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Compass or Wind-Sock? (or) The Christian, Culture, and Truth

A compass which points first this way, and then that has ceased to be a compass. Detached from its fixed point of reference and distracted by some new, closer attraction, it is worse than broken – misleading and deceptive. A navigator who, when asked for direction, indifferently shrugs, humbly admits “I don’t know,” or compassionately asks “which way do you think is right?” has ceased to be a navigator. He is not even being a friend – especially not if he secretly knows the way, but cares too little for your well-being, and too much for his own comfort to speak truth.

So it is with the church that – in a vain attempt to fill pews and coffers – tickles ears, twists Scriptures, cuts itself loose from all authority, and sets its sails freely to every wild wind of doctrine. Having happened many times before, the future of such ventures is plain to see.

In the first generation, there is wild popularity – the preachers are especially rewarded. People flock to him as the children of vibrant Christians (who have come to find their social life and identity within a church building, but chafe under it’s rules) excitedly tell their friends about this new teacher who offers many comforting words, surrounds himself with many trendy peoples, and demands only easy requirements. Excitement builds as one generation of excited, “culturally relevant” people congregate under the charismatic leaders.

But it is always the children who cannot be convinced that the emperor is clothed.

The trouble starts when these children read or are told Bible stories – for the keen mind of a child is able to spot simple inconsistencies more aptly than any sophisticated adult. Questioning can only be disallowed for so long. When the children go to school, they will be confused as a new wind of doctrine is blowing, and the churches of yesteryear have no answers for an ever-changing world. Troubled by hypocrisy, and now turned off to a culture-corrupted Christianity, such children usually wander off into the shadow-lands of agnosticism to find their own way in anything other than Christianity.

Ironically, in a bold attempt to be “relevant,” heretics, liberals and many emergent-types become distinctly “irrelevant.” Too “organic” for absolute truth, and too “humble” to admit to what counter-cultural truths they do hold to, such people become only a mirror for culture.

Could there be anything more useless than a candle that mirrors only darkness back to the night?

Within a generation, Liberalism reduced the “main-line” denominations (Anglican, United, and, to some extent, Lutheran and Catholic) to the “side-lined” denominations. Once vibrant churches are now filled with grey heads, wondering how to “reach out to the youths.” In the Emergent Movement, Liberalism is making a wide and deep advance into Evangelicalism, as I have many times written about. What will be the result? If the pattern holds, I predict that within two generations, or maybe less, a great number of those who follow in this path will have gone entirely from the churches. Of these, some will continue to call themselves Christians, and a few of the strongest will keep the flame alive. Some will also remain in fellowship. Fewer still will remain active. Almost none of their children will stay.

Because by the time their children are in school, I would assume that most of this ultra-trendy “deconstructivism” will have faded into yesterday like a shadow. Tomorrow’s youth will be looking for real truth – something firm to hold on to in a shifting world, when poverty and chaos crosses the Atlantic. Since they will be told in their “Emergent” churches that the Bible does not contain truth, where will they go to find answers?

Wherever they go, I hope the ancestors of the Old Faith follow them there, and seek and save that which was lost.

For all who have gone before are thieves and robbers: only our Lord is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and the only way to the Father of lights, in whom there is neither variation or shifting shadow, in whom there is no darkness at all.

To Him alone be praise, honor, glory and power both now and forevermore, amen.

3 Comments »

  1. Hey Josiah, this is a great topic and I’m sure that blog space is somewhat confining but I’ve tried to be specific in person and content when talking about “emergent”. Probably the best resource I’ve come across is Kluck & DeYoung – Why We’re Not Emergent. It’s hard to know exactly what people are talking about and of course in postmodernism, language is extremely important. I confess that I haven’t read all of your articles so you may have defined this earlier but I’m not sure that it helps the conversation to talk in broad generalities, though in the end I would agree with some of your conclusions.

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