Heterodox sympathies of WEST's new theologian-at-large



An effusive sympathy for, but weak reproof of heretics.

Taken from his 3rd talk to New Word Alive in 2011.
(Is this perhaps why the FIEC, which commends this conference, removed Rome from its statement on ecumenism church unity a year later?)

On the Church of  Rome
Mike Reeves claims we should 'deeply applaud and rejoice in attempts to foster greater Christian unity', with reference to Rome, (@ 36.00), though he does somewhat cautiously expose the ugly ambiguity of the treacherous compromises made in the Joint Declaration on Justification.
No distinction between co-belligerency and ministerial recognition.

"Catholics and Protestants today routinely cooperate, routinely we lock arms together to face as one the common enemies of
secularism, atheims, we're feeling look we've got our differences, but we've got some foes out there that we're really at
one with together against." 17.00

Cites G K Chesterton's apology for Romanism with unqualified approval

"When asked, 'Why did you convert to Roman Catholicism?' and here was his main answer, 'Roman Catholicism is the only
thing that frees a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.' E.g. [sic] Rome stays constant, whereas
the Protestants just flip all over the place. I have to say I do think that's a huge attraction for Roman Catholicism."  19.05

No qualification, no caution, no insight given as to why such a statement is hugely misleading for a young Christian.
"So in the 21st century things are extremely different. Roman Catholicism has many attractions to the Protestants, and Roman Catholics and
Protestants are keen to work together." 19.35
Pauline sentiments?  'Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.'

Mark Noll

Mark Noll
"So the question is how close are Roman Catholicism and Evangelicalism today actually? Well, remarkably so, according to
Professor Mark Noll and Carolyn Nystrum in their book 'Is the Reformation Over?'". 20.00
He then goes on after the most sympathetic handling later to claim that they are mistaken.


"And there are a number of really very influential Catholic theologians, who are now today prepared to sound remarkably like
Luther, so for instance Father Joseph Fitzmyer, who is one of the top New Testament scholars of the late 20th Century, he
wrote an absolutely magisterial commentary on Romans, and Fitzmyer in his commentary on Romans denies that justification
is a process of becoming more and more just. A Roman Catholic top theologian denies that justification is a process of
becoming more holy. He says, 'Justification is the righteousness of Christ being attributed to a sinner by grace'.
Luther's jaw would be on the floor! That's what's happening." 26.00
If Fitzmyer really repudiates the Tridentine anathemas why hasn't he been excommunicated? (or otherwise disciplined, as was Hans Küng for his denials of papal infallibility.)

"Certainly many individual Roman Catholic theologians have changed on this one." [on justification] 27.44


Sinclair Ferguson has a more nuanced and perceptive grasp of the breadth of the persisting abyss between the positions
"Even Fitzmyer's further qualification -- he notes that this justification takes place "gratuitously through God's powerful
declaration of acquittal" -- does not eliminate a distinctively Tridentine exegesis, as he makes clear:
'The sinful human being is not only "declared upright," but is "made upright" (as in 5:19), for the sinner's condition has changed.' (12)


On the New Perspective(s) on Paul
(Phil Johnson's helpful exposure of the measure of this heresy.)
'NT Wright is stunningly helpful'

He 'does stellar stellar stuff on so many things' 49.05

'If you want a good understanding of the resurrection, Tom Wright is your man - brilliant work he's done on the resurrection.' 49.10

In his summary of NT Wright's teaching Mike Reeves says,
'What Paul is really battling is not a kind of works righteousness, but a kind of Jewish ethnic exclusivism'
He says on the Damascus road, it is not that Paul is somehow meeting Christ and being born again, it's not that he's being
saved in that kind of sense, what's happening on the Damascus road is suddenly he realises that Jesus is the Messiah who
has come for all peoples, therefore he should go to all peoples.
So Paul's whole mission is to bring Jew and Gentile together*, that's what Paul is all about, Paul is about bringing Jew
and Gentile together, not really about putting faith against works. Yeah? Not in the.. I think there's a lot of helpful
stuff there'  49.


His conclusion of this potted summary of neo-Pauline distortion?
'I think Tom Wright is very, very helpful on that.' 50.47
He then goes on to dissociate himself from NT Wright's position on imputation, by emphasising union with Christ.

Tom Wright's value in removing a great obstacle to ecumenical cooperation has been noted.
The contextuality of the quotes can be checked by listening to the talk here.
In a detailed study, he also commends the founding liberal Friedrich Schleiermacher and the neo-liberal Karl Barth as giants whose shoulders are to be sat upon.
Are these giants whose shoulders are a welcome saddle, or rather giants whose infidelity is to be slain? (DMLJ's comments on Barth's legacy, which are somewhat deferential.)

Ecumenism
Mike Reeve's close participation in Rome Scholars Network along with Union lecturer and Vatican collaborator Leonard De Chirico is decidedly odd for a supposed champion of Luther's stand for liberty and truth.
Other moves at Union make us wary this is a strategic decision, not a mere misstep.

Is a teacher who makes such strong expressions of sympathy with and admiration for the proponents of deadly error and advocates ecumenism suitable for training future pastors?

The New Testament verdict is decidedly not.


PhD thesis
Reeves' writing on homosexuality also seems detached and anodyne.
(my warm thanks to Peter Nicholson for both obtaining this and noting these points, and for very much else)
The glory of God: the Christological Anthropology of Irenaeus of Lyons and Karl Barth, 2004, King's College, London.
'Why might a loving relationship between two persons of the same sex not equally correspond to the divine fellowship on this model?' (135)

'Yet is the homosexual lifestyle necessarily or really so solitary and self-sufficient? It seems hard to accuse it of replacing relations of alterity with those of ipseity when it is simple encounter and not gender that is, at bottom, definitive.' (135)


'Yet is the homosexual lifestyle necessarily or really so solitary and self-sufficient? It seems hard to accuse it of replacing relations of alterity with those of ipseity when it is simple encounter and not gender that is, at bottom, definitive. On Barth's model, could not man see his partner in some other form of fellow-man and so live in interdependent fellowship, encountering true alterity?84 Having, even for a moment, untied the theological anchor mooring human gender in its actuality, Barth is immediately set adrift on the high seas of sexual ethics in need of some other mooring (a mooring which, it has to be said, he never did find or even seek).' (135-6)

'Footnote 84.  Barth's non-limitation of relational specificity was taken to precisely this conclusion, to espouse nonabusive
homosexual relations, in what has been one of the most influential works for theological gender studies in recent decades, Derrick Sherwin Bailey's Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition (New York & London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1955)...'
'So, too, gay and lesbian Christians need have no quarrel with the special aptness of the Genesis account of male and female and their procreation as normative for the species, as long as not everyone has to instantiate it to be in God's image.' (Citing Eugene Rogers, p.243, in Sexuality and the Christian Body). (229)

Professor Mike Reeves is now President of Union School of Theology, a fountain of theological instruction,
with a laminated structure of errors we fear will shortly make godly observers weep.

Union School of Theology


It is easy in Michael Reeves to recognise the heart of a God lover, an inveterate propagator of Gospel love and Gospel light, even when discussing the dark subject of the demise of Puritanism under Charles II's iron fist, he insists on concluding with a burning affirmation of Sibbes' confidence that the Truth of justification by faith alone, of free sovereign Grace, and the glory of our union with Christ.
These treasures must and will be shouted from the rooftops throughout time and eternity.

We heartily sympathise, no, we flame in sympathy with these sentiments. But how do they comport with the errors and sympathies found here?

The professor's actions and writings have not been properly consistent with this profession.
Self inspection and hearty repentance is called for.

Last updated 23/6/17


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* There is good evidence that NT Wright's writings are doing exactly the opposite. See also here and here.

There is indeed a black hole in much Gentile Christian and Messianic understanding of the Law, and its transformation in the Messiah, but these writers neither identify its root nor its remedy