The Passing Fancy of Fad-Driven Faith

This gal just gets it. She hits the bullseye, then draws back her bow and splits the embedded arrow right down the middle. Harriet Baber, a journalist for the UK’s Guardian comments on the Crystal Cathedral’s recent filing for bankruptcy, then proceeds to pinpoint the failings of modern evangelicalism.  Here’s an excerpt:

So if you wonder why Americans are, anomalously, religious it is because we have evacuated religion of all content. There are of course theological doctrines on the books, which church members tick off, in the way that they agree to accept screenfuls of conditions for installing new software. But most have no serious interest in these theoretical matters. Whether signing on for a new therapy or self-help programme, trying out a new diet or a new church, they are looking for a bag of tricks, a collection of gimmicks and recipes that will get them the material prosperity, perfect health, beautiful bodies, ideal relationships and complete happiness to which they believe they are entitled.

Read the full article HERE.

HT: Crosstalk blog

One Month to Live

Note: Don’t be alarmed.  The post title refers to a book, not my current state of health.

Last month I put out a post asking for book recommendations for a summer reading program one of our church deacons is starting up this summer to encourage reading in our congregation.  Of course, we visualize taking up sound biblical materials.  My leanings are towards theological works that have been well established – Christian classics.  I submitted a fine list of books that aren’t heavy, dry or technical, written by a wide variety of well respected (and theologically orthodox) writers. Well, in a nutshell, my picks were shot down before they could take flight.  My deacon friend doesn’t believe most  people (that is, believing Christians in the church) will be interested in theology!  This boggles my mind, frankly.  I consider myself an ordinary fellow of average intellect.  Yet, I have an unquenchable yearning for the knowledge of God.  This comes from God’s call upon me to become his own possession, a beloved child in his vast, ever-expanding family.  As such, I desire to know this God who has rescued me and washed me clean of all my sins. The doctrine of the bible is for the simple and unlearned as well as for the towering intellectual.  Theology is not at heart a purely academic pursuit.  It is the pursuit of God Almighty.   I have a hard time grasping the concept that true believers don’t desire the same things.  My yearning may be at a high level because of the calling on my life to teach eternal truths, but surely every believer wants to intimately know the God who saved them to some degree.  Every Christian most certainly needs this knowledge to grow in the grace whereby they are saved.

Of course, I know where the deacon’s line of thinking stems from.  It has flooded modern evangelicalism for decades now.  The church growth\seeker-sensitive movement thrives on a non-doctrinal paradigm of Christian pragmatism. Don’t give church-goers what they need, give them what they want – in liberal doses.  This pragmatic approach may attract multitudes of church-goers but does little to produce true disciples of Christ.  So the wants of a typical church filled with ‘seekers’ (those who haven’t made any kind of commitment to Christ but are interested) do not match those in the church who are truly Christians.  The focus of seeker-sensitive churches sits squarely upon the seeker and his carnal wants instead of the classic doctrines of the bible: teachings such as man’s sinfulness, God’s wrathful judgment against sin, the means of salvation and sanctification he has provided through Christ’s atoning work on the cross and the heart-changing ministry of the Holy Spirit.  I suppose congregants who have no zest for doctrine and theology are considered ‘babes in Christ’ who need to be nurtured in a pastel colored nursery by coochie-coochie-coo care-takers that speak condescendingly about moral platitudes from the life of King David. Unfortunately, seeker-sensitive churches often have no plans to move toddlers out of the nursery.  They keep them content with toys and entertainment. Continue reading

The Collapse of Evangelicalism

I just picked up a recent copy of The Baptist Messenger and one of the articles immediately caught my attention.  It was originally written last year by Michael Spencer, known in Cyberspace as the Internet Monk.  Sadly, Michael went to be with the Lord earlier this month.

The article is entitled The Coming Evangelical Collapse. It is a thought-provoking and somewhat chilling read.

Here is an excerpt:

Many who will leave evangelicalism will leave for no religious affiliation at all. Others will leave for an atheistic or agnostic secularism, with a strong personal rejection of Christian belief and Christian influence. Many of our children and grandchildren are going to abandon ship, and many will do so saying “good riddance.”
This collapse will cause the end of thousands of ministries. The high profile of Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Hundreds of thousands of students, pastors, religious workers, missionaries and persons employed by ministries and churches will be unemployed or employed elsewhere. Visible, active evangelical ministries will be reduced to a small percentage of their current size and effort.

Nothing will reanimate evangelicalism to its previous levels of size and influence. The end of evangelicalism as we know it is close; far closer than most of us will admit.

Click on the link above for the full article.

Mixed Martial Arts Ministries

Here is a link to a New York Times Article concerning a growing trend to base church ministries on the violent sport of mixed martial arts.

Here are a couple of interesting excerpts with commentary:

The young man was a member of a fight team at Xtreme Ministries, a small church near Nashville that doubles as a mixed martial arts academy. Mr. Renken, who founded the church and academy, doubles as the team’s coach. The school’s motto is “Where Feet, Fist and Faith Collide.”

A church that doubles as a MMA academy?  What a perfect example of the marriage between the contemporary church and the world.  Hey, I love the sport of football but would absolutely abhor the idea of starting a church that doubled as a facility for teaching football fundamentals to youth.  You cannot mix the spiritual with the flesh and remain true to the call of the gospel.

The goal, these pastors say, is to inject some machismo into their ministries — and into the image of Jesus — in the hope of making Christianity more appealing.

This is the fruit of the Seeker Sensitive/Church Growth movement.  These ministries attempt to lure in a specific demographic of ‘unchurched’ people by catering to their perceived felt needs and wants, then molds an idolatrous facsimile of Christ that appeals to them so that they make some sort of ‘commitment’ to it.

The lack of faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ as a savior from sin is staggering.  The fact that this ministry confesses it is trying to make Christianity more appealing is quite revealing.  They believe the message of God’s perfect, holy, immutable, soul transforming word somehow needs an extreme makeover to win converts in today’s sophisticated and enlightened culture.  This kind of philosophy toward ministry is devastating to the visible church and soul destroying to those who buy into it.

The idea of injecting machismo into the church and altering our perception of the person of Jesus Christ into a big and buff bouncer of religious hypocrites is an extremely dangerous trend.  I dare say that the world’s ideal of machismo and God’s view of godliness are two entirely different entities. I don’t recall Jesus doing any chest-thumping or choking  Pharisees into submission the last time I read through the gospels.

As the article reveals, a decade ago MMA was denounced as too bloody and violent.  It was illegal in most states.   Now it is legal in 42 states and embraced by recognized Christian ministries such as the National Association of Evangelicals.  How quickly the culture’s perception of right and wrong changes.   I shudder to think what American evangelicals will embrace next in order to win the culture over.

The Diminishing Doctrine of Sola Scriptura

The Protestant Reformation in the 16th century recovered many pivotal Christian doctrines that had become buried beneath an avalanche of time-honored traditions and blatantly anti-biblical teachings. The doctrine of Sola Scriptura helped to restore orthodoxy back to the visible church. Sola Scriptura (or Scripture Alone) is the conviction that the bible alone is God’s authoritative and infallible message to his people, sufficient for all faith, life and godliness. This doctrine has come under intense fire over the past century. it has suffered immeasurably at the hands of liberal theologians who question the authenticity of the bible as God’s word and also false prophets, who utter extra-biblical revelations, claiming that God is doing a ‘new thing’. Well, despite the attempts of many a heretic, Sola Scriptura has stood firm her ground, even if multitudes fall away from belief in it. Check out this post at Herescope concerning the latest volley of fiery arrows falling upon this fortified bunker of divine truth. The shocking part is that we may be a victim of friendly fire! Here is an excerpt: Continue reading

True Discernment

chs.jpg“Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather, it is telling the difference between right and almost right.” – Charles Spurgeon

I don’t know if there is a greater need in the Body today than the gift of discernment. The number of teachers and preachers in the modern church who sound good and seem right but truly are not, has multiplied exponentially just in this generation. I have rejected a great number of fine-sounding televangelists, teachers, authors and bible commentators over the past couple of years that I had once respected. So much so in fact, people often wonder if there is anybody I do like.

Fair question.

My answer is ‘oh yes, a great many fine teachers exist, you just have to seek them out, because most refuse to parade themselves or exploit fellow brethren.” Continue reading

Five Tools to Develop Spiritual Maturity – Saddleback Style

I stand in amazement at the audacity of Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren. He has deceived himself (along with countless multitudes of star-struck pastors) into believing that his self-manufactured, man-centered methodologies will bring about tremendous growth in our churches and in our spiritual lives. This article from that I found through a link on Christian Research Network has Warren explaining the five tools he uses to develop spiritual growth. For those who don’t like clicking on links, I will list them here: Continue reading