Indictments of the Modern, Evangelical Church
I have been attempting to distill, from my studies, where we, as the invisible church in our visible churches, have gone astray. Surely, we may profess Christianity, yet, in the process, we defile the very object of our worship by directly contradicting or failing to execute his written Word.
The following items, in no particular order, I believe to be far too common in our churches today. Except in some of the most conservative denominations, or, in other cases, the most conservative within broader denominations, we have committed many of the following errors. Yes, these errors may have been incidental at times, but, on the whole, these are now habits and practices adopted even by some who like to coin the “five solas” within their church’s mission statements or beliefs.
My hope is that this list convicts us to return to the most holy, ordained practices of our Lord, as prescribed in Scripture. Most importantly, if it does nothing else, I hope that it serves as a list of items about each of which we are not afraid to ask ourselves, “Have I failed to do this thing? Am I guilty of this mistake?”
Your comments and questions, even if they are to the contrary, are always welcome.
- We have failed to preach Christ and Him crucified.
- We have failed to make clear the exclusivity of Christ.
- We have failed to separate false doctrine from sound doctrine.
- We have either directly or indirectly supported false conversions in the use of the emotionally-charged altar call and/or decisional salvation.
- We have dishonored the traditions of the spiritual fathers in our faith by making a public mockery of either the traditions, the men and their followers, or both.
- We have lied by claiming inerrancy and authority of scripture without acting on this precious tenet.
- We have used scripture out of context, ambiguously, or by adapting it to inappropriate and unscriptural presuppositions.
- We have added to scripture whilst claiming a closed canon and whilst misrepresenting the concept of new, special revelation.
- We have adjusted the biblical definition of spiritual gifts to fit man-made counterfeits, casting doubt and disillusionment onto the existence (past or present) of the gifts at all.
- We have used piety and tiered systems to elevate one brother over another.
- We have cast aspersions on the practice prescribed by our Lord Jesus of laboring in the study of God’s Word, and, in a manner most “passive-aggressive”, created a class of false converts who do not even know the God they claim to worship except by “personal relationship” devoid of biblical knowledge.
- We have not held to the perspicuity of scripture on so-called “secondary” issues and, in efforts toward false peace and false unity, have opened the door (or sometimes blatantly given invitation) to the denial of essential Christian doctrines.
- We have claimed “Christian liberty” in order to entertain the desires of the flesh in corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, turning it into a fun-house of entertainment and worldly attractions.
- We have failed to remain even infinitesimally more righteous than the worst of the worldly—disparaging our Christian witness.
- In handling our public sins, we have failed to repent and show any contrition whatsoever, and, in an effort to permit our actions, we have misused biblical concepts of grace and forgiveness.
- In handling our public sins, we have failed to repent and show any contrition whatsoever, making a display of our sin as an example of the victim of this present age, turning the true state of man’s depravity on its head: devaluing the sovereignty of God and the efficacy of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
- We have used emotional manipulation to illicit a parody of faith and repentance from our congregations, making true conversion almost totally indistinguishable from false conversion.
- We have failed to edify the bride of Christ with the full teaching of scriptures, thereby allowing, among many other things, the false conversions to remain utterly unaware of their lack of holiness and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
- We have made a mockery of God’s third person, the Holy Spirit, by the use of subjective emotionalism identical to pagan practices as the proof of His presence instead of the recognition of sin, the abhorrence of sin, and the desire for God’s Word (the true marks of the Holy Spirit).
- We have marred the beauty and simplicity of God’s Word through extreme contextualization, wherein our ministers have added to or subtracted from not only the content of the Word of God but also the prescribed practice of presenting and teaching the Word of God.
- We have failed to mark and warn of ministers whose practices cause great harm to the body and message of Christ.
- We have catered to worldly activism by mixing discipleship with works to the point where the latter is used to prove the former rather than the former begetting the latter.
- We have confused the world and the church to the point that the world now sees the church as fertile soil for monetary gain, power, and fame.
- We have created idols in persons and programs, and/or allowed them to gain significant status without objection or warning.
- We have failed to recognize that the departure from Rome was done in order to prevent a group of divines from having a tyrannical, final authority on the interpretation of scripture; instead we have viewed this departure as the seed of postmodernism, wherein each person who interprets scripture is encouraged to determine his own definition apart from an education on languages, culture, or basic hermeneutics, and allow such private interpretations to go unchallenged in the name of relative truth.
- We have failed to uphold the biblical requirements of elders (pastors) and allowed unqualified men to go unpunished in the church’s pulpits, passively or actively teaching that repentance, humility and church discipline are not to be taken seriously.
- We have not only ignored the dangers shown by reformers in the use of adiaphora, but we have idolized adiaphora to a point where it represents everything that the reformers feared it could become and we have therein changed it from adiaphora to idolatry.
- We have misapplied the Old Testament as an anthology of fables and allegories wherein pithy moral lessons are to be distilled, rather than reasoning through all scripture to teach how it points to Christ and the attributes of God.
- We have allowed the ever-changing grid of human sciences to limit the static grid of God’s Word.
- We have exchanged the abominable practice of indulgences as a means to gain justification with God for the teaching of pietistic legalism and servitude as a means to gain alleged intimacy with God: each exchanges material human action (works) for Godly service (justification or sanctification)—a practice explicitly denied by scripture.
- We have pitted a counterfeit evangelism (wherein regeneration is evidenced simply by an emotionally-charged, peer-pressured profession) against real discipleship (wherein the congregation is grown into the more solid foods of doctrine by teaching), when Christ’s command to make disciples (teaching them all He has taught us) would satisfy true evangelism and true discipleship.
- We have allowed modalism and its ilk to gain traction because we now have a malnourished understanding of Trinitarian theology: our teachings are so emaciated that our own parishioners oftentimes commit the sin that modalists would point out (that of tritheism), or are simply crypto-modalists themselves.
- We have reduced soteriology so much that the gospel is all but lost and its purveyors are merely men who sell a product that—if well-marketed—may seem a little bit more attractive than the competition.
- We have denied the sufficiency and efficacy of God’s Word. First, by believing that more than just the Word must be preached in order to interest convince the unbeliever. Second, by forgetting that the gospel is used to both save and to condemn—that men who hear it and reject it are just as much under the sovereign power of God as men who hear it and are transformed by it.
- We have exchanged the concept of a pastor being the shepherd of his flock for the concept of a pastor being a celebrity: an unattainable untouchable in an unquestionable, unaccountable position.
- We have forgotten the narrow path for the remnant and embraced the wide path for as many men as can be wooed by the artificial light of a worldly church.
- We have lost holiness and reverence towards the almighty, Triune God.
- We have reduced the numerous apprehensible attributes of our Triune God to one (love) and redefined it to meet the cultural ideal: that of tolerance and uncritical, unconditional non-judgment; and we have done so to the point where this new god violates the very clear and immutable attributes of the Triune God by lacking the need to satisfy holy judgment, by having no problem with unrighteousness, and by believing that all human beings are inherently good.
- We have allowed branding and association define our theology whilst avoiding theology proper at all costs, yet, when we are confronted about our branding and associations, we claim the fallacy of “guilt by association” or “judging a book by its cover”. Do we not see that this is precisely what we are promoting in our disdain towards comprehensive confessions of faith?
- We have over-emphasized the need for aesthetic appeal during our worship services while allowing the doctrinal content to be malnourished (at best) or devoid (at worst): it is now easier to get a delicious latte at a church than to get an expositional sermon.
- We have sent our children to church programs that teach them how to play games, remain constantly stimulated by all forms of entertainment, avoid discipline and learning, and profess no understanding of scripture, and yet scratch our heads when 30-year-olds are doing the same things when they get home from their non-advancing, non-career jobs: they play video games, watch endless television programs, avoid any positive, disciplined habits, and have no understanding of their nominalistic faith.
- We have capitulated that God really doesn’t mind excessive alcohol consumption, gambling, raves, partying, tattoos, smoking, coarse joking, and the like, not because we have pored over scripture and found a lackadaisical, cavalier God who is not concerned with the holiness of His people (for such a God is not the God of the bible), but because we conveniently avoid the portions of scripture that we do not want to obey.
- We have replaced faith in the historic event of Christ’s resurrection providing an imputation of righteousness to all future believers with a more palatable assent that He was somehow an excellent, moral example whose sacrifice showed a “better way”—a way for our own moralistic improvements: that we can somehow “be” the gospel rather than “proclaim” the gospel.
- We have not recognized the error of antinomianism, and instead have perpetuated it by railing against fundamentalism as “religion” and having a complete disregard for the law as “relationship”, when, in fact, a truly regenerative relationship with Christ would cause us to aspire to obedience of the same law, to a brokenness when we realize we cannot, and to rejoicing in Christ that He has prevailed in satisfying what we could not.