Nashville: W Publishing Group, a division of Thomas Nelson, 2002
This brief book by well-known pastor and author, John MacArthur, should be required reading for all leaders and teachers in the church. Its message is very basic: Christ is the one way of salvation; there is indeed objective truth in the world; and this truth is found in the Bible. All this is an exclusive claim. “The relevance of the gospel has always been its absolute exclusivity – that Christ alone atoned for sin, and therefore, faith in Christ alone can reconcile us to God.”
In recent decades postmodernism has become pervasive in our educational system and media. Therefore, we can no longer assume that all believers in our evangelical churches understand and stand up for these truths.
Postmodernists claim that no one way is the right way. We must be “tolerant” of other viewpoints. This is not “tolerant” in the biblical sense of the word, i.e. forbearing with those who differ with us, but in a new sense, i.e. we must accept the views of others as equally valid as ours. In postmodernism every person’s belief is as valid for him as the next person’s. The end result of this is there is no absolute truth.
In the first chapter MacArthur sets forth the biblical view that Christ is the only way of salvation (John 14:6, Acts 4:12, John 3:36, 1 Timothy 2:5, and 1 John 5:11-12) reminding us that this view is diametrically opposed to the central tenet of postmodernism.
The irony is that those who espouse the view that truth is relative do not extend their “tolerance” to evangelicals who preach that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through” Him. MacArthur reminds us, however, that we shouldn’t be surprised by the reaction of the world because Jesus taught His disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19.)
Each of the next chapters deal with an essential term that describes the biblical worldview:
- Objectivity – the source of truth is outside of us. We evangelicals can easily forget this. In our home Bible studies attendees are often asked what a verse means to them “as if the message of the Scripture were unique to every individual.” (Application can be subjective, but not meaning.)
- Rationality – the Bible makes good sense. It contains no errors or contradictions.
- Veracity – Christianity is concerned first and foremost with truth, not feelings
- Authority – the Bible is true and thus must be proclaimed with conviction, without compromise or apology. MacArthur is not advocating dogmatism in areas in which the Bible is not clear, and even where it is clear he recognizes the need to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15.)
- Incompatibility – truth is incompatible with error. “Whatever opposes God’s Word or departs from it in any way is a danger to the very cause of truth.”
- Integrity – “Since the Bible is the singular Word of the living God – we must not only preach it; we must live it too.”
MacArthur believes that the evangelical movement in recent decades has been in danger of drifting away from these distinctives because of our desperate desire to be fashionable and relevant to the world.
“Evangelicalism is losing its footing; people’s confidence in the Scriptures is eroding; and the church is losing its testimony. Fewer and fewer Christians are willing to stand against the trends of this generation, and the effects have been disastrous. Subjectivity, irrationality, worldliness, uncertainty, compromise, and hypocrisy have become commonplace among churches and organizations that once constituted the evangelical mainstream. The only cure, I am convinced, is a conscious wholesale rejection of postmodern views and a return to these six distinctives of biblical Christianity” (objectivity, rationality, veracity, authority, incompatibility, and integrity.)