Friday, February 08, 2008

Where Are We Headed?

Recently, I began to go back and re-read and study the Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith. This confession was first printed (by Ben Franklin BTW) by the first Baptist association in the United States in the early 1700s.
I read this to reconsider the ground from which we spring. These men are so clear in what is the truth. In this day and age of relativism and post-modernism (which to me is basically old-fashioned "darkness") it so refreshing to read this crystal-clear statement.
One wonders, where will the churches that are popping up all around us, where will they stand 250 years from now? I wonder if they will still be around? I doubt it. Why? Because on what do they stand?
It appears that many of these churches or fellowships or "porches" or whatever the hip word of the moment might be, are crowd gatherers. Goats are entertained with rock music, Hollywood film clips, arresting stage scenery, and funny-story telling "pastors" with untucked shirttails and soul-patches. Surveys are studied with more eagerness than God's word in "staff" meetings. The method is more important than the Message (which is also the name of the "translation" used).
What happened to "feed My sheep"? As CHS asks, are we feeding sheep or merely entertaining goats?
What will happen when the entertainment gets old? Will the envelope have to be pushed more and more? When the children of the yuppies we're trying to reach get tired of the "Chuck-e-Jesus" playground that we've built for them? Is it all based on entertaining, so we can get the crowd, so we can get more and more cool stuff for our IT minister on staff, so our church can be the hippest in town?
Like the stock market in the 1920s this is bound to all come crashing down. I read recently in the New York Times in an article by one of their columinists about evangelicals that liberals should like. In this article one very prominent pastor is quoted as saying that he didn't care one bit about politics, (good for him I might add) but that ALL he cared about was helping AIDS victims in Africa. Well, that is good and noble, and I pray that he can help them. But my first thought was, what about the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ? Don't those suffering in Africa need to hear about the cross, just as those in our cul-de-saced neighborhoods?
Maybe once the entertainment gets a little stale, we will guide our crowds into a social gospel so they will feel less guilt.
Where are we headed?
Call me crazy, a reactionary, pathetic -- I don't really care -- but I think I'll go back to Philadelphia, circa 1740, and look for some guidance.


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