Sunday, November 04, 2007

How Not To Change a Culture

You will please excuse me for being so "parochial" in this post, but I think what we have here is just an example of what is wrong in evangelicalism in general. Maybe some of you can and will identify with this any way.

The following appeared today in our local paper.
Pastor Lee Johnson and Bethel Baptist (the town's largest church, at least as far as I am aware) are affiliated with the Baptist General Conference, and he had written a "guest opinion" piece for our local paper. Yes, I am familiar with Bethel; I attended the church for over two years and am actually still a member there (though I have since left for various reasons).

I will let Pastor Johnson explain the context of what he wrote. Let me say that I do agree with much of what he says but that he doesn't take it far enough. Like so many contemporary pastors, he runs the ball to the goal but then stops short of a touchdown. Specifically, near the end of this article he calls for believers to "to get our act together and become part of the solution and not part of the problem!" but he fails to tell anyone just how to do this. That is a fumble and a failure to score. What this amounts to is similar to a doctor saying "you need to get well" but not telling you how to do so. The missing part of the message, of course, is repentance and obedience toward God. But then the church he is pastor of has been "seeker oriented" for some time.

I am not saying that what he said here is wrong, even though I don't think I would have necessarily said what he said in the column. What I am saying, however, is that what he said is no "touchdown". He walked it up to the goal, stopped, and put the ball on the ground. No, it isn't sufficient to remind people that "God made us and has a standard". That doesn't save anyone. That will only leave them just as lost. More outwardly moral perhaps, but just as lost.

To Pastor Lee Johnson and others who would say something similar, I would simply ask "...and just how do we get our act together, sir? By defining what we believe?" (which I think he gets to at then end of the article). Head knowledge alone won't do it sir, but the things God demands from us, repentance from sin and faith toward God, will. This is sanctification for the believer and salvation for the non-believer. It is called the Gospel.

The article follows:

Consequences of leaving Christian world view
Guest Opinion

Sunday, November 4, 2007

By Rev. Lee Johnson

Bethel Baptist Church

Editor's Note: As with all guest opinions, I welcome a guest opinion offering an opposing view.

"Currently there is a good deal of public concern over the horrendous amount of sexually transmitted disease in our community. Those public officials who feel some need to respond have called meetings and the newspaper has reported the sorry state of the situation on the front page. It is a real problem and we should all be concerned.

Of course, as Christians we understand that the root of the matter lies in the fact that our culture has left the Judeo-Christian world view. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:6-7, we reap what we sow. So why should we be surprised or expect anything other than what has now happened?

By this I mean that over the past 20 or 30 years we have ever more emphatically told our young people in virtually every public forum the following three things. First, that God did not make us - rather we are here as the result of an accident, the mindless functioning of blind time and chance. Second, that religion is very much optional - in fact we really know that all religions are essentially the same and are fundamentally false. And third, that sexual morality is up for grabs and no one should dare to say that anything someone may do is wrong, especially if we throw in the word love.

With these three false beliefs imposed on society why should we be surprised that the young people of our community have thrown off all moral bonds and we have rampant STDs and far too many single parents? Why shouldn't kids roll their eyes when they are told in class that they really ought to be celibate until marriage?

When the self-declared smartest people in our culture, those who run the courts and the schools, forbid any church to have even the most limited involvement in the public schools, what message does that send to students about the importance of the Christian faith that played such a powerful influence in shaping the old American culture? And when we allow groups into the school that promote things we used to say were wrong, why shouldn't the next generation laugh it off when someone (who likely doesn't believe it anyway) tells them that they really should practice sexual abstinence?

The good news is that the Christian church was born in a culture that was quite a bit more licentious than we have yet become. So there is hope! But until every Christian and every church in Galesburg gets on board with the message that God made us, that God has communicated to us through the Bible, and that there are standards of sexual morality that come from God for us to live by, I personally don't see that things are going to get better any time soon. I do believe it is time for all Christians of Galesburg to get our act together and become part of the solution and not part of the problem! That will only happen when we clearly define what we believe and then we both practice and preach it."

End of article.

You see, the only way the world will change it through heart change. And that happens through regeneration by the power of the Spirit of God. This only comes through conviction of personal sin and resulting repentance toward God (vertical, not horizontal, repentance) and faith in the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. The unredeemed love sin, like fish love water. They thrive in it. They can't imagine life without it.

Again, the message isn't "God Made Us and Has a Higher Standard". It starts there, but that isn't all of it and that is where he falls short. As it is, the message becomes "we can do better" (implied 'on our own'). No, we can't. It takes transformation.

Yes, Pastor Johnson, we do need to get "our act together". And the way to do that is through Biblical Evangelism. Learn to do it and then just do it!

Anything less is a fumble.

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