Declining Doctrine–2 John 1:4

It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.–2 John 1:4

Back in the 1830s, Ralph Waldo Emerson preached an impassioned sermon to his Boston congregation. This was, obviously, before Emerson gave up the pulpit for the lecture hall, eventually dumping all manner of criticism on those who continued the practice of preaching. In this sermon, he explained why he would not officiate over the serving of communion any longer. It made no sense, according to Emerson’s version of Christianity or even to the Unitarianism that he rebelled against.

Of course, his choice did make sense. Once you start jettisoning the central doctrines of Christianity, the process will continue. The Unitarians simply could not wrap their minds around the idea of the sinfulness of man. They couldn’t look at a world full of the bright possibilities and new beginnings, the world of the American Revolution and the Age of Reason in Europe and see man as other than marvelous. Occasionally misguided, a bit off the path now and again, but man, in their minds, could never be sinful.

Once you throw sinfulness out the window, there’s really no need for Jesus the Redeemer, is there? Jesus the moral teacher has a lot to offer, but the Lamb of God? No. No need for him, and the Holy Spirit holds scarcely any more value. That’s when you come down to Unitarianism.

We don’t worry about atonement, about sacrifice, so why would we need the Lord’s Supper? Yeah, Emerson’s sermon made perfect sense.

Proper Christian doctrine crosses the straightest eyes. People have debated fine points for centuries, but the essentials, the fundamentals, provide an area of agreement for all believers. We must hang on to them. Once they’re gone, they rarely return. Although our salvation won’t suffer, our Christian life will. So continue to walk in the truth.