The great American revivalist Charles Finney once said that the character of the age is changing and the Church and its preachers must adapt. Many of our church leaders have recognized this – specifically that 21st century living is complex and more demanding, with most people’s lives being a constant whirlwind of activity, their minds bombarded with technology and information, their spirits numbed by social media and the many distractions. Because many are incapable of properly managing and balancing their lives they grow tired, exhausted, and in many ways feel isolated and craving genuine relationships.
Strong preaching and the demands of the gospel are like fingernails on a chalkboard to some. Has the Church adapted? Yes, but the problem has been that the adaptation that many preachers and churches have made has come with many unhealthy compromises.
So to get converts and church members we’ve toned down on the requirements of discipleship, and sound doctrine, and offered people a greasy grace and sloppy love gospel while almost nullifying the necessity of the demonstration of the Spirit and power of God. Thus, the so called progressive church was birthed. Their hybrid twin, the seeker-friendly church, was also birthed. This church model has done more damage and highjacked more truth in a short amount of time than any other in American history. That’s why I agree with the following quote:
“The American church is guilty of great crimes against the Holy Spirit. We told Him to leave and let us grow Christianity incorporated – the worst thing we could have done. It was a mistake – a terrible, incalculable, ongoing mistake – derailing more truth in less time than any moral plague in history.” – Mario Murillo
Not only have we told the Holy Spirit to leave, but as I said the Word of God has been greatly compromised and even corrupted. It has been my observation in these progressive churches that not only has there been a diminished respect for the Bible, but even foundational Christian doctrine is questioned and challenged. The erosion of the most basic tenets of the faith is appalling in some denominational and mainline churches. For example, some no longer even believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, but that there are many ways and religions that lead to God. No joke. Some no longer believe that the Bible is the fully inspired word of God, but rather a book written or tampered by men (see my book The Real Salvation)(Barna survey).
I know this sounds extreme and hard to believe for us P/C (Pentecostal/Charismatic) people, but we must understand that the term “Christian” no longer encompasses what is basic foundational Christian doctrine. To be a “Christian” in America has a much broader scope of meaning among the hundreds of thousands of churches that dot our landscape. Even globally that is so. “Disciple” or serious “follower of Jesus” should be the new word to describe a real 21st century Christian.
THE UNHOLY MIXTURE
This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” (Acts 16:17)
In the above verse when Satan used a slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination to identify herself and her fortune telling with Paul’s team, it was his master plan to defile the church of God with other mixtures. He has done this successfully throughout the ages. It’s always been his lethal stroke. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em is the devil’s mode of operation. Throughout history and increasingly so today, Christianity is a myriad of traditions, doctrines of demons, witchcraft, and now New Age gobbledygook. Unfortunately, some of this mixture has also infiltrated into the P/C camp.
Listen carefully to some of today’s most popular teachers. They are popular because most of what they teach is pleasant, affirming, and non-confrontive. For the most part, it’s a happiness prosperity gospel. It certainly does not contain any power to get you beaten and thrown in jail. The whole counsel of God is missing from their presentation. In many cases, opinions and feelings are emphasized more than the Scriptures. These teachers and pastors are a part of what I call “progressive” and “seeker-friendly” churches that really are digressive. In many of them sin and redemption have been exchanged for social justice and doing good.
Multitudes of people have hidden themselves behind these fig-leaf churches. They are content in being religious. The fig leafs are their self-righteous works and the natural goodness of a person, but according to Finney, they are useless for revival.
“There is a certain type of Christian that although being constructively involved in the church and pass off as being very good Christians are useless in revival. I do not mean that they are wicked, but they have a form of piety which has no fire and efficiency and actually repels new believers, and wards off the truth.”
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE
The social and economic pressure in our Western culture is greater than its ever been. The decade of the 2020s will be filled with increasingly stressful situations in our nation, more natural disasters, some that may greatly alter the socio-economic structure of the nation, and the pace of life will not get any slower. The seeds of socialism and atheistic communism have been sown in America and word is still out as to what kind of harvest they will produce. The indoctrination of an antichrist agenda has gained momentum in the last generation. But GOD!
All of these characteristics of a humanistic new age will result in more and more people connecting with the emptiness of their own hearts and they will sense their need for the reality of the living God and the peace and joy that comes from Jesus, even in the midst of chaos, hatred, and unrest. There is a harvest of souls coming and we better be ready. What must we do to be ready?
To be continued…
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