Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Biggest Reason Apostasy Is Occurring at a Prolific Rate

What explains the disintegration of genuine Christianity?  People know it's happening.  Much of the world rejoices, every man able to do that which is right in his own eyes.  I read it.  Some don't think anything of any note will survive in ten years.

When I listen to conservative evangelicals and those closest to them in fundamentalism (CE-F), I hear doctrinal reasons.  They point out continuationism, egalitarianism, the gospel, Lordship, departure from inerrancy, fudging on Trinitarianism, among some others.  These men say they're doing the heavy lifting to save true, biblical belief.  They write books.  They publish papers.  They organize coalitions.

Meanwhile, some fundamentalists, maybe a majority of them, according to the above, are busy fighting for cultural issues and non-essentials, instead of focusing on the real problems, doctrinal ones. According to them, the other fundamentalists, hyper especially, the IFBx, are actually causing the slide with the lack of attention to doctrine.

I'm, of course, not saying that doctrine isn't a problem.  I agree that the gospel being perverted is a concern.  CE-F would differ with me on a few major reasons why and how the gospel becomes distorted.   If you read here, you know that I would select other even more foundational doctrinal reasons for the quicker slide today, agreeing though that doctrine has its part.  If you can't be sure about what the Bible is, how can you stand on it?  That is the faithlessness of CE-F, swayed by "science."  Undermining and denial of bodily resurrection harmed the Corinthian church.  Doctrine matters.  It does.  Obviously.

But I don't think it's the biggest reason for apostasy.  I'm 52 and have pastored for 27 years now in one place, and I've watched what's going on.   Churches don't change because they are given an alternative doctrinal statement.  In many cases, they keep the same doctrinal positions they have for years and a church itself is today drastically different.  The colleges that train preachers, church leaders, have the same statements in many, if not most cases, and yet things have changed to very worse.

The biggest reason apostasy has occurred and is occurring at a prolific rate is a spiritual one.   You can talk doctrine, but the slide away from true doctrine comes because of a potent combination of spiritual issues.  It is mix of a flesh problem, world problem, and love problem that reveals itself in a different mood and look to what is considered orthodox Christianity.   CE-F has fought for its worldly, fleshly stuff, because it really loves itself and a lot of the world's stuff.  At the same time, the world knows it doesn't have to give up what it loves to be a "Christian."  And everything keeps moving to where the church is either with or just behind the world, putting up with things the world itself wouldn't have accepted not long ago.

You can tell what a person loves.  He may have a certain statement, a certain doctrine.  He says its God, but he gets upset at a dent in his car.  He is angry if he waits in line, or gets overt handling at the airport.  He talks on and on about it.  He's not that concerned about missing church, not too bothered.  He doesn't evangelize.  Rarely does he start a conversation with the lost.  I'm not saying he won't blog.  He'll say a lot today on his social media, but start conversations to preach and go to doors for hours to let people know the plan of salvation?  No.

CE-F really get upset if you talk about taking away their music, their dress, and their entertainment. I've noticed that's what gets them irritated, like the dent in the car.  These are the so-called cultural issues, but they really are the division from the world, what keeps Christianity distinct.

The mood of churches is a worldly mood.  The CE-F talk about their movies all the time.  They think a key is making movies.   Everything becomes more and more casual.  Their music is worldly.   They offer worldly amusement and activity.  And what happens is people develop a different view of God. You've got the same words in your doctrinal statement, but everything means something different.   God isn't respected.

CE-F caves into the pressure of the world.  Being different is hard and embarrassing.  It ties into the CE-F interest in scholarship.   They want to look as smart as the world.  They don't want to be one of the dummies.  They have their whole, very developed scholarship wing with their books and publishers.  The world still doesn't think they're smart, but all of this represents their worldly desires. They're up on the world's movies, the world's fads, the world's lingo, and the world's music.  Overall, the world is still moving away from them, and they keep following.  The key issue here though is their following part.

There are a few churches that have stayed steadfast in issues called cultural issues and non-essentials. All churches were like this once and CE-F changed.  They went along.  Some of it was actually doctrinal.  The music, for instance, was affected greatly by the Charismatic movement and continuationism, creating a feeling that said that the Holy Spirit was acting in the same way as Acts. The feeling from the music was said to be the Holy Spirit's working.  CE-F has either taken this or has drifted this way.

Some CE-F then shift to something worse, when they start to imitate the social causes of the world. You see the move from the genuine and true to CE-F and then to this version of Christianity that wants to bridge the gap even further.  Christian ministry becomes the social cause.  The reasoning is complicated, but somehow evangelism will improve if the world sees we care.  So they have the food banks and the support of third world tragedies and subtle to overt acceptance of alternative lifestyles. Piercing and tatting are now something akin to camel skin, locust, and wild honey.

CE-F poses that if you talk about these cultural issues or non-essentials, you are not serious about doctrine.   What I'm saying is that the elimination of what was once called, and maybe still is, "personal separation" is the biggest reason or the root cause.  That was the issue, by the way, with Old Testament Israel.  Again and again, they allowed the altars in the high places and took up alliances with the world, and that explained the problem.  At the end of Lamentations, that is explained as the reason for the fall of Judah to the Babylonians.   Paul said it was "evil communications that corrupted good manners" in 1 Corinthians 15, saying that root something other than doctrine was the reason for the bad doctrine.

CE-F has tried and really succeeded at quieting men on the cultural or social issues.  They have marginalized them as irrelevant and unsuccessful and superficial.  They mock them.  They use certain fallacious, propaganda-like techniques to frame them as non-doctrinal and unserious.   The point is to eliminate their voice.  And then we are left with just their conversation about whatever doctrinal issue they say is important, and the worldliness, the slide, continues.

Churches are more worldly.  Their mood has changed.  And this has led to a change in view of God.  Same words.  Same statements.   But a very quick slide is happening, because we're not standing on those so-called non-essentials, the cultural issues.  Imaginations exalt themselves against the knowledge of God.  The wrong imagination of God replaces the true God.  The true God in the doctrinal statement is a false God in the imagination, who is fine with dating, with the casual dress, the different kind of family situation, the indistinguishable appearance, the immodesty, the bathing suits, the church activities at the swim park, the rock/rap music, etc.   Christians are now the cool guys, or the kewl guys, and Christians too!  What a deal!

Your kids didn't know it, but they didn't have to stick out. There are all these examples of Christians that are very little different.  And those churches are bigger too.  Why not?  They lack in the scruples that scare away unsaved people.  They are less pure.  But kids can justify their flesh with a step to those types of churches.  This is why overt defense on our part of these cultural issues.  We don't want a doctrinal slide, but we understand that it doesn't occur by replacing a doctrinal statement, but by changing the mood, replacing the militancy, giving the young people a different sort of acceptable Christianity.  The doctrine comes later after that gap has been bridged.

The CE-F say that the cultural issues are a tangent, off the main issue, a problem because they just get the attention off what is really important, like the gospel or the Trinity or such.  But CE-F really is who has to have it different.  They can't have the cultural issues stay the same.  Their success is much predicated on being more like the world.  It is essential that non-essentials stay non-essential.   It is essential that cultural issues not matter.  It is essential that they can use a Bible with dumbed down language that might sound like a comic book.  It is essential that CE-F stay off cultural issues as a subject.  Keep it all over on the doctrinal side.  And this is the trojan horse that brings in the false doctrine.  This is where the collapse and fall is taking place.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kent, these new evangelicals are calling themselves recovering fundamentalist. Our church lost our pastor several months ago and the leadership (deacons and assistant pastors) have decided to take our church down the path of NE. We have been an IFB church for over 40 years. Our congregation still holds to historic fundamental values and doctrine. I blame the shift in our staff and deacons to all the new reading material by many of the CE-F'ist. If our deacons and staff would have held to studying the scriptures we would not have the problems with the division our church is facing today. Thank you for your article. There are still good doctrinal fundamentalist in churches who hold to ecclesiastical and personal separation.

Jim Camp said...

Spot On,
Thanks

Kent Brandenburg said...

Anonymous,

Too bad. I think you're right. There is a great fear among church leaders. They are afraid of failure. They need to reassess their view of success. Success is honoring God, obeying God, glorifying God, not keeping disobedient or unbelieving people by compromise.

Jim,

Thanks.

Ken Lengel said...

Kent,

Enjoyed your post. I think another thing that could mentioned here is the role of the deacon of the church. I once had a deacon tell me that if a church had a shortfall at the end of the fiscal year, each of the deacons would divide up the deficit and write checks to make certain the church stayed in the black. While this seems like a noble cause, it often leads to accepting men as deacons who may not hold to the main doctrines of the church in various areas. Sometimes, churches should fail if the people don't support the ministry. If we artificially keep the ministry going on the wealth of a few, doctrine will be sacrificed.

Ken

Jon Gleason said...

"You can talk doctrine, but the slide away from true doctrine comes because of a potent combination of spiritual issues. It is mix of a flesh problem, world problem, and love problem that reveals itself in a different mood and look to what is considered orthodox Christianity."

Kent, I've been thinking about this a lot. In our town, every door has a slot for the post, and we're putting John/Romans booklets through them (I don't know if that is legal in the US, but it is here). Going from door to door to door, pushing the booklets through, you have time to think.

Literally this morning I was thinking about this for a long time, why apostasy has grown, why the churches can't seem to keep out the false teachers. My conclusion? We've allowed the world in, so people have a taste for what the false teachers offer and don't have the discernment to recognise the false teachers until it is too late, don't even have a desire for discernment. The world and the flesh have taken hold of their desires and affections.

It's a spiritual problem, not a doctrinal one. There has always been doctrinal error that has tried to come in. The reason it is able to do so to such a great extent is because the churches are full of spiritual weaklings who have been drugged and poisoned by the world to such an extent that they don't even see what is happening.

Anonymous said...

Great post.

The world, the flesh and the devil has caused the tares to overtake the wheat in many of these "churches" and the people love to have it so, for they have the "wisdom of the world" that "descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish (James 3:15)".

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Ken,

I've not seen what you described, but I believe it occurs, from what I've read.

Hey Jon,

Thanks. I'm glad you're there evangelizing Scotland.

Anonymous,

Thanks.