Musings 82

Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them…22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts & receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 and just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

If the text of Romans 1:18-32 is correct, and as the Word of God it is, then the United States of America is in deep, deep trouble in a spiritual sense and in the sense of remaining a nation. If we think of the nation reflecting the theological and spiritual condition of the “Church” in our day, then this makes a great statement about the “Church” in our nation. The “Church” is to be salt and light in our society, but instead it has been the exact opposite. The “Church” has been in decline for at least two centuries and this has been seen with some clarity since the middle of the 1800’s and with even more clarity starting with the 20th century.

In the days of John Owen (died 1683) he lamented Arminianism and thought of the teaching of free-will as an idol. He also lamented the fact that he was seeing the preaching of the Gospel as being with far less power in his day than in previous days. Not only did Owen write strongly against Arminianism, but others wrote against it as well. In the days of Jonathan Edwards (died 1758) the unconverted members of his congregation were quite frightened when they heard that Arminianism was gaining power in New England. They were frightened because they thought of Arminianism as a judgment of God and so they thought of their day of salvation as over.

It has been stated that there is no logical stopping point between Calvinism and atheism. Others have stated that there is only a small difference between Pelagianism and Arminianism. If the Gospel is indeed a Gospel of grace alone and Christ alone, then Arminianism cannot preach the true Gospel. The Arminian position, of necessity, believes in the free-will and a free-will is free of depravity enough to make a decision, but also has to be free of grace in order to be free. This leaves us, though they will argue with words to the contrary, with a gospel that is not grace alone and Christ alone in reality. By virtue of sheer definition it is a gospel of grace alone in name alone rather than one that is truly by grace alone.

Charles G. Finney was licensed to preach in 1823 and in 1825 he had a “successful” period of preaching in Utica, New York. Both his message and his methods were different than Jonathan Edwards and Asahel Nettleton. Not only did he not believe in the total depravity of man, he also denied original sin (men are born sinners). Men were not thought to have to wait on God for a new heart, but they could decide “right now” to be saved. Finney had great results for a while and many pastors followed his methods. America has not been the same since. Finney is now thought to have been a giant in the land and he was been the great champion looked to for modern evangelists. Interestingly enough, Finney was a heretic and his methods were based on his heresy. His theology and his methods opened the “Church” to unbelievers and in fact many church buildings were filled with unbelievers by his theology and methods, both in his day and in the days since.

When we look at things from a theological angle, we see how we have arrived at our present state in America. Theology has been abandoned for visible results. Methodology has been changed for visible results. However, the visible results are far different from a biblical point of view. Many have been deceived and the local churches have been taken over by unbelief and humanism. Secularism has crept in and humanism has swept away large numbers of “churches.” Arminianism and Pelagianism (at times virtually without distinction) have taken over in name and in practice. The Reformed groups offer barely a peep at the erosion of the Gospel and our nation as a result of Arminian and Pelagian thinking. After all, it is hard to be in the same denomination if one is speaking out about how false a theology is. After all, it is not thought to be gracious or winsome if one speaks against another theology. However, if Owen and Edwards (and others) were right, it just could be that descent of the “churches” and our nation is to be set at the feet of Arminianism and Pelagianism. It is something we must ponder.

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