“Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:6, NASB)

The Symptoms Have Been There All Along

Recently in the introduction to my article The Fear Of God Reveals Love, which was originally published here last year, I quoted Tim Brown of the Reformed Gadfly who said, “Let me say this as perfectly clear as I can: I believe that ‘Christianity’ in America is nearly totally apostate.” This quote came from his insightful piece Ted Haggard: The Symptom. Tim Challies would then refer to this in his own post The Scandal after I had put Brown’s quote on Slice of Laodicea in an attempt to show statements such as the above is exaggerated. But the truth is Haggard is a symptom of an evangelical disease that only grows worse.

What I’m about to share is based on an excerpt from my article Guru Brian McLaren. For those who may think I’m “piling on” here you will be able to see that this is a work I actually wrote back on November 18, 2005 and is really a kind of companion piece to Can You Be An Evangelical And Deny God?, which itself was written back on October 26, 2005. However, what I tell you below is exactly why I went on record at that time as no longer calling myself an evangelical even dropping some well known endorsements of my work because of this drift in evangelicalism.

In fact one of the very first articles I would write on the internet was The Falling Away of the Evangelical Church. But the final reason why I would no longer call myself an evangelical came from Tim Stafford’s article in the November 2005 edition of Christianity Today entitled Good Morning, Evangelicals! In it we would read the following compromised stance concerning the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). Watch here as Ted Haggard, the now disgraced former president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), had already provided us with a most impressive and nauseating display of super advanced fence straddling.

I’ve condensed it here for brevity and to prevent further stomach disorders. In CT, under the subheading “Who Is an Evangelical?” Stafford reports:

“When I became president of the NAE [National Association of Evangelicals],” Haggard tells the Inquirer’s [Paul] Nussbaum, “the talk was about doing away with the term evangelical. Evangelicalism was morphing and changing so much that people were wondering if the term applied. The first decision I made as president was to start using the term prolifically and defining it simply. I define an evangelical as a person who believes Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that the Bible is the Word of God, and that you must be born again.”

“Is it correct to say ‘values voters’ are evangelicals?” Nussbaum asks.


“Because, by your definition, Jimmy Carter is an evangelical.”

“He is.”

“Bill Clinton?”

“He is an evangelical.”

Reexamining The Idol Of Evangelicalism

That was the final straw for me. According to then president of the NAE Ted Haggard we see that Bill Clinton is an evangelical. In the wake of the current scandal with Haggard and some of his “peculiar” answers to initial questions when it first broke we might look at what Haggard says above in a different light. But be that as it may, Bill Clinton is the man who brought about as much shame as anyone could possibly be bring to the highest office in the land.

This is a man who used his training as a lawyer in an unsuccessful effort trying to avoid moral responsibility for his sin by attempting to have us redefine the word “is.” Hmmm, “redefine,” “reexamine,” “repaint,” you know, come to think of it, Bill Clinton would fit in rather well with the rubbery rhetoric of “evangelicals” like Brian McLaren and Rob Bell of the neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church. So I guess maybe Haggard was actually right here as we take into account just how lukewarm the evangelical community has now become.

Why look at who else qualifies as an evangelical according to former president Haggard:

Evangelicalism is a continuum of theologies all the way from Benny Hinn to R. C. Sproul. The R. C. Sproul crowd has a hard time with Benny Hinn, and the Benny Hinn crowd has a hard time with R. C. Sproul. But they’re all evangelicals. (ibid.)

Huh? Forget R.C. Sproul let’s not wrestle with the snake here. Benny Hinn, the extremely flamboyant proponent of virtually every heresy of the Word Faith Movement–an obvious distortion of Christianity–is also an evangelical according to Haggard, who then compares Hinn’s “crowd” with that of Dr. R.C. Sproul. While I don’t agree with Sproul on everything we would have to say that he is at least an orthodox Christian theologian.

But even Hank Hanegraaff–who is a far, far cry from his predecessor at CRI–has called the Word Faith Movement of which Hinn is undoubtedly a leader, “a deadly cancer that is ravaging the Body of Christ” (Christianity In Crisis, back cover). The last time I checked if a patient has cancer and it is at all possible to do so that cancer is then surgically removed, but under no circumstances is it ever to be welcomed as a healthy part of that person’s body.

No, the truth is that this fall by Ted Haggard is a symptom of a larger problem and the timing of his public disgrace is not an accident (see–Ephesians 1:11). Men and women, the sad indicators have been there all along until finally we arrive at The Idol of Evangelicalism. I can only speak for myself but I know I personally heeded the Lord’s warning and then I obediently sounded a warning of my own here at Apprising Ministries over a year ago. Maybe the naysayers and the gnat-strainers who seem to have so much time on their hands to be critical of my labor in Christ would be wiser to listen to me rather than attempting to find fault that just isn’t there.

At this point I remind you that we in the Body of Christ have no excuse for this rampant apostasy within evangelicalism. Many warnings had been sounded for many years and as an example I leave you with the following from my mentor Dr. Walter Martin circa 1987:

We are more concerned in the United States about the rights of homosexuals than we are about Who Jesus Christ is and what He did. We’re more conderned with social issues in the United States in the Christian church denominationally than we are with those who are dying in their sins without the Gospel. We are very concerned about everything except the things that really matter. (The Cult of Liberal Theology, audio cassette)