Name and Place for Tuesday, November 18 (’14)
From Sinclair Ferguson’s introduction to the book Justified in Christ, a priceless (conveniently priced at $17.72!) collection of essays from pastors affiliated with Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA:
Without realizing what was happening, evangelicalism had developed into a caricature of itself. Something inherently and importantly present in its genetic structure became exaggerated out of all proportion:…how salvation becomes mine now obscured how salvation was accomplished by Christ….At its worst, the theme of my life obscured knowledge of the significance of Christ’s death.
Curiously—or was it so strange after all?—this style of evangelicalism expressed patterns of thought that had parallels to the earlier liberal theology of Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834).
In his own way, Schleiermacher had patented and branded a ‘seeker-sensitive’ theology that (he certainly believed) made the gospel relevant to his contemporaries—’the cultured despisers of religion’ who, under the spell of the Enlightenment had given up the possibility that Christian doctrine could be true. For them the knowledge of God was no longer attainable. Kant’s critique of reason had limited it to the knowledge of the phenomenal realm; access to the noumenal was barred. Schleiermacher, refusing to believe all was lost, turned things on their head, stressing that the essence of true Christian faith was the feeling or sense of absolute dependence upon God.
When this is the ethos of the evangelical church, it is in no fit state to deal with any new wind of teaching. Hence the importance of this book (Intro, ix-x).
There you have it. The clear demarcation between a faith that stands on objective revelation vs. subjective feeling of where “I am with God.”
Judged on those standards, I cannot possibly claim America is a Christian nation.
And that doesn’t cause me to fear at all.