R. Scott Clark at The Heidelblog has written a great piece on appreciating and even expecting the ordinary in the Christian life. So much of evangelicalism has pushed the idea, intentionally or not, that the Christian life is one of extraordinary emotional experience and that if you’re not experiencing that “high” or mountain-top event on a frequent basis, well, something is amiss in your walk (which is a form of legalism). The result is misplaced guilt that you aren’t doing enough to warrant obtaining that experience others seem to have. The reality though is that so much of the Christian life simply comes down to contentment, thankfulness and settled-ness as to where God has us and looking for the opportunities to be a light in that place. Here are a few quotes from his article:
Tag: evangelicalism Page 1 of 2
“Every generation must fight their own [version of the] Downgrade [controversy]” – Dr. James White
Very relevant to where the evangelical church is these days, in every age really. Excerpt from Spurgeon and the Down-Grade Controversy by John MacArthur, excerpted from The Sword and the Trowel.
[At the end of the Puritan age] by some means or other, first the ministers, then the Churches, got on “the down grade,” and in some cases, the descent was rapid, and in all, very disastrous. In proportion as the ministers seceded from the old Puritan godliness of life, and the old Calvinistic form of doctrine, they commonly became less earnest and less simple in their preaching, more speculative and less spiritual in the matter of their discourses, and dwelt more on the moral teachings of the New Testament, than on the great central truths of revelation. Natural theology frequently took the place which the great truths of the gospel ought to have held, and the sermons became more and more Christless. Corresponding results in the character and life, first of the preachers and then of the people, were only too plainly apparent.
The Sword and the Trowel – C.H. Spurgeon
The Lure of Rome (MP3) – Westminster Seminary California
This was a great discussion on why so many evangelicals are leaving their respective churches for Rome. It also explains the perils of not understanding what they are leaving their churches for. Highly recommended! They cover a ton of ground.
In addition, I once read or heard (can’t remember) a person saying they converted to Catholicism because they were “tired of worshiping God under a basketball goal.” Obviously not a good theological reason to convert for sure, but they have a point which I can appreciate. Obviously we must worship God in spirit and in truth for sure. But I do fail to understand what moves many evangelical churches to make their sanctuary and churches as dull as possible. Anyway, enjoy!
“Brian McLaren and his ilk of the emerging church [i.e. Rob Bell] … all it is is 19th, 20th century liberalism in a postmodern dress. There isn’t anything new in it at all. And the only reason they can get away with it is because people are so a-historical and ignorant of theologies of the past.” – David Robertson, Emergent Calvinism (MP3). One of the biggest surprises with this Rob Bell universalism/inclusivism controversy isn’t that Bell is affirming universalism. The response of evangelicals, particularly younger generations, including mine, and their response has been the most surprising aspect.
However, I shouldn’t be that surprised. It’s what happened to J. Gresham Machen in the 1920’s and 30’s in which he received the most push back from the moderates of theological liberalism who were willing to tolerate individuals who wholesale rejected anything resembling Biblical Christianity. We are now back at one of those points.
I keep seeing an ad on the right column of Facebook talking about the need “for a new conversation about the future of the church” … and my question is when did the existing “conversation” end, and better yet, why does it have to keep going on and on as if there is no definition laid out for us in Scripture?
In our gatherings on Sunday we need 1) Biblical worship that incorporates Scripture and solid doctrine, 2) Gospel-centered, exegetical preaching of the Word and sacrament (Michael Horton), which 3) the Holy Spirit uses to supernaturally transform His people more and more into the likeness of Christ, who 4) then take the Gospel out to the world through word and deed in their daily lives.
This is an excerpt from J. Gresham Machen, in his excellent concise work Christianity and Liberalism, chapter 2, first published in 1923. It is amazing how words from the past apply in the same manner to today’s evangelical movement. If the practice of our faith consists merely in our feelings, emotions and experience without knowing any spiritual knowledge or substance of our faith, it becomes non-moral, as Machen argues.
DISCLAIMER: this is not speaking of modern political liberalism, but rather modernist theological liberalism. However, it aptly applies to our day’s evangelical movement.
[Liberalism] is opposed to Christianity, in the first place, in its conception of God. But at this point we are met with a particularly insistent form of that objection to doctrinal matters which has already been considered. It is unnecessary, we are told, to have a”conception” of God; theology, or the knowledge of God, it is said, is the death of religion; we should not seek to know God, but should merely feel His presence.
A new study by The American Religious Identification Survey (PDF) is reporting an even greater decline of Christianity in the US and a marked increase of those with no religious preference at all. This is so saddening and should cause all believers every where in this country to stop and pray for their salvation and consider the cost of following Christ. A time seems to be fast approaching when there will be an uptick in persecution in various ways. If it’s not outright violence, then it will certainly be social exclusion, legal slaps, financial distress, or good old fashioned slandering.
The trend we are seeing, however, should not be that big of an alarm, as it has been going on for a while and has exploded over the past several years. Other studies have come up with virtually the same findings. It will likely continue to head in its current direction based on the methods and teachings of much of evangelicalism now (which are very quickly resembling the principles of 19th and 20th century liberals in trying to win modernists; now evangelicals are trying to win postmodernists with the same techniques).
Some people are just now catching wind of these rather daunting statistics and trying to find solutions. The author in the quote below, Bruce Feiler, seems to be one such person. What I wanted to hone in on was this FOXNews commentators’ solution to the problem in his article entitled Where Have All the Christians Gone?:
America has a rich history rooted in the Christian faith, drawing many principles from Scripture. And while this is true, it does not lend us the conclusion that America was a “Christian nation,” even at our founding. Such an assumption is absurd and presents a misguided interpretation of history and a misunderstanding of the nature of how people are converted and saved. Many of the founding fathers were deists, an ideology which runs counter to the Biblical portrayal of an all-sovereign God, which necessarily affects our understanding of the Gospel.
The assumption that this was a Christian nation, displayed prominently within this Bible version, will hurt the cause of the Gospel in that it delivers the understanding to the unconverted that if you are an American and support the Constitution, you are a Christian and are “in” God’s favor. This is blatantly fallacious and patently unbiblical. American Religion is opposed to the Biblical Gospel. The Biblical Gospel critiques American Religion much in the same way Jesus critiqued the Pharisees.
American Patriot’s Bible: combining God’s infallible Word with the idolatry of American nationalism.
If there is anything that really gets my blood boiling, it is any piece of merchandise or any program or movement that holds up the idea that being an American equals being a converted, born-again Christian, something plaguing many of our churches to this day. And this Bible version (particularly as it pertains to the commentary contained within) is no exception, but in fact, is the ultimate example of exactly what I am talking about.
Don’t get me wrong here on this point: I love this country. In addition, this in no way negates my support for our troops or my desire to see this country continue in its current (hopefully improved) state. If you have read any of my political entries, you will know this is the case. This is merely about God’s Word being used as a platform for another agenda.