Three Main Stops on the Road to Apostasy
If I were to characterize the 3 major stops on the road of apostasy, I would call the whole road, "faithless." Each of these steps takes away understanding that should be there. You can't turn an actual saved person apostate, so this attack on faith relates to people not getting a genuine faith. It produces stony, thorny, and then hard ground. However, it very easily gives people a replacement, impostor faith. Many think they’re saved, but they’re not. And the trek, the map toward apostasy, lists these major stops in the following order, I believe.
1. Not Understanding What the Words of God Are. Not referring to denying God’s Word as far as questioning its inspiration, which is less subtle and does surely happen, but rather not being sure what the words of God actually are. This, of course, does take away from the confidence in the authority of Scripture. Even though Scripture promises perfect preservation of every word of Scripture, accessible to every generation, this is denied by almost this entire generation of so-called evangelicalism and fundamentalism, contrary to the biblical and historical position. Therefore, most professing Christians are unsure about every word. They don't know. Generally, they are told lies about this.
They are told that all the words are somewhere in the preponderance of the manuscripts and that’s their position, even though they don’t actually believe that. Then they say that the biblical position, believing that God would preserve every word He inspired as promised, is a heterodox doctrine, which is an abominable lie, especially since it is their position that is novel and contradictory to scripture. They generally don't tell their people that they don't know what the words of scripture are, even though they don't believe they know or even can know. They just might be afraid of telling their people that bit of news, seeing that they themselves likely know how that tends toward apostasy.
Their fall back position is that the amount of variation doesn't change doctrine, but then you find they mean that it doesn't change any major doctrine. In fact, the differences change the meaning of scripture and doctrine (as exposed previously), including what the Bible says about its own preservation. Questions arise, such as, if God could inspire a perfect scripture, why couldn't He keep it for us, especially when He promised He would? And this question has motivated a new concept of “inerrancy.” The attention turns back on the so-called original manuscripts, which, of course, they don't believe we have.
Here’s how this results in apostasy. If we can't know what the words are, then how can we know what they mean or how they apply? How can we expect obedience, when we’re still arguing about what they are? When there is so much diversity on what the Bible is, how can we expect people to understand what the Bible means? If we’re to live by every word, but we don't have every word, then we have to allow for some disobedience. And if man concocted rules provide the strongest basis for what the words are, how can the Bible be a supernatural book? If knowing what the words are is optional, shouldn't some obedience be optional? The uncertainty is doubt and doubt doesn't engender faith but apostasy.
2. Not Understanding What the Words of God Mean. You get meaning from words. If you don't know what the words are, then you can't know what the Bible means. Not totally. And are you going to base your life on something of a sliding scale of certainty? On a supernatural book with alleged errors? They say, "But not in the original manuscripts!" Ok. Doesn’t do us much good now, who don't possess those originals. The words seem more basic than the meaning. If we couldn't pass the words down through history, then how could we pass the meaning down through history, especially with all the disagreement there is. Outside of the preserved text position, there is little unity on meaning of scripture.
The way most professing Christians deal with the uncertainty is by saying that we've got to agree to disagree on the non-essentials. And then they will point out that Peter said many things are hard to be understood. Hard to be understood is not can't be understood, but it's the best place to read in that meaning for those who find it necessary. It’s also “some,” not “many.” The Bible we do have doesn't read like God doesn't expect all of it, every word of it, to be done, to be obeyed. It reads like God wants everything, every word, done. But since that isn't happening, manifest everywhere around us today, evangelicals and fundamentalists say it can't happen.
Therefore we've got to make the best of this bad situation by agreeing to disagree except on the essentials or the fundamentals or the gospel, or an acceptable range of variation on the gospel. Uncertainly is celebrated. A wide diversity of belief and practice is embraced. No wonder unbelievers could find this hard to believe. The world in which we live doesn't even operate with the kind of uncertainty expected. The created universe operates with perfect precision. And the things man makes, if they are going to work, have to expect detailed conformity and workability. But that apparently is not applicable to the actual Word of God, the thing most precise, and inerrant in this world!
3. Not Understanding How the Words of God Apply. Application seems several notches removed from interpretation and several more from what the words are. If you can't be sure of the first two, the last one seems hopeless. And this is where we’re at today, as I have repeatedly observed in dealings with evangelicals, reformers and other fundamentalists over basic Biblical applications. Historical Christian applications have been rejected, ejected, marginalized, or abandoned by these people. If you talk about applications like you know, you're proud. There are so many ways, easy ones, to explain away application, when you've already done so with the interpretation and the identity of the words.
Most application of scripture assumes the truth or certainty of a second or minor premise. It assumes, for instance, that we know what corrupt communication is or ungodly music or the attire of a harlot, or gender distinctive attire (De 22:5), or love of the world, and much more. In other words, scripture assumes truth in the real world. It assumes truth can be applied. That we should know that we can know. We can't apply much of scripture without that assumption. Many things fall under this premise, and even these naysayers will apply scripture to assumptions. Like what? Drugs, smoking, porn, abortion, maybe even sodomite marriage. Such hypocritical positions mostly reveal unregeneracy.
Peter commands, “abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul,” (1 Pet 2:11) and Paul likewise (Rom 13:14), but today fleshly lust is essentially totally ambiguous. No one can know what to abstain from, so it can't be expected to be obeyed. “Love not the world” assumes that we understand the spirit of the world. But how could we know that, if we don't know what the words are or what they mean? Gal 5:24 declares, “And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” The naysayers clearly don’t understand what Gal 5:24 means, thus likely and unwittingly exposing an unsaved nature.
These 3 steps are the directions toward apostasy as I see it. People aren’t getting a genuine faith, and then given credence to a faux “faith.” There are certainly some corollaries to those. When men can't sustain linear thought, they won't be interested enough in scripture to pay attention to it. And sure, they are actually rebellious, which is why they don't want to know what the words are, to understand what they mean, or put them into practice. Not knowing is a convenient excuse for the rebel. It won't work in the end with God: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” (Jn 12:48).
What Johnson and Wallace are saying, that mirrors Dreher's statement, is true in a sense. Here's how. Postmoderns either want their own way or they want for their friends the liberty of their own way, and so they'll reject whatever version of Christianity (there's only one) that won't allow for one of those two. Uncertainty is a gateway to doing what you want. You can't tell someone they're wrong when you're not sure, so it's imperative that you're not sure, ironically. Of course, it nibbles around the edges of truth like a school of piranhas. And it's a cop-out. There's nothing in the Bible that blames assurance for apostasy. Nothing. It's a false theory, a man's opinion, that is "above that which is written" (1 Cor 4:6).