The wave of Modernism that swept over the West in the 19th century brought with it an insidious attack against the church—the lie that reason could replace faith; and science the Bible. Virtually all of our once great bastions of Christian thinking, our Princetons and Harvards came to embrace that lie. This supposed secular enlightenment also infected the thinking of nearly all of our major denominations. This new attack—theological liberalism (not synonymous with political liberalism)—is still alive and well in the church today. Armed with scientific dogma, emboldened by Darwin’s evolution, made vogue through appealing social and psychological jargon, modern man and woman openly exchanged the truth of God’s Word for a lie.
In layman’s terms this means that many people in the West grew to no longer accept the Bible as the error-free (inerrant) Word of God. To many the Bible is at best a book with good moral teaching and at worst an intellectual crutch for unreasoning, dangerous, fundamental radicals.
Can you think of time when you encountered theological liberalism (e.g., black liberation theology)? How did it contradict the Bible, and how did it tempt you to compromise the truth?
THE BIRTH OF CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISM:
Like with Elijah, God raised up men who would not bow a knee to Satan’s new attack against the church. On September 4-6, 1923, at the Lake Okoboji Tabernacle in Arnold Park, Iowa, 24 men from ten states met to organize a fellowship for true Bible-believing pastors and churches who were opposed to the apostasy of their denominations. This movement eventually became known as the IFCA and was a counter-movement to Liberalism. These new churches were committed to holding to the fundamentals of the Christian faith: the virgin birth of Christ, the resurrection, the deity of Christ, miracles in the Bible, and the inspiration of Scripture.
THE BIRTH OF EVANGELICALISM:
With similar convictions, but with a non-separatist approach, men like theologian John Gresham Machen (1881-1937) choose to stay in their Christian denominations and schools of theology and to fight against liberalism. Eventually they too would have to leave their churches and schools, but they refused to leave their biblical academic pursuits of the faith. They vigorously clung to the conviction that the gospel needed to be actively shared, conversion meant having a born-again experience, and that the Bible is the authoritative inerrant Word of God. They also believed that all truth (scientific included) is God’s truth but only the Bible is God-inspired truth. So they held to the conviction that when rightly understood science and the Bible would agree. This movement called evangelicalism, at times stood in opposition to fundamentalists stronger separatist (and at times anti-academic) conviction.
LACBC in direct ways is linked to both of these movements. Our church was organized with the help of the IFCA and our pastors have been trained in solid evangelical seminaries. We tend to hold the historic convictions compatible with both fundamentalist and evangelicals, and we fellowship in both groups.
Liberals reliance upon the goodness and brilliance of mankind instead of the inerrant Word of God leaves them depending upon a utopian hope that contradicts reality. The conclusion that man’s reasoning is incurably flawed is forcefully taught throughout Scripture.
- What does the Bible teach about the reasoning of the lost mind? According to the Bible man’s mind is: debased, Romans 1:28; hardened, 2 Cor 3:14; blinded by Satan, 2 Cor 4:4; darkened, Eph 4:18; hostile to God & spiritual truth, Col 1:21; deceived, Col 2:8; sensual, Col 2:18; depraved, 1 Tim 6:5; corrupted, 2 Tim 3:8; and defiled, Tit 1:15.
- What is the source of fallen man’s wisdom when it defies God’s Word? Man’s wisdom when in contradiction to God is rooted in demonic sources: “This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic,” James 3:15. Satan who lied from the beginning is the instigator who tempts mankind to question God’s Word, Genesis 3:1.
- According to the Bible how are Christians supposed to respond to so-called philosophies that stand in opposition to the teaching of Scripture? Read 2 Timothy 2:14-18 and paraphrase Colossians 2:8.
KEY TERMS: Modernity, Liberalism, Fundamentalism, Evangelicalism, Inerrancy
APPLICATION: WHY IS THIS SIGNIFICANT?
Remember the story of the camel who asked if he could just put his nose into the travelers tent? Once he got his nose in, he kept pressing to come in further and further until he took over the entire tent and kicked the traveler out. Beware! There is a lesson in this for us. In too many professing churches, the truth has been kicked out and replaced with what sounds socially and scientifically relevant.
We must not comprise our stand on the Word of God for the sake of appearing intellectually astute to a world that is spiritually blind to the truth. There is a price to pay for forsaking the truth for worldly wisdom. According to Jesus, the truth is the only thing that will set us free, John 8:31-21. This means if we forsake truth two consequences will follow: (1) we lose all hope of becoming free from sin and (2) we will allow ourselves to be imprisoned “through philosophy and empty deception,” Col 2:8.
At LACBC we believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God—all of it—and we would rather be Christ’s fools and be free, then have all the world’s wisdom, with all the world’s wealth, and power along with it, only to remain a slave of sin doomed under God’s judgment forever.
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