Larry Kirkpatrick

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What is the New Theology, part 5: Is Sin Choice or Nature?


The New Theology teaches that the primary problem that the gospel is meant to deal with is not human choice but human nature. “Sin” is made firstly a matter of our nature. One way this is sometimes said is that, “You are not a sinner because you sin; you sin because you are a sinner.”

The problem, according to the New Theology, is not what we end with, but what we begin with. The character at last developed in one’s life, is less significant, while the equipment we are born with, concerning which we have exercised no personal choice, is made most significant. Built into the core of the New Theology is an antipathy to issues concerning freewill, and an exalting of the significance of aspects of the human situation concerning which we can do nothing. In sharp contrast, the messenger of the Lord says,


What is the New Theology, part 4: Markers


Contrasting, the New Theology with the true theology

In its early and middle days, it was relatively easy to spot the New Theology. Its proponents openly claimed that, this side of translation, real victory over sin was impossible. But with increasing frequency we hear advocates of the New Theology say that yes, you can have victory over sin by the understanding of salvation that they teach. The “Can you have victory over sin?” test no longer suffices. The disease has advanced to another stage.


What is the New Theology, part 12: Selective use of the Writings of EGW


Revelation by its nature marks off a boundary. It says, “This is truth and you cannot countermand.” It marks the dividing line between what God speaks by divine authority and what man says in his own authority. God’s information is pure, protected from error by the phenomenon of inspiration. Man’s material is a miserable tissue of speculations and nothingnesses.

Thus, inspired writings can be inconvenient. They get in the way of human ideas. Since Ellen G. White wrote over 100,000 pages it becomes tempting for advocates of error to bend the information. Selected bits of her writings are quoted to persuade the listener that a teaching is sound, while the preferred teaching of the teacher often directly contradicts the truth. Will we use the inspired writings given us by God only selectively, or will we let them speak to us more broadly with their full testimony? In some cases White's writings have been presented in such a manner that they appear to teach original sin.


What is the New Theology, part 11: Does the 1844 Investigative Judgment Really Matter?


The New Theology has no need for the Bible’s teachings of Jesus’ movement from the holy to the most holy place in heaven in 1844 at the end of the 2300 day/year prophecy. The New Theology-infected are willing to say that 1844 was necessary. They may even in some vague way believe it. And yet, the description of the investigative judgment shows it to be only an empty add-on which plays no effective part in their gospel.

Christ moving into the most holy place to cleanse the sanctuary, an investigative judgment to see who “Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort” have become “conquerors in the battle with evil” (The Great Controversy, p. 425), is about the development of a people who follow Jesus into the zone where there is no sinning. But this is supremely unimportant in the New Theology.


What is the New Theology, part 10: Is the Gospel Justification Only?


The New Theology artificially limits the gospel to counted justification alone. It understands justification as effectively separate from the question of whether the one justified is experiencing an internal holiness. These hold sanctification, the making-holy of a believer, to be a fruit of the gospel, and not a necessary part of salvation. Now, a few quotations from the wild. First, from Desmond Ford:

Traditionally, Adventists have erroneously placed sanctification within the scope of the Pauline ‘righteousness by faith.’ It is now time for a clear change to be made to correct that error. We should follow the decision made at Palmdale Conference, which I attended in the 1970s and which was written up in the Review as concluding that righteousness by faith meant justification only, though sanctification was always its fruit. This will safeguard the precious doctrine of Christian assurance.1


What is the New Theology, part 9: Justification and Future Sin


Another earmark of the New Theology is its treatment of the longevity of a forensic declaration. In this line it is generally said that your being justified takes care of all sins you have committed, are committing, or will commit. One put it like this: “Justification occurs when one accepts Jesus as their only hope of salvation, and claims the merits of His blood. At that very moment all sin is cancelled forever, and future sin will not be held against the believer.”

However, the only way justification could cancel all sin forever is if it were a one-time, unconditional declaration. In the final analysis there is little unconditionality in the gospel and the plan of redemption. Conditions are strung through the New Testament. These are to be met through cooperation of the human with the divine agent. Man must exercise his free will to choose and must lay hold of the strength that only God can provide him in order that he be enabled actively to obey.


What is the New Theology, part 8: Obedience a Condition of Salvation?


Within the denominational fold today are many who through extended exposure to the idea have become concerned about what they call “legalism.” They condemn as unchristian our long-standing emphasis on operational faith, obedience and human cooperation with divinity. They seek to replace it with a virtually unconditional form of salvation.

Their view is emphasized in statements such as, “obedience is our response to the salvation that God gives.” Or, that “if victory and obedience were a condition of salvation, then salvation would be by works,” and “the condition of salvation is faith, not obedience.” The New Theology regards choosing to surrender to Jesus as one kind of (non)-obedience, even while that which comes after the initial moment of salvation arbitrarily is classed as another kind of obedience.

In contrast, here are just some sample statements from inspiration that go the other way: