The Modernistic Attack on the Bible In These Last Days
|It is impossible to understand what is happening in our day if without a knowledge of the history of theological modernism. |
Modernism weakened people’s faith in the Bible and set the stage for the success of the theory of evolution. Had modernism not weakened the Church of England and other denominations it would not have been so widely accepted. Charles Darwin was even honored by the Church of England with a burial in the Westminster Cathedral.
Modernism paved the way for the vicious attack of the Bible in the popular press. The ninth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, published in 1878, included essays that were critical of the Bible, making such criticism available generally to English-speaking people for the first time. Since then the assault of the Bible in the popular press has become common. Newsweek, Time, the New York Times, the London Times, National Geographic, CNN, BBC, and countless other influential voices regularly publish reports criticizing the Bible. This has become perfectly acceptable.
Modernism paved the way for the rapid spread of New Age philosophy. New Age is based on the modernistic premise that the Bible is not an accurate historical record and that the biblical Christ is not the true one. New Age also employs modernistic methods of fanciful, non-literal interpretation.
Modernism paved the way for the onslaught of the modern Bible versions. Most of the founders of modern textual criticism, which gave us the modern Bibles, were committed to theological modernism. I have documented this extensively in The Modern Bible Version Hall of Shame.
Modernism paved the way for the corruption of popular Christianity. It is modernism that explains the August 31, 2009, report in Newsweek magazine entitled “We Are All Hindus Now.” The article says, “[R]ecent poll data show that conceptually, at least, we are slowly becoming more like Hindus and less like traditional Christians in the ways we think about God, our selves, each other, and eternity. ... The Rig Veda, the most ancient Hindu scripture, says this: ‘Truth is One, but the sages speak of it by many names.’ A Hindu believes there are many paths to God. Jesus is one way, the Qur’an is another, yoga practice is a third. None is better than any other; all are equal. ... According to a 2008 Pew Forum survey, 65 percent of us believe that ‘many religions can lead to eternal life’--including 37 percent of white evangelicals ... Stephen Prothero, religion professor at Boston University, has long framed the American propensity fo r ‘the divine-deli-cafeteria religion’ as ‘very much in the spirit of Hinduism. ... It’s about whatever works. If going to yoga works, great--and if going to Catholic mass works, great. And if going to Catholic mass plus the yoga plus the Buddhist retreat works, that’s great, too.’” In our estimation, this is a correct observation. Christianity in America is a mile wide and an inch thick. There is little biblical substance to it. To discover the reason why, one must understand the rise and spread of theological modernism over the past two centuries.
MODERNISM WAS PROPHESIED IN SCRIPTURE
The rise of theological modernism should not be a surprise to the Bible believer. The New Testament’s prophecies of the course of the church age describe a great turning away from the faith among professing Christians. Consider, for example, the following two passages.
2 Timothy 3:1 - 4:4
This is a prophecy of a wholesale apostasy (turning away from the biblical faith) at the end of the age. This is not a description of the world at large; it is a description of professing Christians. These people have “a form of godliness” (3:5) and turn from sound doctrine (4:3), whereas the world has never had anything to do with sound doctrine. We are told that this apostasy will increase throughout the church age (3:13), but other passages indicate that it will explode at the end of the age.
If we observe the characteristics of this apostasy, we will see that theological modernism is described in great detail.
1. Pride (“boasters,” 3:2)
Modernism is characterized by pride of intellect and scholarship. They reject the wisdom of the past.
2. Blasphemy (3:2)
Modernists have blasphemed God by rejecting Him, denying the divine inspiration of His Word, calling Him a “bully,” renouncing His miracles, and denying that Jesus is God.
3. Unholy (3:2)
Modernism in doctrine has gone hand-in-hand with modernism in living, with moral relativism. Many of the fathers of theological modernism, including Paul Tillich and Karl Barth, were adulterers. Some of the modernistic denominations have even used pornography in their training. For example, in 1988 the United Methodist communications agency issued a statement on “erotica” which approved of sexually explicit pornography as long as it is not “violent or coercive.” As we will see, the modernists have been at the forefront of accepting homosexuality into the churches.
4. Deceit (“trucebreakers, false accusers,” 3:3)
Modernists are dishonest. A Bible-believing pastor friend who has studied the writings of modernists concluded, “Modernistic scholars lie.” They misuse God’s Word and misrepresent the truth. They also misrepresent what Biblicist Christians believe.
5. Despising Bible believers (3:3)
Modernists despise Bible-believing preachers. They are hostile to them, particularly when challenged by the truth.
6. Ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth (3:7)
Modernism has no settled creed except that the Bible is not infallibly inspired. It has been in constant flux for two centuries.
7. Resisting the truth (3:8)
Modernism is not content to preach its own doctrines; it opposes the truth of the Bible, sometimes boldly and sometimes covertly.
8. Reprobate concerning the faith (3:8)
Modernism is founded on this principle. It begins by rejecting the doctrinal faith of the New Testament.
9. Willful rejection of the truth (4:3-4)
The problem with modernists is not that they are innocently ignorant of the truth; rather, they have willfully rejected it.
10. Turn to fables (4:4)
Modernism is permeated with fables. There are the alleged two creation accounts in Genesis 1-2, the documentary theory of the Pentateuch, the three Isaiahs, the mythical Q document upon which the Gospels were allegedly based, etc.
2 Peter 2:1 - 3:7
This prophecy also looks ahead to the “last days” (3:3) and describes false teachers that will proliferate. Again, we have a perfect description of theological modernism.
1. They teach damnable heresies about Christ (2:1).
This is precisely what modernism has done in its denial of Christ’s virgin birth, sinlessness, miracles, substitutionary death, and bodily resurrection.
2. Many will follow them (2:2).
As we will see, modernism has gained a massive following.
3. They bring reproach upon the truth (2:2).
This is happened because of their heresies and their immoral living. Unbelievers have said, “If that is Christianity, I don’t want any part of it.” Modernistic Christianity has produced rampant agnosticism and atheism wherever it has taken hold. People who grow up around this type of spiritually powerless Christianity reject it, thinking they are rejecting Christianity itself, whereas they are actually rejecting a false form of Christianity. Roman Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy have produced the same effect.
4. They are covetous (2:3, 14, 15).
Covetousness drives modernism. What motivates men to hold to the claim to be Christians even though they no longer believe its foundational truths? Money! Prestige! And the fulfillment of other lusts.
5. They are rebellious to absolute biblical morality (2:6, 10, 14, 18-19).
This is an enlargement of the theme that began in the prophecy in 2 Timothy 3. In 2 Peter 3:3, we have an indication that this is a major motivation for the modernists’ rejection of the truth. They refuse to be bound by biblical mandates.
6. They impart no spiritual blessing (2:17).
Having rejected the Almighty Creator God and Jesus Christ and the Gospel, they have no spiritual life to offer a needy world.
7. They are characterized by pride (2:18).
We saw this in 2 Timothy 3.
8. They are scoffers (3:3).
They aren’t content to reject the Bible; they must scoff at its traditional teachings. This reminds me of the words of Episcopalian bishop John Spong from his book Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, “Of course these [Bible] narratives are not literally true. Stars do not wander, angels do not sing, virgins do not give birth, magi do not travel to a distant land to present gifts to a baby, and shepherds do not go in search of a newborn savior.” Spong’s name is not in Bible prophecy, but his scoffing is.
9. They deny the second coming of Christ (3:4).
This has been a principle of modernism since its inception. They either deny the Bible’s prophecies of the second coming outright or they allegorize them.
10. They hold a uniformitarian doctrine and deny the world flood (3:4-5).
Theological modernism latched onto the theory of evolution upon its inception in the 19th century.
11. They are willfully ignorant (3:5).
Again, the modernist is not merely ignorant; he is willfully ignorant. The truth can be found in the Bible and it is well substantiated by facts, but the modernist refuses to believe.
MODERNISM’S INCEPTION AND GROWTH
The mid-18th century brought the age of “enlightenment,” in which rationalism was positively encouraged by Frederick II, the “philosopher king,” who reigned over Prussia for 46 years (1740-1786). The “age of enlightenment” should actually be called the “age of unbelief.” Frederick was “a thorough rationalist and patron of ‘free thought.’ The sight of a cross, it was said, was enough to make him blaspheme” (Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, p. 5). The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary of 1934 correctly defined “Enlightenment” as “shallow and pretentious intellectualism, unreasonable contempt for authority and tradition.”
Following are some of the prominent names in the development of theological modernism:
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-81) was a German poet, playright, theologian, and Lutheran deist. He is known as “the father of German criticism” (Minute History of the Drama, 1935). As a young man, he was engaged in translating the works of Voltaire, who lived for some time in Germany, but Lessing parted ways with Voltaire and developed his own unbelieving philosophies. Lessing was a prominent voice in a new approach to history that led to the concept of “organic development.” “Lessing regarded history as a continuous process by which an immanent god gradually educated humanity. Humanity was seen as a giant individual developing from infancy through childhood to maturity; always changing but always the same individual and at each stage of development gaining advanced ethics. The word applied to this process is aufheben. Revelation was merely the progressive instruction of the race and was not only denied to be ab extra, or from without, but also was not ever intended to be a fixed deposit given once for all. It required to be changed from age to age. This process of religious education of the races, with its necessary advancement in doctrine, eventually became the concept of organic development” (James Sightler, Tabernacle Essays on Bible Translation, 1992, pp. 8, 9).
Johann Gottfried Eichhorn (1752-1827) developed and popularized Jean Astruc’s documentary theory. It was Eichhorn who made the distinction between “lower criticism” and “higher criticism.” Lower criticism is the examination of manuscripts to “recover” the best possible original text of a document, whereas higher criticism is the investigation of questions such as authorship, date, and historicity of the Bible. (Both lower and higher criticism came from the same skeptical cauldron and both have greatly undermined faith in the Holy Scriptures because neither is predicated upon faith.) Eichhorn fearlessly engaged in biblical criticism, claiming that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses as taught by Jesus Christ and the apostles and as traditionally believed by God’s people but that it was an edited composition of diverse documents and traditions. “This theory was later extended and developed into the Graf-Wellhausen thesis , which sees the whole of the Pentateuch the product of several layers of oral tradition, developed over time and written down long after the events it records are claimed to have occurred” (Biblical Criticism, [web site no longer active])
H.E.G. Paulus (1761-1851) of Heidelberg, Germany, devised naturalistic explanations for Christ’s miracles. He claimed, for example, that Jesus did not actually walk on the water but that He was walking on the shore and in the mist and fog it only appeared that he was walking on the water. He claimed that Jesus did not die on the cross, but only swooned, and in the coolness of the tomb he revived; and after an earthquake moved the stone, he walked out and appeared to the disciples. Of course, that would have been nearly as great a miracle as the resurrection!
Frederick Schleiermacher (1768-1834) of Halle, Germany, exalted experience and feeling over Bible doctrine. He used traditional Christian language but gave this language new and heretical meaning. He emphasized the necessity of knowing Christ through faith, but by this he did not mean believing the Bible as the historically true and infallible Word of God; he was referring merely to man’s own intuition or consciousness. It was not faith in the Word of God but faith in faith. He did not consider historical biblical truth to be necessary to faith. Thus Schleiermacher could say, “With my intellect I am a philosopher, and with my feelings quite a devout man; ay, more than that, a Christian” (quoted by Daniel Edward, “Schleiermacher Interpreted by Himself and the Men of His School,” British and Foreign Evangelical Review, Vol. 25, 1876, p. 609). Schleiermacher barred doctrinal preaching from the pulpit (Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided, 2000, p. 11 ). “Schleiermacher is correctly viewed as the chief source of the massive change which has occurred in the historic Protestant denominations during the last two hundred years. ... In his separation of the intellectual content of Christianity (the objective biblical revelation) from Christian ‘feeling’, Schleiermacher seemed to provide a means whereby the essence of Christianity could remain unaffected, no matter how much of the Bible was rejected. Hostile criticism of Scripture need not therefore be seen as a threat to the ‘faith’ ... Christianity, it was concluded, could be successful irrespective of whether Scripture were preserved as the Word of God, and this thought was the more appealing as the theological scholarship of the nineteenth century became increasingly destructive” (Murray, p. 11). Schleiermacher paved the way for the New Evangelical view that men can be genuine Christians and “love the Lord,” even though they rejec t biblical doctrine. For this reason, Billy Graham can have sweet fellowship with modernistic skeptics and Roman Catholic bishops and popes.
Ferdinand Christian Baur (1792-1860), founder of the Tuebingen (Germany) School of New Testament criticism, claimed that the Gospel of John was not written until 170 A.D. and that only four of Paul’s Epistles were actually written by him. He argued that the New Testament was merely the natural record of the early churches. He taught that Paul preached a spiritual rather than a bodily resurrection and that only after Paul’s day, during the controversy with the Docetists, did the preaching of the bodily resurrection begin. Baur also promoted the doctrine of “organic development,” that “the church as the literal body of Christ on earth progressively apprehended higher truth but was always infallible and authoritative at any point in time” (James Sightler, Tabernacle Essays on Bible Translation, 1992, p. 9). This doctrine was promoted in America by Phillip Schaff, the chairman of the American Standard Version translation committee. The Tuebinge n School was very influential in the spread of theological modernism.
David F. Strauss (1808-74), a pupil of F.C. Baur, “dismissed all the supernatural and messianic elements in the Gospels as myth.” He boldly denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. His book Das Leben Jesu (The Life of Jesus) (1835) was very influential. “Strauss’ thesis was that the entire Gospel was one grand parable; a great mass of legends drawn from many sources, even some which had pagan beginnings, applied from motives of hope and benevolence in his followers, to an obscure Galilean prophet who was himself swept up in the scheme unwittingly, all pointing not to the God of Moses and Elijah, cruel and vindictive and even immoral as Strauss and the transcendentalists felt Him to be, but to a higher, man-made, Platonic Deity, who was the beneficiary of the advanced ethics of the 19th century” (Sightler, Tabernacle Essays on Bible Translation, p. 9). Strauss spiritualized the resurrection. Strauss’s The Life of Jesus was translated into Englis h in 1846 by Mary Ann Evans (who went by the pen name of George Eliott), author of Silas Marner, “who in the process gave up the evangelical faith in which she had been reared” (Sightler, p. 9).
John Stuart Mill (1806-73) published his System of Logic in 1843, with the claim that the only valid source of information is the physical senses and scientific investigation, thus renouncing faith. Mill had a large influence at Cambridge University and throughout England in the scholarly realm.
The Graf-Wellhausen theory was named for Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) and Karl Heinrich Graf (1815-69). (Wellhausen published the Prolegomena to the History of Ancient Israel in 1878.) According to this theory, the Old Testament is not divine revelation but merely the record of the evolution of Israel’s religion. Wellhausen held “that Hebrew religion had undergone a development from the primitive stories of nomadic times to the elaborate, institutionalized ritualism of the period of the centuries before the birth of Christ” (The History of Christianity, Lion Publishing, 1977, p. 554). Wellhausen denied the historicity of Abraham, Noah, and other Bible characters. He claimed that Israel did not know about Jehovah God until Moses taught them this at Mt. Sinai. He claimed that the laws and the priestly system were not given by Moses but were developed after Israel was in Canaan and, in some cases, after the Babylonian exile; that most of the Pentateuch was wri tten during the days of Israel’s kings as a “pious fraud.” This theory has, in its ever-changing forms, wielded vast influence in theological education in most denominations and has dramatically affected “evangelical” scholarship.
Consider some general descriptions of the effect that theological modernism had in Europe and England in the 19th century:
The testimony of historian James Good:
“Rationalism was a terrible tide that “swept over Germany like a flood” (James Good, History of the Reformed Church of Germany 1620-1890).
The testimony of R.L. Dabney in 1881:
“While German scholarship has been busy with its labors, it has suffered almost a whole nation to lapse into a semi-heathenish condition” (“The Influence of the German University System on Theological Education,” Discussions: Evangelical and Theological).
The testimony of L.W. Munhall:
“The unspiritual condition of the churches … and the alarmingly prevalent skepticism, infidelity, and atheism among the masses of the people in Germany, Switzerland, and Holland is, without doubt, almost wholly attributable to the advocacy of these criticisms by a large majority of the prominent pastors and theological professors in those lands. The same condition of affairs is measurably true in England, Scotland, New England, and in every community where this criticism is believed by any very considerable number of people and openly advocated” (L.W. Munhall, The Highest Critics vs. the Higher Critics, 1896).
The testimony of Matthew Arnold of conditions in nineteenth-century Britain:
“Clergymen and ministers of religion are full of lamentations over what they call the spread of scepticism ... ‘... the speculations of the day are working their way down among the people...’” (Literature and Dogma, 1873, p. vi).
The testimony of historian S.M. Houghton:
“The fact is that Germany, by the mid-19th century, was flooded by unbelief. Its schools and colleges, as well as its churches, contributed to this. Its Protestant hymn-book was revised in order to deprive it of much of its evangelical content. Philosophy replaced theology, and Scripture was dealt with savagely. Miracles ceased to be accounted miracles; they were explained away. Bible prophecies were discredited. Christ was robbed of his deity. His resurrection, it was said, never took place. Either he did not really die but suffered a fainting fit, or he retreated after his supposed death to some place known only to his disciples. D.F. Strauss startled the world by a Life of Jesus (published in 1835-36) which admitted a framework of fact, but claimed that much of the content of the Four Gospels was sheer mythology. Julius Wellhausen [1844-1910] achieved notoriety by attacking the orthodox teaching on the authorship, unity and inspiration of the Scriptures, and unhappil y many followed in his steps. He was the chief pioneer of Higher Critical views, and under his influence many theologians throughout Western Europe and America questioned or abandoned the authority even of Christ himself” (Sketches from Church History, p. 239).
The testimony of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who spent the last years of his life fighting against the “downgrade” in theology that had undermined the Baptist Union. In 1887, Spurgeon wrote the following haunting words:
“A CHASM IS OPENING BETWEEN THE MEN WHO BELIEVE THEIR BIBLES AND THE MEN WHO ARE PREPARED FOR AN ADVANCE UPON SCRIPTURE. ... Those who hold evangelical doctrine are in open alliance with those who call the fall a fable, who deny the personality of the Holy Ghost, who call justification by faith immoral, and hold that there is another probation after death. ... Attendance at places of worship is declining and reverence for holy things is vanishing. We solemnly believe this to be largely attributable to THE SCEPTICISM WHICH HAS FLASHED FROM THE PULPIT AND SPREAD AMONG THE PEOPLE” (Sword and Trowel, November 1887).
Spurgeon thus describes for us the wretched spiritual condition that existed in Britain in his day as the result of the spread of modernism. End-time apostasy was coming into blossom. While Spurgeon was warring against modernism within the Baptist Union, the same battle was being fought (and lost) in other denominations, including Anglican, Congregational, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Methodist. (An excellent overview of Spurgeon’s battle is found in The Forgotten Spurgeon by Iain Murray, Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust).
The testimony of the Bible League, which was formed in Britain in 1892:
“Spurgeon’s days saw apostasy as a trickle; by the time of the Bible League’s foundation  it had become a stream; shortly it expanded to a river, and today it has become a veritable ocean of unbelief. For the most of men the ancient landmarks have disappeared from sight. Life upon earth has become a voyage on an uncharted ocean in a cockle-shell boat ‘tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.’ Never before in human history has the ‘sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive’ (Eph. 4:14) been so greatly in evidence. ‘Evil men and seducers wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived’ (2 Tim. 3:13)” (“The Bible League: Its Origin and Its Aims,” Truth Unchanged, Unchanging, Abingdon: The Bible League, 1984).
By the 20th century, theological modernism had permeated most denominations in Europe, England, and America, and throughout the world.
In the early part of the century, American denominations witnessed the fundamentalist-modernist controversy. Men who cared for the truth resisted the rising tide of modernism, but the battle was lost and the denominations did not turn back to the Bible. Consider some examples of how that theological modernism has taken over the mainstream denominations.
In 1976, Harold Lindsell testified:
“It is not unfair to allege that among denominations like Episcopal, United Methodist, United Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, the Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. THERE IS NOT A SINGLE THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY THAT TAKES A STAND IN FAVOR OF BIBLICAL INFALLIBILITY” (Harold Lindsell, Battle for the Bible, Zondervan, 1976, p. 145)
The Jesus Seminar illustrates the onslaught of modernism. Consisting of some “experts in religion and New Testament studies,” the seminar began meeting in March 1985 with the objective of discovering which words of the Gospels are authentic.
Throughout the 1980s, the Jesus Seminar participants cast ballots on the authenticity of Christ’s sayings in the four Gospels using pegs or balls. After discussing a passage, the modernistic “scholars” would cast their votes. Red indicated a strong probability of authenticity; pink, a good probability; gray, a weak possibility; and black, little or no possibility. The colors therefore indicate various degrees of doubt in God’s Word.
In 1993, the Jesus Seminar published The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus. This included a new translation called “The Scholar’s Translation.” The color coding was incorporated into the text to describe the degree to which the various portions of the Gospels are considered authentic.
The Seminar concluded that Christ spoke only 18 percent of the sayings attributed to Him in the Bible. According to this group of modernistic scholars, Christ did not speak most of the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount; He did not say anything about turning the other cheek; He did not speak the parable of the sower, the parable of the ten virgins, the parable of the ten pieces of money, or the parable of the talents; He did not say, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”; He did not pray in the garden of Gethsemane; He did not say, “Take eat, this is my body,” and the other sayings associated with the Lord’s Supper; He did not say, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” or, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” when He was on the cross. The Jesus Seminar determined that Christ did not walk on the water, did not feed the thousands with only a few loaves and f ishes, did not prophesy of His death or resurrection or second coming, did not conduct the Last Supper as it is recorded in Scripture, did not appear before the Jewish high priest or before Pilate, did not rise again bodily on the third day, and did not ascend to Heaven.
According to the Jesus Seminar, “THE STORY OF THE HISTORICAL JESUS ENDED WITH HIS DEATH ON THE CROSS AND THE DECAY OF HIS BODY” (Religious News Service, March 6, 1995).
One of the Jesus Seminar fellows, Marcus Borg, made the following statement to the religious press in 1992:
“I DO NOT SEE THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION AS EXCLUSIVELY TRUE, OR THE BIBLE AS THE UNIQUE AND INFALLIBLE REVELATION OF GOD. ... I am one of those Christians who does not believe in the virgin birth, nor in the star of Bethlehem, nor in the journeys of the wisemen, nor in the shepherds coming to the manger, as facts of history” (Bible Review, December 1992).
A TIMELINE OF MODERNISM SINCE THE TURN OF THE 20TH CENTURY
The unbelief that had begun as a stream in the late 18th century and had become a river in the 19th became “a veritable ocean of unbelief” in the 20th. Like ivy, the modernism that slept in the late 18th century and crept in the 19th, leapt in the 20th.
1906 -- Albert Schweitzer published The Quest for the Historical Jesus, claiming that Jesus was not the supernatural Messiah, the eternal Son of God, but a mere man who, thinking that the destruction of the world was imminent, attempted to usher it in by his death.
1907 -- Walter Rauschenbusch published Christianity and the Social Crisis, popularizing the unscriptural Social Gospel. Other influential names in the Social Gospel movement were Washington Gladden and Charles Sheldon, author of In His Footsteps.
1910 -- Adolf Harnack’s What Is Christianity appeared in an English translation, preaching the Fatherhood of God. The lectures were first delivered in German at the University of Berlin during the winter-term 1899-1900.
1913 -- Ferdinand de Saussure’s Course in General Linguistics was published posthumously, marking the birth of modern linguistics, denying God and the absolute nature of language. According to Saussure, the meaning of language is not something to be recovered in an absolute sense but something each person creates for himself. Fifty years later, in his book Toward a Science of Translating, Eugene Nida acknowledged Saussure’s influence on his own theories of dynamic equivalency.
1918 -- Harry Emerson Fosdick (1868-1969), pastor of the influential Riverside Church in New York City, published The Manhood of the Master, denying that Jesus Christ is God.
1919 -- Walter Rauschenbusch published A Theology for the Social Gospel, which exchanged the Great Commission of world evangelism for the goal of transforming society and thus building the kingdom of God on earth.
--------- Karl Barth (1886-1968) published the first part of his commentary on Romans. Barth, Emil Brunner (1889-1965), and Reinhold Niebuhr (1893-1971) were the fathers of neo-orthodoxy, which hides its unbelief under orthodox theological terms that are given a heretical meaning through obscure language (e.g., speaking of the “bodily resurrection” of Christ or the “second coming” or “the inspiration of Scripture” but not believing these doctrines in a traditional sense). According to neo-orthodoxy, the Bible is not itself the objective and infallible Word of God but merely becomes the word of God as it is experienced existentially.
1921 -- Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976) published The History of the Synoptic Tradition, a first step toward his attempt to “demythologize” the New Testament. In another book, Jesus and the Word, Bultmann claimed, “We can now know almost nothing about the life and personality of Jesus.”
1924 -- The Methodist Episcopal Church approved the ordination of female pastors.
1925 -- The Scopes “Monkey” Trial was held in Dayton, Tennessee, and Bible-believing Christians were made a laughing stock by the mainstream news media.
--------- Alfred Whitehead (1861-1947) published Science and the Modern World; Whitehead was the prominent voice of “process theology,” which taught that God is not the omnipotent God of the Bible but is himself subject to the process of change “carried out by the agents of free will; God cannot force anything to happen, but rather only influence the exercise of this universal free will by offering possibilities; because God contains a changing universe, God is changeable (that is to say, God is affected by the actions that take place in the universe) over the course of time.” Other proponents of process theology are Charles Hartshorne (1897-2000), John B. Cobb, and David Ray Griffin.
1926 -- After a debate lasting almost five hours, the Northern Baptist Convention voted by a margin of about three to one not to evict Riverside Church of New York City from its membership for the rank modernism of Pastor Harry Emerson Fosdick.
1927 -- In The Christlike God, Methodist Bishop Francis McConnell of New York, denied the deity of Jesus Christ. McConnell said, “Is not this tendency to deify Jesus more heathen than Christian?”
1928 -- In Christ and the Roundtable, Methodist missionary E. Stanley Jones wrote, “If verbal infallibility is insisted upon, then the certainty is very precarious” (p. 257).
1930 -- The Presbyterian Church in America approved the ordination of women as elders.
1931 -- Henry Sloane Coffin, President-Emeritus of Union Seminary and former moderator of the Presbyterian Church, wrote: “Certain ... hymns still perpetuate the theory that God pardons sinners because Christ purchased that pardon by His obedience and suffering. ... There is no cleansing blood which can wipe out the record of what has been. ... The Cross of Christ is not a means of procuring forgiveness” (Coffin, The Meaning of the Cross, pp. 118-121).
1932 -- The Northern Baptist Convention was so infiltrated with theological modernism that a small group of men departed and formed the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC).
1934 -- William Temple, who would become Archbishop of Canterbury, said, “... an atheist who lives by love is saved by his faith in the God whose existence (under that name) he denies” (Nature, Man and God, p. 416).
1935 -- George A. Buttrick, Presbyterian pastor who would become president of the Federal Council in 1940, wrote: “Literal infallibility of Scripture is a fortress impossible to defend. ... Probably few people who claim to ‘believe every word of the Bible’ really mean it. That avowal held to its last logic would risk a trip to the insane asylum” (Christian Fact and Modern Doubt, p. 162).
--------- Emil Brunner published Unser Glaube (Our Faith), in which he likened the voice of God in the Bible to the voice of a speaker in a wax recording. As the speaker’s voice can be recognized even though the recording is scratchy and otherwise imperfect, God’s voice can be recognized though the Bible is (allegedly) filled with error and myth.
1936 -- The Presbyterian Church in America was so permeated with theological modernism that a small group of conservatives departed and founded the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
1937 -- The New York Times for March 19 featured Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) as the Jesuit priest who believed that man descended from monkeys. Teilhard did that and more. He attempted to integrate religion with science and applied evolution to human history, envisioning humanity heading toward an “Omega point” of peace and unity. He believed that humanity would evolve the “noosphere” or planetary communication network.
1943 -- Pius XII, in his Divino Afflante Spiritu, became the first Pope to endorse the use of the “scientific criticism” of Scripture.
1944 -- G. Bromley Oxnam, Methodist bishop and one of the first presidents of the World Council of Churches, endorsed calling the God of the Old Testament a “Dirty Bully” in his 1944 book Preaching in a Revolutionary Age. Oxnam wrote: “Hugh Walpole, in Wintersmoore, tells of a father and son at Church. The aged rector read from the Old Testament, and the boy learned of the terrible God who sent plagues upon the people and created fiery serpents to assault them. That night, when the father passed the boy’s bedroom, the boy called him, put his arms around his father's neck, and, drawing him close, said, ‘Father, you hate Jehovah. So do I. I loathe Him, dirty bully!’ We have long since rejected a conception of reconciliation associated historically with an ideal of Deity that is loathsome. God, for us, cannot be thought of an angry, awful, avenging Being who because of Adam’s sin must have his Shylockian pound of flesh. No wonder the hon est boy in justifiable repugnance could say, ‘Dirty Bully’” (p. 79).
1945 -- Harry Emerson Fosdick, in a letter written in January 1945 to an inquiring individual from Peru, Indiana, said, “Of course I do not believe in the virgin birth or in that old-fashioned substitutionary doctrine of the atonement, and I know of no intelligent person who does” (The Christian Beacon, January 3, 1957). Fosdick would become the featured radio speaker for the Federal Council of Churches in America (the forerunner to the National Council of Churches) after its formation in 1950.
1946 -- The Northern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting at Fountain Street Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The host pastor, Duncan Littlefair, had made the following statements in his published sermons: “God may be identified as a piece of this world’s stuff ... God is a part of a great whole and as such is constantly being broken and destroyed and frustrated. ... I must say that God is not eternal. ... There is no reason whatever from the nature of God to assume that God is the strongest or the biggest in the universe or that he can exercise his ‘will’ at will. ... On the basis of our study and approach we must say that God is not omniscient and cannot ‘know’ in any normal sense of the term for he is not a person. ... Jesus is not and cannot be God.”
1948 -- The newly established World Council of Churches adopted a confession of faith weak enough to provide practically any heresy a comfortable home and was soon preaching universalism and participating in syncretistic worship activities with pagan religions.
--------- Harold Ockenga coined the term “Neo-evangelicalism” and announced that his generation had “repudiated separatism” and intended to put a more positive, intellectual face on Christianity. Looking back on this 38 years later, Ockenga said, “The ringing call for a repudiation of separatism and the summons to social involvement received a hearty response from many evangelicals” (Ockenga’s foreword to Harold Lindsell’s The Battle for the Bible, 1986).
--------- In his book Mahatma Gandhi: An Interpretation, Methodist missionary E. Stanley Jones testified that he went to India to convert the heathen, but in the end the heathen conquered him; he became an idolizer of Gandhi and a promoter of pacifism.
1950 -- The theologically liberal, Communist-infiltrated Federal Council of Churches in America (later renamed the National Council of Churches) was formed.
1951 -- Paul Tillich (1886-1965) began the publication of his Systematic Theology, teaching through obscure and difficult language a philosophical Christianity, that theology is never dogmatic but always in process, that God, the “Ground of Being,” can be known only through myths. “At best Tillich was a pantheist, but his thought borders on atheism.”
--------- Influential theologian Nels Ferre wrote: “As a matter of fact, the reference in John to the claim by the Jews to the effect that they were not born in adultery, could give external credence to a Nazi claim that Jesus was German. Mary, we remember, was found pregnant before her engagement to mild Joseph. Nazareth was hard by a Roman garrison where the soldiers were German mercenaries. Jesus is also reported throughout a continuous part of the history of art, it is claimed, to have been blond. This is supposedly unnatural for the Mediterranean countries where this same tradition started and was continued. Hence Jesus must have been the child of a German soldier!” (Ferre, The Christian Understanding of God, p. 191).
1955 -- Bishop James Pike of the Episcopal Church in America said, “I have abandoned ship on the doctrine of the Trinity. I have jettisoned the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ” (Christian Beacon, March 17, 1955).
1956 -- Christianity Today magazine was formed by Billy Graham, with Carl Henry as its first editor-in-chief. This would be the premier voice of positive-emphasis, non-judgmental, non-separatist, intellectually respectable, New Evangelical Christianity.
1957 -- Billy Graham’s evangelistic crusade in New York City was sponsored by the liberal Protestant Council and featured prominent theological modernists. Here Graham began his life-long practice of praising rank modernists, when he spent about 10 minutes eulogizing Jesse Baird, a well-known liberal and apostate, calling him a great servant of Christ. This crusade was the catalyst for Graham’s break with fundamentalists such as Bob Jones, Sr. and John R. Rice of the Sword of the Lord.
--------- Methodist Leslie Weatherhead, who denied the blood atonement of Christ, said, “Graham is helping to fill our churches. We can teach people theology when we have got someone to teach” (Leslie Weatherhead: A Personal Portrait, 1975, p. 199).
--------- At his San Francisco Crusade, Billy Graham honored modernist Bishop James Pike by having him sit on the platform and lead in prayer and by speaking at Pike’s Grace Cathedral. Graham honored Pike again at his 1960 Detroit Crusade.
1958 -- An official follow-up of Graham’s San Francisco Crusade reported that of the roughly 1,300 Catholics who came forward, “practically all remained Catholic, continued to pray to Mary, go to mass, and confess to a priest” (Oakland Tribune, Wed., Dec. 17, 1958). The chairman of this crusade was Methodist Bishop Gerald Kennedy, who denied practically every doctrine of the Christian faith and who had endorsed Nels Ferre’s blasphemous 1953 book The Sun and the Umbrella.
--------- When the United Church of Christ was formed in America by a merger of Congregationalists with the Evangelical and Reformed Church, it adopted a Unitarian statement of faith.
1961 -- Michael Ramsey, Archbishop of Canterbury, said, “Heaven is not a place for Christians only ... I expect to see some present-day atheists there” (The Daily Mail, Oct. 2, 1961).
--------- The Unitarians in America merged with the Universalists to become the Unitarian Universalism Association, uniting in one conglomerate of unbelief and atheism, rejecting the Bible and the God of the Bible while accepting practically any religious philosophy or deity apart from the Bible.
1962 -- “In or about 1962 it became apparent that there were some at Fuller Theological Seminary who no longer believed in the inerrancy of the Bible, among both the faculty and the board members” (Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, p. 106). David Hubbard, who became president of the seminary in 1963, mockingly referred to the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture as “the gas-balloon theory of theology; one leak and the whole Bible comes down.”
1963 -- Anglican Bishop John A. T. Robinson wrote in his popular book Honest to God that “the whole schema of a supernatural being coming down from Heaven to ‘save’ mankind from sin ... is frankly incredible to man ‘come of age’” (p. 78). Robinson expressed an atheistic point of view, saying, “Perhaps after all the Freudians are right, that such a God--the God of traditional popular theology--is a projection, and perhaps we are being called to live without that projection in any form” (pp. 17, 18). Upon publication of this book, Hugh Montefiore, Bishop of Birmingham, said to Robert Runcie, who would become Archbishop of Canterbury in 1980, “John Robinson’s written a book which is going to cause mayhem--he’s going to tell the world the sort of things we really believe” (Humphrey Carpenter, Robert Runcie: The Reluctant Archbishop, p. 159). Of course the mayhem never resulted, for the simple reason that the average Anglican no longer cared anything about doctrine.
1964 -- A religious survey extrapolated that perhaps 60,000 church members in three mainline denominations in America (United Church of Christ, United Methodist, and Episcopal) were atheists or agnostics (Christianity Today, Nov. 20, 1964). The same survey found that 43% of Protestants did not believe in the Virgin Birth.
--------- When asked, “Do Congregational Christians believe in the Virgin Birth?” a spokesman for the United Church of Christ (a merger of Congregationalists with the Evangelical and Reformed Church) answered, “Probably the majority do not” (Douglas Horton, “What Is A Congregationalist?” St. Louis Globe Democrat, Aug. 5, 1964).
1965 -- Harvey Cox, an American Baptist professor at Harvard Divinity School, published Secular City, “celebrating the advent of secular urban civilization and the retreat of traditional Christianity.” Cox jumped on the “God is Dead” bandwagon, saying, “It is too early to say for sure, but it may well be that our English word God will have to die, corroborating in the same measure Nietzsche’s apocalyptic judgment that ‘God is Dead.’”
1966 -- Langdom Gilkey of the University of Chicago Divinity School reported, “The younger men don’t even raise the issue of the Virgin Birth or Original Sin. They’re discussing the existence of God. And if there’s no God, you don’t have to argue about any of the other doctrines” (“Theology,” Time magazine, Nov. 11, 1966, p. 57).
1967 -- In response to Bishop James Pike’s public denial of the Trinity and other cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith, the Episcopal Church U.S.A. adopted a resolution declaring that all heresy is an anachronism. Pike had “abandoned ship on the doctrine of the Trinity” and called the virgin birth “a primitive myth.”
1968 -- A religious survey by Jeffrey Hadden showed that about 60% of the Methodist clergy in America did not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ and at least 50% did not believe in Christ’s bodily resurrection.
--------- Troy Perry founded the Metropolitan Community Church in Los Angeles, which became the mother church of the first predominantly homosexual Christian denomination. By 1988 it claimed 38,000 members in 200 congregations worldwide.
--------- In his spiritual autobiography, Song of Accounts, Methodist missionary E. Stanley Jones said, “We do not believe that the New Testament is the revelation of God--that would be the Word become printer’s ink” (p. 377).
1971 -- Seven thousand people jammed into New York City’s Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine for a Hair Mass, a service commemorating the third anniversary of the Broadway opening of the hippy musical. The event featured braless women, hot pants, a rock band, and balloons (“Troubadours for God,” Time, May 24, 1971).
--------- At New York City’s Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church a minister baptized a baby “in the name of the Father, the Holy Ghost, and Jesus Christ Superstar,” a reference to the blasphemous musical that depicted the Lord Jesus as a common sinner (“The New Rebel Cry: Jesus Is Coming!” Time, June 21, 1971).
1972 -- Cecil Williams, pastor of the Glide Memorial Methodist Church in San Francisco, said, “I don’t want to go to no heaven ... I don’t believe in that stuff. I think it’s a lot of - - - -.” (We have deleted his expletive.)
--------- William Johnson of the Northern California Golden Gate Association of the United Church of Christ became the first openly homosexual person to be ordained by a mainline denomination. When asked if he could be a good minister without a wife, Johnson replied, “I don’t really feel I need a wife. I hope some day to share a deep love relationship with another man” (New York Times, May 2, 1972).
--------- Fuller Theological Seminary formally changed its doctrinal statement to reflect the heresy that had been taught there since the early 1960s. The original statement said that the Bible is “plenarily inspired and free from all error in the whole and in the part.” The new statement eliminated “free from all error in the whole and in the part,” leaving room for the heretical view held by Fuller President David Hubbard and many Fuller professors that the Bible contains errors.
--------- At St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in Manhattan in 1972, “an environmental theater baptism service featured photos of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King Jr., a man shaving in an open bathroom singing ‘We Shall Overcome,’ three nude young people playing kazoos and splashing in a plastic wading pool, an actor performing a bathtub scene from a play, and incense” (Thomas Reeves, The Empty Church: The Suicide of Liberal Christianity, 1996, p. 154).
--------- At its 1972 Quadrennial Conference, the United Methodist Church formally approved a policy of doctrinal pluralism founded upon the four-fold authority of Scripture, Tradition, Experience, and Reason.
1973 -- Gustavo Gutierrez published A Theology of Liberation, becoming a prominent voice for Liberation Theology, which sees salvation in terms of the liberation of society from social and economic injustice. It is a Marxist approach to Christianity.
--------- J. Kincaid Smith testified that when he graduated this year from Hamma School of Theology, a Lutheran Church in America seminary, the following conditions prevailed: “To the best of my knowledge, none of my classmates, nor I, believed in any of the miraculous elements in the Bible, in anything supernatural, no six day creation, that Adam and Eve were real historical people, that God really spoke to people, the flood with Noah and the Ark, the Red Sea parting. We believed that no Old Testament Scriptures foretold of Jesus of Nazareth, that Jesus was not anticipated in the Old Testament. No virgin birth. One of my New Testament profs. was moved to write a poem for the occasion of his receiving tenure. It was read at the service at Wittenberg University Chapel. In it he speculated that Jesus’ father was an itinerant Roman soldier. He flatly denied the real deity of Christ” (reported in Christian News, April 29, 1985).
1974 -- The March issue of Eternity magazine contained an article by Bernard Ramm entitled “Welcome, Green-Grass Evangelicals.” After listing five characteristics (they are not interested in doctrinal questions or the controversy over evolution or the details of Bible prophecy or in debates over biblical infallibility and they put more premium on psychological wholeness than doctrinal correctness), Ramm said he welcomed these “evangelicals.”
1976 -- Bishop James Thomas, of the United Methodist Church, told the UMC Quadrennial General Conference, “We do not believe ... in rigid doctrinal concepts to hold us steady in a wavering world” (F.E.A. News & Views, May-June 1976).
1977 -- Anne Holmes of the United Church of Christ became the first openly lesbian woman ordained by a mainline Protestant denomination. Later in the year, Ellen Barrett became the first openly homosexual priest to be ordained in the Episcopal Church. She said that her relationship with her lesbian lover “is what feeds the strength and compassion I bring to the ministry” (“The Lesbian Priest,” Time magazine, January 24, 1977).
1978 -- In his book The Worldly Evangelicals, Richard Quebedeaux stated: “... it is a well-known fact that a large number, if not most, of the colleges and seminaries in question now have faculty who no longer believe in total inerrancy, even in situations where their employers still require them to sign the traditional declaration that the Bible is ‘verbally inspired,’ ‘inerrant,’ or ‘infallible in the whole and in the part,’ or to affirm in other clearly defined words the doctrine of inerrancy...”
1979 -- The National Capitol Union Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted by a margin of 165-59 to ordain Mansfield Kaseman as a pastor even though he openly denied the deity, virgin birth, sinlessness, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. When asked, “Is Jesus God,” Kaseman replied, “No, God is God.” Upon appeal, the denomination’s highest court vindicated Kaseman.
1981 -- Robert Bratcher, translator of the Today’s English Version, said, “Only willful ignorance or intellectual dishonesty can account for the claim that the Bible is inerrant and infallible. ... No truth-loving, God-respecting, Christ-honoring believer should be guilty of such heresy. To invest the Bible with the qualities of inerrancy and infallibility is to idolatrize it, to transform it into a false god” (The Baptist Courier, Greenville, SC, April 2, 1981). Bratcher was speaking at a national seminar sponsored by the Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas, Texas.
--------- Popular Christian author Malcolm Muggeridge wrote, “The story of Jesus as recounted in the Gospels is true to the degree that it can be, and is believed; its truth must be looked for in the hearts of believers rather than in history” (Muggeridge, Jesus: The Man Who Lives).
1982 -- Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury, when asked at Easter by a newspaper reporter about the meaning of the cross, replied, “As to that, I am an agnostic” (Sunday Times Weekly Review, April 11, 1982). Six years later Runcie said, “The Church must give a firm lead against rigid thinking.”
--------- Robert Schuller published Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, redefining Christianity in terms of his self-esteem theology, stating, for example, that sin is the lack of self-esteem and “to be born again means that we must be changed from a negative to a positive self-image” (Schuller, Self-Esteem, p. 68).
--------- By this year, only about 15 percent of the student body at Fuller Theological Seminary held to the conviction of the seminary’s founders that the Scripture is inerrant (George Marsden, Reforming Fundamentalism, p. 268).
--------- A Gallup survey in 1982 revealed that 34% of Methodists believed that community service is more important than proclaiming the gospel.
1983 -- The World Council of Churches’ General Assembly featured a pagan dance by a Hindu woman from South India. It was a “classical Bharathanatyam dance” that is performed for the Hindu “earth mother goddess.”
--------- The new National Council of Churches’ lectionary featured prayers to God as “Father and Mother.” The strongly pro-feminist lectionary committee, headed by a Lutheran, complained that the old Bible language about God the Father “has been used to support the excessive authority of earthly fathers” (Richard Ostling, “O God Our Mother and Father,” Time magazine, October 24, 1983).
1984 -- The editors of Christianity Today examined Robert Schuller’s theology and concluded that he is not a heretic.
--------- The United Methodist Church approved a report which called upon all its churches to refer to God and Jesus Christ only in terms of inclusive language--in other words, not to address God as “He” or as “Father.”
--------- Charles Keysor testified that a pastor who supports the United Methodist Church system “can be anything from quietly conservative to universalist, agnostic, or even farther Left” and that “the United Methodist climate is alien and inhospitable to forthright evangelical faith” (Christianity Today, Nov. 9, 1984).
--------- Just before his death, well-known evangelical leader Francis Schaeffer published The Great Evangelical Disaster, warning, “Within evangelicalism there are a growing number who are modifying their views on the inerrancy of the Bible so that the full authority of Scripture is completely undercut.”
--------- The World Council of Churches published No Longer Strangers, which instructed women to pray to God by the following names: Lady of peace, Lady of wisdom, Lady of love, Lady of birth, Lord of stars, Lord of planets, Mother, Bakerwoman, Presence, Power, Essence, Simplicity.
--------- The Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City displayed a four-foot bronze statue of the crucifixion featuring a naked female Christ (“Vexing Christa,” Time magazine, May 7, 1984).
--------- David Jenkins, consecrated Bishop of Durham in July, described the doctrine of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ as a “conjuring trick with bones” (on BBC’s religious affairs radio program “Poles Apart”). Jenkins said Christ’s body might have been stolen by the disciples or it might still be in the tomb. In typical liberal doublespeak, he claimed that though biblical miracles such as the resurrection are not literal events, they are “real.” Speaking before the Church of England’s General Synod on July 6, 1986, Jenkins received a standing ovation when he warned “against associating miracles with God and asserted that no church can settle decisively exactly what God is and what he wants” (Associated Press, St. Louis Post Dispatch, July 7, 1986).
--------- Lutheran theologian Dorothee Soelle wrote: “In my own theological reflection, my affirmation of God as female seems appropriate, especially when I want to emphatically differentiate my language from that of patriarchal God-talk. ... It makes no sense to postulate God’s absoluteness ... who needs such a God?” (To Work and to Love: A Theology of Creation, Fortress Press, pp. 6, 14).
--------- M. Scott Peck established the Foundation for Community Encouragement to “forge a new planetary culture.” Peck claims to be a Christian and his books are popular both in Christian and New Age bookstores. In his 1978 book The Road Less Traveled, he said, “God wants us to become Himself (or Herself or Itself). We are growing toward godhood. God is the goal of evolution.” A New York Times book reviewer said, “The book’s main audience is in the vast Bible Belt.”
1985 -- St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis ran an advertising campaign with the slogan, “The Episcopal Church welcomes you, regardless of race, creed, color or the number of times you’ve been born.”
--------- Herman Hanko, professor at Protestant Reformed Seminary in Grandville, Michigan, observed: “It is almost impossible to find an evangelical professor in the theological schools of our land and abroad who still holds uncompromisingly to the doctrine of the infallible inspiration of the Scriptures. The insidious danger is that higher criticism is promoted by those who claim to believe in infallible inspiration” (Hanko, The Battle for the Bible, pp. 2, 3).
--------- On May 13, a televised interfaith service in the Church of England’s Newcastle Cathedral featured Hindus chanting, dancing, and offering flowers to an idol, Muslims reading the Koran, and a Sikh guru honoring his deity. The Hindu god Rama was proclaimed as lord and king. The service featured only one specific reference to Jesus Christ, being a Trinitarian line in the final hymn (“Conservative Evangelicals claim there are serious errors in the Church of England,” The Christian News, April 15, 1985).
--------- Twenty Episcopalian churches in Memphis, Tennessee, ran an advertisement stating: “In an atmosphere of absolute right and wrong, here’s a little room to breathe. ... the Episcopal Church is totally committed to the preservation of open dialogue and undogmatic faith. We exist to tell the world about a God who loves us regardless of what we’ve done or what we believe. Even if we do not believe in Him, He believes in us. We do not suffocate with absolutes” (Christian News, Oct. 14, 1985).
--------- William Schultz, national president of the Unitarian Universalism Association, said: “Unitarian Universalists are open to religious truths from all the great religious traditions, as well as from science and from human experience. God is too great to be limited by one dogma. We believe that the focus of religion ought to be on this life, rather than on preparation for or a perspective of life after death” (St. Petersburg Times, Nov. 16, 1985, Religious Section, pp. 6, 7).
1986 -- The opening service of the Sixth Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Vancouver, British Columbia, featured North American pagan Indians who built an altar and a “sacred flame,” into which they tossed offerings of fish and tobacco to appease their nature gods, and around which they danced. Three Hindus, four Buddhists, two Jews, four Muslims, and a Sikh were official guests of the Assembly, and there were readings from Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim scriptures. In the General Secretary’s report to the Assembly, Philip Potter said that it is God’s will “to unite all nations in their diversity into one house.”
--------- By 1986, there were 20,730 women ordained to full-time ministry in U.S. denominations, representing 7.9% of all U.S. “clergy” (National & International Religion Report, March 13, 1989).
--------- The Day of Prayer for World Peace was held in Assisi, Italy, in October, led by Pope John Paul II. Joining the Pope were representatives of 32 Christian denominations and organizations (including YWCA, Quaker, Mennonite, Reformed, Baptist World Alliance, Disciples of Christ, Lutheran World Federation, Anglican, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic) and several non-Christian religions (Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Judaism, Islam, African and North American animists, Shinto, Zoroastrian, Baha’i). Of the combined prayers of this mixed multitude, the Pope said: “It is urgent that an invocation rise in chorus, and with insistence, from the earth toward Heaven, to ask the Omnipotent One, in whose hands lies the destiny of the world, for the great gift of peace” (The Tidings, April 11, 1986). The event was repeated in 1993 and 2002.
--------- The House of Bishops in the Church of England published The Nature of Christian Belief, which said pertaining to Christ’s resurrection that a word such as “bodily” is “an inadequate or even misleading term, which does not do justice to Scripture.”
--------- David Jenkins, Anglican Bishop of Durham, said God could be a woman. “Clearly God is not exclusively male. He (she?) must reflect all that is female. And he-she must go beyond all that” (Australian Beacon, October 1986).
--------- The Bible Society of Australia published a book featuring Jesus Christ as a cartoon “ACTION MAN.”
1987 -- Michael Saward in England described the shallowness of evangelical Christianity in his day as “a generation brought up on guitars, choruses, and home group discussions; educated, as one of them put it to me, not to use words with precision because the image is dominant, not the word; equipped not to handle doctrine but rather to ‘share’ ... suspicious of definition and labels” (Evangelicals on the Move, p. 92).
1988 -- After worshiping in a Buddhist temple, Episcopal Bishop John Spong said: “As the smell of incense filled the air, I knelt before three images of the Buddha, feeling that the smoke could carry my prayers heavenward. ... My conviction is that the true God ... is within and beyond all of these ancient worship traditions. ... when I visit a Buddhist temple it is not for me a pagan place ... I will not make any further attempt to convert the Buddhist, the Jew, the Hindu or the Moslem. I am content to learn from them and to walk with them side by side toward the God who lives, I believe, beyond the images that bind and blind us all” (Spong, “A dialogue in a Buddhist temple,” The Voice, Jan. 1989; this is the official publication of the Diocese of Newark, New Jersey, of the Episcopal Church USA).
1989 -- An extensive survey of pastors and laity by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) found that only 5% of pastors believed the Bible should be taken literally, while 75% believed that those who have not heard of Christ will not be damned (National & International Religion Report, Mar. 13, 1989).
1990 -- The World Council of Churches Seventh Assembly in Canberra, Australia, opened with pagan worship by Aboriginal men, who “girded in loincloths and feathers, their bodies painted in tribal decoration, danced around an altar and beat drums in a traditional purification ceremony”(Christian News, Feb. 18, 1991, p. 1). In her speech before the Assembly, South Korean Presbyterian feminist theologian Chung Hyun-Kyung summoned the spirits of the dead and “the spirit of Earth, Air, and Water” and said, “I no longer believe in an omnipotent, macho, warrior God who rescues all good guys and punishes all bad guys.”
1991 -- In his book Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, Bishop John Spong of the Episcopal Church in America said, “Of course these [Bible] narratives are not literally true. Stars do not wander, angels do not sing, virgins do not give birth, magi do not travel to a distant land to present gifts to a baby, and shepherds do not go in search of a newborn savior.”
1992 -- In his book The Battle for the Resurrection, Norman Geisler documented the denial of the bodily resurrection among prominent evangelicals, including George Ladd of Fuller Seminary, E. Glenn Hinson of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Murray Harris of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. According to these, Jesus’ body vanished at the resurrection and He immediately ascended to Heaven; His subsequent appearances were in a visible but non-material form by which He accommodated Himself to human understanding.
1993 -- The Clergy Association of Salem, Massachusetts, welcomed a high priest from a witch’s coven into its membership.
--------- David Wells, professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, published No Place for Truth: or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology, which Time magazine described as “a stinging indictment of evangelicalism’s theological corruption.”
--------- At an ecumenical Re-imagining Conference in Minneapolis participants from mainline Protestant denominations worshipped God as a female Sophia and Chung Hyung Kyung of Korea told the crowd, “My bowel is Buddhist bowel, my heart is Buddhist heart, my right brain is Confucian brain, and my left brain is Christian brain.”
--------- During an Easter season service, a female priest at the Episcopal cathedral in Chicago said that if Jesus were to return he would want everyone to be free to enjoy sex, in whatever form that might be (“Show and Tell,” The Living Church, June 20, 1993).
1994 -- Describing the theological shallowness of evangelicalism in the last half of the 20th century, David Wells said, “The sea that looked a mile wide turned out to be only an inch deep” (Wells, God in the Wasteland).
--------- The London Sunday Times for July 31, reporting on a conference for Christian atheists, said that at least 100 Church of England priests do not believe in an external, supernatural God.
--------- Thomas Oden warned that theological seminaries are “awash in antisupernatural assumptions” and that there are no absolutes. In fact, “The very thought of asking about heresy has itself become the new arch-heresy” (Oden, “Measured Critique or Ham-handed Trivia?” In Trust, Spring 1994, pp. 24-25).
--------- In October, Episcopal priest Matthew Fox performed his Planetary Mass at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. It incorporates loud rave music, gyrating dancers, an altar in the shape of a sun and crescent moon, tai chi exercises, and references to “Mother God” and the sacredness of the earth. Bishop William Swing said, “I was very carried away by it” (“It’s All the Rave,” The Living Church, November 27, 1994).
--------- At the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in America, the bishop of western North Carolina apologized for having offended women by calling God “Father” (“Revival or Decline?” The Evangelical Catholic, March-April 1995, p. 10).
1995 -- Referring to a theology conference sponsored jointly by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Wheaton College, Carl Henry warned that “not a single representative of historic evangelical orthodoxy committed to the unbroken authority of the Bible was featured” (Calvary Contender, July 1, 1995).
--------- The Mystery of Salvation, published by the Doctrine Commission of the Church of England, stated, “... for many Christians today the idea of God offering himself as a substitute for our sins is deeply repellent” (p. 122).
--------- Dave Tomlinson, a professing evangelical in the Church of England, wrote: “Doctrinal correctness matters little to God and labels matter less ... St. Peter will not be asking us at the pearly gates which church we belonged to, or whether we believed the virgin birth; the word ‘evangelical’ will not even enter the conversation” (Tomlinson, The Post-Evangelical, pp. 61-62).
--------- Referring to his students, Yale University Divinity School professor Christopher R. Seitz complained: “Most don’t know the names of half of the books of the Bible, whether Calvin lived before or after Augustine, what the wrath of God means or how to understand a final judgment of the quick and the dead” (“Pluralism and the Lost Art of Christian Apology,” In Trust, Summer 1995).
1996 -- On April 20, some 80 well-known evangelical theologians and church leaders signed the Cambridge Declaration, warning: “... the word ‘evangelical’ has become so inclusive as to have lost its meaning. … As Biblical authority has been abandoned in practice, as its truths have faded from Christian consciousness, and its doctrines have lost their saliency, the church has been increasingly emptied of its integrity, moral authority and direction.”
--------- George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, lashed out at fundamentalists who place the Bible “above and beyond human inquiry” (Christian News, Dec. 9, 1996).
1997 -- In an interview with Robert Schuller, Billy Graham said, “God’s calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world or the non-believing world, they are members of the body of Christ because they’ve been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved, and that they’re going to be with us in heaven” (broadcast on Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power, May 31, 1997).
--------- Oliver Barclay wrote, “No university in Britain would now boast that for them ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’” (Barclay, Evangelicalism in Britain: 1935-1995: A Personal Sketch, p. 129).
--------- A religious survey found that the vast majority of young professing Christians in Britain see nothing wrong with sex outside of marriage; 85 percent of Roman Catholics and 80 percent of Anglicans held this view (Religious News Service, June 18, 1997).
--------- The homosexual-oriented Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches was admitted to the Southern California Ecumenical Council. The Fellowship routinely performs homosexual weddings.
1998 -- Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey said: “For many of us in the Church, liberalism is a creative and constructive element for exploring theology today. ... It would constitute the end of Anglicanism as a significant force in world-wide Christianity if we lost this vital ingredient” (Church of England Newspaper, April 9, 1998, p. 8).
--------- Carl Trueman of the University of Aberdeen wrote: “One need only look at many of the works emerging from contemporary evangelical scholars to find that the notion of scriptural authority as understood in any of its classical, orthodox ways has in general been replaced either by the concepts of neo-orthodoxy or simply by silence on the most prickly issues” (“The Impending Evangelical Crisis,” Evangelicals Now, Feb. 1998).
1999 -- Catholic Cardinal Francis Arinze, at the Thanksgiving World Assembly (Dallas, Texas) in March, said a person could get to Heaven without accepting Jesus. Referring to a Vatican II document he said, “God’s grant of salvation includes not only Christians, but Jews, Muslims, Hindus and people of good will” (Dallas Morning News, March 20).
--------- Representatives of the Lutheran World Federation and the Roman Catholic Church met in Augsburg, Germany, on October 31 and signed the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.” The Declaration supports the Catholic position that good works and sacraments are necessary for salvation.
2000 -- In an article in The Bulletin, Peter Carnley, who was elected head of the Anglican Church in Australia in April, stated that the author of the book of Acts wrote in ignorance when he stated that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation (Acts 4:12).
--------- A report on the doctrine of Hell sponsored by the Evangelical Alliance of the United Kingdom states that many evangelicals reject the doctrine that Hell is a place of fiery torment and hold to the doctrine of annihilation.
2001 -- Three Unitarian congregations in the United States are performing Wiccan rituals and referring to a goddess in their services. The latest to do this is Pleasant Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Garland, Texas. They use candles representing “the elements of earth, air, fire, and water” and sermons focusing on earthly themes.
--------- An organization called Standing Together Ministries was established to promote dialogue between evangelical Christians and Mormons. Founder Greg Johnson co-authored a book with Mormon Steve Robinson titled “How Wide the Divide,” concluding that the divide between Mormons and Bible-believing Christians is not as wide as formerly thought.
--------- While addressing a Muslim mosque in Bahrain, Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, said, “Muhammad was clearly a great religious leader whose influence on millions has been for the good” and mocked Christians who preach an exclusive salvation and hold up signs saying, “Jesus is the only way.”
--------- The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly in July rejected a declaration that people can be saved only through faith in Jesus Christ. It passed, instead, a vaguely-worded statement that while Christ is “uniquely Savior” this does not necessarily mean that non-Christians cannot be saved through their own religions.
2002 -- The more than 1,185 attendees at the International United Methodist Clergywomen’s Consultation in San Diego joined together in support of homosexuality. Lesbians were signified by women wearing black-hooded robes and holding signs which read, “We were baptized too,” while the clergywomen surrounded them to depict “a ring of solidarity” with the homosexuals.
--------- In August, Rowan Williams (who was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury six months later), faced the dawn sun and, as prayers were chanted “to the ancient god and goddess of the land,” was inducted into the order of the White Druids. This was founded in 1792 by Edward Williams, and though some claim that it has no pagan associations, in fact it openly borrows from Hindu and ancient druid sources. Edward Williams “helped foster Unitarianism in Wales.”
2003 -- Feminist Patricia Ireland, former president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), was appointed as the new chief executive of the 145-year-old Y.W.C.A. (Young Women’s Christian Association). In the 1990s the pro-abortion, pro-lesbian Ireland lived with another woman in Washington, D.C.
--------- At the 55th annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, members voted not to expel two members, Clark Pinnock and John Sanders, who espouse the heresy of open theism. This theology denies the foreknowledge and omniscience of God, claiming that He does not know the future perfectly. Open theist Gregory Boyd says, “God can’t foreknow the good or bad decisions of the people He creates until He creates these people and they in turn create their decisions.”
--------- An apex of the rock & roll Christianity philosophy was reached with the publication of Thomas Nelson’s Revolve: The Complete New Testament. It is set in a worldly teenage girl’s magazine format, complete with photos of pretty models and cool guys, beauty tips, suggestions on how to have fun on dates, an encouragement to feel comfortable wearing a bathing suit, a test to determine if you are introverted or extroverted, and lots of other vain things that distract from and even contradict the message of the Scriptures.
--------- On June 7 the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire elected the first openly homosexual bishop in the history of the Anglican Communion. The newly elected bishop, V. Gene Robinson, had broken his solemn marriage vows 13 years earlier when he left his wife and two young daughters and moved in with his male partner.
2004 -- Speaking on January 31 to 700 delegates at his diocese’s annual meeting, Peter James Lee, Episcopal bishop of Virginia, said, “If you must make a choice between heresy and schism, always choose heresy.”
--------- The Feb. 27 edition of the Lariat, the school paper at Baylor University, a large Baptist institution, featured an editorial defending homosexual marriage.
The previous information is only the “tip of the iceberg,” but these facts are sufficient to reveal that Christianity has been deeply corrupted in our day, and the practice of biblical separation is more needed today than ever before. Through modernism, the hiss of the slithering serpent can still be heard asking, “Hath God said?” God’s people must go forth unto Christ “without the camp” of majority Christianity (Hebrews 13:13). The Word of God exhorts us to “come out from among them and be ye separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17). We are to avoid those that who teach contrary to apostolic truth (Romans 16:17) and have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof and (2 Timothy 3:5).
Many young people have lost their faith by attending modernistic theological schools and reading modernistic literature.
We must be certain of our salvation so that we have the Holy Spirit anointing (1 John 2:27) and be grounded in God’s Word so that we can exercise keen spiritual discernment (Acts 17:11).
We must educate the church members thoroughly in the Scriptures as well as in the basic history and principles of the heresies that confront us on every hand. It has been said that the Central Intelligence Agency, which is tasked with protecting U.S. currency from counterfeiting, trains its agents only by studying genuine notes. In fact, it trains them in what a genuine note looks like as well as in the ways that these notes have been counterfeited. This is the method that we see in the New Testament epistles. Practically every one contains both truth and clear warning about certain specific heresies, and this is the example of how churches today must educate their people.