How Pop-Evangelicals Undermine God in Evangelism

10 11 2006

evangelism-frustrations.jpg

As a fairly new believer I attended an evangelistically zealous Arminian Southern Baptist mega-church here in Omaha. I too was zealous for evangelism and for growth. I enjoyed the culture of evangelism that the Senior Pastor had developed and fueled. However, as my theological senses began to sharpen and I began growing in the word, something strange happened, I got frustrated.

The church rolled out a new evangelism strategy that was geared toward reaching and converting more people. There was a slick acronym that the evangelist was to follow and there were key verses that we must use. Additionally, we were all told that we had to go and attend the training provided by this new evangelism program’s guru.

As I read the outline and interacted with the strategy I was shocked to uncover the seed of my discomfort: the avoidance of mentioning sin/judgment/wrath/substitution. So there I sat in visible frustration with this new program. I was even told not to do evangelism at this church unless I adopted this methodology.

With zeal accruing like the national debt I attended an all church meeting launching this new program / strategy. When the Pastor was finished with his promotion and/or presentation he opened up the floor for questions. After a few others gushed with pragmatic testimonies of success in this program I raised my hand. The pastor came over and in front of the 4,000+ in attendance I asked him at what point in the “presentation” we might tell them about sin. He deferred to the leaders of the new program, who began to get a bit loud in refutation of my seemingly silly question. There was no answer because sin was not discussed. Sure it may have been referenced as some type of moral inadequacy but never in terms of direct rebellion and disobedience to the Sovereign of heaven and earth.

As you might imagine I soon left this church. However, the ‘evangelism’ strategy has not. Nor has it left the scores of other pop-evangelical churches across America, who, fail to explain sin in there proclamation of the gospel. This ridiculous practice sounds nice when we don’t believe in biblical sin, but it is ridiculous when we speak in terms of real and fatal disease. Imagine the uproar if medical professionals began skirting the diagnosis of diseases such as cancer or AIDS in favor of making their dying patients “feel better”? It is an unsettling testimony to observe the standards for medical fidelity are higher than gospel fidelity.

As God would have it he saves sinners through the gospel. It is the gospel alone that is called “the power of God for salvation” (Rom. 1.16). The gospel as Paul says here is that body of truth that explains God’s character, man’s sinfulness, and Christ’s substitutionary atonement, man’s repentance from sin and reception of the righteousness of Christ by faith (justification). How can anyone understand their need for or even desire a Savior apart from understanding their destitute position before a just and inflexible judge? It is ridiculous and biblically stupid to hold forth a loving Jesus who is tolerant of sin, plagued with a bad memory, willing to be bribed, and so nice that he became God’s spiritual piñata and took a beating that we might get all the candy because we are so good.

To hold forth a different gospel is to hold forth a different Jesus. How about this: it is to lie! You are lying when you don’t tell people that God is angry at sin, that he is intolerant of it and that he is going to judge the thoughts and intentions of our hearts with rigid righteousness lest we repent and flee to the Lord our Righteousness for loving forgiveness.

This really is perverted. See in effort to accommodate “seekers” or the “unchurched” or the “dechurched”, (unbelievers) they undermine the only message that can truly save their souls. It is no different than the doctor telling the guy with a tumor that he just has allergies. It is gospel malpractice. It is worse than being silent, it is misleading sinners and undermining God. God saves through his gospel of his son and this gospel is not up for revision. Evangelicals who try to get cute and smart (regardless of motives, for I do not know them) undermine God.

So much like sanctification we have in evangelism the following conclusions:

If God saves sinners exclusively through the gospel (and he does) and people do not proclaim the biblical gospel (and they don’t) we must conclude:

1) Many pastors and church members do not know that the gospel is the exclusive power of God for salvation

2) Many pastors and church members do not believe that the gospel is the power of God for salvation

3) Many pastors and church members do not chiefly value people getting saved

This is discouraging but true and it calls for Christians to take up Jesus’ gospel and study it, preach it to ourselves, defend it in the church and in the world, and then faithfully share it with all.

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How the Elections should increase your passion for Jesus

7 11 2006

One of the great pictures that God draws for his children by way of stark contrast is that of the kings in the Old Testament. Whether we are talking about a ‘good’ king like Josiah or a ‘bad’ king like Ahaz we know that at the end of the day all kings fall short of God’s ultimate standard for ruling.

So too likewise for us today on a National Election day, with the news agency spinning, the poll numbers cranking, and the candidates sweating, we know that all of the candidates for whatever office, all fall miserably short of God’s design. This is not to say that candidates and elected officials are worthless, for I understand Romans 13 that the government and the respective officials are servants of God and being used in his providence to even accomplish his will. For us today with the election blitz we are reminded of the intended and optimal form of government: Theocratic Monarchy.

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follow up to the John Stott post

24 10 2006

There was some good dialogue regarding the John Stott interview in CT. As a follow-up, let me just highlight a few great statements from the interview and then a concern or two that I have:

::Good Stuff::

To the question of what is an evangelical?

An evangelical is a plain, ordinary Christian. We stand in the mainstream of historic, orthodox, biblical Christianity. So we can recite the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed without crossing our fingers. We believe in God the Father and in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit.

For evangelical people, our authority is the God who has spoken supremely in Jesus Christ. And that is equally true of redemption or salvation. God has acted in and through Jesus Christ for the salvation of sinners.

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Life is a vapor

24 10 2006

A video like the one below serves to remind us how our lives could end at any moment. And how all of us must be ready to stand before the Lord God himself to give an account…at any moment. This guy is just walking accross the street…he, no doubt had the walk signal.

May an image like this, taken from everyday life, help to refresh a passion for Christ, specifically in holiness, love, and evangelism. If you are not confident to stand before the Lord God, the judge of all the earth, click here…i want to talk further with you.

<<due to some requests from weaker stomaches (kinda like weaker brothers), i’ve bumped the pic to the next page, click here to see the image>>

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How a trip to the zoo makes you long for the Kingdom

17 10 2006

gorilla_big.jpgOn Monday we as a family enjoyed a day at the Omaha zoo with some friends. The zoo is a popularly requested destination by our two year old Lexi, who always wants to see the monkeys and gorillas doing something amusing.

Yesterday was no different. As my kids stood only inches from a 300 lb. gorilla, separated by only by a layer of fortified glass, the gorilla found it humorous to massage the inner nostrils with their fingers and to repeatedly moon the kids. They, of course, thought this was hysterical.

We were also treated to a gorilla ultimate fighting challenge. As one gorilla came running up to smash the window right in front of us, another ran after him to do the same thing. The first gorilla was not happy with this apparent gorilla insult and immediately all the other gorillas ganged up on the second guy and we were treated with a little gorilla smack-down. It was pretty amazing to watch, the big fellas can flat out move. Well this unsuspected glass pounding continued for some time. As you looked one direction a huge silverback would rush the window and thunderously pound it while running off.

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Meditations on Christ’s Humiliation

6 10 2006

Isaiah 50:6 I gave My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.

It is an interesting and ironic thing this cross of Jesus. For in it we see the humiliation of a prestigious King and the exaltation of rebellious traders.

Jesus is no doubt suffering the most shameful and dishonoring treatment imaginable for one of his stature. Never before and never again will one so prestigious as the King of heaven suffer such violent mistreatment at the hands of humanity. It would be socially appalling if someone who does relative good in society suffered mistreatment by a government or a religious group. But consider the infinite exponent attached to the unfettered hatred unloaded upon the face, brow and back of the sinless one Jesus the Christ. Isaiah prophesying some 800 years prior tells us that Jesus was “marred more than any man” (Is. 52.14).

So it is here in the ironic and shameful humiliation of Jesus that we find our exaltation.

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Knowing Liberty

5 10 2006

The perfect law the law of liberty…::James 1.25a

I am struck by this phrase in the midst of the divine assault through James upon the pretentious religion of hypocrites. The law spoken of here is not the Mosaic Law for this law enslaved and was imperfect. Instead we have the life giving and transforming word of God as applied through the Holy Spirit and embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures were all pointing forward to their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus and the imperfect Mosaic law was no different.

While personal bondage to sin prevented all from the perfect fulfillment of the Mosaic Law we have here the law of liberty that is given through Christ to those who have been redeemed from such bondage.

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