10 March 2009

Evangelicalism down the drain?

by Phil Johnson

o everyone—including Matt Drudge—is talking about the iMonk's op-ed piece in The Christian Science Monitor. No fewer than a dozen people sent me links to the article before I woke up this morning. Another half-dozen of my co-workers stopped by my office to tell me I ought to read it.

I did. Actually, I had read parts of the work in its unabridged form at iMonk's blog. I think the Monitor's editing was nice and tight, without sacrificing the look and feel of the original.

I've never been shy about voicing disagreement with the iMonk. Let me therefore be just as swift to say amen to his article. It's not the first time I've said this, but Michael Spencer is often right on in his assessments of what is wrong with the evangelical movement. He and I disagree sharply as to the remedy, but we can save that for another day.

I don't think iMonk's piece is as prescient as most of the comments it has generated suggest. In fact, I'd say the collapse he predicts is already well underway. As a matter of fact, everything he outlines in the "What will be left?" section of his article is clearly a fait accompli.

But don't let that detract from your reading of the article. He has nicely summarized the key issues. I agree with him about the direction of the evangelical movement, and I agree that the thing is so far sunk already that it's not going to be possible to salvage the ship.

Man the lifeboats. Just put me in one with real oars.

Phil's signature

106 comments:

Shinar Squirrel said...

Wow, I think he is dead on. Doesn’t mean I like it, but I think he’s right. Persecutions have always had a purifying effect on the Church, but that doesn’t mean that it is going to be pleasant.

So, how do we respond?

"Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."

The Squirrel

romans923 said...

Sir,

What are the "Aggressively evangelistic fundamentalist churches" that iMonk writes "will begin to disappear"?

Grigs said...

Movements come and movements go. The Church is eternal. Christ did not die for a movement, a campus ministry or a conversation. He died to redeem his people. What is with everybody's obsession about protecting the name evangelical and a failed movement?

Julie said...

"Ironically, the billions of dollars we've spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it."

Wow. Sad commentary. Sadly accurate.

Thanking God, now, for faithful pastors who feed their flocks on spiritual meat.

Phil Johnson said...

Romans923: "What are the 'Aggressively evangelistic fundamentalist churches' that iMonk writes 'will begin to disappear'?"

I think the expression he chose ("aggressively evangelistic") is a misnomer. I gather he is talking about high-pressure bus-ministry-driven count-the-heads sunday-school ministries.

As I said, I think what he "predicts" is already a fait accompli. In the early '70s, nine of the ten largest churches in America were that style of church. Today, I'd guess that none of the 50 biggest churches would fall in that category. Some of the super-aggressive numbers-oriented churches that dominated the fundamentalist landscape 35 years ago have dwindled to nearly nothing, and the movement itself is in serious decline.

If you want quantifiable evidence of the decline he is describing, check the enrollment trends over the past 40 years at, say, Tennessee Temple.

Dr Bill said...

Michael Spencer wrote:
The ascendency of Charismatic-Pentecostal-influenced worship around the world can be a major positive for the evangelical movement if reformation can reach those churches and if it is joined with the calling, training, and mentoring of leaders.
I believe Mr. Spencer is shooting for the moon when he speaks of reformation in those circles. (I hope time proves me wrong!) These are the predominant influences in worship music worldwide today, and they have produced a body of music that is more likely to produce a momentary emotional experience than to help anyone substantively think in terms of full-on psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (i.e. lyrics evidencing the Word of Christ dwelling richly). What does that have to do with the potential for reformation? The music is an outgrowth of the teaching and culture of these movements, which with some wonderful exceptions must certainly be quite shallow, falling far short of teaching the "full council of God" (Acts 20:27). Reformation? The emphasis needs to shift away from hearing a new "word" or experiencing God's presence and back to to a thorough knowledge of the written, revealed Word. Much attention given to subjective, momentary experiences needs to be moved to timeless, objective truth.

Also:
Charismatic-Pentecostal Christianity will become the majority report in evangelicalism. Can this community withstand heresy, relativism, and confusion? To do so, it must make a priority of biblical authority, responsible leadership, and a reemergence of orthodoxy.
Again, the seemingly universal influence currently exerted by charismatic praise and worship music does not give me much hope of ever seeing a rise in orthodoxy or any priority on biblical authority. Unless teaching and doctrine become far more significant in these ministries, I hope Mr. Spencer's prediction that they will become the "majority report" proves wrong.

BlackCalvinist aka G.R.A.C.E. Preecha said...

Dr. Bill - There *is* such a thing as biblically sound pentecostals (at least in the major areas of theology). Sovereign Grace Ministries has been putting forth quite a few of them.

Don't doubt the power of God to bring reformation even to folks who seem light-years away from it.

Dr Bill said...

Yes, you're right -- and that's what I meant by "wonderful exceptions." Maybe I should've been more specific (Sovereign Grace was definitely in mind). They love the truth of God's word and have some of the meatiest lyrics around. Kudos!

Stefan said...

I read the raw post on his blog yesterday (via a link from Challies' or Justin Taylor's blog), and it struck me, too, as being right on the money.

And he's absolutely right to point out that the evangelical Church outside of western Europe and North America is THRIVING. The progress of the Gospel has passed us North Americans by, just as it has already completely passed on from western Europe.

Stevemd said...

Maybe the "progress of the Gospel" hasn't passed Americans by, maybe the fullness of the Americans has come in?

romans923 said...

Sir,

Can you help me to understand this then? Will, minus the "aggressive" title, evangelistic fundamentalist churches remain? I ask, because what are the failings of a church that is fundamental and evangelical that would cause it to disappear? Isn't this a Biblical church? That was my confusion about the "aggressive" label, as I thought aggressive is a good thing. After your clarification, I can see that simple number counting is not a measurement of truly fruit producing Christians who are saved.

Rob Peck said...

I agree this was a good article. I have a concern that I would like to share though.

Michael said:
Evangelicalism needs a "rescue mission" from the world Christian community. It is time for missionaries to come to America from Asia and Africa. Will they come? Will they be able to bring to our culture a more vital form of Christianity.

It is not and will never be the time for missionarys come back. We the remnent may need to be a little (a lot) more active but our missionaries need to continue doing what they are doing, namely going to all nations with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. We need to be that "rescue mission" not our missionarys. Are we not all missionarys? We also don't need to panic. God is sovereign. This is what the American Church needs to get back to the Gospel.

donsands said...

"..Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it"

Ain't that the truth. CCM is, I don't know what it is, for the most part to be honest.

We were talking about the Church in America last night at our Bible study, and how Barna said that 90% of the children who go to church don't know the basics of the faith.

But, the Church in Iran, of all places, is growing. It's underground there, but there are hundreds of thousands of Iranians becoming Christians.

Aaron said...

I read it yesterday and it amde me think of an study I read in wich it said if current trends presist Christianity will die almsot completely in the West and Christianity will become an primarelly third world and Asian relgion. Ido think The Imonk was a little to happy about the pentecostal Ascendcey he sees comeing. I think that would just drive more people out. This article prity much confirms what I hav sadi for the past couple months the Aemrican church figurtivelly speaking has become The Church of Sardis

onepilgrimsprogress said...

I too agree that iMonk is often correct in his diagnosis although as Phil notes sometimes his prescription would perhaps be worse than the disease. (I really haven't kept up with him in the past few years.)

When the latest Driscoll controversy erupted I came across iMonk's post about Ed Young, Jr. Nobody in the blogosphere (at least within our circles, broadly speaking) can pull off those kinds of riffs better than him.

Johnny Dialectic said...

iMonk certainly hit a nerve, and rightly so. Well thought out. I read his original blog posts on this.

I agree with Squirrel. Our response surely has to be "Preach the word..." and let the Holy Spirit, not our anxious thoughts, take charge.

As for "aggressively evangelistic fundamentalist" churches Spencer also calls them "fundamentalist Baptist" and predicts a major collapse in the SBC. The "Jerry Falwell-Jerry Vines type" he writes in his original blog piece.

Stefan said...

Stevemd:

Sure. I was more or less assuming that in my previous comment, but it was late at night and I was stumbling for words.

Perhaps the absolute full number of regenerate, born-again North American believers have not yet been brought in—still today, there are genuine, new converts to the faith—but based on observation, it would seem as if the number has plateaued!

Everyday Mommy said...

Sorry. I really wasn't impressed with the article. It seemed a lot like a weather man who sticks his arm out the window and when he sees that it's wet announces, "Rain expected."

Shinar Squirrel said...

Everyday Mommy - It seemed a lot like a weather man who sticks his arm out the window and when he sees that it's wet announces, "Rain expected."

I think that's why we're all agreeing with it, because his diagnosis is so obvious!

The Squirrel

SQLSvrMan said...

"Is it a good thing that many marginal believers will depart?"

The people he's talking about were never believers to begin with.

This should have a purifying effect on the Church.

People won't be "playing" church anymore.

David

Everyday Mommy said...

Thanks, Squirrel ;)

jules

pastorharold said...

I guess the churches that are doctrinally sound and God honoring will just keep on doing all God has ordained them to do.
I think I personally get to worked up about the things all the other churches are doing wrong. In times like these we need to put all our efforts into the local churches where God has placed us. (build up the body your in)

Frank Martens said...

I agree with you, the article was well written with a few caveats here and there. Apparently it intrigued Matt Drudge ... I wonder if he read the whole thing.

Joshua Cookingham said...

Just read it. I agree with a lot of it, but still think it's a little overdramatic.

My main disagreement is this:

"Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated."

I'm sorry, but has he seen Fireproof? Alex Kendrick has improved his talent and messaege each new movie he makes. Fireproff was the top grossing
independant film last year. I know a slew of christians going into Media, it's one of the biggest areas of growth for Christianity, and not that TBN garbage.

I also agree with Rob Peck. We DO NOT need missionaries to come here, WE need to step it up.

Other than that, I like his article. I like how he reflects the notion that we do not need fear the coming storm, the anchor will hold.

God bless.

Jugulum said...

Dr. Bill,

I wonder--is the problem with charismatics/pentecostals, or evangelicalism at large? Where are the concentrations of high quality lyrics, and where are the centers of dilution?

It would be interesting to do some demographic analysis on the sources of high- or low-quality lyrics. To see how various subgroups stack up. Reformed circles? (And subsets of Reformed circles?) Mega-churches? SBC? Charismatic, or pentecostal, or "third wave" churches? Vineyard? Calvary Chapel? Acts 29? The great amorphous mass of emerging and/or emergent churches? Etc.

Hmm... It could get really interesting if you look at overlapping groups, like Sovereign Grace--charismatic and reformed.

DJP said...

Kee kee.

ReformedFundy said...

I think Spencer's commentary was long on opinion and short on suggestions as to how to prepare for this. Here in the Bible Belt, the effects of this collapse aren't as pronounced as they are where I'm originally from. Michael Spencer is on-target, but it's easy to be so here. It's like standing outside when a storm is upon us and announcing that a storm will be here soon. We don't need someone to tell us that the storm is coming, we need someone to tell us how to keep from being flooded.

David S said...

Fait accompli indeed. Much of what he wrote is obvious to us as Pyro readers, but likely not so much to the average Drudge fan.

As for the SBC going into deep decline, that's already full on.

Alas, to live in such times as these..

Daryl said...

What's with the push in the comments,against missionaries coming here? Are we so proud that we can only send and others cannot?

olan strickland said...

Daryl, I may be wrong but I think that Rob thought that the article meant that the missionaries America has sent to Asia and Africa will have to come back and evangelize America rather than seeing it as missionaries who are Asian and African coming to America to evangelize.

MaryAnne Hommel said...

With regard to missionaries coming to America: Years ago I saw a piece in the L.A. Times about a young Hungarian woman who had come as a missionary to Skid Row-two things struck me. One, she had the identical name of a missionary my SoCal church had sent to Hungary (weird, huh?) and two, that someone would come from another country to minister here. It was my first revelation of how we can fail to see our homes and communities as mission fields.

Jugulum said...

"Kee kee."

Zerg rush?

Terry Rayburn said...

Jesus said He would build *His* church, and the gates of Hades would not prevail against it.

That's the good news.

Unfortunately, we often confuse *His* church with the visible church. A visible church has existed very visibly for a couple thousand years. But it has been steeped in legalism and extra-biblical revelation.

But *His* church is the church of the New Covenant, resting on four pillars of grace for the Born Again children of God:

1. Forgiveness of sins (past, present and future) as a free gift.

Instead the visible church often teaches some kind of performance or even discipleship as some kind of condition for forgiveness.

2. The Righteousness of God as a free gift.

Instead the visible church often teaches that our standing before God is based on our performance.

3. A new heart (nature), which loves Jesus and hates sin, as a free gift.

Instead the visible church often teaches that believers continue with hearts that are "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked", denying Romans 6 which clearly says that we are "dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ".

In conjunction with this, the visible church often teaches that we are still sinners by nature, not understanding Romans 7 which clearly teaches that sin is IN our members, but is not us (Romans 7:17; 2 Cor. 5:17).

4. Union with Christ, as a free gift.

"...he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him." (1 Cor. 6:17).

Thus when we walk by the [Holy] Spirit, we also walk by [our own new] spirit.

But the visible church often reduces this glorious walk of the New Covenant to merely a "new" Old Covenant of "rules to live by", "nouthetic" law-based behavior modification.

Yes, we sure need to "preach the Word", but preaching the Word without an understanding of the New Covenant can be done BY unbelievers TO unbelievers.

*His* church, which He promises to build, whether strong in political power or not; whether large in population percentage or not; whether in huge buildings or at home; needs to rejoice in the radical nature of His New Covenant of Grace.
===================================
Final point: If we can rank the "solas", surely the one that God has used to protect the truth of the others is sola scriptura.

If the canon of revelation is complete, and I believe it is, then "extra-biblical revelation" is one of *His* church's greatest enemies.

That is why the Charismatic-Pentecostal movement is so harmful. There are estimated to be now half-a-billion(!) pentecostals in the world today.

Their level of abuse of Scripture (from, say, Todd Bentley to C.J. Mahaney) is incidental to their common agreement that "gifts" of tongues and prophecy are still available.

While the most Reformed of them may agree in theory with the "sufficiency of Scripture", their insistance that God still brings revelation through such sign gifts leads millions astray.

Sola Scriptura and "Reformed Charismatic" are incompatible concepts. Any such misguided brother should be loved in Christ, of course. But to endorse them as teachers of the Word is to allow the Trojan Horse of extra-biblical revelation in the gates, while meaning to uphold sola scriptura, and to lead millions more astray.

olan strickland said...

As far as evangelicalism going down the drain, God has already told us in advance in His Word that it will and must happen before we are gathered together to the Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3). He told us in advance so that we may be kept from stumbling (John 16:1).

As to this quote, "In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century," I'm convinced that the greatest threat to God's true children will not be secular antagonism (although they will have to face some of that too) but antagonism coming from very religious but unregenerate evangelicalism itself. God's true children will be viewed as dangerous fundamentalists who are a threat to the ecumenical agenda of apostate evangelicalism.

Jugulum said...

Terry,

Don't forget Piper and Grudem.

DJP said...

Terry — but they're such nice people! And there are so many of them! And they act so happy! And I can name some good ones! How can it be bad?!

Jugulum said...

Dan,

Right. Those kinds of replies miss the point.

The real problem is with twisting the definition of "sola scriptura", and misrepresentation of people's views. :)

DJP said...

Twisting it so that it accommodates people who formally affirm it, but in practice deny it, by twisting Scriptural descriptions and benchmarks to make room for modern, distracting counterfeits?

Yes, that is a great evil.

Jugulum said...

I was thinking more along the lines of:
(1) Mutating "sola scriptura" in to "solo scriptura"--from "sole infallible authority" to "sole authority".
(2) Not criticizing people based on their actual definition[1] and practice of prophecy.
(3) Asserting that modern believers in fallible prophecy are inherently "in practice" placing it equal to or above Scripture, or relying on it where they should be relying on Scripture.



[1] I'm not talking about disagreeing with something like Grudem's view of prophecy as "a fallible report of fallible perception of something God brings to mind". I'm talking about comments & arguments that misrepresent. Comments that assume, "Charismatics believe that prophecy is as authoritative as Scripture." Arguments that leave out the key step, "Charismatics are wrong because the only kind of biblical prophecy is infallible & inerrant."

SolaMommy said...

Haha...my word verification is "swore." That sounds more appropriate for yesterday's topic ;-)

I agree with those who said that the process described in the article is already well under way.

Olan:As to this quote, "In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century," I'm convinced that the greatest threat to God's true children will not be secular antagonism (although they will have to face some of that too) but antagonism coming from very religious but unregenerate evangelicalism itself. God's true children will be viewed as dangerous fundamentalists who are a threat to the ecumenical agenda of apostate evangelicalism.

How timely your comment is, as some have declared certain discernment ministries to be in the "Synagogue of Satan."

This too.

Jugulum said...

P.S. Hmm... Actually, I would like to tweak #3.

I don't see a problem with arguing that charismatic practice of prophecy always & consistently usurps the role of Scripture--that whenever people are listening to & discerning prophecy, they're failing to do the Bible study they're supposed to be doing. That argument will either be defensible or not. But assuming it is problematic.

Jugulum said...

SolaMommy,

Your second link is broken.

donsands said...

"My memory is nearly gone;
but I remember two things;
That I am a great sinner, and
that Christ is a great Saviour." -John Newton

This came to mind as I read through the comments.
After all he had done for the Lord, and these two things are what he remembers. I pray I would have such a heart when it's all said and done.

Terry Rayburn said...

Jugulum,

The higher point is tht if it's not authoritative, it's not God's revelation.

Think that through.

If God "speaks" through tongues or prophecy, and it's not authoritative, not infallible, and not inerrant, what is it?

In the case of so-called tongues, and I say this with 30 years of observation, it's *gibberish*. Shandala mando appa beetna on that for a while.

In the case of prophecy, what the heck good is a "prophecy" that is un-authoritative and errant?

Do you see that point?

Your Point #1 defines sola scriptura as the only *infallible* authority.

That leaves your tongues/prophecy gift revelations as *fallible* authority. Who wants a *fallible* authority?! Any more than, say, an unreliable doctor (hey, he's right some of the time).

Lastly, if you give any authority at all to your tongues/prophecy revelations, and they don't appear to contradict Scripture, are they then reliable?

I'm not afraid in the least to name names, but I don't want it to distract from the points.

By definition, *anyone* who believes that biblical tongues and prophecy are extant, simply does not believe in the sufficiency of Scripture.

You may have that [wrong] view of tongues and prophecy, but at least admit my last point.

DJP said...

Jugulum, if you're setting up the standard that one can only use definitions and characterizations of false teaching that false teachers will admit to, then there IS no false teaching. Because, in that case, Roman Catholics "believe" in by-grace salvation, Mormons "believe" in one God, gutless-gracers "believe" in the Lordship of Christ and sanctification... and charismatics "believe" in the sufficiency of Scripture.

SolaMommy said...

Whoops! That was my first attempt at posting links using HTML.

http://apprising.org/2009/03/richard-abanes-not-convinced-some-online-discernment-ministries-are-christians/

Stuart Wood said...

I believe that Mr. Spencer has accurately described the disease, but has badly missed on the remedy. The truth is - There is no remedy. We are at the end. Period.

Jesus said, “No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.” (Mark 3:27). This binding of the strong man took place at the cross of Calvary. There our Lord rendered Satan powerless (Heb. 2:14). For the last two thousand years, He has been plundering his house, that is, rescuing poor lost souls who were formerly under his power. He has done this through the proclamation of the Gospel, how that “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3). When a person hears this Word and receives it in true faith, he “hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). He is “delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son” (Col. 1:13). But the Scriptures also tell us that this blessed time will come to an end. Revelation 20 speaks of a “little season” shortly before the Lord’s return when Satan will be loosed of his bonds and will make one last all-out assault on the Christian church. Since he is loosed, his house will no longer be plundered nor his goods spoiled. Rather, he will once again “keep his goods in peace”, that is, keep the lost in their deluded lost estate. From this we see that Satan will silence the Gospel during this “little season”.

Revelation 20 also tells us how he will silence the Gospel. He will do this by assembling together a vast horde of spiritual enemies from the four corners of the world to oppose and overwhelm “the camp of the saints”, “the beloved city”, that is, the true invisible church of Christ. The Scriptures call this horde “Gog” and “Magog”. According to St. Augustine, the word “Gog” means “a roof” and “Magog” means “from a roof”, and so the two terms have reference to “a house”. God is telling us that in the last days Satan will assemble his whole unbelieving house against the true Christian church. In every sphere of earthly power true Christianity will be marginalized, maligned, hated, and persecuted. Whether in the educational sphere, the scientific sphere, the vocational sphere, the economic sphere, the social sphere, the media sphere, the political sphere, the religious sphere, or any other earthly sphere of power, Satan will rise up as a multi-headed beast with a crown on every head. He will so vilify and malign the church, so thoroughly delude and prejudice the minds of the unbelieving, that few will dare or think to take her message seriously. The anti-Christian spirit will rule all earthly powers and will dominate and control the entire world.

Do we not see this anti-Christian spirit already in place? No matter where you turn today, the Word of God and those who truly stand with it are ridiculed and silenced. The world will tolerate anything and everything except the truth of God’s Word. And since God’s Word contains both His law and Gospel, those who rightly divide the Word are the special objects of this opposition and hatred. The world does not want to hear that they are lost sinners and it does not want to hear that Jesus Christ is the one and only Saviour from sin and death. The world seeks to kill the “two witnesses”, the law and the Gospel, who have tormented them for so long. Ultimately, due to Satan’s influence, it is the Gospel that they are most against, because Satan knows that the Gospel is the only truth by which a human soul may be saved. Satan hates souls because he hates God, the Creator and Lover of souls. He will gladly promote any religion, including all false representations of Christianity, if it is devoid of the Gospel because that does him no harm. All, except the true invisible church, will enjoy his nefarious smile and the earthly honors and treasures that go with it so long as they reject the Gospel.

One last thought - the increasing acceptance of the false teaching of limited atonement is part of the final apostasy, as it too militates against the one and only true saving Gospel, how that "Christ died for OUR sins" (1 Cor. 15:3).

Pastor Stuart Wood
http://fromonewecanjudgetherest.blogspot.com/search/label/Authored%20by%20Pr.%20Stuart%20Wood

Terry Rayburn said...

Woods wrote,

"...the increasing acceptance of the false teaching of limited atonement is part of the final apostasy"

Whoa...and I thought this post would end at about 100 comments :)

Chris said...

Phil: I like the label you gave for yourself and like-minded brethren last week at the Shepherd's Conference, in your plenary titled "What is an Evangelical", as I am likewise in that camp (or boat in this case, with real oars): paleo-fundamentalist.

An apt title indeed! However, you also said there are few of us around, as we are almost entirely extinct. BTW: that was an excellent talk, especially the historical timeline around which you described the many shifts and splits between evangelicals and fundamentalists. I also appreciated the fair treatment you gave to the sins of both camps historically! Will you possibly have an outline available from that message?

DJP said...

We're far afield, Jug and Terry.

Jug, take one response to Terry and me if you like, and then I'll leave it, and ask Terry if he'd kindly do the same...

...before Phil throws something at me.

Jeff said...

Help me here folks. According to Webster an Evangelical is

"of or according to the Gospels or the New Testament, or of those Protestant churches that emphasize salvation by faith in Jesus",

which in my mind describes true Christianity, but obviously the term has been co-opted.

What is the current working definition of an Evangelical?

olan strickland said...

I promise I wasn't using my Indian Weather Rock.

Johnny Dialectic said...

But what if Driscoll starts cussing in tongues?

Stefan said...

Olan Strickland wrote:

I'm convinced that the greatest threat to God's true children will not be secular antagonism...but antagonism coming from very religious but unregenerate evangelicalism itself.

You make a very convincing point.

Maybe to us it's all old news—what the Internet Monk wrote—but to read such a "view from the inside" will be a shock to many in the wider "evangelical" church, not to mention those outside of it.

And there are Old Testament precedents, too, for the ebb and flow of worship communities...consider the warnings in Deuteronomy; Judges, 2 Kings, Amos; the undercurrents in Ezra-Nehemiah (AFTER the restoration!); Malachi, ....

donsands said...

'What is the current working definition of an Evangelical?"

It has a plethora of meaning I would say.

Evangelical Protestant used to mean one who believes the Gospel saves a soul through faith alone, I think. RC Sproul speaks on this in his Getting the Gospel Right.

Stefan said...

My last two paragraphs were general comments, and not particularly directed at Olan.

Jugulum said...

Dan,
I agree about being off-topic. I was already going to start this with a comment to Phil, "We're getting off-topic, so I understand if you ask us to drop this line." I'll limit myself to this reply--y'all can have the last word after that, if you want.


Terry,
"The higher point is tht if it's not authoritative, it's not God's revelation."

I once heard Grudem talk about an interaction he had with Norm Geisler. Geisler was making your point--that fallible revelation is a contradiction in terms. Grudem told him (roughly), "I don't believe in fallible revelation. I believe in fallible report." Geisler replied, "Oh."

You can argue that this isn't the right definition of prophecy--but the contradiction-in-terms criticism doesn't apply.


In the case of prophecy, what the heck good is a "prophecy" that is un-authoritative and errant?"

Do you think that edification, encouragement, and consolation can come from errant speech--speech that must be sifted?


"Who wants a *fallible* authority?! Any more than, say, an unreliable doctor (hey, he's right some of the time)."

Doctors are fallible.


But I do share your questions & concerns. I'm not quite sold on charismatics' view of fallible prophecy, because I'm not clear on how we're supposed to validate it. But to some extent, it doesn't make a practical difference whether I'm calling it prophecy or not.

If someone says, "I think God wants us to know X," I'm not going to dismiss it just because they think that's an exercise of the gift of prophecy--I'll discern X based on Scripture. Which is what charismatics like Grudem argue for. X may turn out to be very helpful, Scripturally sound, and Spirit-assisted--just like all of our speech to one another. Just like if they had just said "X". Any time a cessationist speaks words exactly suited to the moment, with the help of the Spirit, they are doing what some (many? most?) charismatics call "prophecy". (I'm not saying you should accept the label "prophecy"--I'm saying you should criticize what they actually practice.)

My difficulty comes with alleged words of prophecy that can't be evaluated based on Scripture--claims about which job you should take, etc. I don't understand how we're supposed to receive genuinely new information--new instructions--without regarding it as authoritative. (Charismatics need to be clear on that, if they want to convince people.)



Dan,
"Jugulum, if you're setting up the standard that one can only use definitions and characterizations of false teaching that false teachers will admit to, then there IS no false teaching. Because, in that case, Roman Catholics "believe" in by-grace salvation, Mormons "believe" in one God, gutless-gracers "believe" in the Lordship of Christ and sanctification... and charismatics "believe" in the sufficiency of Scripture."

You're making my point for me--that we shouldn't base our evaluation on the labels that people use, we should base our evaluation on the content of their views. (We should also defend the proper use of labels--but we have to keep the two criticisms distinct & clear in our minds & words.)

For example: Different people use "regeneration" to apply to different things. Some may use it to refer to the overall process of the Spirit's work in bringing someone into the Body of Christ--such that it includes faith & conversion & justification & the indwelling of the Spirit. Others use it more narrowly, to the Spirit's work that precedes or coincides with the initial faith. And that difference will decide whether someone says, "Regeneration precedes faith". Reformed people might differ on that sentence, based on their different understand of what the word "regeneration" includes. But the actual content of their beliefs may be identical.


Because of your conclusions about "prophecy" in the Bible, you must chastise charismatics for using it in an unbiblical way. But your criticism of what they believe can't include, "The only infallible authority is Scripture" unless they disagree! (And you're correct not to take their word for it that they think prophecy is fallible. If they act as though it's infallible, or if they depend on it in ways that are reserved for Scripture, then you're right to criticize.)

Jugulum said...

P.S. I would welcome an email reply from either of you.

greglong said...

I am a (Qualified) Fundamentalist. Fundamentalist in the sense that I believe in and fight for the fundamentals of the faith, but Qualified in that I am not KJVO, no-pants-on-women, etc, etc. I'm close to the edge of conservative evangelicalism; perhaps Phil's description of "paleoevangelical" is accurate.

Some comments on the first part of his article:

iMonk:

In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.

This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.

Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I'm convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close.


Couldn't agree more. I believe we are watching this begin to play out before our eyes with the debate over homosexuality. Soon churches who refuse to "marry" gay couples or ordain gay "ministers" or who even dare to speak out against homosexuality will slowly but surely be marginalized then persecuted.

(In fact, I predict [but hope I am wrong] that the economy will turn around sooner or later under our current President's watch, which will give him the popularlity and political capital he needs to making more sweeping social changes.)

This will force many so-called evangelical churches to stop trying to have it both ways. They will have to show their true colors, and many will choose to go along with the culture. So in that sense there will be fewer so-called "evangelicals", but it shows that they weren't truly Gospel-believing or Gospel-preaching in the first place.

iMonk:

1. Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This will prove to be a very costly mistake. Evangelicals will increasingly be seen as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society.

The evangelical investment in moral, social, and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can't articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith.

2. We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically, the billions of dollars we've spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community. Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures.


Dead on.

Jay said...

I thought iMonk's article has some interesting points to make, although there was a lot that would be obvious to anyone paying attention to anything other than their current feelings.

iMonk has an article that I think is better than "down the drain" called "One Stock That Needs To Drop." Here's a couple of quotes from that article:
"Evangelicalism is overvalued because it has too much music and too little Bible." and
Evangelicalism is overvalued because it refuses to define itself so that Benny Hinn and the rest of his prosperity Gospel contagion are excluded."

I don't agree with everything iMonk says but he does make valid points.

Jugulum said...

P.P.S. Terry, I remembered something else I wanted to say to you--could you send me an email? I don't see yours listed.
P.P.P.S. I suppose I could also make an entry on my blog, for us to continue more publicly.

greglong said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
greglong said...

iMonk:

•A small band will work hard to rescue the movement from its demise through theological renewal. This is an attractive, innovative, and tireless community with outstanding media, publishing, and leadership development. Nonetheless, I believe the coming evangelical collapse will not result in a second reformation, though it may result in benefits for many churches and the beginnings of new churches.

I’d be curious to know who iMonk identifies as this “small band” who will be rescuing the movement.

As others have noted, much of what is said under the section “WHAT WILL BE LEFT” seems to simply be predicting the death of a patient who is already on life support.

As I peruse the rest of the article, it appears iMonk view Christianity as follows:

1. Fundamentalism (dying)
2. Evangelicalism (dying)
3. Emerging church (dying, if ever alive)
4. Mainline and/or liberal Protestantism (dead)
5. RCC & Eastern Orthodoxy (gaining converts)

The only alternative, to him, is Charismatic-Pentecostal Christianity, which he believes will become the "majority report."

Are there no other alternatives? I find it interesting he makes no mention of what others have called the “young, reformed, and restless.” Although, having read his opinions from time to time, this doesn’t surprise me; as he seems to be antagonistic to that stream of evangelicalism.

SolaMommy said...

What is the current working definition of an Evangelical?

Didn't I hear someone speak on this last week? ;-)

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Evangelicalism down the drain?"

God is sovereign. Pace Machen, I'm a Bible-believing Christian. The object of my faith is Jesus Christ, not "evangelicalism".

Jeff said...

Thanks SolaMommy.

I can't get anything to download faster than snail speed from the site. Any help? All other sites are working light speed for audio down loads.

Stefan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stefan said...

Greg Long:

A small band will work hard to rescue the movement from its demise through theological renewal. This is an attractive, innovative, and tireless community with outstanding media, publishing, and leadership development.

I thought that this was an oblique allusion to the the Founders movement (of which he used to be a member) and similar movements (the Gospel Coalition, etc.). I could be wrong, but is anyone else pushing theological renewal these days?

I don't want to turn my comment into a debate on the personal views of Michael Spencer, but my impression is that his issue is not with Calvinism per se, but with those deleterious trends that are sometimes labelled as "Truly Reformed."

Shinar Squirrel said...

Jeff,

Yes, Shepherds' Fellowship's website is downloading really slow. I got the whole first day's take in less than an hour, then it took me 3 hours to download Phil's Session 7 message. Maybe the bandwidth is swamped, maybe un-named minions are partaking in sabatage?

The Squirrel

Pastor Phil said...

Terry,

You wrote:

"In the case of prophecy, what the heck good is a "prophecy" that is un-authoritative and errant?

Do you see that point?

Your Point #1 defines sola scriptura as the only *infallible* authority.

That leaves your tongues/prophecy gift revelations as *fallible* authority. Who wants a *fallible* authority?! Any more than, say, an unreliable doctor (hey, he's right some of the time)."


(1) I don't know any of my Reformed friends who claim that faithful preachers are even close to "infallible" - but are you willing to say "what the heck good are preachers"? God has ordained preaching (which is a form of prophecy - "forthtelling"), He clearly uses them so they are of much use, BUT you'd better listen to them with a discerning ear and judge them according to Scripture. Because whilst the Scripture is infallible, the interpreter / teacher of it is not.

2. Of course the real issue is that of "spontaneous inspiration". If the prophecy (or other manifestation - see 1 Cor 12:7-11) IS of the Holy Spirit then obviously it IS infallible - for HE is infallible. But the problem is that the instrument (ie. the person being used to minister the gift) is NOT infallible. Therefore we MUST judge according to Scripture.

I accept that your comments are made in the spirit of a fervent desire for the purity of truth, but I also believe that - like many on boards like these - they are made with more baggage from your particular Christian tradition than from the Word of God itself. So, isn't that also a form of denying sola scriptura?

Jugulum said...

P.P.P.P.S. I went ahead and created an entry at my blog for continuing our charismatic discussion. Response thread for a TeamPyro post

~Mark said...

It's a good article, and people are picking up on David Wilkerson's recent, somewhat apocalyptic post as well. These times they are a'changing.

By the way, I'm a little more floored by Mr. Wilkerson's post considering a good friend who is very strong in Christ and whose every "thus sayeth The Lord" over the entirety of her salvation has come through with 100% accuracy (I am an eyewitness) has been saying that the Lord has been putting a similar thing on her spirit for approximately 5 months or so.

Sir Brass said...

Note: I meant to post this here, but it ended up in the meta for Frank's ambiguous announcement:

*AHEM*

The iMonk said,
"Will the evangelicalizing of Catholic and Orthodox communions be a good development? One can hope for greater unity and appreciation, but the history of these developments seems to be much more about a renewed vigor to "evangelize" Protestantism in the name of unity."

Um, greater unity and appreciation?

What does light have to do with darkness? Catholicism anathametizes the gospel, and from what I understand the EO church is much the same as well....ie, they're no better than LDS or JWs.

And he seems WAY too blind about the shallow, emotion-driven charismatic/pentecostal churches. Some so-called charismatics are actually biblically focused, but I wouldn't call them Charismatic or Pentecostal, but rather just non-cessationist (ie Piper and Grudem).

stratagem said...

My reaction to the article was that the person who wrote it seemed to want Evangelicals to stand for nothing, in order to remain viable. Or, he contradicted himself (I can't tell which). For instance, his statement about how "identifying" with conservative politics was going to prove to be very costly for Evangelicals. I ask, what would the alternative have been? Would tacit acceptance of a baby killing political agenda have pleased God better?
I could go on and on with other examples of the doublespeak in the article, but no one would read it, so I won't.

stratagem said...

Oh by the way, Phil (or someone), I came here convinced that you guys would have posted some article on the doomsday "prophecy?" recently attributed to David Wilkerson. But I was surprised to see that you haven't taken the opportunity to write one.
Sorry this is off-topic, I know. I would've written you an email but I have no idea what your address is, even after having searched your Pyro site. Thanks.

John said...

Evangelizing? Who has time for that these days? Besides, the mere sound of the word is too offensive. People want to hear cool, relevant topics at church on Sunday like this one...

http://blogoftheway.blogspot.com/2009/03/great-sex-gods-way-church-marketing-101.html

Without the Gospel, without evangelizing, all these silly church topical studies are doing is making life more comfortable for the unregenerate on their way to hell.

farmboy said...

Pastor Phil offers the following in response to one of Terry Rayburn's posts: "(1) I don't know any of my Reformed friends who claim that faithful preachers are even close to 'infallible' - but are you willing to say 'what the heck good are preachers'? God has ordained preaching (which is a form of prophecy - 'forthtelling'), He clearly uses them so they are of much use, BUT you'd better listen to them with a discerning ear and judge them according to Scripture. Because whilst the Scripture is infallible, the interpreter / teacher of it is not."

There is one key difference between preaching and prophecy: The starting point for every sermon should be Scripture. The pastor, then, exegetes and exposits Scripture in his sermon. So, while pastors are fallible in their exegesis and exposition of Scripture, the starting point for their sermons is the infallible Word of God. To evaluate a fallible pastor's sermon we have the benchmark of the infallible Word of God. There is no such starting point for modern-day, fallible "prophecies" offered by modern-day, fallible "prophets".

What's wrong with leaving prophecy as it is understood from Scripture? Instead of qualifying, redefining and otherwise confusing the term as modern-day, fallible "prophecy", why not be content with simply offering advice or guidance, advice or guidance that is consistent with the content of Scripture?

Pastor Phil said...

farmboy said:

To evaluate a fallible pastor's sermon we have the benchmark of the infallible Word of God. There is no such starting point for modern-day, fallible "prophecies" offered by modern-day, fallible "prophets".

The benchmark is exactly the same - the infallible Word of God.

What's wrong with leaving prophecy as it is understood from Scripture? Instead of qualifying, redefining and otherwise confusing the term as modern-day, fallible "prophecy", why not be content with simply offering advice or guidance, advice or guidance that is consistent with the content of Scripture?

We're not redefining anything. I never used that term "modern day fallible prophecy" (that's yours). Prophecy even back in Bible times was as fallible as the prophet - nothing has changed. If you don't believe that, I can take you to a number of examples of false prophets. Did the false prophets of Ahab's court illegitimize Elijah as bringing a true Word from the Lord. No. Discernment was needed to recognize the true from the false. (Before you jump up and down, I'm not saying there is no difference between OT prophets and 1 Cor 12 "prophecy". Just showing the principle - prophets have always been fallible.) In the NT, the presence of the false prophets John spoke of (1 John 4:1) did not nullify the ministry of such men as Agabus (Acts 11).

SolaMommy said...

Jeff, I've been having the same trouble :-(

farmboy said...

To what extent is it accurate to describe evangelicalism as a reactionary movement one level removed? Fundamentalism was largely a reaction to or against modernism. Despite efforts like "The Fundamentals", fundamentalism was largely defined by what it was against as opposed to what it was for or what it believed in.

Can't the same be said for evangelicalism? Evangelicalism was largely a reaction to or against fundamentalism, hence a reaction to or against modernism one level removed. Similarly, despite efforts like Carl F. H. Henry's "God, Revelation and Authority", evangelicalism was largely defined by what it was against as opposed to what it was for or what it believed in.

I used to describe myself as an evangelical, then I added a qualifying term, describing myself as a conservative evangelical. Now, when asked what I am, I respond by telling people that my beliefs are summarized by the Abstract of Principles. This has the advantage of telling people what I believe instead of what group I belong to. (It also often results in the followup question: What is the Abstract of Principles?)

To the extent that evangelicalism allowed people to define themselves without thoughtfully considering what they believed, that was a bad thing. In this regard, the passing away of evangelicalism can only be a good thing. Dont' use any label to describe yourself until you first understand the content of that label and then agree that you subscribe to the content of that label. Relatedly, don't particpate in the blurring of labels. Respect the cognitive and/or definitional content of a label.

Stefan said...

Is it just me, or is anyone else having trouble keeping up with the flurry of activity on Phil's, Frank's, and Dan's blogs the last few days?

We need a blog moratorium, just so that we can catch up with all the comments.

Stefan said...

Or given that the RCC has encouraged its adherents to abstain from the Internet during Lent, is this kind of like the anti-Lent?

Sing-Along Steve said...

iMonk said:

"In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished."

Evangelicals, as a term used to describe the heretical mass of Scripture-ignorant mass-media and relevance- addicts, may have flourished, but the church of Jesus Christ has never declined. We are the remnant of the sorry morass of deadness that is "Israel" rather than the "Israel of God".

iMonk said "aggressively evangelical fundamentalist churches will begin to disappear"... Mr. Spencer, you'll find me on the front lines, along with men like Washer, Noblitt, Mahaney, MacArthur and many more. What YOU and others who pretend to stand outside the storm perceive as "disappearing" may in fact go away, but the blood-bought army of Christ's anointed preachers and prophets will die by lions and swords again before we will vanish.

farmboy said...

Pastor Phil offers the following in response to my post: "We're not redefining anything. I never used that term 'modern day fallible prophecy' (that's yours). Prophecy even back in Bible times was as fallible as the prophet - nothing has changed. If you don't believe that, I can take you to a number of examples of false prophets."

Yet, you distinguish between (true) prophets and false prophets. This is an either-or distinction: A prophet is either a true prophet or a false prophet. There's no such category as a partially-true prophet.

That's exactly my point - and it's not a new or novel point - true prophecy and true prophets ceased with the close of the canon of Scripture. When you refer to modern-day prophecy, that cannot be equivalent to the true prophets and true prophecies during the time the canon of Scripture was being formed.

Alleged, modern-day prophecy, then, is one of two things: 1) it is a false prophecy offered by a false prophet, or 2) it is actually advice or guidance that has been mislabeled as prophecy. Advice or guidance is fallible. True prophecy is not.

There is ongoing need for biblically based, biblically sound advice and guidance. Given that the canon of Scripture is complete, we have all the infallible content we need as the basis for formulating biblically based, biblically sound advice and guidance. Given that the canon of Scripture is complete, we have no need for true prophets and true prophecy. Beyond that, given that the canon of Scripture is complete, God no longer sends true prophets and true prophecy.

My guess is that you and I are on the same page in letting the content of Scripture be our ultimate source of faith and practice. My guess is that you and I would also agree as to the necessity of biblically based, biblically sound advice and guidance. Where we would differ would be in our propensiities to label that biblically based, biblically soudn advice and guidance as "prophecy". My guess is that you would be willing to do so. I would not. Some may see that as a minor difference. I don't, and I take it that you don't either.

Shinar Squirrel said...

Stefan - is anyone else having trouble keeping up with the flurry of activity on Phil's, Frank's, and Dan's blogs the last few days?

I don't go to Frank's blog. Comic books scare me. Any think he'll forget to post the winner of the book giveaway again today?

The Squirrel

DJP said...

Yes.

But he'll feel bad about it, so it'll be all-good.

Shinar Squirrel said...

anyone, is was supposed to read anyone

Jugulum said...

Farmboy,

In case you weren't aware, Grudem does seek to establish the proposition that Scripture has examples of real prophecy as fallible reporting--you can read and judge his case for yourself.

Pastor Phil said...

farmboy:

We're well off topic (so apologies to the pyro guys). I'm happy to continue, but perhaps better by email.

I completely sympathize with your disdain for today's self-proclaimed prophet cranks whose pronouncements have been shown unscriptural and / or have failed to come to pass. I am NOT one of those who are willing to comb through their prophecies to "eat the meat and spit out the bones". Nonsense. A false prophet is a false prophet.

But we can't build a theology based on our annoyance at poor handlers of Scripture or charlatans. We must build our theology on Scripture alone. I don't think we should reject the soundness of Calvinism because of hyper-Calvinists, do you? I don't think we should stop reading the Puritans because of the existence of "armchair puritans".

You state the following as a truism:

true prophecy and true prophets ceased with the close of the canon of Scripture. When you refer to modern-day prophecy, that cannot be equivalent to the true prophets and true prophecies during the time the canon of Scripture was being formed.

You say that as if it is beyond debate. But there are many who would strongly oppose that. Not because of our "feelings" about the subject, but because we don't see the SCRIPTURAL basis you have for making such a claim.

So, all you wrote after that we are going to differ on, because we are coming from different assumptions.

We certainly ARE on the same ground regarding a high view of Scripture - our authority in all things.

Soli Deo Gloria, Phil.

trogdor said...

If only Phil was a prophet, he could've known to tag this one as "da gifts".

Shinar Squirrel said...

Frank probably doesn't have enough 12 sided dice, and is afraid to admit it...

The Squirrel

steveprost said...

In the haste to say "amen" with M Spencer to much of what is wrong with the broad evangelical church, I think many of you like Phil Johnson miss entirely the complete absence in all Spencer's wordy article of the growing trend of Reformed/Calvinist doctrine within evangelicalism; much of this Reformed culture popularized in the past 10-15 yrs by the Sprouls, Pipers, Devers, MacArthurs, and yes Driscolls, goes against the grain of a good portion of his analysis, and has been a trend recognized by headlines in places such as Christianity Today "Young, Restless and Reformed" www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/september/42.32.html astutely noting "exuberant young advocates reject generic evangelicalism and tout the benefits of in-depth biblical doctrine. ...while the Emergent "conversation" gets a lot of press for its appeal to the young, the new Reformed movement may be a larger and more pervasive phenomenon.." But Spencer totally ignores such a prominent current trend and instead speaks of how "beneficiaries will be the Roman Catholic and Orthodox communions". I suspect his blind spot may be partially a product of bias from his move away from Calvinism years ago.

We Reformed should not be so pessimistic about the both the current good portents and, more importantly, the future potential, of the possibilities of good biblical Reformed doctrine in the evangelical community continuing to grow to influence evangelicalism in a good way (even beyond Calvinists, as Spencer has elsewhere noted for potential power in places such as here www.internetmonk.com/archive/recommendation-and-review-what-is-a-healthy-church-by-mark-dever as he calls Dever's book "dynamite" ). Overly pessimistic assessments of the state of the evangelical church and what the Spirit is doing in building His church in America may be about as un-faithfully harmful as overly optimistic dereliction in our prophetic duty to state what is wrong.

Jair said...

Thats right, its the lack of scripture that kills the ceasationist point. 1 Cor 13 is usually the flag title, but it is brutally self destructive to the argument. If Scripture is infallible authority then it falls under the category of certain knowledge, and the very verse that says prophesies shall fail it says knowledge will vanish away.

If one says that this passage has already come to pass one must assert that certain knowledge has passed away, and scripture itself is fallible. Ceasationalism based on 1 Cor 13 requires one deny the authority of scripture along with prophetic abilities.


Everybody hits a few ditches on the narrow way, but when you check you'rself and get on track even us baptists have occasional healings, and all we do is follow the procedures in James 5.

Joshua Cookingham said...

And that's why I'm not a cessationist.
I'm not charasmatic, but I still believe in the spiritual gifts.

God bless.

Joshua Cookingham said...

I also find it interesting that there aren't as many comments here as Phil's last post.....

weird....

Jair said...

Thanks Joshua, thats pretty much exactly what I'm talking about.

Blue Collar Todd said...

I think the core issue is idolatry that is destroying the Church from the inside. Liberalism poses the single greatest threat to Christianity, in that Christians are deceived into thinking it is compatible with biblical Christianity.

Machen had it right when he argues that Liberalism is an assault on the object of our faith, Jesus Christ as the exclussive Savior of mankind and the only Lord we ought to obey. Liberalism stands in total antithesis to biblical Christianity, and it is an idol that has been raised again by God's people. It is the modern equivelant to Baal worship in the Old Testament, both lead to the same wicked fruit that a holy and righteous God hates and His wrath is upon such things. Yet, those who claim to follow Jesus are propagating these very things by their accommodation and compromise to the Liberal spirit of the age, the world, which is ultimately Satanic.

This leads to darkness being called light and evil being called good. When idolatry was rampant, not only did the whole society partake in the abominations, so did the people of God, even God's holy temple was defiled by these idols. We need some serious preaching against idolatry and actually naming and tearing down of these Liberal idols which fruit is human sacrifice via abortion and rampant sexual immorality and nature worship.

Children always suffer which God's people follow idols, may God help us but most importantly forgive us for our wickedness. The only way the Gospel can be preached is if these idols are destroyed and shown to be incompatible with biblical Christianity. Why is that a former Marxist like Arthur Koestler can see that Marxism is incompatible with Christianity, but Christians cannot? There is truly a spiritual darkness over America.

"Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter." Isaiah 5:20

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Blue Collar Todd: "Liberalism poses the single greatest threat to Christianity, in that Christians are deceived into thinking it is compatible with biblical Christianity."

Here's an article that speaks to Blue Collar Todd's argument and is titled The Self-Proclaimed Prophethood of Evangelical Believers.

Beginning excerpt: "For years evangelicals such as Ronald Sider, Jim Wallis, and David Gushee have taken upon themselves the mantle of “prophet”—speaking the truth to power and all that. They have made a career of distancing themselves from the “religious right” because, the story goes, they had sold their souls and compromised their “prophetic voice” in the pursuit of political power. You know the routine.

Of course, so many of these self-styled prophets turn out to be little more than court theologians once their guy gets in power. Tony Campolo, the “spiritual adviser” and chief “spiritual” apologizer for President Bill Clinton is the most notable and embarrassing example. How long would it take Sider, Wallis, and Gushee to follow in Campolo’s footsteps? Not very long, it would seem.

....

In any case, it will be something to keep in mind next time this crowd gets on its high horse and denounces the religious right for compromising its prophetic voice in pursuit of political power."

stratagem said...

steveprost, bravo. You are so right on in your observations. You did a great job of capturing what is really happening.

Meds for your IMAGINATION said...

All I can say me Matey is that I am offering to be captian of a sloop...

THE last sloop to be sailing these oceans and ye can be me first mate?

How does that sound?

We just be needing to gather up a few swabbies and ye and me can begin to start plundering these oceans for actual theology!

By the time we be done there will be no False Gallions left in the Liberal main!!!

YARR!!!

On a more serious note I have definatly given up claiming myself as evangellical. I believe when I actually do get started posting blogs , and such I will claim my self as something other than evangellical...

I think I am goin to think of something rather clever from the good old common language of latin.

However, all in all I am praying for the evangellicals to come out of the bilge deck and back ontop to see whats what if ye know what I mean.

steveprost said...

For an exclamation point on my comment here yesterday about how most are missing how spectacularly M Spencer blindly misses the current important place of Reformed/Calvinist thinking as both a growing and potentially influential trend in his article purporting to provide a holistic view of evangelicalism now and the future, I just saw Justin Taylor cite to this today at his blog how this "New Calvinism" has just made the cover of Time magazine as the #3 trend for whats next in culture! Time amazingly notes fairly positively the "New Calvinism" in a current headline at www.time.com/time/specials/packages/0,28757,1884779,00.html as the #3 current "WHAT'S NEXT - 10 IDEAS CHANGING THE WORLD" !
"The global economy is being remade before our eyes. Here's what's on the horizon

* Jobs Are the New Assets
* Recycling the Suburbs
* The New Calvinism "

The Time article cites a CT editor saying
<< 'everyone knows where the energy and the passion are in the Evangelical world' — with the pioneering new-Calvinist John Piper of Minneapolis, Seattle's pugnacious Mark Driscoll and Albert Mohler, head of the Southern Seminary of the huge Southern Baptist Convention. The Calvinist-flavored ESV Study Bible sold out its first printing, and Reformed blogs like Between Two Worlds are among cyber-Christendom's hottest links....>>

InAwe said...

And then there was this article:
http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/printout/0,29239,1884779_1884782_1884760,00.html

Blue Collar Todd said...

@ Truth Unites,

Good article you cited. I like the last part: If my fellow evangelicals want an example of how to be prophetic with regard to Gov. Sebelius’ stance on abortion, they might take a clue from Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City , Kansas. Last May, Archbishop Naumann reacting to Sebelius’ veto of state Senate Bill 389 and the subsequent House version, titled the Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act, declared that Sebelius’ stance on abortion had “grave spiritual and moral consequences.” He asked that Sebelius no longer receive Communion until she repudiated her stance and made a “worthy sacramental confession.”

To this evangelical, that sounds a tad more “prophetic,” than the hack politics of Wallis, Sider, Gushee. In any case, it will be something to keep in mind next time this crowd gets on its high horse and denounces the religious right for compromising its prophetic voice in pursuit of political power.


I check regularly the blogs of Tony Jones, Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren and other Emergent Liberals. Christian churches are tolerating too much evil in their congregations. While not Catholic, I do like to see them declare someone unfit for communion, even though it is not followed through.

Russ said...

Church critics are nothing new (Ecc 1:9). They're also no less in error than Elijah was, 1Kings 19:18--Romans 11:4 (& then there's the equally important Romans 14:4 overthrow of the foolish notion that all people should always leave apostate churches, ironically claiming to observe God's Word by contradicting Him), his error sadly replicated in the 21st century by those no less failing to understand God and His ways than the prophet was. James 2:10.. As a reformed charismatic it's painful to see this kind of thing in both camps (and other groups I won't mention here) with the painful irony of how if each weren't so arrogant they could help the other greatly could we escape the delusion that Almighty Creator God ultimately needs the puny creature's help. Sigh.

Sir Brass said...

Russ, I do believe you're forgetting what Paul commands in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 in that he commands that we depart or cast out (basically, be separated from) from among us those who call themselves Christians but by their professions and/or actions have shown themselves to be unrepentant apostates.

Jugulum said...

Russ,

It's odd that you would try to apply Romans 14--on disputable matters of conscience--to matters of apostasy.