“The lies that capture us as Christians usually seem to fit well within the borders of our Christianity. Perhaps postmodernism and sexual immorality are not the greatest threats to the church of Christ in our day. Perhaps we are in more danger from the subtle lies that flow from subtle shifts in how we understand the gospel. We have not forsaken the faith, but we may have redefined it in ways that are fundamentally different from the gospel laid out in Scripture.
This redefinition of the faith does not happen all at once. It may not even surface in the public theological discussions of the church. Rather, the redefinition is a process of subtle steps at the practical level of the church’s fellowship, life, and ministry. Hope in Christ gets replaced with Christian activity, emotional experiences, Christian fellowship, or something else, without anyone consciously redefining or forsaking the faith.”
–Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp in How People Change
Lane and Tripp list the following ism’s as pretensions to the gospel. They use the word pretension to indicate a plausible lie. A lie that can be easily believed. The ism’s are:
- Formalism – being busy with meetings and service
- Legalism – following a list of dos and don’ts
- Mysticism – looking for the next spiritual high
- Activism – a campaign against evil
- Biblicism – being the theological expert
- Psychology-ism – a focus on healing the hurts
- Socialism – focusing on relationships and connection
As they point out in the book these are so attractive because each of them has a part of what it means to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I should also point out that rather than using these as labels to pigeon hole others we should look at this list as potential pitfalls for ourselves. It is my guess that we are all tempted to be out of balance in one or more of these areas. I know for sure that I am.