Losing the Will to Discern

by John MacArthur

Truth, like one more numbered cube in a bingo game, has been tossed into the basket with every other belief and opinion imaginable. Want truth? Give the basket a spin and see what you come up with. The question being asked is no longer, "What is truth?" but "What is truth for me?" It seems nowadays, truth is in the eye of the beholder.

Because truth is no longer absolute—since we can no longer believe anything, we're told we must now believe everything. Tolerance and acceptance are the watchwords of the day. Every kind of bizarre belief, outlandish claim, aberrant experience is justified and embraced. The only things you won't find tolerated are claims to absolute truth and the exposing of error.

Our culture has been moving in that direction for decades, and that really shouldn't surprise us. What better definition is there of an unbeliever than a person who tolerates everything except God's truth? He's blind to the truth, prefers to stay that way, and will stumble along believing anything except that which places restraints on him.

But what shocks me most is how tolerance for everything but truth has found a firm foothold within Christianity. In many mainstream churches, you can teach just about anything and never be questioned. Right in step with the world, believers are shutting off their minds and letting their emotions take over. The result is a Christian faith without the boundaries of doctrine, a belief system without any beliefs. You can teach whichever pet doctrines you want—personal experience seems to be the only test needed to validate your truth.

A case in point is the Laughing Revival. It began in Toronto and is now billed as the biggest thing the Holy Spirit has done in the church this century. The August 15 [1994] edition of Time magazine carried this amazing account of a Laughing Revival service that took place at a normally sedate church:

The youthful throng buzzes with anticipation more common at a rock concert or a rugby match. After the usual Scripture readings, prayers and singing, the chairs are cleared away. [The curate] prays that the Holy Spirit will come upon the congregation. Soon a woman begins laughing. Others gradually join her with hearty belly laughs. A young worshiper falls to the floor, hands twitching. Another falls, then another and another. Within half an hour there are bodies everywhere as supplicants sob, shake, roar like lions and, strangest of all, laugh uncontrollably.

I don't mention that account to argue for or against the Laughing Revival. My point is that as bizarre a phenomenon as it is, too few Christians feel comfortable, capable, or even compelled to question the movement or compare its claims with scriptural truth. Five years ago, the Laughing Revival would have been the brunt of a major scandal within the Christian community. Today it is simply an alternative experience.

The Laughing Revival is not an isolated example of the church turning its back on truth. Whether it's psychology, mysticism, pragmatism, or the barter of doctrine for political gain, compromising biblical truth can have only one effect: disaster.

Yet if you dare go against the grain and question such compromises, you are labeled unloving, divisive, or mean-spirited. Some would rather have a superficial unity based on doctrinal compromise than authentic unity based on truth. It's as if clear spiritual vision—the ability to separate right from wrong, truth from error—is a curse. We would never consider driving blindfolded, yet that is precisely how we're being urged to live the Christian life. Truth, along with the ability to understand, interpret, and apply it to our lives is no longer of value. In short, we no longer value the skill of discernment.


Taken from a public letter

Further reading:
"The War Against Reason" by John MacArthur
"The Rise of Reckless Faith" by John MacArthur


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