I recently finished John MacArthur Jr’s excellent book Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church becomes like the World. Written in 1993, it is as relevant today as ever. A brief snippet:
Like the modernists a century ago, churches in the user-friendly movement have decided that doctrine is divisive and that peace is more important than sound teaching. Wanting to appeal to a modern age, they try to frame their message as a friendly, agreeable, and relevant dialogue. Unfortunately, it is often the most “relevant” topics that the church can ill afford to agree on. The pet doctrines of our modern age – radicalism, abortion, feminism, homosexuality, and other politically charged moral issues – pose the most obvious problems for user-friendly churches. Their undefined theology and seeker-sensitive philosophy do not permit them to take a firm biblical stance on such matters, because the moment they defy the spirit of the age, they forfeit their marketing appeal. They are therefore forced to keep mum or capitulate. Either way, they compromise the truth.
If a church is not even willing to take a firm stand against abortion, how will that church deal with erosion of crucial doctrine? If a church lacks discernment enough to condemn such overt errors as homosexuality or feminism, how will that church handle a subtle attack on doctrinal integrity?
More than 25 years later I think we can see the answer to the above questions. The erosion of Christianity in the West has been the greatest contributor to the downfall of the West. We have turned a blind eye to our moral compass and have sown at least one full generation that is spiritually bankrupt. Where has it gotten us? Can anyone honestly say we are better off today than we were just one or two generations ago?
Evil will constantly try to infiltrate and disrupt. It requires constant attention and weeding. Too many churches became friendly with the world. It always starts slowly and seemingly harmlessly enough. Eventually the wizardry begins, that is when some of those hot topics spoken about above are broached. People are shamed to keep silent on what they know to be true. Those evil spirits try to bend the word, trying to confuse and mask. How many times have you heard someone say that because God is all-loving surely homosexuality must be ok? Or that everyone will be saved, etc etc etc.
No. Too many churches turned soft. The Joel Osteen-types only talk about the feel-good mush with nothing about the hard work or dire consequences for those who do not repent. MacArthur talks about the pragmatic approach too many churches take today. Churches that use attendance as the almighty metric of church health. Is a church really healthier if you’ve perverted or obfuscated the word to attract a few more people? Of course not.
I do believe the pendulum is swinging back though. There are many hard times ahead, and hard times wake people up. And with that reality check people are also realizing they thirst for something deeper and more fulfilling than the superficial nonsense some will spout. The Word does not require sugar coating, or clever marketing ploys, or any of that other nonsense. The Word speaks for itself. The Word, in its pure unadulterated form is what is needed. Sometimes that can be hard to swallow. Sometimes you may wrestle with it. That can be a good thing. Better to wrestle with actual spiritual nourishment than conforming to the world and all its perversions as many do today. And frankly as more go back to Christianity and the Bible you will see a revival in the Churches too. Nobody can honestly say that softening the word has helped at all. Compare it to Islam now. Islam hasn’t exactly softened their message at all and they are growing at a noticeably faster rate.
The West will likely not survive in its current form. The wars that will inevitably come as a result of the immigration and multicultural onslaught of the past few decades will result in a rise of nations and like-minded people living closer together and in the end being stronger for it. Christian nationalist nations will rise. Even though some of our churches are lost are on the down-grade, to use a term coined by Spurgeon, those institutions can be taken back too. All is not lost, so do not be demoralized.