Friday, October 26, 2012

The Assimmilated Church in America


There has been a quantum shift in hatred ever since Operation Desert Storm in 1991. I was still moderately deceived back then, but I still remember the meteoric rise of Rush Limbaugh in popularity. And he became the talk of the evangelical community and a must listen for millions of believers. And I listened as well. However it quickly became obvious to me that something was not right. There was so much effervescent joy over the victories happening so fast in Iraq. And even within the church there was robust nationalism and very little compassion for the civilian dead and wounded. It all seemed so carnal and wrong.

That was the beginning of my journey. Soon after the war ended, the election of 1992 began. And because of the war Rush Limbaugh now had a large audience. Now this was a man who was not an evangelical believer and spoke very little about Jesus, to say nothing of a personal relationship with Him. His was more of a “God fearing” perspective which would translate into faith in the Constitution, the founding fathers, and a decidedly conservative view mostly of economics and much less of some moral issues. He seemed to support the pro-life stance, however that support paled significantly when compared with his visceral attacks on liberals and their economic policies. And no wonder, he openly and proudly lived a hedonistic lifestyle.

But because he ranted against liberals and suggested they were ruining the country he became a darling of the evangelical community, regardless of his less than conservative practice of marriage. I believe he is now married for the fourth time. But even that was not what finally grieved my spirit, and God’s Spirit made me aware of the sinister nature of what I was sensing. The words became more and more caustic, demeaning, and belittling. He regularly used pejoratives and cute little demeaning labels on many different classes of people. He even created jokes and songs which were meant to disparage individuals and people groups. The hatred was pervasive.

And the self righteousness was palpable. He even used God’s name to suggest the he was on loan from God and of course he always elevated himself and his intellect using a thin layer of humor which could not actually hide the reality. I listened less and less, but when I did it was used of the Spirit now to teach rather than entrap me. But when the election began in 1992 the level of hatred and verbal violence began to increase until at the end of the year it was unbearable. But still he was extremely popular among professing believers who enjoyed his parodies, his demeaning language, and his “us verses them” platform.

And when Bill Clinton was elected the hatred and disdain reached a fever pitch. For the next eight years the radio and the television waves would send out hatred in ways that were not accepted in decades gone by. Yes, there has always been hatred, but now it became an art form and self labeled conservatives became a tightly knit amalgam who had their torches lit and were leading a march to uncover and obliterate liberals of any kind. And the founding fathers became idols while the Constitution was elevated over the Scriptures. Humility was now a weakness, and soon it was suggested that the country was systematically being dissolved and that the elected of 2000 was our last chance to save the republic. It was all so Lord of the Rings and the church was caught up in it all. Preachers even quoted Limbaugh from the pulpit.

President Clinton, Ted Kennedy, and liberals in general were excoriated with all kinds of unpleasant and self righteous language, and the teachings of Jesus were nowhere in sight. Love? Grace? Mercy? Patience? Humility? All of it had been left in the dust of nationalism and the war on liberalism. And what it has exposed is the spiritual depth of the evangelical church. How could believers have been so easily led astray? How could the church have embraced speech and behavior that was so obviously at odds with all that Jesus lived and taught? Why did not our conscience bother us when we heard such demeaning language against people in general who either disagreed with us or who were Muslims, which after 9/11 were added to the list of enemies on talk radio and talk television?

I believe there are two main reasons why the evangelical community fell prey to such unchristian rhetoric and helped make carnal men and women of the media millionaires many times over. The first is that the church had evolved into believing that allegiance to America and allegiance to Christ were not only compatible, but were synonymous. This is spiritually deadly and leads to all kinds of ungodly attitudes within the church. We are taught by the Master Himself that even mothers and fathers must not have our allegiance, and any love that we should have for them must be seen as hatred in comparison for the love and allegiance we should have for Christ. Could that be any clearer? And yet we have been indoctrinated from birth about allegiance to America and since people recognize how that could be taken as compromise, they have concocted a fairy tale about America being a Christian nation, appointed by God, and thereby allegiance to America can be seen as allegiance to God. “One nation, under God” is part of the deception.

But another way in which the church was led astray is through its leaders. Pastors were also caught up in the spiritual melee and since they had the pulpit they led their flocks deeper and deeper into idolatry. The allegiance that the congregation felt for America was reinforced greatly from the pulpit and through the example of those leaders. I mean if our beloved pastor felt that way what could be wrong with it? And the path that led away from the teachings of Jesus became well worn and pervasively accepted within the church.

And then compromise began to mutate into other forms. Evangelicals now held hands with Mormons and Roman Catholics. And those who once rejected the prosperity teachers now embraced them as good Americans. Preachers began to spread fear and suggested that Muslims were secretly planning to take over and institute Sharia law in the United States. It was openly suggested that liberals hated America. And men from behind pulpits not only encouraged idolatry toward America, but they nurtured hatred within the church. The entire evangelical climate, although not spiritually deep to begin with, began to move rapidly downward through the power of the flesh and I am sure the aid of the evil one.

And soon it became apparent that the church viewed herself as Americans who happened to espouse Christianity, rather than believing followers of Jesus Christ. Think long and hard about the distinctions in that statement. With a painstaking process, the church morphed into what is today a culture of morality, politics, capitalism, and the cares of this present world. There are now conferences held by preachers designed to excite people about the desperate situation facing the nation and get them to vote accordingly. And many of these gatherings have a doctrinal assortment of speakers that range from Mormons to Jews to Roman Catholics to evangelicals and mongrels of all sorts. And they all gather for one cause - America, and not for Christ. But as I said before, they openly suggest that allegiance to America is allegiance to Christ and that saving America from the clutches of socialism is God’s current obsession.

When it was suggested to Jerry Falwell Jr. that having a Mormon speak at an evangelical university represented spiritual compromise, he replied that we must save a nation first and later we can be concerned with Biblical truth. You see, the transformation is now complete. The church is no longer gospel light and gospel salt, it is now an extension of the Revolutionary War ,which by the way is viewed by evangelicals as a war started and won by God.

And so to return to my original point. The slide has been so dramatic and so complete that the church in America can practice all sorts of carnality and yet profess to love and follow Jesus. There is scant gentleness or humility. The clarion call for the gospel has given way to the clarion call to save a nation. “Send the light, the precious gospel light” is now “get out the vote, the precious conservative vote”.

When the attitudes and rhetoric of believers are indistinguishable from the rhetoric and attitudes of the unbelievers then there is a major problem. And when this occurs, it is overwhelmingly due to the believers lowering their rhetoric to the level of unbelievers and rarely that unbelievers have elevated theirs. And in the end we have imprisoned the gospel in our statements of faith, but in our speech and attitude we deny it. Jesus is now a doctrine and not a life. And in many ways we are now preaching another Jesus, not by our written doctrines, but through our lives.

For too long the western church has been content to outline our Christology through our written doctrines but neglecting the attributes of the Person of Christ through our lives. And when that becomes the norm not only does it render evangelism as ineffective, but it has led to all sorts of gimmicks and manipulation in order to attract unbelievers. And that leads to shallow conversions that are completely dependent upon a consistent diet of excitement, activity, and many forms of ecclesiastical structures deigned to control.

What then has transpired is that the visible church in America has been assimilated into the culture even while retaining some Biblical language and written doctrinal tenants. It has happened in subtle and not so subtle ways. And the most demonstrative doctrinal offenders like the emergent church, the liberal denominations, or men like Joel Osteen, Rick warren, and Rob Bell are identified by the less demonstrative offenders. And the suggestion is that we who identify them as false teachers remain unaffected by the culture. But that inoculates us from beseeching God’s Spirit concerning our own compromises and our own need of repentance and brokenness.

So the western culture assimilates the visible church, but inside the assimilated group there are those who rightly discern heresies and heretics, but are blind to the ways in which they themselves have been assimilated. The more blind are indicted by the less blind, and the one eyed man becomes the king in the kingdom of the blind. And ultimately we compare ourselves with ourselves and accuse and excuse each other with no discernable spiritual influence.

The church is now pouring water on a grease fire. Instead of being a radiant light piercing the darkness, we have fully invested ourselves in the ways and mores of the fallen culture. And in a real and tangible sense we are practicing another religion. And not only do we refuse to admit it, but we embrace it, enjoy the fruits of it, and most disturbing of all we rigorously defend it.

So sleep tight tonight, church, and lay your head upon a doctrinal pillow contoured to fit your own needs. And sing yourselves to sleep with this lullaby: Joel Osteen is a heretic. There, don’t you feel better now? zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

1 comment:

JMD said...

I certainly agree but we see the same approach by the liberals. If I remember correctly people like Rick Warren, a large number of the black churches and others have associated and stood with their agenda. The point being that whether conservative or liberal it has filtered through the churches of America.