12 November 2010

Some Problems that Need Addressed

With apologies to Gary Gilley (because I heavily edited his list to make mine), here are some problems of the contemporary church that need serious attention these days-

  • Emergent Christianity is a sentimental religion
  • The view is that doctrines are unimportant and experience, not truth, is what matters
  • Tolerance is more important than truth
  • We should not seek to know God but to feel Him  
  • Sin is not a great problem 
  • The enjoyment of life is the primary purpose for Christianity
  • The Bible is not what it claims; authority rests in the individual and in pragmatism 
  • Jesus is simply an example for us, not a redeemer
  • The resurrection was not a historical fact
  • The Christian doctrine of salvation is to be criticized because it is narrow and exclusive
  • The doctrine of salvation presents a cold, cruel and unloving view of God
  • The betterment of the earth and the people and animals living in it is the church’s agenda

These are serious issues in need of a great thinker to evaluate them and give an answer from scripture, right?  Well, been-there-done-that, as they say.  All these issues come not first from the postmodern liberalism of the emergent church, but from classical liberalism of the 19th and early 20th centuries.  J. Gresham Machen addressed each of these (and more) in his classic book Christianity and Liberalism, written in 1923.

If you've never read that book, and the problems of contemporary church culture bother you, you need to read it.  If you don't know much about Machen, I can recommend a book that might be hard to find, but is worth the effort- Toward a Sure Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Dilemma of Biblical Criticism, 1881-1915 by Terry Chrisope.  I used to work with Dr. Chrisope...he teaches history and religion at Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis.  The book came from his doctoral dissertation at Kansas State University.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  And the more new problems we find, the more we realize there is really nothing new under the sun.  As Chesterton once said, "The wit of man is insufficient to invent a new heresy."

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