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Posts Tagged ‘Liberal Christianity

Mere Christianity?

Dr. James White often refers to what he calls the “mere Christianity” movement where people try to make Christianity as small as you can make it.  In the 2000 years of the Church, orthodoxy has been the standard for what is deemed as Christian.  I grant you that at times this has not always been clear and sometimes people made non-essentials as essentials of the gospel.  In our day, mere Christianity has come to simply believe that if you affirm Jesus, you are a Christian.

I have been following a blogger for some time who I have seen him drifting this way.  His view is that Jesus is what matters yet it seems to me that he does not care what people believe about Jesus so long as they say they love Jesus and desire to follow Him.  While this blogger seems to affirm that the Bible is the Word of God (though I’m not sure if he holds to inerrancy or infallibility), he often muddles the water by using the liberal “red letter Christian” mantras.  It is as if this blogger makes Jesus someone that we should merely copy (and by that I mean be a hippie and be focused on “peace and love man”).  This blogger even has been writing about how he has seen Jesus in a Muslim friend of his and how this Muslim has taught him more about Jesus than many Christians.

This is the mere Christianity movement.  There is no focus on the doctrine of Christ nor about His atonement.  There is little emphasis placed on His perfection for our salvation.  There is nothing said about His death, His resurrection, His ascension to the right hand of the Father where He lives to make intercession for the saints.  There is nothing said about His coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead.  In fact, mere Christianity makes Jesus just someone that we should copy and imitate to have a better life.  Jesus becomes nothing more than a “great teacher” along with other “great teachers.”  Jesus’ own declarations are ignored.

I don’t assume that someone is a Christian simply because they name the name of Jesus.  Jesus Himself said that many would come in His name (Matthew 24:4-5).  John the Beloved wrote that many antichrists had come (1 John 2:18).  Antichrists are false christs.  Paul the Apostle issued curses on those who preach a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).  Thus we can see that there are false christs and false gospels.

Not everyone who says Jesus is truly His (Matthew 7:21-23).  Jesus said that those who are His are those who hear His words and put them into practice, who build their lives on His teachings (Matthew 7:24-27).  A disciple of Jesus is one who abides in His teachings (John 8:31-32).  This means that the disciple not only reads the Word of God (and not merely the “red letters”) but they study it as well.  I study God’s Word to know God, to love Him more and to obey Him better all by His Spirit and His grace.

So many claim Christ but they don’t even know the first thing about Him.  They don’t know His Word.  They don’t read His Word.  They don’t study His Word.  They don’t care to study His Word nor do they truly care to know Him because Jesus doesn’t fit our views when we read and study Him.  The perfect Son of God is not like us in that He is absolutely perfect, holy, blameless, and His ways are beyond our ways.  We seek to imitate Him (1 Peter 2:21-24; 1 John 2:6) but we recognize that He alone is perfect.  He is perfect for our salvation (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Because He remains forever perfect, He now stands before the Father in our defense (Hebrews 7:22-25).  As we abide in Jesus through faith (Romans 5:1; 1 John 2:24-25), we find that He is faithful to wash our sins away (1 John 1:7, 9).

The mere Christianity movement wants to place Jesus among others.  Jesus is far above all others (Colossians 1:15-20).  Every knee will bow to His glory alone (Philippians 2:5-11).  This includes all false teachers, all false prophets, all false religions.  Jesus is not equal among others.  Jesus is God (John 1:1, 18; Romans 9:5) and He is to be worshiped as God.

The mere Christianity movement has to dethrone Jesus to make Him equal among others.  For example, the Muslim view of Jesus is not at all equal with the biblical view.  The Quran teaches that Jesus is not God, that He is not even the Son of God.  Yes Islam says that Jesus is the Messiah but they deny His divinity and the Quran condemns to hell those who would say that God is a man or has a son.  The Quran falsely believes that the doctrine of the Trinity includes Mary.  The Quran denies that Jesus died for our sins.  Most Muslims believe that Jesus didn’t even die on the cross but rather Allah made someone else to appear as Jesus on the cross such as Judas.  While Islam teaches that Jesus will return, they believe that He will return and set up an Islamic kingdom on the earth.  The Islamic confession of faith is focused on Mohammad and not on Jesus.

And yet mere Christianity says that since a Muslim claims to love Jesus (the Jesus of the Quran and not the Jesus of the Bible), then they are “saved.”  If a Muslim denies the Quran’s teaching on Jesus and embraces the biblical view of Jesus then I would submit that they are not a Muslim but a Christian.  Of course, true salvation requires faith and repentance in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38-39; 3:19-20; 17:30-31).

One final point.  The mere Christianity movement especially detests evangelism.  After all, the evangelist is preaching that Jesus alone saves (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) and He alone is our mediator before a holy God (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  The evangelist preaches that faith and repentance are necessary for eternal life (Luke 13:5; John 5:24-25; 6:29; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 5:13).  This goes against the mere Christian view that all religions are essentially good so long as they love Jesus.  It also goes against the postmodern mindset that there is no absolute truth since Jesus Himself claims to be the truth of God (John 14:6).  When religious people are confronted with their sins and with the truth of Jesus, they always strike back with a vengeance.  I have witnessed this myself. People don’t mind if you preach a peace and love Jesus but the moment you preach that a person must repent, they quickly turn on you.  People love Jesus but the Jesus they create in their own images but not the biblical Jesus.

I am often confronted by the biblical Jesus as I read.  I am confronted with my sins.  I am confronted with my lack of being like Jesus in all I do.  I am confronted with how wonderful Jesus truly is and the more that I study Him and the more that I seek Him, the more I find that I am not like Him, that He is God and worthy to be praised, and I will never truly grasp Him in this life.  Jesus is simply too wonderful, too mighty, too holy for me to perfectly understand but what I do know is this: He died for my sins (1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:4; 1 Peter 3:18) and He is coming again in glory (2 Timothy 4:1).  I long to see Him and worship Him forever.  I will continue to preach the biblical Jesus and preach against the false christs of this world.

So What Happened To My Emergent Friend?

Back in 2007, the emergent movement was going strong.  While some were beginning to predict its ending, most emergents were crying that this was going to be a mighty movement that would have lasting impact on churches.  

And then the bottom fell out.  

The emergent movement is all but dead now.  The reasons for this are many but mainly the emergents finally confessed to who they really were: liberals.  This led to them leaving evangelical churches or simply making so many liberal statements (such as Brian McLaren) that no one would take them serious anymore but liberals.  Today, emergents still exist but they are not in liberal churches where they belong.  Others still continue to preach their emergentism but no one listens to them but liberals.  For all this, I am thankful.  They did enough damage while claiming to be “progressive evangelicals” so I rejoice that they are now in their liberal churches among liberal folks though I do pray they come to salvation in Christ alone. 

I had a friend who got swept up in the emergent movement.  In fact, it seemed he was heading to the top as one of their leaders.  He was young, intelligent, and yet he had the zeal of a fundamentalist.  He seemed perfect for the emergent movement.  He had grown up in a conservative home with a father who loved the Lord and preached the gospel.  When I became a disciple, he and I became good friends.  We spent many nights praying, talking theology, witnessing, and singing hymns.  Life pulled us apart for a while until we begin to talk through e-mails and he revealed that he was emergent.  He even started an emergent youth camp (the differences was that they had no worship service, no preaching per se but they would paint, burn candles, chant, etc.).  My friend earned his doctorate during this time from a liberal seminary.  

My friend is the picture of the emergent movement.  He is a shell of what he use to be.  He doesn’t pray, doesn’t evangelize, doesn’t enjoy listening to music that honors the Lord, doesn’t read the Bible much at all (though he said he studied a bit for his degree).  He doesn’t rejoice in people repenting of sin.  He doesn’t baptize.  He is not concerned at all with the things of the Lord.  His interest now is beer, women, liberal causes such as homosexual “marriage” and fighting for human rights in the world.  Oddly, he is silent about Christians suffering in the Middle East as a human rights issue.  He uses social media to spur on people not toward godliness (Hebrews 10:24) but toward liberalism.  He never mentions the Lord Jesus (unless it is about a liberal cause that he feels Jesus would be apart of) and he never speaks about God in terms of actually knowing Him.  

My friend is just what the emergent movement was and is: liberal.  He has faith now only in himself.  He rejects the inerrancy of the Bible, rejects that Christ alone is the way to salvation, rejects miracles, rejects the Christian worldview.  My friend is nothing more than a liberal who is here now to just make the world a better place until we pass on to the great unknown.  He and I are complete opposites now on nearly every issue.  

My friend needs Jesus.  I have prayed many times for him to repent.  I have prayed many times that he would see the errors of his ways and submit himself to God.  Satan continues to feed him lie after lie and he keeps accepting them.  My old friend loves his sin and this keeps him from repenting.  He believes he has been liberated but he is now in horrible chains that will bind his soul forever in hell.  I do pray that he repents before it is too late (Hebrews 9:27-28).  

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/14/2014 at 5:09 PM

Strange Fire Review: Chapter 11

I am nearing the end of my review of Dr. John MacArthur’s book Strange Fire.  You can find the first post on this review here.  Now I will review chapter 11.

This chapter is on the issue of the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures.  In this chapter, MacArthur gives a biblical overview of the Holy Spirit and His work in giving us the Bible and also in helping us to understand, apply, and preach the Bible.  The Bible, for the disciple of Christ, is precious.  It is the believer’s weapon according to  Ephesians 6:17 and is the only inerrant and infallible book that God has given to His people.  The Bible is a remarkable book that God has faithfully preserved for us for 2000 years.

MacArthur begins by pointing to the sad story of liberal German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher.  Schleiermacher’s fall into liberalism in the late 18th century and he plunged many others with him with his liberal views.  As typical of liberals, he didn’t believe in the Bible anymore so he had to replace his faith with something else.  In this case he replaced it with Romanticism or subjective experience.  This has been the case for liberalism ever since.  Liberals are always replacing God with social causes and their seek to build their own heaven here (since there is no heaven over there).

MacArthur believes that charismatics have done the same by emphasizing dreams, visions, prophecy, etc. over the Bible.  MacArthur is clear that true disciples do not worship the Bible but love the Bible because God Himself has given us His Word.  We worship the God of the Bible and we love to read His Word because it faithfully reveals Him to us unlike subjective experiences.

I will add here again that I suppose there may Pentecostals out there who would reject the Bible but I have never met one who did.  Like any other movements, I fear that the Pentecostal movement is moving away from proclaiming the inerrancy of the Bible.  I would love to see Pentecostal fellowships such as the Assemblies of God or the Church of God (Cleveland, TN) or the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) come out and declare that the inerrancy of the Bible is something to be held and defended by all their ministers.  I fear that there are many now in the Pentecostal seminaries who do not hold to inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.  I worry that pragmatism is now dominating the Pentecostal church and the Bible no longer is being preached as absolute truth.

That said, historically the Pentecostal movement has always held to the authority of the Bible.  Even the heretical United Pentecostal Church (UPC) holds to the authority of the Bible (though twisting it in many ways to teach their false doctrines).  I have heard many Pentecostals preach over the years and have fellowshipped with many of them and have seen a deep love for the Word of God.  I even once heard a “prophecy” given in an Assemblies of God church and one godly man stood up and said, “We must reject this prophecy because this man has spoken against the Word of God” and he proceeded to state how this was so.  He was obeying 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 in this case.

The Bible must be our final authority and it alone speaks for God.  Everything else must submit to Scripture.  We don’t need a new revelation from God but a fresh understanding of God’s inerrant and infallible Word.  2 Peter 1:16-21 is clear that subjective experience will never be the solid foundation for the disciple.  Scripture must be.  Jesus said that God’s Word cannot be broken (John 10:35) and therefore we must submit to the final authority of God (John 17:17).

I pray that many godly Pentecostals and charismatics would rise up and preach the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.  This is not a side issue.  If we fail to stand on the Word of God, we will fail.  The Methodist are a case in point.  The rise of liberalism in the late 19th century doomed in the Methodist church.  Instead of remaining faithful to the Word of God, liberal Methodists rejected the Bible and today are left with a dying church.  Why?  Because they have no gospel.  When we reject the Word of God, we are left with nothing just as Schleiermacher was left with nothing.  The Bible faithfully reveals the gospel and if we reject the Bible, we are soon to reject the gospel.  We are then left with nothing to stand upon (Galatians 1:6-9) and we soon wander off into errors (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

May God give us an increase in those disciples who believe, preach, stand upon, and live the inerrancy and infallibility of the Word of God.

My Two Friends Dissent Into Liberalism

When I was in high school, we had a Bible study group that would meet several times a week to pray and study the Bible.  Sadly, many of those people who attended our Bible study are no longer seeking God at all.  Most of them are living in sin and rebellion against God and unless they repent, are headed toward the wrath of God.

A few have survived.  I, by God’s grace, am one of those.  I don’t take credit for my salvation.  It is God who saved me.  It is God who keeps me.  I am saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:8-9).  In my 20 plus years as a disciple of Jesus, I have fallen into sin many times.  I would be foolish to not say so.  I am not advocating living in sin (1 John 3:8) but I am simply acknowledging that, if left to myself, would fall into sin and fall away from Christ.  It is the grace of God alone that has saved me and kept me to this hour.  It will be grace that will lead me home.

I want to tell the sad story of two of our Bible study students.  If I could take you back to 1992-1993, both of these young men would be on fire for God, both hungry for the Word of God, both hungry to share their faith with the lost, both found at our monthly prayer meetings.  Both of these young men would claim to hold to conservative, orthodox faith in Christ.  Both would claim that Jesus was the only way to God, that salvation was found only in Christ.  Both would reject liberalism and the cults.  Both would have gladly defended the Bible as the Word of God.

Today, both of these young men are involved with liberalism.  Both are religious.  One is a United Methodist pastor.  The other has earned his doctorate from Vanderbilt University in religion and is wondering in the emergent movement (or happily what is left of it).  I listened to my old friend who pastors a UMC church tonight as he taught on Genesis 1.  He rejected the idea of creationism and opted for God “using” evolution to create the world.  My old friend was trained at Chandler Seminary which is a very liberal seminary for the UMC at Emory University in Atlanta.  His church is nothing but a social gospel institution that teaches nothing.  I have listened to many of his sermons seeking to hear his heart and I have concluded that he has no basis, no authority by which to speak for God, and he offers nothing.  Nothing.  No substance.  No salvation.  No hope.  He wants religion but rejects true Christianity.

My other friend wanders about in postmodernism.  He has long since rejected the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God.  He holds to the postmodern mindset of no absolutes.  He does not preach Christ as “the way” (John 14:6) but as “a way” to God.  His latest pondering has been the same as UMC pastor above, social justice and social causes.  In particular, fighting for homosexual rights (despite the fact that he has not a homosexual).

This is what happens when Christ is replaced: we fill our lives with idolatry.  In the UMC pastors life, he has replaced the orthodox Jesus with a Jesus of liberalism, a Jesus who never ever judges sin, who loves, who is pragmatic, who always forgives and in no way is wrathful toward sin (what is sin?).  His idol is a false Jesus.

My other old friend has replaced Jesus with the idolatry of social causes.  The gospel has been replaced with self-help, helping others and in short, good works (at least good as they deem them to be good as a collective).

What could have prevented their falls?  I look back and see that both were very much into “church” as we knew it.  Both came from typical evangelical homes where you are saved by a prayer and church became one youth event after another.  Both were not well discipled at all.  The UMC guy above fell away early on at about the age of 16 or so and didn’t return to “faith” until after 9/11.  The emergent guy was “converted” to postmodernism when he opted to attend a liberal Baptist college, Columbia Seminary, after undergrad work.  Both were discipled by the world.  Both loved the world.  Both gave in to the world.

My hope is that both will be saved.  I am sure both would likely claim to be Christians.  They would avoid being labeled “liberals” or even evangelicals.  Both would not feel comfortable around me or around orthodox Christians.  Ironically, it was the emergent guy who first introduced me to John MacArthur.  Before he deleted his emergent blog, I read, with tears, as he vented toward MacArthur and Al Mohler whom he called “the twin popes of the evangelical church.”  My prayer is that, at some point, both of these men will repent.  Both know the truth.  Like Romans 1:18, they are suppressing the truth of God for their sins.  Both want religion.  Both want respect.  Both are lost without the grace of Christ.

I ask you to pray for my old friends.  Pray for the Spirit of God to convict and convert them (John 16:8-11).  I also urge you to guard your heart and stay focused on Christ and His Word (Romans 12:1-2; Hebrews 12:1-2).  The Christian life is full of temptation, sins, and the allure of the world.  I pray that you resist the devil (1 Peter 5:8-9).  I pray that you love holiness and fear God (Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16) and I pray that your love for Christ only increases all the more as time goes by (Colossians 1:9-14).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/25/2013 at 12:25 AM

My Prediction for the Church and the Culture Wars

I am no prophet nor do I claim to be a son of a prophet.  I am simply looking at what I see in the Church landscape and where our culture is heading here in the United States.  I want to offer four predictions I believe you will see from the Church here in the US over the next few years.  What got me thinking about this was the issue with the Boys Scouts of America (BSA) and the issue of homosexuality.  SBC Voices has a piece today by Alan Cross on the issue and he makes some great points about the Boy Scouts and the issue of what it means to be morally straight.  His piece is well worth reading and you can find it here.  Dr. Mohler’s insights are good as well.

I believe the Church of Jesus Christ must stand for truth no matter what may come.  We must resist the urge to preach a watered down message that avoids confronting people about their sins.  Sadly, I see this narcissistic message already at work and the Church is losing her will to fight nor even to preach sound doctrine.  Entertainment now dominates the Church.  Happiness now is the focus.  Rather than having an eternal, kingdom focus, the Church is focused on the “here and now.”  The seeker church continues to wrap its tentacles around the Church as methodology now is the focal point above theology.  I believe this is going to have wretched consequences as the Church will raise up a new breed of converts who embrace the culture with all its sins.  There will be no repentance preached other than to repent of your bad feelings toward yourself.  God will be viewed much as He now is by the liberals, a God who always loves and always forgives without any wrath toward sin nor even a focus upon His glory.  The Lord Jesus Christ will become the champion of civil rights as He will be created (yet again) in our own images with our own culture in mind.

So here are my four predictions based on where I see the culture heading.

1.  The Liberal Church.

The liberal church will actually see some growth.  They have been losing numbers over the past 100 years as their purpose was gone after they abandoned historic Christian doctrines and embraced a social gospel that had no power from God.  Their inability to see people truly saved led to their own demise.  Yet I believe the liberal church will gain a new crowd as people in the evangelical church will leave to find new homes where sins such as homosexuality are embraced openly.  Further, the liberals will fight for the civil rights of all no matter the issue.  The social gospel will play right into the culture and the mindset of many people here in the West.

2.  The Evangelical Church Will Largely Embrace the Culture.

I look for many evangelicals to embrace the culture.  As I stated above, the seeker church has led to a low view of doctrine where few people even know what they believe nor how to defend their faith in Christ (1 Peter 3:15-16).  The seeker church has led to low view of holiness where sin is not only not preached against  but in some cases embraced as a normal way of life.  The seeker church has made preaching focused on “us” instead of God.  Rather than exalting the glory of God, preaching the doctrines about God, focusing everyone upon God, making God the One who is worthy of all praise, etc. the seeker model is all about us, mankind, humans, our glory, our ability, our passions, our goals, our lives.  This means that seeker “Christians” are very shallow, know little to no doctrines of the Bible, have little discipline, and their view of sharing their faith is to invite people to their hip churches.  They will not be able to resist the culture and the entire seeker church will embrace the culture.  Without the Word of God, they cannot fight (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12-13).  They will become Nicolatians (Revelation 2:14-15).

3.  The Fundamentalist Churches Will Continue The Same Path.

The Fundamentalist movement grew out of the early 20th century and the battle with modernity.  Their reaction was to retreat and be among themselves.  This separation ideal has continued among the fundamentalist to this day.  I would regard myself very much a fundamentalist if you mean doctrine but not in their view of separation.  Many of them have now gone to various levels of separation.  For example, Brother Smith will not worship with Brother Tanner because Brother Tanner once had a guy in his church named Brother Daniels who once preached at a conference where another speaker there was friends with a Roman Catholic.  Do you see how deep that separation goes?

I believe the IFB churches will just continue as they are.  They will continue to preach against sin and against the culture.  The problem with many of their preachings on sin is that their ideas of sin are such things as the length of a man’s hair, whether you have tattoos or not, whether a woman should wear a dress or work outside of the home, all music but Southern gospel music is a sin, etc.  We must be careful to preach sin as God has revealed it in Scripture and not based on our views of separation from the world.  Sin is a violation of God’s Law (1 John 3:4).  Many times in the IFB churches, sin is what they deem as sin and not so much what God says is sin.  They violate Romans 14 in this regard.  Some IFB churches I know are very legalistic.  I know of one IFB man who makes the issue of the King James Version an issue of salvation since he holds that Revelation 22:18-19 applies to Bible translations and only, in his view, the KJV preserves the words of God.  While this view is not true of all IFB churches, it does reflect many in their thinking and they will simply avoid the culture altogether.

4.  The Biblical Response from the Church.

I pray that many will be here though I fear most will be with #2.  The Church must stand for the truth of God as I stated at the outset.  This means we must A) know what we believe in regard to orthodox faith (1 Timothy 4:16; Titus 2:1) and B) we must remain faithful to Christ despite the culture around us embracing sin (John 8:31-38; 15:1-11).  The Church must continue to focus upon the glory of God and preach the utter sinfulness of mankind.  We will be persecuted for our stand against the culture (Matthew 5:10-12) but our response should not be anger but loving our enemies and doing good to those who seek to hurt us (Matthew 5:13-16, 38-48; Romans 12:19-21).  Paul tells us how to respond to a pagan culture in Titus 3:1-7.  We must remember that the world is full of the devil and these are his children (Ephesians 2:1-3).  Our duty is to live for Christ among the pagans and to preach Christ among the pagans (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15).  The Spirit of God will set people free and He will open their eyes to their sins and He will regenerate people for the glory of God (John 3:1-7; 6:44-45).  Our focus both now and forevermore should be upon the glory of Christ and His kingdom to come (Matthew 6:9-10).  We must remain faithful to the Word of God (Luke 11:28; Acts 14:22-23).  The culture will mock us but we must stand firm (Romans 1:29-32).  We must be like Lot (2 Peter 2:6-10).  We must be a holy people (1 Peter 1:15-16).  We must be an evangelistic people who preach Christ without fear.

Conclusion

I would add that I wanted to add another point and that being the cults.  Most of the cults will see a growth as they will take parts of the culture and parts of Christianity and try to unite them.  Some cults will grow, however, because they will be like the IFB above and seek to go outside of culture to live their faiths.  We must resist running away from culture while preaching the gospel to the culture and not embracing it.  The world needs the gospel as the gospel alone will set sinners free from sin and the grasp of the devil (Romans 1:16; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8).  The gospel can transform our culture (2 Corinthians 5:17) like nothing else for the gospel alone is the truth of God (John 14:6; 17:17).

May we preach Christ and exalt Him!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/31/2013 at 10:16 AM

Are You An Evangelical?

Over at Denny Burk’s excellent blog, he writes about the term evangelical.  The discussion as of late has been what defines an evangelical.  Burk is posting in response to Rachel Evans and her piece on what she means by evangelical and what she doesn’t mean by the term.  If this is her definition of evangelical (you can read her post here) then count me out.  I agree with Burk on this one (as I normally do).

The term has become more and more harder to define.  There was a time when evangelical meant theologically conservatives who preached conversion through Jesus Christ alone.  Burk points out that historically evangelicals have held to four major points.  In my words those four points would be: the Bible as the sole authority for faith and practice, the centrality of the cross of Christ as our sacrifice for our sins, the necessity of personal conversion through faith in Jesus Christ and thus are born again by the Spirit, and lastly, being doers of the Word and doing good works to glorify the Lord God.  I would agree.  This is clearly the faith of Martin Luther or John Calvin or James Arminius or John Wesley or Charles Spurgeon or Vic Reasoner.  Sadly, more and more are calling themselves evangelicals while denying nearly all four points though typically the last point of good works becomes the point most will still stress such as emergents Brian McLaren or even Evans herself.

I personally am not a big fan of the term evangelical.  Again, it has become so mixed with various views.  Many liberals, knowing that liberalism doesn’t sell well, avoid calling themselves liberals but will instead call themselves “post-modern evangelicals” meaning that they deny the absolute truth of the Bible.  Some even refer to themselves as “post-evangelicals” meaning that they are not past being evangelical but refuse to be labeled an old-fashioned liberal.

My favorite term for myself is a disciple of Jesus.  After all the word disciple is the most common term in the Gospels and the book of Acts for Jesus’ followers.  Jesus Himself even taught His disciples to make disciples (Matthew 28:19).  He did not say for them to “make Christians” or “make Protestants” or “make evangelicals” but instead He said for us to make disciples.  The term Christian only appears three times in the entire New Testament and all three times are in derision of the disciples (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16).  The term disciple appear hundreds of times in the New Testament with nearly all of them found in the Gospels and Acts.

However, 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 makes it clear that Jesus is to be our focus.  Not titles.  Not labels.  No doubt we give out titles and labels to make life easier but a true, born again disciple of Jesus is one who is focused on the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I agree with the four points made from Burk’s blog above about evangelicals but in the end, I am a disciple of Jesus and He is the One who gives us eternal life through faith in His name.  I pray that we are faithful to preach Him and Him alone (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).  After all, Jesus alone is worthy!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/11/2012 at 8:00 AM

The Dangerous Dilemma Facing the Church

Around the turn of the 20th century the Church in the West begin to face serious problems with as the erosion of faith had taken place at the end of the 19th century in biblical seminaries and universities as they begin to embrace evolution and all its forms into their thinking.  This led to the demise of sound doctrine as many begin to throw off the doctrines such as the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible or even belief in God at all.  Whole denominations begin to split such as the Methodists who split to form the liberal United Methodist Church while conservatives left to start groups such as the Church of the Nazarene or the Wesleyan Church.  The Presbyterians split to form the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) or the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) as compared to the liberal Presbyterian Church (USA).  The Lutherans begin to embrace German scholarship that questioned the authority of the Bible and led to the rise of Karl Barth and neo-orthodoxy.  Whole groups turned to humanism and to evolution as the answers for society.  Many embraced a social gospel that was not about preaching the cross of Christ as the foundation for humanities reconciliation with God but rather that God wanted us to help each other make this a better world.

By the middle of the 20th century the Church had defined its boundaries.  The liberals were liberals and embraced all that was liberalism including the rejection of the Bible, the rejection of miracles, the rejection of the Person of Jesus Christ (except His good works and care for the poor), the rejection of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and of course, the rejection of salvation through Jesus.  The conservative church embraced all these things and through they debated issues in theology such as spiritual gifts or the issues related to Arminianism and Calvinism, they saw tremendous growth while the liberal church saw a great decline.  An example was the Pentecostal movement that begin around 1906 and by the end of the 20th century had become the largest evangelical movement on the planet with over 100 million people claiming to be Pentecostals in the world.  The Pentecostal movement was very conservative in their theology.  Another example of how God blessed the conservative churches was the growth of the Church of the Nazarene following their break from the liberal Methodists at the end of the 19th century.  While the UMC struggled to keep its members, the Nazarenes saw the Lord bless them with growth and a great missions focus.

Now I believe the Church is facing yet another struggle for her soul.  While I have no doubt that the words of Jesus will stand firm (Matthew 16:18), I believe that true disciples of Jesus will have to come out of the traditional church yet again if they are to survive.  God will preserve His Church (Philippians 1:6) so I have no fear about that.  I do fear, however, that the Church needs a touch from God now if she is to stand against this new attack.  And what is this new attack: theological apathy.

You see the liberals have no grown because they have had nothing to preach.  Salvation is lost in the liberal church.  The conservatives grew because they preached salvation in the Lord Jesus.  However, I fear now that this is becoming the case for the conservative churches.  They are preaching nothing.  They are preaching goofy sermons that are full of nothing.  They are not meant to bring souls to repentance but to draw crowds.  It seems the focus in preaching today is upon one thing: entertainment.  They are preaching to keep people in the Church.  They are not preaching to win souls for the kingdom of God as in the days of old.  They are now preaching to keep them from leaving.  Just as the liberals did when they begin to lose people.  The liberals had been preaching nothing and people were attending liberal churches not because of conversion but because of tradition.  When they begin to leave, the liberals begin to preach messages they thought people would want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3-4).  They begin to embrace what they thought society would want them to embrace such as evolution or the acceptance of sins in our society.  But in the end, they still died as expected.  This will happen to the evangelical church if it doesn’t begin to evangelize with truth or preach true conversion to Jesus (Matthew 7:13-14, 21-23).

So how should we pray for the Church then?  I believe we should pray that God would move in power upon His true Church.  God will always have His Church.  Satan will never destroy God’s Church.  But we are warned about apostasy (1 Timothy 4:1; 1 John 4:1-2).  We are warned to hold firmly to sound doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16; Titus 2:1).  We are told to abide in the teachings of Jesus (John 8:31-32; 2 John 7-9).  Even in Revelation 2 the church in Ephesus is praised for standing for sound doctrine but she still needed to repent (Revelation 2:1-7).  2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith and I believe we must do this often.  We must guard against error creeping into our souls through the Internet, through books we read, through blogs we read, etc.  We must stay true to the Bible as the final and inerrant Word of God and hold fast to what it teaches.

Our prayer then should be for a biblical revival of sound doctrine to take place.  I don’t mean by this boring, dead, lifeless teaching but Spirit-filled, fire-baptized teaching that exalts Jesus and teaches truth.  We can debate the issues of Arminianism and Calvinism but always bear in mind that this debate is an “in-house” debate meaning that we are both true disciples of Jesus.  True disciples of Jesus can be Arminians or Calvinists.  But we must always protect what it means to truly be born again (John 3:3-7; 1 Peter 1:22-25).  We can debate spiritual gifts, the timing of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, water baptism, church government, etc. but we must stand firm for the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).  We must not preach nothing.  We must preach salvation.  We must preach repentance.  We must preach holiness.  We must preach the authority and sufficiency of the Bible.

If we don’t preach these things and we continue to preach what we have been preaching, we will reap the results and that is producing nothing.  The salvation of souls is vital to the Church.  The preaching of sound doctrine is a vital to the Church.  When we let go of these things, we will die.  God will preserve His Church but the false church, the compromising church, the dead church – it will become like the liberals and be nothing more than tombs that God abandoned years ago.  I will have more to say about this in a future post called, “Jesus has left the building.”

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/20/2011 at 10:29 PM

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