Former church turned into a bar
The article offers some sober lessons for the church. Churches begin to decline when they they make compromises in the final and sufficient authority of the Bible in order to remain ‘relevant’ to wider culture and society. Some of us can remember how many Malaysian churches in the 1960s went into decline because they neglected the Great Commission due to the influence of liberal theology. Compromise in biblical inerrancy and biblical authority is an existential threat to the church.
1) Compromise in biblical inerrancy and final authority is the slippery slide which results in the death of a thousand cuts for the church.
“The danger of quiet infiltration,” Ferguson said, “is that you are quietly infiltrated.” That’s how a trickle of biblical errancy, fed by a culture that loves scientific rationalization, can grow into a stream. And that’s how a stream of biblical compromise, fed by a culture that says everyone gets their own truth, can grow into a river. Little by little, that movement can carry away a church’s foundation—even one laid thick and solid on 400 years of Reformed theology.
I am afraid many evangelical churches inadvertently have allowed social engagement & ministry (good things in themselves) to overshadow, if not displace evangelism & witnessing the gospel. How ironic that I talk like this when I have just finished writing the book, “Christianity and the Social Order”. I must pay penance by writing a book that proclaims and defends the good news of salvation.
Warning – In general, Reformed churches are more grounded doctrinally compared with other denominations. However, a doctrinally sound church will still decline if it fails to proclaim the gospel & evangelize. Quote: “Even if your doctrines were written by John Knox, your theology rooted in the Westminster Confession, and your buildings made of granite, if you don’t have the gospel, your church will fail.”
The number of seminary graduates who question inerrancy seems to be increasing. Beware! One of its strategies of their quiet infiltration is to promote limited inerrancy, an euphemism which illegitimately pits “biblical inerrancy” against “biblical infallibility”.
Contrary to expectations, the bigger churches are more vulnerable to losing the gospel than smaller churches. Reasons include big churches becoming pragmatic rather than operating from consistent biblical principles; big churches having lots of attractive activities for younger people but these activities again can easily distract them from focusing on evangelism and discipleship. Sure, the younger people are enjoying all the facilities built by the earlier generation, but taking responsibility for a big machinery when it is their time to take over is another story; a big church may secure the respect of wider society, but maintaining respectability may tempt one to compromise the standards of biblical morality.
2) Hope, renewal and regrowth is the fruit of steadfast exposition of the bible as the authoritative word of God and sharing an unadulterated gospel – this theme is the ariadne thread that runs through the whole article.
I am afraid that many churches lack systematic teaching of bible and doctrine and the average preaching in churches today leaves much to be desired- oftentimes, the congregation is fed with crumbs instead of bread. Leaders themselves must first be grounded in the bible and doctrine if they are to be able to teach the whole counsel of God to their flocks, but many leaders simply lack motivation and time to do so.
“But you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2: 19-22).
Inerrancy of the Bible: Defined and Defended. Part 1