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Blog

Nominalism

Gavin Peacock

I am increasingly concerned that nominalism is a central problem in the church. There are many many who are Christian in name only. Jesus died that we - the church- might live the Sermon on the Mount. Yet we are not distinct enough in the West. We are too much like the world, so how will the world be attracted to us. We are not characterized by righteousness and justice. I believe Martin Lloyd Jones was a prophetic voice in the mid twentieth century when he published his Studies in the Sermon on the Mount because of the superficiality that he saw in the church. In his famous speech "Evangelical Unity" in 1966 at the Evangelical Alliance he called evangelicals out of the what was becoming an increasingly lukewarm church in the UK and was not heeded. We have emphasized fellowship ahead of doctrine. If we don't have truth first what are we unified in? It was 'evangelical' unity that Lloyd Jones wanted - unified around the truth of orthodoxy.

Christ calls us to a radical discipleship that is impossible to do without him.  He says "Do what you cannot do". This at once both discourages us and gives us great hope. It discourages us because we cannot do it, but that's just the point he brings us to the end of ourselves so that we may not boast and drive us to him and to trust and reliance on his promises and commands so that he gets the glory. I think the reason that the church is in a poor and powerless state in the West in general is because we are not holy. We have departed from the Word of God. We are lukewarm and Jesus will spit that out. He wants the church to be refreshing, either hot or cold. Jesus loves his church and calls those who are his to repentance. Let us hear his voice today.

I am interested in any thoughts on the problem of nominalism. It is multilayered and complex in both its causes (note Simon Cragg's comments on my post Across to Bears) and its definition.