Liberal Denominational Attitudes
Larry Ray Hafley
Denominationalism is fathered by attitudes, fed by their resultant error, and fellowshipped by the deceived. This curse rests upon the present "on the march" progression within the body of Christ. There could be no conscientious concern over "Liberalism Among Us" if apostate attitudes had not engulfed and enveloped the faith once delivered. Opinions have not opened the door of digression. A smokescreen, "matters of expediency," is advanced when "matters of exclusion" really are the issue. Behind this barrier innovations are introduced, but the smoke is cleared away, and they are discovered. "Oh, these?" cries the trend director, "Why, they have been there all the time!" Thus, the truth is accused of suffering from smoke inhalation and more time is manufactured for modernism to grow another tentacle.
What are the basic attitudes which fester factions and lead to the growth of "tradition tumors?" To define liberal leanings is like cleaning muddy boots with a stick. It will remove some of the mire, but will leave the boots like they were in the first place dirty! One's attitude dwells in the heart, the seat of the affections; therefore, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." (Prov. 4:23)
A denominational disposition abhors dogmatic Bible teaching. That is, no doctrine should be authoritatively affirmed. Most beliefs of the Book are subject to one's "viewpoint," "understanding," or "interpretation." To preach positively is equated with asserted arrogance. This mental pose produces "an uncertain sound." Sermons springing from such a polluted source leave the audience in doubt as to what God expects. For example, "Christ demands that we must obey him for sure, maybe." An exaggerated illustration? No more so than the proclamation of the all-sufficient church which "has depended upon these schools ("Christian colleges") for many years" All-sufficient, yet dependent. How is that for a fact, maybe?
This is contrary to the positive position of Paul who urged Timothy to "charge some that they teach no other doctrine" (2 Tim. 1:3). "Hold fast the form of sound words (which ones Paul?) which thou hast heard of me..." (2 Tim. 1: 13). Paul was dogmatic, and to fully "Preach the word" one m draw the line with passages of Scripture a stand upon them "and having done all, to stand."
The laxity of liberalism is appealing. The prejudice of popularity wins many converts to its alluring side. Grabbing for grapes and seizing the slice of a razor blade is the parallel of all who seek Christ amid applause. Popularity is not wrong, else the Jerusalem church would have been born an apostate body (Acts 2:47). However, the gospel has been dressed in mod attire. The church has been the guise of every promoter's dream, collecting agency to sponsor everything from illegitimate children to cows, from camps to campaigns. This is not leadership; it meandering salesmanship. It is wanderlust gone to seed. Achievement and accomplishment of attainable aspirations knows no limit, scriptural or otherwise. The question is, "How many in the glorious brotherhood will support this magnanimous visionary effort?" The question ought to be, "Does the glorious gospel of Christ encourage this endeavor?" If not, it is an ignominious exercise in futility, the brotherhood not withstanding!
Denominational ideas are based upon uninformed glorification of change. "The old, established methods," say they, "need to be replaced." It is nothing more than a religious form of "hippy-ism." Renovation is confused with innovation and the appointments of God are adulterated. The authority of the Scriptures is patted on the head at a distance, but is abhorred in heart by the liberal activist. All the respect for God that he recognizes is based upon "the idea of the brotherhood of man, even at the expense of the Will of God, and the practice of the things commanded in God's will" (From an unknown author as quoted by W. R. Craig in the October, 1968, issue of First Century Christian.) Activity that exalts the god of change is said to be "good," without regard to the havoc that is wrought by its tumultuous tide. The liberal foresees no future and recognizes no failure except a mystical, mysterious time referred to as "the past." His programs appear to be based on sound judgment because of a complicated maze of organizational structure. Slogans drown out any suspicions that might arise among those who are termed "timid." The mass, institutional engine is ignited by the theory that "We are ON THE MARCH!" No thought is given as to where the march will lead. The Map of Safety is discarded as a tent of ease. Thus, the blind route of apostasy is followed to its inevitable debacle.
The cause of the cross is thought to be whatever "we" as "obedient believers" determine it to be. This fabricated judgment is founded upon an attempt to lead rather than to follow Christ. "Are you running with me, Jesus?" is blatant blasphemy, while "Am I running with you, Lord?" is a search for the enlightened lanes of righteousness. This attitude of attempting to "get Christ to line up with us" is manifested by a statement Batsell Barrett Baxter made in the October 17, 1968, issue of the Gospel Advocate: "If the battle against real liberalism is to he won, we believe the teachers in our Christian colleges should lead the way." While struggling to come to grips against liberalism, Brother Baxter exalts the schools above the church. His relegation of the church; whether intentional or not, is a symbol of the perplexing problems that liberals possess when they attempt to combat modernism with their own particular brand of it.
All must be aware of liberal attitudes, aware of their identity, and active in opposition to them. The future of the church depends upon it, as does the ultimate salvation of your soul and mine. It is indeed a time for action! "Press the battle ere the night shall veil the glowing skies."
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 18, pp. 6-7