“In the early days, when Christianity exercised a dominant influence over American thinking, men and women conceived the world to be a battleground. Our fathers believed in sin and the devil and hell as constituting one force, and they believed in God and righteousness and heaven as the other. By their very nature, these forces were opposed to each other forever in deep, grave, irreconcilable hostility. Humans, our fathers held, had to choose sides-they could not be neutral.
For them it must be life or death, heaven or hell, and if they chose to come out on God’s side they could expect open war with God’s enemies. The fight would be real and deadly and would last as long as life continued here below. People looked forward to heaven as a return from the wars, a laying down of the sword to enjoy in peace the home prepared for them…
How different today. The fact remains the same, but the interpretation has changed completely. People think of the world, not as a battleground, but as a playground. We are not here to fight; we are here to frolic. We are not in a foreign land; we are at home. We are not getting ready to live, but we are already living, and the best we can do is rid ourselves of our inhibitions and our frustrations and live this life to the full.”
– AW Tozer
With all my recent posts focused squarely upon the outlandish and destructive tendencies in our churches, I found an uplifting piece of news in the mail today that I would like to share. I received a bulletin from my current church’s student ministry. The youth pastor wrote a blurb informing parents about the summer agenda for his jr. high and high school ministries. I did a double take when I read that the high schoolers would be reading through AW Tozer’s book, The Pursuit of God.
Tozer, now deceased, was a mid-twentieth century pastor/teacher/author who has been called by many a modern day prophet. His bold, uncompromising preaching of the full counsel of God, cutting edge commentary on the culture of his day and stern warnings against the changing methods and message of evangelicalism earned him that title. His warnings hold true more so today than in his time because, as I’m sure you are well aware, evangelicalism has plunged further and further into the depths of silliness and biblical irrelevance. He is one of the most widely quoted men of God in the Christian blogosphere. In fact, I have a post featuring my favorite quote from him.
In a nutshell, Tozer’s teachings are strong meat, not skim milk, like many youth ministry teachings today. Kudos to our youth minister for daring to feed his young flock substantial spiritual food. The Pursuit of God is considered a Christian classic. I admit, I haven’t yet got my mitts on it, but it is high on my reading list. I’ve read many devotions and selected passages from his writings so I feel I am at least somewhat qualified to recommend him.
Hmmmm, I wonder if our youth minister will let me sit in on these summer courses. Honestly, I would be thrilled, I’m sure I would learn a lot. It’s not everyday an adult believer could actually grow in grace through a youth group, but it looks like this is no ordinary ministry.
“If I see aright, the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity. The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it.” – AW Tozer
This is perhaps my favorite quote concerning the postmodern trends in the church. It eloquently and succinctly sums up the man-centered apostasy of this age. Today’s popular evangelicalism diminishes the cross of Christ, while exalting man’s efforts to attain its benefits. Surprisingly, this was written over 50 years ago. Imagine what Tozer would think of the circus church acts so prevalent in our congregations today!
In modern American society, we have been desensitized by all the forms of amusement we give ourselves over to on a day-to-day basis. For us, witnessing this sort of worldly entertainment in the church appears perfectly natural. We are quite comfortable disengaging our intellect, and by extension our discernment, to enjoy a good show. The church needs a wake-up call from the Holy Spirit to snap us out of our half-conscious media-induced zombie state, making us keenly aware of God’s Holiness. Once we understand the righteous character and majestic nature of God through the lens of the holy scriptures, we should bow our knees in reverence, fear, and awe. After an experience like that, we should all grieve at the foolishness we have wrought in the House of God.
Oh Lord, reveal yourself to us in all your glory that we may see the error of our casual, irreverent approach to your throne as we enter into the Holy of Holies. May we all repent and glorify your name with thankful, grateful hearts.