Where Olyott Got It Wrong

     Stuart Olyott caused such a stir with his slangy persiflage of Luther in his Where Luther Got It Wrong – and Why We Need to Know About It that the BOT magazine had to spend part of the following two issues striving to repair the damage. Olyott claims, without giving either source or context, that Luther’s position on the Word of God was the following:      ‘I opposed indulgences and all papists, but never by force. I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word: otherwise I did nothing. And then, while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my Philip of Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing: the Word did it all. Had I wanted to start… Full Article

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Where Luther Puts Olyott Right

     In the December 2009 issue of the BOT magazine, Stuart Olyott argues in his article Where Luther Got it Wrong – and Why We Need to Know About It that Luther believed in a mere ‘Word ministry’ which Olyott identifies as relying wholly on the Word of God for the conversion of sinners and neglecting other pastoral duties, in particular prayer and a trust in God’s immediate and direct action in conversion. He thus denies what he calls ‘mediate regeneration’ whereby God uses means, in this case the Scriptures, to awaken and regenerate sinners. As his title states, Olyott blames Luther for being the original force behind a Word Only ministry. Olyott gave a gabled rendering of Luther’s preaching without declaring his… Full Article

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Mottos on the Walls

     My mother Gladys Ella, née Hume, started going to Sunday and elementary school a year before the outbreak of the First World War in England. When I left home to do my apprenticeship in Sweden in the mid 1950s, Mum sent me a chain of letters, mostly from Memory Lane. Here is a letter she sent me on her earliest childhood entitled ‘Mottos on the Wall.’ Mum was brought up in a poverty-stricken home bereft of a father but could write the account given below in joyous remembrance. How different it was then to the grumpy groaning of modern society who have no Scriptural ‘Mottos on the Walls’:      How well I remember the Mottos once hanging on our bedroom walls. They were coloured and framed, depicting the seasons of the… Full Article

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Cotton Mather Vindicated: A New Look at the Salem Witch Trials

     In 1692, New England was in a tumult. Within a matter of weeks no less than 150 suspects had been charged with witchcraft and in the Massachusetts colony frightened men women and children believed that the devil was on the loose. The epicentre of this wave of evil which was to alienate children from their parents, churches from their pastors, servants from their masters and even wives from their husbands was the small community of Salem several hours ride on horseback from Boston.      Salem, though of very insignificant size, has received an over-proportioned importance in American ‘popular’ history as an example of how the Puritans strove to purge a town of its sin by burning its evil-doers. To a balanced Christian… Full Article

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William Cowper and Home-Schooling

A lone campaigner for educational reform      Public School expert Edward C. Mack said the poet William Cowper was a lone voice in campaigning for reform in eighteenth century English schools. This may surprise poetry lovers who have not yet discovered Cowper’s writings on education. Cowper’s most neglected long poem Tirocinium or a Review of Schools, for instance, deals in detail with educational reform. Parents thinking of home-schooling their children as a legal alternative might care to consult Cowper who denounced the school system of his day as barbaric and developed ideas of education most acceptable to Christian parents. First a few words about Cowper’s own education. Christian parents, the Bible and Pilgrim’s… Full Article

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The Troubles at Frankfurt

Lecture given at the Protestant Reformation Society, Regent’s Park College, Oxford, 2007 The Troubles at Frankfurt A Vindication of our Martyrs’ Legacy   The tiny enclave that rescued the Reformation in England      Readers of Asterix will be familiar with a tiny fortress, a mere dot on the map of the Roman Empire, which was to bring Rome to its knees. So much for fairy-tales. Solid fact are better than airy fiction. The real Frankfurt of 1553-59 was also a tiny bastion on the Roman Catholic map which because of its hospitality to the bulk of the Marian refugees, succeeded, by God’s grace, in providing the doctrinal and spiritual power which brought down a more dangerous Rome in Reformation England. Sadly… Full Article

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The Donatists and Their Relation to Church and State

The new search for historical roots      Nowadays, Christians are becoming increasingly interested in the history of their churches and in the search for giants of the faith in the past who might be used as models for their future. Perhaps never before has this longing to know more about the past so motivated the churches. Of course, there are great spiritual treasures to be found in church history and much to be learnt through past triumphs and failures. However, there is also a danger in this preoccupation with the past against which we must be warned. As our churches grow sadly less and less dependent on Scripture, we tend to look for historical roots for our support. So many once Bible-believing churches who scorned tradition… Full Article

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Reply to Tony Bickley

Sir:      Tony Bickley accuses me of being controversial over a point entirely foreign to me, leaving me puzzled at his logic and reasoning. He concludes from my repeated claim that Christ in His human nature was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin, that I teach that the Sinless One was a sinner. Furthermore, he concludes from my belief that Christ became sin on our behalf that I teach that this sin was Christ’s own and not Brother Bickley’s sin and mine. Moreover, he asks me to tell him how Christ rid himself of the sin imputed to Him. This question is best answered by the NT, especially Romans 8:16, “God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” I would link… Full Article

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Letter On Our Reformers’ View of the Word

     Letter to the Evangelical Times claiming that later Puritans and Dissenters were sounder than our Reformers in their understanding of Scripture – The letter was not published. Sir:      Towards the end of the nineteen fifties, several Christian magazines served their readership well by re-introducing the teachings of the long-neglected Puritans. Subsequently, the Puritans have become the staple reading of Reformed men. Sadly, however, this has led to a great neglect of our first generation Reformers whose works were used as a basis for Puritan teaching. Reformers such as Jewel, Lever, Latimer, Coverdale, Cox, Grindal, Bullinger, Bucer and Peter Martyr, pillars of the Church of England, were most strong on doctrine,… Full Article

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Reformation Day Declaration not Reformed

Sir:      Strictures against those who disagree with the Reformation Day Declaration outlined in Issue 7650 lose their force because the doctrine of forensic, declarative justification outlined therein is not that of our Reformers. It reflects the Humanism taught by Philip Melanchthon, often called Germany’s Erasmus. Unlike the bulk of Reformers including Bucer, Bullinger, Calvin and the English compilers of the 39 Articles and Homilies, the Melanchthon school taught a mere passive, non-causative, forensic justification turned into actual justification through obedience to natural law and the gospel. Because it was humanistic, it was man-centred. Sadly, the corrupt view of Reformation doctrine promoted in the declaration has… Full Article

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