Saturday, August 27, 2022

This is not Christian. . .

The loudest voices always seem to be heard.  If you do not believe me, just turn up the volume as you scroll through social media and you will hear people shouting at you.  It is true nearly everywhere else as well.  Those with the loudest voices must be heard.  Or, maybe not.

The world is filled with loud voices trying to define Christianity.  The world has rejected not so much what the Scriptures say about the faith but what the loudest voices have to say about Christianity.   The problem is that what most of those loud voices say is not an accurate reflection of what the Scriptures teach.  We are facing an epidemic of misinformation about what the Christian faith is and what orthodox Christianity confesses.

What is being sold as Christian is not only not Christianity, it is not even really a religion.  Religion has always included the encounter with the transcendent but what is being sold as Christianity today seldopm even references the transcendent or God for that matter.  Religion has become less about man meeting God and God interacting with man than it has what works to make it through the day getting what you want (or make it through life getting what you want).  What passes as Christian is more political than transcendent, more therapeutic than redemptive, and more about making yourself happy than holy.  In the end, what the world knows of Christianity is a sham, a sad and dangerous betrayal of what Scripture says, creed professes, and confessions declare.

While this is certainly true of the West, it is less true of places like Africa where the once dependent mission fields are rapidly turning their back on the churches that planted them because the churches that planted them no longer believe, teach, and confess the Christian faith.  What is killing Christianity in the west is the detachment of Scripture and truth from the faith.  It is sort of like the impossible burgers that are being sold as burgers but have no meat.  Call them what they are but don't call them a burger.  It is the same with non-alcoholic wine or beer -- it is what it is and it may be fine to drink but it is not wine and it is not beer.  You may like the taste but it will not give you the kick the alcohol does.  Christianity lite may fit the taste buds of the moment but without sin and death, the cross and resurrection, there is no kick to it.

Christianity in the West has become a different faith but presumes the same vocabulary, the same rituals, and the same buildings as its past.  That is the dangerous lie that is killing us.  It is a fake Christianity using false advertising to insist that this is the real faith.  In reality, it has nothing to do with Jesus and nothing to do with sin and nothing to do with death and nothing to do with the resurrection.  It is a religion of feelings, for feelings, with a means of grace that offers feelings.

In this religion there is a hatred that masquerades as love -- the hatred of God's creative order and redemptive work.  Love is not truth or redemption but acceptance and tolerance and even the celebration of the whims of the moment.  All of this comes face to face in the celebration of transgenderism.  If being male or female is merely a feeling or a judgment you make about yourself in a given moment, then the most basic shape of everything in the world is disrupted.  When a candidate for the Supreme Court says she cannot say what a woman is or is not, she is admitting that nothing is true or real except that which we feel.  So the God of Christianity has been kidnapped, undergone plastic surgery, and come out as a God who has no concern for truth except the truth the individual defines, no concern for holiness except being true to yourself at the moment, and no concern for life except you being happy.  How does this square with the Scriptures or what the Church has confessed and taught through the ages?  It does not.

We live in an age in which not only the people outside the Church do not have an accurate picture of what Christianity is, the people in the pews are being fed a lie about the faith and they no longer know the true God or the order of all created things or the redemptive love of the God who saves.  How is it that some churches are more concerned with getting someone's pronouns correct than calling sin a sin, acknowledging its consequence of death, and speaking forgiveness to the sinner and the resurrection to the dead?  Christ has become a caricature more than God in flesh and the Gospel a positive principle that affirms.  We are not simply dealing with a Christianity in error but Christianity which is not Christian anymore.  This is the destiny to which Christianity is headed.

Rome has its Francis and synodal way and bishops looking for a kindler, gentler Christianity.  Lutheranism has whole synods that have long ago left behind the truth of the creed for a more compelling idea of a better world through social justice instead of the cross.  Evangelicalism is surely headed down that same path with a soundtrack of contemporary Christian music that has nice words and a good beat.  Conservative Protestantism is but a bus stop away from disappearing as they distance themselves from their own denominational identities.  Missouri is in for the fight of its life and many are not sure we have it us to win this battle not for the Bible but for the faith itself.  

I have not given up on God.  I am coming to the conclusion that the larger church structures may indeed be what the Psalmist had in mind when he warned us against putting our trust in earthly rulers or kingdoms.  Like the dark moments before the Reformation, the Word is still working and the Spirit working through the Word.  The numbers may decline -- if God wills it -- but the Church will not disappear and we will find ourselves more like the pioneers forging a path through the wilderness than churches casting a large shadow over the world.  But that is okay.  God never promised that we would be more than a minority or more than a small minority.  Like Elijah we are tempted to despair but God has seven thousand who have not bowed their knees and an Elisha waiting to take our place.  But it will mean that we cannot count on things looking the way they look today and it will be harder and harder to remain faithful to God and to His Word as the world and this fake Christianity grows increasingly intolerant of orthodoxy.

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