Does God allow doctrinal problems in the church so that Christians will study God’s Word carefully and defend it more accurately against unbiblical ideas? Maybe so. There does seem to be some evidence of this in church history. But whether this is true or not, it does seem that several serious doctrinal deviations have arisen in our generation—one after another—even within what has been considered generally conservative Christianity. From the fifties on, evangelicals debated among themselves the doctrine of the inerrancy of the original writings of Scripture. In response to those evangelicals who were arguing that Scripture was not inerrant in the scientific and historical sections of Scripture, the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy was formed in 1977. These biblical scholars planned a ten-year strategy of education, study, and publication. Over the course of ten years, they and others published several important and helpful books, along with the notable Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. The battle is not over, but much has been accomplished through careful biblical responses to those compromising the doctrine of Scripture.
Then around the turn of the century, a new approach to the doctrine of God was submitted by those known as Open Theists. Open Theists argue that God does not have detailed control of the universe and that He does not know for sure the future acts of free moral agents. In the words of Al Mohler writing in the end of the twentieth century: “My argument is that the integrity of evangelicalism as a theological movement, indeed the very coherence of evangelical theology is threatened by the rise of the various new ‘theisms’ of the evangelical revisionists.”1 The ideas of Open Theism have been answered by those in support of the classic doctrine of God,2 and the debate has seemingly quieted just in time for another major doctrinal deviation to be proposed.
Now we are hearing that the penal substitutionary view of the atonement should be replaced by some other theory. Seemingly the left side of the Emerging Church has been in the forefront of this grave development, though there is no unified agreement in what the correct theory is. In fact, some, in typically postmodern style, seem to be arguing that there really is no one model of the atonement that gets to the essence of Christ’s death on the cross. The value of the atonement might depend on each individual’s understanding.3
From its founding in 1941, the American Council of Christian Churches has dedicated itself to defending the fundamental truths of Gospel doctrine against Satanic attack and to promoting those truths in a world marked increasingly by apathy and even antipathy toward them. Sadly, the corrosive influence of weakness in the face of apostasy, as manifested in the so-called New Evangelicalism, has produced an appalling drift toward positions that have bargained away the hallmarks of the Gospel in exchange for wider acceptance and more popular acclaim.
The first decade of the 21st century has been a time of turning away from the separatist positions maintained not only by the early generations of Christian Fundamentalist leaders and those who benefited from their ministry but also by those who came before them, going all the way back to the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. The legacy of Billy Graham’s ecumenical evangelism and the NAE’s fascination with admitted advocates of universalism, such as Robert Schuller, have generated an atmosphere in which Joel Osteen and other purveyors of “evangelicalism lite” have been able to flourish.
Note: This article is reprinted from The Faith Pulpit (May-June 2008), a publication of Faith Baptist Theological Seminary (Ankeny, IA).
What are we to think of the emerging church movement? Does it have any validity? What are its dangers? Here, Dr. Douglas Brown of Faith Baptist Theological Seminary (Ankeny, IA) combines careful analysis with biblical understanding to show us the hazards of this movement and how to help people avoid being enticed by it.
The emerging church (or emergent church) is an elusive movement.1 Attempting to understand and explain the emerging church is admittedly difficult. However, the movement is impacting the church today and needs our attention. This article will give an overview of the emerging church and offer some basic critiques.
See Part 1.
In his lecture, Joe Zichterman made many references to Christian liberty and Romans 14. We should discuss this topic because the misunderstanding of Christian liberty is an important stone in paving the way for a young fundamentalist (YF) to leave Fundamentalism.
The Willow Creek membership manual states, “We do not take stands on controversial issues about which the Bible is silent. Individuals are left to their own consciences before the Lord, rather than depending on the church to tell them what to think or do.” … Unjustifiable dogmatism on disputable matters is a clear violation of the spirit of Romans 14 … . [I]n Acts 15 when the Judaizers were insisting that gentiles be [circumcised] before they could be accepted as full members of the Jerusalem church? Paul told the Galatians later he wouldn’t put up with that for a single minute. You can’t give the impression of dogmatism where Scripture does not allow you to do so (17:48).
Joe used an example from an Amish acquaintance: