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Thursday, February 04, 2010

A COMPILATION OF COMPROMISES BY "EVANGELICALS": A REVIEW OF JOHN MACARTHUR'S "ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL"

A Compilation Of Compromises By "Evangelicals"


A Review of

John MacArthur Ashamed Of The Gospel (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010) [3rd ed.]
$22.99 304 pp ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-0929-2 ISBN-10: 1-4335-0929-6

Reviewer: Forrest W. Schultz


If you are looking for a discussion and documentation of the various kinds of compromises by evangelicals, especially those going on now, this is a good source. This book also provides a list (and discussions) of the various Scriptures which exhort the man of God to remain faithful and to continue to proclaim the Gospel and not to follow those who have strayed from the faith.

MacArthur also shows how the main villain leading today's evangelicals astray is the desire to make the Gospel more palatable to modern man in order to gain more converts. He provides this helpful quote from J. I. Packer "If we forget that it is God's prerogative to give resutls when the gospel is preached, we shall start to think that it is our responsibility to secure them. And if we forget that only God can give faith, we shall start to think that the making of converts depends, in the last analysis, not on God, but on us, and that the decisive factor is the way we evangelize. And this line of thought, consistently followed through, will lead us far astray." (p. 167) This is the heart of the matter and until this fallacious Arminian notion is repudiated, the evangelistic pragmatism which now abounds will probably continue. It is interesting to observe how discerning Packer was in this warning-- it was uttered all the way back in 1961 in his classic work Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God long before the compromises were as bad as they are now.

I put the term "evangelicals" in quotes in the title of my review because as the apostasy continues to deepen more and more of those bearing this once noble term are less and less entitled to it. Even refering to them as Arminian is way too mild now. Here is what Os Guinness said of them back in 1992: "Evangelicals are now outdoing liberals as the supreme religious modernizers -- and compromisers -- of today." (p. 199) If you want to know why Guinness and I are saying this, read this book by MacArthur and then weep.

One word of caution, though. This study, helpful as it is, should not be regarded as the whole picture. It must not be supposed that everything was fine before the compromisers came along. Or that things are OK in the churches which have not gone down the compromising road. Many of these churches are not guilty of evangelistic pragmatism because they are not doing any evangelism at all! And, although many evangelicals and fundamentalists and Calvinists remain orthodox in doctrine (officially), this is in so many cases not a vital orthodoxy but a dead orthodoxy. This is another whole problem, but it does need to be at least mentioned here because some of the compromise found today is in part a rebellion against this dead orthodoxy by those who seem to forget that the problem with a dead orthodosy is not the orthodoxy but the deadness! MacArthur rightly laments the decline of preaching in the compromising churches, but, to balance out the record, it needs to be said that for a very long time there has been very little good preaching even in the traditional churches. One reason modern churchgoers rebel against preaching is that they have never heard any good preaching!

This book was first published in 1993. There have been a few alterations and some signficant additions but most of the third edition (2010) remains the same. The author is a great fan of C. H. Spurgeon, and he prefaces each chapter with a quote from the Prince of Preachers. There also is a discussion of the Down Grade Controversy in which Spurgeon was heavily involved a century ago. And there are other nineteenth century persons noted, especially Finney, who was a pioneer in evangelical compromising!

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