The New Mainline
- Thursday, February 28, 2008
Even a peripheral examination of the current fads and trends within Evangelicalism show a shocking trend. Those were have been characterized by a strict adherence to the authority of scripture are starting to walk in the footsteps of their mainline counterparts. The that seems to gain strength daily is characterized, to a great extent, by the same propensities as those who led mainline Protestantism into oblivion. Consider just one example of thousands. Rob Bell is, without question, one of the most vocal of the Emergent leaders. In his book, Velvet Elvis, he considers at length the importance of Biblical doctrine in today’s church. While stressing continually his love for the Bible, his commitment to scripture and his “orthodoxy” he uses an extremely troubling illustration that contradicts his claims of orthodoxy. He uses the “brick and spring” argument. In his theology you look at Bible Doctrine either as a brick or a spring. A brick is hard, unbending, unmovable, and static. He berates those who hold this view of doctrine as being out of touch, legalistic and rigid. On the other hand, a spring is pliable, moving, dynamic, constantly changing – it’s almost alive. He then relates this to a trampoline. The springs allow someone on the trampoline to bounce and move. Now, it’s nice to have all the springs in place, but in reality you can remove several of them and still be able to bounce. This is his view and the view of the concerning Bible Doctrine. Doctrine is not to be understood but studied. To question, to discuss, to debate is the end, not discovery and proclamation. It would be nice to be able to truly “know” doctrine and to have it all in place – but it’s not necessary. A spring here or there can be removed without hurting the trampoline. In other words, the Virgin Birth is important, but not vital. The whole concept of how a person is really justified may never be completely understood – so, as long as you love Jesus – you’re in. This attack on the authority of scripture is much more dangerous than the liberals who destroyed the mainline denominations because it is much harder to discern. It’s cloaked in the language and vocabulary of Evangelicalism but under the cloak is the doctrine of doubt rather than confidence. To question scripture is more important than understanding it. Same message as classic theological liberalism – different packaging.
Unless the Evangelical church wakes up to the fact that the authority of the very Word of God is under attack in their very own movement – Evangelicalism will indeed become the new “mainline” with the same results.
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