“The problem in our day, which gives rise to highly questionable church growth methods, is twofold:
On the one hand, we are seeing a waning confidence in the message of the gospel. Even the evangelical church shows signs of losing confidence in the convincing and converting power of the gospel message. That is why increasing numbers of churches prefer sermons on family life and psychological health. We are being overtaken by what Os Guinness calls the managerial and therapeutic revolutions. The winning message, it seems, is the one that helps people to solve their temporal problems, improves their self-esteem and makes them feel good about themselves.
In some streams of Evangelicalism, Christian faith and practice are defined by popular prevailing notions or personal charisma and less by Scripture. J. Lee Grady (of Charisma magazine) seems to be fighting a losing moral battle when it comes to some his brothers within the Charismatic camp. In a scathing memo he appears to be decrying the materialistic trendy lifestyle that most Charismatic televangelists and pastors are adopting. Honestly, it is good to see some one from within the charismatic camp get loving enough to rock the boat this much:
Such “preachers” are a cancer in the Body of Christ–“….I’ve pulled a lot of my hair out watching our embarrassing charismatic sideshows over the last few years. I think it is time we draw a line in the sand and say: “NO MORE.”
NO MORE BODYGUARDS. We have evangelists who send a small squadron of muscular thugs to “scout” the lobby of a hotel before they arrive. This is extremely odd when you realize that most of the people in said lobby have never even heard of the guy! Sorry, but I really don’t trust a man of God who claims he needs a bodyguard in church. Get down on the people’s level if you want to minister to them.
NO MORE $10,000 PER NIGHT HOTEL ROOMS. We have traveling preachers who book 10,000-square-ft. hotel rooms with private pools so they can rest on their way home from international trips. Excuse me? We could build an orphanage with the money this man wasted. (P.S. I know a good Hampton Inn where you can get a nice bed for $89 a night—and it includes a hot breakfast.) …Read More!
For some reason Michael Patton’s “Beginner’s Guide to Christianity” has left me rolling on the floor. Okay, (crawling back into the chair) here is an excerpt and read with a pinch of salt:
1. “Heads bowed, eyes closed . . .”: During a church service, you may hear a preacher abruptly break into this unexpected dialogue with the audience: “Heads bowed, eyes closed. If you have accepted Christ into your heart [more later], I want you to raise your hand.” Don’t get scared. Nothing bad is going to happen to you. It is not a fancy way to steal your money or pull anything sneaky. It is the preacher’s way of helping the uncomfortable seeker feel more at ease about accepting Christ. It is best if you just follow instructions here.
2. “Into the Word”: This is a portion of an important phrase that may be communicated by seasoned Christians in many different contexts. It always has reference to the Bible. Yes, I know, the Bible is more than one word, in fact it is thousands, but once you are a Christian, it becomes singular and has a definite article, “the,” attached to it. If you hear someone say, “Are you in the Word?,” this is another way of saying, “You need to read the Bible if you are going to be spiritual like me.” IMPORTANT: This has no relation to the phrases, “Word to your mother,” “Word up,” or just plain “Word.”
3. Backslidden: This has no reference to the past event of sliding down a hill on your back. It is used to refer to those Christians who are now suspect in their original confession due to their current participation in a particular sin.
I have wanted to read Michael Horton’s Christless Christianity for a long while. Glad to find some one who has read it and made a book review. Thad Bergmeier (Changed by The Gospel) explains….
In summary, Horton provides a scathing rebuke of the American gospel presentation. And this gospel message, which is summarized by Christian Smith’s–Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism–has only been successful because hundreds of thousands of people accept it. It is a gospel about them. It is a gospel to meet their comforts. But it is a gospel without Christ. His main argument in this book is “not that evangelicalism is becoming theologically liberal but that it is becoming theologically vacuous” (23). In case you do not know, vacuous means empty or without content; put in the context of this book, it means that evangelicalism has become without the content of Jesus Christ. In the book, even before he states that purpose, he has a statement that I think adequately represents the book. “My concern is that we are getting dangerously close to the place in everyday American church life where the bible is mined for ‘relevant’ quotes but is largely irrelevant on its own terms; God is used as a personal source rather than known, worshiped, and trusted; Jesus Christ is a coach with a good game plan for our victory rather than a Savior who has already achieved it for us; salvation is more a matter of having our best life now than being saved from God’s judgment by God himself; and the Holy Spirit is an electrical outlet we can plug into for the power we need to be all that we can be” …Read More!
Christian Post is running a feature story on a new book. I think it is an interesting one too. It’s written by a couple who were once false converts of a falsified watered down gospel (gospelite) to warn other false converts. You see …
In their new book, Falsified: The Danger of False Conversion, authors Vincent and Lori Williams seek to use Scripture to identify what they define as an “epidemic” of false conversions currently sweeping evangelical churches in the U.S. The couple speak from personal experience, as they too were once false converts.
The Williams define a “false conversion” as one in which the converted feels that they are saved, but in reality are not because they are not living by the correct teachings of Scripture. The couple confess in their book that they were at one time “false converts led into a false sense of security by seeker-sensitive churches preaching a watered-down Gospel.” …Read More!
There is some times a rather lax and laid back mood in some evangelical circles as to how to clearly preach or present the gospel. “Preach the gospel, if necessary use words,” they shout. Some say we should be “missional” (read doing several lovely things i.e social justice, poverty eradication) and they have altogether dropped the word “missions”. I think we as Christians should never forget that we have been commanded to preach the gospel -for it alone is the power of God unto salvation.
Imagine the embarrassment that comes when your impressed neighbour eventually asks you, “so lovely, hard working christian missional guy who has for the last twenty years mowed my lawn, washed my cat, given my poodle a pedicure; what is the hope that lies in thee?” And we stare back blankly; barely remembering why we even started such generous endevours. There is value (if we are evangelical) in being clear in our mission as well as our communication – as this clip (though satirical) demonstrates:
“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” ~Charles H. Spurgeon …Read More!