LifeLink Devotions (Click here for podcast)
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
I am a Boomer. Some of you are Builders, while others are Busters. Some of you belong to Generation X. Some are called Post-Moderns. We all carry a generational label that attempts to define the characteristics of our era. Each generation is a response and/or reaction to the previous one. Most generations rebel in some way against the standards of the previous one. Every generation appears to be identified by what it is seeking to change.
The characteristics of each generation also get carried over into the context of Christianity. One recent trend was for the post-modern thought of those born since 1980 to seek to transform the church. Those who advocated such change adopted the overall name of “The Emerging Church.” It has now evolved into what is called Progressive Christianity.” While some of the points they make seem valid and the changes they suggest appear valuable, the underlying theology of the movement is troubling. They teach that truth is based on experience not on proposition. Theology is open to debate. The goal of Christians is to live out their faith in such a way that culture is transformed, and we are to bring the kingdom of God to earth. The redemption of society is our highest call rather than redemption from sin. And probably the most disturbing to me of all their beliefs is this – there should be no line of distinction between those who are “in” and those who are “out. In other words, there is no reason to proclaim a “Gospel”, because who are we to judge whether someone else’s beliefs are valid or not.
Ephesians 4:14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
Scot McKnight, author and theologian, wrote an article entitled, Five Streams of the Emerging Church in Christianity Today, He states, “This emerging ambivalence about who is in and who is out creates a serious problem for evangelism. The emerging movement is not known for it, but I wish it were. Unless you proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, there is no good news at all—and if there is no Good News, then there is no Christianity, emerging or evangelical.”
He goes on and states, “So I offer here a warning to the emerging movement: Any movement that is not evangelistic is failing the Lord. We may be humble about what we believe, and we may be careful to make the gospel and its commitments clear, but we must always keep the proper goal in mind: summoning everyone to follow Jesus Christ and to discover the redemptive work of God in Christ through the Spirit of God.”
I can’t and won’t claim to know the motivation for these generational church movements, but I can offer some observations. If the primary purpose for any change in church ministry or philosophy is not to win more people to Jesus, then not only is the change wrong but the heart of the initiator of the change is also wrong. And if the fundamental theological truths of Scripture are not proclaimed as non-negotiable, absolute truth, then the movement is not valid, no matter how much cultural relevance or social impact it has.
It is clear in Ephesians 4 that there is only one body – the body of Christ – made up of those who are born again by one Spirit. There is only one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God, the Father of all. In Christ we are called to grow up in Him until we reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, becoming mature. We are not called to live as infants, subject to every wind of teaching that comes along and appeals to our itching ears. We are not called to allow for alternative experiences of faith that satisfy the flesh. We are not brought to unity by debate. We are not made one by adopting a purpose to transform society. We do not redefine redemption so that it applies to transforming culture. We are one in Christ, and in Christ alone. We are not mature because we are tolerant and accepting of untruth. We are mature when we stand firmly in the one truth of Jesus Christ and His redemptive work on the cross that must be experienced individually before any social transformation can take place.
I’m sure there are well-meaning people in the new generation of churches who have a deep heart-felt desire to know God and serve Him. However, there is a cunning deception going on that undermines the essential of absolute truth. I urge you to be careful. Be cautious. Be spiritually discerning. Any movement that puts the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a secondary role to anything else, no matter how morally right or socially beneficial, is wrong. Let us be infants no longer. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. (Ephesians 4:15)