Tyndale University, College and Seminary is in Toronto Ontario. This summer they are offering a course in Evangelism taught by Bruxy Cavey, Pastor of The Meeting House. I have heard Bruxy teach on evangelism before, and it makes me wonder – why would Tyndale have Bruxy teaching there?
Tyndale has a Statement of Faith published on their website. I would assume that the purpose of a Statement of Faith is to ensure that this institution will hold to certain doctrinal standards and not allow compromise on those things that the they deem non-negotiable. The problem is that when we read Tyndale’s Statement of Faith we see that Bruxy Cavey does not meet their doctrinal standards. In fact, his position is directly opposed to them. I ask again, why is he teaching there?
I will address two specific areas where Tyndale’s Statement of Faith and Bruxy Cavey’s teachings are directly at odds. They are not minor disagreements.
Authority and Inerrancy of Scripture
Tyndale’s Statement of Faith says:
the Bible, both Old and New Testaments together, is Holy Scripture. It is the authoritative written Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, inerrant in all that it teaches, the one entirely trustworthy rule for faith and life. The teachings of Holy Scripture are apprehended through the careful study of the text in all its dimensions, together with prayerful theological reflection, under the guidance of God’s Spirit.
The Old and New Testaments are authoritative and inerrant in all that they teach. Does Bruxy believe this? Let’s just see what he has taught publicly.
“The whole concept of the authority of scripture is unscriptural. God has authority, Jesus has authority. He says in the great commission ‘all authority has been given to me’, not to the Scriptures. The authority of the scriptures as scripture is just a weird way of talking that Protestants made up to fight the Catholics! You guys say the Pope has authority, we say only the scriptures have authority and then we started talking about the Bible as though it’s an authoritative thing just because we wanted to have a different source of authority than the Catholics. That’s why the Catholics called the Protestants ‘the people who follow the paper pope’. Because all they had done is imbued what the Catholics said about the Pope in the Bible. And so we went out of the frying pan and into the fire – Protestants were just as confused.” – Bruxy Cavey Teaching on Scriptural Inerrancy (2:05)
So the authority of Scripture is an unscriptural concept invented by the Protestants in the 16th Century only because Protestants wanted a different source of authority than the Catholics. That’s an interesting take to say the least! Bruxy thinks that holding the Scriptures as authoritative instead of the Pope is jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire and causes confusion. Here he runs directly contrary to Tyndale’s Statement of Faith.
“It hinders our evangelism to say our faith is based on the authoritative and infallible word of God and say that’s the Bible instead of Jesus. It discredits Christ by taking qualities of Christ – his sinless perfection – and trying to attribute those to scripture. And it also sets up Christians for a downfall. Especially young adult Christians who will then head off to university, they take a religious studies class, they learn about some of the basic mistakes that academics are all aware of but pastor’s just don’t talk about in the church, they’ve been protected from that. And then when it’s talked about plainly in an academic setting their faith is rocked, they’re shocked and they feel like their faith is built on a house of cards. Well, it IS if your faith is built on scripture as inerrant it is a house of cards. If it’s built on Christ, the solid rock on which we stand then it’s based on something sure and perfect and beautiful and powerful and authoritative. So, I want us to excel in evangelism – inerrancy gets in the way. I want us to promote Christ as central, authoritative and perfect – inerrancy gets in the way. And I also want to take care of those Christians who are growing and are going to go into the world and learn about scripture from different voices. I want them to be prepared for that and not to see their faith crumble. Inerrancy is unhelpful rather than helpful as a word, and as a concept.” – Inspired #3 Drive Home– (17:20)
Bruxy says that in Evangelism, the very subject he is teaching at Tyndale, it is damaging to believe the scriptures are authoritative and inerrant. It is actually an offence to Christ! He also expresses that especially to young people it is dangerous to teach them that Scripture is inerrant because their faith will be built on a house of cards. I have no reason to believe he would not teach the same at Tyndale to the young people in his evangelism course, in contradiction to and violation of their Statement of Faith. Is Tyndale supportive of their students being taught this?
Examples of Bruxy’s position on the authority and inerrancy of scripture could be multiplied many times. For now, these two examples should suffice, but if you are interested for more you can check these quotes from his teaching. Feel free to examine every quote in context for yourself. I have also addressed his view here and here. You may also be interested in listening to this message Bruxy delivered at Greg Boyd’s church in which he makes many of his usual arguments against inerrancy.
Tyndale has affirmed in their Statement of Faith the vicarious atonement of Jesus Christ.
the eternal Son of God, incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He declared God’s Kingdom and embodied that reign in His acts. Having rendered a life of perfect human obedience to the Father, He died on the cross as a vicarious and victorious atonement for sin. In His atoning death and bodily resurrection, Christ opened the way of rescue from sin and death, reconciling the world to God. Exalted as Lord, He continues to intercede on behalf of His people.
Vicarious means “in another’s place”. When we speak of vicarious atonement we are speaking of the fact that Christ took our place in the atonement in some way. The Tyndale Statement of Faith specifically says that they are rooted in the Protestant Reformation. One Reformation view of vicarious atonement is Penal Substitutionary Atonement. This is the view that Christ took our sins upon Himself (1 Peter 2:24) and satisfied God’s just wrath against our sin on our behalf so that God can remain just and the justifier of those who are His (Romans 3:21-26).
How about Bruxy? What does he think about Penal Substitutionary Atonement? Let’s see if His views line up with this particular view.
“I’d love to convert everyone away from Penal Substitutionary Atonement as a theory of atonement, but if I didn’t that’s fine. But what I can say is just don’t preach it.” – Bruxy Cavey Teaching on Gospel Proclamation in the Book of Acts (10:08)
In a University setting where Bruxy is teaching about Evangelism he names Penal Substitution and says he would like to convert everyone away from it. What do you think he is going to teach at Tyndale in his Evangelism course? If you or someone you love is a student in that classroom who holds to Penal Substitutionary Atonement then Bruxy would like to change your mind. So we know that Bruxy specifically denies that particular view of vicarious atonement.
Of course, vicarious atonement does not necessarily mean Penal Substitution. Let’s see if Bruxy’s view of the atonement is vicarious at all.
“Jesus takes our our sin, and we are given his righteousness. Our sin is killed with Christ, but there’s no mention of wrath being poured out on Christ, in fact what is mentioned here is that God is – you see verse 19 – God was in Christ reconciling. God was in Christ reconciling. If you think spacially at the cross where was God? God was not hovering above Jesus pouring out his wrath, God was in Christ pouring out his love.” – Why Did Jesus Die? #1 – To Show Us God’s Love (27:15)
So if vicarious means in our place, do we find anything vicarious about Bruxy’s view of the atonement? There is nothing, God is simply pouring out His love and our sin dies with Christ, it is just taken away. Christ is not anyone’s substitute. A substitute does something in the place of another. Christ does nothing in the place of anyone else in the act of atoning in Bruxy’s view. Sure, He takes our sin, but that doesn’t affect Christ in any way. He didn’t die in anyone’s place for their sins, He simply died because wicked men killed Him and our sin “is killed with” Him.
“The pattern is pronounced: WE are responsible for killing Christ. BUT GOD intervened by raising him from the dead. Yes, there is wrath displayed in the crucifying of Christ, but it is ours, not God’s. When we look at the cross, we see our wrathful rejection of God, and his unhindered love for us.” – Understanding Atonement, Bruxy.com
“When we think about the suffering of Christ, we do see wrath, but it is our wrath we see raging against Christ. And God? He is in Christ, suffering along with Christ, loving us through Christ, and reaching out to us with reconciling love. This much is clearly stated in Scripture” – Understanding Atonement, Bruxy.com
Still nothing vicarious about Christ’s work on the cross in Bruxy’s view.
“How do you forgive somebody? You just forgive them! You don’t say ‘wait wait wait, I’ll get back to you, first I gotta go kill something!’ You are made in his image and how do you forgive? You just forgive. How does God forgive? He just forgives.” – Bruxy Cavey Teaching on Theories of Atonement
“You say ‘you mean he didn’t need Jesus to die and go through all of that so that he could forgive?’ No no, he’s omnipotent, he can do anything he wants and he can just forgive. He didn’t have to die on the cross so he could finally say ‘oh good! Now I can forgive!’ Jesus died on the cross as God’s choice to reveal his love for us.” –Bruxy Cavey Teaching on Theories of Atonement
Apparently Jesus didn’t even have to die for atonement to be made! No need for vicarious or substitutional anything! God just decided, with full knowledge that sending Christ to this world would result in the absolute worst sin in history that this is how He would show His love. The cross was utterly unnecessary as far as our forgiveness goes. Bruxy reasons that because we are made in God’s image God forgives His creatures the same way his creatures forgive each other. There is not even recognition of the differences in nature or position between God and man! Unfortunately, Bruxy doesn’t mention that when a debt is owed to someone, as sin is called a debt in Scripture, that person cannot forgive that debt without taking the debt upon himself – but that’s for another post.
For further reading on Bruxy’s position on Penal Substitution specifically you can take a look at these quotes from his teaching. You could also check out this article he published recently denying Penal Substitution and giving his thoughts on those who believe it is essential to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
UPDATE: Read here for Bruxy’s comments on whether the shedding og Christ’s blood actually accomplished anything.
My correspondence with Dr. Gary Nelson, President of Tyndale
I emailed these concerns to Dr. Gary Nelson, President of Tyndale, Dr. Janet Clark, Academic Dean of the Seminary, and Steve Holmes, Chair of the Board at Tyndale. Dr. Nelson responded to me and assured me in the following way:
Thank you for your email and the concerns expressed. I assure you that our Statement of Faith is a defining document to us as a Christian Institution of Higher Education. All faculty, both full time and part time, must sign the Statement of Faith before they can teach at Tyndale. As a transdenominational institution with Evangelicals from many denominations, this Statement of Faith is foundational to all that we do. Thank you for advising us of your concerns.
Sounds good! The Statement of Faith is definitional and foundational to Tyndale as an institution. To teach there you have to sign this Statement of Faith. That makes me wonder, when Bruxy Cavey signed it did he believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and the vicarious atonement of Christ? Maybe he did! The irrefutable fact, though, is that now he rejects these things. So I emailed them back again and asked them what they do about faculty who sign the Statement of Faith and then teach in direct contradiction to it. I also provided piles of evidence of Bruxy’s teaching against the inerrancy of Scripture and offered more on his views on the atonement. I also asked if they would be investigating further. Dr Nelson replied:
Tyndale exists for the church in the breadth of its Evangelical expression. You can be assured that Tyndale takes the Statement of Faith seriously. Concerns raised by people outside our learning community are taken seriously as well. Whether for part-time lecturers who teach once every two years or full-time professors, these concerns are dealt with thoughtfully, personally and intentionally.
I wouldn’t expect Dr. Nelson to give me very much in the way of details, and he did not. For now I will take his word that this is important to them at Tyndale. Only time will tell if that is truly the case. Of course, how they deal with this issue will be the real test of their commitment to their Statement of Faith.
It’s clear from reading Tyndale’s Statement of Faith and comparing it to Bruxy Cavey’s public teaching over the years that they are in utter contradiction in crucial areas. They differ not only on the most foundational source of knowledge for the Christian – the Scriptures, but the entire foundation of our peace with God – vicarious atonement.
Dr. Nelson has assured me that they take their Statement of Faith very seriously. For now I will take his word for it, but as they say, actions speak louder than words.
So why does Tyndale have Bruxy Cavey teaching at their school? It is possible that they were simply not aware of Bruxy’s views, though I find that hard to believe I must concede it is possible. Now they know, the documentation has been provided. The ball is now in their court to act according to their Statement of Faith and Dr. Nelson’s own claims that the contents of that Statement are definitional and foundational to everything they do as an institution.
A Call to Action
I would like to take this opportunity to call Tyndale University, College and Seminary to remove Bruxy Cavey from teaching courses for them, leading Chapel services for them, and otherwise influencing the students and faculty within that institution based on the documented fact that Bruxy Cavey teaches directly contrary to their own Statement of Faith. If they will not we can all know that no matter what they say, their Statement of Faith does not mean much.
I would also like to call on Bruxy Cavey to be a man of integrity and step down from the faculty of Tyndale. If he is opposed to central tenets of their Statement of Faith, and knows that he is required to affirm that Statement to be an instructor there then he should do the right thing and go someplace else.
And for the readers of this blog – if you are a Christian in Ontario you need to understand that the future of the church in Ontario depends to a large degree on what our seminaries are doing. The future leaders of our churches are coming out of seminaries like Tyndale. If you care about truth, and you care about Christ’s church in this province, this country, you should let Tyndale know that you don’t want them hiring faculty who will teach our future leaders that the Scriptures are not authoritative, that Scripture has many errors (some sinful), or that Christ did not die in the place of sinners. We are talking here about the very foundation of Christian faith and the heart of the gospel. You can email Tyndale (specifically Gary Nelson, Janet Clark, and Steve Holmes) to let them know that as long as they are willing to compromise on foundational Christian truths and allow faculty to continue with them who teach in contradiction to their own Statement of Faith you will not be supporting them.
*UPDATE* – April 8, 2018
Currently, Bruxy Cavey is not on listed Tyndale UC’s faculty page. It is my understanding that he only teaches there once in a while. I’ll be keeping my eye on it.
The Course Syllabus for the course he taught last summer is available online.