When a church jettisons biblical authority, she guts her foundation. It’s only a matter of time before the whole thing comes crashing down. The lie swallowed by the Mainlines was: “doctrine divides”. In place of biblical doctrine, the mainlines embraced a number of substitutes: “Community”, ecstatic experience, social justice, ritual, technology. But nothing fills the gaping truthless hole at the center of American mainline Protestantism. It’s all sticky sentimental plastic drivel without the Word of God.
This, by the way, is the problem with the Emergent movement and it is what I find so troubling about the present popularity of writers like Rachel Held Evans - they’re repackaging the same lie for those reacting against evangelicalism. In fact, the opposite has proven to be the case. Doctrine grounded firmly in the supreme conviction that scripture is the measure of the Church, the norm that norms all other norms, is vital. Ignoring doctrine not only divides churches, it kills them.
Here’s Timothy George on the topic:
There is an intrinsic connection between spiritual vitality and theological integrity. The debate over homosexual practices within the mainline denominations is not the root cause but only the presenting issue in the devolution Douthat has described so well. At the heart of this issue is a broken doctrine of biblical authority, a loss of confidence in the primary documents of the Christian faith. The patina of pietism and the lushness of a well-rehearsed liturgy are no substitute for what the Thirty-nine Articles calls “the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures.” Apart from such commitment, it will not be long before other cardinal tenets of the Christian faith become negotiable, including the Trinity, the full deity and true humanity of Jesus Christ, and redemption wrought through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Two of Chuck Colson’s most important books were The Body, a study of ecclesiology, and The Faith, a call for renewed orthodoxy. The church and the Bible are coinherent realities in the economy of grace. One will not long survive intact without the other…read more
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