Saturday, November 11, 2006

"WHATEVER" CHRISTIANITY

(I subscribe to the conservative editorial news site News With Views, which features weekly articles from various conservative sources. Although I do not agree 100% with their religious views or the various resources that they cite - such as their use of just any old Bible - I value their thoughts and opinions and often they come up with some precious GEMS!!! Here is an excerpt of one of those I especially like.... click on the above link to read the entire article.)

"Any of it [teaching] that is good is in the Word of God, and any that is not in the Word of God is not good. I am a Bible Christian and if an archangel with a wingspread as broad as a constellation shining like the sun were to come and offer me some new truth, I'd ask him for a reference. If he could not show me where it is found in the Bible, I would bow him out and say, 'I'm awfully sorry, you don't bring any references with you'" -- A.W. Tozer

Many Christians are adopting the new "spirituality" and tossing out orthodoxy like an old ragged pair of jeans. Believers have settled into "progressive churches" and have lost touch with objective truth found in God's Word. Followers of Jesus Christ must submit to the absolute authority of the Bible. Jesus said, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God'" (Matthew 4:4). (Note this and the following scripture references are not taken from the King James Bible, but it is copied directly from her article)

What Paul referred to as a "different gospel" has been introduced into churches through music, books, false teachers and unorthodox movements. The authority of the Bible is trumped by what is deemed politically correct, thus watering down the Gospel of Jesus Christ. "Liberal or conservative," says Chuck Colson, "if you weaken the Bible as your authority, you give up more than just some ancient set of dogmas and rules. You give up joy, excitement, the very heart of the Christian faith. You lose what I call the thrill of orthodoxy - the exhilaration of experiencing and living out eternal truth that has been lived through the ages."

So, if the Bible isn't a Christian's authority, what is? Short answer: Anything he or she wants it to be. You sort of make up your religion as you go along. Does this strike a cord?

Christianity has become a blend of religious beliefs. Add a pinch of modern psychology, a dash of Buddhism, a teaspoonful of Catholic mysticism, a cup of New Age spirituality, mix well, and viola! You've cooked up a batch of New Age Christianity.

Where were the faithful when doctrines of demons sunk its teeth into Christendom? The followers of Jesus Christ are to "contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 1:3). This is every Christian's mission!

Let's face it. Most believers were too busy with everyday life to sweat the small stuff, like what was going on inside the hallowed sanctuaries of local churches. Christians who recognized all the aberrant teaching did little or nothing to challenge it. Instead they decided to let it slide. And slide it did. Right into the pit of moral relativism! What resulted is "Whatever" Christianity. Whatever makes you happy; whatever feels right; whatever it takes to draw the unsaved into churches; whatever works. Basically, whatever floats your boat. In a word, pragmatism. (Pragmatism is the idea that if something works it must be true. Put another way, the end justifies the means.)

Those who practice pragmatic Christianity believe that today's churches must be relevant. The Church has to adjust to our modern culture. In order to recruit the unsaved, Christianity must rid itself of its antiquated dogma and doctrines. The Church must become "inclusive," "non-judgmental," and "tolerant." To accomplish this, the atmosphere in churches should be warm and inviting and its members must be friendly.

As well, church sanctuaries must do away with anything that might offend seekers. Hence no cross, no choir, no organ, no stained glass, no pews, anything that smacks of tradition must be done away with. Pragmatists reason that churches in a plain brown wrapper are more palatable to the seeker-sensitive crowd. The unchurched prefer up beat contemporary music played loud. Hymns are for old fogies. Seekers love their mocas and latt├ęs, don't ya know, so churches should have an espresso bar on the premises. It's a good idea to add a few parking spaces in front of the worship center (the use of "church" could be offensive) for first time visitors. Wow 'em!

The results of "Whatever" Christianity are in. The Church has lost its salt. The light of Christ has gone out. The Gospel is compromised. Christianity stands for, well, not much of anything anymore. Churches now boast of "gays" and lesbians in the pulpit. For the New Age population, churches offer worship services that blend Christianity with Eastern religious practices and neo-paganism, which includes goddess worship, earth spiritualism, Shamanism and Native American spirituality. Incorporated into services of mainline denominations you'll discover humanism, radical feminist theology, evolution and Jungian psychology.

Columnist David Aikman's words ring true. "For Americans variety of choice in any domain of life is seen as an inherent virtue, the greater it is, the greater the virtue. Americans like to experiment, to 'mix and match,' and in religion it's no different than in the department store. A friend who attended Yale divinity school a few years ago had a classmate who signed herself in as a 'Catholic Buddhist.'"

Variety is the spice of life, as they say. This even applies to a person's sacred beliefs! No wonder Christianity isn't taken seriously anymore. Who can define it? Ingrid Schlueter warns, "Defining our terms is becoming more and more important in this hour. The words may be the same, but the meanings can be very, very different." Indeed.

Christians must become skilled at recognizing heresy and false teaching within the Church. Paul warns believers to make sure that "no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ" (Col. 2:8). Paul is addressing human philosophy and experiences. Believers are to be alert to any philosophy or teaching that gives humanity credit for being the answer to all life's problems.

Rick Warren an ultra-conservative? Not so fast. Rick Warren made the following statement regarding Christian fundamentalism: "Now the word 'fundamentalist' actually comes from a document in the 1920s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith. And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity, and when I say there are very few fundamentalists, I mean in the sense that they are all actually called fundamentalist churches, and those would be quite small. There are no large ones?I am an evangelical. I'm not a member of the [ultra-conservatiive] religious right and I'm not a fundamentalist ...Today there really aren't that many Fundamentalists left; I don't know if you know that or not, but they are such a minority; there aren't that many Fundamentalists left in America." (Rick Warren, Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, May 23, 2005)

Are the "five fundamentals" really a legalistic, narrow view of Christianity? First of all, there is no document called the "Five Fundamentals of the Faith." The name "fundamentalist" came from a series of books called "The Fundamentals" which was published from 1910-1915. The series did not promote "five fundamentals" but rather dozens of fundamentals. The original formulation of American fundamentalist beliefs are 1) the inerrancy of the Bible, 2) the virgin birth of Christ, 3) the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, 4) the bodily resurrection of Christ, 5) the imminent return of Jesus Christ. To say any less is heresy.

Would Rick Warren get into a debate over the essentials of Christianity? Or would that be too divisive?

Rebecca Merrill Groothuis asks this challenging question, "What would happen if churches began focusing on ministry to God in worship before concentrating on ministries geared toward meeting people's many needs? What if 'upreach' preceded outreach? If church growth were understood in terms of the spiritual growth of its members?"

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim,

My name is Rod and I live in Knoxville, Tennessee. I have been reading your post for some time. They have been very helpful to me and I wanted to say thank you. May God continue to bless you and your family.

Thanks,
Rod

3:38 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

Rod,

Thanks for the kind words... I'm glad the Lord has given you some help through what I may have posted here on my blog. I have a dear Pastor friend in Knoxville... have you ever visited Antioch Baptist Church???

Standing in the Gap,
Bro. Jim

9:57 PM  

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