Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"No Doctrine Stands Alone"

The latest controversy over the doctrine of hell has raised the larger of issue of Christian doctrine in general. It is no surprise that there are certain doctrines, not least of all the gospel itself (1 Cor 1:18ff) which offend modern sensabilities. The project of liberal theology since Schleirmacher has been to make Christianity plausible to its "cultured despisers." This same project was carried forth by Rudolph Bultmann, Harry Emerson Fosdick and more recently by the emergent kids. The intentions to deny, ignore, or redefine key biblical doctrines are all in an effort to reach more people, which is noble. But ultimately it is a fool's errand for it does not take long to figure out that tinkering with one doctrine inevitably leads to compromises in another and so forth.

From Al Mohler:

The first issue is a changed view of God. The biblical vision of God has been rejected by the culture as too restrictive of human freedom and offensive to human sensibilities. God’s love has been redefined so that it is no longer holy. God’s sovereignty has been reconceived so that human autonomy is undisturbed. In recent years, even God’s omniscience has been redefined to mean that God perfectly knows all that He can perfectly know, but He cannot possibly know a future based on free human decisions.

Evangelical revisionists promote an understanding of divine love that is never coercive and would disallow any thought that God would send impenitent sinners to eternal punishment in the fires of hell. They are seeking to rescue God from the bad reputation He picked up by associating with theologians who for centuries taught the traditional doctrine. God is just not like that, they reassure. He would never sentence anyone — however guilty — to eternal torment and anguish.

The Christian faith is not a series of loosly connected doctrines. The Christian faith is a doctrine made up of many parts beautifully connected and interdepent.

Mohler continues:

Extending this argument further, it would surely be easier to persuade secular persons to believe in a God who would never judge anyone deserving of eternal punishment than it would to persuade them to believe in the God preached by Jonathan Edwards or Charles Spurgeon. But the urgent question is this: Is evangelical theology about marketing God to our contemporary culture, or is it our task to stand in continuity with orthodox biblical conviction–whatever the cost? As was cited earlier, modern persons demand that God must be a humanitarian, and He is held to human standards of righteousness and love. In the end, only God can defend himself against His critics.

Our responsibility is to present the truth of the Christian faith with boldness, clarity, and courage — and defending the biblical doctrine in these times will require all three of these virtues. Hell is an assured reality, just as it is presented so clearly in the Bible. To run from this truth, to reduce the sting of sin and the threat of hell, is to pervert the Gospel and to feed on lies. Hell is not up for a vote or open for revision. Will we surrender this truth to modern skeptics?

Current controversies raise this issue anew among American Christians and even among some evangelicals. Nevertheless, there is no way to deny the Bible’s teaching on hell and remain genuinely evangelical. No doctrine stands alone.

Read Mohler's entire article HERE.

1 comment:

Steve Finnell said...
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