Do you ever get in a situation where you are wondering whether to confront a false teaching or just to let it go for the sake of peace? I find myself in that situation a lot. Evangelical theology is terrible. Even what’s good is tradition-based and not Scripture-based. Evangelicals claim the Bible as their “sole rule of faith and practice,” but the reality is that they ignore or explain away dozens of verses, maybe hundreds.
Hmm. Maybe that should be my next experiment, after or along with the daily passage on good works I’m doing.
On the other hand, if you want to find people who are devoted to following Jesus, people who actually obey him, many even in radical ways, among the Evangelicals is the most fruitful place to look. (The rest of you can get as angry as you want. I’d prefer you would get jealous, rather than angry, but either way it’s just true.)
Evangelicals have no place to get haughty. There’s a very convicting book devoted to the failure of the Evangelical Gospel. It’s called The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience. You can get it just about anywhere; I’m certain it’s on Amazon. The statistics given by Ronald Sider in that book are backed up on a regular basis by The Barna Group. George Barna is a famous Christian pollster, and I’m sure he’d like to be just a pollster, reporting the wonderful success of Evangelical teachings, rather than the controversial figure he has become for reporting the frightening truth about divorce, abortion, ignorance, and unbelief among “Christians” in America.
Charles E Hackett, the national director of the Division of Home Missions of the Assemblies of God, once said:
A soul at the altar does not generate much excitement in some circles because we realize approximately ninety-five out of every hundred will not become integrated into the church. In fact, most of them will not return for a second visit. (Kirk Cameron & Ray Comfort; The Way of the Master [Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2004] p. 61)
As Ray Comfort points out is his book, Hell’s Best Kept Secret, it doesn’t do us much good to cite the 5% who are really converted when we are creating 19 backsliders for every convert we produce. Can we really compare those kind of results to Paul’s?
For I am confident that he who has begun a good work in you will continue it until the day of King Jesus (Php. 1:6)
It is true that there were problems even in Paul’s churches, but what church today could tell its whole congregation that it is confident that God will continue the good work he has begun until the day of Christ Jesus? The fact is, George Barna tells us that 60% of all professing Christians admit that they are either backsliding or stagnant in their Christian faith. They are not growing towards being presented blameless and holy in the Lord’s sight on the last day.
I have spent the last 18 years in a congregation where we could be confident that God was continuing the work in every person. We could promise people that if they would stay, the grace of God would work on them and conform them to the image of Jesus Christ.
That congregation still exists and consists of around 150 people because we’ve got around 50 in various states and countries teaching people not only the power of God that comes through the proclamation of the name of the King, Jesus the Lord, but also teaching them the power of the church, its unity, and God’s love for it.
I know there’s something better.
It’s hard to avoid taking every opportunity possible to say something to shut down the machinery of tradition that grinds up 95% of those who make a profession of faith and leaves 60% of the survivors struggling just to keep their head above water.
It’s just as hard to say something that angers the 2% of the professing ones that are left, who think they are growing and in most cases are, and who are reaching out to those that struggle. They think their way worked for them, so it should work as well for all these others. Sometimes it does.
But it’s just not what the apostles gave to the church.
So I just keep walking the line.Why did I say all this? Because tomorrow’s post is a discussion of a statement I found on a zealous young lady’s blog, citing a tradition almost all us Evangelicals take for granted. Thought through, the tradition is horrific—in my opinion, if we understood what we were saying, blasphemous. For many of those struggling, whom I mention above, it breaks their will, steals their fear of God, and cripples them in the battle against the devil, who by means of his demons, seeks to devour both us and them.
- Justification by Faith Alone is Still the Issue (patheos.com)