Saturday, June 9, 2018

Are You A Member Of The Universal Church? (Conservative vs. Liberal Churches)

            THE PROBLEM: As we continue to live our lives as Christians, the spiritual deterioration of the church is distressing. On the one hand, there is a church that is conservative in nature, which professes to the Lordship of Christ by worshipping HIM as the God who came to save the lost. This church, for instance, believes that:

            1. The Bible is God’s Word and it’s infallible/trustworthy.

            2. Christ was born of a virgin.

            3. Christ rose again from the grave in bodily form.

            4. Belief in Christ is essential for salvation.

            On the other hand, there is another church that is liberal in nature, which also professes to the Lordship of Christ. The liberal church considers the Lord Jesus as the one who came to help the poor and the oppressed. Salvation [of people] is not the mission of this church. This church believes that:

            1. The Bible is not “God-breathed” and it contains errors.

            2. Christ was not born of a virgin.

            3. Christ did not rise from the grave in bodily form.

            4. Belief in Christ is not essential for salvation - everyone will be saved, even a practicing Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian or an Atheist, Agnostic or a Skeptic.

            Both these churches exist – the conservative and the liberal. Both these churches label themselves as Christian. They profess to the Lordship of Christ.

            But the Jesus whom they worship is not the same. (Either Christ was born of a virgin or HE did not. Either HE rose again from the grave in bodily form or HE did not.)

            Therefore, from a strictly spiritual sense, it is either one of these churches – the conservative or the liberal – that can be Christian. So from the perspective of truth and eternity, the bearer of the truth is either the conservative or the liberal church; not both the conservative and the liberal church.

            The Bible accentuates this problem. The presence of conservative and liberal churches emphasizes the existence of true and false believers in Christianity. The Bible speaks of this fact, which Norman Geisler highlights, “The Bible exhorts us to “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1) so that we can know “the spirit of truth” (v. 6). Paul warned against “deceitful spirits” (1 Tim. 4:1), and Jesus exhorted us to beware of “false prophets” (Mat. 24:11) who are really “wolves” that come “in sheep’s clothing” (Mat. 7:15).”1

            THE VISIBLE & THE INVISIBLE CHURCH: While discussing the theme of the church, the terms “visible church” and “invisible church” vis-à-vis the terms “local church” and “universal church” should be understood.

            The Greek word “Ekklesia” is commonly translated as church. Etymologically, the word ekklesia means “to call out.” This is used to support the biblical doctrine of the church as a people called out, and separated from the world by God. The New Testament uses ekklesia in the sense of the ‘local church’ and the ‘universal church.’ It is certainly not used for a church building or a particular denomination.

            The Local Church is the local or the visible assembly of all those who profess faith and allegiance to Christ. It could refer to a specific church (1 Thessalonians 1:1) or churches or any nonspecified individual assembly (“every church,” 1 Corinthians 4:17) or a nonspecified number of churches or for all the churches together (“all churches.” 1 Corinthians 7:17).

            The Universal Church is the invisible and the universal fellowship of the believers who meet visibly in local churches. The Universal Church refers to the spiritual unity of all believers in Christ. Ekklesia, in this sense, is not the assembly, but rather those constituting it; they are the church whether assembled or not. states, “Sometimes the universal church is called the “invisible church”—invisible in the sense of having no street address, GPS coordinates, or physical building and in the sense that only God can see who is truly saved.”2

            Two important points are to be assimilated:

            (1) The local church consists of the true believers and the false/fake Christians, who think/say that they are Christians, but in reality, they are not.

            (2) The universal church consists of the true believers in Christ. The universal church cannot contain the false/fake Christians.

            A Christian could be a member of a local church, but if his Christianity is fake or untenable, then he/she would not be a part of the universal church. In other words, if you are a member of a liberal church, then you should genuinely be concerned about your eternal destiny.

            HOW TO IDENTIFY A LIBERAL CHURCH? Knowledge of the truth is essential to identify a lie, says Norman Geisler, “Unfortunately, the truth is that one cannot discern what is false unless he is trained in what is true. Government agents who deal in counterfeits spend much of their time in studying genuine currency. The reason is simple:  we cannot recognize a counterfeit unless we know the genuine. Since Barna surveys show that less than ten-percent of evangelical Christians even have a Christian world view, it is no surprise that even the masses of Christians can be fooled by a good counterfeit theology…”3

            The liberal churches preach and proliferate a counterfeit theology. Christian apologetics website, has a very helpful note to identify the liberal churches:4

Following is a list of basic principles and examples that reveal some aspects of liberalism.  Of course, not all liberals hold to all the points; but as you read through them, you should see that it comes down to one thing--not believing the Bible for what it says.
1. Denial of inspiration, inerrancy, and/or authority of the Bible
     1. Saying that the Bible has errors, is "written by man," is only a guide, or is not absolutely true.
2. Denying historic accuracy of the Bible
1. Denying that Adam, Eve, Moses, Jesus, etc., were real people.
2. Denying that the Exodus happened.
3. Denying that there was an actual Garden of Eden, etc.
3. Denial of particular parts of the Bible as being authentic
1. Denying that Moses wrote Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
2. Denying Paul's letter's as authentic.
3. Denying that the Gospels are accurate, etc.
4. Denial (sic) a basic Christian doctrine
1. Trinity, deity of Christ, resurrection, etc.
2. Salvation by grace.
3. Denying that Jesus is the only way to salvation, the doctrine of hell, etc.
5. Denial of historic understanding of Scripture and substituting new ones
1. Redefining salvation as self-deliverance from oppression.
2. Saying that Jesus' didn't literally rise from the dead and that it is a metaphor for success over trials.
3. "Husband of one wife" is not taken literally.  It is a phrase applied to wives, too.
4. Homosexuality is not a sin; it is an alternative lifestyle.
6. Affirming experience over Scripture
1. A person's feelings supersede biblical revelation.
2. "Feeling" that Jesus isn't the only way to God.
3. As long as you are sincere, God will let you go to heaven.
7. Using outside sources to interpret scripture
1. Use of psychology manuals, self-help books, science books, etc. and subjecting the Bible to their teaching.
8. Saying the Bible is outdated, patriarchal
1. This is an attempt to invalidate scripture by dismissing it as ancient and, therefore, not true.
2. It also negates the inspiration of Scripture because it implies the patriarchal structure is due to cultural influence and not scriptural revelation.
9. Imposing secular ideals upon Scripture
1. Women ordination.
2. Pro homosexuality.
3. Denying moral absolutes.
4. Upholding evolution as how mankind arrived on earth.
5. Defending "abortion rights" from scripture.
10. Gender Neutral wording in reference to God, people, mankind, etc.
1. Referring to God as Mother God or Father-Mother God.
2. Referring to various references of male leaders as people.
        3. Christians who are a part of liberal churches should reject that church. 

            So to conclude, every Christian should be duly concerned about his/her membership in the universal church while maintaining and growing in his/her membership in a local church that preaches conservative Christianity.


1 (The Shack: Helpful or Heretical? by Norman L. Geisler and Bill Roach)


3 (The Shack: Helpful or Heretical? by Norman L. Geisler and Bill Roach)


Websites last accessed on 9th June 2018.

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