Written by Bruce A. Little |
Monday, November 14, 2022
This is where accommodation leads; start down the path of cultural relevancy and one will soon be entangled by an accommodation to the spirit of the age. In addition, it leads to a most catastrophic move by evangelicals to reimagine Christianity which follow a weakened view of Scripture. In the end, not only is the Christian witness compromised, but the true nature of the Christian calling is lost as it is not by might nor by power, but by God’s Spirit (Zech 4:6). The sacred is camouflaged so the world will not be offended as evangelicals accommodate the spirit of the age.
Francis Schaeffer in his concluding remarks of chapter one of the Great Evangelical Disaster, wrote: “Here is the great evangelical disaster—the failure of the evangelical world to stand for truth as truth. There is only one word for this—namely accommodation: the evangelical has accommodated to the world spirit of the age.” He goes on to say, “and let us understand that to accommodate to the world spirit about us in our age is nothing less than the most gross form of worldliness in the proper definition of that word.”
Accommodation was a logical conclusion of the growing evangelical commitment to sounding culturally relevant, which in time morphed into acting like the world while trying to maintain a moral difference. In the end this has proven neither to impress the world, nor maintain the moral distinction.
Furthermore, most evangelicals have little or no understanding of the philosophical scaffolding supporting the cultural response to which they attach themselves. Schaeffer calls accommodation the grossest form of worldliness. There was a time when worldliness (a word we seldom hear in sermons anymore) was when Christians engaged in activity such as playing cards, going to dances or to the cinema and so forth. If you did these things, you would be considered a worldly Christian thus confusing the distinction between Christianity and the world. The thought was by condemning such activity would keep the world out of the church. This was called legalism. Good intentions, just ineffective and wrong.
In fact, this thinking committed two mistakes. One: thinking that such activity was the main threat from the world against Christianity. Two: thinking that avoiding certain questionable activity would make a Christian spiritual. However, the real threat of worldliness is thinking according to the spirit of the age. This was Schaeffer’s understanding of worldliness, and it is why he called accommodation the “most gross form of worldliness”.
He meant that evangelicals had brought the world into the church by their worldly thinking which came about because of a weakened view of Scripture and a softening on moral issues of the day. A little later, in the same chapter, Schaeffer noted that all of this led to some evangelicals (some in his day, but many more in our day) “to talk about a wider, richer Christianity and to become more deeply involved in culture, but at the same time to accommodate to the world spirit about us [evangelicals] at each crucial point.”