The Truth is Not Popular

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A new editorial in Christianity Today entitled "We're Prime Time, Baby" (July 2005) touts the growing acceptance of evangelicals by the American mainstream media. As if the self-congratulatory tone of the piece isn't enough, its words reveal a real keenness for worldly approbation.

We've been mainstreamed....We really can't play the persecution card anymore. As "players," we will be criticized sharply still, but that's just part of life in America.
The unctuous use of the word "players" — in or out of quotes — reeks of entitlement, implying that Christians have grown up enough to sit at the big table with the adults. The editorial suggests that Christians are now ready to transition from their ugly duckling stage (i.e. too much negativity), as if they were preparing to go to one of those coming-out balls from a Jane Austen novel. As such, Christians must play some kind of game (cultural/social) in order for the Gospel to have maximum impact. This line of thinking is less concerned about Biblical truth and more concerned about the appearances of truth as standardized by worldly men and women. It is fertile soil for ecumenical, interfaith nonsense.

The apostle John wrote in 1 John Chapter 2:
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.
17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
The gist of the editorial is also a not-so-subtle dig at Christians who can't or won't be "players," that is, the ones still stuck playing the "persecution card" and who apparently didn't get the purpose-driven memo. While a persecution complex can indeed be self-fulfilling prophecy, the inference here is that persecution for Christians is more perception than reality. Yet in many of the less developed nations around the world, Christians are violently persecuted. This simplified and provincial assessment of Christianity's advances doesn't give the whole picture.

The Christianity Today piece concludes with words reminiscent of a political rally:
Let's remember that how we got here is how we will stay here: Careful scholarship. Measured proclamations. Majoring on the majors. Grassroots organizing. Patience. Prayer.
There is a certain plain honesty to CT's editorial — they are promoting not so much Christianity but rather a movement. Evangelicalism is a movement in the same way as feminism, socialism, and other -isms. Movements are man's province. God needs no movements, for His Word still has the power to change people's hearts. For the Gospel to be popular, it must cease to be the Truth. We naturally desire reassurance of our own goodness, but the Gospel does the opposite.

Popularity is an idol of the human heart. The pressure on Christians today to conform to the world is very strong — so strong that it is an incipient form of persecution. And that pressure to conform may just come most strenuously from those who call themselves Christians.

Jesus said of the last days in Matthew Chapter 10:
21 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.
22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

4 comments:

bellacqua said... on 7/06/2005 9:52 AM  

Succinctly and wittily put. Thank you.

Lum said... on 7/07/2005 10:46 AM  

Thanks for posting this. I saw this the other day and almost lost my lunch.

A couple of points:

First, the church in America has no clue what real persecution is. In this country a newspaper editorial criticizing Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell is consider persecution. Christians in China and Muslim countries would laugh at this type of persecution, that is if they were actually allowed access to U.S. newspapers.

Secondly this should be no surprise to students of Bible prophecy. In Revelation 17 we see a woman riding a beast. The woman is described as Mystery, Babylon The Great, The mother of Harlots and abominations of the earth.

This woman represents the apostate religious system of today. And by the way it encompasses a lot more than just the Catholic church.

The beast represents the political/military/economic system of today.

The woman thinks she has control over the beast. She thinks she is now in charge directing the beast to do her will. But ultimately the beast will turn on her and destroy her.

It is time to come out of the apostate religious system of today. We must repent of our adultery, turn to the Lord with all our hearts, and pray the we be counted worthy to escape the wrath to come.

James 4:4
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Anonymous said... on 7/09/2005 6:40 AM  

I agree with the above post...we really don't know about persecution in this country on any kind of large scale.

In 2 Timothy 3:12, Paul says, "And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Maybe we should be asking "why" we haven't been persecuted, rather than celebrating the fact that we're not.

Is it possible that few Christians in our country truly "desire to live godly in Christ Jesus"? Have we chosen to compartmentalize our faith to certain times only, and not to the long-term "live" spoken of by Paul? There is such a contrast to the daily living out of the faith exhibited by Paul and where the church is living today.

Editor said... on 7/09/2005 4:02 PM  

Quite true that Christian persecution is absent in the Western nations. In China, India, the Middle East, and elsewhere, totalitarian governments and/or native religions or traditions automatically create overt antagonism towards the Christian minority there.

Brutal persecution of believers in the West, however, will require, at the very least, tacit cooperation of the Church, just as anti-Semitism was enabled in Germany in the 1930s and as it is enabled in Europe today (and increasingly in the U.S.) by official positions of mainstream Christian churches.

The Judeo-Christian cultural tradition in the West is too strong for civil rights to be ruthlessly abrogated outright (say, as it is in Pakistan or China) so it must be chipped away bit by bit over decades, as can be seen in major court decisions made in the U.S.

 

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