In Hebrews, Paul provides several warnings to Christians, the first arriving in chapter 2. The danger of drifting away from what you know to be true (apostasy) remains a problem as the church willfully abandons traditional doctrine.
Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. (Hebrews 2:1)
Different translations render drift away instead of slip, as Zodhiates notes the definition means “To float by or drift past as a ship, or to flow past as a river. Figuratively to slip away, suggesting a gradual and almost unnoticed movement past a certain point.”
Many in the church drift away. Drifting usually begins slowly and unnoticeably, but picks up speed until you realize you’re going over the cliff. Of course, then it’s too late to change course and avoid disaster. For example, from the book “Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus,” we discover the following idea:
Taking the best of biblical scholarship, Meyers recasts core Christian concepts in an effort to save Christianity from its obsession with personal salvation.
How did we get here? Where a popular pastor doesn’t want to focus on salvation, but instead recasting the foundations of Christianity?
Slowly at first, then picking up speed until what they should be anchored to disappears over the horizon. Drifting begins with liberals — not Democrats, but liberal theology.
Drifting involves the foundations of Christianity — the inerrancy of the Bible, deity of Christ, virgin birth, atonement of Christ on the cross, existence of Hell. What the church frequently fights over — pre-tribulation rapture verses post-tribulation, baptism, and more, are only disagreements on minor points.
For some reason, the church readily swallows alternate definitions of the gospel—in clear contradiction to Paul—while arguing over minor issues not found in the Bible. This should not be.
How did the church drift so far away? Or more simply, what is liberal theology? (sometimes also called progressive, post-modern, red-letter, social gospel, etc) Consider the following:
… a postmodernist is more comfortable with the both/and perspective, allowing multiple truths to exist in tension. It recognizes the significance of subjective reality on our understanding of truth, and as such, challenges more rigid doctrines, dogmas or policies that value uniformity of thought over pluralistic coexistence.
Notice the buzzword phrases?
- “Multiple truths”
- “Pluralistic coexistence”
- “Subjective reality”
- “Challenge rigid doctrine”
Those express liberal theology positions. In broad respects, liberal theology can be called value relativism, or the rejection of absolute truth (or reality). If I say the sky is orange, and you say it’s yellow, liberal theology allows us both to hold “truth” — as we individually see it. How absurd is liberalism? It claims multiple truths can exist: 2 + 2 = 4 and—at the same time—2 + 2 = 5.
It really works as absurd as it sounds, no matter how much verbiage wraps around it to look “scholarly.” Our old friend cognitive dissonance rescues people holding liberal theology from the insanity of contradictory positions, and believing both as “true.”
All Scripture is given by God, and profitable for doctrine (2 Timothy 3:16). If that be true, then statements like Paul didn’t really write those letters or multiple truths exist must be false. Those statements contradict, and can’t both be true at the same time. Either God inspired Paul’s writing or not; Peter also puts Paul’s work on par with scripture.
… our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you … which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:15–16)
When liberal theology redefines what God inspired Paul and Peter to write, it casts aside God’s Word. What remains then? Can we do whatever is right in our own eyes? Once declared the Bible isn’t all God’s inerrant Word, then someone — using some method — must decide what is (and is not) God’s Word.
Who gets that task? What method will they use? And why should their method be preferred over others?
Nothing remains but value relativism. For example, promoting the strange idea Isaiah really didn’t write the book bearing his name. Two Isaiahs? No, someone else says, there were three (I think they were Larry, Moe, and Curly). Moses didn’t actually write the first five books bearing his name (documentary hypothesis). And on and on it goes — the result nobody really believes anything.
Liberal theology paves the path to Hell. If the Bible is the inerrant Word of God liberal theology contains nothing but nonsense. And if the Bible isn’t God’s Word (and thus not inerrant), why bother with it all?
In the end, liberal theology rejects God but lacks the guts to admit it.
Don’t drift away, because at 3 A.M., will you stand for a Jesus you don’t know, aren’t sure is really the God of the Bible (which isn’t really God’s Word anyway), doubt He really existed, deny His death and resurrection provide atonement for your sin, and Hell exists as nothing more than a figment of popular culture or mental illness?