LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–A recent television program by Presbyterian minister D. James Kennedy praised the Southern Baptist Convention for its return to traditional Christian beliefs.
The Coral Ridge (Fla.) Presbyterian Church pastor addressed the problem of liberalism within Protestantism during the Sept. 1 broadcast of the “Coral Ridge Hour,” a nationally syndicated television program. A segment highlighting the convention’s conservative resurgence included interviews with Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr., professor Ronald Nash and First Baptist Pompano Beach (Fla.) pastor David Rice.
Kennedy noted that the Bible calls Christians to be both salt and light in the world. He then asked, “What happens when the church refuses to be either? Sadly, many churches today would rather be safe and innocuous than follow Christ’s radical call.”
The program contended that a “crisis” of liberal belief exists within the Protestant church and that “the return to biblical roots in the Southern Baptist Convention is the only known time in America where a denomination has ever successively reversed the slide into theological liberalism.”
The program also asserted that “liberalism usually begins” in seminaries and colleges, and that “once these schools become useless to the Kingdom of God, they rarely return to their Christian roots.” A generation ago, the program argued, “too many of (Southern Baptist) seminary professors began to deny the historicity of the Scriptures.” However, conservative Southern Baptists “rose up to turn the tide.”
The program used Mohler and Southern Seminary as an example of how the convention has changed.
“Slowly over a period of years … he changed the nature of the content of the faculty of that school,” Nash said.
Nash, professor of philosophy and author of more than 35 books, including “Is Jesus the Only Savior?,” said that the dangers of liberalism are many.
“A majority of American clergy in the mainline churches … do not hold to the major essential doctrines of the Christian faith,” he said. “One of the consequences of this is that every year these denominations lose thousands of members …”
“Once you no longer have the Word of God as the foundation for your faith, what you replace the Word of God with is yourself and your own opinions and your own attitudes. And then you’re free to do and believe anything you want and call it Christianity, even though you have somehow along the away become an enemy of the historic Christian faith.”
The program quoted a poll from researcher George Barna saying that 28 percent of self-professed born-again Christians believe that Jesus sinned while on earth. It also referred to the culture’s slide into relativism (the belief that truth varies from person to person) and the current-day debate over open theism (the belief that God does not know the future free acts of people).
“Americans are very selective about where they believe truth to be relative,” Mohler said. “They don’t believe that truth is relative when it comes to their bank accounts. They don’t want truth to be relative when it comes to reading their X-rays. Where they want truth to be relative is when it comes to morality.”
Mohler said that open theism doesn’t stand up to biblical scrutiny.
“The one true and living God has defined himself in his revealed Word, and when we turn to Scripture we see that God is described as sovereign. He says, ‘When I set my hand to do something, no one can stop me,'” Mohler said, paraphrasing Daniel 4:35. “Then he says that he knows everything from the beginning to the end. He knows our decisions before we make them. So his omniscience is total. There is no such thing as limited omniscience or limited sovereignty.”
Kennedy said that disbelief within a church can be eternally harmful.
“Those churches that have exchanged God’s truth for political correctness are not just ineffective. They are dangerous,” he said. “They are leading our society farther and farther into darkness. When that happens, the freedom we enjoy which rests upon the tenants of the Christian faith is also in jeopardy.”
Rice, pastor of First Baptist Church in Pompano Beach, Fla., agreed.
“The result of liberalism and its corrosive effects on the church is that people don’t hear the gospel. Or if they hear a gospel, it’s corrupt,” he said. “People die in their sin and they go to hell forever because they don’t have the opportunity to trust in Jesus, because the gospel isn’t preached. This is not a game. The stakes in this conflict are eternal.”
Rice told the story of a visit by Kennedy to Southern Seminary in 2000 when the Coral Ridge pastor spoke in chapel.
“As he listened to the worship,” Rice said, “and prepared for his time to preach, he had whispered to Dr. Mohler with tears in his eyes, ‘Would to God that someone would have rescued Princeton or any of the other great seminaries that were founded by evangelicals.'”
This program can be viewed on the Internet by clicking on “September 1” at http://www.coralridge.org/BroadcastArchives.