The unadjusted Gospel was the title of this year’s Together for the Gospel Conference and on day two Dr. Mohler was slated to discuss How Does It Happen? Trajectories toward and adjusted gospel. What follows is a summary of the light he shed on the subject.
Within all the forms of liberalism is the idea that Christianity needs to be saved from itself.
He then went on to show from these passages of Scripture (Gal 1:6-9, I Tim 6:3-5, II Tim 1:8-13, and Jude v. 3) that attempts to adjust the gospel are not unique to our time. The history of Christianity reveals one attempt after another at distorting the truth of the gospel, the core message of the faith.
Mohler shared an illustration from Basil Mitchel which presented the church as a raft laden with cargo that is heading toward dangerous rapids. The raft is the church and the cargo represents the doctrines of the faith, while the rapids represent the modern world with all of its technology. According to the illustration, the church only has two options: Either the church must jettison its cargo (doctrine) in order to navigate the rapids (Modern Age), or she must paddle out of the stream and cling to the shore.
This mindset has brought about many of the following 8 identifiable trajectories which lead to an adjusted gospel.
- The Modern Trajectory represents a complete denial of supernaturalism and resulted in the attempt of many within the church to seek to demythologize the Bible. In the end this mindset/trajectory would result in a total doctrinal breakdown which would render the faith worthless. The Modern trajectory was like a universal acid that dissolved it’s container, storeroom, building, city, world and eventually there was nothing left.
- The Postmodern Trajectory sought to make everything relative. Everyone’s story, faith history or myth was as relevant as the next. Postmodernism even turned Modernism into one more ancient tale on par with everything else.
- The Moral Trajectory gave rise to the idea that we modern men are more moral than the God of the Bible. In other words, God is not fair in his dealings with his creation and we have become his judge. But perfect cannot be considered the same as fair. God is perfect, and therefore outside the scope of our judgment and comparison to imperfect humanity.
- The Aesthetic Trajectory states that the gospel is simply too ugly for us. The whole idea of blood sacrifice for sin’s atonement is rejected in this mindset.
- The Therapeutic Trajectory confesses that we don’t know what is wrong, but we know we are sick. After all, it’s better to think of ourselves as sick than wicked and evil. In this trajectory the church is seeking to reduce the Gospel and the whole of the Scriptures to a religious 12 step program to help us cope with our sickness which leads to the next trajectory.
- The Pragmatic Trajectory agrees that we have a problem and has decided to solve our problems with the Bible. Sermons become enumerated steps toward peace and joy. The gospel message becomes distorted so that results can be readily measured. This results in crowds, not churches; results and not regeneration.
- The Emotional Trajectory elevated human feeling over Biblical fidelity. The issue with this trajectory is how we feel about the Bible, and this has a great deal of influence over the truth of it.
- The Materialist Trajectory says that what is material is more valuable than spiritual truth and this is a temptation for all of us. We are all tempted to trust what we see and feel over and against the truth of Scripture.
With so many trajectories toward an adjusted gospel there is a danger for doctrinal fatigue to set in, but the call of Christ is to continue preaching against the tide of the age.
So how does all this keep us from adjusting the gospel? It helps us to see that the gospel is always under attack and we must stand firm and hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.
We must also not accept Basil Mitchel’s prescription for how the church is to face the rapids ahead. There is another option and that is to trust that the church doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to Christ and our role is not to determine which doctrines must go in order to appeal to the modern age. Our charge is to remain faithful as Christ’s bride and endure with our hearts and minds fixed on the timeless truths of Scripture.