April 23, 2014

Five Point Deliverance, Part 2

Stephen Nichols
Five Point Deliverance, Part 2


On this episode, we’re finishing up a conversation we started last week regarding the Five Point Deliverance. Now last week, as I mentioned, this document was written up in the 1910’s and it was used to try to stem the tide of liberalism in the churches. We looked at the first point last week—the point of inerrancy. And we're going to look at the next four.

So the second point is the virgin birth of Christ. Now this was presented because the liberals were seeing this as a way to question the deity of Christ. They challenged the idea that Jesus was born of a virgin. They said, “Look, as you look across religions, Buddhism speaks of the Buddha having a unique birth. And in Islam Mohammad is spoken of having a unique birth. And so it is with the followers of Christianity. They spoke of Jesus’ birth as unique and special but we should not take this literally and we can't get hung up on it. What the denial of the virgin birth served to do is not only undermine Scripture, but it was also a gateway into denying the deity of Christ. He was seen simply as another human being. Just as a man. Not as historic, orthodox Christianity has it—the God-man who is fully God and fully human in one person. So we have the second point, the virgin birth.

The third point moves from the person of Christ to the work of Christ, and addresses His death. The third point is the substitutionary atonement. Now what the liberals were promoting in place of this is what we call the “example theory.” Now we understand the substitutionary atonement: God is a holy God, we are a sinful people. There’s nothing we can do about it. We are deserving of His wrath and because of our sin we are under God’s wrath. We need a substitute; we need the God-man. In Christ’s humanity He identifies with us the offending party, and in His deity He makes the acceptable sacrifice to satisfy divine justice and divine wrath. And so we must have Christ as our substitute, it is our only hope.

The liberals thought a little differently. They didn’t think we were necessarily sinful people; we were basically good people. And we are simply good people who need to be better and that’s what church does for us. It helps good people become better. And so Jesus’ death is nothing more than an example. It goes something like this: When Jesus died, He did the selfless thing, and in doing the selfless thing He put a smile on God’s face. Well, you’re going to have opportunities this week to be selfless, or are you going to be selfish? Follow the example of Jesus and put a smile on God’s face by being selfless. That’s the example theory. Bound up within the example theory is not just a view of Christ’s death, it’s a view of humanity and sin, and it’s also a view of God. This is a very crucial piece—substitutionary atonement.

The fourth point is the literal second coming. Now, this was denied because the understanding in its place was that there’s not a literal second coming. That Jesus already did come. He came the first time and as He says in the gospels, “the Kingdom of God is in your midst.” This was coupled with, and this was happening right at the same time as liberalism is happening in the American church, the rise of the social-gospel movement. And what the kingdom of God is, according to liberalism, is social betterment. If we eradicate famine, and we eradicate poverty, and we bring social justice, that’s the kingdom and that’s what we should strive for. There is no future, literal, second coming of Christ. And to counter that, the Five Point Deliverance declares a second coming of Christ, which orthodox Christianity has declared and in fact, there it is in the words of the Apostle’s Creed.

Well, the fifth one is that Christ performed miracles; that miracles happened and that they are true. This was just simply unacceptable to the modern mind. And so the liberal, taking their queue from modernism and the sensibilities of the age, rejected miracles as true recordings.

This Five Point Deliverance was a crucial document, and we’ll see next week how this document also influenced some things that happened in the 1920’s.