Thursday, May 6, 2010

Unchallenged Corruption of the Gospel

From one the Church's most thoughtful, articulate and non-conforming pastor-theologians, here's an unsettling charge against the Constantinian expansion of the Church.

“From this influx, it is not surprising that the doctrines of faith and, most especially, that of the new birth became so rapidly corrupted in the churches. With separation from the world spurned, there is no wonder that the sanctity and glory of the gospel was overshadowed, and superstitious practices flooded in along with the unconverted pagans, until, at length, Christian church discipline was remodeled on the fashion of the pagan secular state. Once hypocrites and other unregenerate people began, as it were, to swamp and overwhelm the believers, there soon emerged leaders who were pleased enough to accommodate spiritual doctrines to the prevailing systems of philosophy. And so it came about that faith was neglected, doctrine no longer studied, regeneration equated to the mechanical performance of the rite of baptism, truth and piety no longer defended by any great efforts in the assemblies and councils, the majorities at best indifferent, at worst bitterly hostile, to the total over-shadowing of these essential things. By that time, most of the world had taken up the Christian profession so, at most, everything that had been instituted by Christ had been basely transmuted into another gospel. Strange to tell, it was done without a protest or major split in the Church.”

John Owen, Biblical Theology (Soli Deo Gloria, 1994), 660 (emphasis mine).

(HT: R. Scott Clark)