Has God Changed the “Old Paths” for a new “radical center”?
From the beginning of time, Satan and his forces of evil have sought to obfuscate the narrow way that defines perfect holiness. With each new generation, there are new offerings in the nuances of obfuscation, even though these nuances are often in tiny increments of deviation from the pathway of righteousness. They are often subtle deviations and they are offered as the true pathway. These subtle deviations from the true pathway of righteousness usually carry a more anthropocentric emphasis. They exalt love for our fellowman above our love for the truths of doctrinal purity. It is one of Satan’s age-old tools of obfuscation. When someone refuses to be acceptable to various degrees of deviation from the pathway of righteousness or from doctrinal purity, he is immediately accused of being unloving.
Apparently, there are now certain acceptable deviations from the pathway of righteousness and doctrinal purity. These new degrees of acceptable deviations are not based upon an accusation regarding the fallibility of Scripture, but the fallibility of theological dogmatism. Apparently, we can never be certain about anything any longer. Oh yes, there are certainly theological absolutes, but they fall into a very narrow category we will call the fundamentals. Apparently, now the only real fundamental worth separating over is the Gospel. Of course, this Gospel Only view must be very broadly defined to include Lordship Salvation, Easy Believism, Only Believism, Monergism, and even the Pentecostal Full Gospel. These New Centrists are no longer going to separate over unimportant doctrines such as false Ecclesiology, false Eschatology, false Cessationism, or even over what defines acceptable spiritual music in the worship of God.
When a person has somehow justified his actions, he will hear no other point of view even if it comes from his peers. When he is corrected or criticized by his peers for an obvious deviation from his previous practices, he justifies his new practice by condemning his old practice along with everyone that still walks in that old way. The historic pattern is that the new generation rising to power must always be willing to kill the giants of the previous generation in order to establish a new monarchy of leadership. Every new generation is willing to accept the new leadership especially if they come offering a governance of lower expectations. That new leadership will always find a way to justify those lower expectations and do so without shame. There really is “nothing new under the sun.”
“15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD. 16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. 17 Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken” (Jeremiah 6:15-17).
As each new generation accepts these new pathways of acceptability, there will also be those still trumpeting the “old paths.” Once the new generation has accepted these new pathways of acceptability, they also MUST reject those trumpeting the “old paths.” Those still trumpeting the “old paths” must be labeled as extremists and hypers. Granted, there are always extremists and hypers in every generation. Therefore, it is easy for those promising to refine the pathway of righteousness simply to push everyone to the right of them into various categories of extremism. After all, they can justify this because they are the new right. This is just more justification. They “will not hearken.”
Apparently, there is no allowable degree of tension in the spiritual dynamic of theological discussion. Apparently, all forms of experimentation in theological dialogue must be allowed if we want our voice heard by those that disagree with us. Apparently, there are those who think they will be able to convince those who have deviated from the path of righteousness, even though all of their arguments have already historically been cast aside. Those proclaiming to possess a more noble degree of true biblical love argue that obviously those arguments were cast aside because they were offered in an unloving way and with a too dogmatic voice. The outcome of this philosophy is that the discussion with heretics (those dividing the pathway of righteousness) never comes to an end. God’s command regarding this is simple – “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject” (Titus 3:10).
Those that claim to possess this higher and nobler degree of true biblical love do not see themselves as deviating from the narrow pathway of righteousness. They simply believe that the narrow pathway of righteousness is narrower than God intended. They see themselves redefining the pathway of righteousness. For them, the pathway of righteousness is really much broader than hitherto allowed. For them, there is room for broad acceptance of numerous theological views because man is fallible in his interpretation of Scripture. In fact, they tell us, those who hold to the old narrow pathway of righteousness are actually in the ditch somewhere. They tell us that they in fact are pursuing a radical center of a new broader way.
It is amazing how Inclusivism always comes wrapped in such wonderfully intellectual and rational packages. Amiability is the new word for theological toleration. Amiability is the new word for biblical love. I come from Old School Fundamentalism. We believe in theological absolutes and we believe those theological absolutes are black and white issues. We believe if you study the Word of God diligently that you can actually find dogmatic answers to every important question about God, life, and the biblical practice thereof. Old School Fundamentalists were taught about social engineering through the processes of the Hegelian Dialectic and Centrism. Therefore, we talked in the language of right and wrong, not right and left. Centrism is the language of culturally acceptable norms. Right and wrong is the language of the God of the Word. There is no acceptable deviation in the language of right and wrong when it comes to the pathway of righteousness. There is just turning aside or straight on. Today, we need more men who are willing to obey God’s command to Moses in Deuteronomy 5:31 – “But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.”
“29 O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever! 30 Go say to them, Get you into your tents again. 31 But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it. 32 Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 33 Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess” (Deuteronomy 5:29-33).
I do not understand how knowledgeable men can so easily be led into the ditch of philosophical compromise. I do not understand how knowledgeable men can justify using the language of Centrism when they must know it is the language of cultural manipulation. I think they must understand their methodology and have adapted certain agreed upon talking points. If they are right (and their argument is that they are right), then everything to the right of them is wrong and everything to the left of them is wrong. Yet, they are willing to label everyone they say is to the right of them as Hyper, while labeling select individuals to the left of them as friends. Then they separate from those to the right of them (which means all those unwilling to accept their new center) and maintain fellowship with those they admittedly understand to be to the left of them. It does not seem too difficult to discern the direction in which they are moving, even though they claim they have not moved. This obviously tells us something about them. Either they never were where they once professed to be, or they have moved. Either of those two possibilities is unacceptable.
By Dr. Lance Ketchum