In Part VII of our series on the Snares of the Modern Church, we delved into the pitfalls of “Cultural Relevance,” where the church, in its quest to be relatable, risks compromising core beliefs. Now, in Part VIII, we navigate the treacherous waters of “Cultural Appeasement.” While both snares have their roots in a desire to engage with contemporary secular society, the latter ventures further, pushing the church not just to adapt, but to placate and satisfy worldly demands, often at the expense of biblical integrity. The line between relevance and appeasement might be thin, but the implications of crossing it are profound and far-reaching.
Throughout Christian history, the church has served not merely as a gathering of believers but as the defender and proclaimer of God’s truth on earth and the voice that speaks to the conscience of society in a lost and fallen world. Yet, in our current age, a troubling trend has emerged—many within the church have succumbed to the temptation to appease the world, forsaking biblical convictions for transient societal acclaim and instead, allowing the culture to become the voice of conscience to the church.
It’s one thing to engage with culture, and quite another to be subsumed by it. At its core, the gospel—as well as the Christian life—is countercultural, an affront to worldly values. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, admonishes believers not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewal of their minds (Romans 12:2). Yet, many modern Evangelicals and their leaders seem more intent on currying favor with secular society than upholding the Word of God.
Take the issue of Christian Nationalism, complementarianism, or the broader question of biblical morality. These are a few of the ecclesiastical debates raging with Evangelicalism right now—these disagreements are a consequence of our fallen nature. Yet, these ecclesiastical matters should be resolved within the church’s confines, as dictated by the Apostolic example. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6:1-7 ring with clarity: “Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers…? Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?” Instead, many professing Evangelicals, particularly those who claim Christ but take a progressive approach to these issues (whether or not these are true believers is a different debate), are taking church disputes to secular platforms to air their grievances.
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It’s dangerous to see church leaders, in a bid to appear “progressive” or “woke,” broadcasting internal grievances on secular platforms, thus giving the world a ringside seat to our disunity. Whether it’s former SBC president, Ed Litton going on MSNBC to tell the world that the Bible calls the church to be woke, or Russell Moore’s collaboration with queers to complain about Evangelical Trump supporters, such actions smack of spiritual whoredom. Even current SBC president, Bart Barber’s forthcoming engagement with a pro-LGBTQ activist known for her aggressive stances against biblical truth raises unsettling questions about the lengths to which some church leaders will go for worldly affirmation.
By aligning with secular voices and platforms to air church grievances, the message sent is clear: worldly accolades trump fidelity to the Word of God. This is not biblical. Christ was clear in His high priestly prayer: “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:16-17). Yet, what such actions demonstrate is that these people are of the world.
When church leaders choose the adulation of a pagan culture over biblical conviction, the inevitable result is a dilution of the very truth they claim to uphold. The lure of appearing “enlightened” or “culturally relevant” is nothing but a mirage, leading such people down a path of spiritual compromise and away from the unchanging truths of Scripture.
In their quest for Pagan accolades and approval, they have forgotten Christ’s warning: “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). The craving for applause from a culture hostile to the gospel is a dangerous snare. When leaders jettison biblical truth for worldly acceptance, they not only jeopardize their souls but also imperil their flock they should be defending.
The Bible is unambiguous in its condemnation of such spiritual duplicity. James minces no words when he declares of such people, “You adulterous people!” (James 4:4), likening spiritual compromise to the most profound form of betrayal. His message? Aligning with the world’s values isn’t just an error or misstep, a veering off of the path that needs to be corrected— it’s a direct affront to the Church’s relationship with Christ.
When James speaks of “friendship with the world,” he isn’t hinting at mere societal engagement but warning against embracing secular values that are opposed to God’s kingdom. Christians aren’t called to retreat, compromise, or appease the world, but to remain unyielding in our defense of the faith, even when cultural tides press hard against us. Succumbing to the world’s allure, as James clarifies, isn’t just a sign of weakness—it’s an act of rebellion, positioning oneself squarely as God’s adversary.
The church’s mission isn’t to be liked, but to be faithful in proclaiming the name of Jesus and His words. We’re not called to be popular, but true. Those entrusted with the sacred duty of shepherding God’s flock, when seeking the world’s favor, often find themselves at odds with Heaven itself.