Saturday, August 1, 2015

Dangers for the Church part 2

The last time, we discussed a couple of the most salient dangers the church in our age is facing. This time, we close with two additional dangers that assail and will be more threatening to the health of the church and its influence in the world.

Danger number three: Denying the authority of scripture – Similar to the last danger—lack of knowledge—this is an insidious and increasingly common trait in churches. To cite one example, the ever stronger homosexual movement has created an environment where adhering to the authority of the Scriptures is looked upon as antiquated and bigoted. As a response to this attitude, many churches have begun to “rethink” their stance, not only regarding matters of sexuality, but also questioning the authority and even more dangerously, the inerrancy of the sacred text.

Experience has become more important than scriptural authority when people seek to anchor their world view. A myriad of examples could be cited, but one should suffice to prove this point. Rob Bell, a onetime evangelical pastor and Christian leader, discussed the issue of the Bible and homosexual marriage with Oprah on one of her shows. And his basic thesis was that, although the Bible speaks against such perversions, when you come face to face with those who are engaged in such conduct and who are “suffering” the ill effects of being rejected, you begin to understand their plight and why they should be accepted. According to Bell, we should not base our morality on “2,000 year old letters” rather than on the real, flesh and blood people we encounter every day. Don’t get me wrong, we should accept people wherever they are. But the problem is that our society wants us to accept them not only where they are, but to celebrate the fact that they want to stay there!

As our society moves further and further away from biblical moorings and foundations, the church must remain vigilant. Satan works in subtle ways, but as one of the writers of one of those “2,000 year old” letters reminds us, “we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).

Danger number four: Persecution - It may sound strange to our ears, but persecution is a danger for the church in any age. Although we are currently spared the persecution that many Christians around the world are suffering, it may not be all that long before that type of persecution reaches our shores. While it may not extend to physical persecution that threatens life and limb, it may very well extend to the point where our homes, our livelihoods and our reputations are trampled, all in the name of “tolerance.” It was not long ago that a fire chief in Atlanta was fired because he published and shared with some employees, who were Christians, a book that spoke against homosexuality and other sexual sins. The purported reason put forth by the mayor of the city was that such conduct created a hostile environment and showed disrespect for the "diversity of the city.”

Bottom line, persecution is designed to test our faith. That sounds rather trite, but it is nevertheless true. Whenever things get hot, those who are “hangers on,” who are in it for what they can get—whether it is tangible rewards or whether it is the all too common “peace and joy” that many think Christianity is all about—they will begin to jump ship. If our Christianity is simply the result of an inherited faith from our parents, or a cultural thing, it will dissipate like vapor. We must be, not only vigilant, but grounded in the faith and we must, must know why we believe what we believe. Otherwise we will collapse at the first sign of resistance. May God bless you as you seek to do His will.