From Kevin DeYoung: J. Gresham Machen: Indeed nothing makes a man more unpopular in the controversies of the present day than an insistence upon definitions of terms. Men discourse eloquently today upon such subjects as God, religion, Christianity, atonement, redemption, and faith, but they are greatly incensed when they are asked to tell in simple language what they mean by these terms. You speak of Christ? What Christ? You speak of atonement? What atonement? What is the nature of the atonement? Faith? What kind of faith? What is the nature of the faith you speak of? It can feel tedious at times, and perhaps some of our rigorous “definers” lack charity, but where would the church be without careful attention to precise language? How weak and impoverished would the faith be if we never bothered to define the Trinity, or justification, or inerrancy? And how much healthier will we leave the church if we carefully define terms like missional, social
CH Spurgeon: There are some truths which must be believed; they are essential to salvation, and if not heartily accepted, the soul will be ruined. Now, in [the early church], the saints did not say, as the sham saints do now, “We must be largely charitable, and leave this brother to his own opinion; he sees truth from a different standpoint, and has a rather different way of putting it, but his opinions are as good as our own, and we must not say that he is in error.” That is at present the fashionable way of trifling with divine truth, and making things pleasant all round. Thus the gospel is debased, and “another gospel” propagated. I should like to ask modern broad churchmen whether there is any doctrine of any sort for which it would be worth a man’s while to burn or to lie in prison. I do not believe they could give me an answer, for if
John Piper from 1989: Let me just mention one feature to watch out for in the recognition of wolves. As I have watched the movement from biblical faithfulness to liberalism in persons and institutions that I have known over the years, this feature stands out: An emotional disenchantment with faithfulness to what is old and fixed, and an emotional preoccupation with what is new or fashionable or relevant in the eyes of the world. Let’s try to say it another way: when this feature is prevalent, you don’t get the impression that a person really longs to bring his mind and heart into conformity to fixed biblical truth. Instead you see the desire to picture biblical truth as unfixed, fluid, indefinable, distant, inaccessible, and so open to the trends of the day. So what marks a possible wolf-in-the-making is not simply that he rejects or accepts any particular biblical truth, but that he isn’t deeply oriented on the Bible. He
A couple of posts from Todd Pruitt: In a recent interview Phil Johnson was asked, “What is the biggest problem facing evangelicalism today and how should we respond?” Johnson answers: The greatest problem I see is the ever-broadening boundary of the evangelical movement and (corresponding to that) the increasingly ambiguous definition of evangelicalism. Evangelicals are too concerned with gaining collective clout and publicity and not concerned enough with being evangelical (being faithful to the gospel). Many of evangelicalism’s most visible and popular leaders and institutions—including evangelicalism’s self-styled “house organ,” Christianity Today magazine—have been tearing down evangelical boundaries instead of guarding them. Consequently, a host of dangerous influences have infiltrated the evangelical movement and people in the pews don’t see the danger, because it’s considered impolite to be critical of a fellow “evangelical.” In an era where everyone from Benny Hinn to Brian McLaren wears the evangelical label, it is sheer folly to be so blithely accepting of everything and everyone who claims
John MacArthur writes: The market-driven philosophy of user-friendly churches does not easily permit them to take firm enough doctrinal positions to oppose false teaching. Their outlook on leadership drives them to hire marketers who can sell rather than biblically qualified pastors who can teach. Their approach to ministry is so undoctrinal that they cannot educate their people against subtle errors. Their avoidance of controversy puts them in a position where they cannot oppose false teaching that masquerades as evangelicalism. In fact, the new trends in theology seem ideally suited to the user-friendly philosophy. Why would the user-friendly church oppose such doctrines? But oppose them we must, if we are to remain true to God’s Word and maintain a gospel witness. Pragmatic approaches to ministry do not hold answers to the dangers confronting biblical Christianity today. Pragmatism promises bigger churches, more people, and a living church, but it is really carnal wisdom–spiritually bankrupt and contrary to the Word of God. Marketing
From Denny Burk: TIME magazine’s cover story this week is about Rob Bell’s book Love Wins. Here is John Meacham’s one line explanation of what the fuss is about: “[Bell] suggests that the redemptive work of Jesus may be universal — meaning that, as his book’s subtitle puts it, ‘every person who ever lived’ could have a place in heaven, whatever that turns out to be.” Every year during Easter season, the news weekly’s like to feature stories that tweak traditional Christian belief (for example, The Gospel of Judas, the tomb of Jesus, etc.). For these publications, Holy Week has become heresy week. I think it says something that Bell’s book has now taken a place next to these kinds of stories. For those who are just joining this conversation and perhaps are wondering what to make of Bell’s book, let me point you to some resources that have come out over the last month or so. I wrote an extensive
From Colin Adams: In light of the late discussion about Rob Bell’s new book, it is interesting to observe changing views among confessing Christians in the UK. The Evangelical Alliance surveyed 17,000 people at various Christian festivals in the UK. They compiled the results in a report called 21st century Evangelicals. Some of the results? Only 54% of those consulted believe that the Bible, in its original manuscript, is without error. Only 59% believe that homosexual actions are always wrong. 51% think that women should be eligible for all roles within the church. And only 37% still believe that hell is a place where those condemned will suffer eternally. This last topic was the issue on which, the report said, ‘there is the greatest uncertainty’. The shift away from Scripture is, to say the least, concerning. It seems that any doctrines we 21st century folk are uncomfortable with can be jettisoned from our statements of faith at a moment’s notice. The
My thanks to Todd Pruitt or this post: Clark Pinnock died on Sunday at the age of seventy-three. Dr. Pinnock was a theologian who stirred up no small amount of controversy during his life. Early in his career Pinnock was a conservative of the fundamentalist sort. A strong advocate for the Bible’s inerrancy, Dr. Pinnock (a Canadian) was influential in warning Southern Baptists about their slide into theological liberalism. During his tenure at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary he taught young pastors to have confidence in the full trustworthiness of God’s Word even writing an influential book A Defense of Biblical Infallibility (1967). He thus became instrumental in the conservative resurgence in the SBC. However, Clark Pinnock ultimately retreated from almost every theological tenet he once contended for so valiantly. He retreated from his Calvinistic convictions and embraced Arminianism. He came to believe that if man were to be truly free then God must not be truly sovereign. In time, Pinnock
Dave Garner has written a helpful article entitled Rescuing the Church from the Arms of Digital Deity – Returning to the Authority of Scripture. Like Todd Pruitt, I love this paragraph: In the twentieth century, liberal Protestants put the Bible on trial and found it guilty of error, abandoned their dependence upon God’s Word, and replaced it with the lifeless lyrics of their own wisdom. What social Gospel theorist Walter Rauschenbusch preached, Charles Sheldon popularized; “What did Jesus do?” became “What would Jesus do?” Morality and social justice supplanted redemption, and the living Christ died again, this time buried beneath unbelieving, yet captivating rhetoric. He was not to rise again in the liberal Protestant Church.
“Jesus was not revolutionary because he said we should love God and each other. Moses said that first. So did Buddha, Confucius, and countless other religious leaders we’ve never heard of. Madonna, Oprah, Dr. Phil, the Dali Lama, and probably a lot of Christian leaders will tell us that the point of religion is to get us to love each other. “God loves you” doesn’t stir the world’s opposition. However, start talking about God’s absolute authority, holiness, … Christ’s substitutionary atonement, justification apart from works, the necessity of new birth, repentance, baptism, Communion, and the future judgment, and the mood in the room changes considerably.” — Michael S. Horton
“Having absorbed the world’s values, Christianity in our society is now dying. Subtly but surely worldliness and self-indulgence are eating away the heart of the church. The gospel we proclaim is so convoluted that it offers believing in Christ as nothing more than a means to contentment and prosperity. The offense of the cross (cf. Gal. 5:11) has been systematically removed so that the message might be made more acceptable to unbelievers. The church somehow got the idea it could declare peace with the enemies of God.” – John MacArthur (HT: Allsufficientgrace)
From Adrian Warnock: Vaughan has been rector at St. Ebbes, Oxford since 1998. We spoke about how a few years ago it would have been surprising to see the heads of the Proclamation Trust and Newfrontiers together. He described meeting Terry Virgo and discovering that they both liked the same books. He spoke about how we all do need to learn from each other since the caricatures we have are not entirely without a grain of truth. We then spoke about the parasitical nature of liberalism. A liberal gospel never converts anyone. People are saved into a context that is serious about what the Bible says, but then they sometimes drift into liberalism. He said he is looking for those who value the authority of the Bible over system and human reason. For some people within the evangelical tradition, the Bible doesn’t drive their ministry. Vaughan said that whilst a new believer might not fully appreciate how the cross saves
Al Mohler’s latest book, “The Disappearance of God”, can be ordered HERE . From the Publisher: For centuries the church has taught and guarded the core Christian beliefs that make up the essential foundations of the faith. But in our postmodern age, sloppy teaching and outright lies create rampant confusion, and many Christians are free-falling for ‘feel-good’ theology. We need to know the truth to save ourselves from errors that will derail our faith. As biblical scholar, author, and president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Albert Mohler, writes, “The entire structure of Christian truth is now under attack.” With wit and wisdom he tackles the most important aspects of these modern issues: Is God changing His mind about sin? Why is hell off limits for many pastors? What’s good or bad about the emergent movement? Have Christians stopped seeing God as God? Is the social justice movement misguided? Could the role of beauty be critical to our theology?
Tullian Tchividjia shares from Paul Tripp and Tim Lanes book How People Change regarding the seven counterfeit gospels, which Tchividjia explains as “religious ways we try and ‘justify’ ourselves apart from the Gospel of grace.” See which one you are most prone to… Formalism. “I participate in the regular meetings and ministries of the church, so I feel like my life is under control. I’m always in church, but it really has little impact on my heart or on how I live. I may become judgmental and impatient with those who do not have the same commitment as I do.” Legalism. “I live by the rules—rules I create for myself and rules I create for others. I feel good if I can keep my own rules, and I become arrogant and full of contempt when others don’t meet the standards I set for them. There is no joy in my life because there is no grace to be celebrated.” Mysticism.
I’m grateful to Todd Pruitt for this: . “It is not surprising then that it [Liberalism] differs from Christianity in its account of the gospel itself; it is not surprising that it presents an entirely different account of the way of salvation. Liberalism finds salvation (so far as it is willing to speak at all of “salvation”) in man; Christianity finds it in an act of God. . “The difference with regard to the way of salvation concerns, in the first place, the basis of salvation in the redeeming work of Christ. According to Christian belief, Jesus is our Saviour, not by virtue of what He said, not even by virtue of what He was, but by what He did. He is our Saviour, not because He has inspired us to live the same kind of life that He lived, but because He took upon Himself the dreadful guilt of our sins and bore it instead of us on the