We look around the nation and the world, and people aren't doing what God says. I see one major contributing factor to the demise with one corollary. First, people want to do what they want to do, and they're easier to get along with if you let them do what they want. Second, the corollary, uncertainty buttresses this self-will. Without absolute truth, people can do what they want. More toleration equals larger coalitions. Sometimes getting and then staying big provides enough incentive to discard teachings.
The Charismatic movement -- continuationism -- doesn't produce signs. Its "healers" don't heal like Jesus and the Apostles. They don't create new eyes and replace missing limbs. The "tongues" of its adherents are not real languages. What I'm saying is, it's a fraud, a lie, a complete fabrication. Its worship is false. It undermines discernment with a perversion of true spirituality. The one and only God is mutually exclusive from lies. Satan is the liar and the father of lies, not God.
This year Together for the Gospel meets in Louisville, Kentucky, April 12-14. What is getting together for the gospel? Apparently, it ignore the lies of continuationism, because this conference brings continuationists (Mahaney and Piper) and cessationists (MacArthur, etc.) together for fellowship -- tongue speakers and healers together with those who say they deny it. Why? How? Not all doctrines rise to a high enough level of importance. Some things God says are less important compared to others, even if it means the lies of continuationism, which is a series of lies about God, His power, the Holy Spirit, worship, sanctification, and more.
Continuationism isn't all. They are together for the gospel, but not for premillennialism. You can allegorize most of the prophetic passages of scripture with amillennialism (Duncan, Dever, and Sproul), but that isn't important enough to exclude someone from fellowship. Prophecy is non-essential. Getting together for the gospel does not exclude those who sprinkle infants like Duncan, Sproul, and DeYoung. When these distinctions are dismissed to get together, it's no wonder that the church and the world both don't think someone can know the truth.
No one has written more than me on this matter of essentials and non-essentials, primary and tertiary doctrines. This post continues in that theme. In December of last year, David Cloud picked upon on that subject, especially as he reads it among independent Baptists. I'm assuming he's been reading here or A Pure Church. You hear the same tune from them on this as you would from the evangelicals, and for the same reasons. He quotes Paul Chappell from his Church Still Works (p. 215):
On the other hand, one of the weaknesses of independent Baptists has been calling non-essentials, essential. . . . . Practically speaking -- it will be impossible for our churches to be what God intended and to make the difference that ‘salt and light’ should make if we are debating minor issues.
Cloud's article is excellent and worth reading, as it moves into almost every circle of independent Baptists to join the Southern Baptists and evangelicals in this unbiblical teaching.
False doctrine and practice is justified by calling it a non-essential or tertiary doctrine or practice. When evangelicals use that language, they especially mean biblical standards of dress, holiness with regards to entertainment and recreation, and worldliness in music and worship. The use of unbiblical methods is another area that you will be discouraged from judging, because it is a non-fundamental part of the Bible.
Last week, the wife of former NBA head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans and assistant coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Monty Williams, died in a fatal, tragic car accident. Because of the celebrity of Williams, her death was national news. Williams said a lot of great, actually amazing, things at his wife's funeral at Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City. I was interested in what kind of church that might be, so I looked at its website, and I read this statement among others to inform potential attendees:
We will focus our teaching on the non-debatable principles of Scripture while leaving freedom for personal convictions related to non-essential doctrinal issues.
On the "I'm new" page, the lead pastor writes the all too typical:
What’s it like at Crossings? Well, we are most definitely a “come as you are” church. The comment I hear most from people is that the big building was a bit intimidating at first, but once inside, it was so friendly and easy to get around that “I just fit right in.” Dress is a little bit of everything—some in coats and ties, many in jeans. Just be yourself—and be comfortable.
I’m also asked what Sunday services are like. We offer five Sunday services with three unique styles in three different worship environments. If you prefer the sounds of a large choir and orchestra offering a blend of traditional and contemporary music, choose either the 9:15 or the 10:45 a.m. service in the Sanctuary. If you like a relaxed, upbeat atmosphere with all contemporary Christian music, led by Josh Edington and Venue Worship Team, then one of the two services in The Venue (9:15 and 10:45 a.m.) is the right place for you. For a more traditional, yet powerful, worship, where communion is offered every Sunday, come to the 8:15 a.m. Chapel service.
So much is preferential and personal taste. You can choose whatever worship or worship environment or dress you choose. None of that means anything, unless you judge something to be wrong. Come as you are. Come to God as you want. If Cain or King Saul could have known the same.
I use Crossings Community as an example, not because it is even the worst. It's pretty typical today. Most populated areas are inundated with these types of churches, varying mostly in how small their list of essentials is and how extreme they'll go in their entertainment and creature comforts -- the more tolerance, the bigger the church. If you don't want sinners to feel too uncomfortable, you've got to shrink the list of requirements. Crossings is the kind of church to host an occasion of a large number of celebrities.
A percentage of the Bible and a fast decreasing amount really matters. As long as a certain and diminishing agreement can be found in a shrinking number of essentials, everyone will be fine. Nothing is more important than toleration.
Judgment must begin in the house of God.
As an aside, but maybe not -- I wanted people to know that I was adding this, who might wander over here to read this today. There is a bit of a "fight" among those "together for the gospel," because of a few of the characters involved. Phil Johnson, most well known assistant to John MacArthur, has a strong conflict with Thabiti Anyabwile over #blacklivesmatter. I'm not going to attempt to explain it, but a lot of your readers know of an interesting lean toward liberal social issues and causes even among those included in conservative evangelicalism. It might be hard to wrap your brain around, but it is happening. While they have this conflict, John MacArthur and Anyabwile are still getting together for the gospel with the T4G conference that I mentioned above. At what point does anyone separate over anything -- does any of it matter? It has to be explained as a non-essential even though it is very fervent and heated in its non-essential-ism and tertiary-ism.
The other relates to John Piper's recent discussion about self-protection and gun rights. Piper has come out plainly as anti-gun, and in the midst of this says he wouldn't even defend his wife in given violent situations. This is, again, "a non-essential." Everyone gets together anyway. This position of Piper can't stand as isolated belief. You can't take that type of position without having other problems.