For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? (I Corinthians 14:8)
Dennis Prager, a radio talk-show host, has often said, “I prefer clarity to agreement.” I get this. In many ways I agree with him. I am tired of people that cannot honestly and clearly tell you what they believe. You expect that from politicians; not from pastors and teachers.
But when discussing biblical truths, agreement is critical. Especially on doctrinal matters. A worst-case scenario is when individuals are purposefully vague regarding truth. They use creatively soft and nuanced teaching that draws the crowds and fills churches. They especially appeal to the young by conforming to the world in every possible way and re-working, re-thinking and re-wording the Word of God.
I’m speaking of this, because there are men whose books are being passed around the churches as helpful guides to living and communicating the Christian life. Yet, these same men take positions that are soft toward foundational doctrines such as a young, created earth, the six-day, literal creation, a global flood, the efficacy of the blood of Christ in salvation, the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation, and the verbal, inerrancy and authority of the Bible.
Much of this nuanced teaching is coming from the metro-church ministries, popular magazines like Christianity Today as well as Christian radio. It is also flowing out of the Christian seminaries and colleges. Within Evangelical Christian schools, the evidence is overwhelming that we are seeing a movement away from Biblical truth. And these institutions are the primary supply sources of our church leadership. Commonly, both the head pastors, assistant pastors and youth ministers are being trained in schools that increasingly refuse to take clear positions on fundamental biblical truth.
As biblical authority diminishes, an old lie is stepping in to take the place of truth.
It is the Social Gospel.
There are Many False Gospels
This is not a new idea, but an old corruption that long ago crept into the mainline protestant denominations to remove the fundamental foundations. As this false gospel spread, the churches and seminaries rejected the authority of scripture, as well as salvation by faith alone, through Christ alone. Good works, social concerns, humanitarian outreaches and all kinds of programs to promote the flourishing of mankind took precedence over concern for the souls of men.
We are again facing this shift; but now it is storming into the Evangelical camp. And it should not be a surprise to us. Because, for over a generation now, the Evangelical churches have presumed they could join in common cause with unbelieving protestant denominations, the Catholic Church and even the Mormon Church.
Corruption for the Cause of Something Good
Their common cause might be to fight against immorality, to fight for social justice, against poverty or even to win back the culture. It makes little difference what the cause has been. In every case, the corruption of biblical truth has infected Evangelicalism.
Battle Instructions Follow the Love Chapter
The main point here is all about the “sure and certain sound“. That is what the gospel should be. This is not rocket science. This is simply about trusting the Lord and His Word in our preaching and teaching. To proclaim it clearly and faithfully.
When we think we can be unclear in our lives and in our message in order to gain greater access in ministering to the lost, we are foolish. The clear, bold approach is still the way the Lord dealt with men. Especially in dealing with religious leaders. He pulled no punches with them. He called them the whitewashed tombs that they were. He said that their father was Satan. There was no “nuance” there. Jesus was demonstrating true love.
The Training of Leadership
Sadly, as I have tried to indicate earlier, much of this errant thinking is coming out of the seminaries and schools where our leaders are trained. And so, the error passes from the seminary-trained leadership to the guys in the pew.
This slippery slope of seminary corruption followed by denominational compromise is a long-established pattern. It was the way that denominations began to fall in the 1800s; it was the way that Princeton fell. And it is the way that other schools such as Dallas Theological Seminary, Wheaton and others continue to slide into deeper and deeper compromise.
Fight or Blend
Clarity is the key. Be clear in what you believe. Study the scriptures and “try the spirits whether they be of God“. Be courageous in standing for what you believe in the midst of biblical churches that are seeking to blend in with popular Christian teaching.
We are the trumpets that the Lord wants to use to lead His people through the raging battle. We must give a clear sound. We must give a clear message to the world so that they can know, for certain, how to be saved and know Christ.
Our brothers in Christ are listening for our clear bugle call. What we send out to them must give bold and certain help in the midst of this terrible spiritual battle we are all fighting.