What’s Happening in the Church?
In an effort to bring more people into the church, many churches have replaced sound biblical teaching with user-friendly messages. Large segments of the church today, though thankfully not all, are failing to faithfully teach the word of God and discipling their people. As a result, there has been a massive decline in congregational understanding of vital doctrine and even a misunderstanding of the very gospel itself.
When the 2022 State of Theology Report came out last year, the results were far less than encouraging. For example:
– 43% of US Evangelicals agreed with Statement No. 4: “God learns and adapts to different circumstances.” In other words, for nearly half of US Evangelicals, God it not omniscient or all-knowing.
– 53%, over half of US Evangelicals, agree with Statement No. 16: “The Bible, like all sacred writings, contains helpful accounts of ancient myths but is not literally true.”
– 42% of US Evangelicals agree with Statement No. 27: “Gender identity is a matter of choice.”
– 46% of US Evangelicals agree with Statement No. 28: “The Bible’s condemnation of homosexual behavior doesn’t apply today.”
– 56% of US Evangelicals agree with Statement No. 3: “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.” (the heretical view called perennialism)
– 43% of US Evangelicals agree with Statement No. 7: “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.”
I suppose we at MCOI should have been surprised by these distressing figures, but we were not. Saddened but not surprised. The reason is fairly simple – in an effort to bring more people into the church, many churches have replaced sound biblical teaching with user-friendly messages. Large segments of the church today, though thankfully not all, are failing to faithfully teach the word of God and discipling their people. As a result, there has been a massive decline in congregational understanding of vital doctrine and even a misunderstanding of the very gospel itself.
Even for churches that are stalwartly teaching the Word of God, it is difficult for pastors and elders to protect their flock. The reason may be the easy access to books (even those sold by so-called “Christian” bookstores and sources) and high-sounding ideas that present an altered view of what Christianity should be and what the true gospel is. These alternative teachings may not deny the faith outright and even may use the name of Christ and sound “Christian” – while presenting “another Jesus” and “another gospel” altogether. “New” ideas can be very gratifying to the old nature still lurking in us. We have been culturally flattered with the idea that we can “trust our gut,” but in reality, our human gut can only be truly trusted to act up at the most inopportune times. Your gut does not know what is true – it’s just a gut – but the real truth is readily available to us in scripture. We need to believe the true thing, not the new thing.
Proverbs 14:12 reads:
There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
People also fall prey to popular culture, which is decidedly opposed to Christian beliefs and ideals. Most people develop their worldview through osmosis, often not paying close attention to what is being “taught” through popular music, movies, television, and best-selling books. People then often bring these unfiltered and unchallenged thoughts and ideas into the gathering of believers – perhaps without the knowledge of the Pastor and elders – and infect others. It’s like the spread of a virus, and it must be effectively treated before it reaches critical mass and sinks the Bismarck. Since youth are especially susceptible to cultural messages and peer pressure and are being heavily propagandized against the faith in public schools, we are losing the young. We must not lose the next generation to seductive lies. The “new thing” often sounds right and may even be partially true but leads to false conclusions and beliefs.
George Orwell, the author of 1984 and Animal Farm, made an interesting observation on the nature of deception.
All propaganda is a lie, even when it’s telling the truth.
Unless there is a deliberate ongoing Church emphasis on combating the messages of the culture and giving sound refutation to its unbiblical ideas, the downward slide of the church will continue. This trend will persist and perhaps accelerate exponentially if we do not take steps to counter the erroneous ideas the young are being heavily indoctrinated with.
None of this is new. As we read the Hebrew Scriptures, we find a constant thread of God condemning false prophets, correcting false teaching, and calling out bad behavior in His people, Israel. Nearly all of the New Testament letters were written to correct bad behavior and warn the church about false prophets, false teachers, and false teaching.