The Post-Evangelicals: Modern Sadducees

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, September 27, 2017 0 comments

by David Odegard

So many people claim the title of Evangelical, but many have thrown away its historical meaning, preferring to decide for themselves what belongs in the name. In several key ways, post-evangelicals are lying to themselves and others. They love to spend their days writing open letters to the church trying to explain why everybody hates it, including them. Post-evangelicals have rejected the foundational understanding of what it means to be evangelical. In doing this, they show they have so much more in common with the Sadducees.

Sadducees reject most of the Scriptures and completely redefine the ones they do accept, so as to alter the original concepts. Contrarily, one of the core commitments which evangelicals have always made to God is the belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. The Chicago Statement on Inerrancy clearly articulates what a right belief in the Bible as without error like this:
"We are persuaded that to deny [Inerrancy] is to set aside the witness of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit and to refuse that submission to the claims of God's own Word which marks true Christian faith. We see it as our timely duty to make this affirmation in the face of current lapses from the truth of inerrancy among our fellow Christians and misunderstanding of this doctrine in the world at large."

Christians affirm the Bible is absolutely true and without error. Sadducees and post-evangelicals do not affirm it.

This idea has been systematically attacked for at least a century and a half from the various centers of higher critical studies. They insist that the Bible has error, that it is cut and pasted together from a myriad of sources, and that we must exercise our reason to determine which parts are God’s Word and which are just plain old human writing. The higher critics always seem to reject those parts that have to do with the supernatural—just like the Sadducees.

Exalting flawed human reason to the highest pinnacle of authority obviously pushes the authority of God’s revelation in Scripture to a secondary place. This discredits the Christian faith, undermines belief, and weakens the moral and spiritual convictions of God’s people. It weakens the church. But post-evangelicals consistently reject whatever the culture doesn’t like, because ultimately they feel that they have the authority to select belief from the Bible according to their whims. Ultimate morality is not found in God’s timeless, unchanging character but rather in the social convention of the moment.

This is flatly non-Christian, but every week I read blog posts by people trying to save the church’s “street cred” with the culture around us (see James 4:4). This is not evangelical; this is post-evangelical. Along with this small view of Scripture has come a torrent of weak-willed acceptance of every form of abomination. Post-evangelicals mostly accept abortion, homosexuality, gender confusion, and progressivism in general.

I once had a seminary professor who said that we don’t have to believe that Paul wrote all the letters that the Bible ascribes to him. Pseudonymity does not harm Biblical authority. Not more than 30 minutes later, we were discussing certain standards raised in 2 Timothy and she said, “Well, I don’t believe Paul is the author so it doesn’t matter too much what the real author thought.” Her acceptance of higher criticism cheapened those books thereby harming Biblical authority in her own life. This same professor once called me a hypocrite for believing that abortion is wrong, but not subsequently condemning the death penalty. Had I been given the chance to defend my view, I would have told her that I condemn the destruction of innocent life. The person who rapes or kills ought to be held accountable for just punishment, which has always been attached to those particular crimes. She said that she accepted homosexuality and would have no problem performing a same-sex wedding because she viewed the Bible through “a hermeneutic of love.” How a so-called hermeneutic of love changes the words on the page, she did not explain. The highest authority in her Bible interpreting scheme is not the Bible itself, but rather the way her progressive community chooses to read it.

Article I of the Chicago Statement says: “We affirm that the Holy Scriptures are to be received as the authoritative Word of God. We deny that the Scriptures receive their authority from the Church, tradition, or any other human source.”

Evangelicals do not allow their community to contradict the Scriptures without serious push-back. Nevertheless, my former professor did not hold this in common with evangelicals. She is a post-evangelical. Hebrews 4:12 boldly contradicts my professor “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Sadducees reject the afterlife, angels, demons, and the spiritual world entirely. They are physicalists; they believe that that everything which exists is no more extensive than its physical properties. But more on that next week as I continue to describe what post evangelicalism is.

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