Category Archives: Downgrade Trends

Justification by faith alone and the role of repentance: Interacting with an inverted soteriology

The doctrine of ‘justification by faith alone’ has been rightly regarded as a foundational tenet of Protestantism. Having been anathematized at the Council of Trent[1], it not only continues to be the archenemy of Romish dogma but has undergone more recent attacks by professing Protestants who have given in to Federal Vision and/or the New Perspective on Paul. Continue reading…

Attacks on the Gospel’s exclusivity, by Mike Gendron

In light of the growing popularity of The Benedict Option and the evangelical intelligentsia’s love for compromise and anti-Protestantism, we reproduce an article from Mike Gendron’s most recent newsletter. Gendron leads Proclaiming the Gospel, a ministry geared toward the evangelism of Roman Catholics. For more information on the pervasive influence of this book by Rod Dreher, see the article by Pulpit and Pen here, the Polemics Report podcast here, and The Dividing Line podcast by James White here. For more information on contemplative prayer and Roman Catholic mysticism in general, I recommend the Lighthouse Trails Research Journal.

The greatest attacks on the Gospel today are the frequent attempts by evangelicals to make it more inclusive to everyone who has ever been baptized. Many are seeking to broaden the narrow road by embracing and promoting apostate forms of Christianity. Some undiscerning Christians have been seduced by the pope’s aggressive ecumenical agenda to reverse the Reformation and unite all professing Christians under the papacy. Part of the pope’s strategy is to look for soft targets within the evangelical church who will promote Roman Catholicism as a valid expression of Christianity.

Tragically, his strategy has been successful and is gaining a great deal of traction. Most recently, Al Mohler, Carl Truman, Russell Moore and Matt Chandler have recommended a disturbingly popular book written by Rod Dreher, who is a major promoter of Roman Catholicism, ecumenical unity, and contemplative prayer. Dreher is a former Catholic who converted to the Eastern Orthodox religion, not because of Rome’s false gospel, but because of its sexual abuse scandal. His book,  The Benedict Option , calls people of faith to emulate a sixth-century Catholic monk as an example of how to live in a collapsing culture. Almost all the heroes of The Benedict Option  are Catholic monks who lived solitary lives in a monastery while participating in the daily sacrifice of a Eucharistic Christ.

Like most proponents of ecumenism, Dreher promotes subjective spiritual experiences over the objective truths of Scripture. He said he never had a problem with praying the rosary as a Catholic, and he now encourages his readers to practice contemplative prayer and mysticism. He said “my life is shaped around liturgy that’s been in our church for 1500 years” and “on all kinds of sensual ways that embody the faith.” His Eastern Orthodox religion preaches the same works-righteousness salvation as Catholicism and other religions. We are not to affirm or receive “anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ” (2 John 9-10).

For evangelical leaders to recommend a book that applauds the heretical people and traditions of Roman Catholicism during the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is lamentable. The prevailing influence of these leaders, along with their reluctance to guard sound doctrine and reject false gospels, have left many Christians confused. They do not know if the Roman Catholic Church represents a huge mission field that needs to be evangelized or if it represents a valid expression of Christianity. They need to know that Catholicism has long been a bitter enemy of the Gospel of Christ. The apostate religion has not only condemned those who believe the Gospel, but  brutally tortured and killed hundreds of thousands of those who refused to compromise it. Evangelical leaders who are sanctioning ecumenical unity with Catholics must be lovingly confronted in their error with the truth of God’s Word.

In a troubling interview with Al Mohler, Dreher said, “the West owes an incalculable debt to those Benedictine monks.” Mohler does acknowledge there are differences between their two faiths, but he said evangelicals can learn from people of the Orthodox and Catholic faith who embrace a different gospel. The apostle Paul did not encourage Christians to learn from the Judaizers who were distorting the Gospel and leading them away from Christ (Gal. 1:6-9). Mohler says the book encourages living together in a way that is “truly Christian” yet he never defines what a true Christian is, or the Gospel that a true Christian must believe. Mohler stated, “The book is very important. I want to commend it to every thinking Christian. We ought to read this book, and we ought also to read far beyond the title.” Yet, there was a glaring omission both in the book and in the interview by Mohler and Dreher. Neither one referenced the most powerful tools Jesus Christ gave us to fight the cultural wars – His Word and His Gospel (Hebrews 4:12; Romans 1:16).

Evangelicals who endorse a book that obfuscates the lines that once separated biblical Christianity from apostate Christianity are minimizing the powerful effect of error. The accommodation of doctrinal error and falsehood will always be dangerous to the life of the Church that is called to be sanctified by the truth (John 17:17). God’s Word warns us to “be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness” (2 Pet. 3:17). The critical issue in the church today is the purity of the Gospel. It is the rudder that must guide us through stormy waters that have been stirred up by every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14). Either we seek the approval of God by protecting the purity of the Gospel or we seek the approval of men by applauding those who peddle another gospel. There is no “option.”

As blood-bought Christians, we must contend earnestly for the faith and challenge those who embrace a false gospel. If we fail to fight the good fight of faith, we leave our own convictions and beliefs open to question. There is so much more at stake than winning cultural wars. We are also fighting the age-old war against truth waged by the powers of darkness. The truth of God’s Word is our only hope in in a world spinning out of control. We must endeavor to defend the glory and honor of our Lord Jesus Christ, the purity of His Gospel, and the sanctity of His Church.

-Mike Gendron

[Article used by permission. Link to original at Proclaiming the Gospel]

Feminizing Jesus: the continuing sissification of the Son of God

“…Effeminacy grows in the mainline churches. Rome has shown the way.”[1]

On the same day when the radical leftists and “equality” obsessed feminists chose to “take a stand” (clearly oblivious to the complicit service they provide to the state in its war against the family) on “International Women’s Day”, proving to the world once again just how baseless, twisted and inane their ideology is, I was reminded of another more dangerous and deplorable form of feminism—or effeminism—on the rise. This variety occurs within the professing church and is therefore more deceptive than anything the world has to offer. I am speaking of what may be deemed the sissification of Jesus and His glorious gospel.

When I saw the above statement (“Jesus died because He didn’t want to live without you”) posted outside of a local church, the first thing that popped into my head was the song “How do I live without you”, made famous by LeAnn Rimes. Is it not enough that our social justice warriors, televangelists and limp-wristed neologians make every effort to turn the Last Adam—the spotless Lamb of God—into a peace loving, tree-hugging effeminate hippie by way of every media outlet available (consider The Shack, for a recent example)? We may have become numb to the reality that even mainline denominations have feminized the very gospel itself.

Moreover, it is a glorification of wretched, sinful perverse man to suggest that it is me that Christ just cannot bear to live without. God does not need me. There is nothing inherently desirable about me that would cause the glorified resurrected Savior to long for my presence with Him in heaven (in fact, according to the doctrine of impassibility, there is nothing that “causes” God to do anything at all). The truth is, the triune God who reigns from everlasting to everlasting would have gotten along just fine without you or me. Yet this is the sort of “gospel” we are often presented with, and it is in just such a context that Jesus is made to look like a desperate young girl infatuated with man’s awesomeness.

I am not looking to nit-pick the particular church that posted this lame slogan. It is only one of many such “inoffensive” signs (it is only inoffensive to the unregenerate, having no conception of who God actually is) I have seen posted over the years. Another nearby sign simply asserts, “GOD LOVES YOU”, period, with no further explanation nor exhortation to repentance. Well, if God loves me then what’s the problem? If that’s the end of the story then, I suppose, “Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:21).

In contrast to such man-centered sentiments, consider the biblical picture of the perfect God-Man alongside depictions of fallen-man provided in Scripture. By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul lays out a more accurate assessment of the human race, you know, the one which God just couldn’t live without. According to the Bible, man is

“…filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:29—32).

Note also that the introduction to the book of Hebrews describes One wholly unlike the limp-wristed Jesus fashioned by many in our day:

“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1—3).

Of course, many other relevant passages could be quoted.

In his book, The Church Effeminate, John Robbins traces the history and underlying philosophy of this feminizing trend. The tendency to neutralize the Godhead and the gospel is not a new phenomenon, and is ultimately rooted in the intentional subordination of the “mind” to the “heart” (or, the subordination of the intellect to the emotions).

Robbins explains how “the masculine Christianity of the Reformers has long been displaced by the effeminate Christianity of the moderns.”[2] While there were a number of circumstances and rising ideologies leading up to this point in church history, it is of particular interest to reference Robbins on this point:

“The revivalism of the nineteenth century, particularly the work of Charles Finney, transformed theology from Calvinism into Arminianism [more accurately pelagianism or semi-pelagianism], from the sovereignty of God to the free will of man. A God who sovereignly plans and omnipotently acts is just too masculine to endure. A God who pleads and pines is much more palatable to the modern mind.

“The death of Christ…became a way for God to affect the feelings of men, rather than to satisfy the justice of an angry God. God was a God of love, not truth, justice, or holiness. His primary characteristic became mercy, not sovereignty or justice. He had no wrath to be assuaged. The doctrine of the Atonement was transformed—from propitiation to moral influence.

“Under the process of feminization, the importance of doctrine gave way to the centrality of experience.”[3]

Considering the condition of post-Fall humankind described in Romans 1, we should not be all that surprised that a generation lacking the fear of God would descend into what we see in this nation’s current state of debasement and debauchery. To reverse this trend by fighting the “culture war” is an unbiblical and misguided effort. Where we can take immediate and effective action, however, is in contending for THE faith, which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3), and that includes standing fast against all attempts to feminize Christianity. Some ways in which we can do this may be:

  1. Taking great care to address God with reverence in prayer,
  2. Being careful to accurately represent Him in our interaction with others, remembering that in His perfections He is in need of nothing,
  3. And recalling that love is not His only attribute.

Finally, may we all be reminded of Scripture’s admonition: “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:2).

-Nick Sabato

[1] Robbins, J.W. (ed.), The Church Effeminate and Other Essays, The Trinity Foundation, Unicoi, TN, 2001, p. 234.

[2] Robbins, ref. 1, p. 237.

[3] Robbins, ref. 1, p. 268.