V. W. J. H. Lawrence
It is an interesting fact the way in which history repeats itself. Of late Mr. James Taylor has denied the Divine and Eternal Sonship of our Lord Jesus Christ. For a time his doctrine was claimed to be "new light," which only proved the ignorance of those who made the claim. Now latterly that notion has been abandoned for one equally preposterous, viz. "recovered light." Such teaching is not light in any sense of the word but darkness. However, the admission that Mr. J. T.'s teaching is in no way new has been most definitely confirmed of late for the writer, who, in the course of his reading, has encountered the Lectures on Christian Theology by a certain Rev. George Payne, LL.D. (Congregational) 1850. In the course of these lectures Dr. P. takes the line of Mr. J. T. in wholly rejecting the relation of the Father and the Son from the eternal conditions of the Godhead. What, however, is so noticeable is the fact of a most uncanny resemblance between this teaching of Dr. P., and then eighty years after, that of Mr. J. T. The whole should be studied carefully by every serious and thoughtful soul. For Dr. P. devotes some thirty pages of close reasoning to his "denial" teaching. That the writer accepts neither his premises as just nor his arguments as sound, quite apart from his utter abhorrence and detestation of the teaching per se, needs no emphasizing. All Dr. P.'s objections had been then already fully met by the Rev. Richard Treffry Junr. in his "Inquiry, etc." The wonder is that, if he were acquainted with that work, how he came to bring up again these old worn-out notions.
Our present concern is, however, to make intensely plain this strange similarity between the very details of Mr. J. T.'s teaching and Dr. P's theology. I repeat, the whole question should be studied; I can do no more than refer to certain salient features.
Firstly: The "relativity" of Divine revelation: Dr. P. says (Vol. i, p. 248), ". . . the object of Divine revelation being, not to show what God is in himself, but what he is in relation to us." Mr. J. T. simply copies him in all that flows out of this denial of a real revelation of God.
Secondly: The attempt to pose as if calling attention to some precious fact. Dr. P. says (p. 248) ". . . and it needs only, I think, to be more fully and frequently laid before the eye of the public, to be more generally received than it is."
Thirdly: The way in which the ideas of posteriority, derivation and inferiority are forced, compelling the Godhead to exist only according to the laws of human conception (p. 248, 250, etc.).
Fourthly: The limiting the Divine revelation to what is mediatorial. Dr. P. refers the whole matter to the Son as "Mediator” (pp. 258, 9, 261, 2, etc.).
Fifthly: The opposition to referring Prov. 8 to the Son. (p. 259).
Sixthly: Mr. J. T. follows Dr. P. precisely in leaning the whole weight of his argument on a strained and most unwarrantable use of Luke 1:35 (pp. 262, 3, 8, 9).
Seventhly: The assertion that the titles "Son of God" and "Christ" are both of them "official titles," exhibiting the Lord Jesus as the Mediator between God and man. (p. 263, 70).
Now I affirm that any honest person, desirous of truthful inquiry, will study the whole matter for themselves. And they will thereupon be compelled to recognise evidence which makes a coincidence impossible. Mr. J. T.'s "new light" is simply Dr. P.'s teaching, re-arranged; age-old notions dressed-up for "Brethren" in a new and startling garb; yet even here similarity of expression has not been wholly avoided. But Mr. J. T. has exceeded his predecessor. Dr. P. recognises the truth of the Eternal Word (p. 263), not realising that it gives away his whole case for the denial of Eternal Sonship: Mr. J. T. denies it. Also Dr. P. acknowledges two perfect natures united in the Person of our Lord: this Mr. J. T. denies. And there is this further difference: Dr. P. learned, educated, careful, gives full credit for his teaching to Dr. Fletcher, Mr. Roby and a host of others, Dr. Wardlaw; whereas Mr. J. T. in the spirit of overweening pride claims a kind of divine commission for his miserable notions (See "Inscrutability").
Thus, quite apart from any judgment regarding the teaching, the present claims of Mr. J. T. and his supporters for unique enlightenment can only be regarded as one of the most heartless deceptions and shameless frauds ever practised upon a large body of believers. Well may that claim be left to the judgment of every upright conscience!
The Williams Press Ltd., Riverside Works. Newport, Mon.