Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Is Evangelicalism Still Christian?

There comes a time when thinking people need to ask hard questions, and this is the one I've been wrestling with for some time now. It may seem like blasphemy to even ask something like this, but I am increasingly convinced that there is a great divide in modern evangelical thinking and, like the road pictured here, we're not all moving in the same ultimate direction.

I'll be exploring this further in upcoming posts, but I'll start with my working conclusion: There are two competing religions in Evangelicalism these days. They are incompatible and they are at war for the souls of men, women and children in our midst. Pick your metaphor: The two are oil and water, black and white, night and day, right and wrong... one is a reflection of God's will and purpose and the other is a lie as old as the Garden and the deceiver in it.

They use the same language. They cite the same scriptures. They profess the same faith. But they are TOTALLY different in their nature. Contrary to the wishful (and ignorant) thinking of many who name the name of Christ these days, they do not represent "differences within the family" and they are not insignificant - one is orthodox and the other is apostate.

And I am deeply concerned as the wrong one appears to be carrying the day.

I'm going to spend a few posts talking through this, but at their heart, the two competing religions are The Christianity of "He" vs. The Christianity of "Me" (and its close cousin in many circles, the Christianity of "We"). Here is just a brief list of the most significant differences ("He" vs. "Me"). They address the same questions, but present very different answers (I'll let you guess which is the right viewpoint!):

The Primary [fill in the blank] :
Nature of the Gospel -
External to Man
vs. Internal to Man
God's Glory vs. Man's Benefit
God's Sovereignty vs. Man's Decision
Result of Christ's Death
God's Completed Work vs. Man's Available Opportunity
Purpose of Sharing the Gospel
The Glory of God vs. The Benefit of Man
Vehicle for Articulating Faith
Embracing of Creeds vs. Accomplishment of Deeds
Means of Discipleship
God's Completed Work vs. Man's Ongoing Responsibility
Measure of Security
Christ's Work and God's Promise vs. Man's Decision and Consistency
Nature of Worship -
God-Focused and Reverent vs. Man-Focused and "Relevant"
Characteristic of Pastors
Shepherding vs. Leadership
Identifying Characteristics of Followers
Fidelity and Obedience vs. Comfort and Power
The Evangelical movement is unapologetic in embracing the "Christianity of Me." Increasingly, this is evidenced by (among other things) our
  • Unprecedented rejection of doctrine as unknowable at best and irrelevant at worst, combined with
  • Belligerent embracing of Biblical illiteracy and
  • Insatiable appetite for entertainment, even at the expense of authenticity
To the extent that this is happening, it isn't just a difference of opinion... it is an assault on the Gospel itself, and must be addressed and rejected by everyone who loves Jesus.

The Church Universal has survived - even flourished - through days of apostasy before, and it will through these dark days. It is, after all, the Bride of Christ - and He who began a good work in the Elect will bring it to completion. But we who are living in this time must take seriously the call of Scripture to be discerning - to watch out for false teachers - to beware of false doctrine - to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints... The problem is real, and the time for playing and pretending is long over.

So explore this with me if you will... whether you agree with me or not in my conclusions, I trust you'll see that the issue I'm raising is real - and perhaps at least a real discussion can begin. Is it possible that those of us who are "evangelical" are rejecting the very fundamental tenets of the Gospel itself? And if there are really two irreconcilable paths in Evangelicalism these days, which road are you on?

Next Time: "'He" vs. "Me" Christianity - Is the Gospel External or Internal?


Anonymous said...

Beware the dichotomies ... Would love to talk about this sometime . . . I'm in 10-UR-C.

Doulos Christou said...

Let's do. I'd value your always thoughtful input.

By the way, down there in 10, I thought you'd appreciate this:

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