Saturday, March 21, 2009

Phil Johnson on where Evangelicalism ran astray

Pursuant to the post containing the audio clip of Phil Johnson's sermon on What is an Evangelical, the transcripts of Phil's sermon in the later parts can be found here and here. Here is a excerpt:

Now we need to discuss the contemporary evangelical movement and where it went astray before time gets totally away from us.

Since the mid-1800s there has been a concerted effort to broaden the definition of evangelicalism so that more people can fit in the tent. That happens on the one hand because the adjective evangelical has always been a kind of seal of approval in Christianity—and everybody wants to get into the tent. It's a shorthand way of signifying that someone really believes the Bible and takes the gospel seriously.

Naturally, false teachers who want to smuggle in false doctrines would love to be thought of as evangelicals, because that minimizes the criticism and suspicion that gets aimed their way.

Charles Spurgeon noticed this phenomenon in the nineteenth century, and he pleaded with the true evangelicals of that era not to accept the claims of those who say they are evangelicals but aren't. He warned the Baptist union that the plan of the enemy was (in his words)"to lay the egg of error in the nest of our churches." And he warned that people who called themselves evangelicals but rejected evangelical principles had already infiltrated the Baptist Union. These pseudo-evangelicals took label for themselves, but they refused to define what they meant by it. (Just like today.) In 1888, Spurgeon wrote, "It is mere cant (meaning hypocrisy—a pious pretense) to cry, 'We are evangelical; we are all evangelical,' and yet decline to say what evangelical means. If men are really evangelical, they delight to spread as glad tidings the truths from which they take the name."…


Joel Tay said...

You'll be surprised how many professing evangelicals in my college are actually Neo-orthodox or Neo-liberal in disguise. And I did not even mention the Nestorians.

PuritanReformed said...


Well, if they were truly evangelical, the churches wouldn't be in such a state, would it?