Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Al Mohler Attacks The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) [PCUSA]

Al Mohler notes:
"Liberal Protestantism, in its determined policy of accommodation with the secular world, has succeeded in making itself dispensable." That was the judgment of Thomas C. Reeves in The Empty Church: The Suicide of Liberal Protestantism, published in 1996. Fast-forward another fourteen years and it becomes increasingly clear that liberal Protestantism continues its suicide -- with even greater theological accommodations to the secular worldview.

The latest evidence for this pattern is found in a report just released by The Presbyterian Panel, a research group that serves the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) [PCUSA]. The panel's report is presented as a "Religious and Demographic Profile of Presbyterians, 2008." The report contains relatively few surprises, but it is filled with data about the beliefs of Presbyterian laypersons and clergy.
Back in 1994, a team of sociologists considered this phenomenon, looking particularly at the Baby Boomers in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Dean R. Hoge, Benton Johnson, and Donald A. Luidens published their findings in Vanishing Boundaries: The Religion of Protestant Baby Boomers. They identified the phenomenon of "lay liberalism" in the PCUSA and throughout liberal Protestantism.

As they explained, "This perspective is 'liberal' because its defining feature is a rejection of the orthodox teaching that Christianity is the only true religion. Lay liberals have a high regard for Jesus, but they do not affirm that He is God's only son and that salvation is available only through Him."

The title of their report points to the quandary of liberal Protestantism. As the boundaries between liberal Protestantism and the secular culture vanish, there is little reason for anyone to join one of these churches.

That report explained that "lay liberals who are active Presbyterians do not differ sharply in their religious views from the people who are not involved in a church but describe themselves as religious. There is, in short, no clear-cut 'faith boundary' separating active Presbyterians from those who no longer go to church." The researchers also repeated their point that the defining mark of "lay liberalism" is "the rejection of the claim that Christianity, or any other faith, is the only true religion."

This abandonment of biblical Christianity is a tragedy of the first order. Churches and denominations birthed in biblical orthodoxy have been ransacked and secularized. The crisis has migrated from the pulpits to the pews, and recovery is only a dim and distant hope.

Evangelicals should consider this tragedy with humility and theological perception. If similar trends are allowed to gain traction among evangelical churches and denominations, the same fate awaits. The larger issue here is not the continued vitality of any denomination as an end in itself, but the integrity of our witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Make no mistake -- in the end, vanishing theological boundaries will amount to vanishing Christianity. This report makes that point with devastating clarity.

Do you agree or disagree? What is this "Biblical" Christianity and what does it look like? Do men from the 1500's and 1600's get to decide what this so called "Biblical" Christianity looks like or how about the late 19th century to the early 20th century because they had an agenda---despite the fact that Christianity is much older than either of these centuries and the Christian tradition is much larger than either of these movements as well? Is Christianity a living tradition or not?

All questions aside---yes there are problems with the Moderate, Liberal and Progressive strains of Christianity as sometimes we allow too much of an equally devastating extreme. Sometimes we become just as fundamentalist as our Fundamentalist counterparts about our opposing ends. Sometimes we become so much about what we are against that we forget what we are for.

And what of the worldliness of Conservative and Fundamentalist Christianity? What about the secular ties of the Religious Right---how they are so closely aligned with the worldly and secular policies of the Republican Party? Aren't these paradigms just as equally concerning to Christians as the Moderate, Liberal and Progressive extremes? Oh how a large majority Conservative and Fundamentalist Christians love the worldly patterns of war and injustice; authority and power; greed and arrogance; theocracy and caesaropapism; slander and libel; idolatry and materialism; hate and division, etc.

What also of the worldly way in which the Fundamentalists hijacked and Talibanized the Southern Baptist Convention?

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