The Western Christian Hoax
Hoax - an act intended to trick people into believing something is real when it is not
Any clear reading of the New Testament that is free of preconceived interpretations must surely reveal the extent to which the western church has constructed an ecclesiastical hoax. There are many, many streams of error in practice and doctrine which go completely against the literal teachings of Christ through the gospels and the epistles. The average “statement of faith” is a bad joke and are cleverly meant to prove a form of orthodoxy while that same congregation goes about its spiritual business with no more conspicuousness than the local Moose Lodge. And yet they profess to believe the words of the New Testament.
How can a congregation practice debt, enjoy worldly entertainment, ignore the prayer closet, treat the Bible like a long lost text book, and generally live exactly like their unregenerate neighbors and still claim they are following Christ? It is cruel hoax that has eternal consequences both inside the church as well as in the general populace. This hoax has been perpetrated upon the culture for many decades, and the hoax becomes more sophisticated and more clever with each passing year.
The church still has a pastor, and still has deacons, and still has a budget, and still has a place of worship, and still has all the outward ecclesiastical scaffolding which fall into the general definition of a church, but it practices a form of Christianity that is foreign to the New Testament. Void of power, void of sacrifice, void of piety, void of self denial, void of humility, void of urgency, the western church continues to operate like a well oiled machine that produces a product meant for self consumption. In they come and out they go and by this weekly coming and going they suggest that this is what constitutes a New Testament church.
Just this week a brother shared with me how he attended a new members class in a local Baptist church. It was taught by the pastor with all the passion of an algebra class. And with all the spiritual issues one could address in such a class, one of the high points was to prove that all believers should tithe. And here is the proof text he used:
Matt.23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
And the average professing believer is so Biblically illiterate that he buys that erroneous teaching. Does it not even cross your mind that if tithing was New Testament that at least the Apostle Paul would have at least mentioned it in passing? That is also one of the reasons why Mary is not even to be venerated. Paul never mentions her. But do you see where the western church’s heart lies? Money is a main component for the local church so they can pay their loan and also their exorbitant staff salaries. The western church is a giant machine that runs on money. Again, it is a hoax.
And church membership itself is a western way to control people. The entire horrific spectacle has undergone such a metamorphosis that it is no longer Christian. I do not say that no one is saved since God’s Spirit can draw a heart even from within a cult, by I am saying that the western church construct and practice is unbiblical and presents to the world a spiritual hoax.
The Scriptures teach a profound level of humility with the cross itself as our template. So where is that even preached to say nothing of practiced? Believers picket and shout and go on talk shows to confront immorality with reason and intellect and with the leverage of the ballot box. Believers back America when it threatens others with her military might. Many believers speak disparagingly about the president or liberals or any number of lost sinners. And that is supposed to reflect the cross?
The Scriptures teach us to deny ourselves and live in moderation, but yet when the economy dips many squawk right along with the kingdom of darkness. Debt leveraged cars and houses are the norm within the community of faith, and many times the cars and homes exceed by far our needs. In fact, if you did a complete inventory of the guidelines and commands in the New Testament for believers, you would find that what passes for a Christ follower these days is indeed a hoax. You cannot say you believe the Scriptures and live happily outside those dictates.
Men like Joel Osteen and Rob Bell and Rick Warren continue to expand this hoax and make millions while perpetrating it upon goat-like sheep or sheep-like goats. But make no mistake, this hoax finds much nourishment within orthodox communities as well. Nation wide conferences are held that cost millions, and high priced speakers come and preach to the choir things they already believe. The prosperity folks hear about prosperity, and the marriage folks hear about marriage, and the church growth folks hear about church growth, and the Calvinists hear about Calvinism, and on and on and on it goes.
And after the conference men and women return to their homes excited but unchanged and bearing books and Cds and other religious artifacts that have lined the pockets of famous preachers. We do not need excitement, we can get all of that we want at a sports event. What the church at large needs is a return to the Scriptures with repentance and a praying heart and ask God to break and remake us in the image of Christ. Not just doctrinally, but in open practice.
Now to whom are we lying? Who can honestly search out the New Testament commands and teachings to say nothing of the Christ narrative within the gospels, and make a convincing argument that we are attempting to mirror those same teachings? Can we even believe our own words or have we also been swept up in this diabolical hoax? And if indeed this is all there is and this genuinely reflects the life and power of Jesus, than what a paltry God we serve. If this is the extent of His love and grace, than we must rethink our theology. If this is the scope of His cross carrying reflection, than let us eat, drink, and be merry.
But just read the Book of Acts where believers were without the New Testament. Do you not think that even without a Bible they exhibited a much more accurate image of Jesus than do we? And we are not perplexed at such a paradox to say nothing of such an open compromise? Living in the proverbial “lap of luxury” the western church has taken the culture and the New Testament teachings and made them one. And the church suggests to the world that this is the kingdom of God revealed upon earth. Do we even drink our own Kool Aid?
But in the end this hoax we live has intoxicated the unsuspecting world and stands between God and His power and presence. We are accustomed to living without His power and presence or a dramatic revelation of the self denying life of Jesus Christ. And we have become most comfortable to exist in this way and to exhibit that which must be labeled a hoax. This culture, this material world, this hedonistic society has so overtaken our hearts and minds that we cannot, we dare not, even see clearly the Scriptures for what they say and teach. The most unnerving aspect of this hoax is that perhaps millions of evangelical church members have never been born again and live carelessly on the precipice of eternal death even though they sit under sermon after sermon after sermon. The entire thing is a well oiled scandal which I reveal as a spiritual hoax.
This hoax is in some ways more treacherous than Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism. At least these religions do not profess to believe in and follow the Lord Jesus. But a religion that professes to believe in and follow the Lord Jesus and then does not, yet still claims to do so, may be the most dangerous religion of all. Yes there are false teachers and heretics among us. And they are very popular. But do not hide behind them and compare yourself with them and in that suggest that you and I only need some minor adjustments and we will be alright. Please do not be that blind and self righteous.
There is little time left. But by God’s grace we are granted space for repentance and a heartfelt and passionate pursuit of the face of Jesus. The Spirit is calling out a remnant of believers who are willing to take a good, long look in the Scriptural mirror and proceed with vulnerability and an abandonment of the past.
Several decades ago a rumor was spread that claimed that Paul McCartney was dead. That was a hoax. Two thousand years ago a rumor was spread that Jesus had risen from the dead. That was no hoax. However today those who claim that Christ is alive and returning are living a hoax. And the implications of this hoax are eternal and damnable.
Let us repent,
and live in the power and presence of the everlasting gospel and of the Lord Jesus Christ.