Monday, October 02, 2006

This is what Liberalism did for the churches

They poisoned pulpits, emptied pews, and what is far worse ruined the spiritual lives of generations. I shudder to think what the implications of the Liberal agenda will be for the final state. They took away Christ and his Word. They changed the gospel for philosophy.

There are important continuities and discontinuities between the effects of Modernism and Postmodernism on Christian believing. But for all its cultural rootedness, Liberalism was a mindset of accommodation and appeasement. And for that reason it stands as a warning from history to evangelicals who are heading down that road because, quite frankly, they have lost their confidence in the gospel and Christ's Lordship over intellectual and cultural history.

I have enjoyed reading Ron Gleason's blog series on John Leith's Crisis in the Church. The following extract is Gleason's commentary on some perceptive remarks from Leith's book.

It is a salutary warning about the emptiness of the theology that comes from Athens...or Tubingen, or Marburg, or Paris.

“Theology written in German universities and in the tradition that began with Schleiermacher fascinates many American theologians today. This theology has many striking qualities: generally a wide philosophical background, an intellectual cleverness, and not infrequently a pedantic quality. Yet those who are fascinated with this theology have not, to my knowledge, taken seriously the ineffectiveness of this theology in Germany itself and in Europe.” Leith is spot on with this analysis.

His bottom line for seminary professors and students therefore is: “Is the theology of the university preachable so that it can sustain congregations over a period of time?” That is to say, “…the capacity of certain theologies to gather congregations, nurture and sustain them, and to transform the social order and the weakness of other theologies in their inability either to establish strong communities or to sustain Christian congregations must be taken seriously.”


Stephen said...

This is a great quote, especially the part you emphasise. Those who espouse this these theologies seem to be blind to the effects.

Martin Downes said...

There is an interesting quote by Dean Inge at the opening of Lloyd-Jones' "What is an Evangelical?"

Inge says that over time institutions tend to produce their opposite.

That makes me think that it is quite possible for evangelicalism to produce (albeit in a culturally different form) a new liberalism.

I think that you can see that in the post 1960s changes to the doctrine of Scripture and, especially, "evangelical" opposition to the atonement.

There is a cultural-historical blindness at work.