In a previous post (Sept 10 – “When Did We Lose It? And, How Do We Find it Again?”), I lamented the prevalence of a “low view” of God which plagues the Church and local churches today. I asked two questions as indicated by the title of the post. I’d like to begin to explore the answer to the first question, “When Did We Lose It?”; “it” being a “high view” of God.
In the early decades of the 20th Century there was a movement at work in this nation which fundamentally changed the social, economic, political and religious landscape. The movement was progressivism. A thought cancer spread into the Church with the result being that the church began to move away from its missionary zeal in “snatching sinners from hell’s fires” and moving instead toward an organization oriented toward reform and the improvement of what currently existed. Mankind was no longer a race of sinners in need of salvation … it was a society that merely needed encouragement toward self-realization and improvement. The watchword of Redemption was replaced with mantra of “Reform”! This subtle elevation of a man’s station was necessarily reciprocated with a corresponding lowering of our regard for God and for His Word. One cannot take the progressive position without denying the authority of God and His Word. One cannot take the progressive position as it regards the solution to society’s failings without rejecting the biblical view of man and his sin. One cannot take the progressive view of man as able to “pull himself up by his bootstraps with a little help from his friends” without contradicting the biblical view of God as being the only one who can remedy man’s dilemma through the work of the Savior on the cross of Calvary.
Once the seed of progressive thought sends its root tendrils throughout a society, it will not be long before the plant flourishes and overgrows the “old paths”, obscuring them entirely. Very quickly the One True God, Holy and Just will be relegated to the shelf as a relic from a more superstitious period of time in the saga of Man’s development of His full potential. The blooms which adorn such a plant will be varied but perhaps the one with the sweetest fragrance is that of “self-exaltation”.
We have known for a long time that religion has been laced with a heavy dose of self-centered focus. Unfortunately the same can be said of Christianity to an ever increasing degree. People today are not interested in the spiritual dimension of life because of the opportunities it affords to serve and glorify the Creator. They are increasingly interested in the spiritual dimension of life because of what they can get out of it … what a “God connection” can do for them, and for their family.
Another bloom adorning the plant of progressivism is a downgrading, or a “dumbing down” of doctrine and an emphasis on simply “loving one another and loving Jesus.” People are constructing their spiritual life on a foundation of feeling and experience and not on truth. Some will even proudly proclaim their disinterest in “doctrine” in favor of less rigorous pursuits which result in good feeling and warm fuzzies.
The pernicious deception of such thinking is found in the fact that biblical Christianity cannot be divorced from doctrine. The very process of sanctification involves learning more about God (theology) and His requirements upon our lives (doctrine) so that we can become more conformed to His image. Theology/Doctrine must inform our actions or our lives will follow a course that will lead us far astray from the path of righteousness and blessing. In that state, the last thing we will want is a Holy God who has Holy standards of living that He requires. We’d much rather placate ourselves with a God who is a benign beneficent one like our kindly grandfather and who doesn’t mind being ignored or relegated to the status of “relic” while we indulge our appetites in an orgy of self-love, self satisfaction, self promotion, self improvement and ultimately …self-destruction.
What do you think? I’d be interested in your insights and opinions. How do you see these things being manifested in the church today?