Thursday, January 27, 2011

Watering Down the Truth

It all sounds so sensible. "Let's just toss out all those narrow doctrinal distinctions and all get along.  If we can do this we will all be happy."  But when we are through we will be left with nothing worth having.  Now I am in favor of evaluating what we believe to see if it really stacks up to Scripture, but that is different from trying to please everyone. If all we have is a message that offends no one, it can accomplish nothing.  If we are just telling people that what they believed all along is right, why bother?  If we think that we live in a basically good world full of basically good people (have you watched the news lately?) and that a little bit of tweaking will make it all right, why bother with an impertinence like Christianity?  But if we think that something is really wrong, that something really needs to change, then we need a message.  And a message, by definition, must be something that steps on people's toes; it must be definite and it must be narrow.  Otherwise, how can it expect to change anything?

Now as it is, Christianity has the most definite message possible.  It claims that for all their technology, all their progress, all their education, all their philosophy, human beings are sinners under the wrath of Almighty God (Romans 1:18-20; 3:10-20; Jeremiah 17:9) and their only hope is to trust in the work of another (Colossians 2:13-15; 1 Peter 2:24,25; Romans 3:21-31).  And even then, while we have obligations to work for what is right in this world (Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:11-14; James 1:22-25), the ultimate correction of things must wait until God Himself intervenes to change them (Romans 8:19-23; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 John 3:1-3).  It is on the basis of this radical message that Christianity makes its exclusive claims (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Galatians 1:8,9).  But if there is no radical message, there is no point to the whole thing.

The bottom line is that if there is no distinctive Christian message that cuts across the grain of our current cultural understandings and challenges our accepted societal truisms, there is no point to Christianity at all.  If we want to be nice people (by human standards), unbelievers can be nice people.  If we want to give to worthy charitable causes, unbelievers can give to worthy charitable causes.  If we want to involve ourselves in political action, unbelievers can involve themselves in political action. (Though all these things may be appropriate for believers in the right contexts.) But if we want to turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6), we need the power of God (Romans 1:16). And if we do, we will offend people and ruffle feathers.  But if we do not, let us close the doors of our churches and forget the whole thing.  For we are just playing a game.

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