Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Sin of Discerners

The Open Sin of the Discerners

There is a segment of the evangelical community that labels itself as “discernment”. Many would place me within that description. However, among the entire discernment community there remains a blatant and self protecting blind spot that is by any definition a sin. The discernment “ministry” majors on issues such as homosexuality, socialism, liberal politics, and a variety of Biblical falsehoods. There are many accurate perspectives that confront the Biblical issues that are being compromised and maligned by many false teachers. And in that discussion I am identified as a “discerner”.

But while we argue and harangue about such issues, there remains an open doctrinal wound about which the discerner camp is unwilling to face and address. While gay acceptance is confronted, and theological orthodoxy is embraced, there still is a blatant and conspicuous area of Biblical compromise and disobedience that is not only overlooked, but conveniently manipulated. It is the issue of money.

I Tim.6:9-11 - But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

The west has redefined the “love of money” so that it can avoid all sorts of greed and avarice. Churches by the thousands borrow money from the unbeliever without a thought about the interest going to finance the very institutions they preach against. And professing believers by the millions are in substantial debt to those same institutions. And yet they hold up the Bible and proudly proclaim they believe “every word”. But in fact, the church has been swallowed up by the culture.

The average western local assembly is filled with professing believers who spend more than is necessary and borrow more than they should. They drive cars that are above the transportation needs, and they live in homes that exceed their needs. And the church itself borrows great sums of money from the antichrist system of finances just to erect more brick and mortar because the present edifice has become inconvenient for the worship gathering. Inconvenience prevents western believers from authentic worship. Let us expand the chapter in I Timothy chapter 6.

I Tim.6:5-10 - Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Please tell me, when and where did we dilute those words and render them confined to cultural adaptation? And yet thousands of preachers who loudly proclaim their inerrancy credentials manipulate their meaning in order to make them palatable to the western, hedonistic culture. So I can own a 60 thousand dollar car as long as I am content with food and clothing? Who are we kidding? The church can BORROW thousands upon thousands of dollars to build a fellowship hall or a Sunday School facility or an athletic center as long as we are content with food and clothing? What kind of open lies are we selling?

Who can see what has happened to the church that happens to live in the western culture? We have made the Scriptures bow to the culture in order to accommodate our convenient lifestyles. And because the Scriptures teach otherwise, we must manipulate them and repackage them in order to make them congruent to our desires and conciliate them to the hedonistic culture. And in so doing, we have changed the very nature of Christianity and the definition of discipleship. We can accumlate great sums of retirement funds while millions starve. Hardly Scriptural.

And yet the discernment people refuse to turn the mirror upon themselves and upon the practices of the most “orthodox” churches among us. As long as our statements of faith are “orthodox” then we are immune to discernment? So our practices are immunized from Biblical discernment as long as our written theologies are congruent with historical orthodoxy? What kind of hypocrisy are we selling? So we have made the Trinity and the Virgin Birth and Sola Fide our doctrinal fort that protects us from orthopraxic scrutiny?

That, my friends, is a sophisticated form of hypocrisy that lends itself to a camouflaged form of self righteousness which shields us from the very Biblical scrutiny we apply to others. That is called hypocrisy. And in essence, that becomes a stumbling block to the revival we all need. It isn’t just the Rob Bell’s and the Rick Warren’s and the Joel Osteen’s that stand in the way of God’s Spirit. It is us, the “orthodox” crowd that wears its doctrinal tenants like so many phylacteries that once adorned the outward appearances of the Pharisees. In short, we require the spiritual proletariat to adhere to commandments which we ourselves refuse to obey.

And at the heart of it all is money. It is the love of money which usually causes church splits. It is usually the love of money which drives a church to borrow. It is usually money which causes a church to have financial difficulties. The New Testament is replete with verses that command us to abstain from the very financial habits we practice. But since the pastor and the elders seem to engage in those forbidden practices, the issue is unaddressed and even assimilated into doctrinal acceptance.

I do not speak as one who over the years has remained sinless in this area, but I do speak as one who has seen the Scriptural light as an elder in the faith. Sometimes the clearest vision is gained by someone who has transgressed that very issue. Just a cursory reading of the New Testament leads a casual reader to conclude that avoiding the entrapments of a hedonistic society is not only the path of Jesus, but it provides the salt and light which can sometimes elicit the question from unbelievers about the hope that is within us.

Sadly, that question is rarely asked in this modern day of spiritual compromise. The Scriptural mirror still confronts us. There are scores of Scriptures that painfully address and openly confront our financial practices, while there are few that even address the Trinity. And yet we eviscerate any diversion from the orthodox view of the Trinity, even among those who would still embrace the divinity of Christ. But we still ignore the blatant and agregious Scriptural compromises and practices within the "orthodox" community. So then, who is our God, Christ or the culture?

If we actually believe all the words of the New Testament, then we are confronted with divine words of practical indictment. And until we are will willing to painfully address them in personal application, then all things will remain the same since the father’s slept. But take solace in this fact. Our statements of faith are very orthodox, and Joel Osteen is liberal. We have discerned that. Sleep tightly tonight with that knowledge.


Cal said...

We live in a plutocracy where you can worship any god you want as long as you kiss the feet of Mammon. How is this different than Rome where they were tolerant as long as you revere Caesar.

Romans were at least proud and there was something noble about their traditional, yet brutal, outlook and total allegiance to Caesar. But, we worship the almighty dollar.

What church doesn't spend to get a nice infrastructure, a good suit, a professional band/choir atmosphere. Birds have nests, foxes have holes. What church indeed.

David said...


Thanks for the exhortation. When I first became a believer, I was taught that stories such as "the rich young ruler", who was asked to sell all his possessions to follow Jesus, were intended to show that no one can keep the Law; so now that we are "under grace", those types of stories don't apply to us. Any thoughts?


Rick Frueh said...

Yes, I agree. Even though other Scriptures indicate that we need not sell all our material goods, the overarching teachings of Jesus and the New Testament in general must severely affect the way we live.

But, sadly, they do not. And that is a great sin and a compromise to thye gospel regardless of the lack of noteriety in discernment circles.

Korrie said...

Sometimes I don't understand your post. The one on Homosexuals went way over my head. I couldn't decide if they should be okay as friends and be part of the family or it was just okay to have them in churches.
Now this one I don't know if it is okay to receive a retirement check and have a home and the ability to help yourself and your children or not. We are not rich, but by the world's standards we are not poor.
I don't pay much attention to the world today. We don't attend any church because we can't find one near us that seems remotely like a church. We are not going to change the world, my only hope is to influence my family and those who are my friends.
Money and power have always gone hand in hand and worldly people will always seek both. It is just sin and one can't always see it, only by the Holy Spirit can we see ourselves as God sees us. That is never a pretty sight. But then by grace and the washing by the blood of Jesus we are acceptable in His sight.

Rick Frueh said...

My post about homosexuals was meant to expose the hypocrisy of the church when they use them as their convenient whiping boy while ignoring their own sins. This post exposes the way we see and treat money in the west.

The early believers knew nothing about this and had to live by faith. The younger took care of the older and the faith community looked after the widows. As far as retirement accounts, let everyone act in accordance with their consciences.

However, many people use their retirement account to travel and other personal agrandizements. But at least the church should more closely examine this issue instead of living and spending just like the world.

Korrie said...

Thanks for helping me understand your posts. Others do judge us by what we have and where we live.
Material blessings were the gift of the Old Testament by God to His people, but Spiritual blessings were given to Chrisians in the New Testament.
If we could learn to be content where we are and seek the spiritual blessings given to us
our joy would be full. We are truly missing out on the most beautiful relationship with our Lord that has ever been given to man. It has been said, "Salvation is a love affair"...and so it is.
All spiritual with a God who loves us, who calls us, and washes us.
Soon He is coming for us to be His
Bride. Talk about money, my...He owns it all.

Rick Frueh said...