Churches of different denominations usually don’t cooperate on large-scale Gospel efforts. But one issue was important enough for eight churches in the small town of Fountain Hills, Arizona, USA, including Baptist, Lutheran, and Presbyterian, to stand together. The issue that brought them together could be regarded as the issue of issues for the church in general, that is, scriptural authority.
The instigator was David Felton, the pastor of a United Methodist Church named The Fountains. He rejects vital Christian doctrines like the Virgin Birth and supports LGBT 'rights'. He is teaching what he, and many other church leaders, labels ‘Progressive Christianity’.1
His unbiblical views created such a hot debate in local newspapers that 8 of the approximately 15 Protestant churches2 in town cooperated to refute Felton with paid advertisements, public banners, and even a coordinated sermon series entitled “‘Progressive’ Christianity: Fact or Fiction”.
Some have even described this as a ‘feud’ over theology among the churches in this town. But it is a very good thing when Christians can stand together for the Gospel! Sure, doctrinal disagreements over the meaning of particular Bible passages have divided the church on occasions. But this spat is over something much bigger—the authority of Scripture itself. After all, if the Bible is not the revelation of God we believe it to be, it is pointless to discuss whose biblical doctrine is correct! In fact, one wonders how a church can even be called Christian when the leader openly supports something the Bible is clearly against (for example gay marriage). The unity shown by these churches working together is a great demonstration of what should be the most Important issues in the Christian faith, and why we believe what we do.
As can be seen in everything from text books to television, the Bible is under attack at the most foundational point—origins. If you think about it, the basis for every Christian doctrine is first taught in Genesis. And because the later biblical authors clearly believed Genesis to be true, the reliability of all of Scripture is at stake.
Could you imagine believers in your town cooperating across denominational lines to affirm the historical account of the Bible and the authority of God’s Word? It seems that everywhere you turn, school, TV, books and magazines, all people hear is evolution being touted as scientific fact. This is a key factor in the mass exodus of youth from the Church.
So, when those claiming to ‘be the church’ consciously allow the evolutionary ideas of millions of years to be somehow added into the Bible (clearly undermining the Gospel in the process—see Did God create over billions of years?), shouldn’t believers unite and passionately stand up for the clearly revealed truth of God’s Word? After all, if God is not the Creator described in Genesis, how does anything else make sense in Scripture? Where did sin originate? Why do we even need to be saved? Does Jesus really have the power to save us?
Unfortunately, over the last few decades, we have increasingly witnessed believers and churches succumbing to this attack and not standing firm on the central issue of the authority of the Bible. We often hear them say there are many ‘interpretations’ on the age of the earth. This is actually illogical. If Genesis can mean many things then it obviously doesn’t mean what it clearly says. This is dangerous, because when science becomes one’s authority when interpreting these early chapters, it follows that there will also be a ‘reinterpreting’’ of the Bible’s clear definition of morality, marriage, God’s nature, even sin, and tragically, the Gospel of Jesus Christ’s death and Resurrection and how we can be saved. It’s no coincidence that the liberal churches who don’t believe in biblical creation have also capitulated on these ‘moral’ issues. It’s the line in the sand issue, because, of course, if Genesis is not real history to them, then where does the truth begin in Scripture? They are then also free to reject all the New Testament teachings about morality, including the fact that the New Testament authors believed in a literal Genesis and referred to it over 100 times.
So what can you do to stand up against this tide of ‘Progressive Christianity’? Can you and your church stand firmly in defense of God’s Word in your community? Can you be the catalyst for truth in your home town?
Since the battle for the authority of God’s Word rages most fiercely on the issue of the Bible’s account of origins, wouldn’t that be the best place to start? Hosting a CMI speaker as an expert on this issue can be a great starting point for your church to begin taking that stand in your community. For many years, thousands of churches have reported that when one of CMI’s speakers effectively demonstrates how the evidence supports the historical account of the Bible, not only does this strengthen the faith of believers in the church, but more important than that, gives them confidence to publicly take a stand for God’s Word.
You could be that person who boldly starts a movement in your community. Just go to http://creation.com/events-123 and see how you can team up and stand boldly with CMI to make a real difference!
"Churches of different denominations usually don’t cooperate on large-scale Gospel efforts." Inter-denominational cooperation is actually quite common in the U.S.
Scott Gillis responds
Thanks, Kevin. Agreed, but typically those efforts are a community service project of some kind rather than standing together on biblical doctrine.
Tomislav O., United States, 17 September 2015
While the proliferation of doubts is dangerous for a believer's faith, modernism in churches is generally not an actual problem, because as soon as modernism is adopted as the standard of faith, the church usually experiences a very rapid decline of membership. This is why modernist churches have such a hard time gaining traction today, even though their doctrine has had government, academic, and social support for the past 100 years.
H. J., South Africa, 17 September 2015
Like the sower in Jesus' parable, CMI are sowing the good seed of truth in all kinds of places - churches, schools, public meeting halls. I pray daily that much of this seed will fall on good ground.
Michael G., Norway, 17 September 2015
My suspicion is that many Christians are not conversant with their Bibles on anything more than a superficial level, and in these days of media overload our definition of "love" is more Hollywoodhumanist than biblical. With many denominations focusing on "experience of God" rather than studying his Word, and/or with a theology based on the idea that the Bible contains error because the Holy Spirit used human beings to capture God's message to us, it is no wonder that many are being led astray. Our job as believers is to be ambassadors for Christ. For this we will be hated by the world. We are not cool or hip or one of many valid choices: we are here to make people aware of their need for the Saviour. Christ did not die for the acceptance of sin, but to take the consequences of sin so that we could have forgiveness. Sin is so ugly to God that he had to forsake Jesus as he was suffering on the cross! Churches blessing/accepting sin are not showing love because they are in essence saying that God accepts this sin so everything is okay. People who accept Jesus but want to chase after the pleasures of this world instead of pursuing holiness are taking a serious gamble (cheap grace?!). We are called to love God with everything in us, and love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Some food for thought: "Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. (1 John 2:4), "The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. (1 John 3:24)". Want to know what God commands? Search the Scriptures, and pray for Wisdom in all humility. Believers, we must stand for the Truth which is found in God's Word. If the Bible is not True then what is?
john P., Australia, 17 September 2015
Thank God these churches have united against apostasy.They will not be spat out like lukewarm churches when they meet Jesus face to face in eternity. Indeed one would think calling the apostate church and its pastor Christian would seem a misnomer. Progressive Christianity is a dangerous fiction, or more precisely, scam. As the Bible prophesies they are fulfilling prophecy in that in the last days of the church age deceptions will be so great even the elect can be led astray
F. G., United States, 17 September 2015
"when science becomes one’s authority when interpreting these early chapters" The problem isn't so much that science is treated as the authority, but that humanistic philosophy in the guise of "science" is. There is no legitimately scientific reason to reject scripture, or to force anything into it that doesn't belong. Of course, even what is currently appears to be legitimate science shouldn't take precedence over scripture. But legitimate science has a strong tendency to (eventually) reflect what's in scripture, even if it sometimes has to "catch up" in order to do so.
Scott Gillis responds
Thanks F.G. We would add that "legitimate science" does not need to "catch up", but rather the facts, when interpreted in light of scripture, make better sense of the evidence than the evolutionary paradigm. CREATION.com is filled with "legitimate science". Thank you.
Kevin S., United States, 17 September 2015
No Mr. Gillis you are quite mistaken. I have participated many times in rallies, stand-ins and the like that involved Biblical doctrines agreed upon by various denominations. I respectfully request that you do not try do tell me what goes on in my own country.
Scott Gillis responds
Thank you for your comment Kevin. Certainly no offense meant nor taken. The U.S. is my country as well, and of course I am aware of rallies and stand-ins where churches gather and unite for a particular cause. However, in my experience I have not seen nor heard of a incidence where several churches (eight in this case) in one town meet and develop a common sermon series which is delivered simultaneously at multiple churches of different denominations. I guess if it were common, it wouldn't have been a news story. I was merely reporting an incident that numerous news sources found unique. The point of the article wasn't so much to report this instance, but an encouragement to believers to take a bold stand on biblical doctrine in their local church. Thanks again.
Ray M., New Zealand, 17 September 2015
Well done! Well worth emphasising this as we tend not to be "judgemental" and talk past each other when Biblical teaching and the standards it encourages for Bible based churches is concerned. Again, Well done!
Kevin S., Philippines, 18 September 2015
Of course, as one narrow’s a category by being more detailed, more is precluded from it, thus giving the impression of an anomaly. As for the press coverage, the secular press is always anxious to display Christian unity as such.
Terry W., Australia, 19 September 2015
Most encouraging to hear of the Eight churches responding in unity,as Psalm 133:1 reads ,along with Philippians2:1-2
Dan P., United States, 19 September 2015
A couple of questions arise about this pastor and his church organization:
1. If his teachings do not conform to his church's teachings on those topics why is he allowed to remain in his position ?
2. Are they really progressing, or regressing to non- Christianity ?
Kenny H., United States, 20 September 2015
Old Earth Creation is not the same as "progressive christianity." OEC is a differing interpretation of the Biblical text. OEC hold to Biblical authority, but not the authority of an interpretation, which is what both old-earth and young-earth teachings are. Here is a link to the heretical teachings of "progressive christianity" teaches. [link deleted per feedback rules]
Scott Gillis responds
The article wasn't arguing that OEC is the same as progressive Christianity; it was saying that in the same way these eight churches united to oppose progressive Christianity, Christians should unite to oppose compromising views about creation.