Today’s False Gospel

Sadly, this is not the church’s finest hour. We live in an age of weak theology and casual Christian conduct. Our knowledge is insufficient, our worship is irreverent, and our lives are immoral. Even the evangelical church has succumbed to the spirit of this age. Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace?…argued that the evangelical movement has lost its grip on the gospel.

Perhaps the simplest way to say this is that evangelicalism has become worldly. This can be demonstrated by comparing it with yesterday’s liberalism. What was once said of liberal churches must now be said of evangelical churches: they seek the world’s wisdom, believe the world’s theology, follow the world’s agenda, and adopt the world’s methods. According to the standard of worldly wisdom, the Bible is unable to meet the demands of life in these postmodern times. By itself, God’s Word is insufficient to win people to Christ, promote spiritual growth, provide practical guidance, or transform society. So churches supplement the plain teaching of Scripture with entertainment, group therapy, political activism, signs and wonders – anything that promises to appeal to religious consumers. According to the world’s theology, sin is merely a dysfunction and salvation means having better self-esteem. When this theology comes to church, it replaces difficult but essential doctrines like the propitiation of God’s wrath with practical techniques for self-improvement. The world’s agenda is personal happiness, so the gospel is presented as a plan for individual fulfillment rather than as a pathway of costly discipleship. The world’s methods for accomplishing this self-centered agenda are necessarily pragmatic, so evangelical churches are willing to try whatever seems like it might work. This worldliness has produced the “new pragmatism” of evangelicalism.

– James Montgomery Boice and Philip Graham Ryken, The Doctrines of Grace, p.20,21 [emphasis original].

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