Evangelical Identity??

17 Mar

I realize that believers want a certain label to distinguish themselves from those who masquerade as Christian yet teach false doctrines but I over the years I have come to the conclusion that man-created titles or labels are not sufficient for that task. Instead of clarifying the truth from the error, these labels confuse the unbeliever and opens the true christian and the church up to mocking and ridicule.

I like the following article yet I think she falls short on her analysis of the topic she is writing about.

So I am going to expand on her thoughts with God’s help. Please keep in mind that I am not criticizing the author but providing more information that she may not have had space to include in her work.

#1. Peek behind the curtain of some “progressive” or “hip” evangelical churches, past the savvy technology and secular music, and you will find more than just a contemporary worship service. You’ll find faith leaders encouraging young evangelicals to trade in their Christian convictions for a gospel filled with compromise. They’re slowly attempting to give evangelicalism an “update”—and the change is not for the good.

And I agree with her. Having spent the last 3 years exposing false teaching from those who claim to be Christian yet betray God and his words by their compromised thinking, she is absolutely right here. This idea is why we have media outlets looking for ‘stories’ instead of presenting solid doctrine and teaching so the people of Christ can grow to mature Christian adulthood.

This is why we entertain our youth instead of getting them involved in God’s work. Our youth need to see God at work and how he uses them not given the opportunity to play the new, advanced version of Sony Playstation or Nintendo’s X-box.

#2. It’s painful for me to admit, but we can no longer rest carefree in our evangelical identity—because it is changing. No doubt you have seen the headlines declaring that evangelicalism is doomed because evangelical kids are leaving the faith. It is no secret that there is an expanding gulf between traditional Christian teachings and contemporary moral values.

This is why we do not need a label claiming one is evangelical. it is a human label that is subjective and vulnerable to change. Christianity doesn’t change, God’s truth doesn’t change thus we should label ourselves as God wants us to in order to reflect that never-changing attitude. The reason for this change though, is that people do not want to follow God yet want to still consider themselves ‘Christian’ even though their beliefs and behavior are not Christ-like.

Then if we listen to the doomsayers we will get the idea that the church is failing and not doing its job instead of seeing how the Bible is true by seeing that its words about the wheat and the tares, and that there will be a falling away from the congregation in the last times is being fulfilled. We weaken our faith instead of taking measures to strengthen it.

#3. Somehow the blame for this chasm is being heaped on traditional churches. They are accused of having too many rules as well as being homophobic and bigoted. Yes, we’ve heard those false claims from popular culture in its desperate attempt to keep Christianity imprisoned within the sanctuary walls. But now popular culture is being aided by Christ-professing bedfellows whose message to “coexist,” “tolerate” and “keep out of it” is more marketable to the rising generation of evangelicals.

Of course the traditional church is being blamed. Someone has to be the scapegoat even though they are not doing anything wrong. Just because someone is accused of sinning  by one or many people doe snot mean that the sin actually took place or that the traditional church is wrong. These accusations are made because sinful people do not want to follow God’s rules but want to make their own way to heaven.

#4. The seasoned Christian soldiers are noticing these distortions of the gospel. But for young evangelicals, the spiritual haze is harder to wade through. Desperate for acceptance in a fallen world, many young evangelicals (and some older ones) choose not to take Christ out of the chapel, and so they are unwittingly killing the church’s public witness. In this uphill cultural battle, mired by scare tactics and fear, three types of evangelical Christians are emerging:

The bold words are the key to this issue. We are allowing our youth to seek acceptance where they should not. Instead of teaching them how to be accepted by God, we allow them to participate in certain activities that turn their good ground into a bad, where God’s message is throttled by the words and beliefs of those who do not know Jesus.

Instead of teaching our youth the truth we allow false teaching to enter their heads and take root, whether via television, bad pastors or their teachers and school friends. We abdicate our responsibilities and let someone else teach them the way they should go. We cannot place the total blame upon the shoulders of our youth.

I will disagree slightly with the word ‘take Christ out of the chapel’ for I am not totally sure how she means those words. If she means just straight evangelism then I would disagree with her as there are other ways of taking Christ out of the chapel and enhance the church’s public witness. If she means that we ‘do unto others as we would want them to do unto us’, then I would agree with her as the public Christian witness is a lot more detailed than just repeating the four spiritual laws to someone.

#5. Couch-potato Christians; Cafeteria-style Christians

These labels are where I will disagree with her but only in the use of the word ‘Christian’.  I have come to believe that many of these people are not real Christians and we need to stop giving them the benefit of the doubt, and call them what they truly are. Backslidden, unbelievers, false teachers and so on. By applying the right titles then we can A). have these people realize that they may and are in error with their beliefs; B). demonstrate that there really is a right and wrong involved here; C). that there is a proper way to be Christian and on the list will go.

As for her label ‘convictional Christian’ I do not have a problem with it though I would probably call them true Christians instead of making it seem that these people are ‘to get’ those who error whether purposefully or accidentally. This is why I have a problem with labels. it is too easy to distort or misunderstand their meaning which in turn causes more problems for the church, not ease them.

We need to keep the boundaries clear so all people can understand and see where they stand with God.

#6. I see so many parents scratching their heads trying to figure out where they went wrong with young evangelicals. Following the instructions of Proverbs 22:6—”Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”—many evangelical parents took their children to church and prayed with them every night before bed. Yet the values those children now hold dear do not reflect the traditional teachings of Jesus.

Maybe this is where parents go wrong. Instead of living and teaching the truth, they do the minimal while leaving their children vulnerable to the ‘roaring lions’ out there who hate Christ and those who say they follow him. We need to be honest with our children  not only in our instruction to them but also in our dealings with others.  They are watching how we act towards others, our duties, and situations and drawing their own conclusions from them. They determine how true the Bible is and if God exists from our example.

A child may still be religious but their views and beliefs will change because they were not trained correctly by their parents. We should not be shocked at their departure from the true faith because we have not helped them build their house on the rock. Praying with them i snot enough nor is just taking them to church. We need to be thoroughly Christian in our own lives and teach them the truth to protect our children.

#7. Research tells us that evangelicals are drifting further away from the orthodox truths their parents and grandparents held dear.

Our churches have rarely—if ever—faced the exodus we are seeing today. This will have a direct effect on the spiritual and moral values that will shape the nation in the coming years. That is why it is urgent that concerned Christians start acting now before the situation gets worse.

The answer to this has already been said above. One thing we need to understand  and that is our children have the right to free choice and they will exercise that choice even though it does not comply with the wishes of their parents or grandparents.  If the parents are not the light unto their own children then it is unrealistically to expect the children to have any desire to be the light unto a dark world.

Churches do not need to ‘update’, they do not need to ‘modernize’, they do not need to change to meet secular culture. They need to stand with God correctly, stop sinning, implement God’s ways amongst the leadership, stop taking ownership of what is not theirs and so much more. BUT even if they do this, it will not guarantee that the youth will not be enticed, tempted or driven away from the church.

We still need to teach them the correct biblical truth, get them to meet and experience God, get them involved with doing God’s will even at an early age so they can see that God is real and that he means what he says.

#8. Faith and culture will continue to collide in America. The culture wars, the growth of family, the success of missions, the prosperity of our great nation—the future rests on millennial evangelicals’ worldview. And that is cause for concern, because something has gone wrong with young evangelicals’ theology

That is because Jesus said, ‘ they hate yo because they hate me.’ and ‘Man loves darkness rather than light.’ The true church sheds light upon sinful ways and the world does not like being exposed for their sinful acts nor do they like to be seen as sinful.  The believer, whether young or old, still holds the power of choice and they get to choose if they want to endure persecution or not.

That choice does not reflect, necessarily, upon the rightness or wrongness of the practices of the church. Sometimes it will and we do need to examine ourselves to see if we got it right or not but most of the time this choice is a demonstration of the will and desires of those choosing to leave the church. In other words, their choice tells us that they just do not want to believe God or his word.

#9. The millennial generation’s susceptibility to “feel-good” doctrine is playing a big part in America’s moral decline. Millennials’ religious practices depend largely on how the actions make us and others feel, whether the activities are biblical or not. For example, we only attend churches that leave us feeling good about our lifestyle choices, even if those choices conflict with God’s clear commandments. We dismiss old hymns that focus on God’s transforming salvation, love and mercy and opt for “Jesus is your boyfriend” songs. Or we contribute to nonprofits that exploit and misuse terms such as justice, oppressed and inequality because tweaking the language makes us feel more neutral, less confrontational.

Again I think she has it exactly right here. We want stories not sound teaching, we want to be entertained thus the fad of worship teams or popular activities in our youth meetings. We want to look ‘cool’ instead of spiritual, we want friends not Jesus and friendship with Jesus will set us apart from the world and its pleasures. One of the things I cannot stand are those Pastors, no matter their leadership title, who try to be ‘cool’ just to impress their audience. Our pastors need to bring God with them to their duties and maybe we can get rid of those childish games and fads that take place in the weekly or thrice weekly meetings.

#10. Popular liberal evangelical writers and preachers tell young evangelicals that if they accept abortion and same-sex marriage, then the media, academia and Hollywood will finally accept Christians. Out of fear of being falsely dubbed “intolerant” or “uncompassionate,” many young Christians are buying into theological falsehoods. Instead of standing up as a voice for the innocent unborn or marriage as God intended, Millennials are forgoing the authority of Scripture and embracing a couch potato, cafeteria-style Christianity all in the name of tolerance.

I feel that this is one area where the church fails so drastically. We do not teach them that the world has nothing to offer anyone because they are not God and do not possess the power to grant anyone eternal life. We do not help them to learn how to endure persecution, name calling and other attacks from evil. We fail to bring them a counter-balance which sustains their faith but let them struggle on their own and then kick them when they are down.

Sometimes the church is trying too hard to look spiritual and fanatically jettison those who are spiritually wounded in order to maintain their ‘spiritual image’ instead of rolling up their sleeves and getting involved to spiritually nurse these people back to spiritual health. We show our youth and the sinful world that we do not care thus they seek for respite elsewhere.

#11. This contemporary mindset is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian whose Christian convictions put him at odds with the Nazis and cost him his life, called “cheap grace.” In his book The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer wrote: “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

Right now cheap grace theology is proliferating around evangelical Bible colleges, seminaries and Christian ministries.

He is right as well;  we want the easy way to live the Christian life not the right way. The right way, of course, comes from Jesus’ words– ‘Pick up thy cross and follow me.’ It is not, pick up tolerance and follow secular culture. Secular culture is not the giver of salvation but is composed of those who are in desperate need of saving. We do not follow them but show them the correct way to go.

That author is right as well as our pulpits, classrooms and para-church organizations, among other ministries are filled with false teachers, wolves in sheep clothing and other pretenders to the throne of God. We sacrifice our youths to a false idea of telling them to listen to those in authority who do not know God, lead the sheep astray, or just to listen to these people because they are in authority.

By doing so, they undermine their God-given parental authority rendering their words moot and useless as their children turn their ears to these false Christians or abusers of their authority. We need to get true Christians back into these positions of spiritual authority in order to help maintain the faith of not only our youths but of our adults as well.

#12. It is not that millennial evangelicals were not taken to church by their parents. It is that their training has been hijacked by ineffective and sometimes intentionally distorted doctrine.

As constant and pervasive as the attacks on Christianity are at public universities, it is important to remember that Millennials’ worldviews do not start taking shape after they move out of their parents’ houses. Their understanding of Jesus’ teachings and cultural convictions begin to form while they are still at home and under the influence of their local church.

What I hope and pray evangelical parents and leaders come to realize is that the church has been too trusting. In our jam-packed lifestyles, parents have treated Sunday school as they do softball or ballet class—drop off the kids for an hour then pick them up and hope they learned something.

I agree with her here as well. Because we have let the wrong people into the classrooms and pulpits, we are reaping what we have sown. We have exposed our children to dangers under the assumption that ‘these people claim to be Christian and say the right words so it must be okay for my children to listen to them’. Sadly, it is a grave error. Being naive is not a Christian trait and we must check the beliefs and doctrinal positions of those we entrust our children’s education (both regular and spiritual), then prepare our children before hand in order to protect them from what evil throws their way.

Bowing to ‘we are Christian’ is not enough anymore. Then we need to remember that warning from James about few people becoming teachers because of the extra judgment God will bring upon the people of that profession. What we need to remember is that it applies to those who volunteer to teach Sunday School and other biblical training classes as well as the public school faculty.

Being a teacher is not a game, it is not just another job and it is not unimportant no matter what level you teach at. We need to take the position of teacher seriously and respect it once again, and place qualifications upon it that weed out those false teachers and pretenders. Protecting our children demands that we act on all levels of life not just the worship service or weekly youth meetings.

The importance of this is so great that we cannot relegate the Christian faith to mere human created labels. Let’s go back to the simplicity of Jesus’ teaching and believe God, strive to be Christ-like and let others label us with the term Christian just like they did in the early church. Our acceptance of God’s ways and our living in obedience to him will label us correctly and keep the confusion away.

{Her article goes on to a second page, which I did not see or realize when I wrote the above. It doesn’t matter as those words do not need much commentary from me and you get the idea by what was written above on how to proceed with those remaining paragraphs}

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Posted by on March 17, 2015 in academics, Bible, church, education, faith, family, General Life, leadership, theology


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