Dr. Sean Michael Lucas wrote an interesting post that attempts to get to the heart of Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, the best-selling book the movie version of which is currently in the theaters. He says the best way to critique a work like Brown’s is not to correct each fictitious claim point by point but to get at the dualistic, relativistic and pluralistic philosophy behind it which he attributes to Immanuel Kant, identifying it as the source of modernity’s false distinction between faith and reason, religion and science. You can read his post here.
Will the 21st century go down as another great age of discovery when it comes to our knowledge of the transmission of the text of the Greek New Testament? While many skeptical and liberal scholars like Bart Ehrman are busy using their expertise in the Biblical Studies to destroy faith in God’s revealed Word in the Scriptures, others, like Dr. Daniel B. Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary, founder of The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, is using modern technology to “discover” ancient manuscripts which have until now been inaccessible due to their fragile condition. According to an interview of him on Friday’s edition of Christ the Center, in the past year, about 36 manuscripts have been discovered and are in line behind about 75 others to be catalogued at the place in Munster, Germany where the knowledge of such manuscripts are warehoused for use by scholars the world over.
No time to finish this post. But I want you to listen to the program. Here’s the link: http://reformedforum.org/ctc70/
Considering the recent controversy over ordaining an openly gay minister to a congregation in the Free Church of Scotland (see Iain Campbell’s post at Ref21), I found it interesting that it was on this day, May 18, 1843, that Thomas Chalmers led four hundred ministers out of the established church of Scotland in reaction to its trend toward “liberal formalism” to found the Free Church of Scotland. How ironic that liberalism is now catching up with them.
It was at the end of his life, when his reputation was well established, his contribution to the life of Scotland, England and Ireland fully recognized, and his fame spread around the world that the greatest test came to Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847). During the course of his long and storied career the great Scottish Reformer had served as the pastor of three congregations, taught in three colleges, published more than thirty-five best-selling books, and helped to establish more than a hundred charitable relief and missions organizations. He practically reinvented the Scottish parish system as well as the national social welfare structure. He counted such luminaries as the Duke of Wellington, Sir Walter Scott, King William IV, Thomas Carlyle, William Wilberforce, and Robert Peel as his friends and confidants. Indeed, he was among the most influential and highly regarded men of his day. Even so, he did not hesitate to involve himself in–and ultimately lead–a movement that was to set him in apparent disregard of the authority of the highest civil court in the land.
With the disappearance of Catholic authority in Scotland, Reformers worked hard to replace it with a faithful national church. Their struggle for spiritual independence had been a long and costly one under the leadership of John Knox and Andrew Melville among others. At long last, in 1690, their Reformed Church was legally recognized by the Crown as the established Church of Scotland. The danger of such an establishment was that the state might attempt to manipulate the internal affairs of the church.
That danger was realized when Parliament imposed conformity with the standards of English patronage upon the Scottish church. In reality, patronage was hardly different from the medieval practice of lay investiture–it gave landowners the right to appoint to a parish a minister who might or might not be biblically qualified for the post or acceptable to the elders of the congregation. The patronage conflict came to a head in 1838 when several ministers were forced on congregations opposed to their settlement. Many, including Chalmers, believed that the integrity of the gospel was at stake.
At about the same time, it was decided by Parliament that the church did not have the power to organize new parishes or to give the ministers there the status of clergy of the church. It had no authority to receive again clergy who had left it. And perhaps worst of all, a creeping liberal formalism was slowly smothering the evangelical zeal of the whole land–in large part due to the assumption of pastoral duties by men altoghether unfit for such a solemn vocation.
After a ten-year struggle to regain the soul of the church, the evangelical wing, led by Chalmers, laid a protest on the table of the assembly, and some four hundred ministers left the established Church of Scotland on this day in 1843, to form the Free Church. When the new church was constituted that grave morning, Thomas Chalmers was, of course, called to be its moderator. He was the man whose reputation in the Christian world was the highest; he was also the man whose influence had been greatest in directing the events that led to what would eventually be called the “Disruption.” (George Grant& Gregory Wilbur; The Christian Almanac: A Book of Days Celebrating History’s Most Significant People & Events, page 296; Cumberland House, Nashville, Tennessee–buy it real cheap from Christianbook.com or Amazon.com)
This weekend, the companion to The DaVinci Code, called Angels & Demons, hit the theaters. Just a few days before the movie came out, some scholars from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, announced their website called “The Truth About Angels & Demons,” devoted to addressing the issues raised by Dan Brown’s book and the new movie based thereon. You may have noticed there has not been nearly the controversy swirling around this movie, but that doesn’t mean the story doesn’t distort the truths with which it deals. Hence the concern that, in this generation in which many people learn their history, science and theology from novels and movies, often accepting uncritically that which they read and watch, inaccuracies be corrected on a popular level.
In addition, Dr. Peter Lillback, one of the men behind the website, was interviewed on Issues, Etc., introducing the website and discussing some of the issues dealt with on the site. These issues range from the true identity of the historical secret society called the Illuminati to the conflict between science and religion, to the reason this film hasn’t been quite as controversial as the last. You can listen to this interview here.
Dr. Peter Lillback is a professor of historical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, and is the author of The Binding of God, Lessons on Liberty: A Primer for Young Patriots, Wall of Misconception: Does the Separation of Church and State Mean the Separation of God and Government?, and George Washington’s Sacred Fire.
Go read “A Disturbing Trend in Evangelicalism” at the blog Green Baggins. It deals with an issue that is very close to my heart: what is the relationship between doctrine and practice? Belief and behavior? Head knowledge and heart knowledge? This bloggers words are sorely needed.