SEE ALSO Australian Presbyterian Bible Church


Speaking as pastor, one could say that in childhood one found that goodness and virtue were RECOGNISED as fine and desirable and to be commended, not only in church, but in the STATE SCHOOL before one went to Scotch College, Melbourne. Even then,  deeds of courage and acts of virtue were to be congratulated, emulated and cherished. This has changed. Not only in the Presbyterian field, but throughout the world, in much of the Baptist, the Uniting, the Anglican, the Methodist and the Lutheran, for example, there has been a measure of division or even collusion following invasion by contradictory forces, using the name of Christ for their own ends. It is like the picture above, the waters that cannot rest. (Cf. Isaiah 57:19-20, Ezekiel 22:25-26.)

In all this, the Bible has been assailed FROM WITHIN the church, just as Peter (II Peter 2) indicated would be the case.

We desire to avoid the endless equivocations on this topic, and to affirm the Bible as given by God, to be true NOT merely in faith and doctrine, whatever people may want to make that mean, but in all that it affirms. Indeed, just as the Westminster Confession (WMC) so well says, we affirm it to be immediately inspired of God so that its parts are all in harmony and it is infallible truth.

  • If GOD has not said it, it should be removed from the field of worship.
  • Since He has, it should be removed from the field of dubiety, attack and uncertainty within the church. HIS WORD IS TRUTH (John 17:17 cf. Matthew 5:17-19 and SMR Appendix D).

(Our Christian Apologetics site demonstrates that He has said this as His sole written word to mankind, just as faith receives it.)

Thus we believe with grief that the General Assembly of Australia erred in NOT making declaration, in answer to the request to this effect, from the General Assembly of Victoria towards 1980.
(For background on the gulf of errors into which the Church fell, see    two   sites in The Biblical Workman Ch. 8, and Biblical Blessings Ch. 11.)

What however had this State Assembly sought ?

The full Westminster Confession text was requested to be directly affirmed, in the chapter which dwells on the Bible, namely Chapter 1   - and as to that, it is a devoutly faithful text to the point. (Cf. The Biblical Workman 8, pp. 125ff..) What was the response of the GAA, then, to this Victorian request ? It was not granted. The chapter concerned was NOT affirmed, EVEN in answer to the full force of a request from a major State Assembly! Yet the General Assembly of Australia has the AUTHORITY to make such declarations, and hence has power to act.

Such clear ascription of Biblical truth as for example this Confession there makes, in Chapter 1, NEEDS to be declared past all the legalistic quibbles which so readily, so often and for so long have invaded the church of Christ in many denominations. The Presbyterian field does not seem to have been not too far from the front in the multiplication of these travesties. It has been been a matter of  defilement for decades, as the Presbyterian Church of Victoria newsletter in the 1970s rightly affirmed, and freely acknowledged.

The response to this deplorable fall in fact required affirmation, such as was not made in the GAA,  but it also required repentance and return to the righteousness it had so glibly forsaken in its Biblical faith, on so beautifully presented in its basic Constitution, and so harrowingly denied by so many, for so long, and in so much false teaching. As the Victorian Church admitted in the 70s, at least in one official newsletter, it had been astray in this, for some 40 years!

Now, in the case of one central official, quite explicitly, it has taken up Calvinism (with its great good and considerable error); and although as this person affirmed, many do NOT believe what it says, it seemed the only crux for combination that would ... work! Yet truth is always a basic criterion of the worship of God. The actual Constitution of the PC of Australia changes considerably the situation with just the Confession, with its Declaratory Statement indicating the WAY the Confession is to be understood and the INSISTENCE on what must be affirmed with it for the sake of tender consciences; but the Pharisaic mode, which appears the new look after the RADICAL LIBERAL one from which some have moved in reaction, this radical Calvinism is a sad debacle for the Church, violating the 1901 agreement on Union, affirming the Declaratory Statement adds nothing to the Confession, which strips the Constitution both of its factuality and its function.

Faith and doctrine are crucial, that they be conformed fearlessly to the word of God; and obedience to its commands needs to be entire. Love loves obedience (John 14:21-23), to Christ, and His attitude to the word of God in Matthew 5:17-21 is as free from equivocation as Summer in Texas from Arctic Winter. What is the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 - nothing less than to PREACH the Gospel and TEACH all things WHATEVER He has commanded. Who is this who allows some other teaching, and imagines the great commission is not thereby defiled! Who is this who speaks against the word of Christ!

Indeed, concern for the church is best displayed by following the Lord (cf. I John 5:2-3), and not by making special exemptions in the favour of diplomacy or other concerns. Faithfulness needs not only to be KNOWN but SHOWN. If there be those who find such a scriptural view of scripture intolerable, they should be intolerant in some other grouping, find some other ecclesiastical location which does not have a constitution so sound!

This is historic Presbyterianism, not a shibboleth, but in this field, it has been one of the faithful leaders, not compromised by modernist, post-modernist and contrived diplomacies or considerations. If it fell, it was those who mishandled it; those who refused to re-affirm it. However, NO consideration is worthy which falls short of the Biblical testimony to itself (cf. SMR Appendix D, and Bible (or Scripture - the Bible) in Indexes).

God's name and word need to be honoured, believed, received and implemented. HE is GOD: we are but men, His creation; and where redeemed, there is a DOUBLE ground for fidelity in all humility with all honour to God.

Therefore, if the Bible refuses one thing, this should be avoided; if it commands another, this should be done. It is no matter of toleration to be intolerant of God. Until ANY church is clear on this, and is prepared to KEEP to the commands of the Bible, not merely in mouth, but in fact, addressing difficulties with candour and reaching the Biblical position with clarity, what is served by serving with this! Does one then wish to participate in rebellion ? (see The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 7).

Does one ? Not if one is to be wise: for the beginning of wisdom is the FEAR of the Lord (Psalm 111:10). Daring has its place; in contravening the word of the Lord, it has no place.

It is necessary, not only for Presbyterians
to regroup about the word of God and this ALONE as the basis of doctrine,
in theory AND in practice, but for all who use the name of Christ.
to realise fully that His victorious life and available power for living is
not only for the individual but for the Church.

Unity must be sought as far as may be in all things (John 17:23 is preceded by John 17:8), without Biblical compromise, and in churches, not with respect to diplomatic devices, ecclesiastical special pleadings and political power thrusts; but for the Lord only and in His word only as doctrinal base. As to all else, it is as mere helps (as the Westminster Confession rightly and humbly indicates - The Biblical Workman Ch.  8), though once in that category, good things other than the Bible's own words may be duly esteemed, and properly serviceable. Offences must be brought into the open and resolved, not kept by some greenhouse of spurious slander or unseemly pretension. When it is done, if the Bible is not followed, so be it. This is moving into some other religion.

What however if there is some searching issue ? Then as always, one must keep within the bounds of scripture, but be prepared to give a reason for the faith when asked, as commanded by the word of God (I Peter 3:21).

In our work on predestination, accordingly and as an example of Biblical unity, we have sought to give due place to the Wesleyan emphasis on love, since it is in line with enormous and glorious Biblical thrust in this field, as well as to the Calvinist 5 points on sovereignty and system, since they too are in line with it. It is this emphasis that the Declaratory Statement, part of the ground of union in 1901 for the Presbyterian Church of Australia, so amply stresses. The  Westminster Confession is, it declares, to be read in the light of the fact that God is not willing that any should perish. There is in this emphasis,  the attitudinal as well as the result. The heart of God is as has been shown (cf. SMR Appendix B, The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 4 and Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Grace Ch. 7), not to be maligned by omissions of some scriptures. God IS love as John declares (I John 4:7ff.).

Thus there is here major and massive ground for new forms of unity which are willing to follow not the flimsy surges of human philosophy, or ornery extremes often associated with fine work in other respects in the past, but what is written: ALL of it. The new moves disrupt the former functional felicity of the PC in Australia with their unbiblical extremism, just as the former Liberal, Radical mode did!

It is vain to nullify the word of God either by tradition or philosophy (Mark 7, Colossians 2). For this unity about what is actually written, and nothing added or subtracted, since God cannot be revised, and the One who actually came, since no other is God on earth, but He, the only Saviour: for this, we call. (

You may care here to refer to Tender Times for Timely Truths Ch. 2, which pursues the topic in detail, and on numerous fronts. Again, more is to be found in Cascade of Truth, Torrent of Mercy Chs. 7 and   ,  with Sparkling Life in Jesus Christ Ch. 7.

It is not in terms of this or that tradition or theologian of whatever name,
however valuable may be some of the contributions
(cf. I Corinthians 3 where there is just a clear prohibition),
that we must work fundamentally:

but it is in terms of the word of God as such,

neither churlishly ignoring the wonders of the past work of the multitudes of the saints,
nor slavishly using their contributions as if they had become Protestant statues,

       that we worship (cf. Repent or Perish 1, End-note 1),

or were now in themselves constituting limitations on the word and will of God.

ALL we are brethren (Matthew 23:8-10).

ALL the Bible and ultimately, ONLY the Bible is the touchstone, criterion, source of doctrine.
It is this amiable insistence of the Westminster Confession itself (Ch. 25.5, 32.4),  which is perhaps the chief worth of that document: noble and eminent as its system in general is. It is necessary to KNOW the Lord, without which there is no eternal life (John 17:1-3), and to abide in His word in which not only is their great treasure, but great grace (John 15:7)!

If any reader should wish to follow preaching of the word of God, we have provision for this.

On this site, we shall plan to publish sermons, sermon outlines,  or to hyperlink them, as we have used them here, adapted for this purpose. One more recent is Water to Burn. Some earlier ones appear, with some change of form, in The Shadow of a Mighty Rock Ch. 7 as at the following sites:
Rest, Missions, Spiritual Growth, Repentance and Realism, Sublimity of the Lord's Word to History. We commend the World Wide Web Witness site likewise for this purpose. Answers to questions appear in World Wide Web Witness at Swift Witness.

Currently (2009), notes for some 260 sermons are available, around 4 pages each at The Site.

Audio recordings are also available on the Home Page, at this point.

If you would like to discuss, or commune on points, please do feel free. We are happy to hear, and also for fellowship with the Lord's people. One of our greatest desires is unity in the truth, and to this end we are constantly seeking, that the Lord may be glorified. We believe in His power that He will glorify Himself in all these things. Ours is to wait on Him; His is to act! (cf. Isaiah 64:4-5).

Rev Dr Robert E. Donaldson