Friday, January 15, 2010

THE DEITY OF CHRIST, CRAWFORD TOY AND HERESY

Tony Cartledge, who writes at www.ethicsdaily.com, wrote an article praising Crawford Toy, one time professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who resigned and eventually taught at Harvard and became a Unitarian. Cartledge address the story that Lottie Moon broke off her engagement to Toy because, upon her return to America to marry him, she discovered he had abandoned the faith to embrace liberal theology. Cartledge wrote that Dr. Toy was “no less devoted to Christ” than Lottie Moon.

This is an incomprehensible statement in light of the fact that Moon sacrificed marriage and comfort for Christ and the gospel and would not marry the brilliant man and live in comfort because she stayed true to the gospel and Toy left the faith for Unitarianism and taught at a liberal seminary.

Dr. Al Mohler, president of the same Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, took umbrage at the statement by Cartledge on Toy’s devotion to Christ. He said “The article is breathtaking in its argument — that a man who abandoned the Christian faith was “no less devoted to Christ” than Southern Baptists’ most famous missionary.” But, then Mohler went on to use the “H” word.

Citing Toy’s union with the Unitarian faith and his belief in evolution, he said “In other words, Toy became what Christians throughout all the centuries of church history and in all the major traditions of the Christian Church would rightly identify as a heretic.” You can read Mohler’s blog at: http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/01/13/heresy-is-not-heroic-is-crawford-howell-toy-a-baptist-hero/

Next, Dr. Bruce Prescott, at the blog Main Stream Baptist , jumped into the fray. Prescott took umbrage at Mohler’s statement, saying: Mohler labels Toy a "heretic" because, after he was forced from his position at Southern Seminary and went on to have a distinguished career at Harvard University, he joined a Unitarian Church. That is an accurate summary of Mohler’s statement, although Mohler added the sentence on Toy’s belief in evolution.

But then, Prescott goes on to write: I have no insight into C.H. Toy’s personal relationship with Christ, I am not authorized to pass judgment upon it (Matt 7:1), and I am not inclined to pay attention to men or women who presume to have such authority.

If patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels, Matthew 7:1 has become the last refuge of liberal theologians. I think he misapplied the scripture, but, in this case it is no matter to the discussion.

Whether or not you can judge Dr. Toy’s heart, you are able to ascertain his beliefs by his actions and his words. Dr. Toy rejected the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity in his writings.

He denied the deity of Christ by joining the Unitarian Church. The hallmark of Unitarian belief is that there is one God, the Father, and Jesus was a good moral teacher but not God.

Toy also denied, in writing, the virgin birth, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus. He claimed, in writing, that Jesus was mistaken in a many of his ideas.

Dr. Toy denied the inspiration of the New Testament writers by claiming they were mistaken in their interpretation of Old Testament writings.

A heretic is a professed believer who actually has beliefs contrary to those of his church or rejects doctrines prescribed by that church.

What does the Christian church believe about the deity of Christ?

John the Apostle believed in the deity of Christ. In John 1:1, he wrote: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (RSV)

The Apostle’s Creed (not written by the Apostles, but an early creed written and used within 50 years or so of the last books of the New Testament) said:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;

The Apostle’s Creed proclaims the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, and the bodily resurrection of Christ and believers.

The Westminister Confession, chapter 2, article III, proclaims the deity of Christ:
In the unity of the Godhead there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.

as an aside, Toy once wrote, if the Westminister Confession is the definition of Christianity, he was glad not to be called a Christian)

The Abstract of Principles, to which Toy would have had to subscribe in order to teach at the Seminary, says in part III, regarding the Trinity: God is revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit each with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence or being.

The deity of Christ is central and essential to Christianity. If you oppose that belief, as Toy did, you are a heretic.

Dr. Mohler is right.
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