Christianity Today 16

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

Romans 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…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.

What does it mean to abandon sound doctrine and the long-standing pillars of orthodox theology? While it can mean for people to simply leave it all behind, it can also mean leaving the doctrinal creeds in place and yet abandon them by leaving them in a way that appears to be a slight move away from them. It can also mean having a practice that is not in accordance with the truth.

It appears to be easier for people to give up an intellectual belief than it is to give up a practice, though the two are related. Giving up an intellectual belief may be as easy as simply changing the mind, but to give up a practice may be giving up multiple intellectual beliefs, something the heart is set on, not to mention the pride that the practice may have brought. Giving up a practice may also require giving up self-righteousness. For example, if a person has spent many years practicing evangelism a person may have a lot of spiritual pride and righteousness built up over the years. That person may think of him or herself as a soul winner. That person may have built confidence in salvation because of the apparent success of that evangelism. A person may defend that evangelistic practice to the death because of all the self-interest in it. However, that person may not realize that in order to practice that form of evangelism sound doctrine of the heart may have been left behind.

Forsaking the Lord is a terrible sin. Despite what our eyes see, God judges sin by turning people over to hardened hearts and therefore more sin. This is one reason that evil comes flooding in when people turn from sound doctrine. The real problem of leaving sound doctrine is that at the heart of the leaving of sound doctrine is a turning from the Lord or an exchanging the truth of God for a lie. Since the whole of theology is really a doctrine of God in the essence of it all bad theology is a turning from the Lord to some degree. For example, people may not realize just how much theology is underneath the practice of evangelism. We can reject God by humanistic evangelism though we think our evangelism is a good thing. We can commit idolatry by being more concerned with getting “converts” than we are with the glory of God. We can commit idolatry by loving ourselves or other sinners in evangelism rather than God.

It is also true that when we become more man-centered in evangelism we water down the truth of the Gospel because the Gospel is always the Gospel of God and the Gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ. When our evangelism reflects a theology that is a turning from God, we are opening the door and allowing for floods of error to come into our own hearts and the local church as well. If a person wrote a book on evangelism and it would be based on humanism and is idolatry in practice, that error would spread. When Charles Finney took up his false form of evangelism, it was based on theological error and as he went out spreading his error, floods of error swept into the churches where he held his campaigns. He wrote books and that error spread even further. That great error has dominated professing Christianity to this day. We must beware of stepping away from sound doctrine.

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