At present, the world and the church are in negotiations concerning the scandalous nature of a number of Christian doctrines. At stake, according to some in the churches, is the voice of the church where certain social and political issues are concerned. The church wants to continue to be the respected prophetic voice in the world. And the world wants the help of the church to offset what it deems to be an unacceptable outcome of a new morality that threatens to undermine the very stability of society. However, the world cannot tolerate the black and white nature of the absolute morality that attaches to Christian doctrine by way of Scripture. The church wants to be the credible prophet that still has a voice in society while the world wants to dictate the message of that voice. What is the church to do with the world and what is the world to do with the church if no compromise can be reached?
This isn’t the first time the world and the church have the negotiated terms of their relationship. These negotiations extend back in history for thousands of years now. In fact, they go as far back as the existence of the relationship itself. With each negotiation, the church has lost some of her soul, so to speak. And with each negotiation, she has lost the very thing she was aiming to preserve: a credible prophetic voice where both God and the world are concerned. And therein lies the problem. God and the world are enemies the one to the other. Modern Christianity seems to have long forgotten this aspect of the relationship that exists between God and the world.
The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity. (Ps. 5 5) The message of modern Christianity has been so one-sided and so deluded that God’s disposition toward the world and the world’s disposition toward God have been swallowed up as a result of the practice of negotiating a compromise. Ps. 45:7 tells us that God hates wickedness. God is said to be angry with the wicked every single day. God despises sin. At the very center of God’s being is holiness. God is infinitely and perfectly holy, just, and righteous. The world is just the opposite. At the very center of what it means to be the world is godlessness. The world is in fact synonymous with ungodliness. John puts it this way: 15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 John 2:15-16) God and the world are at opposite ends of the spectrum. In a very real sense, the church seems to see itself as a negotiator between the two, God and the world, sort of.
If one looks across Christian history, it doesn’t take long to see just how bad the practice of compromise can be for the church. For example, look at the Israelites compromise with the Canaanites. God was clear that the land was to be completely purged from the idolatrous nations. Israel adopted a different policy and the results were an utter disaster. Of all the kings Isreal had during its kingdom, ~80% were wicked and the nation ended with one captivity after another until Jerusalem was completely destroyed in AD 70.
Today, the church has refused to take seriously the compromise required by such movements as feminism, politicized homosexuality, the woke cult, social justice, same-sex attraction, gender dysphoria, liberal political philosophies, and so forth. The church has served as a stabilizing force in societies where its numbers are large enough. But when society shifts, if the church wishes to maintain its stabilizing value, the church must shift with it. Over the last 5 years, we have seen evangelicalism shift with the world to the point of embracing false narratives regarding false crises of racism, oppression, and abuse, a heinous political ideology designed to seize power through division and hatred, and a number of other evil ideas being propagated by a society that is determined to destroy divine design about all else. It appears that the sine qua non of whether or not an institution or principle is hated is whether or not it was designed by God.
This compromise is everywhere present in the churches. The problem is, the church is supposed to be the voice of God. And God doesn’t compromise. The minute you begin to compromise, you stop being the voice of God and start being the voice of man. A modern example of this is just how far Arminianism has pushed into views that original, classic Arminianism would have repudiated. In fact, the kind of thinking that lends itself to compromise is the very kind of thinking we see in non-reformed versions of evangelical Christianity.
Open Theism results when Arminians push the question of the existence of evil in the world beyond mystery and insist on preserving a radical view of free will. The problem is that people who do not wish to embrace a reformed view of sovereignty also recognize that classic Arminianism has the same problem with the existence of evil. In that view, God still decided to create this world knowing all the evil that would happen. In order to remove the moral objection, this view compromises divine omniscience. After all, to say that God is good and that God knowingly created this world with all its evil is just not very respectable.
In another gyration, the necessity of the gospel is compromised. We cannot have the kind of God who would send people to hell just because they never heard the gospel and didn’t even have an opportunity to evaluate Christianity and decide for themselves. So, people who respond in a good way to the general revelation that they have can also go to heaven even if they never hear the name of Jesus. In fact, one SBC fella explained to me that general revelation contains the gospel. Such a view reveals a profound ignorance of Christian truth. So, we compromise the doctrine of the necessity of the gospel.
Another compromise that takes place is what I call a merited election. God looks down through time to see who will respond positively to the gospel and He elects these people to salvation. This is essentially basing divine election on a good work seen in advance in that person. The only way a person could do something as good as placing their complete trust in Christ is if in fact there is something good in them. After all, it is unjust for God to elect some men to salvation based on nothing but his own self. That is said to be an arbitrary election and is offensive to the modern intellect. After all, God is love and a loving God would never do such a thing. So we compromise the Christian doctrine of predestination.
Molinism is another position that claims to get God off the hook for all the evil that is in the world but its project is a miserable failure. Molinism claims that God knows all the possible worlds that He could create and essentially selects the best one of all of them. What is the best one? The answer to that question is based on pure conjecture and speculation. The problem with this compromise is that it doesn’t work. God still instantiates a world with lots of horrific evil in it when He could have chosen not to create at all. Nevertheless, Molinism compromises the nature of the knowledge of God by implying there are brute facts that are true apart from divine activity. When asked to account for these facts, Molinism falls silent.
Some of these non-reformed men have now pushed into the denial of input guilt. All of this is designed to reject the reformed description of God in favor for a God that is more acceptable to the world. If you look closely at these compromises, you see an affirmation to one degree or another, of man. Romans 5:18 tells us that all men are guilty through one transgression. We are all guilty in Adam. This isn’t unique to reformed doctrine. This is Christianity. The idea that infants are born sinners is offensive to the world. Preach this message and the world will strip you of credibility and you will lose your voice of influence in society.
Another doctrine that is on the compromise chopping block is the doctrine of original sin. Contrary to historic Christian doctrine and all things presented in Scripture, not only are babies not born guilty in Adam, they are not born with a sinful nature. To say that a baby is born guilty of Adam’s sin is unfair and to say that this same baby is born with an evil nature is just too much for an all-affirming society. This message is very offensive to a culture that demands affirmation. Humans are good and they are especially born good. We only learn how to be evil through an external environment and sin is really just bad habits that we develop over time. This is not the message that historic Christianity has preached. All men are born sinners, guilty in Adam, deserving of death, hostile to God. But this message is not one the world will tolerate so we have to find a way to avoid distracting the world with the truth of the gospel. So, we compromise once again.
Another view that is presented in order to soften the justice and wrath of God is called annihilationism. The world thinks that a God who would confine men to eternal conscious punishment is incredibly harsh. In fact, such a God is morally repugnant on every level. The emergent church movement attacked this view of God from every angle, all in an attempt to provide a profile of God that the world would not find to be so offensive. As a result, the church would continue to have a voice and a seat at the table.
You have heard some apologists claim that the goal of apologetics is to remove obstacles to faith. You encounter an obstacle, an objection when evangelizing and your goal is to remove it, to clear the roadblocks so to speak. And as a result of this kind of thinking, we have removed much of the clear teachings of Scripture and a majority even of Christian doctrine all because the world finds these views offensive or just to fantastic to believe. If your goal is to remove everything that creates obstacles or roadblocks to Christianity, you will need to remove God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, Sin, you name it.
I appreciate classic Arminians who refuse to compromise in these areas. The original version of Arminianism is much closer to reformed theology than its modern counterpart. Modern Arminianism, now going by names like traditionalism or provisionism, is far removed from classic Arminianism. The denial of imputed guilt, original sin, divine omniscience, biblical sovereignty, eternal conscious punishment, and a host of other basic doctrines of Christian truth is the product of worldly men entering the church and working feverishly to create a Christianity that the world finds acceptable. Mark these men and have nothing to do with them. Rom. 16:17