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Monday, October 22, 2007

Assumed Evangelicalism

David Gibson, in his article by the same title, describes Assumed Evangelicalism as

"begin(ning) to give gradually increasing energy to concerns other than the gospel and key evangelical distinctives, to gradually elevate secondary issues to a primary level, to be increasingly worried about how it is perceived by others, and to allow itself to be increasingly influenced both in content and method by the prevailing culture of the day".

What is the problem with Assumed Evangelicalism? These churches and individuals claim all the beliefs that a "Christian" should. Churches especially are riding the fence with core issues of the gospel, doctrine, and salvation.

What is the gospel? In short, it is Jesus Christ, God incarnate, becoming a man to suffer and die for our sins. He was divinely resurrected and sits at the right hand of God the Father where He intercedes on our behalf. He will come again in glory and will judge the world in righteousness.

These truths are not popular or easy to digest. As humans, we are constantly tempted to seek the favor of man and not God. This is a temptation for church leaders as well. With watered-down hard truths come more attendance, with looks better and feels better and raises more money. The Curse escapes no one. Church leaders, especially, must always be diligent to pray and search the Scriptures for wisdom and guidance in leading their flocks in the path that is consistent with the Lord's will- which does not change or waver witht he "prevailing culture".

Gibson says there are two ways to discern whether a church is beginning to assume the gospel.

First, is there are prevailing spirit of legalism in the church? Do members of the flock assume the gospel only applies to new believers or "outsiders"? (36). Does the body begin to find themselves believing that their good works merit them favor with God? Or that their sin can cause them to become unsaved? There beauty and awe of our salvation is that we have absolutely no say in the matter. I can do nothing to save or unsave myself. As a relatively new Christian with deep Catholic roots, I am constantly struggling with this in a practical way. I am tempted to feel like serving my family makes me a better Christian or having a glass of wine makes me a worse Christian. The Lord called me and accepts me as a sinner. I can do nothing to change that.

Second, Assumed Christianity may take license. Paul's letter to the Romans (chapter 6) addresses the issue which so many Christians struggle with: if I am saved by grace and I cannot lose my salvation, can I do whatever I want since the Lord will forgive me? Paul's answers to his own hypothetical questions are a resounding "certainly not!". Gibson says, "God becomes known only in as much as we experience Him; we related to God on the basis of what we personally find helpful; we believe the right things but become reluctant to state that the opposite of those things is wrong" (37). God's truths are the Truth and are perfectly and constantly applicable to all his children.

Gibson's point is that Christianity can be easily skewed. We are all susceptible to begin to assume on many points of our faith. The temptations, he says, are subtle. We cannot look to the right or to the left, but we must fix our eyes on Christ and Him crucified. Only Christ has saved us; only Christ sustains us.

Read Gibson's article at www.modernreformation.org.

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