Archive for the ‘Evangelicalism’ Category.

Azril’s Call for Ban of Evangelicalism is Logically Flawed: Let the Facts on Conversion Speak for Themselves.

Azril Mohd Amin, CEO of Centhra explained to TheMalaysianInsight that his call for a ban on evangelicalism was prompted by the high number of Muslims leaving the faith for Christianity. He added that “there were some 400 conversion cases before the shariah courts and if the trend continued, it could have an impact on the country’s security.” [Azril: Why I said Christian Evangelicalism Should be Banned]

Azril’s charge against Evangelicalism is logically flawed and legally unjust. First, even if there are 400 cases of conversion before the shariah court, he has provided no evidence that they are converted by Evangelicals. Rather than blaming Evangelicals, an educated person like Azril should recognize that these people could be influenced by a variety of powerful media sources or by people they meet when they travel overseas, rather than by a small Christian movement like Evangelicalism in Malaysia. Second, Azril’s argument is logically flawed. Let me explain his flawed logic. Continue reading ‘Azril’s Call for Ban of Evangelicalism is Logically Flawed: Let the Facts on Conversion Speak for Themselves.’ »

Evangelical Essentials: Correcting Ill-Informed Muslim Activists and Fitnah Against Christians

Many social critics have ridiculed Azril Mohd Amin, CEO of CENTHRA for his ignorance when he called for Evangelicalism to be outlawed in Malaysia [Outlaw Evangelicalism in Malaysia, says Islamic Coalition]. Some even questioned whether Azril is intellectually competent to address the issue when he confuses and conflates such elementary terms like “Evangelism” and “Evangelicalism”.

“Evangelism” refers simply to the sharing of good news that “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:19) In contrast, “Evangelicalism” refers to the trans-denominational global movement which emphasizes the divine inspiration of the Bible with its central message of Christ work of atonement on the cross, and the necessity of experience of conversion.

In any case, the ignorance displayed by Azril is easily remedied by giving a concise history of Evangelicalism which includes many distinguished thinkers and social reformers. Continue reading ‘Evangelical Essentials: Correcting Ill-Informed Muslim Activists and Fitnah Against Christians’ »

No Succession of Apostolic Office in the Bible – The Claim of New Apostles is Unbiblical

A careful study of the Bible would confirm that while there may be succession of apostolic doctrine and apostolic ministry, nevertheless, there is no succession of apostolic office for the Church. Lest some people accuse me of prejudice against the so-called New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), I quote from the excellent position paper given by The General Council of the Assemblies of God (USA), “Apostles and Prophets”:

It is also clear that while the apostles (with the elders) were established leaders in the Early Church, there was no provision for their replacement or continuation…It is instructive, however, that nowhere in the New Testament after the replacement of Judas is any attention given to a so-called apostolic succession…It seems strange that apostles of Jesus Christ, concerned about faithful preservation of their message (cf. 2 Timothy 2:2), would provide for the appointment of overseers/elders while ignoring their own succession if such were indeed to be maintained.

In fact, there are certain exegetical hints the apostles of Jesus Christ are not to have successors. In 1 Corinthians 15:8, Paul listed all the Resurrection and post-Resurrection appearances of Christ and noted “last of all he appeared to me.” While some disagree, the statement is most commonly understood to mean Paul looked upon himself as the last apostle to whom Christ appeared.11 If this is the correct understanding, only the Twelve whom Jesus personally called and those He commissioned in His post-Resurrection appearances made up His original apostles…It is difficult to escape the conclusion of Dietrich Müller: “One thing is certain. The N[ew] T[estament] never betrays any understanding of the apostolate as an institutionalized church office, capable of being passed on…

Since the New Testament does not provide guidance for the appointment of future apostles, such contemporary offices are not essential to the health and growth of the church, nor its apostolic nature

Continue reading ‘No Succession of Apostolic Office in the Bible – The Claim of New Apostles is Unbiblical’ »

Distinguishing “Revival” from “Revivalism”; Discerning True from False Prophets

Of late, the Malaysian Church seems to have gained the favor of global trotting ‘prophets’ and ‘apostles’ who fly in preaching about revivals and supernatural encounter, and promising material prosperity to the faithful. What are we to make of these ‘prophets’ and ‘apostles’?

Tim Keller’s article on “Kingdom-Centred Prayer” offers a good starting point on how to evaluate these visiting ‘prophets’ and ‘apostles’. According to Keller, a spiritual revival, or renewal, “is a work of God in which the church is beautifed and empowered because the normal operations of the Holy Spirit are intensifed. The normal operations of the Spirit include conviction of sin (John 16:8), enjoyment and assurance of grace and of the Father’s love (Rom. 8:15–16), access to the presence of God (John 14:21–23; 2 Cor. 3:17–18), and creation of deep community and loving relationships (Eph. 4:3–13).”

Keller suggests three marks of  genuine revival: Continue reading ‘Distinguishing “Revival” from “Revivalism”; Discerning True from False Prophets’ »

Has Evangelicalism Lost its Soul?

Recently, Scot McKnight writing in Jesus Creed, a prominent blog for ‘progressive’ evangelicals posted a lament, “The Scandal/Loss of the Evangelical Soul.” He begins with a standard definition of evangelicalism taken from David Debbington with the following pillars: (1) the authority of the Bible, (2) the centrality of the cross, (3) the necessity of personal conversion, and (4) Christian action in evangelism and social work.

McKnight identifies four disturbing signs pointing to the crumbling of evangelicalism: (1) The Bible Diminished, (2) Mission Work Has Become Social Work, (3) Where are the Pastors? And (4) Atonement Confusion.

The consequences are distressing: Continue reading ‘Has Evangelicalism Lost its Soul?’ »

Who is an Evangelical? Part 2: Supplementary Notes

Related Post: Who is an Evangelical? Part 1

Some of you looking for a sweeping historical account of evangelicalism may want to read the five-volume “History of Evangelicalism” co-edited by David Bebbington and Mark Noll and published by Inter-Varsity Press.

In volume 1, The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield and the Wesleys, Mark Noll offers a panoramic view of the origins of evangelicalism. He begins by agreeing with the significance of the Reformation.

Martin Luther, the first great Protestant leader, proclaimed an ‘evangelical’ account of salvation in Christ over against what he considered the corrupt teachings of the Roman Catholic Church…In the heat of conflict, the positive and negative connotations of ‘evangelical’ multiplied rapidly:
•    it stood for justification by faith instead of trust in human works as the path to salvation;
•    it defended the sole sufficiency of Christ for salvation instead of the human (and often corrupted) mediation of the church;
•    it looked to the once-for-all triumph of Christ’s death on the cross instead of the repetition of Christ’s sacrifice in the Catholic mass;
•    it found final authority in the Bible as read by believers in general instead of what the Catholic Church said the Bible had to mean; and
•    it embraced the priesthood of all Christian believers instead of inappropriate reliance upon a class of priests ordained by the Church. [p.14.] Continue reading ‘Who is an Evangelical? Part 2: Supplementary Notes’ »

Who is an Evangelical? Part 1

In 1971, Fidel Castro was reported to be confused and famously exclaimed that “theologians are becoming communists and communists are becoming theologians” [Jose Bonino, Christians and Marxists (Eerdmans, 1976), p. 15.] Today, one would be even more confused when one is repeatedly told by the media that many evangelicals are strong supporters of Donald Trump in the 2016 American presidential elections, as Trump’s lifestyle is evidently contrary to Biblical values.

It seems that the word ‘evangelical’ has become a convenient, but misleading sociological category. Surely, this is a sign of evangelicalism lapsing into some form of ‘culture-Christianity’. However, this cultural shift is merely a symptom that lags behind an earlier theological shift. Indeed, there were already various questionable hyphenated evangelicals before the emergence of ‘Trumpian-evangelicals’. Sadly, given the present adulteration of the term ‘evangelicalism’ one may be tempted to abandon the term ‘evangelical’ and identify oneself simply as a ‘gospel-Christian’.

Perhaps there is no need to jettison the term ‘evangelicalism’ given its historic role in the growth of Christianity.  It is fashionable for American historians to link Evangelicalism to the Great Awakening revivals in the USA in the 18th century. Others want to push the origins of Evangelicalism to the beginnings of Christianity. After all, the word ‘evangelicalism’ is derived from ‘evangel’ which simple means ‘the gospel’ or good news (euangelion). Continue reading ‘Who is an Evangelical? Part 1’ »

Evangelicalism Today: Crisis and Creeds

Part 2: Confessing Creeds and Renewing Evangelicalism

For Part 1: The Crisis of Creedless Evangelicalism LINK

The historic creeds are indispensable for the following reasons:

1. Authentic spiritual authority. The creeds serve as an antidote for Christians who have imbibed the spirit of individualism and skepticism leading to their rejection of authoritative proclamation of the gospel. However, these Christians end up following the latest fashion in spirituality when they are bereft of firm foundations of faith. No single individual has the credibility or competence to challenge prevailing social opinions. It is wise for the church to secure the counsel of many experts as any individual leader is limited in theological expertise and tends to focus on his idiosyncratic interests. Hence, creeds as products of collective wisdom have greater authority than any individual opinion and serve as judicious and authoritative statements for public declaration of the faith of the church. The purpose of a creed is not to debate the minutiae of theological exegesis but to synthesize a grand overview of Christian truths which the church commends to wider society as an alternative and better vision of life than what wider society can offer. Continue reading ‘Evangelicalism Today: Crisis and Creeds’ »

Evangelicalism Today: Crisis and Creeds

Part 1: The Crisis of Creedless Evangelicalism

For Part 2: Confessing Creeds and Evangelicalism LINK

“Evangelicalism” has become a fuzzy and amorphous word. Evangelicalism is associated with revival meetings where believers give more credence to the pronouncements of blessings by visiting ‘prophets’ and ‘apostles’ than to the plain but transforming teaching of the Bible. Preaching is as much about the good life of consumerism as it is about eternal life. Elsewhere, evangelicalism is seen to be a new manifestation of old-time fundamentalism which rejected advancement in science and associated faith with ignorance of modern knowledge. It is not surprising that many young evangelicals leave the movement when they go for higher studies. Some pastors who go for further theological training even lose confidence in the infallible authority and entire trustworthiness of the Bible after they imbibed the spirit of rationalism that is prevalent in the academy.

The foregoing episodes suggest that evangelicalism is facing a crisis. Continue reading ‘Evangelicalism Today: Crisis and Creeds’ »