Saturday, June 22, 2013

Dealing with the state of Evangelicalism

The Aquila Report has reposted an article by R.C. Sproul of Ligonier Ministries, Moving Evangelicals Beyond Idolatry. In this article, Sproul speaks about the issue of idolatry through aberrational and heretical theology in the movement called Evangelicalism today.

Besides the fact that Evangelicalism does not really exists except by marketing [see D.G. Hart, Deconstructing Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2004)], the fact of the matter is that its self-created identity has within itself the seed of its own destruction. By pandering to the lowest common denominator, what constitutes the Christian faith becomes more and more restricted to agreement on less and less doctrines, and soon only adherence to the form or the "spirit" of the doctrines remains, which is what had happened in mainstream Protestantism. Many people forget that the Protestantism of the 19th century used to call themselves "Evangelicals," even the liberals, and that the liberals only abandoned the label some time after the Fundamentalist/ Modernist controversy.

So back to the present, what do we make of the current state of Evangelicalism? First, we have to reject the latitudinarianism and doctrinal minimalism endemic to the movement, and thus the movement itself. Loving as it sounds, those who trumpet "Doctrine divides, but love unites" and all its permutations, are to be seen as misguided, however good their intentions. Such attitudes historically result in the destruction of the Church's witnesses and the apostasy of the churches themselves, even if those who trumpet the "love" banner do not intend such to be the result of their attitudes.

Second, if Evangelicalism is that apostate (and anyone who thinks otherwise ought to ask themselves how the early church would have countenanced anyone holding to theories such as Open Theism or even "Evangelical Feminism"), it means that modern Evangelicalism should be seen by us like the (pre-Tridentine) medieval Catholic church. Not yet fully apostate, Evangelicalism is nonetheless hovering around the line between orthodoxy and heresy, between a true church and a false church. That means that Christians ought to treat Evangelicalism like how the Protestants treated the medieval Catholic church. It was a church almost false, desperately needing reform, yet with many believers within her. We accept their sacraments, but should reject many of their churches as being false or almost false.

Modern Roman Catholicism has apostatized even further from Trent, and should be regarded as no church at all. Her sacraments should be seen as invalid, as she has devolved from a false church to a false religion. Modern Evangelicalism has taken the place previously occupied by her. While Evangelicalism still profess the Gospel, we should acknowledge that elements of the true church are within her, though she is in danger of falling.

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