Saturday, April 27, 2013

THE ONCE AND FUTURE SCRIPTURES - Book Review




THE ONCE AND FUTURE SCRIPTURES
Exploring the Role of the Bible in the Contemporary Church
Edited by Gregory C. Jenks, Polebridge Press, 2013, 144 pages.
 



Critique and review by Neil Cullan McKinlay


Introduction

In the Foreword of THE ONCE AND FUTURE SCRIPTURES, Phillip Aspinall, Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane, says,



Is it possible for today’s Anglicans to hear God speaking through Scripture? After all, the whole point of listening to the Bible is to hear God speak. Is it possible in this day and age, knowing all that the Enlightenment, science and biblical criticism[1] have discovered, to read and hear the Bible intelligently and to hear through Scripture the voice of God? Resoundingly, yes![2]


Premise & Content
THE ONCE AND FUTURE SCRIPTURES is a blatant attack on the authority of the Bible and therefore is a denial of the Sufficiency of the Scriptures. For following Phillip Aspinall’s Foreword is an Introduction and a series of seven chapters written by different Anglican authors all seeking to undermine and contradict Aspinall’s affirmative statement (see above)!

Lest the reader of this critique and review be misled into thinking that Phillip Aspinall is defending Christianity against the attacks being made against it by the rest of the book’s contributors please consider the following. For here we see that clearly he also rejects the Bible as the very Word of God,


The Enlightenment and the rise of modern science raised a host of questions about the presuppositions behind biblical stories. If the assumptions on which the stories are based no longer hold, can the stories themselves still be regarded as conveying truth? The advent of biblical criticism in the nineteenth century shook the foundations again. Applying the methods of historical and literary criticisms to the Bible and setting aside a priori notions of sacredness and authority, in other words treating the Bible just like any other book, revealed its very human and fallible composition.[3]

Let’s see if we have it right, according to Aspinall’s presuppositions about the Bible Christians are to assume that the Book (that itself claims to be the very Word of God and was treated as such by Jesus, the Son of God!) to be a fallible composition and is to be treated like any other book. This is an astonishingly blatant attack on Christianity! And it is coming from a position inside the Lord’s Church on earth.

If anyone was wondering why unbelievers would bother getting out of bed on a Sunday morning to come and worship “the unknown god” (see Acts 17:23) then this book is a must-read! It quickly will become clear to the discerning reader that it is for the overthrowing of Christianity from within!

Attack On Christianity
When did these attacks on Christianity first begin? One has to look no further than the first book of the Bible where the devil, seeking to cast doubt on God’s Word, said to Eve, “Has God indeed said…” Genesis 3:1. However, Jesus defeated the devil in the wilderness by trusting in what God says, “It is written…” Then He would quote chapter and verse to the evil one (Matthew 4:1-11).

The Pharisees were the Bible “spin-doctors” when Jesus walked this earth. He used the Bible to correct their twistings as exampled throughout His Sermon On the Mount. Showing that He believed every word of the Old Testament Scriptures Jesus said, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:18-19. Arguably, Biblical Criticism teaches people to break God’s Commandments.

Jesus also used the Bible to correct the erroneous beliefs of the Sadducees who didn’t believe in the resurrection, “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God … But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.’” Matthew 22:29; 31-32.

The Apostle Peter also warns Christians to watch out for the Scripture “spin-doctors” where he says, “Consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:15-16. Notice that Peter is placing Paul’s Epistles on par with the rest of Scripture. And yes, some things in Scripture are hard to understand. However, this doesn’t mean that we are to reject the bits we don’t like.

Like the earth’s north and south poles the Lord’s Church on earth has always had two outer regions that are cold to the God who has revealed Himself in His written Word: Legalists and Liberals. In the Bible the group known as the Pharisees were the Legalists and the Sadducees were the Liberals. THE ONCE AND FUTURE SCRIPTURES – Exploring the Role of the Bible in the Contemporary Church is written by those who have much in common with the latter category. “For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection—and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both” Acts 23:8 (cf. Mark 12:18).

One only has to engage a Theological Liberal in a discussion about God, angels, spirit and the resurrection to discover that they are simply using theological language to describe something other than the plain teaching of Scripture on these and other subjects! Therefore Theological Liberals are modern-day Sadducees. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.’” Matthew 16:6.

If we keep in mind that the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees is the same leaven, i.e., Scripture-twisting, then we won’t be confused if we see commonalities between these two groups who, upon first sight, may seem poles apart. Truth be known, it is the Legalist/Liberal coalition that is against Christianity. It undermines that upon which Christianity is founded: the Word of God.

What do Christian Anglicans believe? For what it’s worth Anglican priests subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles and the Three Creeds. In other words, the Thirty-Nine Articles (and the Three Creeds) express what Anglicans believe about the Bible and what the Bible teaches. This means that Anglican priests hold a high view of God’s Word and its teaching. Articles VI – VIII illustrate this:
 
Article VI Of the Sufficiency of the holy Scriptures for salvation
Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the holy Scripture, we do understand those Canonical books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church … [Article VI goes on to list these Books].
Article VII – Of the Old Testament
The Old Testament is not contrary to the New: for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to Mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and Man, being both God and Man. Wherefore there are not to be heard, which feign that the old Fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet, notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral.
Article VIII – Of the Three Creeds
The Three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’s Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of holy Scripture.[4]

Under the suggestive head “The ‘Problem’ with the Bible” contributor Gregory C. Jenks says,


The continuing debates within both Australian Anglicanism and the international Anglican Communion indicate there is no consensus on what we mean when ascribing to God some role in the creation of the Bible. As the Bible itself is ambiguous over the matter, this confusion is not surprising.[5]

Wow! When did Christians ever doubt that the Word of God is the Word of God? Never! But here is someone in the Church blowing his own trumpet and confusing people.

Humanist Intrusion
Who are these unbelievers and what are they doing in the Lord’s Church? They are modern-day Humanists. The late Francis Schaeffer many years ago described the infiltration of Humanism into the Lord’s Church,
 
Liberal theology is only Humanism using theological terms, and that’s all it ever was, all the way back into Germany right after the Enlightenment.[6]

The mask of hypocrisy is removed. What we’re seeing in THE ONCE AND FUTURE SCRIPTURES is the infiltration of Humanism into the Lord’s Church. Schaeffer also says,

"The word Humanism should be carefully defined … Humanism means that the man is the measure of all things. Man is the measure of all thingsYou must realize that when we speak of man being the measure of all things under the Humanist label, the first thing is that man has only knowledge from himself. That he, being finite, limited, very faulty in his observation of many things, yet nevertheless, has no possible source of knowledge except what man, beginning from himself, can find out from his own observation. Specifically, in this view, there is no place for any knowledge from God."[7]

In his contribution to the book, under the head Scripture, Science, and the Big Story, Peter Catts espouses his Humanistic hermeneutic. Note that he refers to Christians as “creationists” and “fundamentalists,”


A group sought to use quasi-scientific methods to prove that the myths of the Bible were history and that the faith-based worldview was, in fact, scientific. [This group] saw “facts” being defended against the evidence. Modern-day deists and creationists encapsulate these understandings  ... Also inadequate is the push for the recapturing of the religion of our fore-fathers that sees religious fundamentalists worldwide clinging to a now dead story that leads them to contend that the findings of science are not true.[8]

Catts doesn’t define what he means by “quasi-scientific methods” or what he means by “scientific” or which “findings of science are not true” to Christians. However, it is clear that he rejects Scripture’s historicity and the Creator’s explanation of creation and its origins. In other words Catts is a Humanist.

Likewise Cathy Thomson in her contribution chapter titled Scripture as Normative Source in Theology, betrays that she too is a practicing Humanist when she says,
Scripture–that (sacred) book–has sacred possibility only through its human (yet graced) composition and compilation, and the holy susceptibility of the reader … It is with the blessed constraint of anticipating no possibility (of absolute truth) and every possibility (of God’s grace), and these at one and the same time that I, the theologian, take Holy Scripture into my hands.[9]


God’s grace or no, here Thomson has set herself up as the measure of Scripture! She anticipates no possibility of absolute truth! Wow! The Jesus Christians believe in says He is the Truth and He says that God’s Word is truth (John 14:6 and 17:17). The Bible itself claims to be true (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:5-6; 2 Timothy 3:16; Revelation 22:18-19). Give me Christianity over Humanism any day. At least Christ spoke (as Schaeffer liked to call it) true truth. Thomson continues,



The assertion that the Scriptures are somehow revealed truth, that they are inspired and therefore free from error, does not really circumvent the difficulties faced by biblical scholars and Christian theologians as they attempt to interpret their meaning. A faith community might choose to make truth claims about biblical inerrancy, but this is often done through what are considered to be illogical circularities, such as using the Bible itself to determine principles for interpretation for Scripture.[10]

Rather than begin with Scripture Thomson wants us to begin our “circular reasoning” with ourselves! It matters not where one begins. All reasoning is circular! Thus Thomson rejects what Christians believe as stated in the following 1636 Westminster Confession of Faith in chapter 1 paragraph IX:
 

The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture, is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it may be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.

In his chapter, Scripture, God-Talk and Jesus, after saying that the Atheist Richard Dawkins “fixates on those particularly abhorrent depictions of the Deity that rightly deserved to be shelved.” Nigel Leaves immediately goes on to say,
 

It is also a common offence among those who are “agenda-driven” that they “cherry pick” biblical texts to support their preconceived thesis.[11]

He then goes on to define a little his take on “fundamentalism” by which (I think!) he means Christianity. Pardon me but isn’t cherry-picking another name for Liberal Theology? For isn’t their fixation and use of J, E, P, D Theory[12] not an exercise in the picking and choosing engaged in by an agenda-driven group with a preconceived thesis, i.e., that the Bible is not God-breathed?

Steven Ogden, in his chapter, Wisdom as well as Facts, offers us a little help what Humanists (a.k.a. Liberals) mean by “fundamentalism” where he says,
In general fundamentalists can be characterised by a particular view of truth, where truth is universal, absolute, identifiable, and in their possession.[13]

I must admit that this sounds very much like what Christians actually do believe! However, in typical Orwellian “double-speak” he also says,


In Australia, a “conservative evangelical” is not necessarily fundamentalist. The difference hinges largely on epistemology.[!!!?][14]


It was good to see the renowned, sensible and theologically sound Anglican Theologian J.I. Packer quoted from in this book. However, I am unhappy to see how Susan Crothers-Robertson ignores his sage advice in her chapter Scripture and Formation for Ministry,


James Packer is quite sure that biblical criticism has gone too far! He believes that “unbelief of the Bible is at a premium” in theological seminaries and continues: “In the seminaries, alas, there is a habit encouraging the way-out enterprising thinkers who follow this track of leaving the Bible behind, and developing their own theologies in the way that the learned people have been doing all the way through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries … Persons who get sent to theological teaching institutions where this is happening have their minds stuffed with this kind of theologizing and then, just like schoolmasters, they go out and teach what they were taught.” Packer goes so far as to say that teaching critical thinking and encouraging people to pay attention to the diversity within the Scriptures is a serious violation of Article 20[15]: [says Packer] “You do not need to tell me that the violation of this Article is one of the besetting sins of theological leaders today both in the Anglican Church and in the others.”[16]

Conclusion
I would agree with Packer that the authors of THE ONCE AND FUTURE SCRIPTURES – Exploring the Role of the Bible in the Contemporary Church seem to be placing their ordination vows into question along with the Anglican Church’s continued observance of the Fundamental Declaration and Ruling Principle of the Anglican Church of Australia.

See a review by Michael Bird): http://www.patheos.com/blogs/euangelion/2013/05/book-review-anglican-bibliology-for-a-progressive-audience/
 



[1] “Biblical Criticism” views Biblical texts as having human rather than supernatural origins.
[2] The Once and Future Scriptures – Exploring the Role of the Bible in the Contemporary Church, Polebridge Press, Salem, Oregon, 2013, p. xi.
[3] Ibid. pp. ix-x.
[4] All Thirty-Nine Articles may be viewed at: http://acl.asn.au/the-thirty-nine-articles/
[5] The Once and Future Scriptures – Exploring the Role of the Bible in the Contemporary Church, Polebridge Press, Salem, Oregon, 2013, pp. 22-23.
[6] Francis Schaeffer in a speech made at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Florida. http://www.peopleforlife.org/francis.html
[7] Ibid.
[8] The Once and Future Scriptures – Exploring the Role of the Bible in the Contemporary Church, Polebridge Press, Salem, Oregon, 2013, pp. 120-21.
[9] Ibid. p. 26.
[10] Ibid. p. 30.
[11] Ibid. p. 64.
[12] The JEDP theory states that the first five books of the Bible, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, were not written entirely by Moses, who died in the 1400's B.C., but also by different authors/compilers after Moses. Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/JEDP-theory.html#ixzz2RdP62lVM
[13] Ibid. p. 45.
[14] Ibid. Footnote 2, p. 59.
[15] Article XX – Of the Authority of the Church
The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything contrary to God’s Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.
[16] The Once and Future Scriptures – Exploring the Role of the Bible in the Contemporary Church, Polebridge Press, Salem, Oregon, 2013, pp. 86-87.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Rats of Tobruk 72nd Anniversay

Dorothy and I had the pleasure of dining with The Rats of Tobruk in Brisbane. The following was my contribution to the speeches:

Let us come before God to read His Word and to pray.
We find the following in Psalm 124,

 “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,” Let Israel now say—
2 “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, When men rose up against us,
3 Then they would have swallowed us alive, When their wrath was kindled against us;
4 Then the waters would have overwhelmed us, The stream would have gone over our soul;
5 Then the swollen waters Would have gone over our soul.”
6Blessed be the Lord, Who has not given us as prey to their teeth.
7 Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers;
The snare is broken, and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

 Let us pray: Almighty God, Maker of Heaven and Earth and all therein, who gave His Son Jesus Christ to redeem all who would believe in Him, who gave us the Holy Spirit to enable us to believe, we thank You for Your grace and mercy towards us.

 On this the 72nd Anniversary of the Siege of Tobruk we thank You for all who served there in the cause of freedom and justice. We thank You for the gallant fight these men gave in the face of evil and insurmountable odds. For those who were wounded and maimed in their bodies, those who were afflicted in their mind and soul, we thank You that You in Your Word provided them with hope of a better, safer and peaceful future.

 For those loved ones who remained at home during these stressful times, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters – we also acknowledge the pain and suffering they went through and while praying for You to protect their loved ones as they sought to cut off the ugly head of evil that was raised in that foreign and sun-blistered land.

 Lord, war is Hell – Hell for those on the front lines and Hell for those who keep the home fires burning. Father, we long for that Great Day when You will cause all wars to cease!

 We pray for health and continued safety for all involved with the Rats of Tobruk. We pray for all the innocent who are suffering from the effects of wars. Ease their burden. Heal their wounds. Comfort the grieving. Be with the widows and orphans. And, today, be especially with those who are remembering fallen mates, family members, dearly loved ones. We come before You through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Let us pray together the words the Lord taught has us:

 Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the Kingdom,
the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

As you know, the Rats of Tobruk valiantly held the Libyan port of Tobruk against the Afrika Corps led by Rommel. The Siege of Tobruk began on 10 April 1941. Holding Tobruk was crucial to the Allied war effort. And this was the first time that the advance of the German Panzers, (i.e., Rommel’s tanks and other armoured vehicles), had been halted in their double tracks.

Because of their remoteness the Rats of Tobruk had little air support. Therefore, supplies had to come by sea. Ships had to arrive, unload and depart under the cover of darkness. Arrival or withdrawal of troops had to be done under the cover of darkness. During times of war moonless nights, the cover of darkness, may be your friend. One is reminded of the old song, “Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk with you again.”

As an Army Chaplain I have been involved in the occasional training exercise. I don’t know how many gum trees I’ve walked into in the dark. One time as I was trying to saw some logs in my sleeping bag our little platoon had to “stand to.” We were awakened by someone on piquet duty yelling, “Halt! Who goes there?” or words to that effect. So we all scrambled out of our scratchers and into our defensive positions only to be stood down. False alarm. The intruder turned out to be a curious big red kangaroo!

Darkness? I hate it! But again, sometimes darkness can be your best friend; especially in times of war. What is darkness anyway? What do you tell little Johnny when he asks, “What are shadows made of?” It’s not like we can put darkness in a bottle and uncork it and pour some into a glass! What is darkness? Can we fill potholes with darkness? Can we spread it like vegemite on a sandwich?

It’s a little easier when it comes to figuring out what light is made of. Isaac Newton advocated that light was made of particles. James Clerk Maxwell relied on a model of light as a wave. Albert Einstein called light particles “photons.” Nowadays quantum physicists believe that light is both particle and wave. But what is darkness made of? Is it some sort of sludge? Is it like bilge-water sloshing around in the bowels of a rusty old ship? Well, the Bible has a lot to say about darkness. Darkness gets a mention early on.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” Genesis 1:1-5.

So we see that darkness was present when the earth was still shapeless and empty, back when God was forming the heavens and the earth. God introduced light and He called this light “good.” It would seem therefore that light has a big part to play in giving form to the formless and filling the void. Darkness therefore is the opposite of light. It is the absence of light.

Also, in the Bible darkness at times represents the forces of evil. Light is equated with the forces of good. Satan’s Kingdom of Darkness is at war with Christ’s Kingdom of Light. During WWII Germany under Adolph Hitler had been engulfed in darkness. And who would deny that Hitler was a puppet of Satan? The last we hear of Hitler is that he’s hiding in a bunker.

The Bible says that Jesus is the Light of the World. And Jesus says, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” John 3:19-21.

The idea then is that though at times we might have to work under the cover of darkness to accomplish something that is good, we don’t remain in the darkness. Rather we come to the light where our deeds can be plainly seen. Our deeds are wholesome not formless. Our deeds are of substance not void.

And so it is for the Rats of Tobruk. They bravely fought the forces of darkness so that we could retain our freedom. They were a light in a dark place in very a dark time. War is hell. Hell is the place of utter darkness. Thank God for the Rats of Tobruk and the part they played in retaining our freedom!

There’s a verse in the old hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy” which goes, “Holy, holy, holy! though the darkness hide Thee, / Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see; / Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee, / Perfect in power, in love, and purity.” It was God who made the light in the beginning. May we enter into that light and remain in His light that we may see His glory! May we never use the cover of darkness to try to hide from God.

Let me conclude by reading Psalm 139:7-12,

7 “Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

 May the Lord be pleased to keep us in His light! Amen.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

BACK TO BASICS


The Gospel is a call from God to get back to basics. It is a call for us to disentangle ourselves from the red tape of our home made religions. It is simple. We are to ‘repent and believe in the Gospel’ Mark 1:15. If this is how we get right with God why would we want to complicate things? Well, as human beings we believe that a labourer is worthy of his hire (Luke 10:7; 1 Tim. 5:18). Instinctively we seek payment for work done. Hold that thought. Now read the following, ‘The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ Romans 6:23. We see, then, that each of us has earned death already. However, the Gospel (i.e., the Good News) is that God has a gift for all who will receive it. Here is the hard part, the bit where we need to get back to basics. It is a very humbling thing to receive a gift, especially when that gift is the greatest gift anyone can receive. What is God’s gift? It is everlasting life now and in the future, i.e., on the renewed earth which is Heaven instead of what our life’s work deserves, i.e., death which includes everlasting torments in prison which is Hell (John 3:16; 5:28-29).

God’s call to His people to get back to basics runs throughout Scripture. In the Old Testament there was a period involving the ‘sacrificial system’ in which the work of Christ was prefigured. ‘According to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.’ Hebrew 9:22. Some trusted their salvation in sacrificial act itself rather than in who and what the act depicted. There is a refrain in Scripture in which God says, ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’ (See e.g., Psalm 51:16; Hosea 6:6; Matthew 12:7). A group of Pharisees did not like the fact that Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners. So He said to them, ‘Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”’ Matthew 9:13. His call to get back to basics is illustrated in the following, ‘He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’ Luke 18:9-14. To be justified is to be declared right (i.e., righteous) with God by God. It is not the one trusting in his sacrifices or works that is declared right with God but rather the one who recognises himself a sinner and as such seeks mercy from God. This is true Christianity, the religion of Abraham the father of believers (Romans 4:11). ‘He believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness’ Genesis 15:6; cf. Galatians 3:5-6. ‘Know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham’ Galatians 3:7-9.

Get back to basics and be blessed with Abraham!