Why am I not surprised?
Why am I not surprised at all?
Why am I not surprised to find out that most Americans don’t believe the Gospel?
Is it because Christian Universities do not want to stand up with fellow conservatives like Star Parker?
Is it because Christian Restaurants want to remain apolitical, the way Chik-Fil-A does when they want to use company cash for leftist causes?
Or is it because virtual signaling is, by far, an easier task to accomplish than taking a stand against Gavin Newsom, the way John MacArthur has done?
I tend to think there’s a word for this: cowardice.
The same kind of cowardice that wants the general Christian public to believe and accept your preacher, teacher, screecher is the good guy until &$#!?! hits the fan. By then, all the passive naïveté that seems cool has reached scorching temperatures the same way a frogs do under preparation for cuisses du grenouilles. Although repeating the phrase takes practice in French phonetics, the concept of gradual apathy to the problems around us is not—and there’s blame for such.
Starting with the pastor.
Long before his downfall, Mark Driscoll was the Reformed Charismatic Superstar of his day, having at least five satellite churches in his beloved district of Seattle, WA. Despite crowds feeling the brave comradery of a hero who wasn’t afraid to be machismo, his lackluster skills became noticeable the moment a radio show host accused him of plagiarism on-air.
After additional scandals came to the surface—such as his secretive online presence and the misuse of monetary funds—followers discover his whereabouts in Scottsdale, AZ, where he openly renounces Calvinism, even though some have pointed out that perhaps his personal experiences with the Reformed Faith resembles more like someone getting their tongue stuck on a metal pole.
But it didn’t stop there.
Francis Chan, another evangelical superstar, has a video portraying him trying to share basic doctrine to the audience only to find out the message was preachy mumbo-jumbo. One could say his charisma is well intentioned, but the fact that he sounds so euhhh…heretical would mean Mr. Chan needs to find a few good resources to articulate his theology.
Long before those debacles came about, there was David Hunt with his less than stellar blockbuster What Love Is This? a book which reads with more factual & historical errors than a Dan Brown Novel. At least the references cited in there are far more intellectually prominent than what Hunt could cite without heavily relying on secondary sources to buttress his claim.
Is that sounding a bit too harsh?
How about we go onto other problems like discussing the way problems are handled by my alma mater, Bob Jones University? Although the university administration has had its heyday with race relations—after all, segregation & the Jim Crow laws were all part of the South—the fact that the administration did not bother to put aside its ban on interracial dating until the year 2000 is telling. Not to mention the hiring of a college administrator to have on staff after having his scandal aired on ABC’s 20/20.
Or how about we talk about the softening stances the National Association of Evangelicals have had, starting with the death penalty? Has anyone noticed the amount of conversions to Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox lately? Starting with Francis Beckwith and Hank Hanegraaf? Have we forgotten about these recent believers of an Ancient faith?
Or how about liberalism? Pete Enns, Tony Campolo, Chris Boyd, all are waiting to embrace new converts with open arms. Other prominent celebrities like RHE and Jen Hatmaker are recently expressing their love for fellow sister Beth Moore and her latest drifting from all else conservative.
We can talk about all other options, including Islam, Mor(m)onism, Paganism, Atheism, and the like as viable options whenever one departs the Christian faith. However, as much room as this article provides, discussing the choices are not part of the main point. In this case—what should interest anyone here would be this: biblical standards.
Starting with intellectualism.
Not the ones who want to look or express intelligence—this can be done through a variety of means, most of which provide a thin veneer for anyone to look through, I mean the actual area where intelligence could be done through means of academic labor.
That is, hard work.
If anybody asked an Evangelical what significant book s/he has read recently the names of John MacArthur, Francis Chan, or better yet…Beth Moore would be the names that would come to mind. After all, these leaders are living, breathing, individuals who have their hearts on fire for Jesus—I really doubt that for the last one I mentioned. But ask them about serious books that are more than the average 250 page read (e.g., The Institutes of the Christian Religion, The Institutes of Biblical Law, The Fundamentals of the Faith, etc.), one will discover the answer to those problems would be due to the fact most evangelicals have a distaste for reading.
Even a 250-page Beth Moore book would be a chore…for a man.
The fact that these books are not even considered high on the reading list should be considered problematic, and this goes without mentioning that Christians are struggling to be reading their own Bibles. The sheer fact that most Americans do not believe the Gospel should not be a terrible surprise—most individuals have no expressed interest in reading the right books, filling their minds with edifying information, let alone exercising the ability to read continually.
No one is talking about guys copying their wives by going into the book store and look for a Beverly Lewis novel; to the contrary, it is wise for men to find the time to cut out the TV for a while and pick up a robust theological work like John Calvin’s, Institutes of the Christian Religion, or become more familiarized with the portions of Scripture before the lights start going dim again.
The fact of Americans thinking faith is a works-based system of merit without even thinking of the contrary realities should frighten Evangelicals completely. Instead of demonizing men for thinking for themselves or critically for that matter, perhaps it is time for Christians to be investing their time into reading actual pieces of literature instead of someone else’s feelings.
More importantly, be those who complete the homework, or the ones who wish to be completely lazy, the concept of biblical standards does not stop here—this should be taken into the areas of worship and accountability. Just as my alma mater was mentioned beforehand, the same also applies to the area of accountability: there needs to be a set of biblical standards. The fact that Evangelicals are failing to deliver the people from the perils of life because most are not exercising sound judgment should be a testimony to what goes awry in the Christian Church today.
And that is where the last part comes in—worship.
Hillsong, Mullins, Casting Crowns all have their places within the sphere of the Christian life. Music carries the same gratifying edification for Christians to enjoy outside the realm of worship—however, these songs do not belong to the category of worship. The fact that many churches do consider them sources as such do not seem to care too much about the realities these songs carry—poor literacy & biblical taste.
Hillsong runs fine examples of crappy music.
Ranging from Oceans (You call me out upon the waters/the great unknown where feet may fail) to What a Beautiful Name (‘You didn’t want heaven without us/So Jesus, You Brought Heaven Down), Hillsong has become the trendy music that churches adopt for their ministries without considering the lyric context, especially since most of the music does not echo biblical truths besides what Beth Moore could get with a tampon—c’mon, a little tweaking doesn’t hurt.
Of course, crawling back into the old-fashioned Baptist church returning to the nostalgic days where someone sits on the piano, organ, and orchestra and play all the hymns of yesteryear, one has to keep in mind all the hymns sacred in its book are no better. Two of which come to mind, are the ones that prompted me to discard hymns at large for the more prominent exclusive psalmody position.
The first hymn, I’d Rather Have Jesus, reflects the life the hymn writer—Rhea F. Ross Miller—as she reflects on how the Lord delivered her father from alcohol abuses and became a Baptist minister. These words, lyrically speaking, reflect just how her father would rather have Jesus than some other materialistic possession, which, as a hymn, sounds particularly charming, endearing, and relatively grand.
But how theologically sound is the song?
For starters, the wording is not right—one cannot prefer ‘to have Jesus’ than any materialistic possession. Although there are biblical allusions to justify the concept, these concepts are metaphorical expressions not the doctrinal realities. For cryin’ out loud, Christ is a person, not solely an object or a possession! Apart from this obvious fact, the focus of the song revolves around the believer’s feelings and responses to name of Jesus without really delving into the doctrinal (meaty) stuff.
For outside listeners, this rings hollow—especially whenever a Christian gets to the importance of Jesus.
As for the second, there is a bit of background—let me explain.
During my years at Bob Jones University, one thing I became acquainted with my years there was the familiarity of Patch! The Pirate. Although I was never familiar with the character, I did know about him with my years there because he is also a beloved hymn writer: Ron Hamilton. In fact, if anyone went to any Independent Baptist church, rest be assured one will find a plethora of his works in typical Majesty Hymnals, which I half-jokingly call the Hamilton Hymnal.
The main problem is how the hymns’ becoming lyrics are geared for adults, not the children. Although these songs are not theologically heretical by any means, the particular issue with these songs revolve around how shallow the lyrics are and how devoid of doctrinal depth they became.
Take for instance, Lord I Need You, which opens (in some versions) with a vibrant melancholic melody before getting into the heart of the song itself. Of course, the narration of the song reflects a Christian’s walk of faith, but it revolves around just that: a Christian’s need for Jesus. No praises to his name, his work, his birth, his passion, etc. In effect, these lyrics really sound at best self-pitying, something no one should really be in the business of writing. If one wanted to do minute rewording, this could come off as a scrubbed-down version of Baby Come Back, by the Players.
Although these jabs come off as offensive, the main point of this example is to press the issue of how Christians have abandoned biblical standards to all spheres to the point where a return to the original doctrinal standards and practices, or a reformation is absolutely necessary for Christians to further pursue their causes.
Because, without making serious changes or at least abiding by some type of biblical standard only means the church would face further irrelevance and be lost to history.