Top 10 doctrinal concerns for evangelicalism
Keep in mind that most, if not all, of the recipients would consider themselves Calvinists or Reformed. And to make it easier, I generalized the answers into broad categories, coming up with a Top 10 from the broad categories.
In Letterman style, here are the very unscientific, yet interesting results:
10- Doctrinal Indifference
10- Failure to understand grace
10- Biblical Illiteracy
(all tied for 10th)
9- Weak Preaching
8- Doctrine of the Trinity/Modalism/Open Theism
8- Understanding of the Covenants
7- Doctrine/Practice of Worship
6- Doctrine of God
5- Emerging Church
4- Atonement/Justification/Federal Vision/New Perspective on Paul
3- Ecclesiology (church growth, church leadership, doctrine of membership, discipline)
2- Authority of Scripture/Sola Scriptura
1- Nature of Conversion/Arminianism/Semi-Pelagianism/Revivalism
And some were curious as to my own list (which is not included in the above)
(6- Sola Scriptura via lack of discernment)
5- Open Theism
4- Justification/Imputation/RCC ecumenism
3- Emerging Church
2- Revivalism/Easy Believism
1- Lack of Discernment
Lack of Discernment: It's not that we don't deny the Trinity; we don't think it should be a test of orthodoxy, nor do we understand *why* it was ever a test of orthodoxy. We don't deny open theism; we just don't know why we would call those who hold such heterodox. We don't employ the Madison Avenue approach to marketing for church growth; but we can't figure out how those who do have neutered the gospel of its power. We affirm the shortcomings of enthroning "relevance" as our mission statement; but we can't fathom how the pursuit of relevance has rendered the church irrelevant. We don't wholeheartedly embrace the pluralism and relativism of the emerging church; we just don't know how those who have embraced it are undermining the authority of scripture and ultimately, salvation itself. We don't deny sola scriptura; we just don't understand when it has been abrogated. It's not that we deny justification or imputation; we don't think the Roman Catholic's soteriology is all that big of a deal and wonder why some of us (or the Reformers, for that matter) would make such a fuss. It's not that we would deny the gospel; we don't think its clear articulation is fundamental to our______________ (insert historic, orthodox, Christocentric doctrine here). etc. etc.
In thinking about this list, I found myself agreeing with John MacArthur: "Most of the market-driven megachurches insist they would never compromise doctrine. They are attractive to evangelicals precisely because they claim to be as orthodox in their doctrine as they are unorthodox in their methodology. Multitudes are sufficiently reassured by such promises and simply abandon their critical faculties, thus increasing their vulnerability. Unfortunately, real discernment is in short supply among modern evangelicals." -- John MacArthur, "Ashamed of the Gospel : When the Church Becomes Like the World."
Sound doctrine is the antidote for false doctrine and the prescription of discernment for a healthy church. In empowering discernment, sound doctrine is the word of life from the WORD of Life that keeps the antiChrists and their false teaching at bay. Where there is false teaching, the word of life is absent. Via discernment, sound doctrine marks out the line between true and false teaching. Contrary to the mentality of pop Christianity, sound doctrine unites, it does *not*, divide. Sound doctrine exposes error and when the error is exposed, it runs from sound doctrine. Hence, they went out from us, because they were not of us (1 John 2:19). Where there is no sound doctrine, there will be no discernment.