To know the world wherein we live has never been an easy task. So many and such confusing winds are continually blowing, that the average man or woman is hard-pressed to discover any direction. And with all this blowing the well-known landmarks are demolished so thoroughly that life has perforce to be lived in a totally different environment. Nor can anyone escape the effects of the changing scene. These changes bombard him, his family and friends, and the community in which he lives much more than he realizes.
Such a tempest has torn through the theological world in recent decades.
Likely the average church member realizes little of this. Anyone with some degree of healthy spiritual and theological sensitivity. however, senses that something has gone wrong. He may not be able to put his sunrises into words. He may even be only vaguely aware that things aren’t as they once were in his congregation or denomination or the church at large. Something of the security which he thought was his has been shattered.
These changes seem to come upon us imperceptibly. Yet even when the winds of such change blow softly and surreptitiously, the havoc which they wreak is in the end appalling.
In a recent article in Christianity Today (Nov. 20, ‘64 ) Dr. Ilion T. Jones, professor emeritus of practical theology at San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, Calif., points out some of the wreckage which has resulted from the blowing of recent liberal winds in the churches. By “liberals” he designates those who adhere in some form or other to the positions advocated by Bultmann, Tillich, Bonhoeffer and Heidegger. Their views have been popularized by Bishop Robinson in his widely read Honest to God. To the average orthodox Bible-believing Christian this book seems to be little short of blasphemous. Yet, so, Dr. Jones argues, this is but a popularization of the theologies advocated by those mentioned above and their numerous diSciples in churches, theological seminaries and universities throughout the land. And since Robinson is so much easier to understand than his “teachers,” the writing of his book is perhaps doing the evangelical world much more good than harm. At least the issues at stake can be grasped and assessed by anyone with an average intelligence and a modicum of theological knowledge at his disposal.
Dr. Jones has succinctly summarized what these theologians have actually been accomplishing by their views. The net result of these accomplishments he calls “heresy.”
Instead of rejecting traditional interpretations of the gospel in plain language, they have disregarded large segments of the New Testament, building their views of what they left and what they imported from non-biblical sources. As a result, they “disregard ‘God’ in the New Testament , . ‘ (and) all of them agree that God can no longer he thought of as a person with whom human beings can have personal communion.” In the second place they “disregard judgment and diSCipline in the New Testament doctrines of love and forgiveness.” Thus their constant reference to and proclamation of love, divorced from atonement, regeneration, judgment and many other Biblical teachings, is a far cry from Christian doctrine. Meanwhile they deprecate all traditional Christian standards of conduct as “legalism.” To hold up certain virtues is condemned as “self-righteousness.” And to encourage piety is ridiculed as “piosity.”
There is much more in this worth-while article which deserves the careful attention of all who love Christ’s church and the gospel which it is called to proclaim.