Wednesday, September 16, 2020

We're losing this Battle

 "Always, the most revealing thing about the church is what she thinks about God" 

                                                        -- A.W. Tozer 

 

 

"Adolescent Christianity is any way of understanding, experiencing, or 

practicing the Christian faith that conforms to the patterns of adolescence 

in American culture. I am well aware that the tangled web of beliefs, practices, and experiences that we call “adolescence” is itself a product of human cultures and changes over time. Attempts to define a universal set of 

traits that apply to every adolescent are always gross generalizations that 

betray cultural biases. One reason juvenilization is so powerful and deceptively difficult to manage is that adults are constantly investigating, debating, and misreading the supposed “nature” of adolescents. Juvenilization is 

also driven by actual changes in the lives of young people, not just adult 

perceptionsSo, no matter how the experience of adolescence changes, 

churches will eventually conform to that new set of adolescent traits. 

A reliable body of social science research has identified some common 

aspects of adolescent development in American society. And though some 

of the traits we ascribe to adolescents have changed over time, beneath these 

particulars lie some foundational realities that have remained relatively stable. Adolescents are people in a particular developmental life stage, who occupy particular positions in the social and economic structures of society, 

and whose lives provide important raw materials for creating meaning in 

American culture. Each of these aspects of adolescence shapes the process 

of juvenilization in the church, so each deserves some explanation." 


     The above quote is from Thomas Bergler's book "The Juvenilization of American 

Christianity." In it, he lays out the case -quite powerfully-- that modern evangelicalism has become nothing more than an extension of high school youth groups in its adolescent approach to ministry and the Gospel.  

     Discussion of sin, wrong, conviction, boundaries, standards, doctrine, and even God Himself has become tainted by the influence of the youth culture and viewed only through the prism of spiritual adolescents for who the entire services are structured. 

God has moved from deity and awe- inspiring, all-consuming, to your best bud, incapable of demanding circumspect living from His worshippers. Worship itself has, in fact, become en emotionally driven, shallow exercise more akin to the squealing teenaged girls fainting at the sight of the Beatles in 1964, than Moses prostrate before the burning bush. 

     The worship music has taken on the sound and feel of sappy teenaged love songs about some dreamy high school senior that the sophomore female singer has a crush on. 

      Social Justice warriorism has replaced St. John of the Cross and his "Long Dark Night of the Soul." Traditional orthodoxy is lost. Sneered at as some relic in an archeological dig. If it doesn't elicit emotion...it's not "anointed. 

      We've spent the last thirty years or so, reshaping the message of the cross to fit itself around the culture, instead of digging in deep, reinforcing our proclamation of that gospel and influencing and reshaping the culture by the power of the cross.  

Paul taught us that "the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.  

     But the current trend in evangelicalism is to look at the traditional gospel message as the foolishness and to try to bend it to fit the foolishness of the lost.  

Carl Lentz with his semi-erotic stage productions (replete with handsome youth pastor onstage in his underwear at a women's conference) and knocking back shots with Justin Bieber in an Aussie bar.   

     Andy Stanley declaring the Old testament bulky, cumbersome and unnecessary excess baggage for the modern church.  

     Stephen Furtick in his frequent displays of spiritual egomania, declaring himself a theological superman and posturing like a peacock while spitting out charismatic pablum. 

       Even the SBC's own J.D. Graeer weeping over a gavel...a gavel and declaring that the SBC ought to refer to LGBTQ people by their preferred pronouns because it's "welcoming." (never mind the fact that it's blasphemous and amounts to telling God that He got it wrong when he "fearfully and wonderfully made" said confused person) 

This current generation exists in a theological Sesame Street. Or Mr. Rodger's Neighborhood.  Descriptives like "warfare" "battle" "endure" "circumspect" "grave" or "sober" are not used in these services. It's all about love. God is love. God is ONLY love. At the expense of all His other Godly attributes...even His Holiness He is not a consuming fire...he's a warm cup of cocoa. He is not Holy and terrifying (in an awe-inspiring way) He is really really good. And He can't be offended and all He cares about is your frail little heart.  

     Where the heroes of scripture were rugged, stalwart, fierce men of prayer and conviction...this brood know nothing about long nights laboring in prayer over people going to Hell. They know nothing of fasting until God moves. Crying out in burden of soul for the lost. They have never confronted sin in society, save the annual pro-life rallies, which -while necessary and of utmost urgency-- have become the low hanging fruit of the evangelical world. Kill babies? Of course, that's wrong! but confront someone over a sinful lifestyle that they claim God approves of? No... that's not "loving."  

     When Dr. Falwell first envisioned Liberty University, he saw a place where culture would meet its seawall. A place that would stand out as a line in the sand like a firebreak cut in a forest. We would be different. Biblically, theologically different. We would cherish the gospel and the work of the Cross so deeply that we would never consider bending it to shape itself to society.  

      The Bible says that Jesus became the cornerstone...and you would either fall on it and be broken or it will fall on you and you will be crushed. The choice was simple. Surrender to the Gospel of the Cross, or ultimately be judged by it and destroyed by it. 

We have taken the Gospel of the cross and made it a warm fuzzy emotional Hallmark Channel movie. Jesus has become Mr. Rodgers. "You are special to me" has replaced, "Don't be surprised when I tell you that you must be born again." "I love you just as you are" has replaced "If anyone would follow me, he must take up his cross and follow me. He must die. We have removed the death-to-self requirement from salvation and we have failed in doing so. 

    Liberty University has been moving toward this chasm of liberalism since Dr. Falwell passed away. And our affecting society has been weakened because of it.  

Our students are simply not hearing the Gospel as they once were. They have been fed this liberal neo-evangelicalism by the bucketload and it shows.  

         If we will truly train Young Champions for Christ, then we MUST abandon this false god of society-filtered gospel and preach the Cross once again. We have fallen far. We have a lot of ground to reclaim. 

 

 

 
 

 

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