The Trivialization of Saving Faith - Obsession over Techniques
For example, regardless whether one actually believes, one prays a prayer in a sort of experimental fashion to "receive Christ" and is presumed to be "saved". This is not Biblical Christianity. It is not through techniques - like prayer or baptism - that one is saved. It is through faith. And the quality of faith that qualifies one for salvation is not a trivial thing, but on the level of a conviction. Yes, it is appropriate to pray and get baptized if one believes. And even if one doesn't believe, praying in an experimental fashion for revelation and conviction is helpful. But a person is not saved at that point. Deciding to follow Christ may make one a "seeker", but not yet a "son of God."
The Order of Salvation
Inherent in the false ideas of easy-believism is often the misconception concerning the order of salvation. Let's be clear about this: Being born of God occurs after one believes. One does not even receive the right to become a child of God until after one believes. "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." John 1:12 And one is not included in Christ nor receives the Holy Spirit until after hearing and believing the gospel message. "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit." Eph 1:13 A person cannot be born of God if they do not know about Christ as He is defined in the Bible. A person cannot accept Him as Lord and Savior, if they do not know what these mean. They cannot simply ask some hypothetical Jesus whom they construct in their own minds according to their own image to come into their hearts and then be consider legitmately "born of God". And there is nothing magical about the name "Jesus Christ" of itself. Calling on the name of the Lord means accepting Christ as he is described in the Bible. For there are many false "Christs" that people make up in their own minds.
The Trivialization of the Word of God
Many modern Evangelicals casually use the term "Word of God" to refer to their opinions rather than to the Bible or to Jesus Christ. At church you may hear announcements like, "the pastor will now give us a word from God", and he may go on simply to give his particular opinion, or an interpretation or application of the Bible. But the Bible alone is the Word of God. Everything else is opinion. Not that opinions are not necessary in living the Christian lives, and not that opinions are not derived through the Holy Spirit's guidance as one applys the Bible to life, but they certainly cannot be added on to the Bible. The Bible is complete with respect to the essential principles of the Christian life. We add applications which are particular to our circumstances.
Often I find that the Bible is replaced as the Word of God by opinions. I often hear sermons spoken confidently, but taking very little substance from the Bible. Often Christians will take some historical detail and through allegory use it to say whatever one wants to say - without keeping to basic hermeneutical principles. (principles of interpretation) And then they claim their opinion is proved to be Biblical. The Bible should not be simply used as a jumping off point to air one's own opinions.
The Trivialization of Christ's Lordship
Contrary to the manner in which Jesus presents himself, many Modern Evangelicals tend to "lead people to Christ" by revealing him only as Savior. They don't consider accepting Christ as Lord as necessary for salvation. This, of course, has led to what classically is known as "antinominanism" (Lawlessness or Licentiousness within the visible church). It is a yeast that has cause the visible church to become bloated with nominalism. People are glad to accept Christ as Savior as long as it doesn't cost them anything - as long as Christ doesn't tell them to do anything. They are like the seed that feel on rocky ground which didn't take root and so died, even though initially they may have received the word with joy. But when trials come, they demonstrate that they have a non-application oriented faith. They built their house on the sand. What I propose is to simply present the gospel the way Jesus does and the way Paul does - as in Romans. The gospel of easy-believism is a false gospel, leaving nominal Christians with false expectations.
Evangelical Feminism - An example Licentiousness
One of the effects (or perhaps causes) of devaluing the Lordship of Christ is to misapply the concept of "freedom in Christ." "Submission" tends to be viewed equally with an oppressive form of slavery. Nothing shows this more clearly than the tendency of modern Evangelicals to reject the gender-specific commands in the New Testament. The role relationships that God has established in the society particularly between men and women conflict with the world's point of view as well as that of many modern Christians. Such people whether consciously or unconsciously mishandle the Word of God, reading into it inappropriate interpretations. Else they outright reject some of the writings - as Paul's commands, or dismiss them with a "that was then, this is now" type of theology. But the attitude among such people tends simply to be "I'm going to do what I damn well please, regardless of what the Bible says." Such is the practice of licentiousness.
"We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us." 1John 4:6 "If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command." 1Cor 14:37I've noticed also that for some reason - not doubt cultural - Chinese Churches tend to be more feminist that Western Churches. Isaiah writes, "Youths oppress my people, women rule over them." Is 3:12 Paul writes, "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."1Tim 3:11,12 as well as , "women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says."1Cor 14:34 These kind of things are what I call "Third Rail Doctrines". That is, the third rail on a subway is deadly because it's electified. Touch these and you die. When I've touch on these in almost any forum whether speaking to "ordinary" Christians or to church leaders, I'm most often responded to with a great deal of hostility as if these issues are not allowed to be discussed, which is again evidence that indeed such Christians have not submitted it to the Lordship of Christ.
Anti-Judgmentalism - Another example of Licentiousness
Easy-Believism implies the accepting of the sinner along with his sinful tendencies. Licentiousness is the rejection of Biblical standards of behavior. So how can "Christians" get along if you are to mix the nominal licentious Christians with those submitted to the Lordship of Christ? One way I've observed Evangelical churches do this is by introducing a policy of Anti-Judgmentalism.
This is somewhat of a misnomer in that while no one is allowed to criticize anyone else, anyone who does is judged as sinning. But those who judge them who criticize others are surprisingly not reckoned as hypocrites. For they are themselves judging others. It's like - "don't judge us, but if you do, we'll judge you." For example, many would consider my criticism of Modern Evangelicalism as being sinful of itself simply because it is criticism.
A common basis that such people use for their anti-judgmental position is Matthew 7:1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." But Jesus is speaking proverbially meaning that if you judge others, they will judge you.It is not that you shouldn't judge others, but that you shouldn't be a hypocrite. But it is the Christians responsibility to judge others in the church as Paul writes:
"But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you." 1Cor 5:11-13The false gospel is that if people simply don't have an moral standards, they can be saved if they simply do not judge others. It is simply a misinterpretation of what Jesus is saying. If Jesus were to come to the church disguised as an "ordinary" Christian and he were to say the kind of things he did in the Bible, criticizing the religious leaders, pointing out sin in individuals and groups, humiliating many, he would be reckoned a sinner. Don't believe everything you hear. Listen to sermons and to what other Christians say with a critical ear. Don't be gullible. Because there are many in the "visible" Church who whether consciously or unconsciously teach false things. This is essentially a paraphrase of 1John 4:1 "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." But many Christians don't take it to heart, being discourage from doing so by the spirit of anti-judgmentalism propagated in the Modern Evangelical movement, which is essentially "anti-discernment".
Those who promote this idea claim a Biblical basis in "unity" and being against divisiveness and quarrels. But their particular applications of such verses are contrary to the examples we see in the ministry of Jesus and Paul. Taking verses out of context, it would be easy enough to prove that Jesus and Paul were divisive argumentative type of people always inviting quarrels though their controversial teachings.
And what should be the basis of "unity in Christ"? Let's say you have two people A and B who disagree on a matter. Person A says that person B is being divisive because he doesn't agree with him. And person B says that person A is being divisive because he doesn't agree with him. There are two improper ways in which Modern Evangelicalism has tried to solved this problem.
- 1. The teachings of institutional leaders cannot be questioned. Everyone
must be united with them or considered divisive. OR2. Issues which people disagree on are not allowed to be taught or discussed.
Christ is How You Feel
As a result the "Christ" such people build up in their own minds can look quite different than the Christ of the Bible. And inevitably they find that such a Christ wants them to do whatever it is they wanted to do anyhow and to be the kind of person they had intended to be anyhow. In fact their Christ tends to look just like them - what a coincidence! And since they're so in tuned to their "Christ", they feel really spiritual. It's "feel-good Christianity". They look around at others and find that others are not as in tuned to their "Christ" as they are, so they feel superior.
This attitude has gone hand in hand with the elitist attitude in the Charismatic community of being special based upon experiences. We're baptized in the Holy Spirit - you're not. We've been completely sanctified - you haven't. These kind of attitudes. Honestly I can't imagine how even John Wesley can speak of complete sanctification in this lifetime without redefining Christ so as to make Him conform more to image of sinful man, so that the concept of Christlike behavior conveniently matches however these "holiness" types decide to live. (See Legalistic Arminianism) This attitude is spreading throughout the Evangelical community. Time to get back to the Bible!
A man reaps what he sows." Ga 6:7
Paul writes, "The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." Gal 6:8 So I exhort modern Evangelicals to sow to their spirit, but do so with the perspective to serve.
1. Personal Edification
- Do not rely on professional Christians to do Bible study for you. Do
not gullibly presume that everything they say is correct. Do not rely on
them for deriving applications. Yes, listen to their opinions and advice,
but take it only as such. Study the Bible for yourself. Derive your own
applications. Ask yourself whether your understanding and practice of the
Christian life is reflected in the Bible. And whether the "Christ" you
believe is the same as the Biblical Christ described by the apostles.
- "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some
to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's
people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of
God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of
Christ." Eph 4:11-13As Christians, our role in life is to serve Christ. "He died for
all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him
who died for them and was raised again." 2Cor 5:15 If you're
in a church you would consider unhealthy, having practices and teachings
which you consider deviant from Biblical norms, but not significant enough
to be considered a cult, what do you do? Most Christians would simply leave.
But I say FIX IT. Fix the church that you're in. That may be a reason
God put you there. Use your spiritual gifts in cooperation with the Holy
Spirit to straighten those areas that are deviant, to bring light and truth
where there is darkness and falsehood, to bring life where there's death.
Bring your applications to life there and make disciples. It is not the
healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Do doctors run away from sick
people to look for healthy ones? So perhaps you should not look for a healthy
church but a sick one, so that you may serve.
And this advice I give to those relatively mature in Christ. Of course many purposely remain immature or feign immaturity so as to excuse themselves from serving. But I know that most of the Christians I have met do desire to serve but they just need to take some initiative. I say, do not expect to get support nor encouragement from institutional leaders for your ministry. You may even end up being seen as a threat to them. You need to learn to behave in a Christlike manner in the midst of hostility, for your enemies will be the members of your own houseshold.