The Atonement debate

I have just been reading the article by Adrian Warnock on "Word Alive and Spring Harvest to Separate After 15 Years Because of the Atonement". I think that even 10 years ago no-one would have dreamed that this could happen. The situation reminds me of a Ph.D. thesis written by Paul Wilson and summarized in this paper: Central Canadian Baptists and the role of cultural factors in the fundamentalist-modernist Schism of 1927: "Culture wars" are not a new phenomenon.

He argues that the fundamentalist/modernist controversy that appeared to come so suddenly and surprisingly on the scene 100 years ago was actually the result of a cultural liberalism that had been growing for many years. (This was the battle in which C.H. Spurgeon fought so valiantly.)

Wilson's argument, in a nutshell, is that a cultural change had been happening in the church over several decades. Attitudes had changed to match those of society so there was an underlying, but unexpressed tension with orthodox theology. When the new "liberal" ideas came in, it was like putting a match to dry tinder. Suddenly there was a theological justification for "Christians" to think like the rest of society and it caught on like wildfire.

I think the parallel today is that society is very concerned to be "nice" and "politically correct", and these attitudes have permeated the church. Unfortunately evil is not "nice" and the lengths God had to go to in order to clean it up are equally messy.

A final note: it is unfortunate that some of what has become called "fundamentalism" was born out of an over-reaction by orthodox Christianity to the new ideas, and a focus on an external legalism. We must be careful that we listen to new ideas and not make them say something they are not.

This is very interesting,

This is very interesting, and a bit sad. I will have to read the article by Adrian.

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