Where is the church today? (2 October 2007) PDF Print E-mail


21 September 2007

Dear Editor

Greetings in the precious Name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Thank you so very much for your gracious invitation to write the foreword to your book Where is the Church Today?

Please forgive my delay in getting back to you. Since we met at the end of June, outside JOY! offices in Somerset West, I have been involved in a whirlwind of writing and printing deadlines and Leadership Training Courses, including the Biblical Worldview Summit, the Christian Action Network Conference, and our 3-week Great Commission Course. This was most intensive with daily PT starting 6.30 am each morning, lectures throughout each morning, workshops, practicals and outreaches in the afternoons, evening meetings or outreaches, and frequently late night hikes. All told we had 70 lectures, 10 sermons, 13 devotions, 9 workshops, 12 outreaches, 6 written exams and 9 written assignments – all of which had to be marked before our participants returned to their countries stretched as far afield as Australia and America, England and Romania, Ghana and Zambia, from Nigeria and Zimbabwe, and from all over South Africa.

Thank you very much for passing on the disc of your manuscript. I had all 177 pages printed out, and have carefully gone through it. The message is most important, very few understand our history, the heresies and atrocities of Roman Catholicism, or even the Islamic threat today. We do desperately need a Biblical Reformation and a spiritual Revival. I’m so glad that you gave such focus on the courageous heroes of the faith – both reformers and missionaries. These are inspiring examples of Faith and courage we desperately need today.

How vital that all real true born-again Believers rightly understand the signs of the times and rightly divide the Word of Truth. We need to know the Scriptures, and like the Bereans in the Book of Acts, study the Scriptures daily to see if these be true.

Just a few observations (from the minor, proof reading corrections, to important matters of historical accuracy). I’m sure that the manuscript is still going to be proof-read and polished several times over before it gets to the printer. However, I noticed that, as with all book manuscripts, much work needs to be done in order to have consistency. Frequently you capitalize Church when referring to the Roman Catholics, I would never capitalize church unless I’m referring to The Body of Christ. When referring to a church building it should be decapitalised, and then referring to a religious cult, such as the Roman Catholic church it must have a small c.

I’m also strongly recommend that you capitalise every reference to the Lord, His Name, Scripture, Gospel, God’s Law, His Word, and our Saviour.

You also need to decide when and where you want to use bold, capitals or underlining. I actually choose not to underline almost anything, but there is no right or wrong here, only that it is consistant. If you are going to have bold capitals for chapter titles, then each chapter title needs to be in the same type font and size. If sub-titles are going to be bold upper and lower, then they all need to be bold upper and lower, similarly, the spacing between paragraphs and sub-titles must remain consistant . At this stage, numerous of your sub-titles are either in normal caps, or bold upper and low, sometimes underlined and sometimes not.

In Chapter 9 Men With A God Given Vision and Courage, you need to place William Carey first, as he was the Father of the modern missionary movement. Henry Knott went to Tahiti later, you would need to change the misleading date on page 116, it is somewhat ambiguous and gives the impression that Knott arrived in 1747, but he came in 1798. On page 117, you refer to William Carey’s book “The Inquiry” as a pamphlet. I have the book. It would be wrong to refer to the most important book in launching the modern missionary movement as a pamphlet. It’s over 80 pages long in five chapters, packed with research, and missionary strategy.

On page 120 your section on Adoniram Judson needs to be moved before George Grenfell, as he long pre-dated him. Judson was America’s first foreign missionary. On 121 you refer to Adoniram as Hudson, (apparently confusing him with Hudson Taylor?) and on page 122 speak of him returning to England, whereas that was America. In fact Adoniram returned to the field and died in Burma. Also, on page 120 you refer to his friend Ernest (surname is Aimes) as an atheist, in fact he was a Deist. Also, it was seven not six years before Adoniram was able to baptise his first convert.

More seriously, I’m afraid your whole section on the Crusades from page 91 is inaccurate. So much disinformation and pro-Islamic and anti-Christian propaganda has been pumped out surrounding the Crusades, that it often seems hard to get to the truth. However, as Professor Jonathan Riley-Smith and Professor Madden of Oxford and Cambridge Universities (two of the most knowledgeable authorities on the Crusades today) have observed that the Crusades cannot be considered failures because they succeeded in saving Europe from being overrun by Islamic Jihad.

The context of the Crusades has to be understood. For five centuries Europe had been under attack, both from the south-west (where Spain was for 800 years oppressed under Islam) and from the south-east (where even as late as the 17 th century Vienna in the heart of Europe was besieged by the Muslim Turks), the Crusades were a reaction to centuries of Islamic Jihad. The Crusades succeeded in seizing the initiative, taking the offensive, and putting back their Islamic occupation of Europe by centuries. In effect the Crusades won several centuries for Europe - without which the Reformation would not have been able to take place. Therefore, to dismiss the Crusades as a failure, is to ignore the fact that they saved Europe from becoming Eurabia, and if there had been no Europe, there could have been no Reformation, nor would there be today a United States of America, Protestant churches etc.

We do need to recognise that history is His Story. God has been working through events of history. To merely repeat the Humanist and Muslim propaganda against the Crusades is not helpful. Your sources are incorrect. On page 91 you claim in 1096 no less than 600,000 set out from Constantinople. That is not possible. There were fifteen thousand Crusaders in the first Crusade, only 10% of which were on horseback, the rest were foot soldiers.

And while later Crusades may have been weakened by squabbles, it cannot be said that the First Crusade was anything but united. Also, I have no idea where the statistic of only one in ten completed the arduous journey, and the first Crusade lasted four years not three.

You also need to note that the Muslims had destroyed over thirty thousand churches just in the century preceeding the First Crusade. In the first century of Islam, over 3200 churches, mostly in North Africa were destroyed by the Muslims. In the first three centuries of Islam over 50% of Christians worldwide were annihilated, either forcibly converted or killed. It is not fair, or accurate, to refer to the Crusades without placing them in the wider context of the centuries of Islamic Jihad, which it was a reaction to.

Also, I believe you need to redo your Chapter 6 on the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation. You have apparently accepted the standard Humanist line that the Renaissance was a generally positive movement, and that somehow the revival of Greek authors, such as Aristotle (and “The sad neglect of Greek culture in Europe” page 97) led to “new methods of Science with it’s many discoveries were advancing as never before.” Before the Reformation! That is just not true. It is the Biblical Reformation that lead to the birth of the scientific movement, as has been well documented in Dr James Kennedy’s What If Jesus Had Never Been Born, Dr Alvin Schmidt’s How Christianity Transformed the World and in my The Greatest Century of Reformation.

The Renaissance was essentially a return to paganism. Especially in Italy, the early Renaissance men became flagrantly materialistic and immoral. While in Northern Europe the Renaissance was transformed by the Protestant Reformers, in Southern Europe the Renaissance was not progress, but the regression to a pagan past, the rejection of the Christian Faith, as they unearthed the statues, plays and writings of antiquity, immorality flourished and degeneracy accelerated. The ancient intellectual and spiritual diseases that had led both Rome and Greece to self-destruction came to infect life in Europe.

In many ways the Renaissance was nothing but a revival of Humanism, and it led to the rise of Absolutism and the loss of representative government (which had been developing on Christian principles during the Middle Ages.) The Renaissance glorified a licentious past and the impact of this was devastating upon the morals and behaviour of Southern Europe. Renaissance Humanism failed to give spiritual fulfillment. Paganism deepened as the Renaissance extended. The Renaissance created an intellectual cul-de-sac where people began to plunge into the blind fortune of astrology and magic. Many lost their belief in sin and God’s judgement and sought for earthly fame and fortune. Many universities had official stargazers, even popes relied on horoscopes.

I have always seen the Renaissance and the Reformation as contrasts and in conflict, I believe chapter 6 gives the unfortunate impression that the Renaissance was mostly positive and somehow developed into the Reformation. But the Renaissance was a Renaissance of Humanism while, the Reformation was thoroughly Biblical. In the middle of page 98 you write of Savonarola (note spelling). Savonarola was “struggled”, surely you mean strangled?)

You cannot say (on page 98) that the Renaissance “broke the shackles of the medieval church” the Reformation did that. The statement that “the Humanists…contributions as precursors to the Reformation cannot be minimalised.” I must disagree. The contribution was overwhelmingly negative.

Having studied and written on Martin Luther at great depth, I do not understand what source could have claimed (Page 99) that Luther was “greatly influenced by a Christian Humanist by the name of John Wesel.” This is not accurate. Wesel’s influence on Luther was not anything significant, I would have rather pointed out that it was the Scripture overwhelmingly which influenced him greatly. He was somewhat influenced by the writings of St Augustine, but mostly he was an original thinker and a brilliant Bible student. You mention that Luther “became very conscious of his own sin” later in the studies. In fact he was very conscious of his own sin from the very beginning, that is what inspired so much of his extreme fastings, self-flagellation, and monastic sufferings. It was because of this that his supervisor Johannes von Staupitz (note spelling) ordered him to undertake further studies to channel his energies away from excessive introspection. You also need to note that Luther was not merely a Legal student, he earned his BA and MA degrees in Law, and Doctorate in the Scriptures in record time and with distinctions.

Much of page 102 is inaccurate. I would urge you to read the Libel Against Luther and Did the Reformers Persecute the Anabaptists? articles on the www.reformationSA.org website. It is foolish to say that Luther “unwisely” urged the authorities to crush the peasant revolt. The peasant’s revolt, inspired by violent anabaptists, threatened to degenerate Europe into anarchy, to discredit and to destroy the Biblical Reformation.

It is also most unfair to accuse Zwingli as being party to “cruel and unjust laws against the Anabaptists”The statistic that you give “over two thousand of the leaders were put to death” is outrageously impossible. This is nothing but propaganda. Where are your sources? There were only two leaders executed in Zurich.

If you are referring to Anabaptist revolutionaries who seized Munster under Jan Matthijs in 1534, that was a war, and they were certainly not all leaders. The killing of mass murderers in heat of battle, hardly squares with executing two thousand leaders because “they believed only in Believers Baptism!” It is bearing false witness against our brothers and fathers in the Faith, Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli.

Your statement that Luther was “outspokenly anti-semitic” is inaccurate. Please see: Libel Against Luther.

Should you be interested in any of the notes and marks I’ve made on your manuscript, I would be glad to pass it on to you. You may also be interested in seeing the history books I’ve written on these very subjects: Slavery, Terrorism and Islam – The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat; The Greatest Century of Reformation; and The Greatest Century of Missions.

I also recommend that you capitalize Evangelical, the Reformation and the great Revivals, when you are referring to specific events and not just the principle.

This is an important book, and should you want more input, or help on some of these problem areas, I would be glad to assist. There were other errors I noted – if you would like further proof reading comments.

I know how it is when one has written a book - at a certain point it becomes such a burden to fine-tune and polish and iron out all the errors, one is tempted just to rush to print, but I think it’s important not to sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate. It is vitally important that we understand our history, that we rightly understand the signs of the times and rightly divide the Word of Truth. We desperately need a new Biblical Reformation and Spiritual Revival.

May the Lord abundantly bless and strengthen you in your important task as you seek to call the churches back to the Scriptures and to the Great Commission.

Yours for the fulfillment of the Great Commission

Dr. Peter Hammond

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