Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Thoughts about tonight's Josh McDowell talk

I have just gone for the Josh McDowell Bold Truth rally tonight, held at St. John - St. Magarat's Church and organized by Campus Crusade for Christ. Basically, it was good. It was good to hear a message against Post-modernism, not forgetting to mention the remarks against the false, blasphemous tale otherwise known as the Da Vinci Code. It was also heartening that the Church of Jesus Christ is rising against this historical revisionist nonsense that is going to sweep the world, with an upcoming magazine out soon debunking the myths in this piece of trash. His short talk on Monday was also rather good.

Nevertheless, I am rather concerned with his emphasis on relationships. While it is true that relatioships are important, and our Lord Jesus Christ came to give his life as a ransom for His sheep to establish a relationship with them, an over-emphasis on relationships is unhealthy and could well bring us back under the liberal fold. McDowell stated that during the fundementalist-liberal divide in the early 20th century, relationships and beliefs were divorced, with the fundamentalists stressing on beliefs while the liberals stressing on behavior and relationships. As someone who has read up a bit on this issue, I think that this caricature is unfair and is overly-simplistic of the entire situation then. Furthermore, he does not make a distinction between the fundamentalists in the 1920s under the leadership of John Gresham Machen and the later mainly Arminian baptist fundamentlists which 'hijack' the movement and change faith and belief into being merely a cognitive assent to doctrine, which was different from the historical Reformed definition of faith as being life transformation based on assent to sound doctrine.

The second concern I have with McDowell's emphasis on relationships is that it could well lead to the other extreme of the pendulum. Thus, instead of faith being purely cognitive with no outworking in good works, the emphasis on relationships could well bring us to the other end of the pendulum into faith being good works with assent to not well defined and shallow doctrine, which brings us back into the old heresy of liberalism. Of course, McDowell would not and most probably do not endorse such a view, and I didn't say he did nor insinuate that he does so, but the fact of the matter is that the swinging of the pendulum into the other extreme which I have stated has already happened, at least in USA, as seen in the heretic Brian McLaren and the so-called emerging 'church'. They emphasize a lot on relationships and helping people, while denigrating doctrine and at least some, like McLaren, promote vile heresies. Since this is happening presently in USA and is spreading to the world, I would think that my concern over McDowell's emphasis on relationships is justified.

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