The Great Divide

Catholics and Protestants historically divided over doctrinal issues – the worship of Mary, for example. A recent trend, however, attempts to blur the distinctions between the Catholic and the Protestant religions.
The brushing aside of doctrinal differences is an outgrowth of a mindset which downplays truth and accentuates experience. Much of the current aberration in American religion is a result of ignoring the truth of what one believes (the content of faith) and focusing on the experience of faith itself (how one feels).
Idols of Emotion
This same error is tearing apart the Churches of Christ as confidence in experience (man-centered religion) is replacing confidence in revelation (God-centered religion). A Christian college, for example, recently offered a class in Catholic mysticism as part of its annual lecture program.
As the church moves away from obedience to Scripture, it moves toward the unbelief of secularism and liberalism or it moves toward experiential religion – either exuberance as seen in the Charismatic movement, or ritualism as presented in various Catholic and Orthodox traditions.
The Power of Truth
The power of the gospel, however, is not this or that experience – it is the truth that Jesus Christ died, that he was buried, and that he rose again from the dead according to the Scriptures. The proclamation of the gospel is not “cultivate a suitable feeling,” but “believe that Jesus is the Christ and express penitent faith in confession and baptism.” The church must preach genuine faith in Christ as presented in Scripture, not a counterfeit faith of human invention.
Only as we return to belief in Scripture alone as the basis for doctrine, government, and worship will we be the church which submits to Christ. Reasserting the basic principles of the Restoration Movement, with its insistence upon the foundational doctrine of Scripture alone, we can stem the depletion of truth which threatens the Lord’s church.

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Greg Tidwell

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