Doctrinal Discernment

Today’s culture elevates tolerance to the point of being the standard by which to measure one’s integrity within society.  What has been defined as acceptable and tolerable is moral and ethical.  Laws must be amended, added, or removed in accordance with tolerance.  This perspective has worked its way into the church over the last century or more.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy raged like a wildfire throughout the United States.  Denominations split in two.  Seminaries were birthed to carry on the gospel training of ministers.  For example, both Westminster Theological Seminary and Dallas Theological Seminary grew out of their founders’ commitment to the gospel contained in the word.  The public school system planted the seeds for marginalizing and removing the voice of Evangelicalism or those espousing Orthodox Christian beliefs from its camp.

J. Gresham Machen and J. Oliver Buswell rose to prominence during the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy.  They fought alongside each other to preserve the integrity of the scriptures and the church’s gospel witness.  Machen and Buswell founded seminaries and denominations with those two goals in mind.  For Machen and Buswell, the gospel meant everything. It served as the foundation of Orthodox Christianity.  Machen wrote an excellent book on this subject called Christianity and Liberalism from 1923.

Fast forward to our current day and this video clip…Pastor-scholar Mark Dever gives a clear and concise rundown of the gospel as the way to filter out bad theology.  Dever’s words are sorely needed for today’s church, which seems to have leaders and laity unwilling to exercise doctrinal discernment in their own lives and in the life of their church.  Tolerance is their excuse.  The New Testament is replete with warnings about false teachers and their false teaching.  Methinks the call is to be like the Bereans in the book of Acts.

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Size Matters Not

Three pastors discuss the implications of church growth as it relates to large congregations and small congregations. Mark Dever is the elder amongst the three as Kevin DeYoung (Reformed and Presbyterian) and Matt Chandler (Baptist) represent the younger generation of leaders within their respective denominations. There are some intriguing insights to be had in this sixteen minute clip. The most precious nugget is the call for pastors and their elders to be committed to preaching the gospel and discipleship. Much more could be said, but that is enough for the time being.