In a day like ours, in a society like ours, when culture demands acceptance of all beliefs and behaviors, Christians find it more challenging than ever to remain strict Biblicists. As Christ’s warnings to the churches of Revelation, and the apostolic correction of false teaching prove, nothing facing us is new. But the expectation the lost embrace that compromise is better than conflict never ceases being a temptation to believers.
The church growth movement had a reasonable idea when it proposed to eliminate unnecessary obstacles to winning the lost. That led to the reduction of crosses on and in buildings, of hymnbooks and their great hymns in worship and of in-your-face preaching accusing the unsaved as being lost to God unless they repented and were baptized for the forgiveness of sin.
The movement ignored a single truth: crosses, hymns and tough preaching didn’t pose obstacles to reaching the lost. What did was the lack of the Christ-life in people supposedly belonging to him, whether in interpersonal relationships or personal behavior. That inconsistency in Christians poses that problem. And the church-growth movement has only made that worse!
In the 1940’s and 1950’s the lack of bone-rattling change in conversion left the church with more people, but less Christ-honoring members. Which didn’t prove disadvantageous in those decades. The values that orthodox Judaism and Biblical Christianity established held a tight grip on the conscience of humanity. Even atheists and opponents accepted the core values embodied in Moses and Christ.
Then came the sixties and the beginning of an entirely new perspective from a youth culture determined to change, flout, disregard and displace existing values, particularly those declared immutable by orthodox Judaism and Biblical Christianity. –End Part II-
The following letter, minus the additions for the blog, was sent to the San Diego Union-Tribune, May 25, 2018. It wasn’t accepted for publication. I use it as an introduction to the blog.
The NFL owners at least had the fortitude to forbid players kneeling when the national Anthem is played. Columnist Mark Zeigler badly misjudged the facts when he said it would be better not to play the Anthem at all.
You might know: the one unifying musical composition America has, and a few malcontents, and they millionaires by living in America, disgrace it by kneeling when it’s played. And Zeigler wants the few to ruin the Anthem for the vast majority of sports fans. The NFL owners are at least willing to defend playing the Star Spangled Banner. Mark wants to pacify the few disgruntled athletes who want only to call attention to themselves, no matter how many others are offended by their posture.
Jesus in the Revelation strongly criticized any church that compromised his teaching. See 2:14-16, 2:20-24, 3:1-3, 4:15-18. That establishes a strong warning to churches today! Yielding on any point of truth sees sin increasing while righteous recedes. For example, while many Christians resented having private prayer in school dismissed, it nevertheless went away. Having achieved that, atheists and liberals now want no public prayer in which Jesus is intercessor.
Compromising truth to keep peace with evil increases evil and diminishes virtue. It doesn't decrease truth: that cannot be altered or reduced. But it decreases the impact of God's truth on God's people, and the impact we should have on our lost generation. That's a loss we should never countenance. -End Part I-
The Parade Magazine, May 20, 2018, had a cover story featuring the favorite book reads of women they consider important in American life: four actresses. They also included a PBS personality. They carefully avoided mentioning the books of Joyce Meyer, Terri Blackstock, Janette Oke, Sarah Young or Stormie Omartian and books considered essential to a person’s well-being.
Parade considers only Hollywood types, and their assorted ilk, as worthy models of authority and behavior. They would never consider Franklin Graham, Tony Perkins or Mike Pense as leaders with worthwhile persuasions. And Jesus? The Greatest of all; the Savior from sin; the Lord of every day; the Judge of every single person ever to live—including the women Parade considers above reproach? No, no time for Jesus; no respect for Jesus; no concern for anything he said.
Except as examples of belief and behavior we abhor, because it blasphemes Jesus, we never mention such people. Christians consider contemptible all wealthy, influential personalities and celebrities who hold Jesus in contempt. His example we follow; to it we devote ourselves.
The storm on Lake Galilee, recorded in Mark 4:35-41, found the Twelve struggling to survive without seeking Christ’s rescue. Their effort was commendable. Much they couldn’t do for Jesus, immature in knowledge and faith as they were. They could, with at least four veteran watermen in the boat, be expected to get them across the 5-6 mile-wide sea. After all, they had survived in total more than a few threats from wind and water.
That given, they also knew when the storm battered them beyond their skill and subject only to his. Even given the fact that their call on Jesus reflected their fear, not their faith, they did resort to him for the solution.
Unlike the disciples on the lake, our generation hasn’t and won’t ever seek direction from Jesus Christ. We instead always think it will take only different political approaches to our problems, more doctorates of everything, more finessed diplomatic endeavors or more government money—that especially—to finally find solutions to human disagreements, poverty and tragedies.
Give the disciples credit: they finally knew they couldn’t, but Jesus could. And to him they went. Give our generation only abuse and condemnation for refusing to finally acknowledge that we absolutely need to bring God in Christ back into our national and international affairs.
So author Bruce Catton thought—and that in 1978—that if mankind were to survive the “next few generations”—his term, we must regain trust in ourselves. Well, here we are 40 years later, with humanity’s faith and confidence itself at an all-time HIGH, not LOW, and never before have we been less sure of ourselves or our destiny! So much for the pronouncements of unconverted brains.
We have substantial reasons we should have LESS, not MORE, confidence in ourselves. We don’t merit confidence. Not politicians, not philosophers, not statesmen, not liberal theologians. Every one of them pontificates on the human condition without any reference to God in Christ.
As if neither exists. As if humanity can sit on a throne in their place and decide human destiny.
How laughably stupid, but not an ounce less than the belief of most of the brains in academics and government. The 1960’s appeal of liberals was, “more education.” In 2018 their appeal is still, “more education.” When do we think “more education is enough?” How many doctorates of everything do we need before humanity admits the burgeoning immorality growing cancerously in our national life is not an intellectual problem? When will we admit the basic problems facing our society are spiritual, moral and ethical, not intellectual, political or economic? -End Part IV-
Humanity has the divinely-granted skill to create masterpieces of art, technology and architecture without being aware of the Guarantor. Only awareness of and obedience to God Almighty can build the masterful life Jesus Christ modeled while among us.
Author Bruce Catton proved himself a skillful historian in producing a great trilogy of the Civil War. And as an equally ignoramus of reality by saying humanity must “begin believing in ourselves once more.” He expressed caution in believing faith can move mountains. After all, that would involve God’s participation. But he had no doubt that faith in mankind can raise humans to mountain-moving achievements.
Mr. Catton is a man familiar with sums but insists that 2 + 2 equals five. Mankind MUST NOT continue having faith in ourselves while eliminating God in Christ for a very simple reason: we ARE NOT worthy of assuming such trustworthiness. –End Part III-
(Sorry I didn’t send this right after Part I.) Part I referred to author Bruce Catton’s regret that humanity had lost faith in itself. I can remember wondering where he got that information. Nothing in society in 1978 hinted that humanity had lost interest in being egotists. Certainly nothing in 2018 offers that possibility.
Indeed, we’re encouraged today to explore our possibilities and potentials. To forget the limitations religion wants to clamp on behavior and accelerate behaviors that satisfy our personality.
Common sense tells us that a limit exists to how high we can jump; how far we can leap; how much weight we can lift or how fast we can run. It seldom occurs to us that such limits exist for our capability to find peace with God. We can research and rebuild a community that existed in the past, then fell into ruin. That doesn’t mean we determine the composition of the after-life. Many people have it all summarized: we live, we die, we appear before God and bargain with him for a place in Heaven. He gives a little, we may have to give a lot, but an acceptable compromise is always possible.
Wrong. Absolutely wrong. There’s only so high we can jump now, but there’s no way we can jump over obstacles that will always prevent us entering Heaven. We can’t now even bear up under the burden of sin. And we’ll never find a way to remove from us the sin that will always prevent access to God. –End Part II-
In his Ignite newsletter Lance mentioned a play at Drury Lane that he and Darla had seen. The after-performance brought applause to the actors, the conductor and musicians of the orchestra. Though the play wouldn’t be complete without the set designers, sound and lighting technicians, the custom designers, the make-up experts and those who moved the sets as the play progressed, no appreciation in particular was paid to them. As usual, only the “skill positions” get the attention, the notoriety and the big bucks.
As Jesus made clear, he cared for the Canaanite woman Matthew 15:21-28; a hemorrhagic woman, Mark 5:25-35; a Samaritan woman John 4:4-26, 28-30; and a poor widow Luke 21:1-4: those no one else would have noticed.
Jesus loved everyone and cared for each person. He especially noticed those overlooked by being nobodies of importance. That gives each sinner hope. For those who know they ARE sinners, confess it and ask his forgiveness, FIND! Many of the greats in society have their need of attention satisfied with human praise and applause. “Blessed are those who await the Savior’s encomium, “Well done, good and faithful servant” Matthew 25:23. Better those six words from Jesus than volumes of praise from others.
Historian Bruce Catton wrote a column for American Heritage magazine called “The Way I See It.” In a June/July, 1978 article he addressed the problem of humanity losing faith in itself. The son of a Minister, Catton didn’t regret the loss of faith in God beginning in the 18th century, succeeding the strong faith of the 17th century. A textbook this writer read in the late 1970’s noted the distinction in the “deadly earnestness” of belief in God during the 17th century contrasted with the “enlightened 20th century mind.”
The arrogance of the statement ignores the intolerance of such intolerant systems in the 20th century as Nazism and Bolshevism. As the philosophers in the 18th century forgave Frederick the Great’s wars because he stood with them as a fellow secularist/atheist, liberals today forgive Stalin though he killed more people than Hitler because they feel Stalin wasn’t as bad as Hitler.
The most savage mistake humanists ever make is to consider faith in God dangerous and faith in humans necessary. –End Part I-