Friday, May 26, 2017

The Princeton Defection and Its Consequences

Friday, January 16, 2009, 15:11
This news item was posted in Biblical Inspiration, Editor's Message category.
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Dear Dr. John Battle,
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It is with deep regret that I read your latest article on the Christian Observer web pages (www.christianobserver.org)  You do realize I pray that you have placed yourself outside the Westminster Confession on this topic?

You must be aware that this doctrine is a lie born in Rome which Turretin spent many pages refuting in his Institutes of Elenctic Theology. By pressing forward the error of Princeton and the secular world you have cast a shadow over your position with the seminary and tainted all of the students there past, present, and future. This is no light issue and I pray you will reconsider and think this through more completely.

Sir, your scholarship is unquestioned and you have been a great resource to our churches but you have failed here. You are in good company, such Princeton theologians as the great B.B. Warfield propagated this same error. Warfield gave us many great works on the Scriptures but he missed the mark here and denied the heritage of the 16th Century Reformation.

One error doesn’t undo all the good a man does in his lifetime, but when coupled with a prominent position and distinguished reputation in the church an error can cause great harm nonetheless.

Sincerely,
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+ Dr. Chuck Baynard

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Dr. Baynard wrote this public letter to Dr. John Battle of Western Reformed Seminary because the staff of the Christian Observer inadvertently let an article praising the Princeton Theologians get through the filter. The first chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith repudiates the distinctive undercutting of Biblical authority practiced by that institution and its academic children. Solomon was not the last good man to make devastating mistakes. The Princeton doctrine that the best scholars must do the best they can to find the Word of God in the best manuscripts has a place in the Vatican but it does not have one in the historic testimony of the Christian Observer.

Constitutional church polity rises or falls on the issue in question. This cluster of doctrines about polity distinguishes the Presbyterians from other branches of the Lutheran and Reformed family. Either God speaks His mind clearly or assemblies and synods will attempt to do it for Him with horrible consequences.

The Second Helvetic Confession leaves no room for the Romanizing of the church through the back door. Either the God of Election and the TULIP doctrine can defend Himself and preserve His word or the game is up for all of us.

I could not in good conscience encourage men to invest their lives in the service of a God Who cannot be trusted. I affirm the Second Helvetic Confession of Calvin Synod and the summary statement in the Westminster Confession of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, “The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by his singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as, in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal unto them. But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, that, the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner; and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.”

Calvin can be devastatingly broadminded and Turretin often writes with a sledgehammer and pick axe, but the churches which remain loyal with them to the Providential Text survive the errors of the ages. Jesus said, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:18)

The tragically mislabeled mainline churches die from disrespect for the utter reliability of God in His Word. The same attitudes on the opposite end of the American spectrum leave Evangelical and Fundamentalist churches willing victims of every passing church growth fancy and liturgical fad.

Apart from the utterly reliable Bible, these institutions only illustrate the message of James, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8 )

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+ Dr. Edwin Elliott, President, The Christian Observer Foundation

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