Synthetic Christianity

Georg William Frederick Hegel (1770-1831) was a German philosopher whose dialectical method has become the dominant thought pattern for most people in the world today—including so-called evangelical pastors and theologians in the United States. His methodology is non-evangelical to the core and it is a dangerous inconsistency for any Christian to hold to it. It amounts to the denial of absolute truth. Most Christians and most pastors/theologians would deny Hegel’s dialectical method. Sadly, they still think according to Hegelian dialecticism nonetheless.  

So, what is Hegel’s dialectical method? The old methodology was to think in terms of truth and error; right and wrong; pros and cons. Hegel changed that way of thinking by offering a third way—the synthesis of the thesis and antithesis. Hegel’s synthesis becomes a higher truth and a new truth which replaces the old stalemate of thesis and antithesis. For many years, the Church pushed back against the Hegelian dialectical method, but it has been a thorn in the side of Christianity for most of the past two centuries. The result is a new kind of Christianity which really is not Christianity at all. It is not Scriptural Christianity. Rather, it is synthetic Christianity based on the false and synthetic truth of Hegelianism. 

So, what exactly is Hegel’s dialectical method? In simple terms, Hegel’s dialecticism says that instead of competing positions called thesis and antithesis, there needs to be a combination of both which forms a synthesis. That synthesis is the new truth and is a higher truth than either of other two ever were. If we start with the thesis that the Scripture is the infallible, inerrant Word of God, the antithesis would be that Scripture is none of those things. Hegel’s method was to try to bring those two competing positions together. Sadly, he has been wildly successful and the Church has suffered the devastating consequences. 

One of the reasons that it is so hard to debate the great issues of our day, whether in the Church or in the world, is because people invariably fall back into a Hegelian dialectical mode of thinking. I witnessed such Hegelian thinking one time—among many such times—at a meeting of the Standing Judicial Commission. The ruling elder commissioner who gave the devotion—later he was elected Moderator of the General Assembly—was speaking about Christ’s parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. He set forth the idea that all of us are both Pharisees and Publicans. Then, he used some new terms—Pharicans and Publicees—to describe us. Essentially, he said that there was no difference between them. Of course, he might want to read the Scripture again in Luke 18:9-14 because Jesus clearly taught that there was a huge difference between them. One man, the Publican, went to his justified. The other, the Pharisee, was not justified. Jesus operated off of the thesis—antithesis way of thinking. The whole Scripture does. There are sheep and there are goats. There are lost and saved. There is truth and error. There is heaven and hell. There are some who are justified and many who are not. There is no synthesis in the Scripture between truth and error, right and wrong, heaven and hell, etc. 

When the PCA elected an ad-interim committee in 2019 to report back to the GA in 2020 about human sexuality and LGBTQ, etc., I wrote almost immediately that the committee would not approach the matter from a thesis—antithesis viewpoint, but would combine both sides into the same report. That is exactly what the committee did when the report came out in 2020. Sadly, even the most evangelical ministers in the PCA could not see what had happened. The right approach would have been to write a report that had both affirmations and denials. That is not what happened. The report had affirmations and an equal number of nevertheless statements to counter each affirmation. The evangelical Church has never before approached a matter of truth by stating its affirmations and then stating several nevertheless statements. Now, I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I had already witnessed the Hegelian methodology being used in many instances. What was dismaying to me was that people who should know better could not see that the report was based on Hegel’s dialectical method. One very well-known minister told me that the report was so strong on the affirmations that the nevertheless statements would prove to be meaningless. Brethren, beware of naivete. 

The great problem of the Church today is that the world and the world’s wisdom has been invited in and given a seat at the table. That is why there are many voices in the Church that say, “I believe in the gospel, but I am all for social justice. Social justice is the gospel.” “I believe in Christ, but I believe that Critical Race Theory—despite its Marxism—is Christian.” “I do not support homosexuality, but I believe that some people are Christians who struggle with homosexuality.” In other words, instead of holding to the thesis—antithesis paradigm, the Church has conformed to the world and the moral drift of the world and has combined the two positions into a new one. The Church is now propagating synthetic Christianity. No wonder there is disaster everywhere. There is only one way out of this mess. There must be a return to the Scripture as the only objective truth available to the Church. Neither sociology nor psychology nor anthropology nor any other ology can give us the whole truth. True theology based on the infallible and inerrant Word of God is our only hope.

As our nation pauses to celebrate July 4th and the 247th year since our nation was constituted, we need to remember what is that led our founding fathers to come to this country. The persecution of Christian pastors and Christians in Great Britain as a result of Black Bartholomew’s Day in 1662 was the driving force. Our pilgrim fathers wanted the opportunity to worship according to the dictates of their consciences enlightened by the Scripture. Now, in these United States Christians are increasingly considered to be the enemy of the nation. That is the way things were in the old Soviet Union when meetings of Christians were considered to be against state security and Christians were enemies of the nation. How did we get here? Very simple. We adopted the Hegelian dialectical method for thinking. There was not national referendum. Instead, we did it individually. We did it as denominations and seminaries and congregations and as ministers and as Christians. We replaced authentic Christianity with synthetic Christianity. How has that worked out? 

Dewey Roberts, Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Destin, FL

Please mail any donations to: Vanguard Presbytery, PO Box 1862, Destin, FL 32540    

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: