Believers in Christ’s atonement are now in declared religious union with those who make light of it; believers in Holy Scripture are in confederacy with those who deny plenary inspiration; those who hold evangelical doctrine are in open alliance with those who call the fall a fable, who deny the personality of the Holy Ghost, who call justification by faith immoral, and hold that there is another probation after death, and a future restitution for the lost. Yes, we have before us the wretched spectacle of professedly orthodox Christians publicly avowing their union with those who deny the faith, and scarcely concealing their contempt for those who cannot be guilty of such gross disloyalty to Christ. —Charles Spurgeon
One of the greatest preachers of all time, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, was caught in the middle of a controversy during his time known as the Downgrade Controversy. Spurgeon noticed a phenomenon taking place within the professing Church and many during his time hated him for it. He saw theological and moral compromise overtaking churches and he was very outspoken about it. It turns out that what he saw taking place back then has now morphed into all-out apostasy in today’s Church. Below are five–of many–observations of this “downgrade” that are associated with compromise in the Evangelical Church.
Without question, the Church has experienced a theological decline in recent times. In the past, a plethora of Protestant and Evangelical Christian denominations upheld diverse and even often conflicting beliefs—Presbyterians, Baptists, and Lutherans each held distinct views on matters such as baptism and communion. Yet, despite such differences, all were united by the core belief in salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, and the authority of Scripture.
These churches were bound together as one in the body of Christ through their unwavering commitment to sound, conservative doctrine in essential matters of faith. The importance of doctrine within the Church cannot be overstated, and even though the Reformers didn’t have all the answers, they universally agreed that Scripture was the ultimate authority on matters of faith and practice. To undermine this was to undermine the very authority of Christ (2 Tim 3:16-17).
Regrettably, in many contemporary churches, strict adherence to biblical doctrine has become something of a taboo. The prevailing ethos in these settings is one of “anything goes,” which renders nearly any kind of orthodoxy or heterodoxy acceptable. And by far the most disposed of doctrine in the modern church is that of repentance—an essential element of the faith by which without it, one cannot be truly saved.
The call to repentance has been all but erased from the teachings of numerous churches, and a superficial form of easy-believism has replaced it. This is why false churches like Hillsong can permit people with morally bankrupt backgrounds to serve in leadership roles, and pastors like Andy Stanley can declare expository preaching as “dangerous” while promoting homosexuality within the ranks of his own congregation.
You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! –James 2:19
The influence of charismatic leaders like Benny Hinn, Mike Bickle, Todd Bentley, and Kenneth Copeland has undeniably been a source of concern for many within the Church. While their practices and teachings may be easily discernible as fraudulent, the real challenge lies in identifying the subtle infiltration of their ideas into once-esteemed churches and teachers. Even some of the most respected Bible teachers have found themselves drawn to charismatic notions such as direct, divine revelation and Apostolic sign gifts. The pervasiveness of these ideas often precedes the decline of churches and spiritual leaders, as they become increasingly susceptible to “charismania.”
Determining whether charismania is a cause or a symptom of this decline is a complex issue. It is likely both a consequence and an enabler of liberal theology, which often undermines biblical authority. This insidious influence, even when subtle, is ultimately detrimental to the faith. Well-intentioned individuals who assert the primacy of Scripture while adhering to charismatic beliefs may inadvertently compromise their theological and moral integrity. The subtle allure of charismatic teachings can create an unwarranted “openness” that paves the way for corruption.
Let us remember that the Word of God has been spoken, and Christ alone is our ultimate source of salvation and guidance. It is imperative that we remain vigilant in safeguarding our spiritual foundations from the encroachment of misleading ideologies, ensuring that our faith remains firmly grounded in the unshakeable truth of Scripture.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son –Hebrews 1:1-2
In contemporary times, numerous churches have elevated politics to the highest priority, transcending the boundaries of both conservative and liberal ideologies. Indeed, even the most steadfast denominations have witnessed the infiltration of political beliefs into their pulpits. The subtle encroachment of political influence into theological doctrine often dons the guise of Gospel truth. As a result, many preachers willingly risk their reputations to endorse political candidates and champion their ideologies. In this new age, political correctness has been enshrined as the doctrine of reconciliation, while political ideology masquerades as the Gospel of salvation. For many, the notion of national salvation now supersedes the pursuit of spiritual salvation.
Undeniably, politics holds significance in our lives, but it should be our theology that shapes our political beliefs, rather than the reverse. Ideally, our political convictions should be intertwined with our theological understanding, enabling us to approach cultural and political matters through a biblical lens. Consequently, there should be minimal room for political discord within the church, given that theological consensus is achievable on such clear doctrinal issues as life and morality.
Regrettably, some Christians have viewed political leaders as messianic figures, only to be disappointed by their inability to deliver the anticipated “salvation.” Neither Barack Obama’s promise of racial harmony nor Donald Trump’s conservative policies fulfilled the expectations placed upon them. And Certainly, Joe Biden’s tenure in the White House has only served to oppose anything remotely resembling Christianity as many church leaders looked to him as a savior from worldly suffering, pinning their hopes on controversial ideologies such as socialism and draconian health mandates.
In some instances, political candidates have even been invited to deliver sermons at churches. Others go to the extreme of portraying non-believers as Christians to further political agendas.
Nevertheless, the political gospel is but another counterfeit doctrine. It lacks the capacity to save, reconcile, or triumph over sin—particularly when founded upon secularist principles, such as those embraced by the Democratic party. Again, this isn’t to promote any one particular party, rather it is to urge believers to think biblically about political issues as your politics is a mere reflection of your theology—good or bad.
And most importantly, as Christians, it is our responsibility to honor and glorify Jesus in our political endeavors. Does this mean we can’t associate with someone who holds opposing political views to our own? Perhaps a better approach may be to confront those who hold views in opposition to what the Scriptures teach, and for those who persist in sin, we purge them from the Church.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ –Philippians 3:20
A familiar refrain resonates throughout the Christian community: “The Church must be united.” Indeed, it is increasingly evident that the Evangelical Church’s focus is gravitating toward unity. The scriptural call for unity is unequivocal and reiterated frequently, with passages such as 1 Corinthians 1:10, 1 Peter 3:8, and Philippians 2:2 demonstrating the vital importance of harmony among believers. However, the question remains: around what should this unity coalesce?
In contemporary times, numerous churches have diluted the truth to such an extent that little veracity remains in their teachings. They have forsaken sound doctrine in an effort to avoid offending others, opting instead for a superficial form of devotion centered on “love,” “tolerance,” and “acceptance” for all. It is within this diluted framework that unity proliferates, displacing sound doctrine as the central tenet. Alarmingly, even steadfast churches have begun to align themselves with this trend, forming ecumenical alliances with Rome for political and cultural gain. Compounding the problem, church leaders and pastors shy away from openly criticizing detrimental movements, such as the “woke church” phenomenon, fearing that doing so might fracture their perceived unity.
The semblance of unity among these religious systems is both illusory and perilous. Contrary to popular belief, it is not strict adherence to sound doctrine or the critique of unsound doctrine that breeds disunity and discord. Rather, it is the proliferation of false doctrine that sows division. Multiple false doctrines may coexist, each contradicting the others, yet only a single truth can prevail. The true Church unites around the divine truth of God, eschewing falsehoods. Genuine unity cannot flourish amidst error. Truth and error are incompatible; thus, error must be brought to light and confronted with the illuminating truth of Jesus Christ.
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. –Romans 16:17
And lest one says that this contradicts what was previously written under liberalism, we must note that there are two types of error in theology: that which is simply driven by the finite capacities of the human mind but does not lead to apostasy. And that which is driven by a rebellious heart, which is, in itself, apostasy.
“In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” —Rupertus Meldenius
Undoubtedly, the most profound of these observations concerns the issue of tolerance. Sin can only thrive when it is permitted to do so. Regrettably, many individuals will choose to overlook sin and compromise, under the misguided notion that this will somehow maintain the unity of the body of Christ.
However, in Revelation 2:20, we are reminded: “I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching, she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.”
It is of utmost importance to recognize that God possesses no tolerance for sin or compromise in any form. If He did, there would be no necessity for His Son’s sacrifice.
Regrettably, sin and compromise have become increasingly normalized within the Church. Individuals may align themselves with heretics, sharing a stage with them, as long as they concur on a central doctrine. Evangelicals may tolerate Catholics, provided they can unite on issues such as abortion or marriage. Esteemed preachers may accept charismatics, Egalitarians, Emergents, and false teachers, as long as they are granted an opportunity for self-promotion. Moreover, churches may tolerate unrepentant sinners within their congregations, as long as they financially support the institution.
However, Scripture implores us to expose false teachers rather than endorse them. We are instructed not to form partnerships with unbelievers in the pursuit of any spiritual endeavor (2 Corinthians 6:14). We must not tolerate sin in any capacity. If the Gospel is the sole antidote to sin, we cannot collaborate with those who reject it in the battle against sin. What communion can light have with darkness?
Let us remember that Jesus Christ has already triumphed over sin, and this is the only truth we need to embrace within the Church.
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. –2 John 1:10-11