Thursday, August 12, 2010

When the Church Compromises - it has nothing to say

The church’s desire to be “marketable” has come at a great price. In an August 7, 2010, in a New York Times article by G. Jeffrey MacDonald entitled “Congregations Gone Wild,” he talks about clergy burnout, yet MacDonald said the real problem with the church today is how congregations put pressure on pastors to forsake one’s highest calling. Pastors want to “help people grow spiritually, resist their lowest impulses, adopt higher, more compassionate ways” but “church goers increasingly want pastors to soothe and entertain them.”

“Soothe and entertain them,” yes, a hard driving message today may fall on stopped up ears. We do not like to be called to account by pastors or much less be called to account by God’s Word. No, we want Christianity-lite.

David F. Wells wrote a book entitled Above all Earthly Pow’rs - Christ in a post-modern World, published by Wm. B. Erdman Publishing. It says this in part on pg. 314 :

This evangelical version of spirituality, precisely because it has stripped itself of its doctrine – on the fallacious assumption that this doctrine won’t “sell” in today’s marketplace – is the kind of spirituality which has, then, been silenced in today’s culture. It has been silenced in the sense that though its adherents and purveyors may congregate in churches, and though they may sell its benefits and attractions, it remains only one product among many others on the market. It can seduce but it cannot confront. It can lure, but it cannot speak. It is because it has deliberately shed its doctrine, and its discipline, that it can only hold itself out to be taken by those who are the market looking for something to take, but it has left itself devoid of the ability to proclaim. Thus it is that the evangelical churches have made their deal with new generations. The deal, as Barna put it, is that for a one-time confession of weakness, God’s eternal peace can be had. It is a deal in which God has come up on the short end because we get what we want and give up nothing of consequence. That is the inevitable outcome to the marketing of the gospel.

This, of course, cheapens our understanding of God, it demeans the nature of the gospel, and it works havoc in the Church. And what it also does is to leave behind a kind of faith whose central passion is no longer that of truth and goodness. If the Church is not in possession of truth, truth as an understanding that corresponds exactly to what is in reality, and corresponds exactly to what is in the will and the character of God, then it has been left speechless. It has nothing to say. Without this truth, its private insights are no more believable, no more compelling, and no more desirable than anyone else’s. Why, then, has the evangelical Church arranged itself around the marketing dynamic rather than around the truth which it is its birthright to proclaim?
Lord Jesus, revive your Church today. Amen


Steve Thorson said...

Hey Jerry - I was just sitting and talking with Bob Morris... I think the "new church" in Cokato began with things like the Morris Excavating Bible study. When did that begin? Have you told that story? Is it on your blog?

Anonymous said...

In regards to Pastor Steves comment, I have not written anything about that experience. I know one thing, as I have tried to duplicate that effort in other places it has not had consistent results. The bible study in Cokato was born out of mens desire to know the Lord, and the Word of God transformed our lives. It was undergirded with much prayer. This was and is the Work of the Holy Spirit. Thank you Beef