Non-evangelicals look at the evangelical church and are quite incredulous. Evangelicalism appears to be a ragtag patchwork of thousands and thousands of denominations and individual non-denominational churches with no central authority and many secondary doctrinal differences. They say, “What a hodgepodge! Could Jesus be the author of such confusion?” But despite many secondary differences and preferences, evangelical Christians are UNITED in their belief in the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. We are one in Christ because we have individually accepted Him as our Savior with no other plea than His perfect, imputed righteousness. Are there some people who attend evangelical churches who haven’t genuinely accepted Christ? Obviously, but that’s another post.
We live in the post-modern era where truth is relative and pluralism and inclusiveness are gods to be worshipped. It’s no surprise that this thinking has crept into the evangelical church. If some individual or group professes to be a “Christian,” that seems to be good enough for many evangelicals these days. An individual or group may insist salvation is merited by obeying the Ten Commandments and religious rules but many evangelicals will still readily embrace them as brothers and sisters in Christ because they mention Jesus a lot and seem so sincere. The thinking among many in evangelicalism has become, “Let’s leave doctrine to the theologians. We all love God and that’s good enough.” The Gospel of grace through faith has become watered down and devalued in the quest for “unity,” i.e., “You believe we must obey the Ten Commandments to merit salvation? Oh, no problem. Let’s not get bogged down on doctrine my brother in Christ!” The recent controversy surrounding the dismissal of a Wheaton College professor who mentioned the pope as her ally in her claim that Islam is a legitimate pathway to God shows how far evangelicalism has strayed.
I’ve noticed there are relatively very few in the church these days who are willing to take a stand for the genuine Gospel. To point out to Catholics that their gospel of sacramental grace and merit is NOT the Good News of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone is seen as rude and off putting. There are very few nationally known evangelical leaders who confront Catholicism for what it is. In stark contrast, mainline Catholic leaders and apologists have no problem claiming their church is the “one true church” and that it alone has the fullness of the gospel. The Catholic church has television and radio shows which often focus on those who left Protestantism for Rome. Many, many books are offered each year by Catholic publishers, which describe the conversion of “evangelicals” to Catholicism (see photo). I monitor Catholic media quite a bit and I often hear disparaging remarks about the “fundamentalist, bible-bangers,” and Catholicism’s full-course spiritual meal compared to Evangelicalism’s “junk food” diet. In contrast, testimonies of ex-Catholics who accepted Christ and left Catholicism for evangelical churches are found only on the evangelical fringes these days.
Yet, despite the well-organized Catholic media campaigns and the shameful silence, indifference, and even opposition of evangelicals, surveys show many, many more Catholics are accepting Christ and leaving Catholicism for evangelicalism than the other way around. According to Pew Research on conversion rates, 10 percent of people raised Catholic “wind up” as evangelicals while just 2 percent of people raised in evangelicalism “wind up” Catholic. See here. I don’t boast in that fact but, rather, I’m so grateful the Holy Spirit freed myself and others from the chains of religious legalism and man-made traditions and led us to Jesus Christ. Instead of being so deferential regarding error, may evangelicals get a back bone and proclaim the uncompromised Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone.
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13