As noted at the beginning of part one, this topic was spawned from a discussion at a meeting of pastors. Actually, I started to write an email to the pastor that brought it up and it turned into yesterdays blog. I have followed up with him. Most of this post is going to be his words with some of my comments thrown in at the end. Here is his response.
I’m thinking that the new breed of brothers, some so-called “church growth” experts (maybe even some of the blogger types I asked you about at the men’s conference) are redefining our most treasured beliefs having made a commitment to “engage the culture”. Heres an example from my recent blog-lurkingâ€¦In the afternoon session of the Willow Creek Arts Conference, Dan Kimball talked about some disturbing trends in church. â€¢ The good news is that there is a growing interest in spiritual things in our culture. â€¢ There is a fascination in our culture with Jesus. It may seem superficialâ€”but it is a good thing, because we can use it to start spiritual conversations. â€¢ Gandhi said: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are not like your Christ.” â€¢ As we move into what is more of a post-Christian culture, more people are born in the new culture. And we get so busy with church activity and planning worshipâ€¦we escaped the world and created our own Christian subculture and bubble. â€¢ John 17:15 â€“ “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.” â€¢ Are we so focused on planning church servicesâ€”that we’ve forgotten to be the church? â€¢ Six things that nonbelievers say about us: 1) The church is organized religion and interested in right-wing politics; 2) The church is judgmental and negative; 3) The church is a male-dominated that oppresses females; 4) The church is homophobic; 5) The church arrogantly believes they are right and all other religions are wrong; 6) The church is full of fundamentalists who take the whole Bible literally. â€¢ Most Christians and churches are not like the ones being described. But that is the perception.Re. “Six thingsâ€¦” 1 The church is totally organized around the Scripture, go anywhere in the world, we’re all doing the same thing! “Right-winged”?â€¦ we are conservative morally, ethically, socially, spiritually, etc. 2 The church knows right from wrong, we read the Book! “Negative”?â€¦ we teach each other to stay away from the pitfalls of sin, and we call sin sin. 3 Genesis 3: God cursed men to hard labor and the responsibility to leadâ€¦ God cursed women to hard labor and obligation to follow! “Oppressive”?â€¦ we are committed to be good leaders, protectors and nurturers of our girls (someone is just jealous). 4 We have a very clear phobia (the FEAR of the Lord) of any sexual indulgence outside of marriage! Not just homosexuality, but also adultery, fornication, pedophilia, bestialty, lust, etc. 5 Our Book tells us what is right, we believe it and sometimes we come across like bratty kids. “Jesus said; I am the way, the truth, the life, no man comes to the Father but by me”. 6 We are FUNdamentals, seeking to be culturally relevant accurately applying the meaning of the Bible. We believe the bible literally!These six things we are FOR, yet the unbeliever crowd seeks to tells us we are wrong to be FOR these things. I think thats pretty negative on their part, don’t you? The problem is some of our emergent brethren don’t have the conviction to take a stand FOR the Word of God. But then again, I’m being negative.
Personally, I find two statements particularly interesting. At the top he said that some “are redefining our most treasured beliefs having made a commitment to â€˜engage the culture’.” At the end he said, “The problem is some of our emergent brethren don’t have the conviction to take a stand FOR the Word of God.” I think that sums up the erosion that has been happening.
And now an illustration for web geeks. The web has been making a move to standardize the way in which we view stuff. There are two elements; content and style. Content is the information the page is trying to communicate (text, pictures, etc.) and style is the way in which the content is displayed (bold, underlined, red, blue, big, little). When the web first started, content and style were all jumbled together. The raw code of a web page was a mess. Browsers began to have their own proprietary style codes for thing. That how the “Best viewed in Browser X” craze began.
Now we have CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Content and style are being separated. Content is in one file, and styles are defined in another file. You can change the the whole look of a web site simply by changing the style sheet, but all the content remains exactly the same.
The Bible is our content. It should never change. It never has changed. Through the centuries and cultures the content of God’s word, the message, the Gospel, whatever you want to call it, stays the same, but the style sheet changes. They style for communicating the word will be one way in the jungles of South America and anther way in China, but the information being communicated remains the same.
In our culture we have come up with all kinds of styles. That can be an issue but isn’t THE issue. When CC started Chuck caught all kinds of flack for the style in which the message was being communicated. But the content was pure. The erosion we are seeing today has to do with the fact that the content is being changed. New content is coming in, required content is being left out. In an effort tot make the style even more relevant and engaging, the content is being sacrificed.
As we, (I should speak for myself) as I do what I can to stand for the true content, I will always be seen by others as being against something else. If I’m for holiness then I’m against sin. If I’m am for taking God’s word at face value, then I’m against anything that come into opposition with it. All that I can do is make what I’m for as clear as possible. What am I for? Jesus. You know, the one in the Bible.