The current theological malaise and its inevitable church conflict

This was published in 1992 but it eerily predictive. The battle lines are drawn across denominations and it has led to some strange bedfellows on both sides. (Piper and Warren, anyone?) The prescribed solution, a grounding in theology and attention to prayer is the solution in any age, but especially in this one.

The battle lines today are increasingly not between denominations but across denominations. The conflict is in no small part ideological, for various theological positions have become inextricably intertwined with ideological stances that advance special interest groups in society. I am firmly convinced that the church must refrain from aligning itself with any side in the ideological conflict, that it must speak resolutely to all sides, pouting them to the One who alone can bring reconciliation and peace to both the church and the world.

The paramount issue in the church today is idolatry. New gods are appearing, new faiths are blooming, and these alien faiths have infiltrated the inner sanctuary of the church. There is a pressing need today for sound instruction, for Christians to be educated concerning what is really happening. As the church becomes painfully aware of the depth of apostasy in its midst, a new church conflict (Kirchenkampf) may well be on the horizon. When the church speaks, it should speak with a resolute and unequivocal voice, but it cannot do so unless it becomes thoroughly cognizant of both the sources and the implications of the heretical imbalances in its time.

We are living in an era of the confusion of tongues. We are confronted by the rise of theological schools that no longer share a common parameter, that are disturbingly incapable even of engaging in meaningful dialog with one another because of the wide disparity in criteria and goals. Has the church become a new tower of Babel that in its effort to storm the heavens has contributed to an appalling breakdown in communication among its own people? May we be ready to make a bold confession of faith when the moment of truth arrives, but in the meantime let us prepare for the coming battle by educating ourselves on what true theology is and by steeping ourselves in prayer to the holy God who alone can keep theology on the right path, who alone can preserve his church from its own sorry failures and pitiful illusions.

-Donald Bloesch, A Theology of Word and Spirit: Authority and Method in Theology (InterVarsity Press, 1992) 32-33. This quote is at the end of Chapter 2, “The Theological Malaise.”

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About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
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