What’s One of the Greatest Doctrinal Threats Facing the Church?
I really do believe we are facing the same doctrinal crises that the Reformers faced, only in some respects it’s worse because Rome never questioned the authority of Scripture or the inerrancy of Scripture. Both are widely disputed in Protestantism generally, and increasingly in evangelicalism particularly. If we lose the authority of Scripture and the sufficiency of Scripture, then what’s the point? There would be no point in trying to understand what we believe and why we believe it—no point in even talking about a Gospel because there would be no authority for this Gospel. Then justification is as much up for grabs today as it has ever been. According to all the studies I’ve seen, most American evangelicals believe that they save themselves with God’s help. That’s the prevailing view in all the studies that have been conducted. Do your best. That’s why Jesus is no longer seen as the only way, truth, and life. And that wasn’t up for grabs in the Reformation—that Jesus is the only way of salvation—that wasn’t up for grabs. The issue in the Reformation was how salvation is applied to us, but everyone believed Jesus was the only way of salvation. Today, that’s no longer taken for granted. We have to fight for it.
Religious pluralism has not only made us more aware of other beliefs, which is good, so that we’re explicit about what we believe and why, it has made us more vulnerable to the belief that religion is really about morality. It’s about being nice. It’s about being good. It’s about loving each other. It’s not really about the intervention of God in human history, assuming our flesh, dying on the cross, and being raised the third day for our justification, His return in judgment, and a real Heaven and a real Hell. To the extent that we’ve already turned religion into morality—something we do rather than something that God has done for us—to that extent, religious pluralism will mean, not only that there are lots of people of different religions we must respect and to whom we have to witness, but rather that there are all of these wonderful people who have their sources of morality just as we do, and we need to realize that there are different paths to God. Increasingly that’s where we’re going with a lot of pastors, telling believers that Jesus is the best way of pursuing community and self-sacrifice, but not the One who was sacrificed for our sins and raised for our justification.
Read more of this interview conducted in 2009 with Dr. Michael Horton.