My, how things change. I did not grow up in the Bible-belt--so back then, when people became a part of any kind of Evangelical, Pentecostal, Fundamentalist, or Holiness church, regardless of the variety, they were in the minority, and their lifestyle stood out. While they may not have been shunned or isolated, they were different from secular people in several predictable ways. Outside the mainstream, liberal, "anything-goes" denominations (many of which were basically religious social clubs in my northwestern Illinois up-bringing), when people pursued serious Christianity, some things were simply considered part of the package.
First of all, embracing Christianity meant there was going to be a lifestyle change. While standards differed from church to church, some things were just considered a normal part of a Christian life. Preachers weren't afraid to take a stand against habits, behaviors, and lifestyle choices that were either condemned outright by the Bible, or that led to things that were. If something was destructive to the family, to society, or even to one's own body (which was considered sanctified, as the temple of the Holy Ghost), then it had no place in a Christian life. Even if someone had no personal conviction against one or two of those things, being part of a church meant not wanting to put a stumbling block before a brother who may have been weaker in some area--and therefore certain habits would be a danger to him. All of that to say this---WHAT HAPPENED TO GOOD OLD-FASHIONED CHRISTIAN LIVING?
Furthermore, being a believer used to mean BELIEVING (what a concept, huh?) And that meant accepting God's word as it is written--regardless of society's trends, or "the oppositions of science, falsely so-called" as Pauls so aptly said to Timothy. Preachers didn't change their teachings or question the Bible over every new strain of political correctness---if they knew it was right according to the Bible, then they could have cared less what some professor at some elite university said or what the latest trend in psycho-babble was on an issue.
What I have seen in recent years literally flabbergasts me. People who still call themselves Evangelical/Pentecostal/Fundamentalist/Holiness (choose whatever epithet suits you--you get the idea) now live, talk, act, and even think like those in the secular world, and now resemble the dead mainstream, liberal churches that were so prevalent as I was growing up. They'll say "I'm born again", but their life does not change. They'll say they're converted, but then they'll try to get as close to the secular world as possible--nevermind the verse that says "come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you".
Of course, for me to even notice all of this makes me "hateful", "judgmental", "self-righteous"...all that---whatever. There IS this trend towards secularization and watering-down of lifestyle AND doctrine in the church world, whether people think we're supposed to notice or not. Attacking those who see that the emperor has no clothes on does not the emperor clothe. It's not a matter of being hateful or condemning to want others to know the joy, faith, peace, and abundant life that comes from sanctified living...and you just can't put new wine into old bottles.
I agree with you. Today so much of Christianity has been watered down so as not to offend anyone. Especially in the mega churches that preach so much "prosperity gospel".
Something that American Christians have a hard time these days with is REPENTANCE. You hear all the feel good messages but nothing about repentance. You need a good balance of love and forgiveness as well as fire and brimstone preaching.
I feel very blessed that our congregation still stands for New Testament Christianity. You walk the walk. Christianity is not just going to church on Sundays. It is a lifestyle. A commitment to live for Jesus Christ every day and follow His word. Loving the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself.
Anyone can say they are a Christian. People see it in the way you live. They should not see you, they should see Christ. If someone claims to be a Christian but their life is lived no differently than those in the world how is that going to appeal to someone who is outside of Christ? We are called to live in the world but not be of the world (John 15:9 and 17:14). We should be exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit as indicated in Galatians 5:22. Jesus said if we love Him we will obey Him (John 14:15). Friendship with the world is hatred towards God (James 4:4). If you have obeyed the Gospel you are a new creation and are no longer controlled by sin (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Todd, it is a shame when you discuss sin in today's society you are immediately attacked as being intolerant, a hatemonger and a bigot. We need to remember how Jesus was treated and what he went through for us. Stand up for what is right. Be strong and courageous and do not be afraid. (Joshua 1:9).
It's not a matter of being hateful or condemning to want others to know the joy, faith, peace, and abundant life that comes from sanctified living
All depends on how you go about telling them.
That whole matter of attracting more flies with honey than vinegar. Yes, if you truly believe, there should probably be lifestyle changes, but you don't win people over to your beliefs by berating, ostracizing, shunning, shaming, etc. Hard to convince people your central message is love, when the rhetoric is hate.
By all means - live your life and your belief by the standards you set (or you believe the bible sets) - but realize others may disagree on your interpretation, or simply have been able to quite get there yet. Give them time. Give them love. They'll be judged by their own passage through life, not by you.
You are right Todd - if Christians truly believed the Evangelical/Pentecostal/ Fundamentalist /Holiness Gospel - their lives would change. I think an ever growing number of Christians have come to a place mentally and emotionally where they are not willing any longer to check their reason\logic\brains at the chapel door. They have also gotten a belly full of the hypocrisy of the so many proponents of "sanctified living" that fall so very short themselves repeatedly but make such sport out of picking the speck out of our brother's eye. What if you could never say anything about your brother and sisters and could only be concerned with your personal walk with God and your own conduct. Not what you think or feel -- but your actions -what you say - It would be more of a revelation than you will get from reading whatever translation of the bible you favor.
Todd, Thanks for this post, I have been wondering if I was alone in feeling the exact same way! You are 100% right on every point! I used to know what it meant to be an Evangelical but that label has all but lost it's meaning according to the way some people who should know better are using it today. On issues of faith and practice where the Word of God is clear there is no excuse for people trying to "reinterpret" it or "be more accepting"! Sin is sin no matter what other names people try to make up for it. We really do need to pray that the Holy Spirit will renew the Church and restore a love and respect for the Word and the Gospel.
I guess some of it depends. My pastors church as a kid did not allow roller skating, playing cards, the church I am at now had a school and did not allow dancing up until a few years back. They also had a thing that the teaches had to sign to not have any alcohol at all.
Now of course mind altering drugs like coffee (caffeine), 'body temple' destroying doughnuts in Sunday school classes, judging those who did not wear a suit and tie to church....these things were perfectly OK.
Now Jesus never said anything about doughnuts, card playing, alcohol in moderation, dancing or many other things that man has added to a list of do and not do's.
Sin is sin, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit being the only unpardonable one and Idolatry being the #1 in the 10 commandments. We ALL sin, if you say you don't, you are lying and sinning...and as Jesus shows on the sermon on the mount, that sin takes place in the heart well before the action. But there are many actions that have nothing to do with sin and have nothing to do with causing another to fall into sin except in the most legalistic of all interpretations. We all need to repent, many times a day, and I will never say that true sin is OK in any way, but I also don't need to be the sin police, the Holy Spirit does that job better than I can as He knows the heart.
Predictably conservative rant is predictable, conservative.
Predictably liberal response follows suit.
Yeah but sitting around pointing fingers at society and screeching out its sinfulness isn't advancing Christianity. It isn't even advancing the narrow vision of Christianity that the screechers hold. Maybe it's squeezing a few more ducats out of the pockets of like-minded people. I hope so, because attitudes like the OP aren't accomplishing anything; and if nothing else some old, narrow-minded people might as well profit from stirring up the emotions of fools who would give their money to such endeavors.
Or maybe I should be happy that conservatives bleat on in the manner of the OP. It is the swan song of a beast whose intellectual lifeblood is rapidly draining away. It is the staggering, impotent rage of an idea that will never be practical again.
"sitting around pointing fingers at society and screeching out its sinfulness isn't advancing Christianity"
I beg to differ. Sometimes people need that "voice crying in the wilderness" to wake up and do something about the problem. If people don't see the problem themselves, it needs to be pointed out to them. Hopefully once they see the issue, they will act to fix it.
"It is the staggering, impotent rage of an idea that will never be practical again."
Let me ask you a few questions, sir.
Are children obeying and honoring their parents impractical? (Eph. 6:1-3)
Are husbands loving their wives and spouses staying faithful to eachother impractical? (Eph. 5:25, 1 Cor. 7:2-5, Ex. 20:14)
Is people giving taxes and being good citizens impractical? (Rom. 13:1, Matt. 22:17-21)
Is not murdering someone impractical? (Ex. 20:13, Matt. 5:21-22)
Is not lying/being honest impractical? (Prov. 12:19, 13:5, 14:5, 26:28)
I doubt I'll get an answer to this, so I'll stop there. But I could go on and on showing biblical morals that are still very practical in today's world.
Giving taxes is definitely impractical. Paying taxes is usually practical.
I suppose we must remember the principle that when you point the finger, three fingers point back at you. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.