I grew up in captivity…

Photo credit to my lovely wife.

Photo credit to my lovely wife.

Something that had bothered me but I had relative success living with in my time as an FE was the lack of interest in history in  churches I would attend. It’s understood that history can boring, but the leap is often made that it doesn’t edify. This is evident by how little of church history is taught in church. It’s an odd situation to be in really, because bodies of FE believers are often quite concerned with eschewing tradition in favor of “genuine expressions of faith” and “bible-based” teachings.

What makes this so odd?

It’s not that this lack of interest in church history by such people is in and of itself so odd or unnatural, but paired with the amount of devotion to extra-biblical rites, experiences, and doctrine, this tossing-out of tradition in the pursuit of a pure faith more often than not amounts to tossing out traditions we don’t like as well as others in the pursuit of a more palatable church experience, cultural significance, or even an attempt to spread the Gospel further.

For instance, FE churches are keen on creating an atmosphere that facilitates decisions for Christ and moving individuals to pray the sinner’s prayer. What’s so odd is that despite being people who are highly interested in letting the Bible set the standard of correctness, there is such little talk of baptism, the supper, and Christ’s righteousness under the law to redeem us and applied to us through means that are external to us. These highly-biblical concepts are replaced with a relatively new, extra-biblical tradition of “asking Jesus into your heart.” The focal point of all worship is to get people to, of their own faculties, make a decision. I think that this is only possible through a lack of interest in church history: what battles were fought, why they were fought, and why different sides came down where they did.

There’s a lot to learn and to appreciate in church history. In his article, The Pelagian Captivity of the Church, R.C. Sproul gives a history lesson and explains how it applies to today’s evangelical church, going so far as to say that it is holding the gospel captive.

While Lutheranism disavows the double predestination to which Dr. Sproul clings, I think this article is highly constructive for explaining the problems with decision theology and its basis as the evangelical doctrine of salvation, what the theologians call soteriology.


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