As a new Christian in the late 1970’s I was naïve and thought all Christians followed the teachings of the Bible and formulated doctrine and church polity objectively from the sacred Scriptures.
I have heard it said “balance is the key to life”. I agree with that statement, as I have found that any truth taken to the extreme (that ignores others aspects related to its subject) is unbalanced and can be harmful. This is also why Paul the Apostle said that he teaches “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), which involves a full-orbed presentation of truth.
For many years there has been a movement among Evangelicals in which the gospel has been reduced to just a simple individual salvation message. Those that preach evangelistic messages on Sundays with an altar call are the only true ones preaching the gospel according to these Evangelicals. However, is that all there is to the gospel of Christ? While I believe it is important we point to the death, burial and Resurrection of Christ as much as possible, is this done only through overt evangelistic messages?
When I was a new Christian I naively thought that everyone read the Bible the same way with virtually one interpretation that all born again Christians would have. One of the biggest shocks I experienced occurred about six months into my walk with God, when I met a fundamentalist Baptist preacher who was trying to convince me that all Pentecostals were being misled by the devil.
Since the dawn of the “positive thinking” message of Norman Vincent Peale in the 20th century, there has been an avalanche of preachers teaching variations of this message. (The “health and wealth” prosperity gospel, “name it and claim it”, along with various modes of motivational types of preaching.) Although this positive message extracts truth from Scripture and has great merit, when isolated outside the whole council of God, it can be misleading and even dis-heartening for adherents who fail to see their dreams come true. Furthermore, when the objective is “self-fulfillment”, the message often reduces the gospel of Christ to appease the narcissistic dreams of half-baked Christians.
Historically there have been many expressions of Christianity that have held less than a scriptural view of the law of God. In this article, the law of God refers to the Ten Commandments given to Moses (Exodus 20), and the civic laws that apply these commandments as case law in society. (For a brief example: Exodus 20 reveals the Ten Commandments and Exodus 21-23 apply these commandments as civic laws). Since there are 613 civic laws, hermeneutically we need to discern which ones were only for the nation of Israel during Moses’ time period, and understand how the application and penalty for breaking these commandments have been modified in the New Covenant. (As well as understand that the ceremonial law has been done away with after the death and resurrection of Christ. Read Hebrews 10.)
In the nineteenth century higher critical views of Scripture (as opposed to lower critical views that concern biblical exegesis involving the study of historical context and culture, the author’s intent, and so on) came on the scene when German scholars questioned the authenticity of Scripture with a reductionistic approach, in which the Bible was treated like any other document, instead of starting with the assumption of divine inspiration. The following are some of the common challenges to the widely held Evangelical belief of the divine inspiration of Scripture.
Most of this problem is drawn from our preconceptions rather than fundamental biblical flaws. Having knowledge of this is especially important for those entering into hostile academic settings in high schools, colleges, and seminaries that use the following arguments to attack the divine inspiration of the Bible.
The Evangelical church has been in flux the past several decades—going from one extreme to the next—and in many respects losing its center. Thus it is really hard to define what an Evangelical is today except for the very ambiguous definition of a person who believes the Bible is the word of God (there are even varying degrees of this within Evangelicalism) and in salvation through the vicarious death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
As a product of the Word of Faith movement in the early 1980’s I will forever be indebted to the books and teachings of Kenneth Hagin, Smith Wigglesworth, John G. Lake, T.L. Osborn and the like.