As stated earlier much of Christendom is of an “Erasmus” persuasion, in other words, they believe in “free will”. I’m sure you’ve heard well meaning Christians say, “God will never violate your free will. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman and he will never go against your choice.” Therefore, you are free to choose God or not to choose God. This doctrine has found its way into most churches and it spills over into many other church doctrines. In fact, many Charismatic churches, because of this free will-humanistic teaching, despise doctrine. As proof of this, you will hear teachers/pastors say, “do not try to think or let your mind get in the way of the Spirit when the teaching is coming forth.” In other words, you are not to examine what is coming forth, just go with it and do not reject it. However, the Bible tells us to be like Bereans: “Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Ac 17:11).
I knew a woman who was a member of a Charismatic church when the laughing revival was in full swing. She attended some of the meetings that were taking place in the Toronto Airport. She was very animated about what was going on and even though some of the things that were taking place were not scriptural, they didn’t seem to trouble her. While talking to her, I mentioned that these things were against clear Biblical doctrine. As soon as the word “doctrine” was mentioned, she lost control and started to scream, “STINKING DOCTRINE, STINKING DOCTRINE!”
There seems to be no appreciation for good sound teaching. People in these churches are more concerned with emotional highs derived from the antics performed than preaching and teaching. Please note that I am not against moving in the Spirit and seeing the gifts of the Spirit manifest, but not to the extinction of doctrine. That surely cannot be the Lord. A false association of words often deceives people. When I got saved, I was attending a United Methodist church. I realized very soon after my salvation experience that not all was well. Many of the words they used like faith, grace, and salvation were used in a non-Christian context. I started to realize that the church I was attending was actually a very humanitarian work, under the guise of Christianity. They relate humanitarian works with the Good Samaritan, thus equating the belief system of humanism with humanitarianism. Of course this acceptance of supporting humanistic projects, gives no glory to God. God has called His people to give alms to the poor in His name, not in the name of man. By giving in the name of man, we are building up the humanistic society and too often failing to make the same help available through the church. This applies to donations made to the United Way and other big name non-profit organizations. For most true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, this is not that subtle and most would recognize the error. Most evangelical believers recognize that many of the institutional churches are downgraded to the place where they have the same humanistic theology as the Unitarian church. These churches are hotbeds of humanists, who in many cases are also atheists.
The real problem is the deception that humanism poses for the believing churches, the Evangelical, Charismatic and Pentecostal churches. Most of these churches have an Arminian, Semi-Pelagian persuasion and therefore are set up for this spirit of humanism to permeate throughout. Without making a long historical survey, one church that specifically embraced Arminianism was the Methodist Church of John Wesley, mentioned above as a personal testimony. It is perhaps significant that after John Wesley’s death, it gradually became a liberal stronghold with little effort to arrest its decline. Why would an apparent vibrant Biblical church become such a hotbed of liberalism? My contention is because of the Arminian theology that it was based on, which has man cooperating with God for salvation. Blindness to one important error is likely to induce blindness in other areas also. John Wesley was an Arminian through and through.
The Evangelical, Charismatic, Pentecostal movements major on their high level of evangelism, and its call to sinners to “make a decision for Christ”. Both of these relate to an Arminian conception. The leaders are convinced that the unsaved person has free will to choose or reject the Gospel. This theology justifies bringing the maximum psychological pressure to bear in order to persuade the person to make the “right” decision. This is done through music in conjunction with emotional calls to give your heart to Jesus. If the eternal life of the person depends upon such a decision, where the use of music and emotionalism is used to achieve this end, then this method can be legitimately put into practice. Charles Finney, who invented the altar call in the 19th century, practiced this kind of evangelism. Billy Graham in the 20th and 21stcentury has practiced a similar theology. Some have called Billy Grahams particular; method, “decisional regeneration”. Billy Graham is an Arminian whereas Finney was a Pelagian to the core.
It is interesting that the Roman Catholic Church and many of these Arminian based churches have the same mentality. As mentioned in an earlier chapter, they both use the Greek mentality, where the end justifies the means, in other words, “Whatever It Takes”. It does not matter if it is the Roman church or the Evangelical, Charismatic, Pentecostal movement; God has no control over who finally will be in heaven, but it depends entirely upon the “free will” decision of individuals. In both cases, entry into the “kingdom” depends upon the utterance of certain words and the affirmation of certain beliefs. This is reducing God to looking on, while others are deciding the membership of his eternal city. The effectiveness of this man made influence brought upon the people and their mental, emotional and spiritual state at that time becomes solely responsible for the decision that they make.
This may not seem like a biggy, but you can always tell a person that is of Arminian or Pelagian persuasion. When talking about how their salvation came about, they will always say, “I accepted the Lord”. Again, that may not seem like a big problem, but if you analyze the basis of that statement, then it becomes very telling. Let us analyze this statement, “I accepted the Lord”. What does the Bible say with respect to one having Jesus Christ becoming the Lord and Savior of one’s life? In the Gospel of John, the Word tells us “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name” (Joh 1:12). The Word of God, tells us “…as many as received him…” it didn’t say as many as “accepted” Him. When using the word “accepted” or “accepts” it carries with it a general sense of approval. That would mean that the person who is the accepter does the approving of the one being accepted. That means that man is in the driver’s seat and makes the decision. This is called “decisional regeneration”.
When one states that they “received” the Lord, this now carries a very different concept. To receive something is to come into possession or to acquire something. Therefore, when one receives the Lord Jesus, we are not the one that initiated this reception. This is similar when a gift is given; the person who receives the gift does nothing, but yield to the giver. The Bible is very clear on this in many places, but especially in the book of Ephesians. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2:8-9) This is very clear and to the point, that salvation is a “gift of God” and no man can work for it or approve of it, it is all of God; man can only “receive it”.
Another area of deception that must be pointed out with this humanistic Arminian system concerns repentance. In this movement, the positive is stressed to a high degree, portraying the Christian life as the answer to all of one’s problems with victory as a given. The positive results are placed much higher than the deep sorrow and acknowledgement of sin. What is preached is that you can overcome your problems (drugs, marital problems, loneliness, alcohol, whatever) by simply “accepting” Christ, instead of a deep acknowledgement of one’s sins, where one approaches God in brokenness and sorrow with repentance. Therefore, a deep contrition and sorrow for one’s past godless life is not the first consideration. What is the problem here? The convert does not die to his earthly desires, he is only redirected to what he is told is a higher, better life. In addition, this is something the convert has done; he has cooperated with God.
John MacArthur wrote a book entitled “The Gospel According to Jesus” and when it appeared in 1988, it caused a furor. MacArthur said that many members of evangelical churches throughout the United States were fooling themselves into thinking they were saved when they were not, because they had not fully received the Lordship of Christ over every part of their lives. Thus, they had “made a decision” and regularly attended church, but apart from that, they were hardly distinguishable from any well-behaved unsaved person. In order to demonstrate that they were not truly “born again”, he makes the trenchant comment - “As a pastor, I have re-baptized countless people who once ‘made a decision’, were baptized, yet experienced no change. They later came to a true conversion and sought baptism again as an expression of genuine salvation.”
This is typical, it is more the norm than not. There is a local church that I am familiar with founded by two electrical engineers I knew quite well. These men started a meeting as an orthodox Christian church, which remained that way for a number of years. The growth of the church was spotty. Then a few years ago, a different group of people took over the leadership and this assembly has sustained tremendous growth. At this writing, this church is looking to purchase a large plot of land to build a huge mega church. What was the reason for the inordinate growth? These men patterned this church after “seeker friendly” meetings like Willow Creek in Illinois and Rick Warren’s Saddle Back church and others around the country that have pragmatic programs that appeal to the flesh.
The present day 21st century church is in great turmoil, but it is not recognized because of the deception of humanism. The root cause is the erroneous Arminian/Pelagian doctrine that is systemic in a host of churches, but not recognized as the problem. This has resulted in practices that differ sharply from those that are delineated in the Biblical record. It starts with a works-righteousness salvation, which is the foundation for many other unscriptural practices. I contend that these unscriptural practices are the fabric of this Arminian, Pelagian movement. These other unscriptural areas like women in leadership, modesty, headship, holiness, unscriptural divorce and remarriage, celebration of pagan holidays, involvement in politics, and many more aspects of holiness, will be addressed as we go along. The cause of these perversions is Arminianism/humanism, which is the root of this Evangelical, Charismatic, Pentecostal tree.Download Book