Friday, December 18, 2009

America's Syncretistic Christianity

Every biblically grounded, Scripturally informed, and theologically sound Christian pastor knows a very sad secret about American evangelical Christianity: it is eclectic! This is not a new phenomenon, and it has been a challenge for a very long time. Many life-time church going people think they remember a time when "all was well" with the church. They might regale others with anecdotal recollections about "back when I was a kid, church was great!" But the truth is that church in every generation had challenges to face and flaws to mend. One might be surprised to note that by Acts chapter 6 the first church in Jerusalem already had a major problem to fix. This birthed what we think is the ministry of the deacon.
But the problem has developed in the modern era to the point that the church is definitely in danger of losing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some might suggest that the gospel is already lost, and we don't know it.
Colleen Carroll Campbell said in a recent editorial entitled, "Christmas Wars Begin Within" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Thursday, 17 December 2009) that the problem of eclecticism in American Christianity has reached critical mass. She states that in a recent survey by the Pew Foundation that 22 percent of those who call themselves Christian believe in reincarnation, 23 percent believe in astrology, 23 percent believe that spiritual energy resides in objects (i.e. trees and crystals), 17 percent believe in the power of casting of spells or curses, 17 percent believe they have been in the presence of ghosts, and 14 percent believe in the veracity of fortune tellers and psychics. These are folks who would claim to believe in Jesus, the Bible, and Christian teaching. You can't get more syncretistic than that!
We are certainly "reaping" what we have "sown" in the churches for many years. One of the biggest problems with Christianity in America for decades surprisingly has been Christian ministry of the pastors, denominations, and churches. The pragmatic theme of "bigger is better, quicker is best" has been the watch word of the American church. Raising money, manufactured conversions, and theological animosity are taking their toll. The new wave of post-modern Christian leadership is not helping, because their call is for the church to be culturally relevant. Today we are told we must change to survive. I agree, but the change we are given by post-modern Christian leadership is to back off our hangups, retool biblical doctrine, and become more culturally sensitive. One gigantic post-modern seeker-friendly church did a survey of its ministry some years ago, and it discovered that the church was not producing disciples of Jesus Christ. For a brief moment I hoped the next statement that the staff and church would make would be something like this, "We realize now that we need to go back to the sufficiency of Scripture and the teaching of the doctrines of the Christian faith as the means of growing disciples." But no, they next stated that they need to take another survey and find out what the culture wanted now. Incredible imbecility! What will the next harvest be? I shuddered to think about it.

1 comment:

  1. Keep reading the Post-Dispatch! It provides fuel for your blog. This is also the very first time I've seen the phrase, "incredible imbecility", used in my lifetime! Very nice literary tool!

    BTW, I totally agree with today's post! Keep it coming.