to those who overcome. The system of things which R Gaston and B Leng fellowshipped is that which “the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (2Thes 2:8). And how much do we yearn and pray for that day to soon come that no more of our brethren and sisters might be led astray to the broad path of destruction.
Speaking of the Taizé community, one styled “brother John” advises us: “it would be correct to say that it is an ecumenical community with members from the Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Reformed traditions of Christianity, and visited by people of all Christian denominations and many others as well … Brother Roger said years ago in public (I’m sorry I don’t have the exact words but I am quoting from memory): “I have found my own Christian identity by reconciling within myself the current of faith of my Protestant origins with the faith of the Catholic Church.” Any idea of “passing” from one denomination to another or of being a “symbol of repudiation” is foreign to him and to us”.
The philosophy of the place therefore appears to be based upon the attempted reconciliation of both Protestant and Catholic Superstitions, which would go to explain why it is recommended both by the Pope, and Archbishop of Canterbury. It is therefore, one of the very centres of apostate teaching, ripe for destruction at the hands of our Lord.