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A personal comment on
"What is New in the New Theology"
in the leaflet
"The Church Under Attack"
by Ron Parsons
30 October 1997
The set of articles "The Church Under Attack" came into our possession recently and because they are so pertinent to todays situation, we thought it good to share them with you. We understand that they were published this year in Australasia. (I have since learned that some of them were published in the Signs in 1992).
As one who lived through the events mentioned in "What is New in the New Theology" on the original pages 6-10, and with the benefit of hindsight and a deeper sense of experience with the ways of God since then, I would like to add an important note to that discussion.
The main point at issue at the time was undoubtedly the doctrine regarding "The nature of Christ", and whether or not this had been changed in Adventist circles. That a change had taken place is easily seen by comparing the lesson on that subject in text books in use at the time, and just before that, in the New Zealand Seventh-day Adventist College at Longburn, near Palmerston North. Photocopies of both the old and the revised versions of these are attached. Pastor Kranz was at that time (1950s-60s) the Principal of Longburn College.
But what is missing in this write-up, and indeed, often overlooked at the time itself (by both sides!), was the fact that the real issue was not that Jesus took a sinful spiritual nature and therefore came down to our level, the level of fallen Adam, but that He took all the infirmities of man and lifted them up to His level. [See "Temptation in the Wilderness" by EGW].
The effect of this was that He lifted Christianity with Him to that level!!
It was this that was being so strenuously denied in many of the arguments and discussions which took place all over the world. It was this difference in fundamental belief that caused many to stand for the truth and be disfellowshipped from the church they loved.
I was one of those.
Put very simply, the question was:-
1. Could a sinful human being be transformed by the power of a creator God into a Christian who could choose to do what the man Christ Jesus did? Answer
2. Put another way: Were Christians different from "normal" humans? Answer
3. And yet another way: Was the apostle Paul speaking of his present experience as a Christian when he wrote Romans chapter seven, or of the times before he became one? The present tense he used is not necessarily an indicator of the truth, but verse 24 seems to sum it up. Answer
After all, what did Jesus do during His time on earth that had not already been done by other followers of the living God? The prophets of the Old Testament times had, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, raised the dead, cured lepers, healed all manner of disease, all of which are "the wages of sin". Romans 6:23. And so had the disciples Jesus sent out on missionary journeys. Matthew 10:5-8. Jesus Himself said that, "I can of Mine own self do nothing; as I hear [from the Spirit] I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me". John 5:30.
Did this apply also in the realm of sins? That was the question.
And the answer?
In His opening address to the world of sinners, in and out of the church, Jesus said, "Be ye therefore perfect [in this world], even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect". Matthew 5:48. It is the "gift of God", the other half of Romans 6:23.
Yet when the evangelicals finished their discussions with the Seventh-day Adventist leaders they were able to say, "We stand at the foot of the same cross!" This was faint praise indeed from Babylonian teachers whose churches had rejected Gods call in 1844 and whose teachings our church was raised up to combat at that time.
There was little chance of their being misinformed for,
" this author [i.e. Walter Martin his book was to be called "Non-Christian Religions of the United States"!] did what authors in general have failed to do: he visited our denominational headquarters in Washington D.C., and obtained firsthand information. Moreover, he came not just for a single visit, but in company with other scholars made a number of trips to the General Conference covering a period of almost two years. Hundreds of hours went into this research, and hundreds of books and pamphlets, both Adventist and non-Adventist, were examined. In addition there were a large number of interviews. During these many months of study, the major aspects of Adventist teaching were carefully analyzed. The inquiries growing out of this investigation were ultimately couched in a series of searching questions to which comprehensive answers were requested So this volume came into being". Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington D.C. 1957, pages 7-8.
One other point.
In the article "What is New in the New Theology?" the author makes the following comments,
1. "This is why all men, including infants, need a saviour. If Jesus had been just like all the other children, he would have needed a saviour too". Page 7, column 2 in original.
2. "There was nothing in Jesus that responded in any way to Satans temptations. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners (Heb. 7:26). Our situation is completely different." Page 7, column 2.
3. "To understand the nature of sin is vital to our comprehension of the nature of man Are we basically good, created in the image of God, but because of temptations we transgress Gods law; or are we basically evil, with the image of God almost destroyed, and because of our evil nature we commit sin?" Page 8, column 3.
4. "Thus by nature we are the children of wrath (Eph. 2:3) who are enticed to sin by their own lusts (James 4:1)." Page 9, column 1.
" [Jesus] in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications [pleadings] with strong crying and tears [He was under great pressure] unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared; though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered". Hebrews 5:7-8.
He was not like "all the other children" but He was like all other Christians for He "is not ashamed to call them brethren". Hebrews 2:11. It is all summed up in verses 14-18.
"Forasmuch then as the children [of God, the Christians] are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same [flesh and blood]; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For verily [truly] He took not on Him the nature of angels [or of Adam before the fall]; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham [the father of the faithful and many years after the introduction of sin, Romans 4:11-13]. 17 Wherefore [because of this] in all things it behoved [it was absolutely imperative for] Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people".
18 "For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted [in the same situations as Christians], He is able to succour [save] them that are tempted". [Back to "New Theology"].
To say that "our situation is completely different" is to miss the point entirely. In the Bible a "sinner" is completely separated from a "saint", and to use statements which refer to the "sinner" and apply them to the "saint" is not good theology. Thus we read of the difference,
Proverbs 11:31."Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner".
Proverbs 13:6. "Righteousness keeps him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthrows the sinner".
1 Peter 4:18. "And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
Otherwise, there is no point to the statement Jesus made to Nicodemus,
"Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit". John 3:5-6. [Back to New Theology"].
"For we [Christians] have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we [Christians] are, yet without sin [because He overcame as we may, Revelation 3:21]. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need". Hebrews 4:15-16.
"The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men [not the children of God - the righteous], to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. 3 They [the children of men - the wicked] are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one". Psalm 14:2-3. (Compare Romans 3:9-13). [Return to "New Theology"].
"And you [the Christians in Ephesus] has He quickened [or re-created into life], who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now [or still] works in the children of disobedience. 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation [conduct] in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in sins, has quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;) 6 and has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus [on His throne, Revelation 3:21]." Ephesians 2:1-6.
Paul writes "were", and, "in times past" in this letter! [Return to "New Theology"]
We also need to look carefully at James 4:1.
"From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war, yet you have not, because you ask not. 3 You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts. 4 You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that the friendship of the world [i.e. following its ways] is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God". James 4:1-4.
"As the shepherd goes before his sheep, himself first encountering the perils of the way, so does Jesus with His people. "When He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them." The way to heaven is consecrated by the Saviour's footprints. The path may be steep and rugged, but Jesus has traveled that way; His feet have pressed down the cruel thorns, to make the pathway easier for us. Every burden that we are called to bear He Himself has borne". DA 480. [Return to "New Theology"]
None of this is meant as criticism of the church leaders. It is simply to set the record straight for todays generation. You might want to look at what a General Conference president had to say about some of these points. If so, go to "Christ Our Righteousness".
P. S. Who is Millard Erickson? He appears to believe that a Christian is "carnal" ["living in the flesh", of this world], and, "not subject to the Law of God [i.e. he need not keep the Ten Commandments] , neither indeed can be"! See Romans 7:14; 8:7. This is pure Babylonian teaching!!
Psalm 24:3-5. "Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that has clean hands, and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation".
"True character is not shaped from without, and put on; it radiates from within". DA 307.
Matthew 5:8. It is the "pure in heart" who will see God.
"Under the influence of the Spirit of God, man is left free to choose whom he will serve. In the change that takes place when the soul surrenders to Christ, there is the highest sense of freedom. The expulsion of sin is the act of the soul itself. True, we have no power to free ourselves from Satan's control; but when we desire to be set free from sin, and in our great need cry out for a power out of and above ourselves, the powers of the soul are imbued with the divine energy of the Holy Spirit, and they obey the dictates of the will in fulfilling the will of God". DA 466. [Return to "New Theology"]
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