Please, Just Give Me Christ
In Defense of the Faith
Friday, January 20, 2017
Please, just give me Christ! When I left the Christ-less New Age, I tried to attend my local Catholic Church. I wanted to know more about the Lord. Yet every service seemed just another excuse for a social justice commentary. The popular term in those days was "reconciliation."
Jesus was mentioned occasionally, but He seemed more of an appendage. What finally clinched it for me was a Saturday night service which culminated with an outside bonfire and candle lighting ritual. I wanted to shout: Please, just give me Christ! I left and never returned.
I've seen some bizarre, exasperating behavior from so-called Christian churches in my time. But it's getting worse. Professing Christian churches are heading further in a world-loving, Christ-less direction.
There was a recent story of an Episcopal (Anglican) Church in Glasgow Scotland which invited a Muslim woman to chant during a service. These events are often explained as ecumenical efforts of interfaith dialogue. They're supposedly held in the interest of promoting understanding and peace.
It sounds warm and inclusive, doesn't it? Except that this lady chanted verses from the Qur'an's Sura 19. As Tyler O'Neil observed:
At the service, the Muslim singer concluded with verse 35 - "It befitteth not (the Majesty of) Allah that He should take unto Himself a son. Glory be to Him!"
Was this a dialogue of different faiths? No, this was a person denying of the divinity of our Savior in a professing Christian church. This has no place in a Christian assembly. Yet leaders who orchestrate such events call themselves pastors of God's sheep. They are wolves.
There are similar wolfish cases. Giulio Meotti noted:
Church of England Bishop Harries suggested that Prince Charles's coronation service should be opened with a Koran reading. In the US, more than 50 churches, including the Washington National Cathedral, hold Koran readings. Is there any reading of the Christian liturgy in mosques?
Then there was a recent incident where two professing Christian pastors organized a Planned Parenthood Interfaith Blessing. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and secular leaders joined in a "sacred blessing" event which involved women beating drums.
During the ceremony, one Christian abortion provider stated that:
"Women have been made to think that this [clinic] is some evil place, where God is not... [People are] cursing [women] for making sacred decisions. Our answer to the curse is to bless." (Emphasis mine)
Cursing women who've had abortions is shameful and should be denounced. But there's nothing sacred about killing the unborn, regardless of how many drums one beats. Confronted with that fact these people often appeal to biblical genocide as argumentation:
"You have no problems justifying genocide in the Bible. Yet you get upset over women exercising rights over their own bodies."
For biblical responses to this, see John MacArthur's article on Scripture and Abortion. See also Justin Taylor's essay on Genocide in the Bible.
Often the same people who raise the specter of genocide appeal to the Bible if they think it supports them. This was the case with some pastors amid criticisms of their usage of the "F" vulgar word for sexual intercourse in their "devotionals" and their "gospel" sharing. Yes, really. When the Bible was no help they scurried to the genocide canard.
One popular ELCA pastor, who pioneered the Potty-Mouth Pastor Brand, said she refuses to pretend to be who she isn’t. She identifies with her bad language, hence she defends it. I wrote about the phenomenon HERE.
It all boils down to pride; someone's perceived rights over God's sovereignty; what it means to be a Christian, and whether one enthrones Scripture. Many churches are preaching social justice memes. They re-package them with Christ's name attached to give them substance.
Social Justice Christian leaders operate much like Joel Osteen, who preaches your best life now. The difference is that they stoke the fire under peoples' grievances, whether race, class, sex or gender related. They starve their flocks of their eternal hope in Christ and feed them the poison of discontent.
The gospel isn't about social justice. God never promised material or social gratification for anyone in this life (Rom 5:1-5, 12:12). As sinners we don't want what we deserve. We need Christ, not religious pluralism (John 3:16-18; Rom 6:23; 1 Cor 15:3-4). Our identification should be in Jesus, not our pet peeves.
What would a Social Justice Gospel Warrior do for quadriplegic Joni Eareckson Tada? She has little to no control over most of her body, and must rely on others to help her to do what you and I take for granted. She can't even turn the pages of her own Bible. Her daily comfort is her hope in Christ.
Puritan Samuel Rutherford once wrote, "To be with Christ is to be in heaven, and to be in heaven is to be in Christ." He prayed:
"O my Lord Jesus Christ, if I could be in heaven without you, it would be a hell; and if I could be in hell, and have you still, it would be a heaven to me, for you are all the heaven I want."
About three centuries later, C. S. Lewis expressed a similar sentiment via one of the characters in the Narnian Chronicles. At the end of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Edmund and Lucy are told by Aslan that they would not enter Narnia again. Lucy responds:
"It isn't Narnia, you know. It's you. We shan't meet you there [back in our world]. And how can we live, never meeting you?"
While researching this article, I found the story of a 19th century Scottish boy who was dying. It's called Another Lily Gathered. It is a wonderful and sobering example of how Christ's love can fundamentally transform and bring joy into someone's life, even while facing suffering and death.
As hard as troubles can beset us, it ultimately doesn't matter how we feel in this life. What really matters is where our eternal hope rests. Don't let gripes and worldly concerns rob you of Christ. If your minister feeds your grievances or doesn't point you exclusively to Him, run from that church.
Finally, I'll leave you with a link to an excerpt from a sermon by Alistair Begg. While it addresses a praise and worship context, it's also applicable to this discussion. As he says:
You have been ransomed; you have been healed; you have been restored; you have been forgiven. You’re looking away from yourself now. You’re looking out and to Christ. And it is in this that we have something that fuels our praise.
Amen and keep looking up!
About Alf Cengia
Last week: The Coming Prophetic Kingdom
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