Just read two articles. The first by Dave Black , entitled “Rhino Evangelism”, and then Arthur Sido ,asking the question, “Is it possible to have your soteriology right but still not understand the Gospel?”
Interestingly for me, they touch on one issue, on which I am thoroughly convinced, affecting the life of evangelical Christianity; pseudo Christians, or fake Christians.
I am NOT saying that all, who fit the situation Dave and Arthur are writing about are false. I AM saying that I’m convinced that there are people, maybe many, who have all the intellectual knowledge and training available to Christians , can speak the language of Systematic Theology, convincingly converse, and live with the appearance a being genuine Christian.
A Jewish woman became a member of a Baptist Church in the U.S., professing to be a Christian, was accepted as such and functioned in that church for, as I understand it, two years. She finally admitted she was actually an atheist who had infiltrated the church for her own purposes.
It has been my own experience to spend several years with so-called Christians who were the product of the “Rhino Evangelism” of which Dave speaks. Having undergone training from which they developed an amazing knowledge of systematic theology, etc., they certainly, genuinely believed they were Christians, but proved to be otherwise.
How do I know they were not what the professed?
By their own, later, confession and testimony!
One such person, I have written about previously who was a deacon for twenty-six years, the church secretary for most of those years, led a boys club for most of that time, as well as filling the pastor’s shoes when he was absent. He knew the doctrines of salvation very well!
He came to me one Monday morning, and with tears streaming down his face said, “John! I am not Christian! I have fooled myself and deceived the church!”
I saw that man respond to the Holy Spirit in a truly life changing manner. He stood before the church the next Sunday and tearfully told his story to a shocked church.
This was God’s doing!
During my long life, sadly, I have seen this kind of thing repeated far more times than I would care to enumerate.
There can be no doubt that there are sincere, good living people, many led to where they are by the leadership of the church to which they belong, who are in fact deceived into believing they are saved.
It would be quite in order to ask whether there are such pseudo Christians in leadership.
In my opinion, far more than we may realize.
Have you ever asked those whom you hold in high esteem as leaders, elders, pastors, deacons to explain to you why they can claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ?
Have you accepted the lie that, because they have academic qualifications and knowledge that they are more spiritual, more holy, more important in God’s scheme of things, that they are beyond question?
Maybe that’s why evangelicalism is falling apart at the seams.
Matthew Mead (1629-1699) wrote a book entitled “The Almost Christian Discovered” in which he proposes some of the following points:
- A man may have much knowledge—and yet be but almost a Christian
- A man may have a high profession of religion, be much in external duties of
godliness—and yet be but almost a Christian
- A man may go far in opposing his sin—and yet be but almost a Christian
- A man may hate sin—and yet be but almost a Christian
- A man may make great vows and promises, strong purposes and resolutions against
sin—and yet be but an almost Christian
- A man may maintain a strife and combat against sin—and yet be but almost a
- A man may be a member of a Christian church—and yet be but almost a Christian
- A man may have great hopes of heaven—and yet be but almost a Christian
- A man may be under visible changes—and yet be but almost a Christian
- A man may be very zealous in matters of religion—and yet be but almost a Christian
- A man may be much in prayer—and yet be but almost a Christian
- A man may suffer for Christ—and yet be but almost a Christian
- A man may have faith—and yet be but almost a Christian
- A man may have a love to the people of God—and yet be but almost a Christian
- A man may obey the commands of God—and yet be but almost a Christian
- A man may do all the external duties and worship which a true Christian can—and
yet be but almost a Christian.
I don't like the term "almost Christian". We are either saved or lost, Christian or non-Christian, but Mead points out a common problem of today:
Mead says this "almost Christian" is a proud person who sees in himself a righteous beauty, but cannot see his deformity. He sees his abilities—but not his spots. He sees his seeming righteousness—but not his real wretchedness.