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Evangelicals must watch blind side for errors, Carson says

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–The greatest danger facing evangelicals are errors that modern leaders often fail to see, New Testament scholar D.A. Carson said.

While liberalism within the evangelical church has largely been defeated, other dangers lurk, said Carson, professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School who has authored scores of books, including “The Gagging of God,” “Exegetical Fallacies” and “The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God.”

“I suspect, right now, that this seminary — in fact, the SBC as a whole — is not particularly in danger … from classic liberalism,” Carson said in a lecture at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Sept. 4. “You fought that one. So what is it that you don’t see?

“It is so easy to go on and on and on and on about yesterday’s errors. But in my view, the dangers facing contemporary evangelicalism at large have very little to do with classic liberalism.”

Whereas evangelicalism once wrestled with liberal theology and practice as its chief enemy, today the church faces others that are more subtle and more insidious, Carson said.

Several potential enemies that might work against the gospel today were listed by Carson, including postmodernism, “knee-jerk” conservatism, mean-spirited triumphalism, movements questioning the atonement of Christ and openness of God theology.

“[These] really don’t come out of classical liberalism,” he said. “They come out of other corners.”

Evangelical leaders must be aware that they see through a glass dimly when it comes to being able to discern error in their midst, Carson said. To avoid these errors, leaders of the contemporary church must be vigilant and live in humble submission to the authority of Scripture, he said.

This also demands careful and rigorous study of the Word of God and the learning of church history as well, Carson said.

“That means we are to walk humbly,” he said. “Most of us think we see much more than we do. We are to look around for mature Christian leaders who are not merely building their empires [but] who are informed, humble [and] godly.

“[We must] read and re-read and think and re-think and learn some church history and study Scripture again and again and again. The devil is not only a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, he goes around as an angel of light, deceiving if it is possible, the very elect.”

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  • Jeff Robinson

    Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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