Jun 04, 2010 | Comments 12
Can’t they get the Bible right at Erskine Seminary?
Sadly, it is now well known in most of the conservative Reformed theological world that Dr. Hughes Oliphant Old, holder of the John Leith Chair and the Director of the Institute of Reformed Worship at Erskine Theological Seminary, has, in his most recent book, The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church, vol. 7: Our Own Time, written that he does not “believe in Satan, demonic spirits, and demon possession.” The excerpt below is from page 556.
As I have mentioned, these sermons on Matthew 8 and 9 have a particular interest for me because I once tried to preach through these chapters and was very unhappy with how I did it. Where [John] MacArthur succeeded and I did not may well be in his complete clarity on just how he stood on some of the issues. While I would insist that Jesus did perform miracles, I have to admit that the caveats of the Enlightenment still obscure my thoughts from time to time. I suppose I am troubled by a shadow of doubt, but then the same would be true of many in my congregation.
The place where I have always had the greatest trouble is the whole matter of exorcism. I really do not believe in Satan, demonic spirits, and demon possession. Maybe I ought to, but I don’t. I am willing to agree that I may have been too strongly influenced by the intellectual world in which I was brought up to fully grasp the full teaching of Scripture, but that is the way it is. What is more than clear to me after listening to these sermons is that those who can take the text the way it is seem to make a lot more sense of it than those who are always trying to second guess it. Surely one of the great strengths of MacArthur’s preaching ministry is his complete confidence in the text.
Dr. Old has written over 5000 pages on worship and preaching and the Editor wishes that Dr. Old had never written the two paragraphs above on page 556 of his most recent book. The Editor was a student in one of the first classes that Dr. Old taught at Erskine. The class was a joy. Dr. Old was a delight. The Editor is greatly saddened by this admission.
Dr. Old’s words are so wistful. It seems that he regrets he cannot believe in the full authority of Scripture. He recognizes that such confidence in the reliability and authority of God’s Word authenticates the powerful preaching of John MacArthur. The Editor asks: “Oh Scotty, why did you make that gratuitous admission?”
Is there something in the Due West water? Dr. Old now joins Dr. Richard Burnett and Dr. Michael Bush in a list of professors at ETS who could not be ordained or received by any presbytery of the ARP Church because of their defective view on the authority and reliability of the Biblical text.
As recently as the March meeting of General Synod, Dr. H. Neely Gaston, Executive Vice President of ETS, was insisting that all the professors at ETS affirmed the inerrancy and/or full authority of the Bible. It has even been stated that the present ETS faculty is the most conservative and unified faculty that ETS has had in years.
In the light of the above events, Dr. Gaston’s words ring hollow. In the words of Desi Arnaz to Lucy: “You got some ‘splainin’ to do.”
These are my thoughts,
Charles W. Wilson
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