Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: June 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Convergent Evangelicalism

New wave Neutralism

          I can barely stomach preachers who are willing to compromise God’s truth for purposes of self-promotion or pragmatic church growth philosophies.  Once a man begins to move in that direction, it appears that he will be able to justify just about anything he does.  Perhaps there is an even more detestable character than this within the circles of compromise.  This even more detestable character is the person who professes privately to be faithful to the Old Paths, but who takes a neutral position publicly.  That type of character is nauseating. 
          Perhaps no one better defined New Evangelicalism than Dr. William. A. Ashbrook, the pastor of Calvary Bible Church in Columbus, Ohio.  He wrote two books on the subject entitled New Evangelicalism-The New Neutralism and New Neutralism II.  Ashbrook[1] wrote:

Lest there be any doubt as to the direction of its sympathies one only needs to evaluate the barbs which it levels at the fundamentalists. ‘Fundamentalism,’ say its traducers, ‘has degenerated into a cat and dog fight.’ Fundamentalism is held up ‘as an ignorant, contentious approach to the Christian Faith as outdated as high button shoes.’ It could well discard ‘a lot of unnecessary traditional baggage in the forms of customs, practices and lingo beloved through the generations but now obstacles to preaching the gospel to the unsaved.’ . . .
Neutralism is a position difficult to maintain in any age, but in a day like ours when the battle is pitched between Christ and anti-Christ it is an impossible position. In the sphere of things moral and spiritual a man must be either right or wrong. The showdown will come in realms of black or white, not in the fog of immaterial grey. There is no middle ground on which the neutralist can complacently stand for long and pronounce his anathemas or his benedictions as the case may be upon both of the conflicting sides. He is bound to wind up in one camp or other and in a day when God is judging compromise in no uncertain terms, he is very likely to wind up in the wrong camp.
There can be no middle ground for Bible-believing Christians. One of the Scottish evangelists of a former day used to say, ‘Joshua had trouble with the Amorites and the Hittites outside Israel, but he had far more trouble with the Betweenites inside Israel.’”

          If New Evangelicalism is New Neutralism, that Convergent Evangelicalism is nothing more than a new wave of the same old thing.  Convergent Evangelicalism can certainly be characterized as another wave of Neutralism since its headline position is a radical departure from the Old Path practices of separation.  Therefore, Convergent Evangelicalism is just a new wave of New Evangelicalism characterized by different degrees of Neutralism regarding issues of separation or levels of separation. 
Convergent Evangelicals argue they are refining rather than redefining the lines of demarcation for separation.  They are in fact reducing the historical theological boundaries for those they include in their cooperation in Kingdom building.  In my opinion, they are more concerned about their own kingdoms, than they are about Christ’s Kingdom.  This new wave of Neutralism follows upon New Evangelism’s past Soteriological Reductionism.  This new wave of Neutralism now focuses upon broadening the view of Ecclesiology to a Big View Christianity beyond the local church view where separation issues are reduced to extreme inclusivity regarding the Gospel at the exclusion of those separating over errors in Eschatology, Pneumatology, Bibliology, and Ecclesiology.  The new wave of Neutralism labels those separating over errors in Eschatology, Pneumatology, Bibliology, and Ecclesiology as extremists and radicals
          Scripturally, Neutralism is an anathema to Christ.  Neutralism in any form, or in any degree, is the “lukewarm” Laodicean church of Revelation 3:14-22.  In the last one-hundred years, we have seen wave upon wave of Neutralism wash away the shoreline of theological orthodoxy.  Central to the ongoing theological erosion problem is the fact that the vast majority of fundamentalists censor themselves and never speak out against the erosion.  Yet, they do not see their own Neutralism of silence as part of the problem.  The fact is that their Neutralism is the main reason why the new waves of Neutralism advance so deeply into the shorelines of theological orthodoxy.  Sadly, they defend their own Neutralism of silence beyond the point where the theological shoreline has become so critically eroded that they find the foundations of their local churches completely undermined.  They are allowing the local churches, of which they have been appointed guardians, to be captured by their own compromise of silence. 

[1] Askbrook, William A., The New Evangelicalism-The New Neutralism, Central Bible Quarterly, CENQ 02-2 (Summer 1959)

Anonymous comments will not be allowed.
Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist.
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Unholy Alliances


8 And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. 9 Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. 10 And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. 11 And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. 12 And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves. (Luke 23:8-12)?

          In the historical scene of Luke chapter twenty-three, we see an unholy alliance formed from three groups that hitherto were sworn enemies. 

1. There was the Idumean King of Israel in long standing reign of the corrupt, cutthroat, debauch Herodian Dynasty in Israel.  Their reign marked the final pages in the downfall of Israel culminating in the Roman overthrow in 70 A.D. 
2. There was the tyrant Pilate, the Roman procurator in the province of Judea, who came into power by political appointment in 26 A.D.  His only true loyalty was to his own political career, which selfish motives led him to have the righteous Jesus crucified merely to avoid political problems for himself.
3. There were the “chief priests and scribes” of Israel, who were corrupt in protecting their own powerful positions inherent in the Mosaic Covenant to them by the nature of God’s ordained Levitical priesthood.  Christ righteously and repeatedly condemned their corruption and hypocrisy, for which they unjustly condemned Him, thereby publicly manifesting their corruption and hypocrisy. 

          All of these men had something in common – self-promotion.  The circumstances of life promoted them to positions of power that were greater than their character.  The extreme degree to which they were willing to go in their pursuit of fame, power, and position is manifested by their willingness to sacrifice the innocent Christ to advance their own personal ambitions. 
I believe there is a common denominator in Convergent Evangelicalism and Emergent Evangelism.  Both are willing to sacrifice true Christianity to expand their levels of influence in order get the ears of a larger audience of people.  They have in fact stated this in their discussion regarding cultural relevancy.  The only difference between Convergent Evangelicalism and Emergent Evangelicalism is the difference in their degrees of compromise. 
This would certainly appear to be the outcome of a faulty Ecclesiology in seeing Christianity and the Church as synonymous entities.  When the Church is viewed as some mystical organism, rather than a local organization, then all Scripture instruction to the “church” becomes practically vapid.  Ecclesiological orthodoxy is forced into a distortionist’s act, warping and distorting itself to fit into a form to which it was never designed.  The point I seek to make is that this distortion actually postulates an Ecclesiological heterodoxy and sacrifices true Christianity for something that is undefined.  The Christianity (dare we call it that) of both Convergent and Emergent Evangelism is evolving and fluid – constantly changing.  We do not know where it is going because we do not know where it is.  However, the one word that describes both Convergent and Emergent Evangelicalism is the word DEPARTURE.
An old Arabian proverb says, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  The proverb sounds good and certainly becomes the practice in the lives of many people.  However, we should question the moral validity of the pragmatism of such a statement and its correctness according to the Word of God.  Can true Christians unite with the enemies of God simply because we might be combating similar foes?  Can true Christians unite with other professing Christians who deny cardinal doctrines of “the faith” simply because we seek to resist a common enemy in the influences of evil upon a mutual society? 
          In these last days, before the rapture of the Church Age believers, we see the forces of evil advancing their agenda of death, corruption, and Antichristism on almost every front of what is right and holy before God.  We see the right to murder forces uniting in the realms of abortion (the murder of unwanted babies) and euthanasia (the murder of the elderly, terminally ill, and mentally ill or retarded).  We see the gay/lesbian forces uniting to force society to accept their alternative lifestyles while even requiring that they be accepted without any condemnation of those lifestyles as sinful.  Public nudity and public profanity must also be accepted under the guise of free expression and freedom of speech.  Gay marriage must be accepted by society and we must not even put a hint of moral anathema upon it.  We must give religious liberty to everyone and everything, and are required to exclude from that liberty any discussion or condemnation of heresy.  Religious liberty must be given without question or challenge to the credibility of varying and opposing religious beliefs, and Pluralism must become the norm under the threat of adjudication for hate speech.  Proselytizing must become a social anathema in this new culture of moral relativism and self-actualization.  The declaration of independence from biblical values in this new culture is the paradoxical statement - “There are absolutely no absolutes!”
          Although the above scenario at the ending of the Church Age is undoubtedly wicked and antichrist, uniquely it is not a great deal different than the era in which Christ lived and into which Christianity was first introduced by the Apostles of Jesus Christ.  Sadly, the world’s moral scene has returned to this morbidity because the Church of Jesus Christ has been corrupted and believers have forgotten that they were saved to serve the Lord Jesus, win souls, and make disciples to His glory.  Today, the lukewarm church is confronted with a situation they have allowed to come to fruition because of their own apathy and, just like Israel, God will use the very situation we have created by that apathy to chastise us (Luke 23:31).  We have cut our own rod by abusing the mercy and grace of God requiring Him then to come forth with a rod of iron.
          The test of Christian fellowship must not be separated from the test of Christian character.  Christian character is simply measured by what we are willing to compromise in order to protect ourselves or advance ourselves in public opinion.  Probably most of the men in Convergent and Emergent Evangelicalism are “born again” men who have trusted in Jesus Christ.  Many of them are very inclusive as to what a person must believe to be saved and about what a person cannot believe.  Many of them are Soteriological Reductionists and many are Lordship Salvationists.  Most of them are willing to fellowship with other men and local churches/denominations holding to a wide diversity of Soteriological positions.  This is the outcome of their Big View Christianity.  Their Big View Christianity then extends itself into Inclusivism in the arena of fellowship in the areas of Ecclesiology, Christology, Pneumatology, and Eschatology.  This Inclusivism is necessary because without it their Big View Christianity very rapidly reduces itself into a local church view Christianity.
          Big View Christianity naturally propagates theological syncretism.  This combining, merging, melding, converging, amalgamating view of Christianity ultimately evolves into some kind of aberration none of the original participants might have, or could have imagined.  Since it begins by loosening its theological moorings, is it any wonder that it has set itself adrift to be carried about hither and thither by the ever-changing sea of cultural evolution with which it seeks relevancy?  Throughout the Church Age Dispensation, the local church is the “pillar and ground of the truth.”  The role of our High Priest Jesus Christ throughout the Church Age is to keep His local churches pure of doctrinal error, worldly compromise, and involved in His original missional command.  When any man, whether it be pastor, evangelist, Bible College President, or Seminary professor seeks to propagate theological syncretism amongst Jesus’ local churches, that man declares himself an opponent to our High Priest’s purpose and an enemy of the Church of Jesus Christ.

Anonymous comments will not be allowed. 
Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.