Reckless Faith: When the Church Loses its Will to Discern. By John MacArthur [Crossway Books, 256 pp.]
Copyright 1996 © First Presbyterian Church of Rowlett

Early in 1994 a document entitled “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium” was published. The document was drafted by a group led by Richard John Neuhaus and Charles Colson. Neuhaus converted to Romanism in 1990 and has since been ordained to the Roman Catholic Church priesthood.

Given the fact that there is a fundamental difference of opinion between Romanists and Protestants over the content of the gospel, one must wonder if it is the Evangelicals who have departed from Protestantism or if it is Romanists who have departed from Rome. John MacArthur leaves no doubt that it is Evangelicals who generally have departed from the tenets of the Protestant faith.

Though there are some, such as Neuhaus and Scott Hahn, who have made an informed decision to apostatize to Romanism, for most Evangelicals this has not been the case. MacArthur points out that the drift in Evangelical thinking has come about as a result of downplaying the importance of truth (the content of faith) and focusing on the faith itself. In fact, on pages 28-29 of his book Pastor MacArthur is so bold as to say, “The face of evangelicalism has changed so dramatically in the past twenty years that what is called evangelicalism today is beginning to resemble what used to be called neo-orthodoxy. If anything, some segments of contemporary evangelicalism are even more subjective in their approach to truth than neo-orthodoxy ever was.”

The nineteenth century in American saw the rise of such evangelists as Charles Finney, Dwight Moody, and Billy Sunday. Finney was openly hostile to the reformed doctrine of total depravity and Moody seemed to be of the opinion that it makes no practical difference. What was sown in the nineteenth century is being reaped today.

As the church moves away from the reformed faith it must move toward either unbelief (i.e. liberalism and neo-orthodoxy) or Romanism (i.e. traditionalism and ritualism). Only Protestantism, with its insistence upon the foundational doctrine of sola Scriptura, will be able to stem the bleeding in evangelicalism today. Only as the church returns again to the belief that Scripture alone is the basis for doctrine, government, and worship will she be able to reassert with power the other Protestant doctrine of sola fide (justification by faith alone).

Pastor MacArthur does not agree with the views of Blue Banner on every particular. However, he does champion the key doctrine from which all else must be derived. He stands firmly for the fact that Christianity is a faith founded on the inspired Word of God, which is found today only in the 66 books of the Bible.

The Toronto Movement, or “laughing revival,” is simply the latest manifestation of how far from Protestantism modern Evangelicalism has come. The preoccupation with individualistic religion rather than covenantal Christianity simply digresses farther from the truth that is in Christ and declines farther into the morass of mysticism.

The issue of the gospel is not this or that experience - it is the truth that Jesus Christ died according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he rose again from the dead according to the Scriptures ( 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The proclamation of the gospel is not “ask Jesus to be your personal savior,” but “repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” The church must reclaim her heritage by preaching the Christ who sits at the right hand of God the Father and not some mythical and mystical Christ of her own vain imagination.