4 Disturbing Trends in the Contemporary Church

Ligonier has posted an adaptation of Michael Hortons introduction to R.C. Sproul’s book “Are We Together?”  The 4 disturbing trends are that we are far too confident in 1. our own words, 2. our own methods, 3. our own good works, and 4. our own glory.

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Abandoning Evangelicalism

Modern Reformation magazine’s March/April Issue is called “Exit Interviews” and it talks to ex-evangelicals who left the faith for Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and liberal theology. Here is a quote from one who left evangelicalism for good reason — evangelical Bible studies.

I’m sure there are a lot of good Bible studies out there, and a lot of well intentioned people, so I don’t want to go overboard. But it’s not only my opinion [that evangelicalism tends to be self-help rather than Christ-centred]. There have been some recent academic studies by anthropologists who have examined evangelical Bible studies. They report that people don’t pay too much attention to what the text actually says. People search around in their heads, their memories, and their feelings for something that seems to connect to the text. And then, they conclude “Oh yeah, that makes me fee like..” or “What I think is that….” or “In my opinion, what it means is…” Usually the text is serving as a pretext to affirm something they already believe, rather than as an authoritative text to challenge what they already believe. There’s no other way to put it. There’s a lot of sharing of ignorance.

Evangelical Indifferentism

Phil Johnson has written a great article on the state of contemporary evangelicalism.  Phil writes:

Evangelicalism regularly comes under attack from all sides, and let’s face it: a lot of the criticism leveled against evangelicals is well deserved. Although I hold firmly to historic evangelical doctrine, I thoroughly despise what the contemporary evangelical movement has become. That’s an important distinction. Evangelical doctrine and the evangelical movement are not the same thing. Nowadays they often look like polar opposites.

In fact, post-modern evangelicals don’t really have any clear doctrinal identity….I’d be inclined to say that the singular characteristic that stands out most among contemporary evangelicals is their distaste for drawing any clear lines between truth and error. They don’t like to handle doctrine in a polemical fashion. They especially don’t want to be thought “negative” when it comes to declaring their doctrinal convictions. They don’t want anyone to think they are “against” what someone else teaches.

Phil also quotes Martyn Lloyd-Jones who spotted this illness decades ago:

One of the first signs that a man is ceasing to be truly evangelical is that he ceases to be concerned about negatives, and keeps saying, We must always be positive….The argument which says that you must always be positive, that you must not define the man in terms of what he is against, as well as what he is for, misses the subtlety of the danger.

Evangelicals largely wear indifferentism as a badge of honor, and are quite offended when anyone would dare draw absolute distinctions. This is the only way that the Robert Schullers and Joel Osteens can find an audience in evangelical churches–and those are just the obvious big offenders.