Almost since the Church began in the first century there’s been those that would taint the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and add their own twist to it. Some add to it for monetary gain. Others add to it in order to feel comfortable about themselves. Still more add to it to gather a bunch of followers for yet a multitude of other reasons…..ego or whatever.
One of the latest distortions of the true gospel has been the Emergent Church movement. It attempts to make the gospel relevent, cool, and hip in order to reach a younger crowd; the twenty-somethings that are falling away from churches and have no interest any longer in Christianity or those who merely think church is boring. It’s believed by these Emergent Church folks that if they can only “do church” a certain way, that more people will want to come to church and therefore make a decision to follow Jesus Christ.
One of the leaders of this Emergent Church movement is a man named Rob Bell. He’s written a book that, from my understanding, questions the Biblical view of Hell and whether a loving God would truly send people there. This view is known as “Universalism” and basically means that everybody gets to go to heaven, no matter what, because that’s really the reason Jesus died on the cross, so everyone can go.
Although Rob Bell is the one taking a lot of the heat right now, he’s not the only one. There are others like a man named Jay Bakker, son of the former televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. It’s my understanding that Jay Bakker is a man that believes that those that are practicing the sin of homosexuality will also go to heaven. And still there are others like this church here in Southern California that recently ordained two female lesbian priests. This church believes not only homosexuals can be church leaders but they too embrace an “everybody gets to go to heaven” sort of theology.
As I began to think about what seems like tsunami of liberalism bearing down on the true Church (those that have repented and believed the gospel of Jesus Christ and have died themselves and are now slaves of Christ) I began to think that there’s even a more subtly dangerous form of liberalism that’s already invaded our churches.
The ordination of homosexual pastors, the preaching of Universalism theology, the teaching that Muslims, Hindus, new-agers, and others who are not followers of Jesus Christ will go to heaven, along with other non-biblical beliefs are all things that no doubt are wrong. But what about this list of things that I’ve personally witnessed in church myself ?
- An unmarried young lady getting pregnant out of wedlock and being allowed, along with her new boyfriend, to become youth leaders in the youth group.
- A man who has never attended a Sunday morning church service in two years of “coming to church” being allowed to serve as a leader in the boy’s ministry on Wednesday night.
- A young couple, currently going through marital troubles due to the husband’s use of pornography, being allowed to be leaders of a home group ministry.
- A man, whose temper is notorious and whose outbursts of profanity during church softball games are well-known throughout the church, being allowed to serve as a deacon.
- A couple who openly embrace theology similar to the Universalism theology I spoke of earlier, leading the evangelism and outreach ministry of the church.
- Another individual, who has attended the church for approximately 9 years, but hasn’t attended an actual church service for over four years, being allowed to not only be a voting member, but being a leader in a boys ministry on Wednesday night.
A church may hold a traditional, orthodox view of scripture in its beliefs such as the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and His atonement for sin and even occasionally teach these things from the pulpit. But what if, in the interest of being afraid of losing members, unrepentant sin becomes almost a normal form of behavior in the church.? What if the congregation of a church goes nearly a year in between presentations of the Gospel message while in between, the messages consist mainly of “your best life now” sermons? What if all forms of discipleship are cut off such as bible studies and Sunday school so the hearing of the truth becomes a rarity?
People in a church congregation such as this could go years without ever feeling a twinge of quilt over their sin.
This church may hold a traditional, orthodox, Evangelical view of scripture, but through practice aren’t they essentially the same as a church that’s openly preaching a liberal view of theology? In a way they’re even more deceiving.
I spent nearly 8 years in a church similar to this. We held a traditional Pentecostal view of theology. If you were to personally ask the pastor a theological question, he would give you a well thought out answer straight from scripture. But you would never hear it from the pulpit. Every sermon, every Sunday was the same old “Rick Warren with a twist of Joel Osteen thrown in for good measure” (except for Easter, that’s the one time of year a psudo-gospel presentation was made).
People came, were members for years, and because they may miss the one gospel presentation of the year, may have never heard a call to repentance. The first couple of years we came, there was at least Sunday School and Wednesday Bible studies, but that was discarded as too “old-fashioned”. The problem is, it was never replaced with anything else where scripture was studied.
It comes down to this: If the true gospel isn’t being preached and teaching straight from major sections of scripture isn’t the norm, then what’s the major difference between Rob Bell’s or Jay Bakker’s church and your “traditional Evangelical” church where the Gospel isn’t being preached every Sunday morning? If people aren’t squirming in their seats a little every Sunday morning yet feel comfortable openly engaging in unrepentant sin, then what’s the difference?
I’m sorry, I don’t see any difference myself.