Apostate Christianity is the great enemy, the great curse upon the Church today. We are surrounded by multitudes of 'churches,' and yet one is hard pressed to find one that teaches the Bible. You'll find many who pay lip-service to it, but within minutes of conversation it is usually quite clear the leaders have little idea of what they're doing. Even in many theologically conservative and Bible-affirming churches, rather than Scripture, the leadership seems most versed and interested in the latest innovations pertaining to church growth, so-called ministry, and the latest fads and techniques in worship.
Pardon me if my tone seems contemptuous, but if you understand my argument, you'll see I'm not overly concerned with Al-Qaeda, Pelosi, Obama, Ahmadinejad, illegal aliens, Ground Zero mosques, or gay marriage. I'm concerned with apostate Christianity. And I grow very concerned when apostate Christianity is wedded to political power as with George Bush and Ronald Reagan, or even historically with someone like Abraham Lincoln, or the British Empire.
Here's the problem. If I say, homosexual marriage is not that important to me, because knowing history I can say with confidence, we've seen these things before. Then immediately I must be a pro-abortion, pro-gay, anti-gun, socialist, earth-goddess worshipper. There's no room for discussion.
The people who think and argue this way, live and operate in very small little boxes…one's given to them by their ideological superiors. And frankly, there's very little you can say to them. Blinded by their Sacral commitments they are unable to step back and engage in honest conversation, and usually they're not interested in trying to have a conversation at all. In the last piece I mentioned that with the removal of Divine Restraint, there also seems to be a removal of discernment regarding the Church. The words strong delusion come to mind.
They cannot grasp an anti-Sacral way of thinking. I used to share this mindset and breaking it was an awesome task. I've written something of this in my Why and How posts. Ultimately, it was trying to come to the Bible with a clean slate and then saturated with Scripture, revisiting the history I knew, and reading it for the first time as a Christian rather than an American. It was an eye-opener, and it drove me to keep going. I didn't set out to abandon my Sacralism, but that's what happened. It was a long and somewhat painful process.
Returning to the tattooed and pierced people…Sacralists tend to scowl at such, viewing them as visible reminders of the degradation of their culture, harbingers of the downfall. It's hard to witness and show Christ when that's your attitude. Some do it anyway and with a genuine loving heart, but for many they have to overcome massive prejudice and contempt to reach this point. Sacralism can also lead to racism. If the holy culture is defined ethnically, then it's bound to happen. For American's this is probably easy to see in period before the Civil War, but how many of us can understand segregation in the same light? We should be upset with the people who have hijacked Christianity, but so often all of our anger is directed toward the openly lost people who are rebelling against our culture.
This should not be. Our anger if we have any, should be directed at those who would teach a false gospel of Humanism, or those who would teach a version of the gospel that is basically summed up by ethics, manmade ethics at that. To be a Christian is to dress right, don't drink, don't smoke, and vote Republican, or vote Democrat. All of these things are in the end...distractions. And with these groups even when they pick up on something from the Scriptures, due to their equation of the Kingdom with a social or political agenda, they end up getting it wrong. Even good things can be abused and made ugly.
I know many who think we should try and support these 'bad' churches and help them. Because it's better to have them, than none at all. I've met many a conservative Reformed pastor who argues this way, not to mention their happy support for conservative 'Bible-believing' nationalistic/militaristic Evangelical churches. I suppose some could argue they still preach something of the cross of Christ. I'm not sure what good that is when it is crushed or obscured by layer upon layer of false gospel and a false vision of the Kingdom.
But even with the Bible-denying/indifferent mainline Churches like PCUSA, they say it would be better for a small town to have one, than not.
I've heard many conservative and Reformed ministers say if there's nothing else in your area then go to a theologically liberal church. It's better than nothing and you have to go somewhere. At the very least you might sing some old hymns and if they use a prayer book, most likely it was written in a more theologically sound time.
Once again this outlook is rooted in social argument. If the churches are teaching a false gospel, they're not churches at all, and no one is being helped, only harmed by attending them. Is society being helped by a moral-religious club?... For that's what they are in the end. Perhaps, perhaps not. But our concern isn't primarily society, and I can say with complete confidence their continued presence harms the overall identity and mission of the Church.
We've tried these mainline 'churches' from time to time in the past. It's all the more interesting when you live in a rural area and you know many of the people attending. You quickly realize what a joke it all is and is in fact a mockery of the Biblical concept of Church. In some cases, it became very clear that no one there, minister included, was Christian. I'm not talking about looking into their hearts to tell if they were regenerate. I've written extensively against that. I'm talking about a viable profession, some basic understanding of the facts of the gospel, some kind of concept of sin and atonement. These people in many cases don't have it.
So rather than hold contempt for the lost youth of today, I do reserve (perhaps sinfully) I certain amount of contempt for the false churches which surround us. And being a non-Sacralist I can have considerable compassion for the lost. Sadly, once these people are converted, I don't know where to tell them to go. Our options and present situation are not one's I would wish on anyone. I've focused in this piece mostly on culture-dominated Mainline theologically liberal 'churches', but the same is true with culture-dominated conservative ones. At least in those bodies, it's possible for someone to be saved, the cross of Christ being preached though heavily obscured. Should we attend these flag-waving Baptist or non-denominational churches? They are in great need of sound doctrine, but what they don't need is hordes of people like me entering their congregations and trying to change them. In the end, they run you out and despise you. Very rarely will you find church leaders who are willing to re-look at the Bible. Instead, they have their own traditions, their own goals, visions, and means of attaining them. If we're in reality completely opposed to what they're all about, should we attend for their sake, for the sake of Truth? Rather, the believers in those groups need to leave.
Many theological conservatives try and find comfort in creedal subscription and believe that by drawing lines on these certain doctrinal points they can stem the tide and keep the Church pure. They can hold to these historic doctrines (right or wrong) but if they embrace a Sacralist attitude, their creeds will not protect them. They might have people affirming the Westminster Confession or the Formula of Concord, but if they're completely acculturated due to Sacralism what good is it? The tide of culture will overwhelm them and since they are one with the culture...they won't even see it's happening.
Everyone seems to think Satan's tactics and servants are clearly seen. We know there are false churches and false gospels and sometimes it is quite obvious who some of the wolves are. Benny Hinn and Joyce Meyer are obvious tools of Satan. That's just an example of a population segment so far gone, our Adversary can become very bold in how he deals with them. His tactics become quite audacious and people fall for it.
How would our Adversary wage war on the Churches clinging to the Bible? By Benny Hinn? By someone dressed in black with pointed fingernails?
He can't send his servants into the midst of these congregations who stand up say, "Worship Satan."
So what would he do? Remember he's a liar, a deceiver.
How about changing the gospel into something that's good for you, something that will help you with your relationships, your business, things like that? Does the gospel do that? Sometimes, but is that the nature of our hope? Is that even remotely to be the focus of a people who are supposed to be engaged in mortification of self, dying daily to the deeds and desires of the flesh?
What of a gospel that confounded a nation and its culture with the gospel? Suddenly the history, economics, government, and goals of a country are tied in with the gospel. What do I mean by that? I'm not saying the ministers stand up and say, "Worship America." No, but when someone thinks they're being a better Christian or honouring God by doing x,y, or z…you're equating those actions with worship. Maybe it's okay to do X…let's say vote or pass out flyers or something. But does that make you a better Christian, or is something that applies to the realm of Christian liberty? Is someone else sinning because they don't do it?
What about someone like Chuck Colson? If he's teaching Christians to worship (even if indirectly) something other than Jesus Christ, then he preaches a false gospel and is every bit as dangerous as Benny Hinn. And I contend he is.
Have we become naïve about the nature and tactics of demonic power? I'm not trying to conjure up the boogey-man type demonism you find in certain Charismatic churches. Rather, I'm talking about genuine spiritual wickedness in high places. It almost seems like because some have made a joke of it, or turned it into triviality, we dismiss the reality from our thinking.
Or if we're Sacralists we focus on some of his crew, like terrorists and gays, and miss the real manifestations of his power…those who appear as angels of light.
The forms are sometimes different, but culturally and spiritually we're dealing with the same issues Christians have always dealt with. May our response be rooted and grounded in the Word of God.