Praise and Worship for the Modern Age vs Church Growth
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The Narrow Gate

 

There are two kids of churchgoers today – those who gather under the “big tent” of their own making, and those who enter into the Kingdomof Heavenby the narrow gate. The first group interprets the Bible according to their various social, political and humanistic agendas. Since New Age tolerance is the theme of the day, then New Age tolerance is what these liberal Christians will see in their Bibles. The second group is comprised of biblical Christians who base their thinking, way of life and the way they run their churches on the unchangeable decrees of the Bible. These conservative Christians do not fit in well with society’s ever-so-popular “big tent” tolerance motif. [1]

But now we find the Church Growth Movement calling Christians to emulate the Liberal Church. Growth consultants are currently roaming around the country urging Conservatives to relate to the same humanistic society that the Liberal Church has catered to for decades. The Liberal Church became the Liberal Church because it sought to relate to its surrounding culture. Those who chose to copy these liberals will become liberals as well. And socialistic New Age tolerance is the end game of all liberalism.

However, the Bible instructs the people of God to detach themselves from the ways of the world. Jesus talked about separating the sheep from the goats, truth from falsehood and the saved from the unsaved. (Matt 25:31-43) And to the goats he will say ”’Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” (Matt 25:41b MKJV)

Indeed, this is a very intolerant message. But salvation is a matter of life and death and Christians are obligated to proclaim this truth to an unbelieving world. Thus, though Christians are called to be tolerant of people, they are likewise commanded to be intolerant with regard to matters of truth. In other words, from an intellectual standpoint, Christians are intolerant of any truth system other than that which is prescribed in the Bible. That means they are not willing to accept other notions of God, morality or ways to salvation. By the very nature of their faith Christians must follow the words of Jesus that declare: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” (Matt 713 MKJV) Biblical Christians, therefore, see only one way to go. They are absolutists rather than relativists.

When you think of religious dogmatism such as this, perhaps the tension between the different Muslim sects in the Middle East come to mind. To many in our society today, holding to a specific belief system is an affront to their “all you need is love” agenda and thus the cause of civil strife and even war. Yet Christian dogmatism is the very agent of love. Contrary to the teaching of the Koran, the Bible tells believers to “love your enemies” and “pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt5:44) So, even as Christians fight against untruth, they are called love the person they are contending against. The idea is to love the sinner, but hate the sin. It is a concept unique to the Christian faith.

Biblical Christians, therefore, though intolerant to sin should always be the first to extend the hand of Christian love to everyone. And many times this love necessitates speaking out against the very intolerable behavior that our society today is calling on us to tolerate. Tough love is what the proclamation of the Gospel is all about.


[1] In order to indict “narrow minded” and “intolerant” Christians it is common to point to eras in Church history where the Church persecuted individuals or chased after bizarre pursuits such as the Crusades. This is especially evident in the Church of the Middle Ages. However, as we will discover later in this book, that entire religious system was more pagan than Christian. And the paganizing of that church was a direct result of the conscious and formulated attempt to relate to the surrounding Roman culture! The supposed injustices regarding the Indian wars that occurred during the westward expansion of the United States is often cited as an indictment against Christianity. However, a journalist named John Louis O’Sullivan rather than the Church penned the phrase “Manifest Destiny,” which became the rationale for America’s Westward growth. And there has been no evidence offered that the Church sought to mistreat American Indians.

The truth is that biblical Christians have consistently brought virtue into society. For example in Europe the influence of the Reformation was instrumental in breaking down the oppressive feudal system that kept so many serfs in the bondage of poverty. In America the First Great Awakening was founded upon a return to biblical teachings and was very consequential with regard to bringing America into an awareness of the inalienable rights of people. The Second Great Awakening that arose in the years before the Civil War also turned the church’s heart back to the Word of God. Consequently, it was the Evangelical Church in the Northern states that first opened the discussion on the evils of slavery. Lincoln was a northern Evangelical and quoted the Bible throughout his entire adult life in order to malign that despicable institution. In contrast it was the backslidden Church in the Southern States that improperly quoted Scriptures such as “Servants, obey in all things your masters” (Col 22a) to rationalize the propagation of the institution of slavery in the name of relating to their culture.

And so, as we see in the Medieval Church and the Southern Church before the Civil War, it is when Christians attempt to relate to society that they get into mischief. Biblical Christians generally stand out not only as the ones who benefit society, but also the ones who have been the object of the most intense persecution in world history. In our New Age of tolerance, the persecution of Christians is generally left out. You can look high and low in our society today without finding a memorial to the many Christians throughout the centuries who have died for their faith. Yet in spite of the fact that the media is silent with regard to the persecution of Christians, when you look at Western History you will find that there is no faith that has come under more persecution than the Christian faith.

In ancient Rome you found widespread persecution of Christians. And like today, tolerance in the Roman Empire had to do with tolerance towards any faith other than Christianity. Therefore biblical Christians today should be very wary of doctrines of so-called tolerance promoted in America that prescribe tolerance towards every belief system other than their own.

Hitler’s rationalization for persecution in Nazi Germany was firmly based on humanistic Social Darwinism as the concept of survival of the fittest was applied to society. From this you wound up with the “superior Arian race” who felt that they had the right to exterminate those they felt were inferior. And Hitler feared the Jews and the faithful few in the Church who were critical of him. It is true that the vast majority of the Church in Germany, in their efforts to conform to society, failed to speak out against the sin that surrounded them. Nonetheless there were countless dissenting Christians, such as Corrie Ten Boom, who were sent to concentration camps. And there was the Lutheran Detrich Bonhaufer who left America during the war to return to Germany to speak out against Hitler’s atrocities. Two months before the end of WWII he was executed as a martyr at the age of 39.

The Inquisition of the Middle Ages was all about torturing and killing Christian dissenters. Many died for their faith. Then you have the Armenian genocide, which was one of the most gruesome persecutions of Christians in history. The Muslims during the expansion of the Ottoman Empire persecuted countless Christians. Even in our contemporary society you see that Christians throughout the world are suffering under tremendous persecution. In Northern Africa they are being sold into slavery. In China they are likewise feeling the sting of atheistic hatred. In America’s schools and in the workplace Christians are being persecuted for their faith. And so we see that those Christians who have remained intolerant to non-truth are the very ones who have fallen under the sword of oppression.

Stay tuned for more!

The preceeding blog is an exerpt from Don Wigton’s book “Holy Wars.” Click here to purchase: http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore/BookDetail.aspx?Book=267348

For free praise music, charts and study helps go to the Wigtune Praise and Worship Sitehttp//www.praisesong.net

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