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Archive for the ‘Seeker Sensitive Churches’ Category

(revised 01/04/14)

Since their inception in the early to mid-1990s,  the Emerging/Emergent/ Emergence church movements have been growing virtually undetected. However, in recent years, church attenders are becoming increasingly aware of these movements, due in large part to various Online Discernment Ministries (ODMs).

I am reposting an article by Dave Fiorazo revealing the heretical anti-Christian teachings of several leading Emergents. Click here for the original source of this article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding in orange , and inserted comments in [brackets].

Where Did the Emergent Church ‘Emerge’ From?
By: Dave Fiorazo

WARNING: The author of this article has determined that ignoring the following information may be hazardous to your spiritual health, and that choosing to do nothing with this knowledge may grieve the Holy Spirit and cause regret; but taking action may strengthen your faith. “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” (Jude 1:3-4)

The emerging church is a movement of the late 20th and early 21st century that crosses a number of theological boundaries: participants can be described as evangelical, post-evangelical, liberal or post-liberal, reformed, neo-charismatic, and post-charismatic. [And many additional labels as well.] They seek to live their faith in what they believe to be a “Postmodern” society. It is a rapidly growing network of individual believers and churches who would prefer to be understood as a conversation or a friendship rather than an organization. What those involved mostly agree on is their disdain and disillusionment with the organized and institutional church. The emergent church favors the use of simple story and narrative. Members of the movement often place a high value on good works or social activism. The hallmark of the emergent church is the new age aspect including the practice of contemplative monastic meditation and prayers. While some emphasize eternal salvation, many in the emerging church emphasize the here and now. Much of its doctrine  rejects systematic Christian theology, the integrity of Scripture, and gospel exclusivity. [Interestingly, many Emergents refuse to produce doctrinal statements summarizing their positions. Ironically, church history shows that doctrinal statements were developed to address false teachings within Christendom.] They don’t believe Christianity is the true religion and they promote homosexuality. They call for diversity, tolerance and camaraderie among all religions, and they modify and expand their teachings. It is a war against the Truth.

At an emergent church workshop in San Diego, Tony Jones said, “This is about our belief that theology changes. The message of the gospel changes. It’s not just the method that changes.” What? I submit to you that Jesus never changed his message to fit the times. Books, sermons and articles have been and will be written about the emergent church, and I’ve come to realize that too many believers are at times uninterested, uninformed, or just plain apathetic about the Bible and understanding the times we live in. There’s plenty of information out there if you’re interested in doing the research. You may even know their names. They are best-selling authors in Christian stores, speakers at our music festivals, and well-known leaders in Christian circles. Please read the following quotes from emergent church leaders, keeping the following verses in mind:

“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” 1 Timothy 4:1

“Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.” Acts 20:30

Tony Campolo“Going to heaven is like going to Philadelphia… There are many ways…It doesn’t make any difference how we go there. We all end up in the same place.” 1a

“On the other hand, we are hard-pressed to find any biblical basis for condemning deep love commitments between homosexual Christians as long as those commitments are not expressed in sexual intercourse.” 1b

“But the overwhelming population of the gay community that love Jesus, that go to church, that are deeply committed in spiritual things, try to change and can’t change…” 1c

“…we want to see God at work converting society, converting the systems, so that there aren’t the racist overtones, the economic injustices, the polluting of the atmosphere.” 1d

“I learn about Jesus from other religions. They speak to me about Christ, as well.”1e

“I’m not convinced that Jesus only lives in Christians.” 1f

(Tony Campolo is an author, professor of Sociology at Eastern College, former spiritual counselor to President Bill Clinton, and a leader of the movement called “Red Letter Christians”.)

***

Brian McLaren“I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish contexts…” 2a

“Yes, I find a character named God who sends a flood that destroys all humanity except Noah’s family, but that’s almost trivial compared to a deity who tortures the greater part of humanity forever in infinite eternal conscious torment, three words that need to be read slowly and thoughtfully to feel their full import.” 2b

“For many Christians, their faith is primarily about what happens to people after they die. That distracts them from seeking justice and living in a compassionate way while we’re still alive in this life. We need to go back and take another look at Jesus’ teachings about hell. For so many people, the conventional teaching about hell makes God seem vicious. That’s not something we should let stand.” 2c

“In this light, a god who mandates an intentional supernatural disaster leading to unparalleled genocide is hardly worthy of belief, much less worship. How can you ask your children…to honor a deity so uncreative, over reactive, and utterly capricious regarding life?” 2d

(Brian McLaren is the founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville, MD, he serves as a board chair for Sojourners, an emergent church leader and a founding member of Red Letter Christians.)

***

Jim Wallis“I don’t think that abortion is the moral equivalent issue to slavery…I think poverty is the new slavery. Poverty and global inequality are the fundamental moral issues of our time. That’s my judgment.” 3a

“Christianity will be impotent to lead a conversation on sexuality and gender if we do not bodily integrate our current understandings of humanity with our theology. This will require us to not only draw new conclusions about sexuality but will force us to consider new ways of being sexual.” 3b

“As more Christians become influenced by liberation theology, finding themselves increasingly rejecting the values of institutions of capitalism, they will also be drawn to the Marxist analysis and praxis that is so central to the social justice movement.” 3c

(Jim Wallis is a writer and political activist, best known as the founder and editor of Sojourners’ Magazine, for which he admitted to accepting money from George Soros, who has financed groups supporting abortion and atheism; Wallis has been arrested 22 times for acts of civil disobedience, and he serves as a spiritual adviser to President Obama.)

***

Rob Bell“What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births? …Could you still be a Christian? Is the way of Jesus still the best possible way to live?” 4a
*This writer is concerned that Rob had his bell rung one too many times.

(Rob Bell is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, MI, and a popular icon in the emergent church movement.)

Related information from GFM:
Rob Bell: Populating Hell (Article)
Rob Bell: Welcome to Hell (Audio Resource)

***

Tony Jones“In any case, I now believe that GLBTQ [Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Queer] can live lives in accord with Biblical Christianity (at least as much as any of us can!) and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state.” 5a

I think the Bible is a [expletive] scary book (pardon my French, but that’s the only way I know how to convey how strongly I feel about this).” 5b

“Some people today may find it compelling that some Great Cosmic Transaction took place on that day 1,980 years ago, that God’s wrath burned against his son instead of me. I find that version of atonement theory neither intellectually compelling, spiritually compelling, nor in keeping with the biblical narrative.” 5c

(Tony Jones is an author and a leader in the emergent church movement, blogger, and social commentator)

***

Shane Claiborne“There are extremists, both Muslim and Christian, who kill in the name of their gods.” 6a

“So for those of us who have nearly given up the church, may we take comfort in the words of St. Augustine: ‘The Church is a whore, but she’s my mother.’ She is a mess and has many illegitimate children. But she is also our momma…” 6b

(Shane Claiborne is an author, the co-founder of The Potter Street Community – formerly The Simple Way, a graduate of Eastern University and is a part of The Alternative Seminary in Philadelphia, PA. Claiborne is featured in the documentary “The Ordinary Radicals” and wrote the foreword to Ben Lowe’s “Green Revolution: Coming Together to Care for Creation.”)

How did we get to the point where some, if not all, of these teachings have blended in with truth and sound doctrine, and are accepted by many churches and ministries? Make no mistake. I’d need to write an entire book to completely answer that question. False teachers have been around since the early church days. The major issue with the emergent church is that it rejects the authority of the word of God. These teachings were not accepted by evangelical Christians overnight. This is 2010. We can trace the advancement of the emergent church to the late 80’s and 90’s, when people began talking about how to modernize and re-create church to be more attractive to the unchurched. But going back to the hippy flower-power days of the 1960’s, the new fad was all about peace, love, free sex, and rebelling against authority. Absolute truth and Biblical standards were questioned and labeled as too rigid, leading some to moral relativism. Moral Relativism is an ethical judgment. It is the claim that no ethical system is better than another, and rests on the belief that values are subjective.

Some churches responded to the 60’s rebellion by trying to convert as many as possible and accepted them as they were. ‘Come as you are’ was the new slogan. Jesus does meet people right where they are, but there’s an important distinction: He loves people too much to leave them that way, and unlike the emergent church, His message never changes! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Heb. 13:8) Many churches began watering down the true gospel in an effort to lure potential new members and not offend unbelievers. Some Pastors and church leaders simply wanted to increase their market share, so to speak. The seeker-friendly or seeker-sensitive movement began to grow and a skim milk diet replaced the meat of God’s word. More young people began attending church but there was little follow-up or discipleship training, and lots of baby Christians went back out into the world with little conviction to change.

Mega ChurchThe 1970’s brought us the development of the Christian music industry. Most of the industry pioneers were authentic, God-fearing, and ministry-minded, but I wonder if they would approve of Christian music as a whole today? In some cases, bands are more into the entertainment aspect than building up the body of Christ. Biblical truth was becoming irrelevant to young Christians and grace was way over-emphasized. One might argue that we shouldn’t judge others because it is divisive. In Luke 12:51, Jesus said that he did not come to bring peace but division. He never backed down when it came to facing hypocritical religious leaders. If you’re a mature Christian, you too need to be careful. The Apostle Paul writes, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” (Gal. 5:7-9) Many churches in America now have beautiful buildings, coffee shops, bookstores, great music and sound systems, state of the art lighting, and good drama or video presentations, but they seem to put more of an emphasis on entertaining the flock than on feeding them God’s word. Well, at least the young people are happy.

The 80’s rolled around and a few years after I gave my life to Christ, I heard Tony Campolo speak in California. I remember laughing a lot because he’s a great entertainer. He knows how to reach both young and old. His presentation has never been a concern; his theology definitely is. To fully understand the background and motives of some of the emergent church gurus, you’d need to know more about Liberation theology, Marxism, Saul Alinsky, Sojourners Magazine, George Soros, Red Letter Christians, Collective Salvation, and the Students for a Democratic Society. Most young people like to take action for a cause, and some of these works-based teachings call for organizing, social or environmental action. This is a clever way to lure those who are not as mature in the faith.

In 1995 Jim Wallis founded ‘Call to Renewal’ for the purposes of advocating for leftist economic agendas such as tax hikes and wealth redistribution to promote social justice. He himself stated, “That’s what the gospel is all about.” In 2005, Democratic Senators (including Harry Reid) met with Wallis to devise clever ways to use religious language to pull evangelical voters away from Republicans. According to TraditionalValues.org, Wallis was hired to fool Americans into believing secular liberals had found “religion” in part by sprinkling references to God and faith into their speeches. Just this year, Wallis has criticized America’s heritage, capitalism, conservative Christians, and jumped on the race card express saying, “would there even be a Tea Party if the president of the United States weren’t the first black man to occupy that office?”

God Versus SocialismThe “social gospel” and the social justice message is an apostasy. Apostasy means a departure from the faith or one who denies the fundamental doctrines concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ. Social justice teachings have branched off from the emergent church. We can no longer deny the fact that humanism, liberalism and the secular-progressive movement are alive and well in the Church, just as it has been for years in government, education, media, and the entertainment industry. Last month, Jim Wallis brought his social justice message to a Christian festival in Wisconsin called Lifest. (Wallis’ Sojourners puts more emphasis on the environment and poverty than on salvation and sin.) Because there were many great bands and speakers there, I’ve heard a few people try to make an argument in favor of Wallis, with the over-used analogy, “don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.” So, if only a few people hear a false gospel, that’s ok? “Let’s just agree to disagree.” Sorry, that method may be fine when dealing with petty arguments between friends or family. But when it comes to false doctrines, we can’t simply just look the other way. I heard the story of a woman who told her daughters that they no longer could attend Lifest because of Wallis. Weeks before, she and her husband wanted their young daughters to remember the dangers of false teachers, so they made brownies together. After all of the ingredients were added, she told them there was one more ingredient to add. The girls were shocked when their Mom added a small piece of dog poop to the batter! She told them not to worry and that they might not even taste it. Admittedly, this was a disgustingly effective lesson I bet they’ll never forget! Jesus warned His disciples to avoid the teachings (yeast) of the Pharisees, but He didn’t have a brownie recipe handy for visual effects.

According to Time Magazine (so take this with a grain of salt), Brian McLaren is one of the 25 most influential people in the evangelical church. This makes me believe our culture is confused about what ‘evangelical’ means. It is a serious issue because his teachings seem to reject the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the work on the cross, and dilutes what the Bible says about Heaven and eternal life. McLaren is changing Biblical doctrine to fit his own ‘We Are the World’ type of theology, which stomps out the reality of Hell and the fact that Jesus became our substitute on the cross in order to redeem us. He doubts the reliability of the Bible and I’m confused as to why he is not more of a red flag to Christians. Please read for yourself what the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8 about those who preach another Gospel.

Many of today’s youth have been raised in a culture (and sadly in some churches) where feelings and sensitivity matter but sound doctrine and the truth of God’s word aren’t a priority. This invites the justification of sinful behaviors and tolerance for sin. Our culture has redefined the word ‘tolerance’ to mean love, unconditional grace, warm fuzzies, and the acceptance of not only the sinner but the sin as well. When the Holy Spirit isn’t invited, by the preaching of Scripture, to come in and work in our hearts, there can be no conviction. Without revelation of sin and conviction, there can be no repentance leading to forgiveness. We shouldn’t be surprised that many young Christians have their spiritual foundations built on the sand. The Lord Jesus Christ said something very serious about those who cause little ones to stumble. He said in Luke 17:2 that it would be better that a millstone would be tied around the neck of the one who caused them to sin. These guys have no business teaching Christian theology and it’s amazing that so many ‘believing’ consumers buy into their feel-good, motivational doctrine. Part of their gospel is one of a social worker putting their faith in man (humanism) and government.

Dr. Walter MartinDr. Walter Martin, founder of the Christian Research Institute, sternly warned about liberal theology and the emergent church saying, “It is a cult because it follows every outlined structure of cultism; its own revelations; its own gurus, and its denial—systematically—of all sound systematic Christian theology. It is a cult because it passes its leadership on to the next group that takes over—either modifying, expanding or contracting—the same heresies; dressing them up in different language, and passing them on…it denies the authority of Scripture, it ruins its own theology. And it ends in immorality; because the only way you could have gotten to this homosexual, morally relativistic, garbage—which is today in our denominational structures—is if the leadership of those denominations denied the authority of the Scriptures and Jesus Christ as Lord…Test all things; make sure of what is true (see 1 Thessalonians 5:21). I’m not being harsh; I’m not being judgmental. I am being thoroughly, consistently, Christian; in the light of historic theology, and the holy Bible.”

So what should we do? Since not enough Christians know the dangers and the extent of the emergent church movement and their radical teachings, we need to promote awareness of these deceptions. We need to dig deeper in to the Word of God than ever before and know it so well that if we hear a counterfeit message, we’ll recognize it immediately! We need to talk to our Pastors and Christian friends. You have a choice to make and I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone and take a stand for Christ. The spiritual battle rages all around us and the enemy is on our doorstep. Satan has been at work at a church near you spreading his deceptions. The good news is that we are on to his schemes. Mature believers know that the emergent church teachings are contrary to the gospel of Christ. So suit up in the full armor of God and pray for discernment. Revelation 3:11 says, “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” Light dispels the darkness, so share the truth, stand your ground, and shine your light!

Dave Fiorazo is an evangelical Christian, actor, blogger and on-air radio personality at Q90 90.1FM WORQ in De Pere, WI.

References:
1a CarpeDiem: Seize the Day, 1994 page 85;
1b “20 Hot Potatoes Christians Are Afraid To Touch” page 117;
1c Beliefnet.com/faith/Christianity 08/2004;
1d MSNBC 2008 interview;
1e MSNBC 2008 interview;
1f Charlie Rose show 1/24/97

2a A Generous Orthodoxy, page 260;
2b A New Kind of Christianity, 98;
2c Site no longer available;
2d A New Kind of Christianity,109;

3a ChristianityToday.com 5/9/2008;
3b ChristianityToday.com 5/9/2008;
3c Worldview Weekend.com 8/3/2010 #1597;

4a Velvet Elvis pp. 26-27;

5a Beliefnet.com 11/19/08 blog;
5b The church and postmodern culture: conversation 3-26-07;
5c Beliefnet.com ‘Why Jesus Died’ 4/09;

6a From the book “Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne
6b From the book “Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne
6c From the book “Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne

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I have been increasingly concerned with this abomination: most evangelical pastors no longer regularly preach the “offensive” bloody salvation message of Christ’s Atonement on the Cross of Calvary. But we as church members are also to blame. Most church members have rarely if ever shared the gospel message of sin, judgment, Hell and salvation one on one with another individual.

I myself am guilty of seldom witnessing one on one “in the highways and byways.” At the very least, I could get into the habit of leaving tracts wherever I go – yet I  “just haven’t got around to it.” Lord, forgive me! I do praise the Lord that as a pastor and as a born again Christian, my father (God rest his soul) shared the gospel many times with individuals and prayed with them, as they repented of their sins and accepted Christ.

I was pleased to come across a pertinent blog by Chris Hohnholz, rebuking Christians for failing to be active witnesses. Click here for the original source of this blog. I have reposted the entire blog below; I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Burning Man Reminds Us to Preach the Gospel

This week marks the pagan festival held in northern Nevada known as “Burning Man.” For those who may not be familiar with this local event, literally thousands of people from all around the country will descend upon the Black Rock Desert a couple hours north of Reno. They will camp out in RV’s and tents, they will bring assorted foods, music and the like. But this is no ordinary camp out. It is a festival in which every individual’s personal belief system is put on full display. Literally, from the most basic camp out to full on pagan worship, a small society of ultra post-modernity sets itself up for a full week of personal celebration and worship of whatever you choose. The event culminates in the burning of a wooden statue where everybody congregates and celebrates this most sacred event.

However, it is not the debauched, pagan style celebratory worship that drives me to write this article, well, not entirely anyway. As I said, the Burning Man festival is literally the hallmark event of post modernism. Virtually every lifestyle choice and belief system is represented at this gathering. And were you to ask those attending how they felt about the competing beliefs being in all in the same place, they would tell you how wonderful it is to have such a non-judgmental environment where everyone could live as they chose without fear of being told they were wrong. In other words, Burning Man is the utopia of post-modernism. And post-modernism IS the religion of the United States. Those who promote this religion would be overjoyed to see the Burning Man mentality exist in every corner of our society.

My motivation here is not to bemoan the leftist, elitist mindset that drives post-modernism. Rather it is to challenge every single Christian with this thought: how did Burning Man become the Mecca of American “religion” while the Church is viewed as its “anti-christ?” The answer is, I believe, is this, we have faltered in Christ’s command to go forth and preach the gospel to every creature. Remember when we first understood that we were vile wretches that were at war with God through our wicked works. How we realized that in His just punishment, God would rightly send us to Hell. Yet God, in His mercy, pulled us from the fire and punished His Son Jesus Christ at the cross in our place! His shed blood covered our sins and His resurrection paved the path to Heaven for us. Through repentance and faith alone, both merciful gifts from our gracious Father, we received the amazing salvation that promises us eternity with Him! And then Christ commanded us to take the story of that salvation and to preach it to everyone we came in contact with. And what a blessing it would be to share it! To lead the lost, blind and dying to the very salvation they didn’t even know they needed!

Somewhere along the way, we stopped obeying that command. Where we once would not have thought twice about sharing this glorious message with anyone, we reigned back, we slowed down and we gave in. We stopped preaching the hard truth that the law brings condemnation, that it reveals we are not good people and that we deserve Hell. We started saying “God has a wonderful plan for your life,” or we decided we would just allow people to “see Jesus in us.” In doing so, we have exchanged the amazing gospel of Christ, a gospel that should cost us everything to follow, for cheap grace and easy believism! We have become content that evangelism is a spiritual gift for only some and not a command for all. As a result, the culture has plunged head long into the morass of sin and debauchery, into false “religiosity” and personal fulfillment. All the while, we have stood by with the very words of life that can rescue these perishing masses, yet failed to heed the call of our Captain into action.

It is altogether possible that, as you are reading this, you have dismissed my conclusion. If so, consider this, statistics tell us that merely 1% to 2% of professing Christians go out of their way to deliberately share the gospel with someone. That is a very telling number, even if one were to believe the polls which report the high percentages of “Christians” in the United States. In truth, it is likely many of those polled are more cultural Christians than truly bathed in the blood of Christ, born again of the Spirit believers. So that 1% to 2% gets even smaller, which means that a very scant number of truly born again Christian are out there carrying the weight of the command that the entire church is responsible to obey. With these small numbers acting as the evangelistic force for the church, is it that hard to imagine why the church holds so little influence in our culture today?

Yet, there are Christians who would insist that they are very evangelistic. They would point the numbers of people they have invited to church regularly to hear the preaching of the gospel by their pastor. While it is good to bring unsaved friends and loved ones to church, we must understand, this is not evangelism. It is the abdicating of one’s personal responsibility to seek out the lost and share the life giving elixir that is the gospel. Local churches are the place where the saved come together in corporate worship. They are led by the pastor in prayer and praise. They are edified and equipped under his teaching so that they may go out and do spiritual warfare in the world. To leave our responsibility to be proclaimers of the gospel solely to the pastor changes the very nature of the church gathering from corporate worship and edification to seeker friendlyism which sacrifices the content of the word for entertainment to keep the unsaved coming.

But one may point to something that is overtly evangelistic, such as their involvement in the large christian outreaches that gather untold thousands of lost and unregenerate people in one place to hear the gospel. While it is wonderful to see the efforts of so many people to brig the gospel to the world, in many cases, it is simply a repeat of bringing someone to church. Rather than going out into the world preaching the gospel, Christians invite the lost into one place where they will hear preaching by a few, or maybe even just one preacher. The energy and effort put into this gathering is all about getting the people there to hear someone else preach the message. I’m not discounting the genuine desire, and even countless hours of prayer, that Christians pour into this. But in the end, we abdicate the responsibility to someone else. And in truth, many of these events become big seeker friendly attractions where big bands, light shows and celebrity Christians attempt to woo the unsaved to making a “decision for Christ.” But when we look at the statistics, most of those people who make professions of faith never get plugged into a local church. They run around with a “Christian-buzz” for a while, but before long, they prove themselves to be rocky ground with no depth, or a plant choked out by the weeds. In other words, a false convert. One who left us, because he or she never really was of us.

Or maybe those in the church really do desire to get out on the streets to interact with people. So they set up food drives, or head out to feed and clothe the homeless. They hope to show those who are in desperate situations that they are loved by the Church. A noble effort to be sure, but more often than not, it is devoid of the preaching of the gospel. Those they help may be aware of a physical, temporal love in the here and now, but they are rarely, if ever, told that they more desperately need peace with God through Jesus Christ, because their sinful deeds are causing them to be at war with Him.

That’s how post modernism and events like Burning Man are the hallmark of excellence in our society, because Christians have faltered in preaching that amazing grace that saved us from the depths of Hell. I say this because if we remembered that beautiful gospel daily, how could we not go running into the streets to preach it to everyone? How could we ever claim evangelism is not our “gift” when it is a command from our Savior? How could abdicate our responsibility to preach the entirety of the gospel and give a wishy-washy “God has a wonderful plan for your life” message? I can say we have faltered because the fruit of it is as apparent as the false worshippers running to the desert grounds of northern Nevada to worship as they please with no fear of ever being told they are wrong!

I am not saying that the efforts I described above should never, ever happen. If even one soul is saved because they were invited to church or an evangelistic out reach, praise God. If one person comes to Christ because he or she understood that the love of Christ compelled a Christian to reach out and help them, His name is glorified! What I am saying is that by and large, most Christians are either not engaging in the command to evangelize, or are trusting in efforts solely like these to abdicate their responsibility to do so. And because of this, more and more souls are being lost to the culture’s tolerant, post-modern ideas.

Christians, we need to wake up and realize our Captain is commanding us to action! We need to repent of our sin of failing to preach the gospel and seek His forgiveness. We must equip ourselves with the word of God and bend our knees in prayer. We must go out into the highways and byways preaching the truth that salvation is in Christ alone, through repentance and faith alone! We must do so at all costs, even if it means losing relationships, positions at work, or even one day, our freedom. For lives are lost everyday to the pits of Hell! Let us be about our Father’s business, let us preach the truth and let us point people not to a “Burning Man” made of wood, but to the God Man who was and is and is to come! Let us call them to Christ alone!

Click here to view many excellent comments following the above blog which I have reposted.

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(revised 12/19/12)

Attending Evangelical Friends (EFCI) churches back in the 1960s (before they left their first love), I remember salvation messages about “the Blood and the Cross”, as well as hymns of Calvary such as “Power in the Blood“, “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood“, etc.

Today “The Blood and The Cross” message – the blunt, straightforward, bloody gospel message of repentance-of-sin and salvation that offends and convicts sinners – is seldom heard in the EFCI (particularly the ultra-liberal Northwest Yearly Meeting aka NWYM) and other evangelical denominations.  Sermons, hymns and tracts about Calvary used to be common, but no longer.

Today most evangelical pastors have become deeply entrenched in the Emerging/Emergent church movements. These pastors seldom use these terms in their sermons: sin, judgment, perish, eternal damnation, Hell, Lake of Fire, repentance of sin, the Blood, the Cross, etc. It seems these pastors are hesitant to offend or turn off unsaved seekers in their congregations/audiences, for fear they’ll scurry off to churches which are “less offensive.”

I know of a large Evangelical Friends church which – praise the Lord – was offering a series of classes in “evangelism training.” Yet when this church obtained a new pastor, the pastor discontinued the evangelism training classes. Now the church has many “fun” activities (Life Groups for devotees of amateur radio, classic cars,  scrapbooking, etc.) Apparently the pastor wants unsaved seekers to become involved in “fun” secular activities alongside born again church members, become comfortable attending seeker sensitive church services, then eventually be presented with the “full” salvation message. But when is this “full” salvation message presented by the church? I have never heard “hellfire and brimstone” preaching from the pastor, nor the “bloody” message of Christ on Calvary (picture the movie “The Passion of the Christ.”)

Frankly, Pastor, you (like so many other Emerging/Emergents today) are way off track. For sinners to repent of their sins and accept Christ as their Saviour, to truly become born again, you must preach an “offensive” gospel of  “the Blood and the Cross” that will be hated by  unsaved church attenders who insist on remaining in their sin. And unsaved seekers don’t need to be “eased in” to a church setting – they need confronted head on, as soon as possible, with the so-called “negative” message of the Blood and the Cross.

This pertinent excerpt is from a post by my Facebook Friend John Henderson, posted  here   09/24/12:

“That old Baptist preacher didn’t pull any punches when he dangled my feet over the flames of Hell. I am glad that he did. It was what I needed. I had already been hearing soothing and nice things from other “preachers” and remained lost. I needed to know and feel that I was lost and, when I did, it was a simple matter to run to the Cross.

Believe me, if the church has failed to reach the world it is right here. We do not need to come up with something more appealing to the world; we need to revive and sharpen the only things that will pierce their hearts with holy conviction so they know the choices are clear.”

Following are some more excerpts along this line, from A.W. Tozer. (Tozer had his flaws. He was not perfect, but I don’t know of any godly preacher or writer who ever has been.) These excerpts are from “The Old Cross and the New”, by A. W. Tozer. Click here (Berit Kjos’ website) for the original source of these excerpts. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Excerpts from …

The Old Cross and The New

                     By A. W. Tozer

This wise saint went to be with the Lord in 1963. His messages were written more than forty years ago, yet they are as relevant now as they were then!


Unannounced and mostly undetected there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental.

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique — a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam’s proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the self-assertive it says, “Come and assert yourself for Christ.” To the egotist it says, “Come and do your boasting in the Lord.” To the thrill-seeker it says, “Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship.” The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.

The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends. He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life.

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die.

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God’s just sentence against him. What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God’s stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

Having done this let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ….

Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we… alter the pattern shown us in the Mount? May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the old power.  


“But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24

Info on the above article, found here:

NOTE: This article first appeared in The Alliance Witness in 1946.  It has been printed in virtually every English-speaking country in the world and has been put into tract form by various publishers, including Christian Publications, Inc.  It still appears now and then in the religious press.

FOR FURTHER READING

Some comments on “The Old Cross and the New”

A.W. Tozer, The Radical Cross: Living the Passion of Christ  – This book contains, under one cover, many essays by Tozer about the Atonement and related doctrines.

These are just a few of the many essays included:

“The Cross Does Interfere”
“The Cross is a Radical Thing”
“Each His Own Cross”

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(revised 04/12/14)

Although I prefer the Post-Trib Premillenial view, I greatly enjoyed the following article by Don Koenig, in which he defended Premillenialism (including the Pre-Trib view) against Postmillenialists and Preterists. I am especially disturbed by the Emergent/New Apostolic Reformation move towards Postmillenialism (aka “Dominion Theology”, “Kingdom Now Theology.”)

(As an aside, I am leaning towards the Post-Trib view, which like the Pre-Trib view falls under Premillenialism.)

I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Christians will be caught unaware because they gave up premillennialism

Don Koenig
On February 10, 2011 · 33 Comments

One of the chief signs of the end times that premillennial futurists fluffed over in their eagerness to see the return of the Lord for His Church is the passages that make it clear that the Lord is coming at time when we think not (Luke 12:40).

We also know that in the last days there would be Christians mocking other Christians about their belief in the soon return of the Lord [I believe anyone mocking a premillenial return of Christ is mocking Bible prophecy].

2 Peter 3, Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4  And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

In hindsight, one of the reasons why the hope of a Rapture in the 20th century was premature was because during that period a great percentage of Evangelical Christians believed in premillennialism. They believed in a literal and future fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Therefore, the coming of Jesus really did not fit what Jesus said it would be like in the Church just before His return. Let me explain.

The doctrine of the Rapture and the Lord’s Second coming was one of the major focuses of the Bible believing Church in the last third of the 20th century. Yet, scripture implies that many Christians would not be expecting Jesus when He comes. So one of the signs that premillennial 20th century believers were presumptuous, and that Jesus would not return on our time-lines, was the general expectations that prevailed during that period among Christians. This irrational exuberance led to date setters and the fallout of that led to a general discrediting of all teaching dispensational Premillennial Theology.

Futurist Premillennial Theology probably reached its peak from 1970 to around the year 2000. In those days it was hard to find a Evangelical Bible believing church that did not believe in the soon coming of Jesus with the Rapture of the Church. [I have seen this change for myself in the Evangelical Friends, aka the EFCI, whose top administrative leaders preached about the imminent return of Christ. But no longer – they are becoming increasingly Emergent]. They also taught that the Rapture would be followed by judgment of evil on earth, followed by the establishment of the millennial kingdom where Jesus would rule and reign on earth with His Church for a thousand years, and then Satan once again would be loosed to deceive mankind into a final rebellion.

Because of the Lord’s delay and the presumptuous false hopes presented by some, there since has been a  falling away from premillennial theology. Many pastors now have post-millennial beliefs where the Church will have to Christianize the world before the Lord will actually physically return. Preterism is also gaining ground.   They teach that prophecy about Israel was all fulfilled in 70 AD and the prophetic promises to Israel are either annulled or are now only promises to the spiritual Church. With preterists, the Church is the kingdom promised on earth and the Church allegorically fulfills Bible prophecy. When all the saved come in, God will then judge all and eternity will began. There is no literal thousand year reign on earth in Preterism.

Today premillenial futurist Dispensational Theology is losing ground every day in Evangelical Christianity and you will seldom hear it taught from the pulpits anymore. It also will not be found in your Sunday school material. I think this falling away from premillennialim and the teaching of the imminent coming of Jesus is prophetic in itself. It had to be fulfilled, if we are indeed in the last days.

Jesus said He would come at a time when most think not. That would not have been true when people were still claiming His soon coming and also followed the date setters.  Few premillenial believers in the 1980′s thought that we would still be here in 2011. There are still some premillennial Christians that are hanging on to the hope of the Lord’s soon coming, but they are becoming a smaller and smaller minority within Christianity.

I suppose that those following the 2012 end of the world presumptions and heretics like Harold Camping will just make premillennial believers even more rare in the future. This will set the conditions in Christianity for what Peter said would happen in the last days.

Peter said Christians will be mocking other Christians saying, “where is the promise of His coming”, they will obviously insinuate that your belief of a soon coming Rapture and the return of Jesus is a false hope that is even harmful to the Church. Pastors will teach that we must put away all such foolishness and work to Christianize the world through social justice programs. All that are teaching Premillennial Theology with the physical return of Jesus will be marginalized and perhaps not even welcomed in their fellowships.

The trend in Christianity is already this way in the churches that have become unequally yoked with unbelievers that intend to set up an interfaith world of social justice. This trend away from premillennialism will only increase because of more failed date setting. Soon premillennial evangelicals will become open game for soft and hard dominionist media Evangelicals, and their mocking will spread into the general church populations.

That is when this “where is the promise of His coming” rant will be literally fulfilled. Some have claimed fulfillment in the past, but they were really grasping at straws. I do not believe it will be some subtitle innuendo. It will be a direct mocking confrontation against those that hold fast to Premillennial Theology and the soon return of the Lord. This is what I believe Peter is saying in his passage. We have not seen that fulfilled yet, but we see that things are rapidly trending in that direction. We now see the Seeker, Purpose Driven, Emergent and New Apostolic Reformation churches are becoming increasingly hostile toward Premillennial Theology. Get ready for more flame throwing against anyone that takes Bible prophecy literally.

But, blessed is the the person that holds fast to the promise of the Lord’s coming. That promise of His patience was held by only one of the seven church types that identify Christianity, and they are the only Church type that was promised to be kept out of the great trial that will come upon all those that dwell on the earth.

Rev 3:10  Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Jesus said, “will there be faith on the earth when I come” (Lk 18:18), Jesus probably was not talking about faith to believe that salvation came through Him. The Church has to have salvation faith, or it is not the Church. Jesus was referring to faith that He would soon return and judge the earth. The answer to His question is that other than a small minority that kept the promise of His coming and His patience, there will not be that kind of faith on the earth when Jesus comes.

We need to keep the faith, the Lord is not slow in coming. He just is not willing that any should perish. Nevertheless, the signs of the times are evident, the Lord will not delay His coming much longer. We are not in darkness, that this day should overtake us as a thief (1 Th 5:4).

Lk 21:36  Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Finally, one reason not usually talked about why Jesus must return very soon is The Singularity. We are only a few decades from when man will be able to extend his lifespan indefinitely. The doubling of knowledge every 18 months means that artificial intelligence will soon make it possible for collective man to solve any technical problem, but he still will not deal with the problem of his own sin. [This entire paragraph sounds a bit far fetched to me, other than the last phrase:  “he still will not deal with the problem of his own sin.”]

Unforeseen technology will get into the hands of evil people and they would destroy the world if it went on past the middle of this century. So Jesus must return and deal with evil before that happens. The mark of the Beast probably somehow ties in. Man will attempt to undo the confusion given to him at Babel. That is not acceptable while mankind is still in rebellion against God. So the end is soon for sure, but first the scoffers must come from even those that call themselves Christians.


 Don Koenig founded http://www.thepropheticyears.com website in 1999 after almost thirty years of independent study on the Bible and learning from many astute teachers within Christendom. Don created his website to write about Bible prophecy, biblical discernment and his Christian worldviews. Don wrote a free Revelation commentary ebook in 2004 named “The Revelation of Jesus Christ Through The Ages”. This World and Church and Bible Prophecy Blog was started in 2007. This Blog now has over 1000 articles written by Don and contains almost 10,000 comments mostly related to the post topic.

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(revised 02/06/14)

Preaching about sin, Hell, etc. is commonly called “confrontational preaching.” The resistance to confrontational preaching is most obvious outside of the church setting. I recall going to a state fair years ago. Far in the distance I could see two individuals handing out flyers. As I got closer, I could see hundreds of the flyers littering the ground around them. They handed me what I then realized was a tract – and the tract was all about hell and God’s damnation of those who do not accept His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. I’m sure many refused the tracts – and many others who did accept the tracts threw them on the ground after they realized the subject matter.

Why are the unsaved so offended by sermons about Hell? And, in the church setting, why is it that so few Emerging Church evangelicals preach about Hell? I believe it is because they don’t want to turn off unsaved “seekers” attending their churches. Yet, the unsaved need to hear the whole Truth of the gospel in order to be convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit and accept Christ. The whole Truth includes preaching about sin, Hell and God’s judgment (damnation to eternal torment in the Lake of Fire) for the unsaved (those who  reject Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour).

Check out the following YouTube Baptist sermons about Hell:

“The Depths of Hell” by Pastor Steven Anderson

The Horrors of Hell, Pt. 1″ by Pastor Steven Anderson

The Horrors of Hell, Pt. 2″ by Pastor Steven Anderson

The Horrors of Hell, Pt. 3″ by Pastor Steven Anderson

The Horrors of Hell, Pt. 4″ by Pastor Steven Anderson

The Horrors of Hell, Pt. 5″ by Pastor Steven Anderson

The Horrors of Hell, Pt. 6″ by Pastor Steven Anderson

See also the YouTube list of many additional sermons on Hell, on the right hand side of the YouTube pages for the above videos.

And of course there is Jonathan Edward’s classic sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Click here for a transcript of his sermon.

Following is an excellent blog about Hell. I hope to add more articles and blogs about Hell as I locate them:

http://howtobesavedfromhell.wordpress.com/faqs-about-hell/

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(revised 01/18/14)

Check out the following spoof of a seeker sensitive church’s bulletin board. (The original image can be found here.)


One of the dangers of seeker sensitive churches is that they tend to become seeker centered churches. The need for repentance is seldom preached. The gospel becomes a watered down message that attracts people (mostly young people) rather than turning them off. Rarely if ever do attenders/seekers hear the total Truth, the salvation message of The Blood and The Cross, complete with an invitation/altar call.

Click here for a blog which quotes from a sermon by David Wilkerson critiquing  seeker sensitive churches.  His sermon is excellent!

Here is the key to my criticisms of seeker sensitive churches. My definition of a seeker sensitive activity is any activity which is as equally attractive to a nonchristian as it is to a Christian. There is nothing in the activity to cause a stumbling block, to offend. Specifically, there is nothing in the activity that truly convicts the participant of sin, presenting the need for repentance, the gospel message of salvation, of The Blood and The Cross.

Here’s what God’s Word says about the gospel of salvation being a stumbling block:

23) But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness (I Cor. 1:23, KJV)

Regarding the above verse: if a church teaching or activity is not a stumbling block and not offensive to sinners who are attending, watch out! This church most likely has a “watered down” gospel message.

Now for a few examples. I know of a church that was way ahead of its time regarding the seeker sensitive movement. Years ago this church (which shall remain nameless for the moment) acquired a young vibrant pastor and his wife. The high school and college students loved this couple, and the church grew by leaps and bounds during their time pastoring there.

But looking back, I noticed something very odd going on at the church – something that as a Boomer I would never go along with now. Namely, the church for awhile provided various secular adult electives. One of the adult electives was, of all things, a study of “death and dying” – and they used Elizabeth Kubler Ross‘ book On Death and Dying. Not much Christian about this author!

There were a number of other adult electives provided. Another adult elective  was a study of the book I’m OK You’re OK –  a study of Transactional Analysis. Again, hardly a Christian book.

These adult electives were provided in the church itself, not at people’s houses.  Whoever chose the books for these adult electives seemed to be following a “seeker sensitive” church model way before its time. Namely, they set up classes in subjects that church attenders (including many high school and college students) found interesting and appealing – and in various cases the books were secular rather than “Christian.”

What is shocking to me, looking back, is, these adult electives were offered in what was a fairly fundamentalist evangelical church. Unfortunately, as a result of these adult electives and many other factors, this church has become more “progressive evangelical” over the years.

I discovered recently that the individual who was pastoring at that time has now been “an experienced Spiritual Director for many years. ” What an abomination. (A Spiritual Director is an “expert” in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation – including occultish contemplative prayer/contemplative spirituality.)

Today, after having gone through various pastoral transitions, this church is larger than ever. Thankfully, it no longer has adult electives using secular titles such as Death and Dying and I’m OK, You’re OK.  But it has a similar approach, namely, providing non-church related activities that attract new church attenders.

Granted, most of the activities are conducted outside the physical church setting. And I must admit, along with the non-church related small groups, the church does provide many small groups that  are true Bible study groups.

Yet, to have any church sponsored groups covering secular subjects and activities is very offensive to “old fashioned” fundamentalist evangelicals like myself. To have secular activities in a church setting, or even hosted by a church, strikes me as unbiblical. These groups consist merely of individuals with similar interests.  Many of these groups have little to do with the goals of Christendom, namely, to evangelize, to disciple, and to grow more like Christ in holiness. A Bible may or may not be cracked open during the activities, and a prayer may or may not be said. In my mind,  these secular-oriented groups are seeker-sensitive/seeker-centered rather than Christ-centered. [I don’t like the term “centered” due to its New Age-ish origins, but the term fits here.]

Amazingly (or maybe not so amazingly anymore), these seeker sensitive groups are being hosted by an evangelical church.

Following are a few of this church’s groups meeting in recent months, which I find seeker sensitive:

ARTS
Bluegrass Music
Classical Music
Fiddle Fun (violin)
Scrapbooking
Woodworkers

HEALTH AND RECREATION (presented in various quarters of the year)
Eat to Live (dieting)
Organic Food Co-Op
Walking/running group
Women’s Fitness

HEALTH AND RECREATION (year-round)
Sports Ministries (softball, volleyball, etc.)

OUTREACH
Amateur Radio
Financial Peace University [Dave Ramsey is a Christian – yet the subject matter  itself is technically seeker sensitive – it appeals to both Christians and nonchristians. As helpful as this seminar is, I have seen it also presented in liberal/mainline denominations like the UMC.]
Gardening
Old Classic Car Club

Another example: a recent Vacation Bible School at this church. What was the theme of the VBS? Favorite Bible stories? Nope. The life and ministry of Jesus? No again. The theme was cars. I have the church newsletter page publicizing the VBS – cars were the “hook”, the theme being used to attract children to attend. Rather odd I think – and unbiblical.

The above activities remind me of a community center such as the YMCA, rather than a church. Yet more and more churches are using secular activities such as these to attract new members. Is this what Christ intended? I don’t think so.

Having said all this, I should ease up a second and say something positive. I am very thankful that this church has not gone as far as some evangelical churches. Believe it or not, there are churches that still call themselves “evangelical”, yet openly provide New Age-ish activities such as labyrinth prayer, yoga, etc. for the community. Scary! [More on this in another blog.]

Update: here are several more examples of seeker sensitive activities. I heard of another church, which can barely garner enough attendees for a Sunday night service. Yet this same church had many men sit in the sanctuary watching the Super Bowl on a big screen TV.  Granted, the TV was turned off during the halftime, for a video showing Christian testimonies. But does that make such a secular activity acceptable in a church sanctuary? No!

Another example: I’ve heard of church youth groups having a “videogame night.” Students were allowed to bring their favorite videogames to play – including occult-based games such as “Diablo” – right in the physical church building. What an abomination!

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(revised 03/08/14)

Update: Keith Drury‘s son, David Drury, has become increasingly postmodern. And it seems to me that Keith has become resigned to that fact, tolerating his son’s teachings. Nonetheless, Keith’s speech back in 1995 provides many insights about the theological decline of Wesleyan Holiness denominations.
—————————————————————————-
Most evangelical denominations have gone through major theological changes in recent decades – for the worse. Among these are the “mainstream” Wesleyan Holiness denominations (Church of the Nazarene, Evangelical Friends, The Wesleyan Church,  etc.)

Following are excerpts from “The Holiness Movement is Dead“, by Keith Drury (1995, with updated footnotes added in 2004). Drury does not say much about today’s heretical Spiritual Formation/ Contemplative prayer, postmodern (Emerging/Emergent) teachings, or ecumenism. However, he addresses many other issues destroying our Christian faith.

I have emphasized certain points by bolding and [bracketing]:

The Holiness Movement is Dead
Originally delivered as an address to the Presidential Breakfast of the Christian Holiness Association

… the holiness movement — as a movement — is dead. Yes, I recognize that there are many wonderful holiness people around. And people are still getting entirely sanctified here and there. But as a movement, I think we need to admit we are dead…

We have a holiness heritage. We have holiness denominations. We have holiness organizations. We have holiness doctrines. We even have holiness colleges, but we no longer have a holiness movement [5]…

I wish to suggest eight factors, which contributed to the death of the holiness movement.

1. We wanted to be respectable.

Holiness people got tired of being different and looked on as “holy rollers.”…  We shuddered at the thought of being a “peculiar people.” We determined to fit in.

Pastors in holiness churches now tell visiting speakers, “My people here are quality people.” What they mean by “quality people” is that their church is populated with sharp, up-scale, white-collar professionals. “Quality people.” Respectable people. And we have become respectable. There is not a whole lot of difference now. Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans move into our churches from their former denominations with ease. They don’t see that much difference, because there isn’t much difference. We have succeeded in becoming average Christians.

… It is hard to be a holiness movement when we don’t want to be different than the average Christian. [6]

2. We have plunged into the evangelical mainstream.

Over time we quit calling ourselves “holiness people” or “holiness churches” or “holiness colleges” or “holiness denominations,” (except, of course, to each other). We began to introduce ourselves as “Evangelicals.” We started becoming more at home with NAE than CHA. Local churches repositioned themselves as “evangelical” in their communities. We built respectable churches on busy highways. We quit painting “Holiness unto the Lord” on the front wall. And gradually were assimilated into the evangelical mainstream. [7]

All this, of course, was quite easy for us. Mainstream evangelical media kings like James Dobson, Charles Colson, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Robert Schuller and Bill Hybels melted away our differences.[8] Few holiness kingpins are to be found. And even those who have a holiness background are not known as holiness leaders, so much as evangelical leaders… It’s hard to have a holiness movement when our people are really a part of the evangelical movement, not the holiness movement.

3. We failed to convince the younger generation.

We must admit to each other that we have generally failed to convince the generation in their 40s and 30s of the importance of entire sanctification. A few preach it regularly. But many preach it only occasionally, and even then with little urgency or passion… [9]

4. We quit making holiness the main issue.

…There aren’t a lot of excesses in the holiness movement today. We’re pretty safe. Holiness is our stated belief. But in most places we don’t make it the main thing. Preachers in the old holiness movement used to say, “Preach holiness and everything else will take care of itself.” Who says this today? Today’s trend is uplifting, cheery, help-for-Monday sermons, not holiness sermons. Where holiness is not the main thing there will be no holiness movement…

5. We lost the lay people.

A real movement is not made up of professionals but is lay-dominated. While holiness preachers and writers ignited and led the laymen in the old holiness movement, the laymen provided the real dynamic…

We no longer have a force of lay foot soldiers. We have generals without armies. Strategy, but no soldiers. It’s hard to have a holiness movement without the laymen. [11]

6. We over-reacted against the abuses of the past.

I am not yearning for the past. I believe the holiness movement, in many cases, had an abusive past. But in trying to correct these abuses, we overreacted.

Some (perhaps most) in the old holiness movement were legalistic and judgmental. So we became behavioral libertarians.

Some were so ingrown as to never touch the world. So we became assimilated into the world and seldom touched God.

Some were radically emotional, running the aisles, shouting, and “getting blessed.” So we became orderly and respectable, and we labeled all such emotion as “leaning charismatic.”

Some were judgmental and rejecting of anyone who got divorced or had marriage problems. We became so accepting of divorce that it is quickly becoming a non-issue for all but the clergy—and even that is eroding.

They preached a fearsome, vengeful God. Now we have a soft, easygoing Mister Rogers in the sky, “who loves you just the way you are.”… [12]

7. We adopted church-growth thinking without theological thinking.

We discovered that in America, numerical success is the doorway to respect. We wanted to be accepted into the mainstream and we found that church growth gave us the chance. When the church-growth movement first came along, holiness people were wary. [It seems I was in good company. I wrote a seminary paper, decades ago, criticizing the church growth movement. Yet, my seminary professor questioned my opposition.]

We were nervous about too much accommodation to the world in order to win the world. But evangelism has always been a twin passion with holiness. So, many holiness churches—at least the growing ones—suppressed their natural reticence and adopted church-growth thinking in a wholesale way. Pastors became CEOs. Ministers became managers. Shepherds promoted themselves to ranchers. Sermons became talks. Sinners were renamed “seekers.” “Twelve steps” became the new way to get deliverance, instead of at the altar. Growth itself became the great tie-breaking issue. Everything else was made to serve growth.

… is there anyone who would argue that the church-growth movement is in any sense a holiness movement? In fact, much of the movement is quite openly anti-holiness, instructing us that “perfecting the saints” is an unfinishable task which should be given secondary importance to the primary task of initial disciple-making…

[Pastors] traded in the rusting, old holiness movement for a bright, shiny new church-growth movement. [13]

(As a side point, one wonders, now that the church-growth movement is crumbling[14],  where these pastors will go next.

8. We did not notice when the battle line moved.

Many of us believe we are in danger of losing the doctrine and experience of “second-blessing holiness”—an experience through the Holy Ghost which cleanses the heart of its inclination to rebel and enables the believer to live above intentional sin, producing a life in obedience to the known will of God.

We believe that we should stand our ground for the holiness message. That holiness is the “front line” of battle, if we use military terms. But while we have been meeting and talking to each other about holiness… the battle line moved on us.

Many of our people do not need to be sanctified—they need to be saved! The doctrine at risk in many holiness churches is not entire sanctification but “transformational conversion.” We may need to stand at Luther’s side awhile before we can rejoin Wesley.[15]

Few will admit it knowingly, but many of our churches have replaced “transformational conversion” with a softer, user-friendlier style of building the local church. “Membership assimilation” or “assimilation evangelism” or “faith development” models seem so much more attractive today than the old sin-repentance-conversion-restitution models of the past.

The notion that people can repent of their sins in a single moment and be transformed instantaneously into new creatures with a radically changed lives, is increasingly at risk, even in holiness churches. Modernity teaches us that nothing can be done in less than twelve steps!

These popular assimilation models turn the gospel into something else. It is more sociology than theology. People ooze into churches without ever becoming saved. Repentance is replaced by “accepting Christ.” Christ is “added on” to achieve a balanced life. Sinner is traded in for “seeker,” absolutes for options, and theology for therapy.

And people do come into the church. And growth—even great growth—results from these “nonconversion” conversion models of church growth. But it is hard to have a holiness movement dedicated to the possibility of “instantaneous sanctification,” when many folk do not even have an experience of “instantaneous salvation.” It’s hard to have a holiness movement when many of our own church members are not even saved, let alone sanctified

Spiritual shallowness is rampant. Sin among believers is commonplace. Christians boldly advertise on their bumper stickers, “I’m not perfect—just forgiven.” What was once an eroding morality in the world is now an eroding morality in the church.

People like Peggy Campolo call themselves “evangelical,” yet they “enthusiastically endorse . . . monogamous, loving, intimate relationships between people of the same sex.” Evangelical?

The church watched Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith succeed in becoming crossover artists… and then followed them with our crossover worship services.[17] We were delighted that our music, support groups and encouraging talks were popular with the world. We started to fit in. The world liked us! Christians are less and less different than their unsaved neighbors. They are out for the same thing. They lie, cheat and get divorced just like their unsaved neighbors. The old riddle was prophetic:

What’s the difference between the church and the world? Answer: About ten years. Perhaps even less.

Evangelicals have accommodated to divorce. “Worldliness” is seldom mentioned, and even then only in jest. Evangelicals now attend the same movies as the world does. They rent the same videos. They watch the same TV shows. Evangelicals watch things on television that they would have called “pornography” twenty years ago. Christian families are falling apart. Even sets of board members get divorced and marry each others’ spouses—all while staying on the board! And evangelical churches are filling up with people who have never had a genuine experience of transformational conversion. They oozed in through the sociological assimilation process.

Isn’t it ironic, that just as the holiness movement enters its waning years, the church at large is in its greatest need for holiness movement. What does God want? I believe He wants a holiness movement. A new holiness movement.

– A movement which will preach boldly that God is holy and does not accept sin.

– A movement which will have the integrity to tell some Christians they need to get saved.

– A movement which will preach a second work of grace which God does in the life of a believer to cleanse and empower him or her, enabling an obedient life of devotion to God.

– A movement which will call people to abandon worldliness even at the risk of losing some people to the positive, upbeat, cheery service offered down the street.

– A movement which will adopt an external mission—to recruit, persuade and mobilize other evangelicals as aggressively as the church-growth movement or the anti-abortion movements have done—to recruit them to holiness [18] …

The disturbing question is this: Will the old holiness movement be in the new holiness movement? Or will God go outside of our circle to raise up someone else to lead the new movement?…

Original address by Keith Drury, 1995. Retrospective footnotes added almost ten years later in late 2004

ENDNOTES

[5] This point of my address was largely ignored, especially by some Nazarene theologians. This paragraph is the essence of my argument — that the movement was dead though the doctrine remained…   Doctrine is the last to go.  I believed at the time (and still do) that a movement fades first, then the experience, and finally the doctrine… Face it, the United Methodist church’s statement on Christian perfection is a great statement to this day… I was arguing that the movement and experience of a second definite work of grace known as “Entire Sanctification” was gone for all practical purposes, though the doctrine-on-paper continued on the books.

[6] I have taken a beating from a number of my critics at this point…  They thus dismissed this point as sociology not theology.  Which is precisely what I was doing—practicing sociology not theology…

[7] While my paper addressed the movement sociologically this is a good point at which to cite recent doctrinal statements, mission statements and “strategic plans” produced by several of the former holiness denominations that are clearly “evangelical” and abandon any attempt to self-identify as holiness or even Wesleyan…  While the self-labeling of denominations and educational institutions does not a doctrine make, it is indicative of the shifts in the decade since this address was first given.  To identify the Free Methodists Nazarenes, or Wesleyans as an “evangelical denomination” would raise few eyebrows today. The deed is done, the labels switched.

[8] The situation is unchanged in the intervening decade since this address.  The names of the evangelical influencers change as past leaders fade away and new evangelical leaders emerge, but our influencers are exclusively “evangelicals.”  We switched movements, from the smaller more specific one to the larger more generic movement.

[9] Perhaps I erred in placing too much blame on my own generation—the “Boomers.”  In this section I was stepping outside of my own generation and speaking to the generations above us.  That is they (the older generations) had failed to convince us (the boomers) of the holiness message. I am convinced that the holiness movement was “lost” when the boomers took over.  [I agree with this 100% – I am a Boomer, and have seen my college and seminary classmates take over with this “newer and supposedly better” pastoring style – a non-Holiness message.] We boomers may be to blame for not taking it up.  But it is the preceding generations that are to blame for failing to pass it on… The church we inherited may have needed reform, but the one we bequeath need [sic] even greater reform.  However, while the boomers may have “dropped the holiness ball” the blame still falls to the previous generations who so hopelessly fumbled the handoff.

[11] I now wish I had developed this point further.  I have a hunch it is far more important than it seems here… it is a rare lay person today that amasses a serious collection of works on holiness…

[12] I was attempting here to allow for an abusive legalistic past while pointing out that we had ridden the pendulum too far in reaction…

[13] A decade of reflection since this address has convinced me more than ever that if I had to pick a single executioner of  the holiness movement it would be the church growth movement

[14] While this address is best known as discussing the death of the holiness movement perhaps the most shocking statement here was this one pronouncing the demise of the church growth movement when it was at its zenith of power.  Ironically many holiness people abandoned a movement measured in centuries to join one that did not survive two decades!

[15] Ten years later I realize that this claim (which was largely ignored in later analysis) should have been the headline of my address.  Instantaneous sanctification is not the primary matter before us now—it is instantaneous conversion.  Year after year in my surveys of youth from our “holiness-now-evangelical” churches I discover that an instantaneous conversion experience is increasingly becoming the minority experience.  Some are still saved in a datable moment, but an increasing number claim a series of experiences in their “faith journey” and more than half  believe that “there never was a day in my life when I would have gone to hell.” …

[16] I continue to believe that confessing our movement’s death was the right thing to do… On one end folk used the address to show that holiness was indeed dead in the so-called “mainline holiness churches” and the holiness people still in those churches should come out and join the true holiness people in the independent or separated churches. On the other end were some denominational officials (and many pastors of larger churches) who gleefully used the address to usher in a new post-holiness era in the denomination…

[17] At the time I did not see how the dying church growth movement would be temporarily replaced by Promise Keepers but only for a short time.  The next real movement would be the worship movement and the church’s attention would  largely abandon any interest in discipleship, spiritual transformation, the spiritual disciplines [Hmm, I don’t like the author’s use of the  phrase “spiritual disciplines” – does he favor Spiritual Formation? Nonetheless, he does make a number of good points on other issues.],  Christian Education or life change as we became absorbed in praise as if praise itself would sanctify the church causing the chains of sin to fall away.  As I write this retrospective almost five years after the turn of the millennium I see the worship movement losing steam like these other movements did.  What will sweep in next?  Could it be a new holiness movement in some sort of disguise?  We hope so, but cannot say…

[18] My call for “a new holiness movement” turned out to be nothing more than an empty call.  The movement’s remains spent the next decade quibbling over their life or death, CHA gradually sunk into oblivion, the holiness denominations drifted into becoming mainline evangelicals [also called “progressive evangelicals”], and nobody rose to lead the re-invention of the holiness movement…

[19] In a basically pessimistic analysis of how the movement died I offered two glimpses of hope. First, that God might raise up a new movement outside the holiness movement. Second, that God might resurrect the holiness movement itself and bring a new movement though it.  I still hope for both but have more hope for the first than the second. [I also agree that the first is now the more likely. I can’t think of a single Holiness denomination that is not being sucked into Spiritual Formation and Emerging/Emergent church teachings. On the bright side, families are fleeing these churches in droves. Hopefully these now-churchless Christian families will band together and form new gatherings, true to the gospel.]

[20] Though I knew I was “bearding the Lion” in this original address I was not prepared for the earthquake of a response to it.  The proclamation that the “emperor had no clothes” was not taken lightly by many.  Most denominational officials condemned the address as excessive…  In a later address at Indiana Wesleyan University titled “Hope for the Holiness movement” I expanded what I saw as signs that could turn into a new movement. I am mostly disappointed with the later history…  Yet I am hopeful today… I care little for the “remnant mindset” of some remaining holiness people.  Why?  Because I believe God’s great concern is for the shallowness and sinfulness of his entire church—more than a billion of them around the world…

FOR FURTHER READING

Drury responds to Richard Taylor, Kenneth Collins and Wallace Thornton

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