The marks of apostasy in the church - Part 3

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3

 

How is it possible for apostasy to find its abode in the church when the church should know better? We must realize that Satan plays the long term game. In an age of instant gratification where we want our every whim to be instantly satisfied we cannot relate to what has been going on for a few centuries. What you see today is a culmination and reflection of what was put in motion centuries ago. The first thing we must define is what is the church? As born again believers we understand that the Church is the Ekklesia or the Called out ones  who believe in

  • The deity of Jesus Christ
  • The virgin birth of Christ
  • The substitutionary, atoning work of Christ on the cross
  • The inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture
  • The physical resurrection and the imminent personal bodily return of Christ to the earth.

To the world the term church refers to the Established Church, State Church  or State Religion also called an Official Religion.  A state religion is a religious group or creed officially accepted by the state. The term state church is used in context with Christianity, and is sometimes used for a specific national branch of Christianity. For example, the Church of England/ Anglicanism is the official church for England  and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland has a special relationship with the Finnish state. You will  also find when people think of the term Church they think of  long established Christian denominations. For example you have the United Methodist Church, Lutheran Church, Presbyterian Church and the Christian Church to name a few. Most of these denominations were pioneered by godly men. For example the Methodist Church’s founder was non other than the great preacher John Wesley and the Lutheran Church owes its foundation to the great reformer Martin Luther. 

We must realize that Satan plays the long term game

When you look at the modern Methodist church and its practice it is so far removed from John Wesley’s theology.  The same can be said of the Lutheran Church. As the proverbial saying goes, ‘Enough to make one turn in one's grave’ is what Martin Luther would be doing if he  realized the condition of modern day Lutherans. 

The point I want you to realize is that a lot of these Christian denominations started as wholesome non compromising groups which stood for certain truths. There were great battles for certain particular truths to be restored. There were many great reformers and theologians, of which Martin Luther was a prime example most people are aware of. Luther’s theology was that salvation and, consequently eternal life were not earned by our good deeds or efforts but received only as the free gift of God's grace through the believer's faith in Jesus Christ as Savior from sin. 

Furthermore his theology confronted the authority and office of the Pope as well as the Roman Catholic Church, by teaching that the Bible alone (not the church or the Pope) was the source of divine revealed knowledge. He then translated the Bible into the German vernacular rather than having it in the established Latin therefore making the Scriptures readily accessible to the commoners. This was a momentous event making great impact on the church and German culture and also contributed to the development of the writing of an English translation, the Tyndale Bible. These truths were established in Christendom and society hence these particular groups wound up becoming state churches. People who were born after this would be presented in churches nationwide and baptized or christened without ever personally knowing or encountering the saving power of Jesus Christ.  In a way society reverted to what Martin Luther and other reformers fought against. This time rather than the Roman Catholic Church, it was the state’s Protestant church. As time went by these churches were no longer led by men who had an encounter with Jesus Christ but university theologians who did not necessarily have the same convictions of the reformers. Then came in the Higher Critical Movement.

Biblical Criticism became one of the most important branches of theology and is best defined as the treatment of biblical texts as natural rather than supernatural. This movement grew out of the rationalism and intellectualism of the 17th and 18th centuries.  In the 19th century Biblical Criticism was divided between higher criticism which is  the study of the composition and history of biblical texts, and  lower criticism which according to Merriam Webster’s definition is criticism concerned with the recovery of original texts especially of Scripture through collation of extant (exisiting) manuscripts. These days the term that is employed is Textual Criticism.

To simplify it, the term Higher Criticism simply means the study of the literary structure of the books of the Bible especially the Old Testament, but it became the spearhead attacks of unconverted liberal theologians on the Bible and its supernaturalism’s content. Now the original intent of the higher critical movement was to investigate the Scriptures  in order to

  • Confirm the faith of believers
  • Help believers in their understanding to grasp the history and background circumstances of the origin of the various books

While the movement had some good objective men who critically looked at the Bible to help people’s understanding it was hijacked by liberals with subjected views of the Scriptures. Here’s a quote to help you see their roots,

  • They were men who denied the validity of miracles, and the validity of any miraculous narrative. What Christians considered to be miraculous they considered legendary or mythical; "legendary exaggeration of events that are entirely explicable from natural causes."

 

  • They were men who denied the reality of prophecy and the validity of any prophetical statement. What Christians have been accustomed to consider prophetical, they called dexterous conjectures, coincidences, fiction, or imposture.

 

  • They were men who denied the reality of revelation, in the sense in which it has ever been held by the universal Christian Church. They were avowed unbelievers of the supernatural. Their theories were excogitated on pure grounds of human reasoning. Their hypotheses were constructed on the assumption of the falsity of Scripture. As to the inspiration of the Bible, as to the Holy Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation being the Word of God, they had no such belief. 

THE HISTORY OF THE HIGHER CRITICISM

 Canon Dyson Hague, M. A.,
Rector of the Memorial Church, London, Ontario.

 

Let me insert another quote that will be beneficiary to your comprehension of the subject matter,  

The primary influence on the formulators of higher criticism and its bearing on the origin and development of the religion of Israel was the philosophy of the age, which was dominated by evolutionary thought--unilinear progress from the simple to the complex. Such evolutionary thinking was applied by C. Darwin to biology and by K. Marx to economics.

Wellhausen, following the approach of J. K. W. Vatke, applied this scheme to Israel and ended up with three basic periods of history of development: pre-prophetic-- prophetic--ethical-monotheism. The end result of this was that we have in the Bible not God's thoughts about man but man's thoughts about God, not a revealed religion but an invented religion.

K. Cauthen stated that situation precisely: The Bible came to be thought of as a record of the progressive discovery of God in human experience, not as a static body of theological dogmas all equally inspired and all of equal religious value. This application of evolutionary ideas to the study of the Hebrew religion by the Wellhausen school of thought came to dominate Biblical studies in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

SOME RESULTS AND REVERSALS OF THE HIGHER CRITICISM OF THE OLD TESTAMENT 

LARRY L. WALKER 

Criswell Theological Review [Copyright © 1987 by Criswell College, cited with permission; digitally prepared for use at Gordon and Criswell Colleges and elsewhere]

I know it is tedious to read these kinds of articles but they are necessary and if we are not aware of the past then we are prone to make the same mistakes. These liberal theologians permeated the pulpits of the land, the public schools, private universities and politics creating a new paradigm within Christendom and society. Their unbelief and subjectivity became the dogmas of the Church rather than the Scriptures. The Gospel of Christ was replaced by the gospel of secular humanism and the social gospel. As time went on the church lost its relevancy and no longer was a righteous influence but became subject to situational ethics. When unconverted but liberal theological men ran the church it was just a matter of time before liberalism would be the order of the day and there would be no difference between the church and world. Again remember we are referring to the state and long standing denominational church not the ekklesia.

If we are not aware of the past then we are prone to make the same mistakes

With the abdication of fundamental doctrines from the modern church (Pentecostal and Evangelical) we run the risk of repeating the same errors of the past. When the church becomes more social in its gospel rather than conversional we are on the same pathway of the past. When the church becomes more politically correct in its gospel rather than biblically correct then apostasy is setting in the church. When so-called preachers and believers who profess to be born again and Spirit-filled but will vote for a candidate or a political party that has for a manifesto abortion, the redefinition of sexuality, the redefinition of marriage, anti-Israel sentiment but acceptable social welfare program then apostasy has already crept in. When politicians are more vocal about life and moral issues than preachers are then apostasy has found its abode in the church. When preachers fear politicians rather than politicians fear preachers then apostasy has come in the church. When the secular and popular dictate what Christians believe rather than the Scriptures then apostasy is here.  A departure from the Scriptures has created the institution of ineptitude that we will call the modern apostate church! 

When politicians are more vocal about life and moral issues than preachers are then apostasy has found its abode in the church