Thursday, May 15, 2008

Am I an Evangelical?

Ed Stetzer placed a link to a letter written by Dr. Ergun Caner, President and Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School. The article in question is regarding Caner's dislike for the newest attempt to muddy the philosophical waters of evangelicalism.

The new strands of this rope called "evangelicalism" cause me to ask if I am still an evangelical. Those strands include everything from being a "green evangelical" to people who call themselves evangelical, but no longer believe salvation through Jesus is a unique thing. I am so tired of the green machine dribbling out its poisonous lies, I may well write a separate blog about that. For now, let's talk about Jesus and this tent called "evangelicalism."

First, the stakes that hold the tent of evangelicalism are fixed and easy to spot; consider this description from Barna:

"'Evangelicals' meet the born again criteria plus seven other conditions. Those include saying their faith is very important in their life today; believing they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians; believing that Satan exists; believing that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; believing that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; asserting that the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches; and describing God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today."

Second, to be sure, the fabric of the evangelical tent is multi-faceted. No one denomination has a monopoly on evangelicalism. That being said, however, it does not mean the tent is so broad as to accept anything that comes along. Does that sound offensive? Consider it carefully; if your church were to accept just any old preacher that came along, could you trust him? What if he changed the meaning of familiar words, such as "born again?"

That is what is happening. There are those who call themselves born-again evangelicals, but who do not believe that Jesus is the only way to be saved. When asked if Muslims would be in heaven, one prominent so-called evangelical preacher recently quoted Jesus' statement that he has other sheep in the fold that his hearers did not know about (John 10:16). As is true with too many others, this man does not believe in the unique nature of salvation through Jesus Christ. He is a false evangelical--a false prophet, if you will.

What is the fear that is generating the attempted change in evangelicalism? Why are we now afraid that we will be offensive? The truth is simple: the gospel is offensive to some. To soft-pedal it is mighty close to being ashamed of it (a·shamed adj.
1. Feeling shame or guilt
2. Feeling inferior, inadequate, or embarrassed
3. Reluctant through fear of humiliation or shame).

I am an evangelical. I am not ashamed to say it. Unless the apostates take over the evangelical family. Then I will call myself something else.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Times and the Seasons

First, it was Myanmar (Burma). Now it's China. Before this is over, I would not be surprised to see a death toll in both places that tops 100,000. That is astounding. Every death brings a deep sadness and lingering questions:
  • How many of these who died knew the Lord and are now in his presence?
  • Jesus told us to observe the times and the seasons. Is this an indication of his imminent return?

I cannot venture to say how many who died knew the Lord. I do know that each day thousands in China are turning to the Lord Jesus as their one and only Savior. But I do not know about the particular areas that were affected. Far less, however, are responding in Myanmar. That means that the likelihood was slim that many of them were Christ-followers.

Is it a sign of the return of Jesus? Maybe. Maybe not. I believe that will happen sooner, not later. I even hope it happens today. But if the Father chooses to delay Jesus' return, that is fine by me. I will serve him until he sounds that final trumpet.

Pray for Asia, as it recovers from these two massive disasters.