The Laodicean Project- It Continues Corporately

May 23, 2008

“But you are a chosen race,a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light…. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” -1 Peter 2:9,11-12

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” -1 Timothy 3:1-7

Our last post in the Laodicean Project dealt with what I believe the first necessary step in reaching “Christian” societies to be, that being the internal cleansing and living of a life which causes others to glorify God. The second step, though quite similar, is on a much larger level. This step is the step of a corporate cleansing of the Church and a return of the Church to a level of esteem in the society.

Too often today the Church is used as an excuse for not believing the message of the Gospel because, in the world’s eyes, the Church has no special position above anything else in the society. We have dealt with this problem repeatedly on this blog. Most of this has to do with a perceived (or real) hypocrisy in the Church and its’ members or because of overbearing legalisms or because of a weakening in the doctrinal integrity of a congregation. However, in lieu of betting these subjects into the ground I will just give links to those previous discussions.

Instead, what I want to discuss here is the way most of these problems occur, which is in the diluting of the strength of our Christian leadership. Paul in the New Testament lays out for us three times what the qualifications for specific leadership posts are in the church. He discusses the Elder/Pastor qualifications in both 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 and for Deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. Moreover, all of the New Testament authors offer pointers and direction in the way the church should be led.

The problem is, today’s Christian societies continue to move further and further away from these ground rules. One of the most notable examples of this is the rejection of 1 Timothy 2:12, which says “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather she is to remain quiet.” Today it is such common place to “call” female ministers, or at least install female Bible teachers over adult males, that most congregations don’t bat an eye at it, even though this is clearly in opposition to what Paul teaches. To excuse this they often claim that what was written was culturally relevant for then, a time in which women weren’t valued as much as they are now, but that today, since we are much more egalitarian in our behaviors, we are no longer under this restriction. (But note, this argument is inaccurate in its premise since we have already discussed that Christianity has been egalitarian in its teachings since the beginning, and so if this is true then it makes Paul’s instruction not culturally relevant even in the culture he was specifically addressing, which makes absolutely no sense!) We see similar arguments made for every other type of bending being done on the Bible’s instructions for leadership.

So what? What is the big deal about bending the rules a little bit? Well, first, it is disobedience, which is never something we should strive for. Second, if we allow for disobedience and rationalizing away God’s rules at the top then there is no hope for people to respect them further down the totem pole. The Bible says that “not many of [us] should become teachers” since those “who teach will be judged with greater strictness (James 3:1).” This is because, as a teacher and/or leader, you are acting as a miniature shepherd to God’s people, and so if you go astray then many of them are sure to follow, and the Bible speaks pretty harshly about those who lead God’s children astray, as we have discussed before.

Therefore, if we are to reclaim our Christian societies in the name of Christ and see his name and holiness glorified in them again, then we must hold more closely to the Bible’s instructions for appointing Church leaders. This may not be popular, or comfortable even, since sometimes these bad leaders may be people who are very close to us personally, but in order to see a change it must be done. We shouldn’t allow just anyone with “lofty speech or wisdom” to lead our congregations, but should seek to appoint leaders who have “decided to know nothing among [us] except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).” Only once we have seen individually our lives sanctified, and corporately our leadership sanctified, can we hope to begin seeing our society changed from their cold, dead views of Christianity and into a right relationship with Christ.


The Laodicean Project- It Starts with Us

May 16, 2008

“None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem.” -Acts 5:13

“And they glorified God because of me.” -Galatians 1:24

One of the biggest chasms which true Christianity has to cross if it is to reach “Christian” societies is that of hypocrisy. This is a common complaint, one everyone is undoubtedly familiar with, but because of that I think we have become too casual in ignoring it. When faced with a charge of being a hypocrite, most Christians respond back with either two defenses. Either they look at the critics life and say, “Well, here’s something you do that is hypocritical…” or they say “At least I am trying to live the right way.” Neither of these is usually wrong when you say it, but to take Paul out of context, this may be permitted but that doesn’t mean it’s beneficial.

Research shows that upwards 85% of 19-44 year olds view present-day Christianity as hypocritical, so if we were to fold at every person who says they don’t want to be a Christian because Christians are hypocrites then we are not going to accomplish much. However, there is also no reason to fight fire with fire. Instead, I think we would be best served if we took to heart the verses I listed above.

In Acts 5:13 it says “None of the rest dared join them.” That is interesting. The onlooking unbelievers (in this case in Jerusalem) did not dare to join the early Christians. But why? Was it because they were crazy Bible thumping, judgmental, gay bashing religious nuts? No, because as we see “but the people held them in high esteem.” They thought well of the Christians. They saw their lives and the result of their faith in God through their actions towards man and they thought well of them. So then, if they thought that the Christians were generally good people, then why did they not join them? Because the unbelievers were dead in their sins (Ephesians 1:1-3) and refused to turn from “for doing what the Gentiles want to do (1 Peter 4:3).” As Paul says in Romans, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened (1:21).” So, we see that the people did not refuse joining the Christians NOT because they were hypocritical and lived lives indistinguishable from the world, but because the unbelievers did not honor God.

Unfortunately, we can’t usually be found to level the same conviction and condemnation against unbelievers. It would not be commonly said of most people claiming to be Christians today that unbelievers hold them in high esteem. Instead, we allow our indiscretions and lack of self-control to give the condemned an excuse for their unbelief. Not that they have an excuse, but that they can’t be convicted to turn from their ways because we are unable to say as Paul that “they glorified God” because of us. More like it, we are probably guilty of being able to say “they doubted God because of us” or “they cursed God because of us.” When we live our lives in a way that adds offense to the Gospel (which is already offensive enough; 1 Corinthians 1:23) then we distract from the message of the cross and we impair their ability to see the utter depravity and inadequacy of a life lived outside of the Lordship of Christ.

If we are to reach the people of our Christian societies we must first work to sanctify ourselves, to conform our lives to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29), so that our lives will serve as a witness to the transforming power of God’s mercy and love (1 Peter 1:3). If we are to help people see Christ, we must first make sure that we don’t stand in the way, and let it be our prayer that we can live and serve in such a way that people will glorify God because of us!


The Laodicean Project- A God After Man’s Own Heart

May 12, 2008

“Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” -Romans 1:22-23

“And God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.’” -Exodus 20:1-4

“God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us. -Joel Osteen

In a prior post we discussed the first of our detrimental views on God which are causing traditionally Christian societies to become lukewarm (at best!) in their faith, namely the view that God does not exist, or that if he ever did, then now he is dead. In this post we will examine another popular view, and probably the one most prevalent in America, that God exists, but that I am free to determine what he is allowed to do. (Another post about this topic can be found here concerning a quote by Tim Keller).

It doesn’t take much consideration to think of an example of a man-made god that you have seen, either in your own peer group or on TV. It comes out in the form of broad statements about God’s character, such as “I don’t believe in a God that would remain silent when so many people are suffering” or “A loving God would not condemn people for being gay.” Surprisingly (or not) these often seem to arise out of some desire to make God look good, make ourselves look good, or both.

But why do we feel the need to do this? Can’t God do his own PR work? Why are we constantly trying to make him look good when put in the situation of interpreting his position on homosexuality or abortion or putting spinners on our Escalade? Are we really doing God a favor, that people won’t want to worship him anymore unless we tell them that God doesn’t mind them keeping a mistress on the side?

No. Think about it. No. Obviously this very noble motivation is not what’s driving us. Because, “if God is God” then he can do his own image upkeep. Instead, I believe that our own motivation is that we know we are supposed to believe in God but either we don’t or we just don’t believe enough to face the hard truths. Am I saying everything is clear in the Bible? Certainly not. But is the Bible pretty straight-forward about most of the things we try and sweep away? You bet your tush it is!

Speaking on the topic of God’s opinion on homosexuality, Presbyterian teacher Dr. R.C. Sproul said that the issue is not what the Bible teaches, since anyone who is being honest to the text knows that the Bible teaches homosexuality as a sin. No, the issue is whether or not we are going to choose to obey God’s Word! Wow! But you know, that’s really what it is. We know that the Bible teaches against drunkenness, sex outside of marriage, gambling, and assorted other things. That’s not the question. The question is if we “[love] the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God (John 12:43)” ?

So, what is the result of such a practice in our societies? Well, the first thing that we see is that it causes us to create a false god, a created god, which is in clear violation of the Second Commandment. God commands us not to create a carved image or anything in the likeness of the things of heaven. This doesn’t just mean a statue, but also that when we create a god in our minds and then worship it as if it were the God of the Bible, we are violating God’s Law.

Moreover, in creating a god of our own liking, we also create all kinds of distorted theology to defend our belief and try to ingrain our thoughts in popular religion. One such PR job is “Open Theism.” In Open Theism the belief is that God is somehow incapable of knowing the future actions of a human being with free will. In a sense this puts God at the mercy of man as to the control of what happens on the earth, stripping his sovereignty. But, what you lose in God’s sovereignty, you gain in removing his responsibility for acts of tremendous suffering such as 9-11 or the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan.

Another popular (false) teaching is that propagated by the likes of Joel Osteen and TD Jakes, that God wants us to be rich and prosperous, and that those who are connected fully to God will be blessed financially. I guess that means Jesus was a sucky Christian since he had “nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20) and had to pay the temple tax with money from a fishes mouth (Matthew 17:24-27). If he were really in touch with God’s will then he would have a phat mud hut in the hills with the latest in turn-of-the-AD features.

As “Christians” being raised in a “Christian” society, it is important to get the right bearings about God. God is not open to negotiation. If we find ourselves worshiping a god of our own creation we must analyze why this is: either we have gotten off track with our theology and are trying to satisfy men and ourselves at the sake of the truth, or we have never known the truth and so feel free to create whatever we want just to have faith in something. Either reason is unacceptable. Instead, we must return to the God of the Bible, the God revealed in Scripture, the God who reveals himself through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. We can no longer stand for the proliferation of a god after man’s own heart if we are to ever see our Christian nations flee from their lukewarm state.


The Laodicean Project- The Death of Christian Britain

May 9, 2008

I was searching through some blogs today when I came upon this post at AlbertMohler.com. I thought I would post it because it speaks to what we’ve been discussing in The Laodicean Project as it pertains specifically to the spiritual state of Christianity in Britain.

The post, entitled “It Feels as if the Soul of Britain is Dying”, discusses how declining church attendance in Great Britain has led to such drastic lows in Sunday morning communicants that “the number of regular churchgoers will be fewer than those attending mosques within a generation.” Drawing off of a recent article in The Times of London, Mohler uses his blog to awaken a new awareness of the problems which are being faced in a location that most people would not flinch about calling a “Christian nation.” I expect that his radio show this evening will also deal with this topic and I will be sure to add a link to that when and if it does.

I can’t lie. The spiritual anemia being faced by Christianity in Britain weighs heavy on my heart. The Lord has really burdened me for those people and planted in me a desire to see revival brought to a nation which once figured so prominently in the growth of the Church. Beyond this, I think that the issues we see coming up in England bear witness to what we can expect over the next 20-40 years in America.

The lukewarm nature of Christianity in places that used to be bastions of Christian influence is a tragedy that I think we are being too slow to awaken to. It is vitally important, for the sake of the souls of the millions of people which inhabit these countries, to open the eyes of their citizens and call them to repentance and a renewing of their minds and hearts before it is to late and Christ spits us out of his mouth and removes our candle.


The Laodicean Project- God is Dead

May 6, 2008

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” -Revelation 22:13

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” -Hebrews 13:8

God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?” -Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science

When analyzing Christian societies, attempting to see why they have gotten off track, I believe that one important aspect to look at is how they view God. If we are to understand what the problem is then it only seems appropriate to start at the top, and there is certainly nothing higher than God. In looking at this, interacting with the culture of America and reading about the cultures of other nations we are considering, I feel that there are two views of God which have become prevalent, and as a result have led to the lukewarm nature of Christianity in these places. In our Christian societies we are increasingly viewing God in two detrimental ways: either God is subjective and open to our human interpretation as to what his character is or he is dead. In this post I shall look at the God is dead side and in the next post we will deal with the subjective God.

Friedrich Nietzsche declared for the first time in his work The Gay Science that “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.” His meaning of this was that the human reason had become so well-developed that it was no longer possible for a rational man to have belief in God. He then went on to argue that because of this we could also no longer accept the Christian moralities as being objective, absolute truths for human behavior. Eighty years later, Nietzsche’s brash statement entered into the pop culture of the 1960′s, culminating in it making the cover of the April 8, 1966 issue of Time magazine. Of course, this was highly controversial and has since become a piece of pop culture lore, but the question still remains, “Is God dead?” I believe in America the answer is “No,” but to the people of a once thriving Christian Europe the answer is a resounding “Yes.”

In the wake of the two world wars, conflicts which ravaged much of the European continent, Christianity began to increase among the peoples who had made it through. However, in the early 1960′s a cultural revolution took place. To people who had seen the atrocities of war, the senseless bombing of cities night after night in England, the unthinkable purging of whole people groups attempted by Nazi Germany, and now the rise of terror and oppression under the reign of communism, the staid comforts of religious traditions were no longer enough to comfort them. Though they claimed faith and celebrated the rites of the Christian church, the depth of many peoples belief was betrayed as all of a sudden the culture underwent radical change. Sexual liberation, recreational drug use, and destruction of traditional family values provided them with the worldly happiness which they expected God should bring, and as a result God was killed. Belief was no longer important because armed with the new found joys of drugs, sex and rock’n'roll, men and women were able to provide for themselves all the satisfaction they sought.

This thought continues today. I think this is why, as we explored earlier, there is such a large percentage of the population in these countries which claim Atheism as their religion. The people of Europe struggled for the better part of 50 years with war and death throughout their continent, asking all the while “Where is God?”, and when in the end they had relief they decided that they were no longer going to rely on God to take care of them.

Now, after 40 years of liberalization in Europe, a new threat is arising. Muslim immigrants, fully devoted in faith to Allah, are moving in and taking over a lot of these countries in which God has been pronounced dead, and the people, made apathetic through their lack of faith, are unsure how to react. It is clear that the “absence of God” is now threatening any possibility of God ever being resurrected among these people. Not to mention the fact that those who are either actively or passively declaring God to be dead are dying themselves, and being dying in unbelief are being condemned to Hell.

God is not dead! This is the message that we must proclaim in Europe and in those parts of all the Christian societies where people have decided that they are too intelligent or too self-sufficient to believe that Jesus is alive and seated at the right-hand of the Father in Heaven forever. We must proclaim an eternal God, a God who is there even in the troubles, and that though there is a way that seems right to man, it only results in pain and suffering in Hell (Proverbs 14:12). Jesus is alive, for it is not possible for death to hold him (Acts 2:24), and as he declares in Revelation, he is the beginning AND the end. We must go and preach this to the people (Romans 10:14-15) so that though they once thought he was dead they may be made to believe that Jesus has been raised from the grave (Romans 10:9) and that one day he will return to take away all our tears (Acts 1:11, Revelation 21:4).


The Laodicean Project- Do We Have More Faith than the Demons?

May 5, 2008

“And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are— the Holy One of God.”… Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.” -Luke 4:33-34,40-41

“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” -James 2:19

One of the great works we see in Jesus’ ministry is his authority to cast out demons. As the witnesses said in Luke 4:36, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” Yet, when we look carefully at the actual accounts of his dealing with the demons we see something very interesting. At various times when Jesus is casting out the demons he also has to silence them (“he…would not allow them to speak”, Luke 4:41). But why? Because they would reveal that he was the Christ! (Mark 3:12, Luke 4:41) We see that the demons know Christ. They believe that he is the Son of God, the Christ. But, this knowledge and belief does them no good. They are still demons because they do not have a saving faith in Christ.

I believe that this can speak volumes to where we stand today in many of the Christian societies. We call ourselves Christian, invoke Christ’s name in our everyday lives, and maybe even have the power to tell other people about him. Yet for some reason people aren’t attending church, they aren’t staying married or waiting until they’re married to begin living with their girlfriend. They aren’t drinking and driving or gossiping any less. Why is this? To me it seems the question comes down to this: People will say and believe that Jesus is the Christ and yet one may wonder, is their faith like the apostles or like the demons?


The Laodicean Project- How Did it Get Like This?

May 2, 2008

“You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?” -Galatians 5:7

In today’s post I want to call us to reflection on trying to figure out, now that we see there truly is a problem, where exactly this problem came from? As Paul was saying to the Galatians, “When I left you were doing everything correctly but now you’re not. What happened in between to lead you astray?” We must look long and hard to figure out, in the context of each individual society, what it was that took us away from the path we were supposed to run.

In a future post I will list some opinions that writers on the subject have offered as to the cause of this lukewarmness, but I believe that it is important for us to first evaluate the issue ourselves. We once were running so well, but now we’re not. What happened?


The Laodicean Project- Fighting Atheism

May 2, 2008

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” -Romans 1:18-23

“Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” -Richard Dawkins

“The kindly God who lovingly fashioned each and every one of us and sprinkled the sky with shining stars for our delight — that God is, like Santa Claus, a myth of childhood, not anything a sane, undeluded adult could literally believe in. That God must either be turned into a symbol for something less concrete or abandoned altogether.” -Daniel Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, p.18

The second major issue which I think we have to address when looking at the cause of lukewarmness in our traditionally Christian societies is the rise in popular “belief” in Atheism. By definition, atheism is the rejection of belief in God or gods, or to state positively, is the belief in the nonexistence of God or gods. Today atheism is commonly associated with the study of science, particularly evolution, however this is neither a necessary or sufficient condition for holding this belief. As we have seen in the number recited in an earlier post, traditionally strong forces for Christianity in Europe such as Britain, France, and Germany, are turning more and more to atheistic beliefs as a world view. Though the numbers are not quite as high in America, I think this is something that we should consider an up-and-coming problem here as well.

One interesting point of atheism is the fact that, even though it seems like such a trite thing, people didn’t specifically begin formulating atheism as a belief system until 16th century France. And even then, the true explosion of atheism onto the scene as a recognizable belief wasn’t until the modern period of the 18th and 19th centuries. Truly, the formulation of atheism was the result, not of man being to blind to see a god in the universe, but instead it resulted from man exalting himself (and more precisely, his intellect) as god. Atheism reached a major watermark when it was advanced by Karl Marx in The Communist Manifesto. Amazingly, all of this coincides well with the words of Paul in Romans 1: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” Here we see man, thinking himself wise, exchanging the glory of God for the exaltation of the modern man and his powers of reason and science. Wow!

Now, in the 21st century, atheism is taken in a lot of places as the rule and not the exception. In America we are being confronted with an increasingly atheistic society, with the removal of God being pursued in all areas of public life. In the bookstores, books by prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel C. Dennett, and Sam Harris are sitting upfront and perennially rank among the top nonfiction titles. Atheism has truly moved out of the darkness and scandal of the French salons and has become an acceptable way of thinking throughout Western society.

As Christians seeking to awaken the faith in these Christian countries we must acknowledge the threat posed by atheism. In the consumer driven lifestyle of most Westerners, once an item is able to make its way into the pop-culture then it is able to win over disciples and stake its claim as a legitimate option to buy into. This is what atheism has done. It has pushed in through popular literature and with the sweeping current of educational reform and has established itself as the only intelligent choice. Above we see Dennett saying that atheism is the only thing a “sane” individual could accept, and Dawkins accuses those who claim faith in something as being intellectually dishonest, using a “cop-out” from actually thinking critically. The message is clear: only the mentally inadequate have faith in a god; the truly enlightened know that science has all of the answers and man can access them on his own. As such, Christianity becomes a mentally inferior way of life.

In order to effectively revive faith in our traditionally Christian societies, in order to carry out the Laodicean Project, we must be able to confront atheism, defend Christianity, and demonstrate the existence and character of God. A good resource for this is a series of lectures which R. Albert Mohler recently gave at Dallas Theological Seminary. I have placed the link below and encourage anyone interested in or currently dealing with the challenge of atheism to give it a listen and see just exactly what it is we’re up against.

God exists, and deep down inside, every man has been gifted with the knowledge of this by Him. Because of this we are all “without excuse” when faced with God’s wrath, no matter how much we deny it is true!

R. Albert Mohler- “The New Atheism”


The Laodicean Project- Fighting Nominal Christianity

April 29, 2008

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” -Matthew 7:21-23

“They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.” -Malachi 3:17-18

Probably my biggest pet peeve in all of Christianity is the prevalence of those today who claim Christ in word and yet not in action. It sends chills down my spine every time I see a rapper or actor accept an award for producing a piece which glorifies all the finer points of depravity and the first thing they do is thank the God who gave them their ability or Jesus Christ their personal savior. Not to say that these people aren’t Christians, but by evaluating these people based upon their fruits (which, if they are believers is perfectly acceptable, see 1 Corinthians 5:9-13) I would not be too quick to call them brothers.

This is the root essence of nominal Christianity. The person who checks the Christian box every time and yet they can’t remember the last time they went to church when it wasn’t Easter or Christmas. The person who observes Lent or refuses to drink an alcoholic beverage, and yet they have no boundaries when it comes to sexual relationships or language. We all know these people, and present company included, we may have been or currently are these people. When, as I commented in the previous post, there are 95 million American young adults, 60 million of which would describe themselves as Christian, and yet only 3 million of them actually believe such things as “Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth” or “God [is] the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today,” it seems clear that a large percentage of Americans aren’t really all that concerned with what being a Christian means as long as it is something they can just say that they are.

So, is this such a big deal? Certainly. For one, it is a big deal for the people who would be termed “nominal Christians.” If they are just going through the motions then what a terrible thing it would be for them to stand before the Lord on the day of judgment saying “Lord, Lord” just to be turned away. Maybe they never really heard the Gospel. Maybe we took for granted that just because it was being preached in buildings throughout the country, on TV and on radio, that at some point this person had heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Of course, not to be crass, but we all know what happens when we assume… This is why it is important to reach out and perform true Gospel preaching ministry in the midst of our “Christian” societies. For someone to live their life with a false hope of inheriting the faith of their parents or community is unacceptable with the various outlets available for Christian outreach, but unfortunately I feel it is a reality that is all too real in Western culture these days. This needs to change.

The second reason this is a big deal is because it dilutes the ability which the church has to be effective in the culture. When the world outside judges the church based on the overwhelming numbers of nominal Christians they encounter it does a great disservice to the true heart of Christian ministry. When the world is able to construct polling data which shows “Christians” as being no different than “non-Christians” on moral issues such as divorce, homosexuality or abortion, it turns into an indictment on the inadequacy of Christianity instead of being shown for what it truly is, that being an indictment on the terrifying number of nominal Christians around us. The Barna Group even admits in their research that when the same moral issues are analyzed against the smaller percentage of respondents who espouse a biblical worldview, then the gulf between the world and Christianity becomes very apparent. Therefore, if we could either ignite or alienate those nominal Christians in our congregations and throughout the “Christian” societies, moving them either into broken or hardened hearts, then we should have no problem illustrating the radical difference that a biblical conversion has on the heart of those who believe and confess Jesus as Lord.

Then the last question remains: just how do we fight the insurgence of nominal Christianity? The most effective way I believe is to simply preach the Gospel, focusing on “Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2)” and not just assume that everybody already understands what happened and why it had to be that way. Also, to live our lives as an example of not only Gospel preaching but Gospel love, a sacrificial love which reaches out to others in kindness and not judgment, will make a difference in manifesting the true character of God and the revolutionary effect he has had on us. We need to remember that we are called to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13,14) and as such our lives of ministry should be nothing like those of the world, but instead should be found “to be conformed to the image of [Jesus]” (Romans 8:29) so that the world “may see [our] good deeds and glorify God (1 Peter 2:12).”

Nominal Christianity is a major problem in America, England, and other traditionally Christian societies around the globe. It’s dark shadow has hampered the effectiveness of the Gospel light both to ourselves and our neighbors. Therefore, in order to change the lukewarm nature of these cultures and save them from becoming a biblical loogie we must act in a way as to polarize those just checking the box and remove the pervasiveness of nominal Christianity from our religious atmosphere.