Seems like every day on the news, there’s a new call against Christianity.
“Separation of state and church.” “No praying in the schools.” “No Ten Commandments in the courthouse.” “No preaching on the corners.” And on and on the merry-go-round turns.
Sometimes it seems that everything is allowed – except Christianity.
Yet, there are more denominations – more churches – more TV evangelists, etc. etc., than ever before in history! How do we explain this apparent contradiction?
For example: Doing some research recently, I was astonished to learn that, in addition to the bushel basket full of ‘traditional’ denominations (Catholic, Baptist, Methodists, Lutheran, etc. etc. etc.), as of 2011, across the globe, there are 18, 210 separate ‘denominations’ of the Pentecostal-charismatic movement alone!
So many denominations! So much internal dissention and disagreement over minor doctrinal points, giving credence and fuel to those who seek to undermine and destroy our faith.
Is the problem with religion in America, that there’s too much religion in America?
This is a key argument being voiced by a number of ‘theocratic scholars’ and it’s become ‘intellectually’ popular to theorize there is, not only, too much religion in America, but that it’s also become ‘too intolerant’.
Hmmm—maybe—maybe not. Maybe both are symptoms of a larger problem—the real problem.
Before allowing myself to get engrossed in a debate on these ‘symptoms’, I go back and ask myself the basic root questions for these arguments first:
Why are there so many religions?
What is the measure of intolerance?
Whether modern history revisionists like it or not, the truth remains that Christianity was bipartisan and was the moral character defining America right up to being the driving force behind the civil rights movement. The modern ‘crisis of confidence’ in Christianity can be traced to the increase in technology and globalization. An awareness of alternative faiths, non-Western cultures and spiritualism grew and was postulated. This caused questions and doubt to take root in America that Christian faith alone didn’t speak definitively for, or of, God. With the age-old weakness of man to incorporate his own belief systems into the ‘mind of God’, these new—found ‘spiritual revelations’ gradually began merging with the Gospel into belief systems that became man-based, works-manifested and worship compromised. Truths that supported a Christian worldview began to splinter off, forming divisive sect groups. Meanwhile traditional denominations withered on the vine.
The result is a spiritual “age of accommodation,” wherein the Gospel and secular thought are conveniently intertwined to form ‘religion’ that is pleasing to the ear and gentle on the spirit. Christianity has turned from the supernatural to the natural; from the Gospel to psychology and from the Kingdom of God to the kingdom of man. The ‘good news’ of earthly prosperity and health, as a prelude to eternal glory is now spread universally. And, by the way, eternal life and goodness is now available to everyone—everywhere, as long as they have a ‘good heart’ and ‘feel good about themselves’. After all, there are no “bad” people and there are many roads that lead to God—not only one- don’t you know? (Besides that – there is no “hell” anyway – only “heaven” for everyone.)
Don’t we wish it were so!?
Where have the traditional denominations gone?
Into hibernation. They’ve withdrawn into themselves, wallowing in self-righteousness and self-satisfaction; happy just to bide their time, waiting for rescue from this world by a self-proclaimed rapture to magically wisp them away from all the trials and tribulations of the world.
Well – good luck with that.
Has the Gospel changed?
Although there are new translations coming out every day, the Gospel itself has been unchanged for over 2000 (maybe 6000 depending on how you chose to look at it) years. Christianity began as a single Gospel—meaning a single message. But, from the beginning, before it was even written, “false teachers” rose up imputing twists to the Gospel. Jesus, Himself, warned against these people, and it was a main theme of Paul—Peter—James—and John. It was called “deception” then and it’s called ‘deception’ today. In other words, men twisted the Gospel for their own means and ends. It’s been twisted so many times, in so many ways; it’s become the proverbial “Gordian Knot”.
So then, is there too much religion in America?
Well, it’s the wrong question. It’s not a question of quantity – it’s a question of quality. There is too much ‘bad religion‘.
There has been a slow, but steady decline of the Gospel of Grace based on Faith, while there’s been a significant concurrent increase in alternative, watered-down, compromised belief systems based on human works, human deeds or mystical mind-games.
What’s the root cause behind this?
Deception. Deceive men into thinking they know better than the God who created them does. Give them something new to meditate on – spiritual myths, the ‘inner’ man, the absence of a God or the ‘great unknown” – “I don’t know if there is or not a God. See how intellectual I am to admit that?”
If that doesn’t work then give them the Gospel back—but spin it a little so that it’s easy to digest. Let’s take out the ‘intolerable’ idea that some things are “right” and some things are “wrong”. After all—we don’t want to offend anyone—do we?
Is it intolerance then, to believe the Gospel?
What is the measure of intolerance? At one time it was ‘intolerant’ for society and family to have illicit sexual morality. Today, it’s ‘standard operating procedure’. It’s normal, accepted, and if you should openly question it – you are ‘intolerable’.
Good! Now we have a test case! Let’s compare results:
Has the pain, heartaches and consequences of sexual immorality changed? Are more people getting STDs now than then? Are more unwed mothers suffering now than then? Are fatherless children suffering more now than then? Are cities-crime rates- urban development-family life-character- lower or higher, now than then? Are people more friendly? Are they ‘good Samaritians’? Or are they epidemic? Out of control? Rampant?
You don’t need to answer-everyone already knows.
Look around. The alternatives mentioned above have changed every aspect of American society -in a negative way, and continue to threaten the very fabric that holds us together. Every level and aspect of American society – crime, politics, education, law, morality, etc. has been degraded and soiled.
Is America better off now than before?
The continual rise of a variety of alternative, watered-down, pseudo-Christianities, based upon humanists and man-deeds—has obviously been a total disaster for America.
So I ask, why is it now ‘intolerable’ to speak against sexual immorality when the results are by far a thousand-fold more disastrous for America?
What has changed is not the offense being committed – but the measurement of the offense. A measurement is a standard that something is compared against. The standard has changed. Man changed it – to meet his ever changing deception about himself and about God.
So, that brings me to a personal question: Am I intolerant?
If believing there is a God—and that He created everything—and that He cares about us enough to make a way for us to know and love Him—and if He shows us the way to do that—and tells us that’s the only way to do that…then…
…count me as intolerant.
Call me Christian, and if in your mind that means “intolerant”, then so be it.
Until Next Time:
Embrace Life’s Bridges – For they Define Who You Are