Where is the Outrage?
Somewhere around 52 A.D. a man living in the city of Corinth began to have an immoral relationship with a woman who was known as his father’s wife. It is not clear exactly what her relationship was to this man, but the general feeling is that she was his stepmother. It was scandalized throughout the community and yet the man remained a welcome worshiper in the church. Somewhere between 53 A.D. and 57 A.D. the Apostle Paul wrote a scathing letter to this church chastising them for their carelessness in dealing with this man. “You are prideful”, Paul says, and he goes on to tell them that things like this need to be “purged out” from among the believers who are faithful to Christ.
Paul goes on in I Corinthians chapter five to rebuke the believers about their cavalier attitude and that they should judge sin in the fellowship of believers not the unbelievers, and that by letting this kind of sin remain within their gathering they were exhibiting a fleshly pride that was dishonoring to Christ and that like leaven would eventually have an affect on everyone and everything they did. Paul concludes by saying, “Put away from among yourselves that wicked person”. Paul was outraged at their lack of outrage concerning this man and his sin.
In a recent message at a gathering of Baptists a man named Mark Driscoll spent some time delineating some of the concerns he had about the direction of the emergent/emerging movement. He mentions a man named Doug Pagitt who pastors a church named “Solomon’s Porch” in Minnesota and Driscoll considers this man a friend and likes to fellowship with him. He describes Pagitt as a great guy, “as cranky as I am” and says he is “great to argue and debate with”. Driscoll says when he fellowships with Pagitt they both “have a great time”. Driscoll troubles me and is on some level complicit.
But this article is not about Driscoll, it is about our reaction to Doug Pagitt's words. From the book “Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches” Driscoll quotes Pagitt as saying “We must explore new ways of being sexual”. Now just digest that statement for a minute and realize it didn’t come from Dr. Ruth it came from a man who claims to be a minister of the gospel. Driscoll builds upon that by relating a public debate in which he openly asked Pagitt whether homosexual “practice and conduct” was incompatible with the Christian faith. Pagitt replied that being gay and Christian was not a contradiction in anyway. That is a distinct departure from Biblical truth.
In that same book, Pagitt makes the claim that making a distinction between matter and spirit or the creation from the Creator is being “reconsidered”. Of course Romans chapter one distinguishes that view as idolatry and paganism. Did you hear clearly what I said? Paganism and idolatry, which was exactly what some were bringing into that same Corinthian church without any concern much less any outrage. That is what witches and spiritualists and some deists believe, that God is His creation. And since God is creation then all creation is good and can be worshiped, and most of all the human body and its sexuality. Do you see the reason now why Pagitt has no problem with homosexuality? At this point do not lose me and stop here with just Doug Pagitt, it goes way beyond this one individual.
This thinking begins to invite new considerations about lesbianism, trans-gender, and even much more deviant avenues of sexual conduct. Environmentalism, as you can see, takes on a deeper meaning than just helping to take care of God’s creation, it becomes a form of worship to God Himself. It doesn’t happen in a generation and some of the men today still could provide evangelical beliefs, but the train has left that station and while the church is sleeping we will soon arrive at a station that looks and sounds very foreign to many of us. As a matter of fact, the coming station will promote things that go far beyond methodology and well into accepting things that all previous orthodox generations had considered sin and even anti-christ.
Now just recently Doug Pagitt and John MacArthur had a television debate over the Christian use of yoga which has pagan roots. I personally did not find it very important because Christians can just change the name and do the exercises, but in light of my research of Pagitt and others and their subtle and nuanced approach to paganism I no longer feel unconcerned. It isn’t yoga itself that makes it disturbing, it is that yoga is a link in the chain that is using pagan practices to pull the church into pagan doctrines. I do not believe these men intended to be used in this way, but they now are.
Perhaps most telling of all is the conversation that occurred after the debate. During the exchange Pagitt claimed that yoga was just a way to relive stress and MacArthur was asked how he relieved stress. His reply was that he went to the Word of God and thereby his stress was relieved. After the debate Pagitt was recorded speaking with a woman about the debate. She was not impressed with MacArthur and they both enjoyed some giggles about the starchy old MacArthur and his archaic thinking. And Pagitt remarked in a mocking way that it was almost unbelievable that MacArthur would claim that “God’s Word” would relieve stress. How antiquated and foolish. And Pagitt posted an article on his blog that defended his position while also using offensive language that is no longer considered offensive, the same language Driscoll has used.
I’ve related all that as a backdrop to my main point in this article. Where is the outrage? A man says these things and life goes on? And this man preaches at other churches as an invited guest, most recently at Mars Hill, where Rob Bell is the pastor. He is invited to preach to other believers and without much outrage except from the watchmen whose blog is so cluttered with garbage about everyone that when something like this comes along their voice is just seen as the same old static. Where, church, is our outrage? Has your pastor preached on this? And Driscoll is hardly any better, he is friends with these heretics so avoid him also. But he has lifted the corner of the tent he claims to no longer sleep in so his words give some insight, but in many ways he seems to desire it both ways.
How many times has the Word of God ministered peace to my soul and relieved the stress of this world and the anxiety of my own flesh? And yet “preachers” laugh at such a claim? I have known thousands of people who can stand and testify of the miracle working of the Word of God, able to strengthen and give joy and peace in the midst of the storm. The man who wrote “It is Well With My Soul” didn’t have yoga, he had God’s Word ministered by God’s Spirit! How are the mighty fallen and yet there is so little substantive outrage. And the speaking engagement that the Southern Baptists had extended to Pagitt has now been withdrawn, but that is not nearly enough. There should now be conferences held across the country to expose these men and their teachings. And these conferences should not be back slapping pride fests, no, they should be marked by prayer, fasting, tears, and an anointed call to repentance for all of us. Forget about “Why I am a Calvinist” or “Why I am an Arminian”, we need to preach messages that explore how we can be used of God to bring the church to repentance. We act like we’re standing on a street corner and watching a predator force a little girl into his car and doing nothing about it, and after it happens we go home without much emotion about what you’ve just witnessed. Where is our outrage?
And men are not our enemies, the devil is. Adam was not our enemy, the serpent was. But before we can have any impact on the situation we must be outraged about two things, the devil’s kidnapping of the truth and our powerlessness to do anything about it. Must we continue to live tomorrow as we have today and will the slide continue to pick up momentum having only the echo of our words to deal with? Outrage about others is self serving without a corresponding outrage about the state of the evangelical corner we inhabit. We have books and CD’s and radio and conferences but still the slide away from Scripture continues with creativity and energy. We need more than talk, we need heroes of prayer who will lead us into the unimaginable power of the prayer closet, now filled with cobwebs and dust. As we’ve made great and swelling advances in technology we’ve left the authentic old ways that used to bring revival to entire cities.
No wonder the world is drawn to these new ways and new truths, they have more demonstrable power than the hollow words of correction that correct nothing. If we are to glorify our Heavenly Father we must allow the Spirit to rend our own hearts and not just rend our garments. Our protestations not withstanding, we are spectators who kibitz and mock and reject the notion that we are in need of a mirror ourselves. Why could Paul say his ministry was not with “enticing words of man’s wisdom” but it was “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power”? And that was to the same Corinthian fellowship who were so moved by Paul’s words and prayers they repented under his chastening voice. Where is that power today?
Our words don’t cause anyone to repent, our words of correction draw applause from the spectators but have little affect on those to whom we speak. When the switch is turned on and nothing happens we check the breaker box to see why, and when our words have no power it is time to seek the Lord for our own situation. It is very easy to draw fleshly satisfaction from espousing the correct doctrinal position without having any real pathos for the deceived, much less fasting and praying for God to use us to DELIVER THEM. And without any tangible, life changing outrage that goes beyond engendering more words like these we will be tomorrow as we are today. The situation is desperate, but we are not.
This is not an isolated pocket of falling away, no, it has been happening for decades now. We laugh and are comfortable with the health and wealth deception and have long since lost any real outrage. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are making breathtaking strides world wide and yet we rejoice in buildings of mortar. Gays have their own churches and yet we have no more prayer gatherings than before they came, what does that say about us, not them? And now the emergent movement, with the same human idol worship set up as do we, has opened the doors to truth and invited the thoughts of other religious expressions to mesh with sacred Scripture. And men mock the notion that those same Scriptures can provide what the modern man needs in today’s post modern community and culture. The whole thing crumbles right in front of us and we sleep well at night. We are much more prone to wrestle with a merchant over our treatment in a store than wrestle with God in the night watches.
Unless WE repent and turn from OUR wicked ways and PRAY with an unquenchable fervor, you might want to take some pictures so you can tell your grandchildren what Christianity used to look like, because, the train has left the station and the scenery is changing every day. So let’s laugh at the posters, let’s pretend that we are waging the truth war with more than words, let’s keep shaking our heads in disgust, let’s keep our eyes dry, and let’s keep driving back and forth on Sunday and Wednesday presenting a form of godliness and demonstrably denying any power. It’s not God’s truth that is without power, it’s the buckets in which He desires to carry it. They leak and not only refuse to go to God to patch the leak, they refuse to admit they leak at all.
Look in the mirror and see if you’re outraged…