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What is Modernism?

A main tenet of modernism is that human reason, armed with the scientific method, is the only reliable means of attaining knowledge about the universe. (1)

Modernists believe that reason, not the bible, is the final authority:

Modernism may fittingly be said to have begun with the deists, a group of "free-thinkers" who were active during the early part of the 18th century in England, where they founded the Masonic Lodge. They taught that all religions are equally true since all of them, including Christianity, are merely republications of the original religion of nature. Reason, the deists insisted, and not the Bible is the supreme authority, since it is to human reason that the original religion of nature is most clearly revealed. (2)

Modernism favors humanism over dogma.

Modernism, in religion, was a general movement in the late 19th and 20th century that tried to reconcile historical Christianity with the findings of modern science and philosophy. Modernism arose mainly from the application of modern critical methods to the study of the Bible and the history of dogma and resulted in less emphasis on historic dogma and creeds and in greater stress on the humanistic aspects of religion. (3)

Modernism originated in the late 1700s in Europe and by the late 1800's it was a formidable force in the church:

Theological modernism (or liberalism) had its origin in Europe, particularly in Germany, in the 19th century and was merely the rationalistic thinking of that time applied to Christianity. It was the dawn of the “scientific era”; many men felt they were on the verge of discovering the secrets of the universe and solving the problems of mankind. Anti-Christian thinkers such as Darwin, Hegel, and Marx led the movement to dethrone God and replace Him with Man. Unregenerate “Christian” professors in many European universities and seminaries had already rejected the Word of God, so they gladly accepted the humanistic thinking of the day and set out to apply evolutionary thinking to the Bible and Christianity. The result was tragic: The Bible was considered merely a human book, inspired only in the sense that Shakespeare's writings were “inspired.” Jesus Christ was considered a mere man, good and helpful, perhaps, but a mere man nonetheless. [bold emphasis added] (4)

Thomas Newberry used the King James Bible as a platform to promote his modernist ideas about hell, the Lord Jesus Christ, and more. Newberry's modernized rendering of the Textus Receptus (republished in the George Ricker Berry Greek to English Interlinear) is being used by some to discredit the King James Bible.


(2) A Short History of Modernism
(3) Modernism
(4) New Evangelicalism--Its History by David Cloud

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