Bookmark and Share print

The Spirit of Niceness
August 19, 2009
Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
866-295-4143,
fbns@wayoflife.org
The following is excerpted from The Tragedy of Compromise: The Origin and Impact of the New Evangelicalism by Dr. Ernest D. Pickering (Bob Jones University Press, 1994, Greenville, SC 29614) --

Franky Schaeffer put it this way: "The clear, loud call for accommodation comes wrapped in the name of the Gospel of Niceness. Sin as the source of all human problems is banished and a call for repentance is rarely made" (Schaeffer, Bad News for Modern Man, p. 45).

Evangelicalism today is consumed with relationalism, the fine art of getting along with people. Bruce Larson, a leading New Evangelical author himself, advises us that "the quality and scope of relationships and the ability and willingness to relate are marks of orthodoxy rather than doctrine" (Larson, The Relational Revolution, p. 32). In other words, the emphasis in theology becomes relational and not conceptual. This tendency, by the way, accounts for a major shift in expectations of the average church member toward the ministry of the pastor. Many want the pastor to center his preaching around "how to" themes rather than doctrinal themes. More will be said about this later.

THE ATTITUDE OF EVANGELICALS TODAY IS, "LET'S NOT OFFEND ANYONE. Let's preach the gospel in such a way as to be well-thought-of by the unsaved world." "To begin with, most Evangelicals tacitly recognize that Protestant hegemony in America has given way to a potpourri of religious belief systems that itself is girded by a strong liberal code of religious tolerance. ... In response, Evangelicalism has adopted A SOCIAL POSTURE THAT PLEADS, 'DON'T TAKE OFFENSE, BUT HERE IS THE TRUTH.' IT IS A DEMEANOR OF PROPRIETY, GENTILITY, AND SOCIABILITY" (James Hunter, American Evangelicalism, p. 91).

THIS SPIRIT OF GENTILITY, OF "NICENESS," PERMEATES EVANGELICALISM. It affects the approach which evangelicals take toward the presentation of the gospel and their general attitude toward cardinal doctrines of Scripture. "The civilizing process entails a de-emphasis of Evangelicalism's more offensive aspects: the notions of inherent evil, sinful conduct and lifestyles, the wrath of a righteous and jealous God, and eternal agony and death in hell" (Hunter, American Evangelicalism, p. 88). The popular pastor, Chuck Swindoll, says, "When there is a grace-awakening ministry there is an absence of dogmatism and Bible-bashing. ... There is a spirit of openness" (Swindoll, The Grace Awakening, pp. 227-28).

One of the original founders of the New Evangelicalism, Carl Henry, is not impressed with the "progress" which has been made. He is alarmed by certain trends and speaks out against them.

In contrast to inclusive modernism, evangelical spokesmen have hesitated to declare all nonbiblical religions false. They have spoken rather in terms of the 'superiority' of evangelical orthodoxy. In short, in deference to the growing mood of tolerance and for the sake of civility in dialogue, the Christian belief was packaged for greater marketability. References to eschatological damnation and to hell as the final destiny of the impenitent wicked were evaded, abridged, or introduced semi-apologetically. The term 'heresy' vanished from inter-religious dialogue" (Carl Henry, "YFC's 'Cheer for Jesus' No Substitute for the Apostolic Creed," World, March 11, 1989, p. 7).

WHAT SAITH THE SCRIPTURES? Our Lord did not seem to concern Himself with the gospel of niceness when He thundered, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites" (Matt. 23:14 et al.). Paul was not being very nice when he indicted his fellow Jews with the crucifixion of Jesus and declared that 'wrath is come upon them to the uttermost' (1 Thess. 2:14-16). No thought of 'helpful dialogue' seemed to be in the apostle's mind when he emphatically denounced those who preached a false gospel as those who would be "accursed" (Gal. 1:9). In summary, the method of presenting biblical truth as exemplified by the apostles, the founders of the church, does not square with the "new look" in evangelicalism. EARLY CHRISTIANS DID NOT SPECIALIZE IN MAKING EVERYONE FEEL COMFORTABLE. THEY SPOKE THE TRUTH IN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT, WITH LOVE BUT ALSO WITH CLARITY AND FORCEFULNESS. THEY PULLED NO PUNCHES.



- Receive these reports by email
- "About" David Cloud
- www.wayoflife.org

______________________

Sharing Policy: Much of our material is available for free, such as the hundreds of articles at the Way of Life web site. Other items we sell to help fund our expensive literature and foreign church planting ministries. Way of Life's content falls into two categories: sharable and non-sharable. Things that we encourage you to share include the audio sermons, O Timothy magazine, FBIS articles, and the free eVideos and free eBooks. You are welcome to make copies of these at your own expense and share them with friends and family, but they cannot be posted to web sites. You are also welcome to use excerpts from the articles in your writings, in sermons, in church bulletins, etc. All we ask is that you give proper credit. Things we do not want copied and distributed freely are items like the Fundamental Baptist Digital Library, print editions of our books, electronic editions of the books that we sell, the videos that we sell, etc. The items have taken years to produce at enormous expense in time and money, and we use the income from sales to help fund the ministry. We trust that your Christian honesty will preserve the integrity of this policy. "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward" (1 Timothy 5:18).

Goal:Distributed by Way of Life Literature Inc., the Fundamental Baptist Information Service is an e-mail posting for Bible-believing Christians. Established in 1974, Way of Life Literature is a fundamental Baptist preaching and publishing ministry based in Bethel Baptist Church, London, Ontario, of which Wilbert Unger is the founding Pastor. Brother Cloud lives in South Asia where he has been a church planting missionary since 1979. Our primary goal with the FBIS is to provide material to assist preachers in the edification and protection of the churches.

Offering: We take up a quarterly offering to fund this ministry, and those who use the materials are expected to participate (Galatians 6:6) if they can. We do not solicit funds from those who do not agree with our preaching and who are not helped by these publications. We seek offerings only from those who are helped. OFFERINGS can be mailed or made online with with Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or Paypal. For information see: www.wayoflife.org/about/makeanoffering.html.



Way of Life Literature

 

Publisher of Bible Study Materials