Sunday, June 15, 2014
The American Way
There is no question that America, as a nation, has changed and is undergoing rapid change at a pace that is nothing short of remarkable. The amount of time it took for the aggressive gay movement in partnership with the media to sway American opinion on the subject of gay marriage is astonishing. In addition, when we compare opinions about Christianity and the Bible for example from say 20 or even 10 years ago, the shift is dramatic. The shift is no less true for American Christianity than it is for American culture. The nation has lost her way because she has deliberately abandoned her roots. The same holds for American Christianity.
American Christianity has displaced Scripture with autonomous human reason, science, and purportedly a more enlightened mindset than the authors of Scripture. For instance, gay relationships were allegedly unknown to the biblical authors and even to Jesus. If they had known of that possibility, it is said, they would have written differently about that subject. The same is true for the creation account, the resurrection, and divinity of Christ, and an assortment of other basic Christian doctrines. Today, not only do we feel the inherent right to reinterpret Scripture in light of modern thought, but we also subject the very nature of the Word of God to our own imperfect, fallible, and sinful judgment.
One of the single greatest contributors to this rise in a weak Christianity is due to the abandonment of excommunication and shunning in the Christian community. The American notion of radical human liberty, and an unbridled autonomy, namely, that everyone can be whatever they want to be, even a Christian has led to unsurpassed arrogance among young uninformed or misinformed, and inexperience pastors, leaders, authors, and bloggers in matters concerning Christian dogma. When we add to this the fact that most professing Christians have bought into the postmodern nonsense of the outright rejection of objective truth and the thorough rejection of authority and tradition, the results are nothing short of dismal.
Christians are sinners too, all of us. And we need to remind ourselves and to be continually reminded that we have an inherent proclivity to redefine God, Christ, and everything Christianity teaches so that it fits neatly into our own sinful ideal. The triune God is self-defining, Christian Scripture is self-authenticating, and the only person that could define it, Jesus Christ, has already defined Christianity.
Christians are now in a position to have to begin to make some very hard decisions. Will we continue in the Christian life and prove the genuineness of our Christianity or will we demonstrate that our faith was nothing more than the product of finite human reason. Christians would have an easier time with some of these issues if we had been doing what we should have been doing all along.
In Matthew 18:15-18, Jesus Christ Himself laid down the imperative rule for dealing with unrepentant professors to the Christian faith. The process would include confrontation in private all the way to public confrontation by the local assembly. If the individual refused to repent of the sin, they would be cut off from fellowship in that community. When we witness Christians living a lifestyle that is unworthy of the gospel, we must act in love, but we must act and we must act swiftly as if the reputation of Christ means something to us.
In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul instructs the Corinthian Church to remove a couple that had become entangled in a serious sexual scandal. It seems that a young man had decided to marry his former stepmother. Rather than react with revulsion, the Corinthian Christians rejoiced in their supposedly liberty. Paul found the situation morally repulsive. He referred to this man as leaven, an impurity in the community that must be purged. Paul then issued the order that Christians are NOT to fellowship with supposed Christians who are living in immorality. In other words, they were to cut them off. Christians do not have the luxury or option of ignoring the lifestyles of professing Christians in the name of being non-judgmental.
Paul informed the Thessalonians that they were not to eat with those who were busybodies and who refused to work with their own hands. He also instructed the Thessalonians not to associate with people who refused to obey the words of his letter. The Christians at Thessalonica were not given the option to do otherwise.
John informs his audience that those bringing false teachings to the church were to be shunned as well. They were not only to refuse to have fellowship with such people, but Christians were told not to receive them into their homes. In addition, they were not even allowed to extend a greeting to such people. These people are enemies of the faith, despisers of the cross of Christ and enemies of God to the core.
To the church at Thyatira, Jesus issued a stern rebuke, not because she was necessarily immoral, but because she tolerated immorality. The modern American way is not a way of tolerance for differing opinions although that sounds nice. Rather, it is the way of the coward. Christians are not willing to confront sin and sinners and hypocrites and skeptics any longer because we are cowards. We are concerned that we will be ostracized or that we might not be able to answer a challenge. We are either cowards or we are prideful. We care way too much about what men think of us and no where near enough about what God thinks of us. We don’t want to say we believe something because the Bible teaches it and that, because we agree silently that we should have more reason for believing something than that. After all, who believes something simply because the bible teaches it? How silly! How gullible! How incredibly naïve and embarrassing! This is the mindset of most modern Christians even though most would surely deny it.
We must put a stop to this nonsense. We must learn to lovingly, but firmly proclaim God’s truth to everyone we can. We must be willing to excommunicate the young couple that thinks they can live together outside of marriage and still be true Christians. We must continue to stand for God’s design for marriage and reject the nonsense of the homosexual movement. We must take God at His word and follow the way of Christ. It is surely true that the American way is not exactly the godly way at this point. The truth of the gospel does not depend on how many people accept it. Christian theism is a despised religion and will continue to be the most despised religion. God loves the world, but if we read that passage closely, we also realize that the world that God loves also stands in clear condemnation for its acts of wickedness and ungodliness. If that were not the case, grace would not be so very amazing after all.