Wolf

 

The cartoon here depicts the wolf as goofy and comical; however, wolves are not goofy or comical. I have a friend who owns a German shepherd and wolf mix. Having hand-fed and raised the big beast from a pup, she is comfortable with him; I am not! When “Wolfie” looks at me, I feel he is measuring me for supper. Thankfully, he has yet to find me a tasty morsel.

In the wild, the wolf is an apex predator at the top of the food chain. In Biblical parlance, because the wolf is a dangerous carnivore that feeds on sheep (and anything else she catches), Isaiah’s juxtaposing of a wolf and a lamb living in harmony becomes an eschatological symbol of millennial and eternal peace. On the other hand, because of the wolf’s fierce nature, other prophets use “wolf” (1) to describe the devouring and greedy leaders of Israel and Judah who abused their trust by robbing and enslaving the people of God; and (2) to describe the city-leveling and nation-annihilating Gentile armies God sent to judge the people of God by destroying both Israel and Judah. Finally, in the New Testament, because the wolf is a cunning, remorseless, and edacious hunter, “wolf” is one of the terms used to specify the heretical teacher and the soul-blinding effects of the heretical teacher’s false doctrines on the church.

In Isaiah, some of the most beautiful language in the Old Testament incorporates the imagery of the “wolf” to describe peace. It is unexpected. It is a beautiful and a marvelous literary turn. Consider the following:

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb [my emphasis], and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. (Isaiah 11:6)

The wolf and the lamb shall feed together [my emphasis], and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD. (Isaiah 65:23)

Zephaniah and Ezekiel use “wolf” to describe the evil and grasping leaders who preyed on and oppressed the people of God. Their heinous crimes were portrayed in these terms:

Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves [my emphasis]; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow. (Zephaniah 3:3)

Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey [my emphasis], to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain. (Ezekiel 22:27)

Other prophets use the term “wolf” as a gloomy metaphor to describe the coming judgment of God on His people. Witness the following:

Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them [my emphasis], a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased. (Jeremiah 5: 6)

Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves [my emphasis]: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat. (Habakkuk 1:8)

In the Gospels, Jesus uses “wolf” to illustrate the peril of the world the disciples faced as He sent them with the gospel message: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16) and “Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves” (Luke 10:3).

Elsewhere in the Gospels, Jesus warns that “false prophets” are “wolves in sheep’s clothing”: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Jesus also warns that a “hireling” will run in fear before the “wolf” and not protect the “sheep” from harm: “But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep” (John 10:11).

The most notable “wolf” passage in the New Testament is found in Acts 20:28-30. The Apostle Paul warns:

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

It is recorded in the history of the ancient church that the leaders of the church in Ephesus were very zealous in defending their church from false teachers. In Revelation 2:1-7, Jesus’ makes the following assessment of their faithfulness:

. . . I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. . . . This thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Needless to say, Paul warned the Ephesian elders to beware of, to be discerning of, and to protect the church from the false teachers he described as “wolves.” This they did to the point that Jesus commended them for hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which He also hated.

“Hate” is a powerful word. Many of us today recoil from and are offended by it. Some even say “hate” is a sub-Christian response. Nevertheless, it is the word Jesus used and a response He approved of and commended in the Ephesian elders as they contended for the purity of the Christian community in Ephesus. Why? What is it about “false teachers” that brings out of Jesus and Paul the appellation of “wolf” and the visceral emotion of “hate”?

In the hands of Jesus and Paul, “wolf” is a literary device for identifying false teachers and the destructive heresies which are their trade. As the wolf in the forest stalks and kills and devours her prey, false teachers as they come stalking with their God-perverting and idolatrous doctrines kill and devour the souls and lives of men and women. Faith in and assent to Jesus as Savior and obedience to the doctrines of Jesus that both He and all the writers of the Scriptures taught lead to eternal life and faithful living. The “wolf” or false teacher opposes the gospel and promotes a ravaged lifestyle that is unacceptable and unblessed by God and leaves a mauled soul waiting for eternal death.

Well, it seems that “wolf” equals “false teacher,” does it not? What does this “wolf” that Jesus hates look like? What is the nature of these “false teachers” the Ephesians elders hated – a hatred Jesus commended?

The following Biblical guidelines for identifying the “wolf” or “false teacher” are taken from the Epistles:

  1. The “wolf” or “false teacher” comes preaching “another Jesus . . . another spirit . . . or another gospel, which ye have not accepted . . . false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into . . . angel[s] of light . . . whose end shall be according to their works.” (2 Corinthians 11:4, 13-15)
  2. Paul warns that the “wolf” or “false teacher” preaches a false gospel “which is not another”; rather, it is a perversion of “the gospel of Christ.” And then he states: 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.” (Galatians 1:6-8)
  3. The deceitful tools of the “wolf” or “false teacher” are “cunning craftiness,” “every wind of doctrine,” and “the sleight of men.” (Ephesians 4:14)
  4. “Wolves” or “false teachers” are also pejoratively identified as “dogs” and “evil workers” for they do not “worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus”; rather, they put their “confidence in the flesh.” (Philippians 2:2-3)
  5. The “wolf” or “false teacher” beguiles through “enticing words. He spoils “through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” (Colossians 2:4 and 8)
  6. The “wolf” or “false teacher” desires to be a teacher; however, he does not understand the Truth of the Scriptures and is drawn after “fables” and “genealogies” and “vain jangling” which produce questions, rather than “godly edifying.” The result is a “shipwreck” faith. (1 Timothy 3:5-7 and 19)
  7. According to the Apostle Peter, “wolves” or “false teacher” are “false prophets,” and, as they were among God’s people of old, they are also among us, “privily . . . bring[ing] in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” Their ways are “pernicious” for they speak evil of “the way of truth.” They make “merchandise” of God’s people. They are “unstable souls” who have “forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.” They are “wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.” Though they promise “liberty, they themselves are the servants of . . . bondage.” (2 Peter 2:1-3, 13-19)
  8. The “wolf” or “false teacher” is a deceiver whose teaching denies “that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” And, if such a teacher comes unto us, “receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” (2 John 7, 10-11)
  9. Finally, “wolves” or “false teachers” are “ungodly men” “who were before of old ordained to this condemnation.” They are men who turn the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and [deny] the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 4)

Once again, “wolf” equals “false teacher.” A false teacher is someone who denies Jesus’ Incarnation. A false teacher rejects the Scriptures teaching that Jesus is the only Savior. In other words, the “false teacher” teaches there is an alternative way to God. Therefore, a “false teacher” is “evil.” A “false teacher” is under the curse of God. The “false teacher” is the object of Jesus’ hatred.

If any of the information above is true, it is a serious matter to identify someone as a “wolf.” “Wolf” has a very specific meaning in the pages of the Bible. It is the equivalent of identifying someone as a “false teacher” or, in the words of the Apostle John, an “anti-Christ”!

Historically, in the community of the ARP Church, is there a place where one could go to find people who look like “wolves? That is, a place where one could go and find “false teachers” gathered in order to ply their destructive craft?

In the ARP Church, we speak boldly and loudly about our commitment to evangelism. We say that Jesus is the only Way to find salvation, the only Truth, and the only Life. Indeed, we affirm there is no other way to God but through Jesus alone (John 14:6). We also declare that there is no other name whereby people are saved but Jesus’ name (Acts 4:12). We say that all other ways and names are false and lead to eternal damnation.

However, historically, in the community of the ARP Church, is there a wolf’s den where one could go and find contradictory affirmations regarding Jesus as the only Lord and Savior of men and women? Is there a place where teachers have looked on the “imperial claims” of Jesus as intellectually and academically embarrassing and ridiculed and denied them”? If such is the case, Is it proper to identify such a teacher or teachers as “wolf” or “false teacher”?

If we do not, are we caught on the horns of a dilemma? What are we going to do with John 6:29 and 1 John 3:24? Do we not affirm these words are “infallible” and “inerrant”? If the “work of God” is for people to believe on Jesus, and, if the command of God is for people to “believe on Jesus Christ,” what do we do with and call those who deny both the “work” and “command” of God? If we do not define such a person as a “wolf” who is a “false teacher” and one who is “ravaging” the people of God with false teaching, are we disobedient to the Bible we affirm as God’s Truth?

In the ARP Church, we have a high view of the authority of the Bible. We say the Bible is the “Word of God written”. We declare the Bible to be the “infallible” Truth we trust completely to inform people regarding salvation and holy living. In the ARP Church, we declare the Bible to be the “very Word of God”. We confess “the Bible is without error in all it teaches.” We even affirm the “inerrancy” of the Bible.

This must be very important to us. We demand affirmation of the doctrine of Inerrancy when we ordain ministers. We demand affirmation of the doctrine of Inerrancy by the people we hire to run our agencies. We even post on the official website of the ARP Church our statements regarding the authority of and the inerrancy of the Bible. Are these things we believe about the Bible trifling matters for us?

However, historically, is there a place in the ARP Church community were one could go and find teachers who not only denied our affirmations concerning the Bible but mocked them? Is there a place today where one can go and still find a teacher who rejects and belittles our view of Scripture? Is there a place where one can go and find faculty members and administrators who decry our affirmation of Scripture as intellectually binding and restricting to intellectual freedom and academic integrity? Are these “false teachers”? Technically, yes! Are they “wolves”? I am not prepared to go that far. Are they dangerous to the theological and spiritual welfare of the ARP Church? Yes!

In the ARP Church, we say we believe God is the Creator of all things and without Him nothing was created (John 1:3 and 10). We deny and stand against all formulations of naturalist evolution. We believe man is more than a mammal. We believe God fashioned man from the “dust” of the ground in His “own image” and breathed in him “the breath of life” (Genesis 1:26-2:25). Whatever our views regarding the length of the days of creation, we all acknowledge the historicity of the first eleven chapters of Genesis. We are so zealous in our defense of the historicity of Adam and Eve we passed a “memorial” at our last General Synod re-affirming our belief that Adam and Eve are historical and not a mythical story accounting for the presence of mankind. In other words, our belief in Adam and Eve are a part of the very warp and weft of the Biblical account – and our theology!

However, historically, in the ARP Church community, is there a place one could go and find people espousing naturalistic views of evolution? Today, is there a place one can go today and find a tenured professor who recently published articles in the Greenville and Columbia papers affirming and promoting a Darwinian view of evolution and rejecting the Biblical account of creation as unthinkable for an educated person? What does one call such a teacher? What does one call a so-called Christian college that countenances such a teacher? What comes to your mind?

I became a member of the Erskine board of trustees in 1998. I knew of the matters of which I have spoken. I was convinced by the Erskine leadership, at that time, that the way of wisdom was to be silent and allow for incremental change. I was wrong. I do not live easy with my disobedience. I will have to stand before God and give account of my inaction – my sin of betrayal!

Was I a “wolf” because of my silence? No! However, there is another designation that Jesus used. It is “hireling.” I am trapped by that word. Because I did not cry out (Ezekiel 33), “blood” is on my hands. Because I did not cry out, I played the role of the “hireling”.

I am informed by the Bible that repentance is not an incremental action. When God commanded ancient Israel to put away their idols and “foreign wives,” He did not tell them to do it incrementally. I do not think that the Apostle Paul would have been impressed by our concern on the Erskine board about “academic freedom” or “tenure.” Nor do I think that Jesus will give any of us trustees a mulligan when we plead fear of academic accrediting agencies. Is it me, or do you not think the Bible is very “black and white” on these matters?

Are there “wolves” in the ARP Church? Is the “wolf” correctly defined as a “false teacher” who teaches a way to God other than Jesus? Is the “wolf” one who denies and devours the clear teaching of the Bible? If there are “wolves” in the ARP Church, where would one go to find the wolf’s den? Is it not time that we not only exposed but were rid of the wolf’s den?

Let us close with one final observation. According to the usage of “wolf” in the Bible, a “wolf” is not one who speaks prophetically to those in power. A “wolf” is not one who critiques denominational leaders and denominational institutions.

These are my thoughts,

Charles W. Wilson

 

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  1. Mark Wright says:

    Chuck,
    Thank you for clarity on the issue of wolves in Scripture.

    J. C. Ryle, the godly 19th century Anglican, wrote that “Controversy in religion is a hateful thing. It is hard enough to fight the devil, the world and the flesh, without private differences in our own camp. But there is one thing which is worse than controversy—and that is false doctrine tolerated, allowed, and permitted without protest.”

    Chuck, your crime is that you are intolerant of false teachers and you have protested the false doctrine being taught at Erskine. Seems to me that you have done so in order to guard and protect the truth we claim to hold as ARPs. Seems to me that is what faithful shepherds do. Thank you.

    One more thing to add to what you wrote – Jeremiah points out in Jeremiah 6:14 “They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace.” False teachers cry out for peace and unity when there is none. The peace of the church comes when we deal properly with wrongs, not when we try and sweep them under the rug and vilify men who seek the purity of the church. We must follow through properly with discipline in the church courts. What should we think of those who cry for peace and are unwilling to heal the hurt of the ARPC through proper church discipline?

    Grace and peace,
    MW

     
    • Dear Mr. Mark Wright,

      Thank you for your comments.

      I very much appreciate you reminding us of the words of Bishop J. C. Ryle: “. . . there is one thing which is worse than controversy—and that is false doctrine tolerated, allowed, and permitted without protest.”

      BTW, I didn’t know it was a “crime” to describe the particulars of an event – to call a spade a space.

      Mark, I must correct you on one point. You speak of men who “try and sweep [wrongs] under the rug.” Indeed, this has been done. Presently, however, these men are hiding behind SACS and ATS and accreditation issues and fear of legal action from ignoble rascals. It is simply amazing what men will do when they are set on NOT doing the right thing!

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       
  2. Jeff Kingswood says:

    Powerful Chuck!

    Jeff

     
  3. Ken Huff says:

    Very powerful indeed Chuck. There are wolves in the Church as evidenced by the fact that the ARP has been tolerating this sin at Erskine since your time on the EBOT and even before. A false teacher will promote that false unity and tolerate the error for the sake of false love and false peace. The error is thinking that the toleration of sin will somehow bring about reform. No, that is just more sin. There is sin in some of our churches for this reason and there is definitely sin at Erskine for the leaders tolerating professors who teach error related to the Word of God and undermine the faith of the young pople attending Erskine.

    I am reminded that harming the growth of the “one of these” is the same as casting a millstone around ones neck and casting it into the sea (Matthew 18:5-7). Please answer this. Why is there not more discussion and debating of these issue on Synod floor and Presbytery floor? I am still trying to learn the “ropes.” Why are not the Theological matters related to Erskine more rigorously debated when Erskine matters are up for discussion? All I heard at Synod was how SACS and ATS would react and how jobs would be cut. Where is the discussion over what is right and wrong and what is sin and biblical error? Is 40 years of biblical error long enough? Do we not realize that we will be held accountable for how we deal with this sin and error? Erskine repent. ARP repent.

    New kid on the block still baffled.

    Ken Huff

     
    • Mr. Ken Huff,

      Thank you for your comments. Your comment are powerful.

      You ask: “why is there not more discussion and debating of these issue on Synod floor and Presbytery floor?”

      My answer: the ARP commandment. Have you heard of it? It reads: “Thou shalt not say anything derogatory about Erskine!”

      Indeed, woe to the man or woman who speaks against Erskine, for no criticism of Erskine can possibly be true and must be a lie, and in the day that you do, evil will be sent against you. The idol of the Erskine towers will pursue you unto death, even to human sacrifice under the sacred oaks. Beware!

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       
  4. Will Anderson says:

    Chuck,

    Thank you for your love of Christ and His Church.

    Will Anderson

     
  5. Eric Goodwin says:

    Chuck,

    As I started this newest article on ARPtalk I began to think you were finally writing about something not related to Erskine College. I doubted myself but I hoped. Well, when you were nearly finished you brought Erskine into it. The comments are dominated by it. ARPtalk is “devoted to discussing topics of importance in the ARP Church” but I read here essentially only Erskine issues.

    Is such a tiny college so meaningful within an entire church denomination? Are missions not important? Or doctrine, or theological application, or service to others? Certainly all three may be bounded up in this tiny college, but are they not important enough to the ARP Church in themselves to merit a blog post?

    That’s a serious question, but I have another: why do you focus on the administration and faculty when you talk about Erskine? Alumni, faculty, and staff do it too. What so many in the Erskine Community forget is that Erskine exists for the students. It would not exist without us. You rail against issues in the faculty and administration, but why don’t you (and others!) look at the students?

    The students, who are fighting to make a place for themselves, who are immersed in coursework and extracurricular demands yet are passionate in their desire to serve each other, the campus, and the community, and who struggle to do so. A student body who often struggles with apathy and distraction, who struggles without leadership and resources, and who feels like the neglected child.

    If you are looking for some positive and meaningful things at Erskine College, I know you’ll find many looking in the student body. And I know that if you want to help Erskine, you’ll do it best by helping the students directly. Write about the good that we do and the help that we need, I implore you!

    Write about Jim Curtis and the ARP Student Union. Write about the new Ultimate Frisbee Club Team which has taken mission of Erskine across the Southeast. Write about the SIFE team which consistently serves the community and is recognized nationally for it. Write about the Athenian Literary Society who quietly and ceaselessly serves the campus and community. Write about Phi Alpha Theta, the history honor society which annually raises money to send a poor Haitan boy to go to grade school. Write about Heather Emch, the SCA President who never lacks a smile and is spending her summer in Africa in missions. Write about Cate Cardinale, who plays soccer, helps with FCA, participates in the award-winning Erskine delegation to the South Carolina Student Legislature, is the vice-chair of the Judicial Council, and still finds time to be at the top of her class.

    Write about this Erskine – there is no shortage of amazing stories, organizations, and people doing their part in Erskine’s mission.

    Eric

     
    • Dear Mr. Eric Goodwin,

      Thank you for your comments. You have written well – and passionately. I like you.

      I don’t need to write about the things you have. You have done an admirable job! However, what about “THRIVE”? You didn’t say a word about it.

      I like what you have described. Write an article for ARPTalk. I will print it as you write it. Come over to Seneca and let me interview you. How about doing a telecast with me? I have wanted to try that. If none of the reasons above fit your fancy, come over to Seneca and I will buy you lunch. I don’t think we have met.

      Where I disagree with you is in this: Erskine is not about this particular class or classes of students.

      Erskine is about the “mission.” That is, your class and the classes to come. Therefore, Erskine is about its past, the administration, the faculty, and board. The administration, the faculty, and the board are held accountable for accomplishing the “mission.” That is why I direct my comments to and about the administration, the faculty, and the board – and, lest I forget, the ARP Church. In four years, every student presently at Erskine will be gone. The administration, the faculty, the board, and, perhaps, the ARP Church will still be there. They are held accountable for the “mission.” They are the points of continuity.

      Once again, thank you for your comments. Let’s talk some more.

      I’m glad you liked the first part of the sermon. That was the “grunt” work necessary to make the sermon work – “what the Bible actually says.” I’m sorry you didn’t like the application; however, the examples are not false. I believe God is going to hold us in the ARP Church accountable for allowing such to happen at your school.

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       
  6. Peter Waid says:

    Chuck,

    Thanks for the word study on the word “wolf.”

    It reminded me of what Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote about false teachers in Matthew 7: 15. “The false prophet is a man who has no ‘strait gate’ or ‘narrow way’ in his gospel. He has nothing which is offensive to the natural man; he pleases all. He is in ‘sheep’s clothing’, so attractive, so pleasant, so nice to look at. He has such a nice and comfortable and conforting message. He pleases everybody and everybody speaks well of him. He is never persecuted for his preaching, he is never criticized severely. He is praised by the Liberals and Modernists, he is praised by the Evangelicals, he is praised by everybody. He is all things to all men in that sense; there is no ‘strait gate’ about him, there is no ‘narrow way’ in his message, there is none of ‘the offence of the cross.’ (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount)

    We all need to be careful lest we desire the approval of men vs. the faithful preaching and teaching of the Gospel.

    Peter Waid

     
  7. Craig Mutton says:

    “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, ‘How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.’ And the people answered him not a word.” (1Kings 18:21)

    Reverend Wilson:

    40 years seems like a long time to halt between two opinions. To me, it seems incredible that a group of God’s appointed ministers (RE’s and TE’s)who have taken ordination vows that affirm the Westminster Standards could waver for so long on the issues regarding false teachers at a denominational college. For shepherds charged with protecting Christ’s flock to allow false teachers to deny the Word of God and to undermine the teachings and standards of the Church for decades stretches beyond credulity.

    Furthermore, to take the tithes of God’s people and pay these false teachers to continue their subversion of the faith . . . . Here I must stop lest I overstep my bounds and speak evil of those who occupy the seat of spiritual authority.

    How long can we stand by while our ministers halt between two opinions before we must consider them complicit in evil? Another year? Another 40 years?

    Yes, there are a vocal minority who take issue with infidelity at Erskine. But the majority sit by and answer not a word. The issues of truth and falsehood, right and wrong are not that complex: whose is the true God — the god of the neo-orthodox, the liberals and the humanists or the God who has revealed Himself in Holy Scripture?

    Peter Marshal once preached a sermon in which he quoted I Kings 18:21. “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. . .” Rev. Marshal then added, “And go to Hell.”

    I don’t want to see the ARP go to Hell. I want to see the mushy middle choose faithfulness to God’s Word and their ordination vows. But in the meantime, I’m having a really hard time trying to justify paying my tithes to any church that is financing the enemy. Am I being faithful to my God and my membership vows by continuing to subsidize the wolves that would devour us?

    Thanks, Reverend Wilson for letting me fulminate here. I appreciate your willingness to stand by your Biblical convictions.

    Feel free to excise any word or expression that you feel inappropriate with respect to my spiritual shepherds.

     
  8. Mr. Craig Mutton,

    Thank you for your comments. Thanks for reminding me of Peter Marshall’s “Go to Hell!” sermon. Thanks for fulminating. You do it well. Anytime!

    What you have written, I have posted as you sent it – not a word has been changed! Indeed, what you have written is appropriate. I really like this phrase: “mushy middle.” BTW, did you know it wasn’t the liberals but the “mushy middle” that doomed the old “Northern” Presbyterian Church? God grant the ARP Church with ministers who hold your convictions.

    Well, I don’t know what others are going to do, but my days of “halting” are come to an end. Unless there is repentance and turning and reformation at Erskine, I will not give. I encourage others to join me. I also encourage congregations not to contribute to the Denominational Ministry Fund that allocates about 20% of the General Fund to Erskine. Instead, I encourage designated giving to our agencies that can be trusted to be faithful to the work of the church of Jesus Christ.

    Thank you for the courage to publicly express your convictions on this matter. May your tribe increase!!

    Regards,

    Chuck Wilson
    ARPTalk

     
    • Craig Mutton says:

      Reverend Wilson:

      Thank you for your kind words.

      May I disagree with you on the point of designating funds to specific agencies rather than to the Denominational Ministry Fund? Here’s what I’m afraid will happen:

      A particular agency — let’s call it the Mission to Church Officers Who Play Hookey from Sabbath Worship — is budgeted to receive $100K. Several churches designate their funds to the agency, and the amount adds up to $50K. Now, will the Powers-That-Be allot an additional $100K from the budget to the agency and allow their sacred cow to starve? I think not.

      I believe they will count the designated $50K as toward the agency’s $100K budget and pay out only an additional $50K from the general fund. Designating funds to a specific agency will only free up other funds in the general fund for the care and feeding of the Brahman Bovine. In other words, it will only give the opposition another opportunity to mock our institutional impotence.

      Now, if you know for certain that I am wrong on this, please tell me so, especially if you can point to an example where designated funds put some specific agency over budget.

      On another matter: yes, I am aware that the mushy middle backed the Liberals in the Norther Presbyterian Church, which led to the expulsion of Machen and the other reformers. Indeed, the ARP seems to be following the same pattern for much the same reasons. That is to say, the reformers have abdicated their claim to the covenantal and confessional high ground. When the mushy middle gets tired of the wrangling, they will steamroll the reformers.

       
      • Dear Mr. Craig Mutton,

        Once again, thank you for your comments. Of course, you may disagree with me. I often disagree with me!

        I hope we are better people than what you describe. Otherwise, we are indeed in a terrible dilemma. I hope you are wrong; however, time we tell. We are now in uncharted waters.

        Regards,

        Chuck Wilson
        ARPTalk

         
        • Craig Mutton says:

          Reverend Wilson:

          In a comment above, I said that I was considering withholding my tithe because the ARP currently funnels a portion of it into the propagation of antichristianity. The following open letter states my final decision.

          An Open Letter to All Ministers of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church:
          I’m sure that my displeasure at the apostasy and outright antichristian teaching tolerated at Erskine College and Seminary will come as no surprise to the few of you who know me. Neither, I am sure, will it come as a shock that I find it a travesty that Synod has over the course of four decades repeatedly refused to resolve this matter in favor of Scripture and the Confession.
          The 2012 Synod had a clear cut opportunity to stop the flow of funds to an institution that has demonstrated contumacious resistance to conform to the doctrines and standards of the ARP. A majority voted to continue to pay God’s money over to those, His enemies.
          If the majority represent ministers who give lip service to the Word and the Confession, then their words side with Christ,but their actions side with those who hate Him. I consider this a case of “neither hot nor cold,” and that such a state invites the outcome with which Jesus threatened the congregation at Laodicea.
          In Amos 4:4 I find the prophet’s rebuke to a parallel situation in the Northern Kingdom.
          Go to Bethel, and sin; to Gilgal, multiply sinning; and offer your slain-offerings in the morning, your tithes every three days (Amos 4:4, as found in Keil & Delitzsch)
          God’s people took their tithes to two centers of idolatry, thinking that this would constitute compliance with God’s commands. John Calvin has commented on this passage:

          The Prophet here again pours contempt on the perverse confidence, in which the Israelites were become hardened. They thought, indeed, that their worship was fully approved by God, when they offered Sacrifices in Bethel and Gilgal. But the Prophet here shows, that the more sedulously they labored in performing sacred things, the more grievously they offended God, and the heavier judgment they gained for themselves.
          I might paraphrase Amos’ words as follows:
          Go to Erskine College and sin; to Erskine Seminary, multiply sinning; and offer your . . . tithes every three days.
          I have wrestled for some time over the fact that the ARP Church funnels the tithes and offerings of God’s people into the pockets of those who oppose Christ and mock His Word. I have strongly considered withholding my tithe until such time as the Synod of the Church should cease to fund the propagation of antichristianity.
          As I search Scripture, however, I can find no principle or precedent for such an act. Therefore, I have decided to continue to pay my tithe to and through this local church, under protest and with a warning to the ARP at large.
          Since the Church’s highest court has dragged its feet for so long, I must conclude that those who think the ARP will resolve this issue soon have engaged in a shallow and baseless optimism. Therefore, as the Church’s earthly court seems bent on pursuing the status quo, I have petitioned a higher court by praying God’s judgment on all who have, do or will knowingly and willingly participate in the transfer of His money to Erskine.
          This I will continue to do unless and until the courts of the Church a) take control and expel the humanists and apostates from EC&S, or b) cut off all funds to the offending institutions.
          I intend this letter only as a notification and not an indictment of anyone in particular who serves in official capacity in the ARP. Since the curse causeless shall not come (Proverbs 26:2), I will leave in God’s hands the determination of who in our denomination bears responsibility for the current deplorable state of affairs.
          Respectfully,
          Craig Mutton

           
  9. Scott Robar says:

    Chuck,

    Perhaps you have answered this somewhere…would I do well to embrace the notion that a Christian liberal arts college is better than a Bible college? I don’t think so; but maybe I’m missing something.

    I recall reading, here, something from David Norman which tells us the difference between a Bible college and a Christian liberal arts college. I also recently read an article by Andy Putnam, in the ARP Magazine, in which he says, speaking as an Erskine trustee, that he definitely wants Erskine to be a Christian liberal arts college and not a Bible college.

    I went to a Bible college (now a university) which has to turn away students each year, because they need to control their growth. I’m speaking of Cedarville University http://www.cedarville.edu

    I get the sense that the most influential people in the ARP care too deeply about what Athens thinks of Jerusalem. I want Erskine to be a Bible college. If it’s not a Bible college, then I do not see what concern the ARP Church ought to have for Erskine other than to support Paul Patrick’s ministry, there.

     
    • Dear Mr. Scott Robar,

      Thank you for your comments. It’s always good to chat with you.

      I need to answer your questions in two parts.

      One, technically, the difference between a Christian Bible College and a Christian Liberal Arts College is emphasis. At a Bible College, the emphasis is on Christian vocation. Students attend a Bible college to be educationed for some type of career in the church. Often, men who early in life sense a call to “ordained” ministry attend a Bible College to get a head start on seminary. On the other hand, at a Christian Liberal Arts College or University the emphasis is on a traditional liberal arts education from a Christian perspective. The focus is taking every thought into captivity to obedience to Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Therefore, the task of the Christain Liberal Arts College is more comprehensive than that of the Christian Bible College.

      Second, the problem with Erskine College is NOT in the difference between a Bible College and a Liberal Arts College; the problem with Erskine is that ERSKINE IS NOT AUTHENTICALLY AND FAITHFULLY CHRISTIAN. If Erskine were a Bible College, it would be a failure because Erskine is not Christian; therefore, Erskine is presently a failure because Erskine does not meet the criteria of 2 Corinthians 10:5.

      Cedarville as a Bible College was very successful because it was authentically and faithfully Christian. Cedarville now as a Liberal Arts University is successfully because it is authentically and faithfully Christian.

      The present conflict is not about Erskine as a Bible College or a Liberal Arts College. The present conflict is about one word: Christian. That is, how does one define “Christian.” The Erskine administration, Erskine faculty, Erskine alumni, Erskine board, and the ARP Church are in conflict on the definition and implementation of the word. Scott, what you mean by “Christian” and what the people at Erskine mean by “Christian” are different and contradictory.

      Thanks for the question. Does this help?

      BTW, Cedarville is one of the finest Christian Liberal Arts Universities in America. Cedarvill is the envy of many academic institutions. Most of the Erskine faculty could not teach there – not because they could not assent to the faith statement; rather, most of them could not meet the academic qualifications!! As a whole, they ain’t that impressive! Look at the catalogue.

      Finally, you write: “I get the sense that the most influential people in the ARP care too deeply about what Athens thinks of Jerusalem.” Scott, you give us too much credit. Most of “influentical people” will have to look up what you wrote about Athens and Jerusalem.

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       
    • James Curtis says:

      Rev. Robar,

      Allow me to disagree with you on this point. If Erskine was a Bible College instead of a liberal arts college, I (a Bible/Philosophy major) would not have gone there. As a student, I enjoy the fact that I get to study things other than Bible/Philosophy. As a matter of fact, it helps me in my Philosophy major in meeting other professors, getting to know their view points, and studying their discipline.

      Becoming a Bible College doesn’t satisfy the BOT or Synod. Erskine exists for more than just aspiring ministers. As a matter of fact, one of the strengths of Erskine being a liberal arts college is the fact that non-Christians are attracted to a school which has such a good reputation for pre-med, Psychology, and Education. What does this mean? This means that we have non-Christians studying at EC, which is a great opportunity for Paul Patrick’s ministry. If you check out RUF’s (the organization, not just RUF at Erskine) philosophy of ministry, RUF exists to reach students for Christ, and to equip them to serve. A Bible College would kill a major part of Paul’s ministry at EC.

      Furthermore, the ARPC has members who aren’t ministers. As a matter of fact, there are a couple Elders at First Pres. Columbia who teach at USC’s medical school! These men are great witnesses for Christ in a different environment. Continuing even further, Erskine can equip great Christians for environments that aren’t ministry. Let’s not forget the Reformation ideal of the equality of vocations.

      There are many good reasons for EC to remain a liberal arts college. We need well rounded students, fluent in much more than just Bible, for our denomination to survive. Often times at Synod I feel as though we have too many theologians and not enough of the working Elder. We need more men like Dr. Suits and Steve Maye- men who didn’t go to Bible colleges, but decided to study Bible either by themselves or in graduate school. Men who are serious, yes, but also minister to others as a tour guide, or some other

      I would say that I don’t see what concern the ARPC would have with EC as a Bible college. We have a seminary, let’s do what we can to fix that instead of attempting to change the nature of Erskine, which is a much more arduous task than reforming the seminary- plus, reforming the seminary has much more support than Erskine as a Bible college. Let’s look at this realistically.

      Respectfully,
      James Curtis

       
      • Mr. James Curtis,

        Thank you for your comments. How is the Scotland experience going? Feel free to give an update on ARPTalk if you like.

        One correction: I think what you have written about Erskine Theological Seminary is a moot point. From what I’m hearing out of Due West, Erskine Theological Seminary no longer exists. I’ll be writing about that soon.

        When you get home, let’s have lunch and you can tell me about Scotland.

        Regards,

        Chuck Wilson
        ARPTalk

         
      • Scott Robar says:

        James,

        My bad. Cedarville called itself a Bible College, when I went there; but it was actually a Christian liberal arts college. I re-read Dr. Norman’s letter and see the same thing in Chuck’s response. If that is where we’re headed with Erskine, according to Andy Putnam and Dr. Norman, then I am totally on board with that.

        Scott

         
        • Mr. Scott Robar,

          Firet, the language you want is “Christian Liberal Arts College.” Second, you want a Biblically bound definition of “Christian” than means more than “a nice person like me who believes in god as she understands her.” Third, an administration, faculty, board, and church that buys into the above.

          Regards,

          Chuck Wilson
          ARPTalk

           
          • Daniel F. Wells says:

            I agree, in large part, with Mr. Curtis’ comments.

            It needs to be pointed out that while many colleges call themselves “Christian Liberal Arts” colleges, they are still viewed as “Bible Colleges.” I think the distinction comes less from degree programs and required courses and more from “conduct codes” for students, required statements of faith from students (not from faculty), one’s philosophy “integration” and “worldview”, etc.

            What makes Erskine, in theory, less of a Bible College and more of a Christian Liberal Arts college is its lack of a conduct code or required statements of faith from students. While there are plenty of legitimate ways to go about this issue, I prefer Erskine’s model. I’ve always related the “free offer of the gospel” to Erskine’s admissions policy. Erskine freely offers a gospel-centered, Christ-honoring, two books model of education to all students who would come. As my own professor at Erskine used to say, “In ancient Israel, the foreigners could come feast at the table, but Israelites chose the menu.”

            This isn’t a commentary on Erskine’s current practice of these things (I’ll leave it to others to have that debate), but I think we have the right philosophy and mission down on paper. I myself would like to nuance the term “integration” (or use a different term altogether) and look at how the debate has progressed over the last thirty years in Christian higher education, but I don’t think I’ll ever be king for a day. :-)

             
            • Mr. Daniel Well,

              Thank you for your comments.

              With the exception of Erskine, the Christian Liberal Arts Colleges I have experience with have statements of faith and standards of conduct for both faculty members and students. I think Cedarville University is an example of what I speak; however, Mr. Robar can speak to this better than I can.

              Regards,

              Chuck Wilson
              ARPTalk

               
  10. Daniel Stephens says:

    When I was at Erskine, none of the people who raised questions about the direction of the school advocated becoming a Bible college. Yet we were constantly accused of wanting to turn Erskine into Bob Jones. That charge was intended to portray us as restrictive fundamentalists and by contrast make the status quo be an enlightened and reasonable alternative.

    The same thing is being done by making the Bible college / Christian liberal arts distinction. Nothing in the Snow Synod or the years that followed dealt with the curriculum of the college or revising the philosophy of higher education. Now this distinction is being made to try and make some in the church appear to be dumb fundamentalists and Erskine look like the enlightened crew. This distinction in this setting is only to distract the church.

    Here is the best part: Erskine is a baccalaureate college! At the end of my freshman year Erskine lost its liberal arts status. The incredible irony is that it isn’t the church’s policies that will make Erskine lose its liberal arts status, the policies at work in Erskine prior to the Snow Synod have already done that.

     
    • Dear Mr. Daniel Stephens,

      Thank you for your comments. As usual, you “hit the nail on the head.”

      I would add that Erskine as a “Christian Liberal Arts College” is a failure because the word “Christian” is only appropriate to describe Erskine as a college that is not Islamic. “Christian” as a Biblical description to describe those who believe in and follow Jesus and adhere to the Truths of the Bible is irrelevant to Erskine. At Erskine, the word “Christian” has been deconstructed in such a manner as to be unintelligible and empty of Biblical sense.

      Erskine is “hell bent” not to be “evangelical Christian.” The conflict is not difficult to understand once one is able to grasp the direction Erskine has taken. We in the ARP Church continue to hope Erskine will embarace our understanding of “Christian.” This is not going to happen!!!

      Regards,

      Chuck Wilson
      ARPTalk

       

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