Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And Another Thing...

This Post grew out of a response I gave to a question posited by "Bob" in a thread on Toby's Classical Presbyterian Blog.


Considering a good 90% of modern American Christians are at the least Semi-Pelagian you have quite a question that I believe needs to be SERIOUSLY considered and prayed about in a manner befitting Gethsemane. We fret over (albeit very serious as well) sexuality issues while allowing many of our "evangelical" conservative brethren to preach a gospel of Works Salvation that is in many ways more endangering to the future and health of Christendom than the ills of Liberal social ethics. We tolerate the abominable teachings of Finney, Graham, and others while fighting the onslaught of liberalism in a separate arena. Both problems, Arminianism and Liberalism, ultimately are cut from the same cloth hermenuetically. They each want to place the value of Salvation upon the unworthy shoulders of beings that cannot bear the weight of their own sin. Whether in Finney's theology (see an excellent critique here) that weight is paid by generic "good works" or Liberalism's "Social Gospel" salvation, which like Finney, comes to embrace Process Theology (a modern-day heresy in its own right) and the idea that Christ's death and resurrection is not enough for salvation but merely places one in the position to move in the direction of salvation by checking off various benchmarks on the way to earning a place in the kingdom through various "good works".

The point here is that while it is good that "evangelicals" are fighting the false diversity of Liberal social ethics at the same time they are no better if they deny Sola Fide in the process. To paraphrase something I heard Michael Horton say one time on the White Horse Inn it strikes me as odd that a term like "evangelicalism" can encompass such a broad spectrum of people to include both Benny Hinn and R.C. Sproul who could not be farther away systematically if they tried but are seen as the same because of their shared views on a very narrow slice of theological pie. My Reformed brethren we have to be careful with whom we lie down with and cast our arm around to win secular political battles when in doing so we put ourselves in danger of losing the Kingdom entirely.


Red_Cleric said...

Your comment about Horton reminded me of an interview with Rich Mullens. He said he was always astounded when someone would say that he and Carmen were their favorite Christian singer. He went on to say something about. I'm no where close to where Carmen is theologically.


Gary said...

Well said Ben!

Anonymous said...


That's why I personally use the term, "Reformed evangelical" to describe myself and others in our Reformed Resistance. Big 'R', little 'e'!

will said...

Gaining the whole world (politically) only to lose one's own soul?

I think there is a real danger in that.

Drew said...

"Liberalism" is just a broad brush as "evangelical," and need not mean an embrace of "social gospel salvation."

I consider myself (in order of increasing importance) a progressive evangelical reformed Christian.

And I would never call Benny Hinn an evangelical. He is not good news for anybody except himself.

And while the semi-pelagians bother me, too, I am not going to spend too much time debating my less informed brothers and sisters on that issue (or many others, to be honest). There are a lot more people that have NO idea what it means to follow Jesus at all, and my hope is that the community I serve can reach them, rather than do battle with the methodists (or whoever)

Benjamin P. Glaser said...

But I think you miss the point Drew. America is a very fertile mission field right now and if we accept the false Doctrine at our doorstep how can we preach a clear Gospel to the rest of the world?

Drew said...

Not saying we accept it, I'm saying we prioritize.

Semi-pelagianism is harmful, but it really is only a slightly harmful answer to a question that few people ask anymore anyway (and only then when the question is pushed to its limit!). A lot of my seminary classmates came from this school of thought. I could have stayed and worked on them, fought it out, but would that really have been worth it?

If we wait for a pure Gospel in the whole church before we live out our mission, we'll never do anything.

A lot of people are hungry for Jesus, and I don't want to spend too much time arguing with people that see him in a slightly different light, especially since I have to admit that I only see through a glass darkly.

Benjamin P. Glaser said...


If doctrines like Justification by Faith Alone are not serious enough to argue over than what exactly should we think is fundamental? Paul certainly thought is was serious enough of an issue to cross the Mediterranean calling heretical and debating in public any view outside that which is given in the Covenental history of Israel and that which had been declared to him by Christ himself.

Why should we send out missionaries who teach a defective and unworthy message? If anyone should have their ducks in a row it should be those on the front lines in the mission field and that includes us here in America.

Drew said...

Again, I do not want to send out missionaries with a "defective" message. Every missionary that I support, and that I send out will be preaching the good news of the grace of Jesus Christ, not a "Gospel" of works.

And I DO believe that this is a battle worth being fought, but I guess I am leaving it for the Paul's of this world. Plenty of writers/professors/theologians/ people who think they know are already fully engaged in this battle, many of them smarter and more well read than both of us.

So I respect the call to wage war on this heresy, but I don't share it, and I am bold enough to think that the same is true for most pastors. I could EASILY spend 40 hours a week debating this question, and thanks to the internet, I would never have to leave my office! Or, I could spend time with the people of my congregation, and equip them to share God's grace into the situations of other people's lives.

Benjamin P. Glaser said...

While I agree to a point Drew I do think part of equipping the saints is to make sure they are both knowledgeable about there faith and able to defend it against both false teachers and unbelievers. There is great truth to the idea that Parish Pastors are "theologians-in-residence".

Presbyman said...

I believe God has worked through the Rev. Billy Graham's ministry to bring countless numbers of people to Jesus Christ. I count myself as one of them.


Rev. John Erthein
Westminster Presbyterian Church
Erie, PA