Bible Debates Dundee Evangelism

Liberal Evangelicalism, Right Wing Fundamentalism, Rob Bell, Augustine and Sinclair Ferguson – Another Typical Lord’s Day Discussion!

Yesterday was a fascinating day which came at the end of a week which raised lots of questions. In particular it was interesting to see two sides of the Christian church which are not all that pleasant. On the one there was a series of messages from some people in the US who think that yours truly is up there with Rick Warren and the Pope (we are not worthy!) and on the other there was the interesting case of one of the new ‘liberal/evangelicals’ having a real go. The latter was the most fascinating. Basically they posted about how wonderful and misunderstood Rob Bell is and that anyone who thought otherwise was judgemental, ignorant and out of touch with the Spirit. This resulted in a lengthy and I hope productive discussion in which some important issues were raised and answered. And then after a lot of discussion and posts the original poster removed them all in a childish fit of pique. It was, like many of the posts, a classic example of the non-judgemental, judging and not being able to handle or deal with such unimportant concepts as truth and love! I think I prefer discussing with atheists who say they hate me, rather than liberal Christians who speak about how loving they are and then condemn!

I am really disturbed by the number of evangelicals who buy into classic 19th Century liberal Protestantism, as though it were some new revelation of the Spirit (aka Rob Bell, Steve Chalke, Brian McClaren) and especially an argument that was made that the Bible is the work of men, contains many errors etc ‘as scholars have shown’. If you challenge them as to who these ‘scholars’ are they struggle to answer (because usually people who state this have not read any of the scholars, but more likely get their info of Wiki or some internet soundbite), and then they go all emotional and talk about how judgemental you are and unloving (not realising of course the irony of their own judgementalism, especially of the Word of God!) – One ‘proof’ of this was the old one of the difference between the genealogies in Matthew and Luke. And this is where it got interesting.

As it happens yesterday afternoon I was sitting in front of the fire reading Augustines harmony of the Gospels. The introduction states this apposite word: “Its great object is to vindicate the Gospel against the critical assaults of the heathen. Paganism, having tried persecution as its first weapon, and seen it fail, attempted next to discredit the new faith by slandering its doctrine, impeaching its history, and attacking with special persistency the veracity of the Gospel writers. In this it was aided by some of Augustin’s heretical antagonists, who endeavoured at times to establish a conspicious inconsistency between the Jewish Scriptures and the Christian, and at times to prove the several sections of the New Testament to be at variance with each other”. Unbelievers and heretics working together? Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose!

Meanwhile, unbeknown to him, Sinclair Ferguson, preached a classic sermon last night in St Petes…, which was on the genealogy of Matthew. It was thrilling. By proclaiming the Word of God he answered the objections, lifted up Christ and dealt with our hearts – something that self-obsessed liberal Christianity can never do. There were other issues that people in the congregation were dealing with and he, unknowingly, dealt with them. Because he preached the Bible as it is. He did not try to second guess, he did not try to adapt to suit what he saw, but he just taught what God revealed through his Word. And guess what? It worked.

When liberal/evangelicals detract from the Word of God in order to be kind, compassionate and relevant, they do not realise that they are being cruel, destructive and irrelevant. That is why I will always challenge them – not because I enjoy controversy or being called ‘judgemental and unloving’ but because they are instilling poison into the bread of life, and watering down the water of life that gives hope, freedom and real love. Last week for example I received a letter concerning a young man who was a professing Christian but after reading Rob Bell that led him down a path to the place where he now professes to be an atheist. So I apologise if I come across as rude and you feel you have to block and unfriend me…but Jesus is too precious for you to muck around with and I won’t apologise for challenging you when you seek to re-create him in your own image.

A Strange Twist
This has taken a rather bizarre turn -I was contacted by the person whose thread I refer to above – “I don’t like the things you are posting…I am considering reporting you to the police as a bully..” I was so flabbergasted at this that I wrote and told him I would not post, indeed could not post on the discussion because he had removed it….and his response? “you were warned”. So I am about to be reported to the police by a ‘liberal evangelical loving Christian’ because I questioned his endorsement of Rob Bell and defended the Bible! You could not make this stuff up! I wait with baited breath for the visit from the boys in blue….I guess Christian ‘liberals’ are the same as non-Christian ones – not so liberal when it comes to people disagreeing with them!


  1. What a lovely mix. I found the liberal/Protestant Christianity (e.g. Rob Bell) discussion helpful. Down here on the South coast of England, I see so many Christian’s totally hoodwinked by Bell’s presentations. I had a lively debate with a few fellow Christian on an evangelical site. Do feel free to contribute sir.

    My facebook group is ‘closed’ simply to keep out rampant atheists; just send a join request if you wish to take part.

    However it is frightening to see the resurgence of this liberal Christianity – within evangelicalism !
    Keep up the good work.


  2. It’s interesting to read that you call what you do with “liberal Christians” a “challenge” David. Did not James Fraser CBE as one of the “representatives” of the Free Church say “We believe in a non-persecuting liberal society” recently? Is the Free Church supportive of a liberal society and therefore buying “into classic 19th Century liberal Protestantism”.

    Is it any wonder that within Christianity and worship of the triune God there is a threefold set of “tribes” if you like, in evangelicals, liberals and charismatics? Evangelicals with love of “the Word of God” and adherence to “truth” with temptation towards legalism. Charismatics with and adherence to “gifts of the Spirit” a love for the “prophetic” and temptation towards spiritism. Liberals with a special affinity for the Exodus narrative as a metaphor for “equality and justice”, a love for being “inclusive, affirming and progressive” and temptation to be intolerant whilst giving the appearance of “tolerance”?

    Do problems not occur where militants and extremists from any “tribe” give the appearance of Christ-likeness, a form of godliness but lack in any godly love, and power? Appearing to be”The Word of God”, “prophetic” or “inclusive and affirming” but driven by individualism, tribalism, hyper-spirituality, and over-emphasis on sin etc? They give the appearance of being truthful, graceful and loving but in reality are hateful to others outside their “tribe” and don’t care who gets caught and wounded in the crossfire.

    What would and will it look like for all tribes to be gathered and bow at the knee to Jesus?

  3. Don’t worry David

    I am sure folks will visit you in the clink and bring you food parcels.

    On a serious note the attack on free speech and open debate in the UK is becoming a major issue. This does not just apply to Christian matters but to any openly expressed view which doesnot conform to the current “liberal” secular mores. People believe they have a right not to be offended by any views contrary to their own and are now prepared to go to the courts to support this.

    The Marxist atheistic online journal (really worth reading) Spiked is running a campaign to promote free speech on our university campuses where reguarly the authorities are banning speakers who hold unfashionable view such as Pro-Lifers. This is tragic because universities should be plces where controversial views are expressed and openly debated, not just banned.

    Before long it will be the Christians who are banned!

    Unfortunately the pap preached in most pulpits today will not equip Christians to stand against this rising tide.

    Amos 8, 11-12

  4. Can the way that you say something invalidate what you say?
    Perhaps it can as we are in the realms of belief and honestly and truly held belief at that.
    Talking about love in a way that is to all intents and purposes unloving, betrays a lack of love at heart.

  5. Thank you for your article it is very helpful as I am doing my own research and reading about J. Gresham Machen and Protestand Liberal Theology. I want to compare what happened in the 1920’s and 1930’s and what is happening in Evangelicalism and Liberal Theology.

    Your article confirms whatI discern is happening.

    Flora M. Forbes
    Canada ( a Scot from the Free Church in Dornoch)

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