Phil Johnson was right on in his predictions, that much is for sure. On the other side though, Phil also addresses hyper-seperationism and those taking upon themselves discernment ministry unwisely to a unproductive and in many cases destructive degree. In this, many have a proper critique of us who critique, and Phil actually expounds upon this matter better than some who criticize us for criticizing. Anyway, point duly noted.
Date: January 27, 2012
“Every generation must fight their own [version of the] Downgrade [controversy]” – Dr. James White
Very relevant to where the evangelical church is these days, in every age really. Excerpt from Spurgeon and the Down-Grade Controversy by John MacArthur, excerpted from The Sword and the Trowel.
[At the end of the Puritan age] by some means or other, first the ministers, then the Churches, got on “the down grade,” and in some cases, the descent was rapid, and in all, very disastrous. In proportion as the ministers seceded from the old Puritan godliness of life, and the old Calvinistic form of doctrine, they commonly became less earnest and less simple in their preaching, more speculative and less spiritual in the matter of their discourses, and dwelt more on the moral teachings of the New Testament, than on the great central truths of revelation. Natural theology frequently took the place which the great truths of the gospel ought to have held, and the sermons became more and more Christless. Corresponding results in the character and life, first of the preachers and then of the people, were only too plainly apparent.
The Sword and the Trowel – C.H. Spurgeon
I’m absolutely all for having “conversations” with those outside orthodoxy. But to have fellow “orthodoxians” castigate people who have serious theological questions downgrades the very discourse that would bring light and truth, the very truth that leads to Christ. The church should be an example of proper discourse (like the Bethke/DeYoung exchange) not the one’s emulating the world in shutting it down in the name of Rodney King’s mantra, “Can’t we all just get along?” There are serious issues at stake in these debates.
It is not enough that T.D. Jakes said, yes, I affirm, “One God – Three Persons.” He qualifies this affirmation and it is that qualification that speaks volumes, inviting more questions, questions that weren’t asked, questions that won’t be answered in all likelihood.
I’ve seen responses to those with questions stating that we shouldn’t attack the darkness but just bring light. My response? The Book of Jude. That whole letter is only about shining light on the darkness, attacking the darkness with the light. You do this through positive proclamation of truth (Ephesians 1-3), but also discourse that isn’t afraid of a debate (Paul taking Peter to task, Mars Hill debates, Jewish leaders).
Paul took the leaders to task everywhere he went, even going to Mars Hill to debate them, on their own turf. The Western world’s doctrine of positivism (that negation is evil) is making deeper inroads in evangelicalism and manifesting (no pun intended) itself in different ways. This has been there for a while, but the latest Elephant Room conversation has only brought it to the surface.