Now that the Episcopal House of Bishops, meeting in Glacier National Park last month, has cleared the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California, James A. Pike, of charges of heresy, and thereby tactfully disposed of an emotionally charged issue, it may be well to examine objectively some of the bishop’s teachings to see whether they conform to the evangelical and biblical heritage of the Church.

The promoters of the so-called new theology, of whom Bishop Pike is one, herald it as a continuation of the Protestant Reformation, which brought new life and growth to the Church. If this be so, then we should expect the major themes of the Reformation to be expressed in this highly publicized approach to the basic doctrines and creeds of the Christian faith.

Two of the most important elements of the sixteenth-century Reformation were the breaking of the stranglehold of scholastic, Aristotelian philosophy on theology and the return to recognition of the Holy Bible as the authoritative source of Christian teaching and life. A brief analysis of the major theme of Bishop Pike’s book entitled A Time for Christian Candor shows that he not only disposes of the classic doctrines of the Christian faith but also clearly repudiates these two important elements of the Reformation.

The theme, as stated on page 2, is taken from the words of Paul the Apostle: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:7). Its argument is presented in the form of an Aristotelian syllogism. Therefore, if we isolate the major and minor premises of the book, we can have no doubt of its meaning.

The major premise of Bishop Pike’s book is that “earthen vessels” are relative, contingent, and ...

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