By Brother Andrew Dangerfield.
The Apostle Paul in Romans warns us of those who cleverly and deceptively change the truth of God into a lie (Rom 1:25). The most damaging example of this was to be an apostate Christianity arising out of what was originally the true ecclesia (2 Thess 2:1-12). One of the most notable characteristics of this form of Christianity is its ability to deceive and lead people away from the true gospel. To deceive means that people are tricked into thinking something is good and right when in fact it is evil:
2 Thess 2:3,8-10 "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition… And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
In the dark ages of the Roman Catholic Church, the signs and wonders came in many crude forms - splinters from the cross of Christ, feathers from angels' wings, the bones of saints and small bottles of Christ's blood. In our days however, the signs and wonders take an even more sophisticated form. They not only manifest themselves in countries where the Roman Catholic Church holds sway. They also are seen in the western world, not only in the churches of Catholicism but also amongst those churches who hold the same fundamental doctrines as the Catholic Church. The signs and wonders come in the form of "miracles", "healings" and "tongues" at evangelical revival meetings. But they also come in the form of clever new philosophies and teachings that significantly revolutionise the thinking of modern Christianity.
One such example is the above mentioned book, What's so amazing about Grace? by evangelical writer Philip Yancey. It is not only changing the way "Christianity" thinks, but it is also even making inroads into our own brotherhood. The purpose of this short summary is to help us all to wake up to the dangers of these influences (Eph 4:14; Rev 16:15). It is also aimed to prevent as many as possible from being deceived by the power of this new persuasion. We must face up to the fact that much of this modern "Christian" literature is faith-destroying because it is changing the way we think without us even knowing it. The accolades by commentators on the cover of the book show how influential this type of philosophy really is:
"This is beyond a doubt the very best book I have read from a Christian author in my life."
"Philip Yancey is one of the most engaging and convicting writers in the Christian world. Once again he has produced a work with something in it to make everybody mad."
"Philip Yancey has written another brilliant award winner."
It is not often realised that the most dangerous type of error is that which is mingled with sufficient amounts of truth (Gen 3:4-5). This book is one classic example of that. It may be argued that "O well, most of the book is pretty right, just overlook the things that are wrong." The problem is actually trying to discern the things that are wrong. Books like this are so riddled with wrong doctrine and practice that it becomes way too difficult to extract the good from the evil. It is not readily understood that the very foundation and basis of this book is flawed. It is based on the doctrines of the trinity, pre-existence of Christ, substitution and that God's character is changeable. In fact the very definition of grace on the back cover (and discussed on page 70 of the book) is not only wrong, but it is presumptions, rebellious and a licence for evil (Rom 6v1; Jude v3,4). Not only that, but it flies right in the face of the true relationship God wants to have with His children. We might also ask, why can a book be so influential when so little Scripture is used to support his theories?
Let it be said at the outset that none of our works can merit salvation (Rom 3:23-24; 4:1-8; Eph 2:8-10). Without God's grace, a free gift of salvation, we would have no hope (Psa 51; Eph 2:12). In no way whatsoever would we ever want to minimise the strength and power of God's abundant grace and mercy. We must realise however that there is a big difference between Biblical grace and substitutionary grace. The comments in this study are by no means comprehensive, and in fact are extremely brief given the amount of material with which to deal with here. There is no pleasure in exposing these disturbing issues. These matters are outlined here for the simple reason "that the truth of the gospel might continue with you" (Gal 2:5) and that we should have "no greater joy than to hear that our children walk in truth" (3 John 4).