A few days ago my wife Joy read an article which she thought should be mentioned in this week’s E-Letter and sent me the link. I opened up the WorldNetDaily article Apologetics: Cure for America’s social ills, and the first thing I noticed is that a friend (Anthony Horvath) authored it. Anthony, like so many others we have met over the years, became involved in apologetics and discernment out of a desire to reach the lost. His burden for the current state of affairs in the church is all too familiar:
No sooner do we put our attention on our apologetic and evangelism efforts do we come to some very hard truths about the state of Christian education. Indeed, when we compare the overall thrust of the youth and education programs of many churches with the nature of the challenge arrayed against us, there can be little doubt as to the extent of the problem. If we wanted godly young men and women who could carefully discern how various legislative endeavors threaten to hurt and harm millions of people – even as we speak, or in a generation hence – one cannot see how cutesy skits, movie nights and glorified Sunday School curricula will achieve that goal.
At the same time Anthony and others are raising this concern Brian McLaren is traveling the country and doing his Deep Shift: Everything Must Change Conference and the trailer “The Shift” film (not directly related to McLaren) came out. Watching the trailer and thinking about McLaren took me back to my child hood days when my mother would sometimes say to me, “If Johnny jumped off of the edge of a cliff, would you jump too?” It may not seem at first blush that all of this is related but let’s see.
Anthony Horvath’s frustration comes from the realization that in many ways after preparing to reach atheists, secularists & cultists with the gospel he finds that the Christian church is attempting to Christianize society or make it behave in Christian ways, through legislative endeavors. You may be successful at that and end up with better behaved sinners but still unredeemed sinners. Little attention is paid in many churches to teaching the essentials of the faith to the youth which leaves them unprepared for adulthood in an increasingly pagan society. On the other hand the pagan society is educating youth, theirs and ours at very young ages. I happened to notice a television commercial on one of my grandkids cartoon shows on Monday. It was a save the earth type commercial which ended with the line, “hug the earth, she is our friend.” Commercials like this and others, as well as television shows and print media have given birth to and spurred on a generation toward earth worship. The new film “The Shift” is a documentary celebration of this movement. It is a movement which Brian McLaren and others within the church have signed on to as well. In an effort to reach culture without educating the saints the church has embraced and become culture and McLaren is the poster boy. Where the culture goes we find the church following close behind.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
It is often the case that we become more like the groups we associate with than for the group to become like us. This is particularly true when it comes to evil. We see this repeatedly in the history of the Nation of Israel. The desire to be like the surrounding cultures led to them behaving like the surrounding cultures. Instead of being a light in a dark place they joined the darkness in their worship. This is also true in the current state of the church. Dr. Norman Geisler in his excellent talk “A Defense for Defending the Faith” which he delivered at our 1999 Defend the Faith Conference (it is available on our resource page) pointed out that “…the Christian faith is under attack,” and he went on to say that it is under attack from the outside by:
– Secularists (who claims the Bible is a dangerous book and is responsible for the wars, persecutions and outrages on humankind)
He then pointed out that it is under attack from the inside by:
– Biblical Critics
– Anti-supernaturalists who would deny the Christian faith.
That was eleven years ago and apologetics and Christian education remains a largely fringe movement on the borders of the church. The result? Atheism is experiencing resurgence in the public square, as is secularism and along with it the claim that the church is responsible for the wars, persecutions, raping of the environment and are only concerned for wealth and large memberships. We are also watching the growth of cults and particularly the occult through mystical Hindu and Buddhist meditation as advocated by Oprah Winfrey and other celebrities.
The attacks inside the church have followed the same course. Hinduism and Buddhism are embraced under the guise of “Contemplative Prayer.” Mystical experience has replaced discipleship and servanthood as true spirituality. Discernment and Christian education has given way to embracing other world religions as fellow travelers in a conversation to bring about world peace, solve world hunger and build the kingdom on earth “in the way of Jesus.” The church, according to this new “paradigm” (I have to admit, I am tiring of that word) is viewed as the source of all evil. It promotes or at least allows the raping of the environment, building empires at the expense of the poor in other nations, it is a war machine that is out to conquer, pillage and steal from the all peaceful, one with the earth non-Christians. Brian McLaren leads the way in this shift as he follows liberal scholars and environmentalists. He too is part of the “Movement” “The Shift” describes.
Now that I think about it my mother’s question of, “If Johnny jumped off a cliff, would you follow him?” is not strong enough. Jesus parable in Luke 6:39 may be more to the point:
A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit?
Some good sound teaching could go a long way to prevent blindness in the church youth and even church adults.