Scripture and the Church

The Attitude That Discards Biblical Landmarks

By Archibald G. Brown
"To be thoroughly intellectual you must be certain of nothing..."

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part 2 of a series. Read part 1.

Editor's Note: As we continue our series from Archibald Brown's sermon on the removal of Biblical landmarks in the church, he next turns to the ungodly attitude that spawns such apostasy.

What a timely message this is, when growing numbers of so-called "churches" are openly and arrogantly removing Biblical landmarks. One of the most recent examples is GracePointe Church in Nashville, Tennessee where the pastor, Josh Scott, proclaims that "the Bible is not the Word of God" but the words of mere men. Christianity, he asserts, is not "about doctrines and dogmas demanding total agreement." He goes on to say that "Progressive Christians can sometimes have an awkward, tense relationship with the Bible," and rightly so, since they are not truly Christians at all. "There is stuff in there," he asserts, "that really goes against the character of God."

In saying these things he makes it plain that he is the person the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 2:14: "But the natural man does not receive [Greek dechetai, welcome as true] the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

The Bible, according to GracePointe's pastor, cannot bear the weight of intellectual scrutiny: "I think one of the greatest challenges that happens with the Bible is we bring expectations to it that it just isn't intended to bear and can't bear. Because if we go to the Bible and we're looking for really up to date information on how the cosmos works, we're not going to find it..." As the GracePointe website puts it, "Since we leave behind a perspective that sees it divinely dictated, we can more plainly see that there are especially problematic texts with which we must reckon. With that in mind, what do we do with the Bible?" What GracePointe and growing numbers of "churches" are "doing with the Bible" is simply rejecting it. They have placed themselves on the throne instead of Christ.

But this is not a new phenomenon. Archibald Brown addressed it 150 years ago. It took a different form in his day, but 21st century Bible-denial is the same at its core. - Paul Elliott 

The Attitude That Discards Biblical Landmarks

Notice some of the landmarks threatened. I shall divide these landmarks into two classes, namely, those of doctrine and Christian life.
First, then, those of doctrine. According to the new standard of "orthodoxy" it is almost heterodox to have any doctrine at all. All clearly defined views are but a proof of simplicity and ignorance, and dogmatic teaching is an irrefutable evidence of shallowness of brain. To be thoroughly intellectual you must be certain of nothing, and hold all your views but pro tem [for the time being]. Your theology, if you have any, must be of the molluscan type, devoid of all backbone and capable of being twisted into any shape - something soft and flabby that can hurt the feelings of no one.

Anything more than this will bring the sneer of "Puritan." Strange thing indeed and lamentable as an evidence of where we have got to, that the word "Puritan" should ever be uttered with any other feeling than that of profound respect. These were the men who among general superstition yet held the truth, and were willing to lose everything, even life itself, to maintain the integrity of their faith. These were the men who were loyal to Christ even to poverty and prison.

It is enough to make the blood boil with indignation to hear these grand old men spoken of in tones of sneering pity by miniature men not worthy, in intellectual wealth, to tie their shoe strings. Truly, "there were giants in those days." Doubtless, their sermons were rather long and divided into almost innumerable parts, but then there was something in them to divide, which is more than can be said of the productions of their self-elected critics. Doctrine with them meant something, and we pray "God give the church in this respect a new race of Puritans."

The present feeling of many was doubtless truthfully expressed by a minister who said to me not long since, "O bother doctrine. We have done with that now." ["Bother" in British idiom is an expression of irritated contempt.] The old landmarks seem by many to be only useful as tests for agility. With a smile of great complacency, they tell you the many doctrines they have succeeded in vaulting; whilst a semi-religious paper has the audacity to say that the only places crowded and prosperous are those that have ministers who have leaped over the traces of old-fashioned orthodoxy.

I purpose now, by God's help, to take you with me round the frontier - to show you the landmarks planted there by His hand, and ask you to read the different inscriptions engraved upon them. For a reason I shall hereafter explain, I shall be particularly careful to keep close to the actual words of Scripture. The landmarks I shall select will be those that can only be slighted at the peril of the soul. I select them, not because I think it likely there are many if any present, who despise them, but on the principle of "forewarned, forearmed."


Next: Removing the Landmark of the Deity of Christ


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