Apostasy of the Church Part III
Charles A. Briggs. Continued.
When the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church put Briggs on trial in 1893, he was suspended from the Presbyterian Church. As a result Briggs became an Episcopalian and the Union Theological Seminary withdrew from the Presbyterian Church and became independent. Union still would train ministers for Presbyterian pulpits. This then enabled the apostasy to develop in the course of the twentieth century. Apostasy would first begin in a denominational school and then train ministers to teach the same refuse.
Eventually, more and more liberals took over the pulpits, and more and more churches became liberal themselves. By 1901 the leaders of the different positions in the conflict within the Presbyterian Church did not hold to the Westminster Confession for different reasons yet all publically stated they did!
So throughout the first two decades of the twentieth century, apostates took over the schools and trained ministers for the denominational churches. In an effort to stem the tide, in 1910 the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church issued the Five Fundamentals of the Faith, which included
- The inspiration of the Scriptures.
- The Virgin Birth.
- The Substitutionary Atonement.
- The resurrection of Jesus.
- The miracles of Jesus.
Those who subscribed to these five points were labeled “Fundamentalists,” and so a new word was coined. Those who denied these fundamentals were called Modernists or Liberals. The General Assembly issued these in 1910 and reaffirmed them in 1916 and in 1923. In more recent times The World Congress of Fundamentalists provided a definition of biblical fundamentalism. At their meeting in 1976 in Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland they said; “Fundamentalism is militant orthodoxy set on fire with soul winning zeal.” They listed seven characteristics that define a fundamentalist. Note particularly the final two points:
- Maintains an immovable allegiance to the inerrant, infallible, and verbally inspired Bible.
- Believes that whatever the Bible says is so.
- Judges all things by the Bible and is judged only by the Bible.
- Affirms the foundational truths of the historic Christian Faith: The doctrine of the Trinity; the incarnation, virgin birth, Substitutionary atonement, bodily resurrection and glorious ascension, and Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ; the new birth through regeneration by the Holy Spirit; the resurrection of the saints to life eternal; the resurrection of the ungodly to final judgment and eternal death; the fellowship of the saints, who are the body of Christ.
- Practices fidelity to that Faith and endeavors to preach it to every creature.
- Exposes and separates from all ecclesiastical denial of that Faith, compromise with error, and apostasy from the Truth.
- Earnestly contends for the Faith once delivered.
The decade of the 1920’s was characterized by the great Modernist-Fundamentalist battles. There were many attempts to fight Modernism within the church. But toward the end of the decade, it was apparent that the Modernists were firmly in control of both the denominational church positions (this included all the major denominations except the Southern Baptist Convention) and their schools.
This led to the separatist movement of the 1930’s as the Fundamentalists pulled out of the denominations and started their own denominations or independent churches. Emerging from the United Presbyterian Church of the United States of America was a group led by J. Greshem Machen, which unfortunately split into three separate denominations (Orthodox Presbyterians, Bible Presbyterians and the Evangelical Presbyterians) due to internal struggles. Out of the American Baptist Convention came the General Association of Regular Baptists (GARB). Out of the United Methodist Church came the Evangelical Methodists.
THE SCHISMS THAT WERE PROPHECIED BECAUSE OF THE APOSTASY, STARTED WITH THE SEPARISTS MOVEMENTS OF THE 1930’S
Jud 1:17-19 But ye, beloved, remember ye the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; That they said to you, In the last time there shall be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts. These are they who make separations, sensual, having not the Spirit.
Ecumenical movements have characterized the 1940’s to the present day. In 1948, the World Council of Churches was organized on two principles: First, the unity of all the Churches in the basis of liberal tenets; and second, the unity of all religions. In 1950, the old Federal Council of Churches was reorganized into the National Council of Churches, again attempting to unify all churches in the United States along liberal tenets. Consequently, the visible church is primarily apostate today. Even among conservative denominations, some can already see the threat of apostasy in the taking over of the schools and the supplying of liberal ministers for the pulpit. The Southern Baptist Convention has not fully escaped this trend but in the decade of the ninety’s there was a reversal.
The New Evangelicalism:
Few movements of Satan in his fueling of apostasy are as destructive to fundamentalist Bible-believing churches as New Evangelicalism. People who are trying to be “with it” or up to date with “where Christianity is going” are confronted with it on every hand–through popular Christian radio and television preachers, at the local ecumenical bookstore, through members of other churches, through ecumenical evangelistic crusades, through political activity, and through interdenominational organizations such as Promise Keepers. The social good they seek to attain such as fighting abortion or same-sex marriage brings them together with Catholics, Mormons and others in their fight for social justice. Politics makes strange bedfellows. In the Bible we see the Pharisees making league with the Herodians for the sake of opposing Jesus (Mark 3:6; 12: 13). There is nothing new under the sun.
This is perhaps the most insidious of all the apostasies. It is characterized by catering to the desires of the people. Instead of being inculcated with God’s Word and having our personal world view and behavior patterned after God’s Word, The New Evangelicalism gives the people what they want. One NT passage clearly predicts this reversal of worship of God to worshipping man.
Rom 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
The idea with this new wave of apostasy is to soft sell the Bible and salvation. It is not attempting to save anybody from the fires of Hell but from an aimless and meaningless life here on earth. Our experiences and quality of life here are more important than the total service to God and the blessed assurance that He will soon come to lift us out of this sinful decaying world. Salvation is given lip service and evangelism with real confrontation is thought to be too divisive. This apostasy does not want to upset anybody. There is never any mention of Hell, which is the outcome of an unsaved life. They may say that they believe strongly but their actions differ sharply from what they say. They want to flatter instead of present truth. The New Evangelicalism appeals to the carnal nature of man.
Usually their Bible teaching is characterized by an over emphasis on application. This of course is the middle of the road approach. They avoid doctrine as too divisive.
Paul warned us that the end times would be characterized as a departure from sound doctrine and a departure from the truth.
2Ti 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT DOCTRINE:
We are saved by believing from the heart the right doctrine of the gospel (Rom. 6:17). This shows why we cannot accept someone as a genuine Christian if they are committed to a false gospel, such as Rome’s sacramental gospel.
- We are to separate from those who teach false doctrine (Rom. 16:17).
- We must be careful of every wind of false doctrine (Eph. 4:14).
- No false doctrine is to be allowed (1 Tim. 1:3).
- The preacher is to take heed to the doctrine (1 Tim. 4:16).
- The Bible is given for doctrine (2 Tim. 3:16) and is to be preached with doctrine (2 Tim. 4:2).
- The preacher must be able to use doctrine to edify and protect the church (Tit. 1:9).
- We abide in Christ by sound doctrine (1 Jn. 2:24-27).
Fearing divisiveness they believe that they will lose members of their congregation and therefore funds. They are concerned with money and man-made approaches to self-help. A total dependence on God for their resources is abandoned for “sound business” practices or “fundamental marketing techniques.” Total reliance on God by elders through prayer and patience is exchanged for parliamentary procedure and schemes for man made self-advancement and career goals. The pastor is considered as a CEO, not the teacher of God’s Word. Mission statements and strategic plans are formulated to accommodate personal plans. The Bible is subordinated to man’s desires.
The thought of prophecy is anathema to the New Evangelical for they say it causes division. This division of course is between those non-literal Bible expositors and the literal Biblical expositors. Some have characterized the New Evangelicalism as being seduced by the world spirit of this present age.
It is evident in the leaders who are popularized. Usually they have a high degree of prominence in the government or sports and their testimonies are sought after for paid speaking engagements and book endorsements.
You will never see a Sunday school teacher or poor inner city pastor held up by them as pillars of the faith. Christ went to the lowest members of society to bring the truth to the world. He did not go to the popular and prominent.
This is a spirit of disobedience and a mood of compromise. It is a rejection of many of the negative aspects of New Testament Christianity. It is an attitude of positivism. They would rather be diplomats not fighters, positive rather than militant, infiltrators rather than separatists. They would not be restricted by a separationist mentality. The New Evangelical would rather pursue dialog, intellectualism, and appeasement than Biblical Militiantism. Psychology is fast becoming their guide. Some characteristics are in the following list:
- A repudiation of separation.
- By replacing separation with dialogue.
- By a love for positivism, by a repudiation of the more negative aspects (sin, Hell etc) of biblical Christianity, by a judge-not philosophy, by a dislike of doctrinal controversy.
- By exalting love and unity above doctrine.
- By a pragmatic approach to the ministry.
- By a desire for intellectual respectability, by pride of scholarship.
- By an attitude of anti-fundamentalism.
- By the division of biblical truth into categories of important and not important.
- By exalting social-political activity to the same level as the Great Commission.
- By a mood of softness, a desire for a less strict Christianity, weariness with fighting, and neutrality toward spiritual warfare.
The use of secular psychology is rapidly becoming the norm in Christian Schools and churches.
Our culture has become deeply and extensively psychological. The weakness and carnality of the church in recent decades has allowed this psychological mind-set of the world to flow into the church. This process has brought about a redefining of many foundational matters of the Christian faith. We used to correctly understand that man’s problem was sin and God’s remedy was His saving and transforming grace (Romans 5:12, 17). Now, the trouble is the disorder of codependency, and the solution is group therapy. Formerly, we understood that man tended to stray from God to follow his own self-willed path (Isaiah 53:6), and that he needed to deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Christ (Luke 9:23). Now, we think that man must esteem himself, affirm himself, and actualize himself. All of this new thinking is coming from psychological theory, which is primarily a philosophy of life. We are strongly warned in the word of the Lord not to be guided by the philosophy of the world.
Colossians 2:8 “Beware lest anyone take you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ”
Beware of the leaven of the new-evangelicals.
Daniel E. Woodhead
Sources of this material for the three postings are:
Breese, Dave, 7 Men Who Rule The World From The Grave, Moody Press, Chicago, IL 1990
Cloud, David W, Way of Life Encyclopedia, Way of Life Literature Port Huron, MI 2002
Couch, Mal, God Has Spoken, AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN 2003
Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G, The Footsteps of the Messiah, Ariel Ministries, San Antonio, TX 2003
Lewis, Brenda Ralph, A Dark History: The Popes; Vice Murder, and Corruption in the Vatican, Metro Books, NY, NY 2009
North, Gary, Crossed Fingers, How The Liberals Captured The Presbyterian Church, Published by the Institute for Christian Economics, Tyler, TX 1996
Scofield, C.I. The New Scofield Reference Bible, Oxford University Press, Oxford, GB 1967