The Social Gospel

J Gresham Machen, convicted on March 29, 1935, for believing the Bible to be the Word of God.

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel (Galatians 1:6).

One hundred years ago there was a violent war in the United States that is still being fought today. The “Battle for the Bible” was over what was called “The Social Gospel” or Christian liberalism. The invaders rallied against men who held the Bible to be the literal Word of God. Church courts were convened, Bible-believing pastors were tried, convicted and defrocked, and their churches taken over. Princeton, founded as a Bible-training school, denied the Bible as the Word of God.

In response, these condemned preachers like J Gresham Machen, CI Scofield, J Vernon McGee, William B Riley, AW Pink, and Harry Ironside, gave rise to Fundamentalism, or getting back to the basics of Christianity. Dozens of new denominations were formed to return to the Bible as the sole authority for faith and practice.

The Social Gospel of the early 1900s has become increasingly popular today. It is called “emergent”, “missional”, “progressive” or “evangelical.” It denies the sole authority of the Bible and emphasizes pragmatism – whatever works. Liberalism is all about social connections, helping others by meeting “felt” needs, and feeling good about yourself. It lips acceptance of the Bible, but is concerned with what you think or feel about something – whether it be sexuality, private property, salvation from sin, climate change, the State of Israel, women in the military, income equality, or the role of the church.

Liberals bring out the Bible only when it suits their personal needs. The thinking is that if the Bible says something that doesn’t make me feel good about myself, or it hurts my feelings, then what I think supersedes the Scriptures. They either ignore the Bible or twist it a bit to make it say what works for them.

The Social Gospel is not the gospel Paul delivered (Galatians 1:6-8), and ultimately creates a Christless gospel of self-righteousness.



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