Thursday, October 30, 2014

Heretical Evangelicals

What would B.B. Warfield think?
Yesterday in my History of American Evangelicalism course at Messiah College we spent some time talking about the doctrine of biblical inerrancy as formulated by Princeton Seminary's "Old School" theologians in the late 19th century. The Old School Presbyterians were confessionalists.  Although they certainly thought Christians should live a life of piety and be active in living out the gospel in the world, in the end they believed that one could not be a Christian unless he or she conformed to the orthodoxy of the Westminster Confession of Faith.  Piety and activism stemmed from correct doctrines.  A person could not claim to be following Jesus if such a journey resulted in the affirmation of unorthodox theological commitments.

One of my students asked me if there were still any Old School Presbyterians around today.  I pointed him to my favorite Old School website, among others.

I thought a lot about what we discussed yesterday in class as I read a recent survey, conducted by LifeWay Research, on the theological beliefs of contemporary evangelicals.  According to this survey:
  • Nearly all evangelical Christians believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the deity of Christ, the sovereignty of God, and the inspiration of the Bible.
  • 31% of evangelicals believe that God the Father is more "divine" that Jesus.  This is the theological heresy of Arianism.
  • 58% of evangelical Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is a "force," not a "personal being." This is a form of Arianism callePneumatomachianism.
  • 71% of evangelical Christians believe that people seek God first and then God responds with His grace.  56% of evangelical Christian believe that human beings have a role to play in their own salvation.  Some might say that this is a form of the heresy of Pelagianism.
Read Keith Emmert''s article on the survey at Christianity Today's website.  

Want to learn more about ancient heresies?  Check out Harold O.J. Brown's Heresies (Doubleday, 1984).  When I was in divinity school I took all of my theology courses with Brown.  He was the first Harvard graduate (B.A., M.Div, Ph.D) I ever met.  We affectionately called him "The Juice" (because of his middle initials).

It seems a lot of evangelicals are heretics.  And I am not sure many of them care.