In this episode:
- Don’t forget to become a Theodio Premier Subscriber. Offer ends when 2020 comes to a close.
- How we compare out sinfulness to those of others
- The relevant segment of the Precious Remedies audiobook
- A conclusion in which I explain what I believe about Satan, and why it matters
- An opportunity to repent and receive mercy
- Episode blog post: How to avoid the dead end of bad doctrine
- Responses to Michael Gungor: The Gospel Coalition | Patheos Blog | Baptist News |
- Podcast introduction: Yabo Obien
- Logo and marque: Jeff Lyons at Light & Story
- Original music: Makeup and Vanity Set
- Kindle version of Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices by John Hendryx at Monergism.com
- Text for Precious Remedies provided by GraceGems.org
It has been quite a journey so far through Thomas Brooks’ Precious Remedies against Satan’s Devices. So far we’ve learned 10 ways our enemy lures us into sin through thoughts about ourselves, about others, and about our behavior itself. They illustrate Satan’s drive toward the head and heart, the core of our being and identity. In this device, our enemy goes for our theology. If he can’t tempt us from within, he will attack the objective truth that fuels our faith and hope.
We need to differentiate between doctrinal error and secular skepticism. Being criticized by the unbelieving world is one thing. Non-Christians will always have arguments against the church and the Bible. That’s not what we’re talking about in this episode. Bad doctrine doesn’t come from outside the church, but from within.
Many of our great creeds and confessions came about because of controversies and schisms between Christians, or at least between people in the church. The Athanasian Creed, for example, was a response against Arianism. It explains and codifies the biblical doctrine of the Trinity.
There will always be those in the church who push back against historic Christian doctrine. This is more than asking honest questions or expressing doubt or uncertainty. It’s more placing the Bible on trial in the court of human opinion.
A common creed?
Here’s a recent example, in three quotations.
“I would love to hear more artists who sing to God and fewer who include a father murdering a son in that endeavor.”
“If you can’t think of anything to sing to God other than gratitude for taking your shame away through bloodshed, stop singing and look around.”
“To see (the atonement) as literal and out of context — that God needed to be appeased with blood — is not beautiful. It’s horrific.”
These are the words of Christian musician Michael Gungor. In a memorable tweet thread in February 2017 he questioned the validity of the penal substitutionary atonement of Jesus as being a literal sacrifice and a necessary component of orthodox theology.
The response from notable Evangelicals was quick and decisive. I’ll post the links I included in the accompanying blog post so you can see for yourselves.
Rejecting Jesus’ death on the cross as the appeasement of God’s wrath against sin is commonplace in modern church practice. But doing so denies the unbroken theological line one can draw through the church fathers and on through the past two millennia.
The insistence that Christ’s crucifixion was mere metaphor or example, that it was anything less than a substitutionary death for sinners, that it was not the propitiation of God to secure his unmerited grace, is bad doctrine. It is exactly the sort of thing Thomas Brooks writes about in this eleventh device of Satan against Christians.
We can never assume adherence to biblical doctrine. God in his Word calls us not only to obey his commands but to keep them. We must hold tightly to them, preserve them, and teach them. The Bible is sacred, and it is our sacred duty to assent to it.
Thomas Brooks provides seven remedies by which we may hold fast God’s word and resist Satan’s efforts to undermine it with bad doctrine.
Let’s listen to this critical message now.
Brooks’ final remedy reminds us that doctrinal error isn’t just a matter of opinion. Those who reject historic biblical teachings might say they’re liberating the church from something archaic or even repugnant. But Brooks turns right around and says that bad doctrine actually causes evil. It is directly counter to what the Holy Spirit desires to create through belief in the truth.
It’s been a while since I wrote the blog post that goes with this part of the book. So I decided to check into what Michael Gungor says he believes now. There’s an essay on his website that explains this. It includes common themes within progressive or liberal Christianity. He says you can know what he believes by seeing what he does. He quotes the book of James to support this. And he arrives at this conclusion after rejecting a number of historic biblical doctrines.
Interesting, isn’t it? He quotes part of the Bible to defend his rejection of other parts. He champions a version of the “deeds, not creeds” slogan, which is itself a creed. The entire essay is a statement of belief that behaviors matter more than statements of belief.
When you separate Christianity from its doctrine, you’re left with a lifestyle choice. But Christianity *is* its doctrine. They are inseparable. We Christians must hold to it, assent to it, and defend it. And we must learn to recognize when influencers in our midst try to lead us away from it.
This has been a tough one, but we hope you’ve found it edifying. Next time we will close chapter 2 of Precious Remedies with the topic of bad influence from outside the church. The company we keep can increase our temptations to sin. How do we affect the world for good without losing our witness? We hope you’ll join us again.