“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?” (Matthew 18:12)

This New Downgrade Today Creates No Controversy

Apprising Ministries has been warning about, and documenting, the sad slide of largely pretending to be Protestant evangelicalism into becoming what I’ve referred to as The Ecumenical Church Of Deceit (ECoD); and much of the current sorry state of the church visible can be traced back through to the semi-pelagian (at best) man-centered Church Growth Movement of Fuller Theological Seminary.

Keep in mind this is coming from one who is not a strict cessationist; the root roughly begins with the charismatic revival as it spreads through the Jesus People/Movement circa early 1970’s out into various denominations and into what became the Fuller Theological Seminary School of World Mission. [1] This is the cesspool from which the new liberalism of the seeker-friendly/sinner-sensitive methodology of letting culture define the church would spring.

As Dr. John MacArthur has said:

And I’ll tell you, how do you know it’s the new liberalism? Because you can’t stop a seeker-friendly movement, because it’s going to be redefined, it’s going to be redefined, it’s going to be redefined… It’s relentlessly being redefined because the culture changes so fast in a media-driven society. It changes so fast!…

You know, Schuller is the architect of this. Robert Schuller is the absolute father. The grandfather of the movement, who was a little bit below the radar, was Norman Vincent Peale. Norman Vincent Peale is a classic liberal. The primary impact that Norman Vincent Peale has had on the world is through his leading disciple, Robert Schuller, who said to me, “I can sign the confession of my denomination and makes the words mean anything I want them to mean.” Well, that’s classic neo-orthodoxy—or liberalism (whichever).

So, you’ve got Norman Vincent Peale, who creates this kind of liberal, social gospel; his number one disciple, positive-thinker Robert Schuller; Robert Schuller develops this concept of the church many years ago, where he goes into Orange County and he goes door-to-door, passes out cards, and tells people to write down what they want a church to be, and then he gives them what they ask for. He said in a speech at N.R.B. many years ago, “If you want to know how to build a church, ask the community, and give them what they want.” His most famous disciple trained into that model is Bill Hybels, and the second is Rick Warren. Rick Warren says, himself, that when he left seminary, he drove right to the Crystal Cathedral and was mentored there.

So, there’s a flow going on here. And where is it going? It’s going toward the Emerging Church. That’s why you can have all those people—Rick Warren and Brian McLaren—way out on the edge of the Emergent Church, you can have all those people at the same conference in San Diego all speaking, and, in between, sessions on Yoga. If you just look at the roots of something—and look where it’s going: if you let the culture define the church, there’s no way to catch up. (Online source)

The fact is, within squishy evanjellyfish there’s been a re-education process spewed at us by these leaders of the man-loving ECoD as she does her best to please her harlot mother the Church of Rome with her own apostate Roman Catholicism and undo the the Lord’s Reformation. In fact, it’s so bad now that Beth Moore And John Piper Lead Lectio Divina-Lite At Passion 2012.

Look at these various factions like Purpose Driven/Seeker Driven sector, and the neo-liberal cult of the Emerging Church 2.0 with its reimagined i.e. new form of Progessive Christianity they call Emergence Christianity, as having the same product—church—that they are selling to different markets using different forms of advertising.

However, God has always been able to manage to call out His children without the help of man; and that’s just the point, and the reason we’re where we are right now in the visible church: Such as these do not believe in the all-sufficiency of Holy Scripture. As Dr. MacArthur said in that piece I cited above:

I’ve said this many times: I can listen to a guy preach—put anybody in front of me—and I’ll tell you what his view of Scripture is by what he says. If he doesn’t preach out of the Bible, I know what his view of Scripture is, I don’t care what he says. I don’t care if he wants to die telling me he’s a believer in inerrancy, if he gets up and does not preach the Word of God, that’s his view of Scripture leaking all over the place. (Online source)

Undoubtedly the Father has chosen to advance His Gospel through the foolishness of preaching but His intention has always been for us to lift up Jesus Christ and Him crucified. This glut of missional church-planters and so-called Church Growth experts, of course, think that today they have come up with a better way; but as you will see in the following teaching from Charles Spurgeon, in the Downgrade Controversy he was dealing with the same kind of foolishness.

Sadly, in this New Downgrade No-Controversy, there doesn’t appear to be another Spurgeon on the horizon:

There is a tendency, apparent at this present time, to think little of the conversion of individuals and to look upon the work of the Holy Spirit upon each separate person as much too slow a business for this progressive age. I am bold to assert that if ever we despise the method of individual conversion, we shall get into an unsound order of business altogether and find ourselves wrecked upon the rocks of hypocrisy.

Even in those right glorious times when the Gospel shall have the freest course, and run the most quickly, and be the most glorified, its progress will still be after the former manner of the conviction, conversion, and sanctification of individuals, who shall each one believe and be baptized, according to the Word of the Lord.

I fear lest in any of you there should be even the least measure of despising the one lost because of the large and philosophical methods that are now so loudly cried up. If the wandering are to be brought in in vast numbers, as I pray they may be, yet must it be accomplished by the bringing of them one by one.

To attempt national regeneration without personal regeneration is to dream of erecting a house without separate bricks. Let us settle in our minds that we cannot do better than obey the example of our Lord Jesus and go after the one sheep that has gone astray.[2]

End notes:
[1], accessed 1/8/12.

[2] Charles Spurgeon, At the Master’s Feet [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005], November 10.

See also: