by Matt Costella
Satan has many seductive strategies designed to pollute the gospel and destroy the church. One of his most effective strategies goes by the attractive title “positive Christianity.” But its philosophical and practical basis is dangerous and deadly! Here’s why.
We live in a day when people are faced with conflicts in every area of life. Understandably tiring of continual conflicts, they are emotionally prepared to grasp at almost any straw to find relief. Thus it is that many Christians, longing for an end to conflict, are easy marks for Satan’s new brand of Christianity—“positive Christianity.” Sadly, many Christian leaders, including evangelicals and some fundamentalists, having become tired of the battle against sin, apostasy and compromise, are themselves being deceived by the prospect of a positive Christianity that avoids conflict and stresses love and peace.
The “positive Christianity” philosophy goes something like this: (1) The church has been too negative in its presentation of the gospel and in its relationships with people of other religions. (2) The world has not responded to the gospel because the church has emphasized the negative aspects of the gospel—sin, judgment and hell—rather than the positive, non-judgmental love of God and the self-worth of the individual. (3) The world will not listen to the church unless it becomes a united church—one that only emphasizes the positive aspects of Christianity in its relationships with other Christians as well as with those in the non-Christian world. (4) A positive presentation of the truth does not require—and in fact is hindered—by a simultaneous exposure of error. (5) Those who insist upon including the negative (exposure of error) along with the positive (presentation of truth) thereby indicate a lack of confidence in the power of truth itself. This idea is often expressed by the saying: “The truth needs no defense.” (6) Since “negative” Christianity has not succeeded, only a change to “positive” Christianity can meet the needs of the church and the world.
That such a philosophy is definitely unscriptural should be readily evident to anyone who knows and believes God’s Word, the Bible. No one ever had a greater love for the truth or spoke it more lovingly, positively and plainly than our Lord Jesus Christ, who is “the truth” (Jn. 14:6). Yet, no one ever exposed evil and error more specifically, forcefully and negatively than He (Matt. 21:1-25, 46).
“Positive Christianity” does have a nice ring to it, but it is simply not scriptural. Those who would preach the saving gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone must be both positive and negative. We must emphasize the love of God who sent His Son to be our Savior, but we also must warn sinners to flee from the wrath to come. Praise God, the church does have many wonderful, positive truths to proclaim, but it is also under orders to warn about and separate from evil and error.
The seriousness of this new “positive Christianity” is that, making use of an attractive title, it paves the way for Satan to work inside the church, protected by this unscriptural “positive only” approach which precludes any warning being given about false teachings within the church. The “positive Christianity” philosophy not only gives Satan a green light to sow the seeds of doubt and denial within the church, but provides the needed time for these evil seeds to bear bitter fruit.
If you are one who has been taken in by this “positive Christianity” deception, we urge you to repudiate this unscriptural philosophy and separate from those who are promoting it. Failure to take such steps will inevitably result in the further loss of spiritual discernment which is so essential to the spiritual welfare of every true believer!
— M. H. Reynolds Jr., (1919-1997), Foundation magazine’s founding editor