WHAT CONSTITUTES LIBERALISM? (by John Waddey)May 17 2007 at 8:36 AM
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Subject: [fortify_your_faith] A Lesson to Fortify Your Faith - 05/12/07
WHAT CONSTITUTES LIBERALISM?
Dear Friends in Christ:
The word "liberalism" is used in both religion, politics and social issues. It is a word with a hundred definitions since each person attaches his own meaning to it. In most cases it is used to described that with which we do not agree.
Today's lesson seeks to give a more specific meaning to the word as used among churches of Christ in this 21st century. I encourage you to share the lesson with others who share our faith.
WHAT CONSTITUTES LIBERALISM?
The word "liberalism" is often used to describe the teaching of those who trouble the Lord's church. Some are confused as to just what the term means. The word takes on different shades of meaning when used by different religious bodies. For example a liberal among us would probably be a conservative among Episcopalians or Methodists. A conservative Catholic would be a liberal among us. Even among our own brethren the word is used with different shades of meaning. It would mean something quite different to a change agent who teaches in a Christian University than to the preacher who is struggling to build a local congregation. This article will seek to clarify the meaning of liberalism as used among our brethren in this present generation.
What Liberalism Is Not:
Rather, Liberalism is:
- It is not the use of newer or different translations of the Bible. All translations are the products of uninspired men. They vary in quality. Each has strengths and weaknesses. One can use a different translation and still be faithful to Christ.
- It is not just a different interpretation or understanding of a verse or section of Scripture. Every student of the Bible will occasionally find a new understanding of some portion of Scripture.
- It is not just a new or different idea we have not previously heard or held. None of us have fully mastered every thing in God's Word. All will on occasion find that he had misunderstood something of God's message.
- It is not just the questioning of some fondly held view. God wants us to prove all things and hold fast that which is good (I Thess. 5:21). Like the Bereans we should always be ready to search the Scriptures to see if a teaching is true (Acts 17:11).
- It is not just trying to honestly understand our past history. Much of what is repeated by word of mouth becomes distorted or embellished. To seek out the facts of what our forefathers did and believed is a noble endeavor.
- It is not just using words or expressions unfamiliar to us. Anyone who has traveled among our churches in other nations knows there are dozens of ways to express a commonly held truth. The same is true here at home, although we don't always understand that.
- It is not just doing the things relating to our faith and worship in a different manor or way than we are use to. For example when we pray we might kneel, or sit or stand, bow with our face to the ground or lift up holy hands and be praying in an acceptable manner so long as we petition the Father through Christ the one mediator (I Tim. 2:5). There are numerous ways to participate in the Lord's Supper; but so long as we gather on the first day of the week and partake of the bread and fruit of the vine in memory of the Savior's death, we have properly obeyed God.
This brief portraiture of a liberal is also an apt description of the change agents at work among us. They espouse and practice all the points mentioned above. For this reason they should be rejected even as all other liberals are rejected.
- A lack of respect for the complete and final authority of the Word of God which Jesus said will judge us in the last day (John 12:48).
- It is a rejection of what the Bible claims for itself. God calls his book, a "pattern of sound words" (II Tim. 1:13). Liberals vehemently deny this truth.
- It is a willingness to take liberties with the sacred things of God. It is a lack of love and respect for the church as the sacred body and bride of Christ (Eph. 1:21-22; 5:23-25). It holds no honor for the doctrines with which Christ adorned his bride.
- It is a spirit that despises its brethren and that disparages great Christian leaders of the past. It treats with contempt those disciples who do not share their elitist views.
- It is a desire to be something other than a simple New Testament Christians.
- It is a longing to be like the world, to find acceptance with denominational scholars, schools and leaders. It embarrassed by the exclusiveness of the Master's teaching.
- It is a willingness to exalt one's own opinions, ideas and feelings above the sacred Word of Christ.
- It is a spirit of deception; pretending to be faithful members of the church of Christ, when in the secret recesses of their hearts they know such is not the case.
- Rather than strengthening Christians and building up the church, liberalism erodes faith and undermines the kingdom of Christ.
John Waddey, Editor
Christianity: Then and Now
The Seeker-Sensitive Movement
|June 19 2007, 12:34 PM |
I agree with the consistent message of this website of warning congregations in the brotherhood to be vigilant
because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8). A portion of an article below is proof that even fundamental denominational bodies, e.g. the Southern Baptist Church, are under siege. Please read:
The above description of some of the activities of seeker-sensitive churches in operation among denominational bodies is taken from a chapter titled: The Need for Reformation In The Southern Baptist Convention: How We Lost Our Way Along the Path.
Examples that shock the conscience are not hard to find. The seeker-sensitive movement, by its very nature, is a bow to modernistic assumptions. Thus, many churches are now offering Friday night or Saturday night services to replace or supplement the Sunday morning worship time. Why? So church members can now get church out of the way early, then have the rest of the weekend to use as they wish. One Saturday churchgoer explained, "If you go to Sunday school at 9:00 A.M., then to the 11 A.M. service and leave about 1 P.M., your day is pretty well shot." Other seeker-sensitive churches have decided to forego offering communion as part of their worship services. Instead, they provide worshipers the opportunity to partake of the elements as they walk out the door after the conclusion of the service. Why? So that those who have not committed to Christianity will not feel excluded by the process. Others, using the same logic, go the opposite direction and invite Christians and non-Christians alike to partake of the Lords Table, hoping that the drinking of the cup and eating of the wafer will assist in making unbelievers feel comfortable with this basic Christian ritual.
Many seeker services have even given up on preaching, offering instead dramatic skits, modern music, multimedia and other means of communication to entertain the audience. Even if preaching is offered, it is typically packaged in short, fifteen to twenty minute "talks" or "discussions" attempting to show that Christianity is a comfortable religion and Christians are "OK" people normal, just like every one else in the world.
In his book Ashamed of the Gospel, John MacArthur cites the following examples from newspaper clippings about the preaching of seeker-sensitive churches:
Each of us can probably add our own examples to MacArthurs list.
- "There is no fire and brimstone here. No Bible-thumping. Just practical, witty messages."
- "Services at [name omitted] have an informal feeling. You wont hear people threatened with hell or referred to as sinners. The goal is to make them feel welcome, not drive them away."
- "As with all clergymen, [name omitted]s answer is God but he slips Him in at the end, and even then doesnt get heavy. No ranting, no raving. No fire, no brimstone. He doesnt even use the H-word. Call it Light Gospel. It has the same salvation as the Old Time Religion, but with a third less guilt."
- "The sermons are relevant, upbeat, and best of all, short. You wont hear a lot of preaching about sin and damnation and hell fire. Preaching here doesnt sound like preaching. It is sophisticated, urbane, and friendly talk. It breaks all the stereotypes."
- "[Name omitted] is preaching a very upbeat message.... Its a salvationist message, but the idea is not so much being saved from the fires of hell. Rather, its being saved from meaninglessness and aimlessness in this life. Its more of a soft-sell."
- "The idea, [name omitted] says, is to get people through the front doors, then disprove the stereotype of the sweating, loosened necktied, Bible-thumping preacher who yells and screams about burning in hell for eternity."
The activities enumerated above closely resemble those of change agents operating in our brotherhood and then some.
Notable Messages re: Liberalism
|June 29 2007, 5:05 PM |
Source: http://soundteaching.org (Responses by Stan Cox)
In the News: A Famine of the Word of God:
Comment(s): Many changes taking place today indicate a decline in appreciation for preaching.Are We Growing? (by Stan Cox):
Contemporary services typically focus on praise and worship and down-play preaching. Instead of two sermons on Sundays, Sunday night preaching is replaced by small group meetings. (These are not wrong in themselves and are often beneficial, but they do replace preaching.)
In the preaching that remains, popular demands are requiring shorter and shorter sermons. Film clips from television programs or movies replace significant parts of the sermons. Drama is deemed more effective than preaching. Preaching designed to make us feel good replaces preaching to convict and call to repentance.
Response: Churches that are interested in truly lighting a fire under members would do well to remember that a movie, play or skit may cause someone to walk out the door sad, happy, or angry (depending upon the purpose of the dramatics); but the preaching of the gospel of our Lord (if heeded) will lead to lifetime commitments and zeal. Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching (2 Timothy 4:2). As always, Gods way is the best way!
Comment(s) and Response:The Christian Chronicle claims to be An international newspaper for member of Churches of Christ. We have mentioned the paper in the past, noting that it chronicles the efforts and activities of the most liberal of congregations that go by the name Church of Christ.
In the last issue (February 2007) the Chroniclebegan a series entitled Are We Growing?, intended to run through the remainder of the year. In the initial article, statistics are cited to indicate that while the population of the United States grew 32% from 1980 to 2006, membership in the church of Christ grew only 1.6% in the same time.
It is not our purpose to discuss the methodology which led to the numbers cited, nor to determine the actual accuracy of the estimates. It is enough to note that in many instances the lack of growth is obvious. In fact, we should as a congregation redouble our efforts in this area. It would be a wonderful thing if we could substantially increase the number of souls who worship here, especially if said numbers came through the conversion of the lost.
Church leaders are quoted in the article, answering the question, Why the wide gap between population and membership growth in the U.S. The answers are telling, expressing the views held by many in these liberal churches. (Some valid, some not). For example:
Of course, the response we offer should be the same regardless of an individuals religious background. Preach the word
(cf. 2 Timothy 4:2). There is no place for racial, economic or religious prejudice as we seek to share the gospel with others. While it may very well be that as a group such individuals may be less responsive to the truth, it remains our responsibility to Go into the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15).
- Some note that the large population growth is a result of the immigration of millions of Hispanics (most of them Roman Catholics) from Mexico and Central America. Another large group of immigrants have come from Muslim-dominated parts of the world.
The above is posited as a culture change in the church that
for good or bad has made many members less exclusivist and more willing to accept those in Christian denominations. This culture change is certainly prevalent today. However, despite the preceding statement, it is certainly bad. What is now being categorized as a sectarian impulse is the long held belief that Gods people must be doctrinally pure (cf. 2 John 9-11), and that our eternal standing before God is conditioned upon our remaining faithful to His will.
- Another individual is quoted as saying:
the old sectarian impulse is dying, and the evangelistic methods from the 60s and 70s have no cultural relevance today, so you get slow growth rates. Later in the article, another stated: For one, strict advocacy of doctrinal positions is no longer as strong with any church as in the 50s. The U.S. societys emphasis on tolerance has caused great shifts in thinking, and that thinking has touched the Churches of Christ.
What is unfortunately lacking in our time is a distinctive message. Too often we are trying to be like those around us, rather than clearly establishing our identities as New Testament Christians. Remember the text of Acts 4:13, Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. It is not important for us to be educated, affluent or influential. Souls will be saved when they perceive that we are with Jesus in our lives and goals.
Having said that, it should be noted that our Gospel Meetings (a staple of evangelism for decades) no longer can be described as primarily evangelistic in scope. It is difficult to get those who are not Christians to attend a gospel meeting, and conversions during such efforts are rare. Instead, we should view the meetings as an opportunity to equip the saints, and that today (as always) preaching to the lost is for the most part the responsibility of each individual Christian. If you share the gospel with friends and family, some will come to Christ.
We certainly can not guarantee the conversion of souls at the preaching of the gospel. We do live in challenging times, as our society is more interested in fun and frolic than the welfare of their souls. However, we must not allow such apathy to affect our efforts to spread the Word of our Lord. Remember the Apostles words, So then neither he who plants is any thing, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). Each of us must Preach the Word!
- Two final reasons are given for a lack of growth, and may be the most legitimate reasons noted in the article. First, the apathy of the lost in the United States. (It should be noted that evangelistic efforts in third world countries bring forth much more fruit than in our nation). Second, complacency on the part of Christians. As one preacher states in the article, There has been a disconnect between the doctrine of evangelism and the practice of evangelism. While we passionately believe we should reach the lost, we are not passionately seeking them.