Dr. Choong and the NY Metro Presbytery

When my family and I first joined the PCA some 20 years ago I was new to the Reformed faith and hopelessly naive.  To give you an idea just how clueless I was, before applying for membership I carefully studied the Westminster Confession of Faith to make sure that I agreed with the system of doctrine being taught in the PCA.  I was even under the impression that some knowledge of the WCF was required for membership and I admit I was a little let down when I was only required to profess Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and share a little bit about how I first came to Christ.

Another sign of my hopeless naivety was my belief that the PCA was a theologically conservative and confessional church, i.e., that it actually believed what the WCF taught and was in no way like the religiously liberal PCUSA.  I believed that my family and I had joined a church that unequivocally proclaimed the Gospel, affirmed the doctrine of predestination without apology, and believed in the unquestionable inerrancy and infallibility of God’s Word.  What a fool I was.  Since that time I learned that besides tolerating false gospels like the one being spread by Federal Visionists, that the many preachers and teachers spreading these false gospels are to be considered our “brothers in Christ” (at least according to the official PCA study report on the Federal Vision and the New Perspectives on Paul).

Even before the flawed FV/NPP report, I learned that multiple interpretations of the days of creation found in Genesis are all permissible; even if holding to so-called “theistic evolution” was strictly verboten.  At the time when the PCA Creation Study report came out the study committee observed:

We have found a profound unity among ourselves on the issues of vital importance to our Reformed testimony.  We believe that the Scriptures, and hence Genesis 1-3, are the inerrant word of God.  We affirm that Genesis 1-3 is a coherent account from the hand of Moses.  We believe that history, not myth, is the proper category for describing these chapters; and furthermore that their history is true.  In these chapters we find the record of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth ex nihilo; of the special creation of Adam and Eve as actual human beings, the parents of all humanity (hence they are not the products of evolution from lower forms of life).  We further find the account of an historical fall, that brought all humanity into an estate of sin and misery, and of God’s sure promise of a Redeemer.  Because the Bible is the word of the Creator and Governor of all there is, it is right for us to find it speaking authoritatively to matters studied by historical and scientific research.  We also believe that acceptance of, say, non-geocentric astronomy is consistent with full submission to Biblical authority.  We recognize that a naturalistic worldview and true Christian faith are impossible to reconcile, and gladly take our stand with Biblical supernaturalism.

The Committee has been unable to come to unanimity over the nature and duration of the creation days.  Nevertheless, our goal has been to enhance the unity, integrity, faithfulness and proclamation of the Church.  Therefore we are presenting a unanimous report with the understanding that the members hold to different exegetical viewpoints.  As to the rest we are at one.  It is our hope and prayer that the Church at large can join us in a principled, Biblical recognition of both the unity and diversity we have regarding this doctrine, and that all are seeking properly to understand biblical revelation.  It is our earnest desire not to see our beloved church divide over this issue.

While ultimately allowing for diversity concerning various exegetical positions on the days of creation, the study committee concluded their report with this final observation and warning:

It should be acknowledged, however, that there are presbyteries that do in fact receive men holding other views [concerning the days of creation] without requiring an exception, provided the men can affirm the historicity of Gen 1-3 and do reject evolution.

It seems that rejecting evolution is no longer a given in the PCA, much less a requirement for PCA pastors.  Rachel Miller, who has been following the advance of so-called “theistic evolution” within the PCA, recently reported on PCA minister Ron Choong and provides an insightful review of his book, The Bible You Thought You Knew.  Evidently, and according to Miller, whatever you thought you knew about the Bible was wrong, because Choong argues:

  1. Moses didn’t write Genesis, Genesis was written as a polemic against the Babylonian gods, Genesis does not teach ex nihilo creation.
  2. Genesis does not speak to how the universe began or where humans came from, Adam is best understood as a group of hominids adopted by God to be imago dei, Adam and Eve were not created with perfect morality.
  3. Paul’s Adam wasn’t necessarily the singular progenitor of the human race.
  4. Noah’s flood was an adopted ANE story retold for Israel’s purposes.
  5. The Tower of Babel doesn’t explain the origin of languages.
  6. Interpreting the Bible literally can be dangerous.

You can read Rachel Miller’s entire review of here, but some of the quotes she provides from Choong are particularly revealing. For example, Choong writes:

Thus you will find lapses in historical and scientific accuracy as we increase our modern accuracy of historical and scientific knowledge. Even doctrinal articulation of theological points need to be revised in each generation to account for our greater understanding of the world we live in.

So much for the psalmist’s confession in Psalm 119: “Forever, O LORD, Thy word is settled in heaven.”  God’s word isn’t settled at all, rather according to Choong our understanding of the truths of Scripture needs to be revised “in each generation” in order to account for the increases in our “historical and scientific knowledge.”  Oh, that silly psalmist.  In addition to an arrogant and rebellious rejection of the sole sufficiency and authority of Scripture, Choong begs the question by assuming that history and science can provide us with knowledge, even knowledge that is of equal authority to the Scriptures that can and should cause us to revise our “doctrinal articulation of theological points.”  As Gordon Clark carefully demonstrates in Historiography: Secular and Religious and The Philosophy of Science and Belief in God, neither history or science can be competing sources of knowledge simply because neither of these presumed sources of knowledge can give us any knowledge at all.  And, I might add, this isn’t just the opinion of some backwoods Christian Biblicist lacking Choong’s sophistication and temperament.  Concerning the belief in so-called “scientific knowledge,” an idol Choong seems particularly attracted to, the late secular philosopher of science and atheist Karl Popper wrote:

 …in science there is no ‘knowledge’, in the sense in which Plato and Aristotle understood the word, in the sense which implies finality; in science, we never have sufficient reason for the belief that we have attained the truth. What we usually call ‘scientific knowledge’ is, as a rule, not knowledge in this sense, but rather information regarding the various competing hypotheses and the way in which they have stood up to various tests; it is, using the language of Plato and Aristotle, information concerning the latest, and the best tested, scientific ‘opinion’. This view means, furthermore, that we have no proofs in science (excepting, of course, pure mathematics and logic). In the empirical sciences, which alone can furnish us with information about the world we live in, proofs do not occur, if we mean by ‘proof’ an argument which establishes once and for ever the truth of a theory. (What may occur, however, are refutations of scientific theories.) – The Problem of Induction 

I don’t know what Choong thinks he knows that could controvert Popper’s observations above, much less those provided by Clark, but that doesn’t stop him from asserting:

Most people, whether religious or not, look to the realm of science for hard data about the environment and cosmology. Prior to the modern period and the rise of the natural sciences, people tended to be more simple or naïve about such things and tended to think (if they thought about it much at all) about the origin of the world in religious and theological terms (Footnote 39, 13).

I’m not exactly sure what this footnote is supposed to prove other than appealing to most people is fallacious and that the Apostle Paul was right when he said of those same people: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”  But, look how utterly disparaging this PCA minister is concerning those who would reject the so-called “hard data” of science and instead rest on the unchanging word of God.  He calls such people “simple or naive”and who are out of touch with modern “advances” in history and science.  Basically, if you believe that God created the world and everything by divine fiat, and that the account God gives in Genesis concerning the origins of creation is both historical and true, you are a pre-modern Neanderthal hominid knuckle-dragger unfit for civilized society.

Now, you might be tempted to think that a man with Choong’s views, particularly as they undermine, if not completely gut, the authority of Scripture (which would appear to be of lesser authority than the “hard data” of science) would warrant some sort of investigation even if only to see whether this minister in the PCA has violated his ordination vows.   Well, you’d be wrong and would be guilty of thinking the PCA was a theologically conservative and confessional church I once thought it was.

As Wes White reports the Metro New York Presbytery of the PCA (the same Presbytery where you’ll find Tim “Biologos” Keller) has refused to investigate Choong’s views. Not only did they refuse to investigate Choong, but even the suggestion that his views should be investigated were not “recorded in the minutes lest Choong’s name be illegitimately besmirched.”  Obviously the NY Metro presbytery is not concerned that God’s unchanging and eternal Word might be “illegitimately besmirched” by Choong, but I guess that’s par for the course in the PCA.  I know, I know.  I shouldn’t be surprised.

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23 Comments on “Dr. Choong and the NY Metro Presbytery”

  1. Lauren Says:

    Will any commissioner at this year’s PCA General Assembly have the courage of the little boy who cried out, “The Emperor is naked! He has no clothes”?
    “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” Revelation 3:17

    http://www.rdkgal.blogspot.com/ The PCA’s “Non-entity”

  2. Hugh Says:

    Homo-presbuteros is naked for sure!

    Sean, Is this a photo of reps from the
    (1) Big Mo Presb’y,
    (2) Pac Nor’West, or
    (3) 2012 GA delegates?

  3. Hugh Says:

    I really enjoyed Ronny Choong’s early comedy career with Cheech Marin.

    Glad he’s still making folks laugh with his zany, off-the-wall, drug-induced humor.

    http://images.search.yahoo.com/images/undefined

  4. Hugh Says:

    The empirical theologian and apologist, like the craftsman and blacksmith, are blinded by their own creations-deceived by their own creativity and ingenuity, fooled by their own cleverness, misled by the beauty of their work, persuaded by the plausibility of their own arguments-so that they do not and cannot see that the god whom they have “proved” or rendered “probable” is not the God of the Bible, but merely an attenuated and tenuous part of creation, a god of their own making…..

    Both the crude idolaters and the more refined scientific and philosophical variety seem to believe in some sort of alchemy or transubstantiation: They believe that their work, whether it be physical or intellectual, transforms a mundane object into a divine object. Indeed, the idolatry of empirical apologetics is a good deal like the idolatry of Roman Catholicism. The Romanist, after the priest pronounces the “hoc est,” believes that the bread is no longer merely bread and the wine no longer merely wine. The empiricist, after performing his intellectual hocus-, believes that “its” become persons, physical causes become immaterial creators, and cosmic designers become the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This philosophical alchemy is at the heart of empirical apologetics.

    John Robbins, “A Lie in My Right Hand” @
    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/132a-ALieinMyRightHand.pdf

  5. Hugh Says:

    “PCA” = “Pagan-Christian Alliance”?

  6. Hugh Says:

    One more “must read” from John Robbins, “The Hoax of Scientific Creationism” ~

    …..rather than simply understanding that scientific creationism is not Christian and does not deserve the support of Christians, it is far more important that we under stand how Biblical creationism was transformed into scientific creationism in the space of ten years. That shift, so subtle and yet so rapid, illustrates the enormous danger and futility of trying to fight divine battles with human weapons. The emergence of scientific creationism from Biblical creationism in the last decade is due to the use and popularity of evidentialist apologetics. An unscriptural philosophy, the sort of vain philosophy that we are warned about in Colossians, is the cause of the change.

    There are two basic forms of Christian apologetics: evidentialism and presuppositionalism. The evidentialist form holds that Christians ought to try to prove the existence of God and the veracity of the Bible on the basis of premises that all men will accept, such as the reliability of sense perception. The presuppositionalist method holds that the existence of God and the inerrancy of Scripture are to be assumed as indemonstrable axioms; they cannot be proved, and it is both impious and stupid to try.

    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/057a-TheHoaxofScientificCreationism.pdf

  7. Sean Gerety Says:

    “The evidentialist form holds that Christians ought to try to prove the existence of God and the veracity of the Bible on the basis of premises that all men will accept, such as the reliability of sense perception. The presuppositionalist method holds that the existence of God and the inerrancy of Scripture are to be assumed as indemonstrable axioms; they cannot be proved, and it is both impious and stupid to try.”

    Why didn’t Van Til understand this about Clark’s presuppostionalism? Van Til’s constant complaint against Clark was that Clark was operating from premises that an unbeliever *would* accept, but this is clearly not the case as John points out.

    Also, Cheech and Choong is almost as good as your phrase “soul-thieves” (which I may steal at some point).

  8. Hugh Says:

    I was even under the impression that some knowledge of the WCF was required for membership…..

    Another sign of my hopeless naivety was my belief that the PCA was a theologically conservative and confessional church, i.e., that it actually believed what the WCF taught…..

    …..a church that unequivocally proclaimed the Gospel, affirmed the doctrine of predestination without apology, and believed in the unquestionable inerrancy and infallibility of God’s Word. What a fool I was.

    Sean,

    Even Ken Ham – a critic of the mad PCA geologists – was as beguiled as you & I were: “The PCA is a confessional church with a high view of biblical inerrancy and authority.”

    Well, you’d be wrong and would be guilty of thinking the PCA was a theologically conservative and confessional church I once thought it was.


  9. Anytime natural revelation trumps special revelation all that remains is liberalism. Of course the neo-Calvinist doctrine of common grace lies at the root of this. Mike Horton thinks Richard Muller is the greatest thing since Arminius himself. So much for Calvin against the Calvinists. Neo-orthodoxy has made such inroads into Evangelical and Reformed seminaries and denominations that one is compelled to view the vast majority of them as being on the road to apostasy–if they are not already there!

  10. Lauren Says:

    There’s a reason why Jesus said one must be born again of the Spirit. An unbeliever has to be given spiritual eyes of faith to understand and see the Kingdom of God. That’s why He has graciously given us His living and active Word.

    http://rdkgal.blogspot.com/2012/06/pcas-poison-apple.html

  11. Hugh Says:

    Lauren,
    Have you closed down your other blog?
    Can’t find “Standing Fast: A Response to the False Teaching in the PCA” except here @ the hammer.

  12. Lauren Says:

    I closed that one down a few years ago so that our family could have time to recover and direct our efforts to a new home church and ministry. With the GA coming to town this month, I just had to pick up my blogger pen and bug a few people. 🙂

  13. Hugh Says:

    Hear hear, L.K.! I get the Ryle feeds* too. They are available as daily emails.

    * http://jcrylequotes.com/2012/06/18/god-delights-in-honoring-zeal/

  14. Lauren Says:

    Don’t you just love this godly theologian? His teaching is timeless! J C Ryle was my very first inspiration when we began our battle in the trenches with the Federal Vision back in 2004-5. God gave his sermons to us as our lifeline to sanity.

  15. pht Says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if people in places of influence in the visible church would realize that you can’t find a compromise between oil and water… as hard as you try and mix them, it just doesn’t work!

    ““The evidentialist form holds that Christians ought to try to prove the existence of God and the veracity of the Bible on the basis of premises that all men will accept, such as the reliability of sense perception.”

    Is it just me, or does it somehow seem wrong to try and prove something that’s more sure by something that’s less sure? (man proves god)

    … Last I checked, when we wanted to prove something, we went to a more sure thing than the thing we were trying to prove… say, a ruler vs our visual reckoning…

  16. Hugh Says:

    pht,

    Please see articles quoted above:

    (1) “A Lie in My Right Hand” @
    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/132a-ALieinMyRightHand.pdf

    (2) “The Hoax of Scientific Creationism” @ http://www.trinityfoundation.org/PDF/057a-TheHoaxofScientificCreationism.pdf

  17. pht Says:

    I have, hugh, I have. As a matter of fact, I’m reading through the whole of the pdfs on my kindle.

    It still boggles me how hard people try and bring man up to God’s level, in terms of what it’s possible for us to know.

    … or the other direction, but I digress.

  18. Denson Dube Says:

    It seems Dr Choong believes in the infallability of man or Bible critics. And this is supposedly an educated man? Even children, especially teenagers, don’t think mom and dad are infallable. This shows how destructive some theological education can be. John Robbins called them finishing schools of irrationalism.

  19. gold account Says:

    No, I think you missed that I got the point:the point that many are trying to make is that the gospel doesn’t mean that much without, for eg., an historical Adam.I agree with this point, and so does Bryan Estelle, quoted in the blog post above:it seems self-evident to me based on the Apostle’s treatment of Adam, among other reasons, that one cannot build a historical gospel on a non-historical Adam. On this we should not be silent as officers in the church.

  20. Jon Says:

    It is difficult to consider theistic evolution as unorthodox since it does not touch on established orthodoxy. It is merely an interpretation of the opening chapters of Genesis. Christians have differed in their interpretation of that since ancient times.


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