The Anglo-Catholic Errors

of

E.W. Bullinger

Dan R. Smedra

E. W. BullingerEthelbert W. Bullinger (1837-1913) was born  in Canterbury, England.  He was a direct descendent of Johann Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575), the Swiss Reformer who as the successor to Zwingli at Zurich, Switzerland.  Educated at King's College, London, E.W. was a recognized scholar in the field of biblical languages and was an ordained Anglican clergyman.  As a prolific writer in England during the 19th century, the Archbishop of Canterbury granted him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 1881 in recognition of his biblical scholarship.

In contrast to his peers within the Church of England (Anglo-Catholic), he bravely embraced a dispensational rather than covenantal view of the Bible.   He was born at the zenith of the original Plymouth Brethren and his writings reflect their influence--at least certain portions.  Mr. Bullinger's writings have successfully helped to clarify a number of dispensational distinctions.  However, in spite of being able to see through the darkness of erroneous tradition, this cleric did not separate but remained within the Church of England (Anglicanism).  After the turn of the century, Bullinger's works became the doctrinal foundation for several post-Acts 2-dispensational groups scattered throughout Europe and North America.

Most widely known for The Companion Bible--the Authorized Version of 1611 with the Structures and Critical, Explanatory, and Suggestive Notes and with 198 Appendixes (Kregel), Bullinger's copious notes contain vast amounts of technical information, typically overwhelming the average reader today.  He clearly and faithfully believed that the original canon of Scripture was the inerrant Word of God.  However, his views on biblical inspiration contained subtle error, which in turn caused anomalies in his views regarding interpretation.  While he acknowledged the Holy Spirit as "guide and teacher of His own Word", he did not believe in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit for the new-creation believer and thus the biblical doctrine of the Spirit's illumination was conspicuously absent from his theology. 

At a time when German Higher Criticism had inflicted much damage upon Christians, he rightfully lamented the fact that believers were more steeped in religious traditions than in the Word of God.  However, his efforts to remedy the situation were deficient and focused on secondary issues.  For Mr. Bullinger, the problem for believers was exclusively one of interpretational methodology.  He wrote:

The Root of all the evils which abound in the spiritual sphere at the present day lies in the fact that the Word and the words of God are not fed upon, digested, and assimilated, as they ought to be.

If we ask the question, Why is this the case? the answer is, The Bible is not enjoyed because the Bible is not understood.  The methods and rules by which alone such an understanding may be gained are not known or followed; hence the Bible is a neglected book [emphasis his].

His answer to understanding the Bible, doctrinal truth, and resolution of ecclesiastical division was in applying appropriate methods of interpretation.  Due to his failure to clearly understand or articulate the truth of spiritual blindness, all could and would be solved by simply using his comprehensive and technical approach to reading and studying Scripture.  Again he states:

By the aid of these twelve simple canons or rules, other passages and subjects may be taken up and pursued both with pleasure and profit--subjects which are even yet matters of controversy and of conflict.

Mr. Bullinger did not clearly acknowledge the necessity of the Holy Spirit's sovereign illumination of the Text.  Either he believed that the Fall wasn't serious enough to render man incapable of grasping truth with one's natural abilities, or he believed in the Wesleyan doctrine of common grace, thus siding with Roman Catholicism rather than the Reformation or historic dispensationalism.  Approvingly he quotes a Bishop Butler, who said:

"...the only way to study the Word of God is the way in which physical science is studied.

"...it [study of the Word] must be in the same way as natural knowledge is come at, by the continuance and progress of learning and liberty, and by particular persons attending to, comparing, and pursuing intimations scattered up and down it, and which are overlooked and disregarded by the generality of the world." [emphasis his].

Again, not a word about the Holy Spirit's sovereign ministry of revealing truth (John 16:13) nor of the natural man's inability to understand spiritual things, as expounded by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2.

In light of his immense intellect, Mr. Bullinger appears strong on man's native ability and weak regarding the sovereignty of God--the root cancer found in all forms of religious humanism, which includes a majority of contemporaries who adhere to Mr. Bullinger's teachings.  While he held that God's oversight extended to the original Hebrew and Greek autographs, thus ensuring their inerrancy, he stressed that afterwards there came a great breakdown in divine providence regarding translation work and that English translations were riddled with error due to the application of "erroneous methods and rules".  It would seem he saw himself and his methods (12 Canons of Bible Study) as the answer to his self-imposed problem. 

Mr. Bullinger's written works assiduously avoid discussion of quintessential theological issues (example: soteriology); issues which had been debated for centuries.  He erroneously assumed that these truths were self-evident to those who "understood" Scripture.  He believed conflict would disappear and unity would be restored to Christendom if believers simply read their Bibles using "appropriate methodologies".

By contrast, we will do well to heed the words of dispensationalist Lewis Sperry Chafer:

There is not the slightest possibility that the most educated and brilliant mind can make one step of progress in the understanding of spiritual truth apart from the direct [sovereign], supernatural teaching to the individual heart by the indwelling [Holy] Spirit.

There is no didactic [pedantic] discipline in the world comparable to the teaching of Christ by the Holy Spirit, both because of the fact that infinity characterizes the themes which are taught, and because of the Teacher's method of approach by which He, by the Spirit, enters the innermost recesses of the heart [mind] where impressions originate and there not only tell out the truth of transcendent magnitude, but causes the pupil actually to grasp the things thus revealed.

Lastly, Mr. Bullinger and his followers believed and taught the errors of: soul-extinction--a type of annihilationism and universal reconciliation.  Most seriously, they failed to understand the biblical truth of "spiritual death".


Bob Enyart and Shadowgov.com

A contemporary disciple of Bullinger is the media-pandering, pugnacious radio/internet talk show host--Bob Enyart (www.enyart.com and www.kgov.com).  Mr. Enyart is proof that one need be neither Calvinist nor Covenant in theological orientation to embrace Theonomy.  He loudly espouses all of the Mosaic code as the mandatory basis for American (Gentile) civil law, e.g., the death penalty for homosexuality and other crimes under Israel's theonomic order.  Enyart states, "The Bible is a criminal justice textbook."  For his fans, the assured measure of veracity is whether Bob can dominate and "win" on-air arguments and debates. Of course, those who get baited into these situations learn rather quickly the power of the mute your opponent technology button that is standard fare in the broadcast industry. 

Many of Bob Enyart's beliefs are drawn from the works of E.W. Bullinger, as well as a humanistic*, post-Acts 2 dispensational sect located in Commerce City / Denver, Colorado.  Mr. Enyart's mini-opus is entitled THE PLOT and borrows heavily from the Bullinger framework, e.g., How to Enjoy the Bible.  The work is highly praised and promoted by a small cadre of ardent supporters.  While initially his followers disavowed that Bob was a theonomist, Bob Enyart affirms both elements of post-Acts 2 dispensationalism and theonomy.  Since being pressed, he now refers to himself as a "dispensational theonomist" and informs his listeners to "get used to that [term] because I think this mix is going to be around for a while."   Neither he nor his associates see the confusion of their syncretistic system of beliefs.

In contrast to current day theonomists, Bob Enyart and associates are militant philosophical indeterminists (similar to the heretical Charles G. Finney and Moral Government Theology).  This has led them to embraced views on God similar to those found in 'Process' theology and 'Openness of God' movement.  As should come as no surprise, Bob Enyart has embraced Open Theism and now considers himself an "Open Theist" as well.

Those who follow these erroneous ideas would do well to consider the warning of Dr. L. S. Chafer:

It is thus demonstrated that the erroneous exaltation of human ability [free will] in the beginning becomes man's effectual undoing in the end.

This "undoing" can readily be seen in the bizarre rationalizations, arguments, and teachings put forth at the sect's theological clearinghouse--TheologyOnlineBob Hill initially was the resident senior pastor and 'theologian'; Jerry Finkenbinder and Tim McMahon were his local associates.  The group heretically teaches salvation by "faith" as well as by "faith plus works", depending on which dispensation one is talking about.  TheologyOnline forums are not for those whose sensibilities are easily offended as the Enyartites tend to be a rough (spit-in-your-eye) and carnal crowd.  Probably in reaction to common evangelical passivity and following Bob Enyart's example, some of the younger turks have attempted to transform truculency into a virtue.

This is seriously bad, stuff.  BEWARE!!   

* - every worldview or system of belief, whether secular or religious, which is based on the premise of the sovereignty of man, rather than the sovereignty of God, is essentially humanistic.


P.S.  Both Mr. Enyart and Mr. Hill have written letters in response to our comments.  With regard to the bad behavior of his followers mentioned above, Mr. Enyart stated, "I agree and am somewhat distressed about it.  I'll address the problem."  Bob Enyart specifically requested that his letter remain unpublished and we have honor that.  Bob Hill felt that we had published "faulty information" about him.  Mr. Enyart considered it an honor to be associated with E. W. Bullinger, while Mr. Hill seeks to disavow the link, specifically citing his disagreement with Acts 28 beliefs and Bullinger's position of annihilationism.  However, our point has to do with the long shadow Mr. Bullinger's theology has cast over all post-Acts 2 dispensationalists.  Regarding his association with Mr. Enyart, Bob Hill states that they are "good friends" and that he agrees with him on most theological issues."  However, he rejects Enyart's "promotion of the Mosaic law [in its entirety] for today."  Claiming to be the spiritual father of one of the "turks" mentioned above, Mr. Hill also indicated he would "admonish" the individual.  While these men appear sincere, they both fail to understand how the errors of their theology are negatively affecting their converts and disciples.  Admonishments are no substitute for a Cross-centered and Christ-centered, Pauline theology.


Enyart's Shadowgov.com organization (www.shadowgov.com) is an expression of his theonomic views and would appear to be an offshoot of Reformed theonomist Andrew Sandlin's 1994 controversial interview Is Violence Justified in Defending Life?.  The following is found about half way through the question and answer session with Andrew Sandlin.

FR: What about the idea of Christians trying abortionists judicially by instituting a competitive or shadow government?

Andrew Sandlin: Something similar to the British model under Oliver Cromwell? It is an excellent idea. If there ever came a time of a great monumental national disaster, it would be wise to be prepared for that. I don't think that most Christians are adequately prepared for that because of a faulty theology. But this is something that we need to be thinking about. Even without an immediate disaster, the shadow government could begin to issue various statements in opposition to the ruling power. For instance, if a president of the United States signs executive orders supporting fetal tissue research, the Christian commonwealth could issue a proclamation stating disagreement.

FR: What are the steps toward declaring an alternate shadow government?

Andrew Sandlin: First, there has to be greater unity in the Church. We would do that not by getting rid of distinctives but by establishing the bare minimum distinctives which would be based on Trinitarian orthodoxy found in the councils and creeds of the early Church.

With the Wyoming murder of Matthew Shepard, Shadowgov showcased a letter written to the victim's parents by one "Judge" Douglas R. McBurney, of Albany County, Wyoming.  Below are excerpts from that letter.

I am writing to you on behalf of America’s Shadow Government, an organization devoted to ending our epidemic of murder.

Men lament pollution, but God tells us of a far worse pollution.  He says that innocent blood must be avenged quickly so that the land is not polluted (Numbers 35:33) with unrestrained wickedness.  God obligates the witnesses, and the victim's family and neighbors, to do justice in the sight of the people (Deuteronomy 17:7).  Mr. & Mrs. Shepard you have a duty to God and to America to see to it that the aftermath of your son's death does not exasperate our culture of death.  If you do what is right, that will help restrain other wicked men with murder in their hearts.  You can help teach the young the consequences of murder.  You can help even the murderer to reconcile with God.  I know that in your heart you truly feel the real consequences of murder: the loss, the emptiness, the future that could have been but now is not.  I grieve for you.

During jury deliberations, the Shadow Government will arrive at the courthouse in Laramie, Wyoming. We will demand that the convicted murderer Aaron McKinney be handed over to you for execution.  I ask that you fulfill your obligation to God and to the memory of your son Matthew by demanding your right to execute justice against the murderer of your son.  You have the right to help execute Aaron McKinney and the right to inflict pain and suffering upon him as he did to your son.  The Shadow Government will be present with the implements of execution that fit the biblical standards: we will provide a portion of fence to prop up McKinney's body; we will have a rope; and blunt instruments will be available. Aaron McKinney should die publicly and painfully for his crime.

This is clearly the application of Israel's theonomic system of justice--"an eye for an eye"--and a clear representation of Shadowgov's anti-dispensational theonomic thrust.  Further, this is all in keeping with the attitude of the theonomist in his erroneous agenda of enforcing the Law upon all in order to “rule the world”.  Listen to Greg L. Bahnsen in his Theonomy in Christian Ethics:

If the Christian does not urge the full keeping of God’s commandments he becomes a consenter to the crimes of others.  The believer must have hot indignation and loathing for those who break God’s Law (Ps. 119:53); the unjust man must be abominable in the sight of the righteous (Proverbs 29:27).  Psalm 139:21 gives us the example of David’s proper attitude of hating those wicked men who hate his Lord and God; Psalm 97:10 commands those who love the Lord to hate evil.   Then they will not be ashamed, as the Psalmist was not, to promote God’s Law publicly (Ps. 119:13). (p. 477)


In response to these comments, we received the following email from a non-dispensational follower of Enyart who is sympathetic to his theonomic views.  The individual demonstrates a general lack of both knowledge of history and knowledge of theology.  He is unaware that the American "Founders" were following a Puritan model for civil government as well as how their theology is incompatible with dispensationalism.

Dan S:

What in the world is wrong with the idea of setting up a criminal justice system based on the Bible (much like our Founders attempted, by the way)?  The criminal justice laws and moral laws were not just intended for Jewish believers.

And I am sick of reading about theology.  What counts is what the Bible says.  If you can refute Bob and you think you are biblically right, then go on his program.  He'll give you the whole show.  I've met the man and believe he is very knowledge on the Bible.  I also know he's said if he's wrong, he'd thank anyone that can prove him wrong.  So, rather than taking shots at him when you don't even know him, why not call him up and appear on his program.

I am confused as to what your problem with him is.  All of the theological labels mean nothing to me.  So, what does Bob teach that you have a problem with?

Kirk


Kirk:

You ask, "So, what does Bob teach that you have a problem with?"

Listen carefully....I'll be concise:

Bob teaches Theonomy and post-Acts 2 dispensationalism, which are both errors.  Error is aggressive and destructive.

Bob is an Indeterminist and dabbles in Process Theology, which are heresies.  Heresies can place souls in hell.

Add them all together and you get something that borders on being CULTIC.

Dan

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