I wonder just how far a diversion in religion must go before it is labeled a new religion. Today, Christianity is not Chrsitianity. You've got two different religions trying to live under the same roof. Two different religions trying to carry the same title. No wonder everyone's so confused! Are you a Christian or a Christian? One Christian says this and another says this. Yet you are both Christians? I don't get it.
It's not right that in order for someone to be certain they are worshipping with and being taught by true Christians they must undergo extensive theological studying and deep cautious criticism. This is not for everyone. Not everyone is meant to be a Paul. It is not right that a new Christian can never be certain if he is spending time with Christians or Christians. This modern version of Christianity needs a new name, and I'm not being sarcastic here.
Bryce discusses this in a recent post. Albert Mohler apparently dubs the new wave Christianity "Christian Moralistic Therapeutic Deism." Read Bryce's post for more on what this new title means.
It's not just this. It's not just the run-of-the-mill-"I'm-a-Christian-but-I-don't-think-it's-necessary-to-live-my-life-like-a-religious-zealot-or-fundamentalist"s that I'm talking about here. I'm including all sorts of people who have completely turned their backs on traditional orthodoxy in exchange for something "new" and "mysterious" and "exciting" and "fresh" and "lots of other hip words". Christians that are actually in the church, actually doing the things that Christ calls us to do, are pushing the edges of heresy. Can a true Christian, of the Peter and Paul sort, say things like, "He can hold onto his blessed Bible. I'll hold onto Christ"? How is it that the Bible is becoming separated from Christ and is being made as less than the only precise revelation from God we have or will ever have received?
This new Christianity is being propogated by both self-seeking men and innocent men alike. The innocent are simply trying to find a religion that is real-but they are looking in all the wrong places. The only place to look is Christ- and the only place Christ is originally found is in God's Word. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." These new Christians are looking for a faith that cometh by experience, and experience by whatever means it may come. They may call it the Holy Spirit- but the Mormons claim that their beliefs come from the Holy Spirit as well. How can we truly know what the Holy Spirit is saying if we do not test all things by the Word of God, i.e. the Bible?
Tommy Tenney is one of these faith-by-experience chaps. In his book The God Chasers he tells us that he'll take experience over something like "the dusty pages of an ancient book" (paraphrase mine, though not far off--if you know the exact quote, please post it.) This is not the same religion that Paul preached! It is preaching Christ crucified, yes, that is the only similarity. Mormonism and many other religions will go as far as that, but if everything else in their belief system is far from Biblical, how can they be Christian?
The Message, a paraphrase of the Bible written by Eugene Patterson, propogates this new Christianity. He never blatantly shouts, "I believe something different than traditional Christianity!" but he sure proves it in his paraphrase. The gospel, which is proclaimed by our early church forefathers, including Paul, is offensive. So how is it that The Message can be such an easy read and so self-satisfying and so simplistic that I could take it on my summer holiday to Barbados and read it on the beach while sipping a cocktail? It's because this new form of Christianity is not offensive. Homosexuality is permissable, as long as it is monogamous and loving. The long list of damning sins all throughout the New Testament gets turned into a simple exhortion to be good. The Jesus who never compromised the truth and said incredibly harsh things to religious leaders is painted as helpless and weak, but sweet and pitiable. You almost want to pat his head.
How is this the same Christianity that formed the Church? With this new Christianity about, you are given the new benefit of the doubt. Maybe when you say you're a Christian, you're one of these rational ones who understand that religion isn't about rules and doctrine and sending people to hell. Maybe you realize that God loves everyone and will only send the Satan worshippers where they belong. Maybe you're a rational Christian and don't believe the Bible is the end all, be all of life. Let's hope so!
Therefore, if you are not one of these rational Christians, you're a bigot, an asshole, a facist, one not worthy of the heaven you think you will go to.
Are you confused? Do you wonder what kind of Christian we are?
We are the kind that believe Jesus came to die on the cross because we are all desperately wicked, every last one of us, and without his sacrifice we would all receive our just punishment in hell. We are the kind that believe Jesus does not save all mankind, but only the elect, and the elect only come to Jesus by a faith given us by the undeserved grace of Jesus Christ. This means we are not the rational kind who believe all good people go to heaven. This means that we are the "bad" kind, the traditional, Biblical kind. We believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and the inspiration of Scripture through the Holy Spirit. We believe all things must be tested against Scripture and if something clashes with Scripture, we will side with Scripture.
I suppose what upsets me the most is that the other side will never take on a new name other than Christian, so the confusion may never end. Innocent men will be lured into the trap of universalism, humanism, and who knows what else. Yet I am encouraged knowing the God's Truth will remain, no matter what comes against it, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. The Bible will be preserved, even though errant and not-inspired versions will come against it, and God will forever be glorified regardless of what we humans do. Man may attempt to turn Christianity inward and make it all about us, but the Truth will never change. True Biblical Christianity has never been about us and never will be. It has always been and will always be about Christ, and the only reason we are even pulled into the equation is because of the immense, undeserved love and grace of God.