Great Commission Sunday School Lessons Supports Neo-legalist Heresy

November 2004

The Great Commission Publications Sunday School material for fall 2004, for ages 3 and 4, includes the following sidebar instruction for the teacher:

"Important Bible Background: Side by side in the Old Testament we have the covenant presented both as conditional and unconditional. Unconditional: God will do this. Conditional: the people must keep faith and obey. But when we present the conditional side it must not turn into works. We must remember that grace precedes obedience. The obedience in Exodus 19:5 is in the context of the covenant -- it is covenantal obedience or to put it another way, covenantal faithfulness. When God said, 'I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the land of slavery," he instituted himself as the covenantal God who redeemed them and then gave them the Ten Commandments. The order is always redemption, then law."

Comment: Great Commission Publications intends to indoctrinate the children of the OPC and the PCA, not with the Gospel, but with its new message of salvation by "faithful obedience," that is, by works. Of course, it says that "it must not turn into works," but it fails to explain how "faithful obedience" differs from "works." It seems to suggest that "works" are works only if they precede grace, but not even the Roman Catholic Church teaches salvation by works that precede grace. GCP is instilling its Antichristian doctrine of salvation in its most helpless victims, children aged 3 and 4.

There are several notable things about this paragraph intended for teachers of toddlers.

First, it asserts, in good irrationalist, paradoxical fashion, that the covenant is "both conditional and unconditional." Not only is this a nonsensical contradiction, but it shows GCP's fundamental and fatal confusion between the Mosaic covenant and the Abrahamic covenant, that is, the new covenant. Much of the Apostle Paul's argument in Galatians and Romans, as well as the argument of the author of the Letter to the Hebrews, distinguishes the new covenant and the Abrahamic covenant from the Mosaic covenant.

Second, the paragraph dismisses the idea of the unconditionality of the covenant of grace in a brief sentence of four words. It focuses almost exclusively on the alleged conditionalityof the covenant of grace, thus disclosing what GCP thinks that teachers ought to emphasize.

Third, the note is indeed speaking of justification, not sanctification, for it says "it must not turn into works." Works are indeed out of place in an explanation of justification, but not of sanctification. So it is clear that GCP has justification in mind in this note. That means that "covenantal obedience" and "covenantal faithfulness" are necessary conditions of justification.

This is the heresy of Norman Shepherd. The OPC failed to condemn Norman Shepherd's heretical doctrine of salvation in the 1970s, and it has now spread throughout that denomination and the PCA. The OPC actually approved the doctrine of justification by faith and works in the John Kinnaird case in 2003. The PCA has yet to take any action against its many ministers who are promoting heretical doctrines of salvation in various forms: Auburn Avenue theology, the New Perspective on Paul, Evangelicals and Catholics Together.

Now, Great Commission Publications, which describes itself as "the publishing ministry of the Committee on Christian Education of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the Committee for Christian Education & Publications of the Presbyterian Church in America," is promoting these heresies to 3 and 4 year olds.

If the reader would like a full discussion of these errors, we recommend the following books:

1. The Current Justification Controversy, by O. Palmer Robertson
2. A Companion to The Current Justification Controversy, by John W. Robbins
3. Not Reformed at All: Medievalism in "Reformed" Churches, by John Robbins and Sean Gerety
4. The Changing of the Guard: Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, by Mark W. Karlberg

For basic background on the doctrine of justification:

5. The Everlasting Righteousness, by Horatius Bonar
6. Justification by Faith Alone, by Charles Hodge
7. What Is Saving Faith? by Gordon H. Clark.

John Robbins
November 23, 2004
The Trinity Foundation

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