The Fatal Wound

May 4, 2011

What is the great problem within evangelicalism today?  A lack of convincing action in the world that would back-up our faith?  Increasing laxity on doctrines such as hell and the atonement?  The decline in church attendance, giving, and sending?  Perhaps these are serious problems.  But they’re just irritating shards of shrapnel compared to the seriousness of the mortal wound: evangelicalism is Christless.  Not everywhere, and not everyone– but evangelicalism is walking wounded with a limping Christless gospel, biblical hermeneutic, and discipleship.

A Christless gospel
The gospel is the Person of Christ himself– his gracious giving of himself as a Bridegroom to his Church, a Head for his Body, a King for his people, a Saviour for sinners.  Yet many evangelicals unwittingly wrench Christ from the gospel, making it no gospel at all.  It is drawn as ‘God’s faithfulness’, or ‘God’s sovereignty’.  We are encouraged to trust ‘the gospel’, or ‘grace’, or ‘God’s promises’– anything but Christ!

Of all that poison which at this day is diffused in the minds of men, corrupting them from the mystery of the Gospel, there is no part that is more pernicious than this one perverse imagination, that to believe in Christ is nothing at all but to believe the doctrine of the gospel…

John Owen, Christologia IX

Grace is a ring of gold, and Christ is the pearl in that ring; and he that looks more upon the ring than the pearl that is in it, in the hour of his temptation will certainly fail. When the wife’s eye is upon he rings or jewels, then her heart must be set on e husband. When grace is in the eye, Christ must at that time be in the arms. Christ, and not grace, must lie nearest to a Christian’s heart.

Thomas Brooks

A Christless biblical hermeneutic
In the history of the Church, the overwhelming and near total consensus is that revelation of God and salvation are given to us in the Person of Christ, the eternal Son.  The recent past, especially the critical theological enterprise, has made the incarnation the sole referent of ‘Christ’, and the New Testament the only domain where faith in this Person is an appropriate discussion.  The unity of the Bible is completely undermined when evangelical believers, hand-in-hand with classical liberalism, affirm that the Old Testament saints trusted in ‘God’ in general, rather than specifically and consciously in Christ.

The principle and spring of this assignation of divine honour unto Christ, in both the branches of it, is faith in him.  And this has been the foundation of all acceptable religion in the world since the entrance of sin.  There are some who deny that faith in Christ was required from the beginning, or was necessary unto the worship of God, or the justification and salvation of them that did obey him. For, whereas it must be granted that “without faith it is impossible to please God,” which the apostle proves by instances from the foundation of the world, Heb. 11–they suppose it is faith in God under the general notion of it, without any respect unto Christ, that is intended.  It is not my design to contend with any, nor expressly to confute such ungrateful opinions–such pernicious errors.  Such this is, which–being pursued in its proper tendency–strikes at the very foundation of Christian religion; for it at once deprives us of all contribution of light and truth from the Old Testament.

John Owen, Christologia X

A Christless discipleship
So often, walking with the Lord is construed in terms of personal holiness, reformation of character, and the battle with sin.  Evangelicalism’s constant tendency is towards a pietistic worksiness which leaves the weak Christian empty of all assurance and love for God, fearing his disappointment with their efforts in discipleship.  Yet, it is beholding and loving Christ which can be the only route for Christian in need of the only Saviour.  Only here is true godliness.

And our love unto Christ being the only outward expression and representation of this love of the Father unto him, therein consists the principal part of our renovation into his image. Nothing renders us so like unto God as our love unto Jesus Christ, for he is the principal object of his love,–in him does his soul rest–in him is he always well pleased.

John Owen, Christologia XII

Even Christians need Christ.  And so long as Christ is not the context, content, and control on all we think, say, and do, then we are a dying–if not already dead–evangelicalism.

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One Response to “The Fatal Wound”

  1. […] The Fatal Wound …What is the great problem within evangelicalism today?  A lack of convincing action in the world that would back-up our faith?  Increasing laxity on doctrines such as hell and the atonement?  The decline in church attendance, giving, and sending?  Perhaps these are serious problems.  But they’re just irritating shards of shrapnel compared to the seriousness of the mortal wound: evangelicalism is Christless.  Not everywhere, and not everyone– but evangelicalism is walking wounded with a limping Christless gospel, biblical hermeneutic, and discipleship…. […]

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