Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Dangers for the Church

Every generation of the church, whether in the 1st or the 21st century, has had to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). From the beginning of the Christian faith, Christians have been called to not only apologize (from the Greek apologia or defend) for their faith, but also to defend it. And certainly, throughout the centuries we have had to defend that faith against various heresies and challenges. Today, our faith is under attack just as it has always been. We in the West have a tendency to have a warped sense of what really is happening with the church in the rest of the world. Our Western-centric world view leads us to discount what others are doing to allow the faith to flourish and continue to gain believers for the kingdom of God.

I would like to briefly outline four challenges that I see as being perhaps the most difficult for today’s church to overcome in our Western society. Obviously, these are not going to be the same as they are for people in other parts of the world. In the Middle East, for example, many Christians simply fight to survive, never mind trying to defend the faith. But in our cushy society, the greatest challenges facing us are primarily intellectual in nature. That last fact, however, does not make them any less dangerous. And in some instances, they may be even more dangerous because we are becoming like the proverbial frog in the slowly boiling water. The temperature is being turned up, but it’s in such an incremental way that we don’t even notice and before we know it, we’ll be boiling!!

Danger number one: Compromise
The church today is coming under increasing pressure to conform to our society and its mores. This has been true in every age. But the biggest danger today is the fact that, for so long we’ve been so used to being comfortable that we find it especially threatening when people call into question our stances about various things. From homosexuality to abortion, our society is becoming more and more tolerant of aberrant and immoral behavior and it is at the same time pushing against the church and its beliefs. Our society is no longer the society of what has been called “Cultural Protestantism” the idea that, although most people were not believers, they had a respect for those who were and had morals that were very similar to theirs. Today the news media, Hollywood and many other sectors are constantly bombarding us with the message that, if you dare speak against perversion, then you’re a bigot. They completely ignore the meaning of the term in their rush to do the very thing they so abhor in others: judge.
It behooves the church, then, to be always on guard and to safeguard the Word which has been entrusted to us (Jude 3). Just as our ancestors were called to remain vigilant in other times and in others circumstances, we too have come to our own “red line” where we will have to take a stand for the truth. Many have already surrendered and have decided to join the “modern” movement. We cannot afford to do the same. For our own sake and for the sake of the lost.

Danger number two: Lack of Knowledge
It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant so many people can be who call themselves by the name of Christian. You may remember the episode a couple of years back when one of the fellows in Duck Hunter spoke against various sins. The stars of the show are professed Christians and at times speak publicly on issues of faith. This particular incident came about because as you can imagine, he spoke against homosexuality (although he also spoke against a number of other sins at the same time). The outrage, to no one’s surprise, was swift and unsparing. He was called a bigot, a homophobe and so on. But one particular incident speaks volumes about the state of what is supposed to be Christianity today. Pierce Morgan, the host of his own show on CNN who calls himself a Christian, began quoting Romans chapter 1 in a derisive manner because the star of the show had spoken about it during a sermon. According to Morgan, the individual was very articulate (this was in answer to the charge that he was not articulate, but a simple man) because of the words he had used in that sermon. Morgan was completely clueless about the fact that what he was quoting came straight from the Bible. And yet, here is an individual who supposedly is a Christian.
Pierce Morgan is not, based on what he says and how he acts, a true believer. But I think this incident serves as a glaring example of how much biblical ignorance there is in our society. People who are completely clueless as to what the Bible says are constantly making pronouncements about it. And those of us in the church are often incapable of refuting them because we ourselves are just as ignorant about the Bible and its content. As Hosea said: “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

Next time we’ll discuss the final two dangers.

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