SHEPHERD’S STAFF: March, 2011
JOIN ME ON THE PLATFORM
When an evangelical evangelist of the past shared the platform with liberals, modernist and apostates, a conflict erupted. Those who would have identified with neo-evangelicalism argued that being on the same platform with them did not indicate their approval of theological error. In general, separatist fundamentalists condemned the practice as a dangerous direction. At this point in history, we know why it was a disaster.
There was one basic reason for rejection of ecumenical platform identification. The problem was not about denominational affiliation or some superficial category; it was wrong because some of the individuals involved held theological error. Certainly there were other things to be considered, but the heart of the issue was biblical doctrine.
Fast forward to the present debate by a group erroneously named “evangelical conservatives”. Some of our friends of long standing argue that sharing the platform with someone who holds theological error is not wrong. In any case, it has already proven to create a great deal of confusion. What the evangelist of the past did was to give aid and comfort to doctrinal error; he gave credibility and momentum to evangelical ecumenism. The end result is that evangelicalism moved further away from a theology that is biblical.
THE DOWNGRADE CONTROVERSY
It is very clear that the theology of many individuals in the plastic category of “evangelical conservatives” hold a very broad view of theological issues. Many of those views are reformed or covenant and some are liberal. For instance, AMillennialism is a liberal doctrine. You will note that I have not called them liberals, but they do embrace liberal doctrine.
|Dave Doran, Tim Jordan, Kevin Bauder, Sam Harbin on platform with AMillennialist Mark Dever|
Let me return to an illustration of how clear this downgrade is. When the Evangelical Theological Society was given an opportunity to brand the Open View of God as heterodox, it chose instead to see it as orthodox. The Open View of God is not just liberal; it is, in my view, heresy. It is an attack on the very nature and character of God. The downgrade of theology is continuing, and one can only wonder what the motive for such thinking is. One thing is for sure - those who defend joining with those who hold erroneous theology have missed the point. It may have to do with the fact that debating elusive categories such as evangelical conservative is like trying to pick up mercury. Continuing the debate in the framework of a theology that is biblical will make things clear, because it forces us to take a stand on specific theological issues that have fallen prey to the downgrade controversy.
This present discussion clearly demonstrates the false claim that sharing ministry platform does not identify us with the error that other people hold. It also shows how far afield the discussion of separation has gone. Trying to accuse or defend any position by debating denominational categories, etc., is like running in circles. Furthermore, it is one thing to discuss the theological positions of those who hold an error; it is another to make it clear that specific views are unacceptable.
Theological corruption has a common thread that has to do with the hermeneutic used to develop one’s theological views. Many people claim to use the one biblical hermeneutic - the normal, plain, consistent, literal use of language - but the problem is that they cannot produce their errors by using that required biblical system. The erroneous hermeneutical system that produces AMillennialism is the same system that produces other errors. There is no such thing as an independent error; as with a lie, you can’t tell just one.
I confess that I do not know why people protect error. Is it that they do not know better? Is it that they do not believe, or are there other possible motives? In academia, the young theologian is taught to have respect for other people’s views. It would be better to say that we should have respect for the right of other people to hold different views. To say that all views are equal is an affront to God. One of my administrators plainly told me that I was not allowed to say that someone else’s theological view was wrong; obviously, that person was not a biblical theologian. Can you imagine the cowardly attitude and disobedient heart that would fail to say that the denial of the virgin birth is error?
There remains one more point of irritation in this discussion. We are told that it is alright to brand error as error if the doctrine is central. On the other hand, we are told not to do that when the doctrine is peripheral, but who is going to make that determination for you? The farther a person is toward the left, the more likely it will be that the central doctrines are fewer. In the end, if someone chooses to say that the imminent rapture is not a central doctrine for the church, he has told me more about himself and his system than I could have discovered on my own. How anyone can believe that joining error on the platform is right continues to puzzle me.
Reprinted with Permisssion.
Shepherd’s Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches. Write for information using the e-mail address, Shepherdstaff2@juno.com
Shepherd’s Staff is prepared by
Clay Nuttall, D.Min
Photo by Darrell Goemaat/Baptist Bulletin. Used by permission.
Site Publisher’s Recommended Related Reading:
Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran [Joined AMillennialist] Mark Dever on the Platform at Lansdale: Is This a Fundamentalism Worth Saving?
Dr. Rick Arrowood: Answering Questions About the Changes We Are Seeing in Fundamentalism
Dr. Ernest Pickering, “The Separatist Cause is Not Advanced by Featuring Non-Separatists”
Talks, Writes, Speaks Like a Liberal by Dr. Clay Nuttall