The Easy Conscience of Modern Evangelicalism
By the late James Montgomery Boice
When I wrote about the mainline denominations years ago, I said that they had become largely secular institutions that were pursuing the world's wisdom, embracing the world's theology, following the world's agenda, and employing the world's methods. But that is what many evangelicals are doing today, though not in the same precise ways. Like the liberals before us, we too have fixed our eyes on a worldly kingdom and have made politics and money our weapons of choice for grasping it.
Evangelicals are not heretics, at least not consciously. We believe the Bible is the authoritative and inerrant Word of God. But many have abandoned this ancient wisdom of the Church because they do not think it is adequate for the challenges of our time. We still use the Bible's vocabulary, but we give it new meaning, pouring bad secular content into spiritual terms.
Sin becomes dysfunctional behavior. Salvation is self-esteem or wholeness. Jesus becomes an example for right living more that a Savior from sin. As for our agenda, for many the goal is success, wonderful marriages and nice children; we do not think much about getting right with an offended God. As for methods, many are preoccupied almost exclusively with numerical growth and money.
But we are content that it should be so, as long as our churches continue to be prosperous and no one tries too hard to shake us out of our personal peace and affluence.
I would like to see professed evangelicals become troubled by what is happening. I would like to see us distressed by our loss of a genuine proclamation of the Gospel and an awareness that we have become much like the liberals of the past, who declined into irrelevancy.
I would like us to be disturbed by our neglect of evangelism, particularly among our affluent, worldly, and very pagan neighbors.
I would like us to become uneasy about our failure to establish strong churches in America's inner cities, where the breakdown of American culture is so obvious and the needs of the people are so great.
To repent of our worldliness,
to recover the great doctrines of the Bible, as the Reformers did, andto see that truth embodied in our doctrine, worship practices, and church life.
Excerpts from the September/October 1998 issue of Modern Reformation magazine