The Demise Of Biblical Authority In Modern Evangelism -- By: Stephan Shardy

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 13:39 (Aug 2009)
Article: The Demise Of Biblical Authority In Modern Evangelism
Author: Stephan Shardy

The Demise Of Biblical Authority In Modern Evangelism

Stephan Shardy, D.S.T., Ph.D. (cand.)

Professor of Bible and Education, Tyndale Theological Seminary

The purpose of this article is to answer whether modern methods of evangelism have de-emphasized the authority of the Bible. It will seek to answer whether the purpose of the worship service has changed gradually from a theocentric to an anthropocentric emphasis. Undoubtedly, a person’s perspective in regards to the authority of Christ and Scripture has profound implications on his comprehension of critical doctrines. Consequently, and as a result of decades of new ideas, philosophies, and peculiar ideologies, the church is witnessing the drastic disfiguring of the “face” of evangelical Christianity. The programs, strategies, and techniques that one would find in the financial markets, business world, public educational system, and in civil government have usurped the authority of Scripture in the critical areas of missions, evangelism, and worship. MacArthur commented,

Many church leaders have radically changed the way they look at the gospel. Rather than seeing it as a message from God that Christians are called to proclaim as Christ’s ambassadors (without tampering with it or changing it in any way), they now treat it like a commodity to be sold at market. Rather than plainly preaching God’s Word in a way that unleashes the power and truth of it, they try desperately to package the message to make it subtler and have usurped sound doctrine and good theology.1

He further noted, “Evangelicals these days care less about theology than they do about methodology. . . . What’s the heart of the problem? It boils down to this: Much of the evangelical movement has forgotten who is Lord over the church. They have abandoned or downright rejected their true Head and given His rightful place to evangelical pollsters and church-growth gurus.”2

Pragmatism And Modern Evangelicalism

Before one concurs quickly with his assessment and dismisses every strategy or plan that impacts the modern church, it is prudent to respond carefully to MacArthur’s strong criticism. Since he was addressing pragmatism, one must begin with a definition. According to The Oxford English Dictionary,3 pragmatism is “the method of testing the value of any assertion that claims to be true, by its consequences, i.e. by its practical bearing upon human interests and purposes.” Hence, if an action produces favorable results (accordin...

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