Archive for January, 2015

Mark T. Barclay: Red Letter Gnosticism by Ken Mattson

It’s an irrefutable fact that Mark T. Barclay is a heretic and builds his hermeneutical and exegetical fallacy in his book The Missing Red Letters on a major Trinitarian heresy, which heresy is historically rooted and grounded in the heresy of Gnosticism and has been condemned by the Christian church since the Apostles.

As we will see in this review, the Apostles and the early leadership of the Christian church opposed Mark T. Barclay’s Gnostic teachings on the Trinity, which heresy in short not only gave rise to other major Trinitarian heresies like Modalism and Arianism, but also influenced Islam after Arianism was rejected by the Eastern church. And like Islam, Mark T. Barclay rejects the Biblical and orthodox teaching that there is one God in three co-equal and eternal persons. [1][2]

What we will find out further in this review is that Mark T. Barclay like other heretics doesn’t know Scripture, even the simple words of Jesus Christ as most Sunday school children do and he stumbles over basic Christian doctrine. This not only makes him a false teacher, but his Trinitarian heresies place his church and ministry in a dangerous cult.

A Cult Defined

“A cult, then, is a group of people polarized around someone’s interpretation of the Bible and is characterized by major deviations from orthodox Christianity relative to the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith, particularly the fact that God became man in Jesus Christ.” –Walter Martin, The Rise of the Cults

If you don’t know already, Mark T. Barclay has taught at least three of the most destructive Trinitarian and Christological heresies in the history of the Christian church. In the opening chapter of this book, Barclay continues this sickening perversion and teaches that God is a three-part being and in other teachings he has evilly taught that God has changed and that the Godhead is not actual persons and heretically mixes up the roles of the divine persons. This places the message of this book in the deepest biblical error and is an insult to the Holy Spirit.

“Our God is a three-part being (Father, Son and Holy Spirit)”. Mark T. Barclay-The Missing Red Letters

The Importance of the Doctrine of the Trinity

Why is the Trinity important? Well, first of all, the doctrine of the Trinity regulates Christian worship and further it holds the keys to all other doctrines. This means that all other teachings in Scripture are inseparable from the doctrine of the Trinity and this is how basic and foundational the Trinity is to all teaching in Scripture. Or I will say it differently, the centrality of Christian teaching and worship is found in the Trinity and the orthodox teaching of the person of Jesus Christ that he is truly God and truly man. The confession of the Trinity is the throbbing heartbeat of the Christian church, “every error results from, or upon deeper reflection maybe traced to a wrong view of this doctrine”. [3] “The Church is truly Church in so far as it dwells in the Holy Trinity and embodies the truth of the Gospel in its empirical life and worship.” [4]

Barclay’s False Teachings in a Nutshell

In a nutshell, here’s what Mark T. Barclay has heretically taught.

  1. Mark T. Barclay has taught that God is made up of parts and is a three-part being.
  1. He has taught that the Trinity is not individual persons (hypostasis) for he heretically states that: “We teach them sorta, kinda almost as three different people for the sake of teaching.”
  1. Like the Jehovah Witnesses, has taught that in heaven God was Creator and not the Father. Thus, teaching an Arian concept of the person of the Father.
  1. He has wickedly taught that God changed for human understanding.
  1. Barclay’s heretical teachings on the Godhead, damages the orthodox and cardinal teaching of Christ’s hypostatic union, being fully and truly God and fully and truly man in one single divine person.

If Jesus is only a part and isn’t truly a person as with the other members of the Godhead, then he can’t be biblically God. This is how radically destructive Mark T. Barclay’s false teachings are to the orthodox understanding to the nature of the Trinity and to the Gospel, because Barclay like other heretics and cults destroys the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Simply put, salvation depends on a right formulation of Christ’s nature. This is why we can say that the Mormons and the Jehovah Witnesses for example have a different god and their Jesus can’t save. [5]

Christ’s Hypostatic Union.

Furthermore, the correct understanding of Jesus Christ is that he is God in the flesh and is one person with two natures, being truly man and truly God. Thus, we can unequivocally conclude through the objective truth of Scripture that Mark T. Barclay’s god like the Jehovah Witnesses is radically different than the God of Christianity and like other cults can’t save. [6]

The Orthodox and Biblical Understanding of the Trinity: “Tres personae, Una Substantia”

“The doctrine of the Trinity means that there is one God who eternally exists as three distinct Persons — the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Stated differently, God is one in essence and three in person. These definitions express three crucial truths: (1) The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct Persons, (2) each Person is fully God, (3) there is only one God.” [7]

Barclay’s Error is Historically Rooted in Gnosticism.

What we find out its that Mark T. Barclay’s heresy on the Trinity and his destructive teaching on the Biblical understanding of Jesus Christ were refuted and condemned in the early church, because Barclay’s false teachings are historically pinpointed in time and space as Gnostic.

I have quoted this quote from Irenaeus before in connection with Barclay’s condemnation as a heretic, but this time I will unpack it and since this is a book review I think it’s appropriate.

Attacking the Gnostics, Irenaeus writes:

“But if they had known the Scriptures, and been taught by the truth, they would have known, beyond doubt, that God is not as men are; and that His thoughts are not like the thoughts of men. Far removed is the Father of all from those things, which operate among men, the affections and passions. He is simple, not composed of parts, without structure, altogether like and equal to himself alone. He is all mind, all spirit, all thought, all intelligence, all reason . . . all light, all fountain of every good..” Irenaeus, Against Heresies 2:13:3 (A.D. 189).

Further attacking the Gnostics and defending the one and undivided nature of God, Irenaeus writes:

“For if He produced intelligence, then He who did thus produce intelligence must be understood, in accordance with their views, as a compound and corporeal Being; so that God, who sent forth [the intelligence referred to], is separate from it, and the intelligence which was sent forth separate [from Him]. But if they affirm that intelligence was sent forth from intelligence, they then cut asunder the intelligence of God, and divide it into parts.” Irenaeus, Against Heresies 2:13:5

Church father Irenaeus goes on further and places Gnostic thought and heresy in the ancient doctrines of heathenism, which were taught by the philosophers.

He writes:

“These men (the heretics), adopting this fable as their own, have ranged their opinions round it, as if by a sort of natural process, changing only the names of the things referred to, and setting forth the very same beginning of the generation of all things, and their production.” Irenaeus, Against Heresies 2:14:1

He further writes:

This thought, too, these men have transferred to “the seed” of their Mother, which they maintain to be themselves; thus acknowledging at once, in the judgment of such as are possessed of sense, that they themselves are the offspring of the irreligious Anaxagoras”. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 2:14:2

Who was the philosopher Anaxagoras?  Well, a Greek philosopher. He believed that all matter was infinitely divisible and motionless until animated by mind. Thus, we can conclude a few things here about Mark Barclay’s Heresies:

  1. It’s an irrefutable fact that Mark T. Barclay’s teaching on the Trinity is Gnostic, being rooted and grounded in that heresy.
  2. Even with biblical names as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Barclay’s god being Gnostic is radically different than the biblical God who is triune in three persons.
  3. Barclay’s Gnostic heresy is time dated to just under a hundred years after the death of the Apostle John.
  4. Our information as we will see comes from the number one expert on Gnosticism, Irenaeus.

Who was Saint Irenaeus?

It’s important to note here that what we historically know about Gnosticism in the early Church comes from Church father Irenaeus himself. This is how important his apologetic work is to the Christian church. “He studied twenty of the most influential Gnostic writers and defined and criticized their beliefs. Other early church fathers, such as Tertullian and Origen also provide information regarding Gnostic beliefs.” [8] So who was Irenaeus? Well, he was taught by another Church father by the name of Polycarp who was the disciple of the Apostle of John. It is for certain that Irenaeus knew the teachings of the Apostles on the Trinity and knew the errors of the Gnostics. He spent his whole life attacking their false teachings.

Gnosticism Defined

What is Gnosticism?

“Gnosticism is a heresy which is made up of a diverse set of beliefs. It is the teaching based on the idea of gnosis (a Koine Greek word meaning “secret knowledge”), or knowledge of transcendence arrived at by way of internal, intuitive means.” [9]

Further, what we do know by history is that the Gnostics repudiated major Christian doctrines like the Trinity and the person of Jesus Christ.So again, we can see that Mark T. Barclay’s Jesus being a Gnostic and a false Jesus is radically different than the biblical Christ who is one person with two natures, being truly God and truly man.

Moreover, to refute these facts is to refute not only the Scriptural teaching of the Trinity and the person of Jesus Christ, but it’s also a rejection of historical reality itself, which is a dangerous thing that all members of cults do to their own eternal destruction. Thus, a god who is of three-parts can’t save anyone and is a false god, being an idol and breaks the Second Commandment of the Law.

Further, for arguments sake, someone wouldn’t say that America was founded on Communism. I’m sure, if someone came to you and told you that that you would tell them that they were lying and refute them with evidence, because everyone knows that the early settlers were Christians, and America was founded on Democracy and not Communism. So in the same sense we know that Mark T. Barclay’s heresies on the Trinity and the person of Jesus Christ are Gnostic, which factual truths are historical and this is irrefutable.

Barclay Teaches more Gnostic Error on the Trinity

In another message, Mark T. Barclay compounds his heresies with another assault on the Trinity and the person of Jesus Christ by teaching that God changed, which biblically is untrue, because God is holy and unchangeable. Further, Barclay in his ungodliness teaches that the phrase ‘persons in Trinity’ are only taught for teaching sake and the members of the Godhead are really parts.

“In Genesis Chapter 1, it defines the Trinity of God, the three parts of God. You are made by the way after his image, three parts” Mark T. Barclay further states that: “now these aren’t three different people. We teach them sorta, kinda almost as three different people for the sake of teaching.”

In the same message, he furthers his Gnostic blasphemy against the Spirit:

“Those that permit the Holy Spirit to be their Father. Those who will allow the Holy Spirit, remember he’s not a third Person, he is God made up of three parts just like…my son Josh and his soul is not some body else and his spirit is not someone else, and so I got to decipher. Now, there’s not three people, it’s just one Josh three parts. There’s not three Gods, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, he’s just one. He’s just got three parts. So this great Holy Spirit wants to father you.” Jesus, the Command Giver – Mark T. Barclay

Mark T. Barclay is showing his deception and lying here, when he states that we “teach them sorta, kinda almost as three different people for the sake of teaching.” The Christian church has never taught that God is a three-part being, because Scripture doesn’t teach it. The only ‘we’ who teaches that heresy is he, the Gnostics and other heretics. Barclay couldn’t be in more error on the Godhead!

Scripture Teaches Christ is the Exact Duplicate of the Father’s Person (Greek: Hypostasis)

Hebrews 1:3 states:  “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:” Authorized King James Version

If you notice, the writer of Hebrews describes Jesus Christ as the expressed image of the Father’s person (Greek: hypostasis). The Greek word ‘hypostasis’ is never translated as ‘part’. Unpacking it more, we can see that, “Christ is the “exact representation” (vs. 3, Gk. Charakter, “exact duplicate”) of the nature or being (Gk. hypostasis) of God—meaning that God the Son exactly duplicates the being or nature of God the Father in every way: whatever attributes or power God the Father has, God the Son has them as well.” [10]

Gill says:

“that the Father and the Son are of the same nature, as the sun and its ray; and that the one is not before the other, and yet distinct from each other, and cannot be divided or separated one from another……this intends much the same as the other phrase; namely, equality and sameness of nature, and distinction of persons; for if the Father is God, Christ must be so too; and if he is a person, his Son must be so likewise, or he cannot be the express image and character of him;” [11] So, summarizing what Scripture teaches on the Trinity:

  1. God is three persons.
  2. Each person is fully God.
  3. There is only one God

The Truth About Defamation and Slander

For those who have accused my apologetic work against Mark T. Barclay’s heresies as slander and defamation, you couldn’t be more wrong here, because the defense of the Trinity is the highest mark of Christian leadership in the Church. So in regards to defamation and slander, the truth is an absolute defense against slander and defamation. What does that mean? Well it means that true statements can’t be defamatory or slander and the truth is that Mark T. Barclay is a heretic and his Trinitarian and Christological heresies are historically rooted in Gnosticism. To deny that is to deny reality itself. If Barclay’s teachings on the Trinity weren’t heresies, then the Church leader Irenaeus who was the expert on Gnosticism wouldn’t have attacked it as such or even placed it in Gnosticism. But what we see is that Mark T. Barclay’s heresies on the nature of God and the nature of Christ were indeed Gnostic and condemned word for word by the Christian church.

Barclay’s Heresy Refuted by the Father of Orthodoxy

Further, we can see that Barclay’s heresies were refuted and condemned in the Church’s struggle with another heresy called Arianism, which chiefly rejected the deity of Jesus Christ. Saint Athanasius writes:

“God, however, being without parts, is Father of the Son without division and without being acted upon. For neither is there an effluence from that which is incorporeal, nor is there anything flowering into him from without, as in the case of men. Being simple in nature, he is Father of one only Son.” Saint Athanasius (Letter on the Council of Nicaea A.D. 350)

In his Discourses against the Arians he further writes:

“As we said above, so now we repeat, that the divine generation must not be compared to the nature of men nor the Son considered to be part of God nor the generation to imply any passion whatever; God is not as man; for men beget passibly, having a transitive nature, which waits for periods by reason of its weakness. But with God this cannot be; for He is not composed of parts, but being impassible and simple, He is impassibly and indivisibly Father of the Son.” Discourse 1:28 Against the Arians by Saint Athanasius

Athanasius Contra Mundum

In the Assembly of God Enrichment Journal, William P. Farley writes this about Athanasius’s leadership:

“Athanasius was born between A.D. 295 and 300. He was short and stocky, but what he lacked in physical appearance he made up for in fervent piety, holiness of life, penetrating intellect, and unusual gifts of leadership. In A.D. 321, on behalf of Bishop Alexander, Athanasius wrote the excommunication statement that banished Arius.” Herman Bavinck has this also to say: “Athanasius understood better than any of his contemporaries that Christianity stands or falls with the confession of the deity of Christ and of the Trinity.”  

Final Thoughts

So you see, Mark T. Barclay couldn’t be more eternally wrong on the Trinity and the nature of the person of Jesus Christ in the heretical teachings in this book and other places. This not only places his ministry in a cult, and him as a heretic, but it also acknowledges him as an apostate. As we will see in part two of this review, Barclay’s heresies on the Trinity and the Person of Jesus Christ, which are rooted in Gnosticism have detrimental ramifications on the message of the rest of this book.

One think comes to my mind when I reflect on the Apostles and the leadership of the Church fathers is that it becomes very evident that men like Chuck Seeley, Richard Jolliff and others like Al Leonhardt of the Assemblies of God are looking for leadership outside of Christianity and they found it in leadership that is rooted historically in the heresy of Gnosticism and this is irrefutable.

Why can I say that? Well, because true biblical leadership is found in the teaching of sound doctrine and the defense of the Trinity and the defense of the Person of Jesus Christ, which Mark T. Barclay hasn’t attained too, but has shown himself to be a Gnostic and a Trinitarian heretic.

Conclusion

So to conclude part one of this review we can affirmably say along which Scripture and the historical witness of the Trinitarian leadership of the Christian church that:

  1. Again, because of Barclay’s heresies on the Trinity and the Person of Jesus Christ his ministry and church is a cult.
  2. Barclay’s heretical teachings are a result of the rejection of the authority of Scripture, which heresies have been condemned by the Christian Church.
  3. Mark T. Barclay’s leadership is Gnostic and his heresies on the Trinity and the Person of Christ are rooted in that same heresy of Gnosticism and this is both historically and biblically irrefutable.

References:

  1. “When the Quran is placed in the context of Syrian Christianity and the debates over Arian, Nestorian, and Monophysite Christology that wracked eastern Christianity in these centuries, its debt to Christianity becomes plausible. The Quran includes passages, for example, that reflect Syrian attacks on Monophysite Christology.” http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2012/12/the-christian-origins-of-islam
  2. “There is also the superstition of the Ishmaelites which to this day prevails and keeps people in error, being a forerunner of the Antichrist. They are descended from Ishmael, [who] was born to Abraham of Agar, and for this reason they are called both Agarenes and Ishmaelites… From that time to the present a false prophet named Mohammed has appeared in their midst. This man, after having chanced upon the Old and New Testaments and likewise, it seems, having conversed with an Arian monk, devised his own heresy. Then, having insinuated himself into the good graces of the people by a show of seeming piety, he gave out that a certain book had been sent down to him from heaven. He had set down some ridiculous compositions in this book of his and he gave it to them as an object of veneration.”http://orthodoxinfo.com/general/stjohn_islam.aspx
  3. Bavinck, The Doctrine of God, p. 285
  4. Thomas F. Torrance, The Trinitarian Faith
  5. William P. Farley, Athanasius and Nicea http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200703/200703_138_athanasius.cfm
  6. Hypostatic Union Defined: https://carm.org/dictionary-hypostatic-union
  7. What is the Doctrine of the Trinity? http://www.desiringgod.org/resource/what-is-the-doctrine-of-the-trinity
  8. Gnosticism: http://www.theopedia.com/Gnosticism
  9. Ibid
  10. Grudem, Systematic Theology, God in three persons: The Trinity p. 236
  11. Hebrews 1:3 Commentary- John Gill http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/hebrews-1-3.html
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Islam: The name Islam comes from an Arabic term meaning submission, a reference to the central belief that the goal of religion, or of a true believer, is submission to God’s will. Arabic root “Salema”: peace, purity, submission and obedience.

Mark T. Barclay: “All things in God’s Kingdom come to us as we submit to Him and to His Word. Submission is a great key to the Kingdom.”

“This was another divine appointment from God and they quickly realized that God placed them together with Dr. Mark T. Barclay. Soon after, the Pastor of Addison Bible Church released them to Dr. Barclay where they have remained submitted for over 20 years.” Pastor Ed Weiss

“Pastor McMichael is ordained through Mark Barclay Ministries. He and Manda are proud to call Dr. Mark T. Barclay their pastor. They enjoy all the blessings and protection submission to a pastor provides.”

Michael Reeves: “On top of that is my fear that many Christians are too often functionally Muslim in that the God they believe in looks like a single-person God. Now belief drives behaviour, and so if a Christian believes like a Muslim, their Christian experience and life must look Islamic. At root that will mean that instead of a heartfelt love for the Lord their God they can only know that external ‘submission’. Such a Christianity must be joyless – and must be unattractive for the watching world. I’d love to see some readers liberated from all that, for them to have their minds relieved and their hearts won by the truth of a God who, being Trinity, is unutterably beautiful and good.” Michael Reeves-Delighting in the Trinity

Quite interesting similarities between Mark T. Barclay’s theology and Islam and it’s backed up by one of the best Trinitarian theologians of our time. The problem with Rev. McMichaels is that it’s impossible for Barclay to be a pastor to him in any kind of biblical sense if Barclay isn’t present in his church administering Word and Sacrament. It’s cultic!