Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Response to Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor of Answers in Genesis has written a review of my book, but given no right of reply on his blog. [Edit - Paul has now posted it on his blog - thanks Paul] So I am adding my comments here.

Firstly, Paul Taylor says that AiG takes no position on this question (which is I guess true), but then asserts that someone with my beliefs is below the standard of a true creationist, which implies he doesn't really accept AiGs position to be valid [Edit: Paul objects to this comment, see his reply below, so I accept that he does fully support the ministry and position of AiG and CSE].

But anyway, I believe that my beliefs set out in the book Zion’s New Name about Israel and the Church (and also Creation) closely reflect the teachings of St Paul in the New Testament, and the Protestant Reformation through Calvin. Calvin believed in a literal creation and that the Church was the continuation of Israel’s promises in a literal sense because the Church was founded by Jesus with a few Jews as the legitimate obedient root of Israel (read carefully Isaiah 1-10). Many Gentiles have been grafted into the Church as Israel, but I believe it remains the true expression of Israel in the world today.

He is of course free to disagree with me, but I don’t think it is fair to suggest my interpretation of Scripture is somehow below the standard of a creationist when I am closer to Calvin and the Reformation in these positions than Christian Zionists. I believe that evolution and Christian Zionism grew up at the same time in the 19th C and both were departures from good sound Protestant beliefs.[1]

The global Judeo-Christian meta-narrative involves Creation, Fall, Redemption through Christ as the fulfilment of Israel’s promises, and the final consummation of all things in Christ.

Now let me give a few Scriptures from St Paul (NIV). He first explains his concern that people were turning away from the true Gospel because of Judaisers in the Church, a concern I share when I hear Christian Zionist theology.

Gal 1:6-7 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.”

Gal. 3:7-9 &14 “Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”…”He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”

Gal. 3:26-29 “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise [emphasis added].”

Eph. 2:11-22 “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

From this I believe that the Church is the continuation of Israel in Christ, and the promise of land to Abraham is fulfilled today in Jesus and through the Church, where the ‘Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.’ In other words, the promise of land in the Middle East remains in a literal sense, but it has been extended to cover the whole Earth.

His second point about Islam and Allah also requires a response. Paul Taylor may not know, but Arab Christians were using the word Allah for God before Mohammed was born. So it is unhelpful to many Arab Christians to suggest Allah is the moon god. [2] It has been seen historically as a legitimate name for God in the Arab language and I don’t quite see how traditional use of a name in this way makes me a liberal.

As noted the reason for writing this book is because many Christians appear to be giving up on the gospel and suggest Jews do not need to come to Christ, or wish to rebuild the temple and reintroduce temple sacrifices. I would have thought he would share such concerns and shown a little more understanding of those who wish to uphold sound Reformation doctrines.

[1] There is even a tenuous link through Thomas Carlyle who was a close friend of both Edward Irving and Charles Darwin.


  1. It doesn't make sense to repeat comments in two places. I will restrict my comment here to two matters.

    1. Mr Sibley could not post a reply on my blog. This is an error on my part in how I set up the blog. I am very sorry about it. I have copied this post and pasted it as a reply to my blog entry.

    2. It is VERY important to note that neither AiG nor CSE (my current and future employers) take any position on Israel or any of the other issues on which I post on my PERSONAL blog. To suggest that I do not agree with their position (in not taking a position) is incorrect, and should be withdrawn. I fully support the position that such ministries should not comment on Israel, Constitutional Issues, Historic Premillenialism or Pentecostalism, but I reserve the right to hold my own personal positions on these. Mr Sibley's suggestion that I am criticising AiG is unfounded, unwarranted, disingenuous and completely untrue.

  2. Paul - I have added an edit to my text to clarify that I accept you fully support the position of AiG and CSE. But infuture it would be helpful if you do not call into question the standards of other creationists because of theological differences over these questions.
    Are you going to work in America with CSE or are you going to still be working in the UK?