“˜Synagogues of Satan’?

Green Belt 2008: Spring Harvest 2009: Summer Madness 2009

by Cecil Andrews
“˜Take Heed’ Ministries
28th March 2009

Whilst 3 different “˜Christian’ festivals are listed in the title to this article, the article itself will for the most part concentrate on the upcoming Spring Harvest 2009 festival scheduled for 4th ““ 19th April 2009. I will be focussing on the ramifications of their willingness to include a certain individual amongst their invited speakers and this “˜invited speaker’ is actually the common thread linking in the other 2 “˜Christian’ festivals, Green Belt 2008 and Summer Madness 2009 to this article.

Before proceeding any further I want to give some insight into the main heading for this article ““ “˜Synagogues of Satan’? The Lord Himself used this expression when He wrote to the Church in Smyrna. He was referring to a group of people in that area who clearly claimed to be God’s people but He said of them that they were “the synagogue of Satan” [Revelation 2:9]. They were a group that rejected both the Divine Person and the Redeeming Work of Jesus Christ.

“˜As Christ has a church in the world, the spiritual Israel of God, so the devil has his synagogue. Those assemblies which are set up in opposition to the truths of the gospel, and which promote and propagate damnable errors — those which are set up in opposition to the purity and spirituality of gospel worship, and which promote and propagate the vain inventions of men and rites and ceremonies which never entered into the thoughts of God — these are all synagogues of Satan: he presides over them, he works in them, his interests are served by them, and he receives a horrid homage and honour from them. For the synagogues of Satan to give themselves out to be the church or Israel of God is no less than blasphemy. God is gre

The Westminster Confession of Faith also has occasion to use this expression. In Chapter XXV paragraph V that deals with “˜The Church’ we read this ““

“˜The purest churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated as to become no Churches of Christ but synagogues of Satan’.

The warning is that any group, that either openly opposes the Divine Person and the Redeeming Work of Jesus Christ, or supposedly pays lip service on the one hand to the Divine Person and the Redeeming Work of Jesus Christ but by doctrine and proclamation on the other hand then proceeds to deny or to welcome as believers those who deny some aspect of the Divine Person and the Redeeming Work of Jesus Christ, then these are to classed as “˜synagogues of Satan’.

Bearing that background to this expression in mind let me proceed now to how it can possibly apply firstly to Spring Harvest 2009. To do that I need to go back to the run-up to Easter in 2007 when a service was broadcast on Wednesday 4th April on BBC Radio 4 that was conducted by the [gay] Anglican minister Jeffrey John. During that service Mr John said the following ““

“˜St Paul explains, crucifixion was the method of execution which, according to the Law, was the special sign of God’s ultimate punishment, his absolute curse: “Cursed be he that hangs upon a tree”. On the cross, says Paul, Jesus took the place of all those who were supposed to be punished according to the Law. “God made him into sin who knew no sin”. “He became a curse for us”. But hang on ““ you may well say – what exactly does that mean ““ “˜Jesus took our place’ ? Does it mean, then, that we are back with a punishing God after all, and that the Cross is somehow to be understood as God’s ultimate punishment for sin? That’s certainly what I was told in my Calvinistic childhood. The explanation I was given went something like this. God was very angry with us for our sins, and because he is a just God, our sin had to be punished. But instead of punishing us he sent his Son, Jesus, as a substitute to suffer and die in our place. The blood of Jesus paid the price of our sins, and because of him God stopped being angry with us. In other words, Jesus took the rap, and we got forgiven, provided we said we believed in him. Well, I don’t know about you, but even at the age of ten I thought this explanation was pretty repulsive as well as nonsensical. What sort of God was this, getting so angry with the world and the people he created, and then, to calm himself down, demanding the blood of his own Son? And anyway, why should God forgive us through punishing somebody else? It was worse than illogical, it was insane. It made God sound like a psychopath. If any human being behaved like this we’d say they were a monster. Well, I haven’t changed my mind since. That explanation of the cross just doesn’t work, though sadly it’s one that’s still all too often preached. It just doesn’t make sense to talk about a nice Jesus down here, placating the wrath of a nasty, angry Father God in heaven. Christians believe Jesus is God incarnate. As he said, “˜Whoever sees me has seen the Father’. Jesus is what God is: he is the one who shows us God’s nature. And the most basic truth about God’s nature is that He is Love, not wrath and punishment”¦ The cross, then, is not about Jesus reconciling an angry God to us’

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