11 April 2011

The Neo-Liberal Stealth Offensive

by Phil Johnson

I wrote this brief article last year for the 9Marks eJournal. We excerpted a few paragraphs on PyroManiacs at the time. Here's the complete article.




he gospel's most dangerous earthly adversaries are not raving atheists who stand outside the door shouting threats and insults. They are church leaders who cultivate a gentle, friendly, pious demeanor but hack away at the foundations of faith under the guise of keeping in step with a changing world.

No Christian should naively imagine that heresy is always conspicuous or that every purveyor of theological mischief will lay out his agenda in plain and honest terms. The enemy prefers to sow tares secretly for obvious reasons. Thus Scripture expressly warns us to be on guard against false teachers who creep into the church unnoticed (Jude 4); wolves who sneak into the flock wearing sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:15); and servants of Satan who disguise themselves as angels of light (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

Theological liberalism is particularly dependent on the stealth offensive. A spiritually healthy church is simply not susceptible to the arrogant skepticism that underlies a liberal's rejection of biblical authority. A church that is sound in the faith won't abandon the gospel in order to embrace humanist values. Liber alism must therefore take root covertly and gain strength and influence gradually. The success or failure of the whole liberal agenda hinges on a patient public-relations cam­paign.

That is precisely how neo-liberals have managed to get a foothold in the contemporary evangelical movement. Consider how evangelicalism has changed in just a few short decades.

Classic Evangelicalism

Historic evangelicalism has two clear distinctives. One is a commitment to the inspiration and authority of Scripture. The other is a conviction that the gospel message is clear and non-negotiable.

Specifically, evangelicals understand the gospel as an announcement of what Christ has done to save sinners, redeem Adam's fallen race, and usher believers into His eternal kingdom. The gospel is not a mandate for sinners to save themselves, redeem humanity, recover human dignity, safeguard cultural diversity, preserve the environment, eliminate poverty, establish a kingdom for themselves, or champion whatever social concept of "salvation" might be popular at the moment. In fact, the gospel expressly teaches that sinners can be justified only through faith in Christ alone, and exclusively by His gracious work—not because of any merit they earn for themselves.

The Protestant Reformation clarified and illuminated those same two principles—sola Scriptura and sola fide. Indeed, they are sometimes known as the formal and material principles of the Reformation. But they weren't novel ideas someone dreamed up out of thin air in the sixteenth century. They are and always have been essential principles of biblical Christianity. In the long course of church history, those truths have frequently been clouded and confused, or mingled with (and sometimes overwhelmed by) bad teaching. Yet since the time of Christ and the apostles those truths have never been totally silenced. They are in fact the very backbone of New Testament doctrine.

Historic evangelicalism made much of that fact. From the dawn of the Reformation through the mid-20th century, no honest, authentic evangelical would ever have thought of questioning Scripture or modifying the gospel.

Contemporary Evangelicalism

With the advent of the seeker-sensitive movement, however, evangelicals began to be influenced by a new species of entrepreneurial leaders who marginalized those core doctrines by neglect. Most of them didn't overtly deny any essential biblical truths; but neither did they vigorously stress or defend anything other than their own methodology.

The results were predictable: Churches are now filled with formerly unchurched people who are still untaught and perhaps even unconverted. Multitudes of children raised on a treacly diet of seeker-sensitive religion grew up to associate the label evangelical with superficiality. Most of them couldn't tell you what the term originally meant, and they reject whatever vestigial evangelical boundaries or doctrinal distinctives their parents may have held onto. But they figure they are still entitled to call themselves evangelicals when it's convenient, and many have remained at the fringes of the visible movement, decrying how out of step the church is with their generation. That, after all, is exactly what they learned from their parents.

This is fertile soil for liberalism to burst into full flower, and that is precisely what is already happening. Evangelicals are blithely following a number of trends that advance the neo-liberal agenda. Unless a faithful remnant begins to recognize and resist the neo-liberal strategy, evangelical churches and institutions will eventually succumb to rank liberalism, just as most of the mainstream denominations did a century ago.

Four Liberal Trends Evangelicals Must Resist

To help you withstand the drift, here are four major trends today's crop of neo-liberal leaders are fostering and taking advantage of:

1. They recklessly follow the zeitgeist.

Theological liberals have always been diligent students of the spirit of the age. A century ago, they were known as "modernists" because post-enlightenment values were the pretext they used to advance the liberal agenda. They insisted that if the church refused to change with the times, Christianity itself would become irrelevant.

Naturally, "changing with the times" meant abridging the gospel message. Sophisticated modern minds would not accept the miracles and other supernatural elements of Scripture. That was OK, the modernists insisted, because the real heart of the Bible's message is the moral and ethical content anyway. Besides, they said, practical virtue is what the church ought to focus on. They considered it sheer folly for preachers to stress difficult doctrinal features that sounded primitive and offensive to modern ears—such as the wrath of God, blood atonement, and especially the doctrine of eternal punishment. Future generations would be lost to churches that held onto such beliefs and refused to accommodate modern thought, they solemnly warned. The situation was urgent.

(Of course they were dead wrong. Churches and denominations that embraced modernist ideas declined severely, and some died. Churches that stayed faithful to their evangelical convictions thrived.)

Postmodernism is the pretext neo-liberals nowadays use to argue that everything must change in the church. The world has changed its point of view once more, and the liberals are still complaining that the church is lagging behind, out of step, and increasingly irrelevant. Notice, however: although the neo-liberals' pretext departs from the modernism favored by their 19th-century counterparts, both the line of argument they use and their theological agenda remain exactly the same. The doctrines postmodern liberals relentlessly challenge are the same ones the modernists rejected: especially God's hatred of sin; penal-substitutionary atonement, and the doctrine of hell.

It's no secret that the world has always despised certain aspects of biblical truth. If it were a legitimate goal for the church to keep in step with the world, it might make sense to review and revise the message from time to time. But the church is forbidden to court the spirit of the age, and one of the main reasons the gospel is such a stumbling block is that it cannot be adapted to suit cultural preferences or alternative worldviews. Instead, it confronts them all.

Beware of church leaders who are more worried about being contemporary than they are about being doctrinally sound; more concerned with their methodology than they are with their message; more captivated by political correctness than they are by the truth. The church is not called to ape the world or make Christianity seem cool and likable, but to proclaim the gospel faithfully—including the parts the world usually scoffs at: sin, righteousness, and judgment (cf. John 16:8). Jesus expressly taught that if we are faithful in that task, the Holy Spirit will convict hearts and draw believers to Christ.

But speaking of wanting to be hip and fashionable, that's another major trend currently advancing the neo-liberal agenda:

2. They want the world's admiration at all costs.

There is of course nothing wrong with being winsome. As recipients of divine grace, if our lives properly manifest the Spirit's fruit, we should by definition have personal charisma (cf. Galatians 5:19-23). We also ought to maintain a good testimony before the world. In fact, to qualify as an elder, a man "must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace" (1 Timothy 3:7).

That of course speaks of a person's character—graciousness, compassion, and a reputation for integrity. It is not a prescription for the appeasement of worldly tastes or the endorsement of every earthly fashion. When we need to shave corners off the truth or compromise righteousness in order to gain the world's friendship, bearing the reproach of Christ is an infinitely better option. No true friend of God deliberately seeks the world's camaraderie (James 4:4).

But one of the common characteristics of liberalism is an obsession with gaining the world's approval and admiration no matter the cost.

We witnessed the germination of this attitude in the evangelical movement at least four decades ago, especially among contemporary church leaders who let neighborhood surveys and opinion polls determine the style and agenda of the church.

When a church gives in to that craving for worldly approval, they will inevitably subjugate the gospel to a more popular message. At first, they won't necessarily deny (or even challenge) core gospel truths such as the historical facts outlined in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. But they will abbreviate, modify, or add to the message. The embellishments usually echo whatever happens to be politically correct at the moment—climate change, world hunger, the AIDS crisis, or whatever. Those things will be stressed and talked about repeatedly while the historic facts of Christ's death and resurrection, the great themes of gospel doctrine, and the actual text of Scripture itself will be largely ignored or treated as something to be taken for granted.

Feed any church a steady diet of that for a few years and they will have no means of defense when someone attacks the faith more directly. That's precisely what is happening today with various attacks on substitutionary atonement, the exclusivity of Christ, the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, and other essential Christian truths. All of those things were first downplayed in order to make the church's message sound more "positive." Now they are being subjected to a full-scale assault.

Such problems are exacerbated and the liberal craving for worldly esteem reaches a white-hot intensity in the academic realm. That brings up yet another feature of the neo-liberal agenda to watch out for:

3. Their "faith" comes with an air of intellectual superiority.

Liberals treat faith itself as an academic matter. Their whole system is essentially a wholesale rejection of simple, childlike belief. Their worldview foments an air of academic arrogance, setting human reason in the place of highest authority; treating the Bible with haughty condescension; and showing utter contempt for the kind of faith Christ blessed.

Consequently, liberals are and always have been obsessed with academic respectability. They want the world's esteem as scholars and intellectuals—no matter what they have to compromise to get it. They sometimes defend that motive by arguing that the secular academy's acceptance is essential to the Christian testimony.

Of course that is a quixotic quest. It is also a denial of the Bible's plain teaching. Believers cannot be faithful to Scripture and win general accolades from the wise men, scribes, and debaters of this age. The world hated Jesus, and He made it clear that His faithful disciples mustn't expect—or seek—the world's honor (John 15:18; Luke 6:22; cf. James 4:4). Paul, himself a true scholar in every sense, wrote this world's wisdom off as sheer foolishness: "Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God" (1 Corinthians 3:18-19).

True Christian scholarship is about integrity, not accolades. Liberalism covets the latter, and that explains why liberals are always drawn to ideas that are stylish and politically correct, yet they are resistant to virtually the all the hard truths of Christianity—starting with the authority Scripture claims for itself.

Be on guard against that tendency. Here's one more:

4. They despise doctrinal and biblical precision.

This may sound like an oxymoron, but while treating faith as an academic matter, liberals prefer an almost anti-intellectual, agnostic approach to dealing with the specific truth-claims of Scripture. They like their doctrine hazy and indistinct.



One maneuver neo-liberals have perfected in these postmodern times is an artful dodge when they dislike a particular doctrine but cannot afford to make a plain and open denial. Instead, they will claim that Scripture is simply too unclear on that point. We can't really be sure. The point is disputed by top scholars, and who are we to speak with too much certainty? Let's have a five-year moratorium on strong opinions.

Thus without denying (or affirming) anything in particular, and without even technically dismissing the matter under discussion as an unimportant point, the ruse effectively sets the truth aside. The skeptic's goal is thus accomplished without incurring any of the odium of skepticism.

Heavy doses of that flavor of postmodern, neo-liberal evasion have conditioned multitudes of church members to regard carefulness and precision in handling doctrine as both unimportant and potentially divisive. These days the person who shows evidence of doctrinal scruples is much more likely to be held in suspicion or disdain among evangelicals than the neo-liberals who have deliberately made the study of biblical doctrine seem so cloudy, confusing, and contentious.

In reality—and this is a lesson the church should have learned from both Scripture and church history—unity and harmony cannot exist in the church at all if there is not a common commitment to sound doctrine.

As long as these four trends and others like them continue to thrive within the evangelical movement, the threat posed by neo-liberalism looms large. Conservative evangelicals should not grow apathetic or take too much comfort in the apparent meltdown of Emergent Village and the liberal wing of postmodernized Christianity. Even if the Emergent ghetto does finally and completely give up the ghost, many of the leading figures and popular ideas from that movement will simply blend into mainstream evangelicalism (which is growing less mainstream and less evangelical all the time).

We must pay attention to the lessons of history and stand firm on the truth of Scripture—and we desperately need to be more aggressive than we have been so far in opposing these neo-liberal influences.

Phil's signature

34 comments:

Mike Erich the Mad Theologian said...

The irony of this all is if we simply conform to the world, we have nothing meaningful to say and no message. We become irrelevant. I am convinced that is the reason the old style liberal church are losing people like sieve. If we give up God's truth to impress the world, we end up with nothing.

Thomas Louw said...

The problem is not so much the empty pews.

The problem is the empty heart in the pulpit.

wordsmith said...

Word.

Solameanie said...

The sight of Brian McLaren playing an accordion is now etched into my consciousness like being waterboarded. I can only wonder if he's playing "Squeeze Box" by The Who.

Johnny Dialectic said...

And to think Francis Schaeffer was saying this was going to happen, back in 1984.

Solameanie, he's definitely playing "Lady of Spain."

JackW said...

Followed by "Amazing Grace, Whatever That Means."

Mr. Fosi said...

Jack made me LOL. :D

donsands said...

Excellent article. Nailed it down.
"The success or failure of the whole liberal agenda hinges on a patient public-relations cam­paign."

That's so true. I've seen our local Christian radio station go subtely down this path.
They shanged their whole agenda to being "positive and encouraging". I have challenged their new Christianity, but they simply say they are having an affect on the listeners, and hearts and lives are being changed, with all the insipid CCM they play. It's a moralism really, and Jesus is important, and even essential. But not like before.

Yet, the Gospel has become-- Jesus loves everybody and He really. really wants you to have a good life. Ask Him to help you with such and such, and he will.

Solameanie said...

No, I had it wrong. He's playing a revised version of a beloved hymn. "Not Much Assurance."

I need to learn to comment on the actual post before making quips. And it's an excellent post/article, as we'd expect from Phil. The amazing thing to me is that evangelicals fall for this stuff when the whole point of evangelicalism was to AVOID falling into those errors.

Some people might chafe at the Apostle Peter and others for being so repetitious on some points, and talking about "stirring us up by reminder." I think we've proven stupid enough over time to need the reminders whether we want them or not.

Jules said...

"Even if the Emergent ghetto does finally and completely give up the ghost, many of the leading figures and popular ideas from that movement will simply blend into mainstream evangelicalism (which is growing less mainstream and less evangelical all the time)."

No truer words.

JackW said...

Amazing how much the religious left and the political left are alike and yet, not surprising.

I can provide a witness to donsands experience with the “Family Friendly Radio Station.” Love their “Positive Thought” for the day which has a ratio of about one quarter Biblical thought and three quarters Poor Richard’s Almanac. I still find it an alternative to when the other station has on its infomercials though.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Phil Johnson said:

This may sound like an oxymoron, but while treating faith as an academic matter, liberals prefer an almost anti-intellectual, agnostic approach to dealing with the specific truth-claims of Scripture. They like their doctrine hazy and indistinct.The point is disputed by top scholars, and who are we to speak with too much certainty? Let's have a five-year moratorium on strong opinions.

These are the acidic effects of Kantian metaphysics through and through. The objective is merely the interpretation of reality with which most everyone agrees. Any substantial disagreement means that no "objective" position on a topic or subject exists or can be perceived. So humility is demanded.

Indeed, objective reality itself cannot be perceived; we are left only with our subjective impressions. After Kant, God, being an objective reality, cannot be accessed at all in any direct sense. Hence the fuzzy, vague and unexplicable experiences with the "Word" and the reduction of Jesus to a good teacher.

In this sense, the liberals are not anti-intellectual in any way whatsoever. They are being faithful to and intellectually consistent with Kant and his ideas. The problem is the framework, which seemingly remains unquestioned, perhaps because the academy in general finds Kant's philosophical contributions to be so enticing. (And Kant was a genius in this area, even if I find much of his project ultimately troubling.)

In my estimation, the problem is also philosophical, even if it is also driven and reinforced by a desire for glory and relevance. We can't ignore that some liberals are merely being consistent with their starting principles. For some liberals, a good witness will entail a need to address these Kantian assumptions, and not just the motives, in order to show the intellectual failings of the liberal and post-liberal movement(s).

Paul addressed the contemporary philosophical assumptions of Epicureanism and Stoicism as well as the motivations of the heart. We should do the same.

jbboren said...

I strongly disagree. He's obviously playing, "Good Morning, Starshine."

donsands said...

Maybe Brian is playing the song he penned: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6yacLd0tjo

Mike Riccardi said...

Phil, this was simply outstanding. Thank you. Seriously.

James said...

The much despised "funnymentalists" have been saying this for nearly 80 years. It is a great message!

Johan said...

Thank you very much for this article.
Im from Cape Town South Africa and this is busy happening in my church, we got a new pastor. Im not sure what to do at the moment because most churches around seem to be like this, and I seriously want to have strong real fellowship. Can anbyone please give advice on whether I should approach my pastor abouth this, and or what should I do. I dont want to just jump from church to church. But if its wrong its wrong. so frustrated

Please help.

Halcyon said...

Matthew:

Your analysis was highly impressive, sir. I have often wonder about Kant's role in modern thought (I knew that he was practically the father of it, but I didn't know how). The objectification of subjectivity is the hallmark of modern/post-modern/post-post-modern thought, and Kant (amongst others, I'm sure) is culpable.

Anyway, you have encouraged me to read more Roger Scruton, so thanks. 8^D

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Thanks, Halcyon.

His influence expands to many other areas as well. (I suspect you know all this, but I write this for the benefit of others.) For example, psychology--the study of the self--becomes not an exercise in truly knowing yourself and applying objective correction of behavior, for that would require gaining access to objective reality (and that is impossible), but, rather, a study in what you perceive yourself to be. Therefore, all problems reside in your perception of yourself. Inevitably, this reduces to questions of how events and thoughts make you "feel" and the resulting, overriding concern of "self-esteem" in modern psychological examination.

Consider, as well, education. Education becomes not a means by which we improve our objective self in order to better carry out virtuous tasks, but a means by which we correct our perceptions of subjective reality (often through rote repetition). (And it becomes a means of controlling the subjective consensus, since that consensus is the ultimate "reality" by which we can govern society.)

And, inasmuch as I understand it, a serious figure in liberal politics, John Rawls, draws on Kantian categories to formulate his equalizing economic policies and to exclude contentious ("thick") conceptions of the good from the public sphere (e.g., religious belief). Hence the liberal tendency to use government to equalize wealth distribution and to exclude any use of the Bible from making public policy.

Obviously these are woefully inadequate summaries of the influence Kant has on highly complex subjects, and clearly there has been some extended application and logical development of his ideas since he penned his works. But his influence is so great that philosophers debate not whether to take him seriously, but whether he was the most influential of all philosophers ever.

In other words, the benefits of addressing his framework apply to any cultural work Christians might do in any secular liberal context, not just theology and responses to post-modern theology. Kant is one of many philosophers addressing the fundamental issues of life--what will legitimize my beliefs, bring meaning to my existence, establish my morals--and his answer to what legitimizes these issues have been greatly incorporated by modern society. If we want to show the world that the Bible--that God and his Gospel through his son Jesus Christ--should be the great legitimizer of all life, we will need to engage the modern, Kantian influenced framework.

Bill Honsberger said...

The trick with Kant is that in one sense he was the ultimate modernist historically. Once he separated the world of the phenomena from the world of the noumena (simply - history and science are separated from faith) this led immediately and directly to Schliermacher and Kierkegaard dismissal of the Biblical text. Kant's own "Christianity" was virtually devoid of practice - it was said he never once went to chapel at his school and perhaps never at church as well. Nietzsche rightly criticized Kant's faith as Plato on steroids and urged a rejection of Kant's use of "God" to shore up morality - without actually believing anything! And gee Nietzsche is the grandpa of pomo thought. Funny how this all works together. This is why many philosophers see pomo as the death thralls of modernism lingering on. Nothing but layers of skepticism and antagonism against the Biblical view and God himself. So yes I agree Matt that Kant is all over the place here, but I doubt most of the emerging or neo-liberal crowd has actually read him.
Most of the early pomo Christian writers such as Grenz and others showed a clear confusion about modernist/enlightenment thinking and thus their commitment to pomo thought was almost as silly as it was shallow. I remember some alleged Christian writing about how postmodernism meant community and I just laughed trying to imagine Derrida or Foucault writing like that.
Todays "Christian" leaders - neither understanding the Bible nor the philosophers who attack it! This would be depressing except that I know my Father is still in charge and even though the American Church candle may be extinguished - that great and wonderful things can be seen in China, Korea, Kenya and many other places.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Bill,

I take great encouragement from the movements of the Holy Spirit around the world. Thanks for your reminder of this during these otherwise dark times. Perhaps we must always keep this in the back of our minds (and hearts) when thinking about the theological trends in Western Christianity.

(To any moderator: as I look, it seems one of my comments was eaten by the spam filter here.)

Not Ashamed said...

Wow Phil,

This is never said frequently enough, loud enough or long enough to the right people!

In the middle of an excellent read by Os Guinness "Dining with the Devil" and he too nails it...

"Without maintaining critical tension, the principle of identification is a recipe for compromise and capitulation. It is no accident that the charge of "being all things to all people" has become a popular synonym for compromise. If the process of "becoming all things to all people" is to remain faithful to Christ, it has to climax in clear persuasion and profound conversion. Joining people where they are is only the first step in the process, not the last. Unless it resists this danger, the megachurch and church-growth movement will prove to be a gigantic excercise in cultural adjustment and surrender" (pg 28)

All of us need to address compromise "biblically, lovingly and sternly" not concerning ourselves with what others may think. Our "felt needs" are irrelevant in the face of the Truth of Scripture.

I loved this post!
To God be the glory!
Sola Scriptura

Not Ashamed said...

To Johann,

I do recommend Dining with the Devil by Os Guinness. If you have access to it give it to your pastor and express your concerns as to relevence. Os does not condemn cutural changes as he states...

"...innovation is not a problem. If Christians were to use the best fruits of the managerial revolution constructively and critically, accompanied by a parallel reformation of truth and theology, the potential for the gospel would be incalculable." (pg 24)
My wife and I recently re-located after nearly 45 years in the same town and we were completely surprised at the lack of concern for the truth with the emphasis on entertaining and connecting to the audiences felt needs. But be prepared! I sent e-mails to 2 pastors in the recent past requesting some time to meet only to be stone-walled by silence. Seems the best defense is not to respond at all.
I encourage you if you have personal access to your pastor than request some time and share your concerns.

May God bless your endeavor!

Sir Aaron said...

@Johan: I recommend that you contact Phil, Dan, or Frank directly via e-mail. Your situation sounds like it needs to be discussed in private. You may also email me, but I'm not even worthy enough to stand in their shadow.

May God bless you and lead you through your present difficulty.

Thomas Louw said...

@Johan.

If you have taken other avenue's and they have not worked out for you.
Google
'Grace Fellowship Pretoria".
Or check my e-mail on my profile. There is a church in Cape Town founded by a Master Seminary graduate, there is also a few other good churches, like Peter Hammonds church.

There more of us than u think. Don't be dishearted brother.

Tom Chantry said...

Another South African with considerable knowledge of sound churches is Errol Hulse - www.errolhulse.com

Burrito34 said...

We must pay attention to the lessons of history and stand firm on the truth of Scripture—and we desperately need to be more aggressive than we have been so far in opposing these neo-liberal influences.

Phil, your post today is a great description of the "why" of this last paragraph. Now, I would like to find "how" to take action in practical ways for lay people such as myself to do what you suggested .

However, I'm thankful to God that I'm a member of a church where Biblical truth is treasured, proclaimed and defended.

Halcyon said...

Bill:

"I remember some alleged Christian writing about how postmodernism meant community and I just laughed trying to imagine Derrida or Foucault writing like that."

Absolutely, man. I remember in my graduate theory classes, several students (who were actually paying attention) wondered out loud how one could possible have "community" in a worldview as isolationist as post-modernism. Nobody had a good answer, because there is none. The pomo philosophy is not fundamentally communal; it is fundamentally corrosive.

Post-modernism = rabid individualism shored up by rabid skepticism.

Bill Honsberger said...

Halycon -
Corrosive - exactly the right word! As I told of few of the profs at the seminary I teach occasionally before they fire me again and again, is that rather then embrace this stuff - if you really understand it you would see that it undermines the entire education project - in any field.
So the professors saw off the branches they sit on - nice...
And the emergents have showed in less then ten years how much they despise the Lord who sustains, teaches, and now will rebuke them!

Johan said...

Thank you everyone for the help.
Some solid contacts there Thomas, thanks.

Thank you so much Phil!

Solameanie said...

At first, I was appalled at the thought of Brian McLaren singing "Good Morning Starshine," especially when you get to the "gliddy gloop gloopy, libby lobby looby" part. But on reflection, that pretty much sums up McLaren's theology, doesn't it?

ABurkholz said...

"unity and harmony cannot exist in the church at all if there is not a common commitment to sound doctrine."

Interesting how the liberal church compromises doctrine specifically because they say that there is no other way to obtain unity and harmony; the very things they are destroying in the process.

vendlerius said...

Number 4 is the real kicker. You can generally get a good feel for a teacher/preacher based on how willing he is to articulate his teachings. There have been many a professing Reformed teacher who either cannot or will not define the key doctrines of the Reformation.

bruchim said...

"Stealth offensive" is a very apt description! Upon questioning a neo-liberal on his theology he declared himself a "minimalist" when it comes to theology. He spoke of an "elegance in thought" like a physicist and that "less is more."

Just like listening to Phillip Glass, I want to beat my head against a wall :)