You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet!
Salvation Army President Predicts Demise of The Church
Any Fifth Street Promenade tarot card reader would be thrilled to nail a prediction as accurately as William Booth did one hundred years ago. “I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.”
Was the founder of the Salvation Army accurate?
>Is there religion without the Holy Ghost? With a red face I confess that we conservatives have veered from the zany antics of televangelism into a ditch with little recognition of the active work of the Holy Spirit.
>Is there Christianity without Christ? Have you been to an Episcopal church lately?
>Is there forgiveness without turning from sin? Ask Dallas Theological Seminary.
>Is there salvation without regeneration? Google “Carnal Christianity.”
>Is there politics without God? www.ACLU.com
>Is there heaven without hell? Paging Rob Bell.
How was General Booth able to make such an accurate prediction? He surveyed the doctrines that were under assault, and then forecasted where that errant theology would take us. What deficient theology did he see? He witnessed a forsaking of the preaching of the Law. While he did not know what the result would be named, he knew that anti-nomianism (no law, lots of grace) had to lead to what turned out to be watered down mainline Protestantism and the seeker sensitive movement.
Now that General Booth’s predictions have been fulfilled, we would do well to survey the latest threat. “Isn’t the seeker sensitive movement the latest threat?” you ask. I would suggest it is not.
The seeker sensitive movement is the result of the squishy, anti-nomianism that General Booth witnessed; it is not a new threat. Seeker Sensitive is the manifestation of bad theology. Seeker sensitive is merely a fad (a bad fad, but a fad, nonetheless), and it won’t be long before it is replaced by another fad that is the result of new bad theology. What is the bad theology of our day?
Nearly 500 years ago, God used Martin Luther to recapture the foundational doctrine of justification by grace through faith alone. Every puritan who followed in his wake recognized that justification is the core doctrine of Protestantism.
How did they define it? Man=sin. God=holiness. Consequence=hell. But God chose to demonstrate His kindness by taking the punishment we deserve by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to live a sinless life and die on a cross, rise from the dead and defeat death. Therefore, if people will repent and trust the Savior, the righteousness of Jesus will be imputed (credited to our account) that we might be made the righteousness of God (see II Cor.5:21) so that God can be glorified for His kindness. That is justification.
But alas, today’s “progressive” theologians have decided we need to take a fresh, new look at our cherished corner stone. Emergent leader, Brian McLaren says he simply wants to have a conversation and re-think long-held evangelical assumptions.
While he acts like he is taking us on a journey whose destination is unknown, Mr. McLaren seems to know exactly where this conversation is headed: a new definition of justification. From the article “Interview with Brian McLaren about ‘A Letter to Friends of Emergent.’”
Interviewer: I think with all the other change going on, one thing we’ve got to hold firm on is the Gospel.
McLaren: What do you mean when you say “the Gospel?
Interviewer: You know, justification by grace through faith in the finished atoning work of Christ on the cross.
McLaren: Are you sure that’s the Gospel?
Interviewer: Of course. Aren’t you?
McLaren: I’m sure that’s a facet of the Gospel, and it’s the facet that modern evangelical Protestants have assumed is the whole Gospel, the heart of the Gospel. But what’s the point of that Gospel?
In part two, we will put on our General William Booth predicting hats to predict where this conversation is headed. Trust me, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.