I have recently found the following letter on a web-site named The Lifted Veil. I replied immediately but, as so often on these sites, I was not accepted as a subscriber and my letter and personal data just disappeared after clicking on the comments button. I am thus presenting the original ‘open letter’ which I never received myself with my reply, trusting that someone will link me up with the writer so that a most necessary dialogue might take place.
Dear brothers in Christ,
I have a few queries about George Ella’s remark regarding New Covenant Theology.
1. Has he actually read Wells and Zaspel’s book or is he basing his criticisms on material written by others? If he has not read the book word for word does he intend on doing so?
2. Has he sought to dialogue with Zaspel and/or Wells? If not, would Ella be willing to dialogue with some NCT theologians regarding his views? Would he be willing to open himself up to some loving theological dialogue and cross examination in an open forum or via email?
3. Some questions in regard to the following Ella quote:
“Our Reformers distinguished between error and heresy. The former was a mere misunderstanding of the gospel here and there; the latter was a total rejection of the gospel and the bringing in of a new religion. New Covenant Theology is thus most definitely a heresy. The ‘new’ in it is a new law and a new gospel with a new ecclesiology, a new Christology and a new doctrine of the Word of God. It has a new view of the natures of both man and God and a new view of God’s dealings with man. In the following months, I hope to show in detail what are the basic tenets of this false religion and how we can armour ourselves against it.”
Do you (or Ella) believe that those who hold to NCT are unbelievers going to hell as implied by such vitriolic and misleading statements regarding NCT such as “heresy” (as opposed to “error”), “total rejection of the gospel”, “a new gospel”, “new Christology”, “false religion”, etc.
If you/he does believe that we, who hold to NCT, are all a bunch of hell bound rebels, does he also believe that the foundation for our faith is false? I remind you that those who hold to NCT also hold Calvinistic views of salvation. We have likewise repented for our sins and trusted in Jesus Christ alone: as the only Son of God, our Lord, King, Saviour and treasure. Are we not saved on this basis? We all confess him as Lord, forsake our sin, hold to the infallibility of Scripture, etc.
In my case I was converted and much later embraced Calvinistic teaching. Later again I embraced Presbyterianism as taught by the Westminster Confession of Faith. Many years later I changed my understanding of how the covenants fit together (i.e. embraced NCT). At this point did I enter a “false religion”? So, if we are unbelievers, as implied, do you or Ella believe it is not enough to hold these basics of Christianity to be saved? Is there more that we need to embrace? Must we agree point for point with Mr Ella over additional theological truths in order to be saved? (If so, you’ve added an awful lot of propositional truths to the gospel required to be embraced in order to be saved. Such a view can not be substantiated by Scripture!)
If I have misunderstood you or Ella, and you are not implying that we are all hell bound, may I suggest you tone down your language and speak more accurately concerning our beliefs. Please stick to the points of difference and stop making sweeping statements like you have so far. Broad brush, unqualified and misleading statements are not helpful. That is, saying we embrace a “new gospel with a new ecclesiology, a new Christology and a new doctrine of the Word of God. It has a new view of the natures of both man and God and a new view of God’s dealings with man.”, etc. Unqualified these overstatements appear designed to make us appear to hold views further divergent from the reformed faith than is correct. Please exercise more care in the future.
4. Do you consider the following to be “law”?
“Let your speech always, be gracious” (Col 4:6a)
“Rather, *speaking the truth in love*, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” Eph 4:15.
Your brother in Christ-
My full reply is as follows:
Dear Brother Shane,
This evening (15.03.2012), I came across an open letter from you on this web-site. If you had written to me personally before putting this letter on the web, I would have dealt with it promptly and relieved you of a number of misapprehensions. As I knew nothing of your website and was not notified of your posting, you, of course, could not reckon with a reply. This is a pity as we might have been able to enter into a mutually helpful dialogue. My personal e-mail has been on-line for very many years, but you may not have known about my web-site either. I trust therefore, there are no hard feelings on either side. Certainly not on my side.
Though you complain of my ‘vitriol’ this is only to be found in the imaginative but rather derogatory scenario you have painted of my alleged anti-NCT thoughts which are totally contrary to my own theological stand, and, I trust, character. All you say about me condemning people to hell was neither thought nor taught by me, and that is still the case today. Sadly, when I strive to enter into dialogue with NCT enthusiasts, as you may have noticed from my correspondence with such in the English Churchman, New Focus and my web-site Biographia Evangelica, I usually receive accusations from my opponents which reveal more of their persecution complex than it does of their attempts to be objective and take up my arguments. Indeed, in very few cases have my NCT opponents even tried to enter into any real, brotherly, dialogue with me and instead of merely condemning my views, striven to give me a helping hand in understanding the NCT in a better light. I am always open to grounded refutation as it is by such ways we learn. Requests for a direct one-to- one dialogue made by me repeatedly in Biographia Evangelica have been ignored, though I know from third parties that my opponents read my pages.
I am used to being addressed by modern NCT believers with sneers, cries of ‘loon’, ‘moron’, ‘terminally senile’ and sadly worse so that I am happy to be written to by someone like you who wishes to express brother love and Christian decorum. However, though I feel highly misunderstood by you and your way of thinking me ‘vitriolic’, I do apologise for any offense given, especially as this was not intentional. I trust you will accept my apology sincerely as it is sincerely meant. I say this because just recently, I received a letter from an NCT pastor, couched in the most vile language expressing great rage at something he had got quite wrong. I, nevertheless apologised for provoking this brother. The gentleman replied that he would accept my apology but continue to use insulting terms against me. I trust that you are of a more patient and understanding character. It is high time that we brethren got together and discuss what strives to separate us.
You ask if I have read Wells and Zasper. I thought the answer would have been obvious as I say I have done so and quoted extensively from their works. A little charity would have thus accepted the truth of my statements. So, too, I have followed the changes in their theology over very many years. Furthermore, I am happy to know that you have read them as I am often attacked by NCT people who, when I challenge them on what Reisinger, Seiver, Wells, Ditzel, Zasper and the crypto-NCT-ites at the Founders Journal and Banner of Truth, they confess ignorance of them. Only recently, as you will gather from my web-site, I was accused of not knowing Reisinger’s works though I quoted from them, only to find that my accuser, Randy Seiver, was quite unfamiliar with Reisinger himself and takes a stance over which Reisinger would shake his head. He did not even possess the book in question so that he could look up the passage himself! If I remember correctly, Seiver said he would bet a month’s rent that I was wrong. Not being a betting man, I merely gave Seiver the exact source in Reisinger but neither received an apology or a month’s rent from my fierce antagonist. I have corresponded with Bro Reisinger and have grown to like him. Indeed, I am nearer him than his late brother at the FT. He calls me a Maverick, adding that he is called such himself, so we are obviously birds of a feather. I thus place Reisinger in quite another category to those who profess to be his offspring but do not act like or follow their founding father, or are even unfamiliar with his works.
I have only written once to Wells personally but he passed on my letter to one who claimed to be his agent for a reply. The agent was most insulting but in his second letter revealed that he had no idea of the matter in hand and was completely and totally unread on the subject. My discussions with Seiver and Ditzel you may have read in my print and digital publications. Most of my published debates with NCT-ites are on my web-site Bibliographia Evangelica.
Concerning my statement that biblical, linguistically and historically a number of NCT beliefs are heretical, I believe that Andrew Fuller was a heretic in most of his theology but I realize that his heart was in love with Christ though his head was full of man’s philosophy. If I remember correctly, my attempt at a dialogue with Wells was concerning the Fullerism in his views which came from the New Divinity and Latitudinarianism of the Congregationalists and Presbyterians both at home and abroad. I am a man of no party myself and can tolerate much from my brethren without banning them to hell. I trust that the Lord who has promised to choose out the weak and despised is mighty to save me, you and brother Seiver! So, too, the NCT is a rapidly changing religion and I trust that even an old man like myself will see them coming to a better understanding of themselves. At present, NCT-ites appear to be so divided that the only thing which unites them is the general pressure from outside which rejects the very covenantal idea which lies at the basis of that which still unites them. This, too, is now changing as NCT-ites are split on election, justification, baptism, the so-called moral law, eschatology, ecclesiology and evangelism, not to cover all points of diversity.
I take note of what you say about my speech and trust that this is reciprocated as we can only enter into dialogue as brethren when a mutual respect is there. I would have hoped that you had provided a foundation for this in your letter and given me concrete arguments from Scripture where you feel you are right and I am wrong. I have constantly provided such arguments in my writings but they have never been taken up. If I am wrong on the multiple NCT theories now being spread, it is not through want of trying to call my brethren to partake in objective discussion on as neutral a basis as possible. As you now demand such a discussion yourself, let us therefore enter into brotherly dialogue concerning how to go about it. I have given my grounded reasons for believing NCT to be wrong. Please either refute these reasons from Scripture or suggest a further way of getting over our difficulties. Perhaps the best start would be to analyse what exactly is the Covenant the Father made with the Son in eternity in order to choose a people for Himself. In this way, we shall not debate in Aristotelian analytical and logical error but cover all the doctrines of grace within the synthesis and synergism in which they belong but have been isolated through a systematic theology inherited from our Greco-Roman-Catholic opponents.
Yours sincerely in Christ,
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