The American Evangelical Church Needs a Massive Reformation

by Jay Grimstead

 (This article is excerpted from a Coalition on Revival Update newsletter for June, 2010. It is a response by dear friend Jay to our previous newsletter presentation on The Shack: Good Entertainment or Undermining of the Faith, June 10, 2010—ed.)

The Evangelical and supposedly Bible-believing Church in America needs a massive reformation.

One symptom of this need is the acceptance of and enthusiasm by a large number of Christians and Christian leaders about a grossly heretical, anti-Biblical, fictional novel that is a New York Times best seller, which has sold over two million copies, called The Shack. For several reviews of The Shack, I encourage you to go to the Nordskog Publishing website (“Review of The Shack“What You Need to Know About The Shack, The Shack: Helpful or Heretical?”, “Refashioning God,” and “Is The Shack Heresy?” (a pro-Shack article by Wayne Jacobsen, collaborator on The Shack)).  Or read the book and check it out for yourself if you are theologically sound and stable.

Those promoting this book claim it can minister much to those hurting people who have been hurt by the church and are disillusioned with traditional Christianity and traditional “church.” But it seems obvious to me that such a book cannot do much of anything except lead disillusioned people further into error, anti-Biblical thinking and further disillusionment. For example, in Dr. Norman Geisler’s review of The Shack on that website mentioned above, I have more or less paraphrased some of the serious problems he raises about the book in the points following:

  1. This book rejects traditional Christianity and orthodox theology.
  2. One’s Experience is considered more important in finding Truth than scripture; experience trumps revelation.
  3. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura (Scripture Only) is rejected as the absolute standard for Truth and for one’s Worldview.
  4. There is a grossly unBiblical view of the Trinity and the nature of God. One of the sub-points under this problem is the presentation of God the Father as a human woman. Also, it abolishes the Biblical perspective of there being an economic hierarchy within the Trinity.
  5. It claims that God does not need to punish sin. God’s love overpowers God’s justice and His holiness is sacrificed for His mercy. A view close to universalism is presented.
  6. It has a false understanding of the Person and Work of Christ, and claims all three Persons of the Trinity were incarnated into Jesus’ body, not just the Son.
  7. It eliminates a true, factual knowledge of God because God is claimed to be so “wholly other,” and beyond our ability to understand (which sounds a lot like the Neo-Orthodox Karl Barth).
  8. It embraces an irrational view of faith and pits faith against reason.

Yet in spite of these heretical views in the book, we learn that a famous, Christian author like, Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, predicted that The Shack has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good.” My opinion is that such a book as The Shack should be openly condemned as dangerous, sick heresy by thinking Christians.

Back in the 1970’s, I gathered a group of well-known Christian theologians to defend the traditional, theological point that the Bible was inerrant in the original manuscripts, and in that process formed the ICBI (the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy). At the time, the liberals and neo-orthodox professors and pastors imbedded within Evangelical institutions were trying to REDEFINE EVANGELICALISM AFTER THEIR OWN LIBERAL MOLD. The ICBI stopped that liberal redefinition process from proceeding openly for a few years, and did indeed establish the inerrancy of the Bible as the standard, historical view of the Church of the past 2000 years. However, those REDEFINITION LIBERALS within Evangelical circles have been working like termites ever since 1978, making tremendous inroads with great success. Now, 32 years later, a huge number of formerly truly Evangelical churches, denominations, organizations, mission agencies and schools have now turned from their historic, orthodox roots. They have bought into a relativistic liberalism and Neo-Orthodoxy wherein they openly deny large portions of Biblical theology and teach raw, anti-Biblical falsehoods as cherished doctrine to unsuspecting students and church members. One result of all this is the “emergent church” which has as it’s foundation, post-modern RELATIVISM of all thought, rather than the solid, absolute truth of the Bible.

I believe one of the factors working here to make this heretical book seem so beautiful, helpful and “positively life-changing” to many people is this. For those who have a resentment of God’s straight truth as it presents itself in the Bible, and who find the real, true God of the Bible to be offensive and odious to their sense of justice or their sense of right and wrong, Satan’s falsehoods, deceptions and unrealities can seem like a refreshing breath of air after feeling somewhat suffocated by the truth of the real God and His absolute standards imposed upon all humans. That is a terrible and frightening place to stand in this universe created by that God of the Bible. So I pity such people who have run from the real, Biblical God into the arms of one of Satan’s make-believe type of new gods who is a make-over of the real God and who does not either require Biblical standards for their lives or rational thought for their World View.

This all leads me to tell you of the need for the Biblically serious Christians leaders of the world to unite theologically around the basics of Christian doctrine (it can be done and we can explain how it can work), to join together in DRAWING A CLEAR LINE IN THE SAND to distinguish between the Biblical Evangelicals and the anti-Biblical Evangelicals. Such a line in the sand  needs to clarify the difference between those on the one hand who truly believe in the Bible and obey it as God’s absolute, final, inerrant Word to all mankind, for all time for all peoples; and on the other hand, those self-deceiving, people who believe the Bible is part true and part false. When people believe in that kind of a Bible, they think they have the prerogative of deciding which parts of the Bible are true and which parts are false and therefore, can make up their own private version of Christianity and build the kind of god they feel comfortable having as their god. At this point in the history of the Church, the entire world of Evangelical and Charismatic Christianity is split right down the middle between those true, Biblical Christians on the one hand, and those anti-Biblical Evangelicals and Charismatics on the other hand. 

On May 8th 2008, Os Guinness and his liberally oriented friends made a major effort to REDEFINE EVANGELICALISM after their own liberal mold by dropping what they called their “Evangelical Manifesto” on the U.S. at the National Press Club. Their “manifesto” was not well received and, thank heaven, did not receive anywhere near the resounding applause and signatures as did “The Manhattan Declaration” that came out a year later and which expressed many of the concerns the true Evangelicals have about God’s Biblical standards for our confused and disintegrating, American society and government.

What is clear at this point in history to a number of us within the Evangelical world is that a group of nationally and regionally known Christian leaders and theologians need to unite to form a national and global, Army of Theologians and Leaders to, as it were, draw that line in the sand. Then there can be a clear demarcation within Evangelical and Charismatic Christianity and church circles as to who stands with the Bible and the true God of the Bible, and who does not. We have been slowly gathering a team of such known Christian leaders and theologians and, for now, we are referring to this potential theological army as the ICE, the International Council on Evangelicalism. For now, you may check out some of the issues this ICE theological army will be addressing. What COR’s theologians believe are the Biblical positions on 22 different controversial issues within Evangelical and Charismatic Christianity (which would not be controversial in the first place if all Christians believed in the inerrancy of the Bible), are all downloadable on our website at  Just as our dear, but sick America needs a grassroots, political and social revolution of Constitutional commitment, so the so-called Bible-believing Church in America needs a spiritual Revival and a theological Reformation, even a Third Great Awakening for which many of us are praying and towards which we are working.

If you see the importance of Christian leaders uniting to draw such a theological line in the sand, please pray for these efforts to have God’s guidance, anointing and blessing. Thank you, dear friends.

 For God’s will to be done in America as it is done in heaven,                     
Dr. Jay Grimstead
Coalition on Revival and International Church Council
P.O. Box 1139, Murphys, CA 95247

Used by permission © 2010

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