Even as far back as the Jesus People Movement (1968-1980, roughly), evangelicals subjugated Biblical doctrine to the utopian concepts of interdenominational unity and Charismatic experience. Having been personally involved in the movement since my conversion to Christ in 1971, I can commend the insistence that salvation comes exclusively through faith in Jesus Christ, even as I wish we had upheld doctrine more stridently.
To be fair, the man who taught the Bible Studies I attended during my high school and college years gave me a high view of Scripture that (even at my highest points of abandonment to Charismatic theology and practice) kept me from fully surrendering to the deceptions that bombarded so many of my friends. Yet, when I saw conflicts between Scripture and personal experience, I often found ways to interpret God’s Word through that experience. I say that to my shame. I look back and wonder if a greater foundation in the great doctrines of the faith might have helped me mature more quickly.
Of course, my reading habits didn’t help. Christianity Today magazine hardly champions solid teachings!
Four decades later, I notice that many evangelicals allow contemporary culture to affect their beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. Time this afternoon prohibits me from citing specific examples of evangelical compromise, but I will be addressing various issues in the months to come. In doing so, I propose to demonstrate how sound Scriptural doctrine provides Christians with discernment.
Doctrine divides, yes. But the division it effects enables Christians to distinguish between truth and error. These distinctions should have accompanied the Jesus People Movement, protecting us from our unhealthy fascination with mystical phenomena, and they certainly can assist us now. Praise God for giving us His Word!