Change Is in the Air

Compromising Convictions or Modifying Methods?—Part 1

“Can a maid forget her ornaments or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number. Why trimmest thou thy way to seek love? Therefore hast thou also taught the wicked ones thy ways. Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the poor innocents: I have not found it by secret search, but upon all these. Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me. Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, I have not sinned. Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way?” Jeremiah 2:32-36a

Leading fundamentalist churches across the country today are changing what they believe and teach. In many cases, these changes amount to compromise with evil. Those who are changing either deny that they are compromising their positions or they question whether compromise in religion is wrong.

The word compromise implies reconciliation based on mutual promises. “You give up this, and I’ll give up that,” or, “You change in that way, and I’ll change in this way,” express the spirit of compromise. Of course, compromise is not always wrong. It is often an important means of working cooperatively, as in a business or a marriage. Even in a church, some compromise can sustain peace in the work of the Lord and can be justified when it does not involve giving up truth. Some kinds of compromise between Christians can be the outcome of loving deference and exemplify the Spirit of Christ.

However, many times compromise involves sacrificing truth on the altar of love. The house of Israel, along with their kings, princes, priests, and prophets, was violating divine law when the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed they were trimming their way to seek love (Jeremiah 2:26-37). Their compromises with paganism in order to gain the approval of the wicked were unquestionably wrong. Compromise that includes disloyalty to truth is always wrong.

Do the changes present-day “evolving fundamentalists” are making constitute sinful compromise of principle? Sometimes there is a good reason to change a policy or a position that has been maintained for a long time. Christians ought to change if their original stance was wrong. In other words, when believers in Christ and in the Bible discover through searching the Scriptures that their long-held position or long-standing policy was not according to God’s Word, they ought to change.

Another legitimate reason for changing a religious teaching or practice would be to adjust the application of still-held biblical principles to changing situations. The eternal truths that establish right standards in relation to the internet were applied to other things a hundred years ago. The difference is that they didn’t have computers or the internet a hundred years ago. New standards have had to be set. This is a legitimate change.

But doctrines and practices taught in word or in principle by the Bible should not be altered or abandoned by a new generation of Christians for the purpose of conforming to the tastes and opinions of the present evil world. We should not change or trim our way to seek the love and appreciation of the heathen.

This trimming was the error of the neo-evangelicals of the last century. They listened too much to the criticism of the liberals and longed instead for their approval. An important fundamentalist of the time said that the compromising evangelicals were telling the unorthodox liberals, “We will call you Christians, if you will call us scholars.” They embraced heretics instead of rejecting them (as Titus 3:10–11 tells us to do) because they were seeking love and willing to compromise truth for love.

This is part one of this article. Please click here to read part two.

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