Archive for the ‘Evangelicalism’ Category

Frank Turk and the Concession Speech

November 6, 2009

This article by Frank Turk on the gospel is worth the 2-3 minutes it takes to read it (link). I’m not saying I agree with every last jot and tittle of what he writes, but the main points he makes are the main points that need to be made, especially to the folks with whom he’s dealing. He’s responding to some extent both to Broad Path Evangelicalism and to Roman Catholicism in the same post.

Broad Path Evangelicalism

November 6, 2009

There is a soft-hearted variety of “Evangelicalism” out there that doesn’t want to make anyone unhappy. There’s also a hard-hearted variety that takes pleasure in making others unhappy, but that group is much smaller. This soft-hearted variety always likes to think the best of other people and doesn’t want to make anyone upset or nay-say them. They feel it is uncharitable to tell someone, “You say you’re a Christian, but you are not.”

This is what I call “broad path Evangelicalism.” It welcomes everyone to come along for the ride. “Oh, so you deny that Jehovah of the Old Testament is the same God as Jesus? No problem,” they say, “You’re wrong, but you’re still my Christian brother.”

And folks will do this with all manner of damnable heresy. If Muslims starts calling themselves “Christians,” these folks will say, “well, we don’t agree with your theology, but we’re glad that you agree that Jesus was a great prophet.”

This is not true love. True love is warning the lost that they are lost. Of course, some broad path evangelicals have no idea who is saved and who is lost – they have no idea what the gospel is: some because they have not been well taught by their elders, and others because they have drunk too deeply from the well of post-modernism.

And the saddest thing is this: there are many broad path evangelicals who have so little idea of what the gospel is, that they are lost themselves. After all, the gospel isn’t church attendance, or affiliation with a “Protestant” congregation or denomination. The gospel isn’t trying to live a basically decent life. The gospel isn’t reciting the Nicene Creed.

What is the gospel? It is prefaced by recognizing that you are a sinner, that sin is loathsome and detestable in God’s sight, and that you as a sinner are under the wrath of God. It is confession of your sin to God, repentance from your sin, and trust in Christ (to the exclusion of others including yourself) for the forgiveness of your sin and reconciliation with God. It is casting yourself on God’s mercy, it is making him and him alone your Rock.

That means that the path to everlasting life is a lot narrower than you might think. Those who deny Christ are not saved. Those who trust in Mary now and at the hour of their death are trusting the wrong person. It’s not loving for us to suggest that folks can go on praying to Mary and expect God’s favor on the last day. It’s not kind to tell people that they should be fine because they go to church every Sunday. A watchman who refuses to warn the city of the danger that is coming is not a loving watchman, he’s a traitor to the city. So to is the god-fearing man who refuses to tell the lost to turn from their way.

Evangelicals – Could This be Your Child?

December 16, 2008

I was directed by Mark Shea to the blog of someone who Mr. Shea claims is “Another Protestant Start[ing] on the Whole ‘Going Deeper into History and Ceasing to be a Protestant’ Thing” (link to the person’s blog) (link to Shea’s blog). This person is someone who married a Romanist and is now in the process of “converting,” presumably through the RCIA process.

My main question for you evangelicals is this: could this be your child?

Have you raised your children to understand what is the matter with Romanism, to understand not just that “Roman Catholicism is bad” or that “the Pope is the Antichrist” but what is wrong and anti-Biblical in the theology of Rome?

In studying Augustine with a group of believers the other day, I was surprised to hear one claiming that Augustine held such-and-such a view because of “Roman Catholic influences.” The person making this statement was not young – and really should have known better than to make such a vast anachronism.

Unfortunately, I doubt that this person is alone in imagining that Roman Catholicism was around in Augustine’s time. There are doubtless countless folks who are simply uninformed regarding what the early believers and medieval churchmen taught and believed regarding various doctrines.

Contrary to Mr. Shea’s claim, the deeper I’ve delved into church history, the more clearly I’ve seen that “Protestant” principles like Sola Scriptura were taught and believed in the early church.

In this particular case, I’m afraid that whoever educated this person did not provide a full tool-bag of epistemology and hermeneutics to understand and evaluate Scriptural doctrine and the claims of Rome.

Let’s take a few examples:

(1) In a recent post entitled “Beginning to Understand Indulgences,” this person writes: “I don’t claim to fully understand indulgences or why the church has chosen to make use of them, but I’m not going to reject it based on the already tenuous Protestant concept of “saved once and for all”.”

The major reason to reject them is the fact that Scripture does not teach this doctrine.

But as well, the idea that we are “saved once and for all” is not just a “Protestant” concept, it is an explicitly Biblical concept:

Hebrew 10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Perhaps even more relevant to the topic of this post, indulgences are an innovation. The use of indulgences was something unknown to, and unused by, the apostles. One does not arrive at indulgences by diving deeply into history, but only by walking about in the shallows.

(2) In another post called, “The Beginning of My Mental Conversion,” the person addresses the issue of contraception. As this person points out, the person’s views against the teachings of Catholicism on this point were “from eugenic propaganda.”

Again, on this topic, the major objection is that the teachings of Catholicism on this matter are not in keeping with Scripture. Not only is it legalistic of Catholicism to insist that all artificial methods of contraception are wrong, but it is violative of Scripture for Catholicism to encourage couples to cheat one another of marital relations for the purposes of avoiding conception.

Every Christian parent should, at the appropriate age, sit down with their children and explain the meaning of:

Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

Having recreational intimacy with one’s spouse is honorable and undefiled – having “unitive and procreative” relations outside of marriage is a heinous sin. That’s the teaching of Scripture, whether one’s church teaches otherwise or not.

(This particular post also addresses the issue of infant baptism. The person ties in the rejection of once-for-all for salvation to the rejection of believers-only baptism, so I must say that the reasons this person had for rejecting the sola-credo view were not entirely the right reasons.)

(3) In a third post, entitled, “Then who, Luther? You?” the person provided some comments on reading about Luther. The person wrote:

Luther tells Eck, “I give St. Peter the highest honor, but not the greatest power. For he does not have the power either to create, to send forth, to govern, or to ordain the Apostles.” From the context, he seems to be talking about appointing successors to the apostles.

My immediate reaction to this is to say, “Then who has this power, Luther? You?”

But this belies a category error. Luther’s answer would not be that Luther had such a power, but simply that no mere mortal has such a power.

The person goes on to argue:

Christ is gone until he returns at the end of time. Eleven men ordained by Christ did not reach all the Earth with their teachings before they died. Those of us who have come after need guidance. I have often heard Luther’s assertion that Christ is the head of the church even now defended by saying the Holy Spirit is our liaison with Christ, and the Bible is the sole authority because people are unreliable. Honestly, every unreliable person depending on their own individual understanding as opposed to that of a structured, trained, and blessed leadership seems a lot more flawed.

The problem with this argument is that the Apostles did provide guidance to be handed down, namely the New Testament. Another problem is that it is simply a matter of fact that humans are unreliable. We see popes and councils erring when we study church history. Finally, the comparison between each person being on their own compared with a “blessed leadership” is a doubly-false dichotomy. The choice is between a believer indwelt by the Holy Spirit and leaders that claim to be blessed. And even that believer is not on his own. While humans are not infallible guides, they can be of assistance. Thus, the Holy Spirit does provide the church as an invaluable aid to believers.

(4) Finally, a post entitled, “So I married a Catholic,” provides the context that explains part of the reason for this change of views. The Scripture teaches:

1 Corinthians 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

We need to teach our children to be careful about how and with whom they communicate. This particular person evidently was attracted to the Romanist now-spouse for what probably seemed very good reasons: the now-spouse was defending a theistic position against an atheist/agnostic. The problem is this, the now-spouse (whether or not a Christian) is and was a part of a church that rejects the authority of Scripture, placing itself (as a result) against the Word of God.

We can be friends with and friendly towards members of an apostate church, but we must be aware of the person’s allegiances. A Christian young person needs to recognize the importance of choosing a spouse who is willing to submit his/her beliefs to the authority of Scripture.

Furthermore, Christian parents need to encourage their children not to view those within Catholicism as potential spouses, and why that is the case. I cannot say whether this person’s parents provided such instruction, but it does not appear to have “taken,” as this person never considered that a factor.

In this case, it seems that the person got married to a very dogmatic and insistent papist, and has been influenced by the spouse to adopt many of the doctrines of Catholicism. This is not the result of getting deep into history, but rather of failing to be grounded in a proper understanding of our source of knowledge about God and the way to obtain that knowledge.


I’ve tried to use this particular person (brought to the public light by Mr. Shea) as an example, not to pick on this particular person or the person’s parents, but to serve as a warning to Evangelicals who are raising their children in a religious diverse world. While your children are young, you may be able to shelter them from the world and worldly religions, but there will come a time when they have to go out into the world, whether that is in college, in a job, or whatever it may be. Prepare your children now to understand what the Scripture teaches about itself, about God, and about man. Catechize your children well, so that they understand both what they believe and why they believe it.

As Scripture says:

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.


Evangelical Parents – Could This Be Your Child?

November 19, 2008

I was disturbed to read this article (link) about a young lady who is, in her words “Exploring Catholicism all on my own.” Although the young lady claims, toward the end of the article, “I’d never become one of you Catholics, though,” still one notes that the young lady doesn’t appreciate the true problems with Catholicism and has horrible reasons for not joining that communion.

Consider her reasons: “Your faith is still far too exclusive overall for my taste. You seem to condemn too many actions, and my opinions don’t really match the church’s on issues like birth control, abortion, stem-cell research and even the transfiguration of the bread and wine.”

Even leaving aside that this young lady has used “transfiguration” in place of the word “transubstantiation,” the reasons are terrible.

a) “Your faith is far too exclusive”
Any true religion is going to be exclusive. It must needs be. There are valid criticisms of Catholicism, but this is not one of them. In fact, if anything, Catholicism is much too inclusive (as demonstrated here), not much too exclusive.

b) “for my taste”
There is no room for “taste” in religion. One’s religion must be based on the truth. There is a valid reason to reject Catholicism, and that is its lack of agreement with Scriptures, not its contradiction of one’s taste. Tastes change: the truth does not.

c) “You seem to condemn too many actions”
It may be that in some areas Catholicism condemns “too many actions,” but this young lady hasn’t provide an epistemological basis upon which to render that judgment. The way to determine whether Catholicism condemns too many actions is Scripture. Once Scripture is brought in, it may be discovered that while Catholicism condemns too many actions in one area, it permits too many actions in another area. One senses (although the young lady is not explicit here), that the young lady would like to see a church that doesn’t impose very many rules on her.

d) “my opinions don’t really match the church’s”
Again, this standard is an invalid standard. It doesn’t really matter what one’s opinion is. What matters is what the truth is. The way we have access to the truth is through the Scriptures, not through our gut feelings about things.

e) “on issues like birth control, abortion, stem-cell research and even the transfiguration of the bread and wine”
With respect to the first three issues, I think it is fair to state that the young lady’s objections are not principled objections. For example, while Catholicism may be wrong in generally condemning all forms of artificial birth control, Catholicism is right in identifying the intentional taking of the life of an unborn child as homicide. Since the young lady has not even found the correct word to describe the Romanist view of what happens at the consecration of the “host,” it stands to reason that the young lady cannot provide a valid rebuttal for the “physical transformation” error associated with the Romish doctrine of transubstantiation.

Here’s my question to Evangelical parents out there. Could this be your child? Is your child unaware of why he believes what he believes? Would your child willingly attend a “Mass” and report back that he “really enjoy[s] Mass”? Have you explained to your child, before sending him off to college, the fundamental principle of Sola Scriptura? Or have you left your child with relativist values that leave your child having as his strongest argument against other religions as being that they don’t match his opinion or fit his taste? Is your child grounded in the concept of Absolute Truth?


Serious Question for my Readers

August 27, 2008

Question for my Muslims readers: When you read this article (link), does your conscience tell you that this sort of behavior is wrong? If so, are you aware that this sort of activity is a natural consequence of zealously following the teachings of the Koran?

Question for my readers who follow Vatican 2’s proclamation that “the plan of salvation includes” Muslims: Can you see from the example above that zealously following Islam leads to eternal destruction? If so, how do you justify to yourself your church’s claim? Can you not admit that your church has erred on this point?

Question for my readers who are Evangelical: What steps are you taking to convert Muslims to Christianity? Muslims are an increasing fraction of society, and they desperately need the gospel, without which they will be lost.

These are mostly rhetorical questions. I’m not looking for debate in the comment box, just asking people to think seriously about eternal matters.


Evangelical Manifesto Reviewed

June 9, 2008

B.J. Buracker at Stupid Scholar has provided an interesting and insightful review of the so-called “Evangelical Manifesto.” (link) His conclusion is about right, which is why I do not anticipate myself providing a more detailed critique of this document.

R. Scott Clark on Catholics, Evangelicals, and Rome

May 17, 2008

While we are on the subject of “Evangelicalism,” R. Scott Clark has recently reposted a couple of articles on the issue of Catholics, Evangelicals, and Rome. Article 1 (link) notes that we should not cede the title of “Catholics” to the sect of Roman Catholics, nor the term “Evangelicals” to the broadly evangelical movement. He does not mention it, that I recall, but we also should not cede the title “Orthodox” to the sect(s) of the Eastern Orthodox. Article 2 (link) continues the discussion, getting deeper into the history, and exploring how the use of “Evangelical” (as well as “Catholic”) has evolved over time.


Bruce Ware contra Open Theism

May 17, 2008

I happened to recently come across the following linked article by Bruce Ware on the topic of whether Open Theism is properly classified as evangelical. (link) Ultimately, I agree with what I understand his conclusion to be, namely that the doctrines of open theism are not evangelical doctrines. They compromise the nature of God.

Of course, they are also not Reformed doctrines in consequence of not being evangelical doctrines.

Ultimately though, we should be cautiously charitable in approaching professing believers who hold such errant views as open theism. There is an important difference between people simply being in error (due, for example, to inadequate teaching), and those who stubbornly resist the truth. By correctly identifying open theism as outside the evangelical walls, we must be careful not to insist that everyone must have a perfect understanding of every aspect of the nature of God in order to be saved.

I don’t think Ware was trying to suggest anything to the contrary. Indeed, reading Ware’s article, one can sense the tension in Ware, who would prefer to include Pinnock and other open theists within the walls of broad evangelicalism.


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