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The Declaration of Repudiation:
A Public Testimony Against
Modern North American Evangelicalism

by Michael Wagner

copyright Michael Wagner 1996

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Wagner has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree and a Master of Arts degree in political science from the University of Calgary. His papers A Presbyterian Political Manifesto, Paleopresbyterianism Versus Neopresbyterianism and his Master's thesis entitled Private Versus Public Education: The Alberta Debate in the 1980s are also available from Still Waters Revival Books. Wagner has begun work on his doctorate at the University of Alberta, and currently resides in Edmonton with his wife and three children.
CITATIONS

The system used for citations in this paper follows the Style Manual for Political Science published by the American Political Science Association (1993). In the text of the paper, a citation includes the last name of the cited author, followed by the date of his work, and then the page number or numbers used. To find the title of the work cited, go to the References section at the end of the paper. Locate the author's last name and the date that corresponds to the one in the citation, and you will find the specific work cited. For example, the citation "(Hetherington [1856] 1991, 124-128)" refers to pages 124-128 in Hetherington's book History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines which was originally published in 1856, and republished in 1991. Where the author's name is not between the citation brackets, his name had just been referred to previously in the text and should therefore be obvious.

The Declaration of Repudiation:
A Public Testimony Against
Modern North American Evangelicalism

Modern North American Evangelicalism has effectively repudiated the Reformation, and so we repudiate North American Evangelicalism.

Within a few hundred years after the time of Christ, the forces of Antichrist were wreaking havoc in the church. All kinds of man-made innovations were introduced in the government and worship of the church, and the message of salvation by faith alone faded from sight. Indeed, the "man of sin" and "son of perdition" set himself up "in the temple of God" (see 2 Thes. 2:3-4) -- i.e., the Papacy was established. Those were dark days.

At times during that period, God would raise people up to declare a faithful testimony, people such as the Waldenses, John Huss, and John Wycliffe. But then God wrought a much greater work, and beginning with Martin Luther, the world was shaken by the mighty Protestant Reformation. The Reformers were basically starting from scratch; they went to the Bible alone to figure out what God would have us believe and what He would have us practice. Although affirming the sole authority of Scripture was the overriding concern of the Reformers, the two most significant issues derived from that concern were salvation and worship. Note, for example, the words of John Calvin:

If it be inquired, then, by what things chiefly the Christian religion has a standing existence amongst us, and maintains its truth, it will be found that the following two not only occupy the principal place, but comprehend under them all the other parts, and consequently the whole substance of Christianity: that is, a knowledge, first, of the mode in which God is duly worshipped; and, secondly, of the source from which salvation is to be obtained. When these are kept out of view, though we may glory in the name of Christians, our profession is empty and vain (1995, 15).
The Reformers were clear in demonstrating that we are justified by faith alone, and that God will only be worshipped in ways that he has prescribed. The Biblical teaching on salvation has come to be known as "Calvinism," after the greatest of sixteenth century Reformers, John Calvin. And the Biblical teaching on worship came to be known as the "regulative principle of worship," refering to the fact that Scripture regulates worship by forbidding whatever God has not commanded.

In bringing to light these precious truths of Scripture, the Reformers were following the voice of their Shepherd, Jesus Christ. As Jesus said in John 10:27, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." But modern North American Evangelicals have despised these truths -- they reject the Biblical teaching of salvation by God's sovereign power, and instead say that men are saved by their free-will decisions (Arminianism). And instead of allowing Scripture to regulate their worship practices, they use all sorts of man-made innovations including uninspired songs, musical instruments, altar calls, etc. The effect has been to bring Evangelical doctrine and practice increasingly back in line with the Romish Whore, from which the Reformers had broken free. Unlike Jesus' sheep who "know not the voice of strangers" (John 10:5), in doing such things the Evangelicals have shown themselves to be following "a stranger." Certainly God did not lead them into such unscriptural doctrine and practice.

In sum, the Reformation was a time where God (using men such as John Calvin, John Knox, etc.) worked mightily to bring His Truth to the attention of men in a very big way. God's way of salvation and His method of worship were made plain. But these have been abandoned by North American Evangelicals; they think they have a better way, when in truth they have become apostate. Their only hope is to return to the truth of the Reformation. As Kevin Reed so aptly puts it,

if there is to be a new reformation, we need to come clean on the depth of the problem among evangelicals, and summon them to repent, believe the true gospel, and depart from their idols in worship. (Anything less is simply beating around the bush.) And until evangelicals bring forth such fruits meet for repentance, historic Protestants will have no choice but to regard the bulk of evangelical churches as no more legitimate than Rome (1995, 63).

The Importance of Doctrine

In the eyes of so many North American Evangelicals, doctrine just isn't that important. What is important is that a Christian has a warm faith and a close relationship with God. As long as someone reads the Bible, prays, and attempts to "win souls," that's all that really matters. In fact, numerous Evangelicals believe that people who emphasize doctrine are simply being contentious and are therefore condemned by Paul in 1 Cor. 1:10-13.

The Scripture itself, however, teaches that Christians should place a strong emphasis on doctrine. Even a very small sampling of Scripture makes this too plain to miss: Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine (1 Tim. 4:13).

Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee (1 Tim. 4:16). All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine (2 Tim. 4:2).

But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine (Titus 2:1). This list could go on and on, but note that "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God" (2 John 9a).

The importance of knowing true doctrine cannot be overemphasized. Look at it this way: what if when you stand before God at the end of time He asks why you taught your children error rather than truth on important points. You cannot plead ignorance. Certainly there are innumerable groups teaching a variety of beliefs and all claiming to be true. But if you are a serious Christian, you must take the time to search the Scriptures to find out what is true. If you say you don't have time to do that, all you are really saying is that you don't care enough to do it. Yet the well-being of your family is at stake. Everyone finds the time to do what they think is really important. Just because you believe you are a good Christian living a reasonably good Christian life doesn't mean that you are exempt from the Biblical commands to hold to and understand true doctrine. Holding to false doctrine, even if you don't know it's false, could be disastrous to you and your family.

Let no man think that opinions are free more than practices, or that a man runs no hazard of his salvation by erroneous and heretical opinions. Error of judgement, as well as wickedness of practice, may bring death and destruction upon the soul, James v. 19,20; 2 Pet. ii. 1; iii. 16; Gal. ii. 21. Heretics, as well as murderers and drunkards, are there excluded from the kingdom of heaven (Gillespie [1846] 1991, 66).

As Gillespie also points out, "a holy heretic is a chimera" ([1846] 1991, 63). What this means is that your relationship with God is an illusion if you neglect true doctrine. So many modern Evangelicals seem to think that doctrine is of secondary importance (at best); what is really important is your relationship with God -- as if the two could be separated. But they cannot.

Dangerous and damnable errors can no otherwise consist with true grace than dangerous and damnable sins. And this I will hold as a good rule in practical divinity, that as the want of true piety makes a person (if tempted) apt to be infected with error, so error of judgement, if continued in, doth not only hinder growing, but makes a dangerous decreasing and falling short in true piety; or thus, the stability of the mind and judgement in the faith of the gospel, and in the true reformed religion, and the stability of the heart in grace and true piety, stand or fall together, flourish or fade away together, lodge or flit together, live or die together (Gillespie [1846] 1991, 60).

"Licentiousness of judgement in doctrines will certainly introduce licentiousness of heart and life in practicals" (Gillespie [1846] 1991, 62). If you are serious about being a Christian, you will take the time to ensure that you hold to correct Biblical doctrine. The Evangelical attitude that doctrine is not important is itself heretical and must be repudiated.

Conclusion

Again, the Scriptural theological attainments of the Reformation have been abandoned by modern North American Evangelicalism; and to make matters worse, an unscriptural disdain for doctrine has immunized many evangelicals from a recovery of Reformation truth. But make no mistake: the Reformers recovered Biblical truth (by the grace of God) and set it forth so that future generations of Christians would have correct belief and correct practice. The turning away from this truth that has occurred is not so much a turning away from the Reformers as it is a turning away from the sole authority of the Bible and from God Himself. The true sheep hear His voice and follow Him, accepting His doctrine and practice. Those who reject this doctrine and practice are following strangers. The Scripture says "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil" (Ex. 23:2), and so we must repudiate this multitude, Evangelicalism, in spite of all its (false) pretensions to be following God. Instead, we must follow the Saviour in the path of true doctrine -- the doctrine set forth in the Reformation.

References

Calvin, John. 1995. The Necessity of Reforming the Church. Dallas: Protestant Heritage Press.

Gillespie, George. [1846] 1991. The Works of George Gillespie, Vol. 2. Edmonton: Still Waters Revival Books.

Reed, Kevin. 1995. Making Shipwreck of the Faith: Evangelicals and Roman Catholics Together. Dallas: Protestant Heritage Press.


FOR FURTHER STUDY:

CALVIN, JOHN

Necessity of Reforming the Church (1544)
C.H. Spurgeon once said, "[t]he longer I live the clearer does it appear that John Calvin's system is the nearest to perfection." (cited in Christian History magazine, Vol. 5, No. 4). Credenda Agenda (P.O. Box 8741, Moscow, Idaho, 83843) reviewed this book stating, "the relevance of Calvin's book today is exceptional. Apart from the grace of God, the human heart never changes. Men have always loved external religion, and unless God saves them, they always will. But God demands heart religion... His writing is relevant because the church today is in dire need of a similar reformation and revival. Like Calvin, some few believers today see 'the present condition of the Church... to be very miserable, and almost desperate.' Our context is different in one key respect however. The church needing reformation in Calvin's day was the tradition-encrusted church of Rome. Shortly after the Reformation, for those leaving Rome behind, two streams became apparent. One was the stream of classical Protestant orthodoxy, represented today by a handful of Gideons in their desktop publishing winevats. The other was the left wing of the Reformation - the anabaptist movement. In the early years, the anabaptists were suffering outsiders. But today the anabaptist church is the Establishment - an establishment governed by a chaos of traditions instead of biblical worship. Everywhere we look we see Christians approaching God with observances in worship which Calvin calls 'the random offspring of their own brain.'" Though this work is not an elaborate systematic presentation of the foundations of Christianity, such as Calvin's Institutes, it has still been correctly acknowledged as one of the most important documents of the Reformation. Calvin here pleads the cause dearest to his heart before an assembly perhaps the most august that Europe could have furnished in that day. It has been said that the animated style used by Calvin in this work would not lose by comparison with any thing in the celebrated "Dedication" prefixed to his Institutes. To this day, The Necessity of Reforming the Church remains a powerful weapon, both defensive and offensive, to fight the contemporary battle for Protestantism - the everlasting gospel of truth. Here, in our modern setting, we find the answers to many of the vexing questions which continue to agitate the Church.
(Rare Bound Photocopy) $19.95-75%=4.98
Also available in Softcover $10.95-20%=8.76


REED, KEVIN

Making Shipwreck of the Faith: Evangelicals and Roman Catholics Together
This is the best book, critiquing this unholy alliance, to appear yet. It is the only book that has gone to the heart of the issues, at the most basic level, and not merely dealt with the obvious external differences with Rome. It convincingly shows that, concerning "critical aspects of doctrine and practice," many "modern evangelicals have become very much like Rome." The two major areas dealt with are the doctrines of salvation (especially regarding justification, predestination, evangelism and the bondage of the will) and worship. Arminianism, in both these areas, has already made such inroads into "evangelicalism," that most Protestant churches would not even be recognized by their own Protestant forefathers. For example, Reed writes, "[i]f you are resting your assurance of salvation upon your "decision;" if you think that your "free will" or "accepting Christ" produced the new birth within you; then you are deceived, you are no better off than a Judaizer or a Romanist. You have made your "decision" into a work, and subverted the doctrine of salvation by grace." Furthermore, it is perceptively pointed out that "[t]oday, many Roman Catholics and evangelicals decry the sins of abortion and homosexuality as manifestations of our nation's corruptions (which they are); but these same contemporary moralists are generally silent about the heinous sin of corrupt worship" (p. 35). You would think that for much of "evangelicalism" today, the first table of the law was never a reflection of God's unchanging moral perfections, or that the God of the Old Testament has forgotten His own most important moral directions to mankind -- at least since the coming of Christ. If you want the Biblical reasons for rejecting man-made gospels and man-made worship (whether they be found in Rome, or among the Charismatics, Baptists, independents, or other so-called "evangelicals") this book tells it like it is. For as Reed states, "[l]iving in an era of religious pluralism, we are too apt to forget that heresy is a form of moral corruption; it is classed among 'works of the flesh' along with adultery, fornication, uncleaness, idolatry, witchcraft, murder, and drunkenness (Gal. 5:19-21). That is how the Lord views heresy. And thus heresy is dangerous to our souls; there are heresies which are "damnable" in their nature (2 Pet. 2:1). The issues which fostered the Protestant Reformation are not simply matters for academic debate. They are great and eternal matters respecting the way of salvation and the proper worship of God" (book, p. 82). Don't miss this important and fiery rebuke against modern apostasy, calling the signers of ECT to repentance! (Softcover)
$10.95- 40% = 6.57


BIRGER, LARRY

Why the PCA is Not a Duly Constituted Church and Why Faithful Christians Should Separate from this Corrupted "Communion"
Two letters from Larry Birger, Jr. to the session of his former congregation in the PCA, with an historical introduction. Birger states, "This work is emitted by way of testimony against the defections from the reformation of the true religion granted by God in ages past, in hopes of playing some small part in the edification of God's people currently languishing under such defected and defecting denominations." It spotlights the differences between classic Presbyterian thought (paleopresbyterianism) and what today is but a pale imitation (neopresbyterianism) of the Reformation attainments that have been won (at the cost of much suffering and many lives) in the past. This is a good practical introduction to ecclesiology, testimony-bearing, and second Reformation thought.
(Rare bound photocopy) $9.95-60%=3.98


GILLESPIE, GEORGE

The Works of George Gillespie (2 vol.)
Gillespie was one of the Scottish commissioners to the Westminster Assembly. One of the great theologians of all time -- almost singlehandedly steering this august Assembly at certain points. As Hetherington notes, "in all those debates no person took a more active part, or gained more distinction than George Gillespie," though he was the youngest man there. Furthermore, Hetherington calls him a "genius of the highest order," and writes that his work "dazzled and astonished his countrymen." He "held an undisputed position among the foremost of the distinguished men by whose talents and energy the Church of Scotland was delivered from the prelatic despotism" of that day. This rare work contains Gillespie's per-sonal notes during the Westminster Assembly and A Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies. A Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies is a rare classic on Reformed worship, taking on all the arguments related to the use of man-made ceremonies in worship. Burned by the Prelates (Episcopalians) just after it first appeared in 1637, this masterful defense of the regulative principle has yet to be answered (by those that oppose God's sovereignty in worship). It ably, and in a detailed manner, refutes the old errors of Prelacy and Romanism -- many of which are being resurrected in our day by writers like James Jordan (and others abandoning historic Presbyterian [i.e. Biblical] worship). Gillespie's practical "Treatise of Miscellany Questions," contains 22 chapters. Topics dealt with range from: whether prophets and prophesying continued beyond the primitive church (answered in the negative); whether a sound heart and an unsound head can consist together; what are heresies and what is their purpose; are infants to be baptized; should the civil government attach a negative sanction to not swearing to the Solemn League and Covenant (against one aspect of Theonomy); etc. These Works also contains a memoir of Gillespie's life and writings, written by Hetherington, Gillespie's sermons before the house of commons, and much more!
(Rare Bound Photocopy) $99.95-65%=34.98


BARROW, REG

A Contemporary Covenanting Debate; Or, Covenanting Redivivus
Joe Bell (an independent, Baptist, and professing Reconstructionist) kicked Reg Barrow off his email discussion group because the subjects of Divine Right Presbyterianism and the Covenanted Reformation we too hot for him to handle. This is Barrow's final answer to Bell (which Bell censored from his list). No one, including Bell, has yet to attempt an answer. Barrow answers many specific questions regarding the permanence of covenant obligation, national Reformation, historical testimony, and many other doctrines which were prevalent during the period of the second Reformation. A wealth of original (Reformation) texts are cited throughout and this spirited debate should help to generate interest in many of those biblical attainments which were won during those glorious days in which major nations openly covenanted themselves (as moral persons) to Christ.
(Rare bound photocopy) $9.95-60%=3.98


REFORMED PRESBYTERY

Act, Declaration, And Testimony, For The Whole Of The Covenanted Reformation, As Attained To, And Established In, Britain and Ireland; Particularly Betwixt The Years 1638 and 1649, Inclusive. As, Also, Against All The Steps Of Defection From Said Reformation, Whether In Former Or Later Times, Since The Overthrow Of That Glorious Work, Down To This Present Day (1876)
Upholds the original work of the Westminster Assembly and testifies to the abiding worth and truth formulated in the Westminster family of documents. Upholds and defends the crown rights of King Jesus in church and state, denouncing those who would remove the crown from Christ's head by denying His right to rule (by His law) in both the civil and ecclesiastical spheres. Testifies to the received doctrine, government, worship, and discipline of the Church of Scotland in her purest (reforming) periods. Applies God's Word to the Church's corporate attainments "with a judicial approbation of the earnest contendings and attainments of the faithful, and a strong and pointed judicial condemnation of error and the promoters thereof" (The Original Covenanter and Contending Witness, Dec. 17/93, p. 558. Write for a sample of this highly recommended publication at: P.O. Box 131, Pottstown, PA, 19464, USA). Shows the church's great historical victories (such as the National and Solemn League and Covenant, leading to the Westminster Assembly) and exposes her enemies actions (e.g. the Prelacy of Laud; the Independency, sectarianism, covenant breaking and ungodly toleration set forth by the likes of Cromwell [and the Independents that conspired with him]; the Erastianism and civil sectarianism of William of Orange, etc.). It is not likely that you will find a more consistent working out of the principles of Calvinism anywhere. Deals with the most important matters relating to the individual, the family, the church and the state. Sets forth a faithful historical testimony of God's dealings with men during some of the most important days of church history. A basic text that should be mastered by all Christians.
(Rare bound photocopy) $19.95-70%=5.99


REFORMED PRESBYTERY

Auchensaugh Renovation of the National Covenant and Solemn League and Covenant; with the Acknowledgement of Sins and Engagement to Duties as they were Renewed at Auchensaugh in 1712... Also the Renovation of These Public Federal Deeds Ordained at Philadelphia, Oct. 8, 1880, By the Reformed Presbytery, With Accommodation of the Original Covenants, in Both Transactions, to their Times and Positions Respectively (1880 ed.)
"In 1712, at Auchensaugh, the Covenants, National and Solemn League, were renewed... At the renewal the covenant bonds were recognized as binding the descendants of those who first entered into those bonds. The Covenanters, however, sought to display the true intent of those Covenants with marginal notes. These notes explained that the Church of Jesus Christ, in Scotland (and around the world), must not join hands with any political power in rebellion to the crown rights of King Jesus. The Covenanters pledged the Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian Church to the support of lawful magistracy (i.e. magistracy which conformed itself to the precepts of God's Word) and declared themselves and their posterity against support of any power, in Church or State, which lacked biblical authority." (From "About the Covenanted Reformed Presbyterian Church" P.O. Box 131, Pottstown, PA 19464). An excellent introduction (historical and moral) regarding the reasons, motives and manner of fulfilling the duty of covenanting with God. Especially helpful concerning the Biblical view of the blessings (for covenant-keepers) and cursings (for covenant breakers) related to covenanting. As noted on page 37, "the godly usually in times of great defection from the purity and power of religion, and corruption of the ordinances of God's worship, set about renewing their covenant, thereby to prevent covenant curses, and procure covenant blessing; as we find both in scripture record, 2 Chron. 15:12-13; 29:10; 34:30-31; Ezra 10:3, and in our own ecclesiastical history." Times like ours certainly call for a revival of the Scriptural ordinance of covenanting, for "[t]he nations throughout Christendom, continue in league with Antichrist and give their strength to the beast. They still refuse to profess and defend the true religion in doctrine, worship, government and discipline, contrary to the example of the kingdoms of Scotland, England and Ireland in the seventeenth century" (p. 136 in this book).
(Rare bound photocopy) $19.95-70%=5.99


ROBERTS, WILLIAM L.

The Reformed Presbyterian Catechism (1853)
A manual of instruction, drawing from such notable authors as William Symington and J.R. Willson, presenting "arguments and facts confirming and illustrating the 'Distinctive Principles'" of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Chapters deal with: "Christ's Mediatorial Dominion in general;" Christ's exclusive Headship over the Church;" "The Supreme and Ultimate Authority of the Word of God in the Church;" Civil Government, the Moral Ordinance of God;" Christ's Headship over the Nations;" "The Subjection of the Nations to God and to Christ;" The Word, or Revealed Will of God, the Supreme Law in the State;" "The Duty of Nations, in their National Capacity, to acknowledge and support the True Religion:" "The Spiritual Independence of the Church of Christ:" "The Right and Duty of Dissent from an immoral Constitution of Civil Government;" "The Duty of Covenanting, and the Permanent Obligations of Religious Covenants;" "The Application of these Principles to the Governments, where Reformed Presbyterians reside, in the form of a Practical Testimony;" and finally "Application of the Testimony to the British Empire." A most important book, as we approach (possibly) the end of the great apostasy and will be in need of preparing for the dawning of the glorious millennial blessings to come; the days prophesied in which the church "shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings" (Isa. 60:16).
(Rare bound photocopy) $29.95-70%=8.99 (US funds)


McFEETERS, J.C.

Sketches of the Covenanters
Stirring accounts of sacrifice and martyrdom for the Reformed Faith that will bring tears to eyes of all but the backslidden. Follows the chain of events which gave Scotland two Reformations and a Revolution. Knox, the National Covenant, the Westminster Assembly, the Field Meetings, and much more is covered. The history of great battles for Christ and His royal rights are recounted in this moving history book. Sheds much light upon the warfare with the dragon for true liberty. One of our best history books, highly recommended!
(Rare bound photocopy) $39.95-75%=9.99 (US funds)


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