Thursday, September 9, 2010

Highway to Hegel

Hegelianism is the philosophy of relativism. It asserts that all judgments of the mind are made relative to the person making the judgment. The outworking of this system is the gross indifference to traditional morality that pervades much of our world.

As such, pragmatism becomes the order of the day. Face it, if nothing is intrinsically right or wrong, but this assessment is purely my subjective valuation, then whatever gets me the desired results is the way to go. Nothing embodies this more that modern evangelism. And the culprit responsible for this irresponsible and unscriptural results-orientated approach to evangelism is none other than the poster-boy of revivalism, Charles G. Finney.

Finney’s numerical success was his vindication. In his Memoirs he confronts his critics thus, "Show me the fruits of your ministry and if they so far exceed mine as to give me evidence that you have found a more excellent way, I will adopt your views.” Countless heretics have resorted to this hogwash of an answer ever since. People who have no business being in Christian ministry justify their unorthodox practices by comparing their so-called “track record” to that of their critics. He with the highest score wins. Finney’s invincible answer to his objectors was: My results justify my methods. In other words: the ends justify the means.

Later generations of evangelists fell victim to this fallacious reasoning that “success” is the barometer of God's blessing. Billy Sunday, though ostensibly a Calvinist, stated, "Theory has got to go into the scrap heap when it comes to experience." This is unmitigated mysticism. Since when is Christian doctrine merely theory? So the doctrines of grace could be ignored by the evangelist. And if they could be ignored, why not rejected? Future generations of evangelists have chosen this path. D.L. Moody resorted to this same false reasoning when he said, "It makes no difference how you get a man to God, provided you get him there."

The million dollar question though is this: Do we get anyone to God? And secondly, does anyone come to Christ when His gospel is not preached? The answer to both questions is a resounding “NO!”

Yet this hasn’t stopped hundreds of preachers from trying anyway. Billy Graham, on more than one occasion invited people to the front to accept Christ as Savior even though, because of unforeseen circumstances, he was unable to preach. He simply said, in effect, “I can’t preach tonight, but if you’d like to accept Jesus as your Savior, come on down to the front and pray.”

Believe me, in my years of ministry I have seen far worse. I heard a preacher (and I use that term liberally in this guy’s case) ask for a show of hands of those who wished to go to Hell. All those who did not raise their hands, and there were none, he insisted come to the front to pray and accept Christ. The fact that this was merely an appeal to the basest self-interest of sinful man didn’t stand in the preacher’s way. He was going to fill his quota.

Nowhere in Scripture do we find an altar call. Nowhere do we find the Apostles inviting people to accept Jesus as their Savior by repeating some stock prayer. Yet this fact has not stopped thousands of preachers from doing it anyway. Nowhere are we commanded to do these things. There is neither a direct command/example, nor a way to deduce it as a principle taught in Scripture.

What is this but Hegelian relativism? Millions of people then have been introduced into Christianity with the notion that what Scripture actually says is probably not realistic in this day and age, and is certainly not practical (just ask Robert “Crystal Cathedral” Schuller).

The ridiculous antics of the “church growth” movement and the drivel of the “purpose-driven” lot are all the fallout of this mentality. It doesn’t matter how we get people to God (be it through raffles, mimes and clowns or Jonas Brothers concerts) as long as we can produce numbers. Who is some farm-town pastor with 25 members to complain about Rick Warren, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen or Bill Hybels? Their success speaks for itself. Or does it?


  1. What the crusade-style evangelists don't do is count how many of their converts end up as faithful church members. That's because the emotion of the moment will easily get someone down to the front, but it only rarely turns him into a faithful Christian. And for experience or success as the standard of truth, it isn't just limited to celebrity ministers. When I was in college, more than twenty years ago, a friend was all excited about "being slain in the spirit" at church the previous Sunday. I responded, "Hmmm, I'm not familiar with that." I handed him my Bible, and asked him to show me where that is talked about. He put my Bible down on the table, threw up his hands, and admitted, "I don't know where it is; I just know that it happened to me." So I asked him if he believed that experience trumps the Bible. He got insulted, got up, and left.

  2. Thanks for your comment. Someone once wrote, "Losing is the great American sin." No one wants to support or engange in anything they don't perceive as immediately successful. The prophet Jeremiah wouldn't have fared well with Wagner's church growth movement crowd, what with his two measly converts in 40 years!

    I checked out your blog. Excellent material.


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