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