On Easter Sunday, Raphael Warnock, Georgia’s junior senator and the senior pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where Martin Luther King Jr. once pastored, posted a since-deleted tweet in which he suggested people are able to achieve salvation through their own works.
“The meaning of Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” he wrote. “Whether you are Christian or not, through a commitment to helping others we are able to save ourselves.”
It didn’t take long for Christian leaders to point out Warnock’s blatant disregard for the central message of the Bible.
“Easter is not a story for moral motivation toward good works,” former NFL tight end Benjamin Watson responded on Twitter. “The resurrection reveals our INABILITY to save ourselves in this life or the next, proving Jesus alone holds that power. Urging people to help others need not come at the expense of doctrine. To do so is heresy.”
In a LinkedIn post, John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, explained that a simple tweet like Warnock’s reveals the pervasiveness of progressive Christianity in today’s culture.
“The theological problems are obvious … no one can save themselves,” he said, “and Easter is only about the resurrection, an event that not only transcends but gives meaning to all of human history.
“Still, to miss these two points, on which Scripture is so obvious, demonstrates that progressive Christianity is really no Christianity at all, offering wholly different views about Christ, sin and salvation,” he continued. “It also demonstrates that our beliefs come in bunches. A shift in theology will inevitably lead to a shift in ethics. And a shift in ethics will inevitably lead to a shift in theology. In other words, worldview matters.”
David Closson, director of Christian ethics and Biblical worldview at Family Research Council, warned that Warnock’s Easter proclamation was likely posted with ulterior motives.
“Warnock, despite pastoring a well-known church, holds to a progressive form of Christianity that regularly co-opts the Gospel for social action and reduces Christian faith to nothing more than a means to something else,” he said. “For many so-called ‘progressive’ Christians, the Bible’s message of reconciliation with a holy God is subservient to political and cultural goals.
“… Raphael Warnock is free to believe and teach whatever he wants,” Closson added. “However, the message he is preaching of salvation through good works directly contradicts the Gospel of Jesus Christ which promises salvation on the basis of Christ’s completed work on the cross. Faith in Jesus, not works, is the only way to be saved (see Acts 4:12).”
Photo: Curtis Compton/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS/Abaca Press/Alamy Stock Photo