Thursday 15 December 2011

Evangelicalism in Crisis ... Again!

In contemplating this blog post, I decided to call it 'Evangelicalism in Crisis ... Again'; for a good reason. The contemporary trends in evangelicalism are no surprise for those who know church history, therefore the addendum, 'again' is necessary. It appears that the second law of thermodynamics seems to come into play in every generation. This law of entropy teaches us, that the natural tendency is towards chaos and disorder. This is the opposite of what God did in Creation in Genesis Chapters 1 and 2 (as an aside, it is observable that the theory of evolution contradicts natural laws, however for those determined to pursue a godless theory, suppressing this truth does not seem to matter!).

How does this apply to the church? In my limited experience across the UK, I hear repeated echoes of the need to reinvent the 'church wheel'; in terms of how we do church. The apparent anguish is caused by not seeing the nation evangelised. Evangelism when it drives the agenda will often lead to wholesale changes in the church. Evangelism does not drive the agenda, Jesus Christ the head of the church drives the agenda (Ephesians 1:22, 4:15, 5:23). One of the buzz words currently used to describe the need to change things is 'missionalism'. This rather nebulous term is often a smokescreen to drive unlimited changes to the traditional understanding of the church. Well, what is the real problem?

My observation is that the root problem is Christians and Christian leaders who lose a grip on the authority and sufficiency of scripture. In discussing with people who promote such new ideas, they commonly make only loose references to scripture and instead views are put forward about such things as 'context', the 'need to be contemporary' or 'connecting with this generation'. After over two decades of following the Lord Jesus Christ, it is my firm conclusion that the gospel is counter-cultural in every age and every generation. Therefore to seek to connect with a current generation can open the door for worldly methods into the church.

Here are four questions to be asked and answered by every professing evangelical.

1. Does the New Testament teach a clear apostolic pattern for the church, one that is reproducible in every generation?
2. Does the New Testament teach a clear pattern for the ingredients of biblical worship?
3. Does the Bible teach the doctrine of the Christian Sabbath, a day set apart for worship, rest and fellowship (with God and man)?
4. Does the New Testament teach a clear pattern for church government?

Can you imagine applying for planning permission to build an extension on your house and telling the council that the architect has no plans? Then you go on to explain to the council that you want to go on a journey to explore the right way forward as you build. Silly as it seems this is how many contemporary church leaders approach the church. By abandoning the historic paths that are committed to preaching, the right administration of the sacraments and a well-ordered church where feeding and caring for the sheep is the main priority, new agendas call for unbiblical changes.

Here are some verses that I have found helpful over the years, especially when faced with new calls, for new methods, for the church to adapt if she is to be supposedly successful.

'And there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us' Ecclesiastes 1: 9-10.

'Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls". But they said, "We will not walk in it"' Jeremiah 6: 16.

Let us test all things and use church history as a compass to make sure that we have not lost our way, or worse still to endorse methods that contradict the Lord Jesus Christ, the alone head of the church!

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