What is Wrong With Evangelicalism?

by Mike Ratliff

We have spent a great deal of time over last several posts on two very important topics, the Sovereignty of God and the Deity of Christ. I was talking with Ken Silva this evening about that and he and I agreed that there is nothing more important for the Church to grasp than those two things in light of the total depravity of man. These things taken together make the Bible make sense. On the other hand, if you take what is preached and taught in much of the visible church in our time and try to reconcile them with the message of Sacred Scripture it becomes a tough job indeed. What am I saying? The Word of God teaches that God is Sovereign and Christ is God and the natural man is desperately lost and in need of a Saviour. 

At lunch today I was navigating through one of my favorite websites, The White Horse Inn, and came to their F.A.Q. page. Under the heading Theology and Organization I saw some very interesting topics which I went to and read with number 5 being the one that got my attention the most. Here is the content of that link:

5. What’s wrong with evangelicalism?

Every kind of church in every period of church history has faced the temptation of accommodation over faithfulness. Evangelicalism is no exception. Exacerbating the problem is the lack of a defining center for evangelicalism. Other forms of Christianity have a history and definable set of beliefs that identify and guide the church. Evangelicalism, on the other hand, has generally stressed personal experience and piety over more ordered and formal ways of defining and describing the church. This has made it perhaps even more susceptible to the modern day cults of personality and myth of influence that have eroded evangelicalism’s base.

When Ken and I had our discussion earlier this evening I mentioned this as we discussed the rampant apostasy we are seeing in the visible church in our time. It is very telling when a major Christian music artist can come out of the closet, proclaiming to be a Lesbian, go on Larry King Live and confront a Pastor on that show who cannot tell her why her sin is any worse than the sin of overeating. When the leadership is ignorant of God’s Word, the sheep will be as well. The utter devastation that the climate of evangelicalism has wrought on Christianity in our time is incredible. People define their “faith” via feelings and personal experience and piety instead of opening God’s Word to see what it says.

Our Lord says in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Yes, that is right. That is what He said. This is something our Lord told his disciples on the night before He was crucified as He was promising the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Now, reflect on what point 5 says about the susceptibility that some churches have to the modern day cults of personality and myth of influence that have eroded evangelicalism’s base. This susceptibility has come because of this focus on accommodation over faithfulness. Church discipline is nowhere to be found. A person’s testimony is good enough for membership regardless of how they actually live, et cetera. This has increased the climate for hypocrisy as well. It has removed Sola Scriptura as the bases for truth in our churches. Religiosity has become the focus.

For the White Horse Inn’s solution to these issues, which I do agree with, I suggest you go back to the F.A.Q. page and read items 2, 3, & 4. In the meantime, please continue to pray for this ministry and the leadership in your church. Pray for God’s reformation to continue there and for His Word to be preached with power and boldness there. Pray that God will give me that same boldness to minister before Him in ways that will bring Him glory and edify the Body of Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria!

16 thoughts on “What is Wrong With Evangelicalism?

  1. Pragmatism and entertainment….that sums it up pretty well I’d say! That was #4. I still say we are in the generation of the residue of the remnant. The solid reformed pastors are all most nill compared to the ‘skip down the isle’ bunch smiling and repeat after me bunch! No wonder the Lord says it makes Him puke. Good ol Laodicean 2010 church, you interpret it your way, and I’ll interpret it my way…..thats the evangelical pastors of today. Sophia, hey, she’s o.k. (sarcasm) you’re gay, hey, thats all right, (more sarcasm) no Bibles at all, thats o.k. too! None of them fear God, none of them. His cup has GOT to be about full.

  2. Paul and Luann, I find that very interesting that you said, “Good ol Laodicean 2010 church, you interpret it your way, and I’ll interpret it my way…that’s the the evangelical pastors of today…” Well, why that is interesting is what Ken and I was talking about with the Emergents, the hard-core, Big-Tent Emergents like McLaren and Sweet who use Humpty Dumpty language. You know, they say one thing, and it can mean whatever they want it to mean depending upon the situation. Dr. James White said the other day that Post Modern Man does not think logically. He is right. I find that professing Christians who think that way are some of the worst. There are times that I feel like I am in some sort of nightmare that just won’t end. Oh, well, I’m sure Paul’s thorn in the flesh was no fun either. Let us pray for God’s grace, as we await our Lord’s return in complete obedience.

  3. Another excellent post Mike. Your writings are part of my daily reading now and I always find something to challenge my thinking and keep me on my toes. I need that. The ‘church’ needs that. Sadly, we don’t hear preaching / teaching that makes us want to do soul searching. I am thankful to be in a church that teaches the Bible.

    I have a question … what are your thoughts on the National Day of Prayer and all the flack that seems to be happening with it this year? Many are making a big deal over it being ‘cancelled’ and yet, as my husband has said ‘No one can stop us from praying!’

    May the Lord contine to bless you and meet your needs. May He give continued strength to minister in His Name and for His glory. May all your needs be met … physical, mental, spiritual, financial …. according to His riches in glory.

    Blessings my friend.

  4. Thanks Louise! Your husband is right. I see we have much in common. We are called to see ourselves as having died with Christ. Right? The ones who do that will then see themselves as being totally outside of the restrictions of things like this. So what if they send me to jail for telling the truth. So what if they tell me I can’t pray. So what if they tell me I can’t preach the Gospel in a public place… You get the idea. Well, the one who is dead in Christ will continue to obey Christ regardless because there is no other power in play over him or her. Does that make sense? Also, it makes thing like The National Day of Prayer seem so trivial after all, we should be praying continually and not with Muslims and Jews.. Does this make sense?

  5. Sadly, many Christians don’t read the Bible. They’ll read books about the Bible or devotional materials that are loosely based on it, but the won’t read the Bible itself. If they do read it, they’ll read paraphrases, such as the Living Bible or the Message.

  6. “accommodation over faithfulness”, now that is a mouthful! Well put too!
    Tolerance is another very popular word.
    We are to love what God loves and HATE (yes, I said the “h” word) what He hates!

    I would not join in the National Day of Prayer if my life depended on it. We do not know with whom we are joining hands. Some are praying to other gods. Some are in cultish religions, and some (more than we would like to admit) are just out and out heathen who want to join in a day of prayer as a show!

    Just my own thoughts.

    Thanks for another great post.

  7. Actually, I have been looking for a way to say, “accommodation over faithfulness” for quite some time. I just couldn’t find the right combination of words. Well, here it is. Spurgeon called the Great Downgrade the start of Easybelievism, but really it was the start of this. I am working my way through some Emergent stuff right now and it it is as far from Christianity as you can get. It is cultish. Cults insist on including Jesus in there somewhere. Well, think of these churches that are all about self and tolerance. They have thrown out faithfulness so have forgotten Jesus. They have a made up Jesus so why are they any different than these cults?

    The National Day of Prayer is not something I would consider because it involves non-Christians with Christians. We must not be part of that.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  8. If we want to host a national day of prayer event and have other believers join us to pray for revival in the land….why is that a bad thing? We set the agenda for prayer. Aren’t you throwing the baby out with the bath water on this?

  9. Really good post Mike.

    I have always found out that those people honest about their own sins do a much better job when having to confronting the sins of others. Language becomes full of grace and truth breaks through previously seen barriers.

    Its a very difficult but easy formula that sees sin as the problem and Jesus as the rescuer and not just some means to get a “little better”.

    Not that I trust science..,, but science says sex and food disorders use the same part of the brain. If you can’t control your body in God pleasing ways … maybe we should hear some more preaching on overeating for those of us with love handles. :-)

    Once again… Good post.

  10. One thing I notice about the current evangelicalism in the West, as opposed to those in Asia, is how much more package-driven and just as you said, how the Bible studies are actively discouraged in the name of “showing the wider community/unreached of the authentic Jesus as opposed to the religiously stereotyped living in us by the way we live and we act”. I notice that they don’t like to preach or actively study on God’s Word, but rather, just the favourite snippets from the Sermon on the Mount.

    Of course it doesn’t surprise me that the very teachers who say such things are big admirers of the people in the Willow Creek Church movement.

    In fact, I’m quite convicted Mark Driscoll is part of this pop-evangelicalism movement as opposed of trying to be a faithful teacher because he once said to such event “We shouldn’t aim to oppose postmodernism – it should be an opportunity for us to modify our presentation of the gospel for the outreach to this particular generation according to their needs”, which to me is speaking like a true Christian humanist despite he claiming himself to be a Reformed teacher.

  11. Billy, God’s Word says that we are not to pray or worship with unbelievers. That’s what it says. The National Day of Prayer has us linking hands with unbelievers and you know this so aren’t you the one deliberately disobeying God and asking Him to bless you in it?

  12. “Well, the one who is dead in Christ will continue to obey Christ regardless because there is no other power in play over him or her. Does that make sense?” Perfect sense! And your comments clarify for me why I’ve never taken part in the National Day of Prayer. There’s always been this something inside me that wouldn’t permit me to do that. Even when my former pastor was the lead person in praying in our city!
    Will I pray that day? Of course, just as I do most every day. But join them? No, that I won’t do.
    Thanks again my friend.

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