by Mike Ratliff
89 Forever, O Lord,
Your word is settled in heaven. Psalms 119:89 (NASB)
Truth is not relative. If truth were then it couldn’t be truth for what would be true for one could be considered a fallacy by another. Therefore, it is utter foolishness to make assertions that truth is just a matter of opinion and we must be tolerant of other’s views on the Gospel and all of the vital aspects of our faith. On the other hand, I am perfectly willing to call another Christian my brother or sister in Christ even though we may disagree on things about our faith that are not barriers to orthodoxy. I find the discussions about these things with them to be wonderful opportunities of iron sharping iron. However, that is not the same thing as joining in fellowship with those who have serious issues with vital parts of doctrine that are non-negotiable. What do I mean? I have no problem loving and having fellowship with a Christian who has little to no understanding of Reformation Theology. However, I draw the line and, as God leads, contend with those who, for example, deny the deity of Christ or add works as a requirement for salvation or deny the inerrancy of the Bible or teach that Biblical Truth is inherently unknowable, therefore, we cannot hold to solid doctrinal truths, et cetera.
These are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The enemy of the Body of Christ is Satan. We often mistake paganism or eastern mysticism, or Islam as our biggest threats, however, the truth is that Liberal Christianity is by far the biggest threat to orthodoxy. Why? It is so because its leaders are wolves who have entered the flock unnoticed. They are part of the visible Church. They come from within. They have followers. These followers have been assured by their leaders that truth is relative and anyone who says otherwise is intolerant, a pharisee, and a sanctimonious hypocrite who is all about dead religiosity and knows nothing of grace, et cetera.
Despite the mindset within our society that “liberals” are open-minded, tolerant, flexible, and progressive there is a fly in that ointment. You see these folks are tolerant of any kind of belief system unless it happens to represent orthodox, biblical faith. Why? It is because orthodoxy is made up of certain doctrines that are non-negotiable. It says that there is one truth and it is not relative. For example, genuine orthodoxy says that justification by faith alone is an essential doctrine.
6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! Galatians 1:6-9 (NASB)
15 “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. Galatians 2:15-16 (NASB)
Orthodoxy says that salvation is by Grace through faith alone. It says that we are justified by faith not works of any kind. However, the liberal Christian says that there are other ways to God that are not part of the Great Commission. One very well known Christian leader has claimed to know Islamic followers of Christ, Buddhist followers of Christ, and Hindu followers of Christ. Here is a comment about this from a “liberal/emergent apologist.”
I think (no, I know) you need to understand the difference between YOUR doctrine and what it means to be a follower of Christ. It IS possible to be a Christ follower and not believe in Augustine’s theory of original sin. It IS possible to be a Christ follower and not believe in the DOCTRINE of Bible inerrancy (I say doctrine because inerrancy has become too loaded to stand alone as a word). It is possible to be a Christ follower and disagree with you (or me, or ANYONE) on every single theological issue except that Jesus is God and He died for our sins. Period.
Do you see the rejection of the doctrine of original sin? Do you see the rejection of absolute truth? Do you see the demand to be counted as orthodox based on only one point, that Jesus is God and He died for our sins. While that last statement is true, Jesus Christ is God, what does it mean that he died for our sins if there is no original sin? How do we know that Jesus is God if we have a Bible that we cannot trust? Do you also see that those who insist on this liberal view of our faith have rejected that salvation is by grace through faith alone and, therefore, justification is by faith alone? This last point is what separates the orthodox from the unorthodox or heretical. The liberal view of our salvation is unbiblical because it is based on the person and what he does or doesn’t do instead of on what God has already done.
Christian unity must be a unity of faith grounded in the truth. Any other attempt outside of this creates a compromised unity that has no conviction at all. This is how the “mainline” denominations were liberalized and neutralized in the last century. This is still going on. The pressure to move away from Orthodoxy towards liberalism is hard upon many of our churches and leaders. We must not give into to it. We must stand on God’s truth and never compromise.
While the oversimplification of the Gospel by the liberals appears somewhat innocuous it does create a serious issue in that large numbers of those in these “churches” are convinced that they are Christians because they prayed a certain prayer and go to church. This, of course, is a view of salvation that places the responsibility of it on the person. They view their acts of praying that prayer and believe that that is what saves a person. However, the Bible teaches that salvation is God’s work (Ephesians 1-2) not ours.
I have found that it is quite tedious to “reason” with those of the liberal mindset. They have a form of godliness, but they deny its power.
1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NASB)
They confuse solid Biblical teaching about the Gospel with legalism. This is a product of the shallow preaching they hear that is not bordered by solid doctrinal truths. When we say that the preaching of the Gospel should start with the Law and address original sin, hell, and judgment they claim that we are placing our faith in these things rather “just in Jesus.” In other words, they only hear about the Jesus who wants to make everyone’s life better or more exciting or more fulfilling. They never hear about the bad news that pertains to all of us followed by the Good News like this passage from Romans.
9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written,
“There is none righteous, not even one;
11 There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,”
“The poison of asps is under their lips”;
14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”;
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood,
16 Destruction and misery are in their paths,
17 And the path of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:9-26 (NASB)
To insist on this type of preaching is intolerable to the liberal mindset. The backlash can be intense and, as I shared earlier, quite tedious for I have yet to encounter any who really know the Bible very well. I cannot be their judge so I do not know if any of them are truly regenerate, but my experience is that those who do try to contend with me come across as quite arrogant, but it is an arrogance without any genuine Biblical knowledge. They are quick to accuse whoever they debate for not being humble while they exhibit a very aggressive, overbearing form of sarcasm. In any case, we must pray for these men and women that God will draw them from this darkness into His light as He changes their hearts by His Grace through the Faith He gives all whom He saves.
Soli Deo Gloria!