Christianity Today 13


When the long-standing pillars of orthodox theology and sound doctrine are abandoned, the overwhelming floods of error rush in to destroy what is left. I have attempted to detail those errors in this book, however, not everything covered in each sermon can be summarized here.

Although error has always been present in the church, the false theology which is so prevalent today gained a foothold under the Pelagian teachings of Nathaniel Taylor at Yale University who altered many basic Christian doctrines including man’s depravity, God’s sovereignty, Christ’s atonement, and regeneration, Taylor’s erroneous teachings were put into practice by Charles Finney who applied them to evangelism and introduced his New Measures into numerous churches through his revival meetings. Few pastors were willing to question Finney’s methods at the same time due to what seemed to be the apparent success he was having. Jonathan Edwards and 21st Century Evangelicalism, William C. Nichols

The quotes above come from a book that is an effort to show that modern Evangelicalism is far removed from the theology and practice from the history of the Church. Even more, it shows that modern Evangelicalism is far removed from the teachings of the Bible. It is important to trace error back as far as one can, though it is also true that the source of all error is the evil one who is out to deceive. The great error in the modern professing Church, regarding human instruments, can be traced to a time just after the first Great Awakening. That great error, which is rampant in the modern professing Church, is stated by William Weeks in his Pilgrim’s Progress Through the Wastelands and quoted by William Nichols Jonathan Edwards and 21st Century Evangelicalism.

The Arminian doctrine I take to be, that God desires, all things considered, to save all men, and does all he can to save them; but that the nature of moral agency is such, that God cannot change the heart by an act of power, but can only use persuasion; and all the persuasion he can use may be resisted. This scheme makes it depend upon man’s sovereign will, and not upon God’s sovereign will, whether the sinner shall be saved or not. This scheme is adapted to multiply false converts in two ways. It exhibits God as of such a character as the sinner loves by nature, and thus makes him think he is converted, when no change has taken place. And it deceives the sinner, by leading him to depend on his restoration to change his course, as if that were true conversion.

The doctrine that is called Arminian by Weeks is really the doctrine of the Pharisees and certainly the doctrine of Charles Finney, though some might think of that as Pelagianism. Either way, it has constantly been introduced by the Great Deceiver in all ages of the Church. The modern doctrines of the vast majority of the Professing Church are not new, but instead these are the same old doctrines that Satan has used for thousands of years to deceive. Doctrine is not just something that one must intellectually grasp, but they are truths of the character of God, the character of man, and the teachings on the Gospel. These are truths that guide how we are to live as well.

Today, it seems as if one knows the word “Jesus” and that person has been led in a prayer of any kind, that person is considered as converted. That is really the heart of what Weeks thought of as Arminian. It is constantly looking to what man can do and trying to get man to do what was in his own power. Instead, the Bible says that God looks upon the humble, contrite, and those who tremble at His word (Isa 66:2). If the Bible is correct which teaches us that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble, then men cannot do anything to help God to save them by grace alone when it comes from a proud and unregenerate heart. The work of God is not limited to persuasion, but instead it is His mighty creative power that must raise sinners from the dead in regeneration.

The Pelagian and semi-Pelagian (Arminian) teaching that has swamped the professing Church is opposed to biblical Christianity rather than being part of it. Yes, there are degrees of those teachings. But we must begin to wake up and see that the professing Christianity of today does not have a Gospel that delivers man from his self-centered and proud heart and life, but instead assures him of salvation while leaving him in the bondage of his sin. It does indeed add a drop of religiosity to him, but it is not a Christ who rules over him and in him with power and love.

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