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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," Spring Edition 2006

How The Personal Convictions Approach Always Leads To Worldly Compromise

I cringe every time I hear preachers or teachers start to make a big deal out of attempting to relegate Christian life-style issues to the matter of everybody's personal convictions.

I inwardly cringe because I know what is really happening. What is really happening is that a philosophical and ideological foundation is being laid for the subtle shift away from an objective to a subjective basis for the Christian life and faith. Fundamentalism is being departed from, and the direction being taken, henceforth, is going liberal.

The hallmark of modern liberal theology is subjectivity. When subjectivity is allowed to dominate "every man does what is right in his own eyes," and all become a law unto themselves. Under these circumstances it becomes impossible, either to maintain a uniform standard of biblical life-style holiness, or to effectively discipline those who live in sin. Indeed, to define "sin" itself will then become a major problem.

Friends, the New Testament says nothing about people's personal convictions. Saint Paul, to be sure, did express what were acknowledged as his own preferences (as, for example, in I Corinthians 7:25), yet always and everywhere in the Bible Christian are exhorted to live by "thus saith the Lord."

No Christian has a right to personal convictions, friends, unless their name is Paul, and they wrote the New Testament! The rest of us should forget the vagary of personal convictions and simply make it our business to obey the objective written Word of God, rationally interpreted.

Churches bent on heading down the primrose pathway of worldly compromise, or, as old-school Wesleyan Methodism would have called it, backsliding--going into antinomian (lawless) apostasy--always preface their move by a departure from the objective authority of Scripture.

Human nature being what it is, most people will follow the path of least resistance. The Christian life, however, is not about taking the path of least resistance, it is about discipleship, which means learning and obeying.

What should we do--some will undoubtedly ask--when there are disagreements over what the Bible teaches? Of course, there are, and always will be, many such disagreements!

Answer: we should do what the early church did--she brought believing scholars together to hammer the issues out, and let reason, under the authority of Scripture, prevail--"it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us" (Acts 15:18)--being the basic model.

It is a mistake to dissolve the Christian faith into individualizing subjectivity, a subjectivism far to often motivated by folk's unregenerate carnality.

Where love prevails, unity prevails. And where love prevails, there is behind it "a purity of heart, a cleanness of desire, wrought by the Holy Comforter in sanctifying fire."

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