I am going to keep these public as long as I can. The reason is because the Holy Spirit is mobilizing many people to join in this high-level INTERCESSORY PRAYER work. There also is an educational dimension going on in which we need to provide some general teaching on high-level intercession in order for people to receive guidance about how they are being called to engage. We now have a team that is at work in the discernment process, as well as doing the work of high-level intercession.
Briefing # 7 is ready, but the Holy Spirit provided the guidance that it is not yet the time to publish it. So we are shifting at this time to Briefing # 8 which deals with the demonic stronghold of liberal progressivism.
I do this with some fear and trembling, as we are touching a stronghold that is destroying the Church from within. This stronghold has a political and social side that also is affecting the Western world, but for now we need to start with its spiritual expression — which is aimed right at the heart of the Church of Jesus Christ.
So, please enter into this briefing with prayer, and also pray for us as we are called to engage in the work of high-level intercession.
Briefing #8: Introduction
The Demonic Stronghold Of Liberal Progressivism
18:39 min video Dr Brad Long introducing Briefing # 8 – The Demonic Stronghold of Liberal Progressivism.
The stronghold of liberal progressivism actively has been working against the Church since the 1900s. There is a major deception at the heart of this stronghold … that liberalism and liberal progressivism IS Christianity. In actual fact, though, it is not Christianity at all.
It is a different religion and a worldview that is completely opposite to the Biblical Christian faith.
The deception of this stronghold is that the language it uses often is from the Christian vocabulary, but its meanings are completely different. Satan, in collaboration with human sinfulness, has created a powerfully effective stronghold that truly is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
As we may surmise from the results of this demonic stronghold, Satan’s purpose is:
- A departure from the Biblical Christian faith that proclaims Jesus Christ alone as the Way, the Truth and the Life and the only way to have communion with God the Father.
- The loss of the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to change lives and to lead to salvation.
- Satan’s plan is to deceive the Church into so becoming the world that it has no power to transform the world according to the vision of the Kingdom of God.
- The weakening of the Church so that it crumbles before Satan’s assaults disguised as other faiths, such as Islam; so-called spiritual trends like the New Age movement; or ideologies such as socialism or capitalism.
We see the results of Satan’s purpose through this demonic stronghold most vividly in my own denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA). Parker Williamson of the Presbyterian Lay Committee has documented the results of this stronghold in an excellent book titled, Broken Covenant: Signs of a Shattered Commnion.
The demonic stronghold of liberalism and liberal progressivism also has had devastating effects in the Presbyterian Church of Canada and the United Reformed Church in the United Kingdom, as well as in many other once vital denominations around the world
To back up these claims regarding Satan’s purpose, we carefully must show that liberalism and liberal progressivism is, in fact, a demonic stronghold masquerading as a religion that is completely different from Christianity.
We shall find that liberalism and liberal progressivism have a different:
- Understanding of humanity
- Way of Salvation
- And, indeed, is masquerading as a religion that is completely different from Christianity.
Mark Patterson, a great pastor-theologian, clarifies these issues. His analysis is part of the videotapes that PRMI created when it was fighting against the work of an official Peace, Unity and Purity Task Force that developed an “Authoritative Interpretation” to the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) that was guided by liberalism and liberal progressivism. In his analysis, Dr. Patterson clearly shows the contrast between Christianity and liberalism/liberal progressivism.
His analysis is supported by and, indeed, is a present-day application, of the analysis done by J. Gresham Machen in his brilliant 1923 book Christianity and Liberalism. As part of this briefing, there is a chart that highlights portions of Machen’s arguments to illustrate the contrast in worldviews between Christianity and liberalism/liberal progressivism. It is highly recommended that you read the whole book.
This analysis is extremely important if one is to understand the building blocks of liberalism and liberal progressivism. Undertaking a study of this analysis, in turn, will provide the “intelligence” that is needed to understand how the Holy Spirit may be leading us to pray so that the sham religion of liberalism/liberal progressivism may be overcome.
Satan has so cleverly woven this stronghold into the fabric of the Church that many Christians, including ourselves, sometimes may be blinded to its deception. It especially is important, then, to look at this carefully and through the eyes of wisdom and discernment.
The following chart provides a summary of the difference between Christianity and liberalism/liberal progressivism as defined by Machen. (I am using an on line version of the book. So page numbers do not correspond to the printed version so citations are difficult to give with accuracy. The topics here follow the outline of the book.)
Christianity is based, then, upon an account of something that happened, and the Christian worker is primarily a witness. But if so, it is rather important that the Christian worker should tell the truth. When a man takes his seat upon the witness stand, it makes little difference what the cut of his coat is, or whether his sentences are nicely turned. The important thing is that he tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If we are to be truly Christians, then, it does make a vast difference what our teachings are, and it is by no means aside from the point to set forth the teachings of Christianity in contrast with the teachings of the chief modern rival of Christianity. (p. 30)
…Christianity is based on an account of something that happened in the first century of our era. But before that account can be received, certain presuppositions must be accepted. The Christian gospel consists in an account of how God saved man, and before that gospel can be understood something must be known (1) about God and (2) about man.
The chief modern rival of Christianity is “liberalism.” An examination of the teachings of liberalism in comparison with those of Christianity will show that at every point the two movements are in direct opposition. That examination will now be undertaken, though merely in a summary and cursory way.
The doctrine of God and the doctrine of man are the two great presuppositions of the gospel. With regard to these presuppositions, as with regard to the gospel itself, modern liberalism is diametrically opposed to Christianity.
|Christianity’s Concept of God||
Liberalism’s Concept of God
In the Christian view of God as set forth in the Bible, there are many elements. But one attribute of God is absolutely fundamental in the Bible; one attribute is absolutely necessary in order to render intelligible all the rest. That attribute is the awful transcendence of God. From beginning to end the Bible is concerned to set forth the awful gulf that separates the creature from the Creator. It is true, indeed, that according to the Bible God is immanent in the world. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without Him. But he is immanent in the world not because He is identified with the world, but because He is the free Creator and Upholder of it. Between the creature and the Creator a great gulf is fixed. (p. 35)
In modern liberalism, on the other hand, this sharp distinction between God and the world is broken down, and the name “God” is applied to the mighty world process itself. We find ourselves in the midst of a mighty process, which manifests itself in the indefinitely small and in the indefinitely great–in the infinitesimal life which is revealed through the microscope and in the vast movements of the heavenly spheres. To this world-process, of which we ourselves form a part, we apply the dread name of “God.” God, therefore, it is said in effect, is not a person distinct from ourselves; on the contrary our life is a part of His. Thus the Gospel story of the Incarnation, according to modern liberalism, is sometimes thought of as a symbol of the general truth that man at his best is one with God. (pp. 35-36)
|Christianity’s View of the Bible||Liberalism’s View of the Bible|
According to the Christian view, the Bible contains an account of a revelation from God to man, which is found nowhere else. It is true, the Bible also contains a confirmation and a wonderful enrichment of the revelations which are given also by the things that God has made and by the conscience of man. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork”–these words are a confirmation of the revelation of God in nature; “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”–these words are a confirmation of what is attested by the conscience.
But in addition to such reaffirmations of what might conceivably be learned elsewhere–as a matter of fact, because of men’s blindness, even so much is learned elsewhere only in comparatively obscure fashion–the Bible also contains an account of a revelation which is absolutely new. That new revelation concerns the way by which sinful man can come into communion with the living God.
Salvation then, according to the Bible, is not something that was discovered, but something that happened. Hence appears the uniqueness of the Bible. All the ideas of Christianity might be discovered in some other religion, yet there would be in that other religion no Christianity. For Christianity depends, not upon a complex of ideas, but upon the narration of an event. Without that event, the world, in the Christian view, is altogether dark, and humanity is lost under the guilt of sin.
There can be no salvation by the discovery of eternal truth, for eternal truth brings naught but despair, because of sin. But a new face has been put upon life by the blessed thing that God did when He offered up His only begotten Son. (p. 39)
Very different is the view of modern
liberalism. The modern liberal rejects not only the doctrine of plenary
inspiration, but even such respect for the Bible as would be proper
over against any ordinarily trustworthy book. But what is substituted
for the Christian view of the Bible? What is the liberal view
as to the
seat of authority in religion?
The impression is sometimes produced that the modern liberal
substitutes for the authority of the Bible the authority of Christ. He
cannot accept, he says, what he regards as the perverse moral teaching
of the Old Testament or the sophistical arguments of Paul. But he
regards himself as being the true Christian because, rejecting the rest
of the Bible, he depends upon Jesus alone.This impression, however, is utterly false. The modern liberal does not
really hold to the authority of Jesus. Even if he did so, indeed, he
would still be impoverishing greatly his knowledge of God and of the
way of salvation. The words of Jesus, spoken during His earthly
ministry, could hardly contain all that we need to know about God and
about the way of salvation; for the meaning of Jesus’ redeeming work
could hardly be fully set forth before that work was done. It could be
set forth indeed by way of prophecy, and as a matter of fact it was so
set forth by Jesus even in the days of His flesh. But the full
explanation could naturally be given only after the work was done. And
such was actually the divine method. It is doing despite, not only to
the Spirit of God, but also to Jesus Himself, to regard the teaching of
the Holy Spirit, given through the apostles, as at all inferior in
authority to the teaching of Jesus.As a matter of fact, however, the modern liberal does not hold fast
even to the authority of Jesus. Certainly he does not accept the words
of Jesus as they are recorded in the Gospels. For among the recorded
words of Jesus are to be found just those things which are most
abhorrent to the modern liberal Church, and in His recorded words Jesus
also points forward to the fuller revelation which was afterwards to be
given through His apostles. Evidently, therefore, those words of Jesus
which are to be regarded as authoritative by modern liberalism must
first be selected from the mass of the recorded words by a critical
process. The critical process is certainly very difficult, and the
suspicion often arises that the critic is retaining as genuine words of
the historical Jesus only those words which conform to his own
preconceived ideas. But even after the sifting process has been
completed, the liberal scholar is still unable to accept as
authoritative all the sayings of Jesus; he must finally admit that even
the “historical” Jesus as reconstructed by modern historians said some
things that are untrue.
… It is no wonder, then, that liberalism is totally different from
|Christianity’s View of Jesus||Liberalism’s view of Jesus|
The truth is, the witness of the New Testament, with regard to Jesus as the object of faith, is an absolutely unitary witness. The thing is rooted far too deep in the records of primitive Christianity ever to be removed by any critical process. The Jesus spoken of in the New Testament was no mere teacher of righteousness, no mere pioneer in a new type of religious life, but One who was regarded, and regarded Himself, as the Savior whom men could trust.
Christianity, as a Savior
By elimination of these errors the Church arrived at the New Testament doctrine of two natures in one Person; the Jesus of the New Testament is “God and man, in two distinct natures, and one Person forever.” That doctrine is sometimes regarded as speculative. But nothing could be further from the fact. Whether the doctrine of the two natures is true or false, it was certainly produced not by speculation, but by an attempt to summarize, succinctly and completely.
But by modern liberalism He is regarded in a totally different way. Christians stand in a religious relation to Jesus; liberals do not stand in a religious relation to Jesus– what difference could be more profound than that? The modern liberal preacher reverences Jesus; he has the name of Jesus forever on his lips; he speaks of Jesus as the supreme revelation of God; he enters, or tries to enter, into the religious life of Jesus. But he does not stand in a religious relation to Jesus. Jesus for him is an example for faith, not the object of faith. The modern liberal tries to have faith in God like the faith which he supposes Jesus had in God; but he does not have faith in Jesus.
According to modern liberalism, in other words, Jesus was the Founder of Christianity because He was the first Christian, and Christianity consists in maintenance of the religious life which Jesus instituted.
Liberalism regards Him as an Example and Guide; liberalism makes Him an example for faith.
This doctrine is of course rejected by modern liberalism. And it is rejected in a very simple way–by the elimination of the whole higher nature of our Lord. But such radicalism is not a bit more successful than the heresies of the past. The Jesus who is supposed to be left after the elimination of the supernatural element is at best a very shadowy figure; for the elimination of the supernatural logically involves the elimination of much that remains, and the historian constantly approaches the absurd view.
|Christianity’s View of Salvation||Liberalism’s view of Salvation|
The difference with regard to the way of salvation concerns, in the first place, the basis of salvation in the redeeming work of Christ. According to Christian belief, Jesus is our Savior, not by virtue of what He said, not even by virtue of what He was, but by what He did. He is our Savior, not because He has inspired us to live the same kind of life that He lived, but because He took upon Himself the dreadful guilt of our sins and bore it instead of us on the cross. Such is the Christian conception of the Cross of Christ.
Modern liberal preachers do indeed sometimes speak of the “atonement.” But they speak of it just as seldom as they possibly can, and one can see plainly that their hearts are elsewhere than at the foot of the Cross. Indeed, at this point, as at many others, one has the feeling that traditional language is being strained to become the expression of totally alien ideas. And when the traditional phraseology has been stripped away, the essence of the modern conception of the death of Christ, though that conception appears in many forms, is fairly plain.
The essence of it is that the death of Christ had an effect not upon God but only upon man. Sometimes the effect upon man is conceived of in a very simple way, Christ’s death being regarded merely as an example of self-sacrifice for us to emulate. The uniqueness of this particular example, then, can be found only in the fact that Christian sentiment, gathering around it, has made it a convenient symbol for all self-sacrifice; it puts in concrete form what would otherwise have to be expressed in colder general terms.
Sometimes, again, the effect of Christ’s death upon us is conceived of in subtler ways; the death of Christ, it is said, shows how much God hates sin–since sin brought even the Holy One to the dreadful Cross — and we too, therefore, ought to hate sin, as God hates it, and repent. Sometimes, still again, the death of Christ is thought of as displaying the love of God; it exhibits God’s own Son as given up for us all.
These modern “theories of the atonement” are not all to be placed upon the same plane; the last of them, in particular, may be joined with a high view of Jesus’ Person. But they err in that they ignore the dreadful reality of guilt, and make a mere persuasion of the human will all that is needed for salvation. They do indeed all contain an element of truth: it is true that the death of Christ is an example of self-sacrifice which may inspire self-sacrifice.