I am reading D.A. Carson’s ‘Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church’ at present. As I read it I’m drawn back into the present reality, which in all honesty, I’ve tried to block out. I don’t like the way that much of the western church is heading, I don’t like it at all but it feels to me as if this change is quite like an avalanche already under way and I’m just trying my best to get down the hill and out of the path as quickly as possible!
With that being said this comment is more of a pre-comment (I have yet to finish Carson). A reaction to what I already know. The last section of Francis Schaeffer’s ‘Escape from Reason’ keeps sticking with me. I should have posted about it when I was reading the book but it ties in well with my thoughts now. Schaeffer says this right at the end of the book:
“There are two things we need to grasp firmly as we seek to communicate the gospel today, whether we are speaking to ourselves, to other Christians or to those totally outside.
The first is that there are certain unchangeable facts which are true. These have no relationship to the shifting tides. They make the Christian system what is is, and if they are altered, Christianity becomes something else. This must be emphasised because there are evangelical Christians today who, in all sincerity, are concerned with their lack of communication, but in order to bridge the gap they are tending to change what must remain unchangeable. If we do this we are no longer communicating Christianity, and what we have left is no different from the surrounding consensus.”
Now as profound as this quote is, it is also upsetting. My book says ‘1968’ in the front flap. That’s 40 years ago. 40 years of warning. 40 years is surely plenty of time to block or re-route an avalanche, right? And so I feel a little discouraged. Dr. Schaeffer wrote plainly and simply and for what? I do not mean to be dour, although there is a certain amount of gloom about all of this.
Quite simply it seems to me as if Christianity has become “something else”; something indistinguishable from contemporary culture. I sometimes think that we might know too much of life, have too much knowledge. We should rethink our mission, which first and foremost should be centred on God and the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
Paul says in Galations 1:9,10, “As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! For am I now seeking the favour of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. (NASB)”
I really think that the root of so many false gospels is the misplacing of God. If God is not centre then we will not fear Him but rather man. So our stand should be that we will not fear being an outcast, not fear not ‘fitting in’. This isn’t a throwing off of all culture or withdrawal from those Spheres of Life that are so important, but a dogged resistance to submitting to man instead of God.
I think the church in the past has become confused over this and thrown the baby out with the bath-water, so to speak. Christ must be shown in all areas of life and we must not be afraid to show Him whatever that means.
And in my ears I hear one of my professors words ringing out, “If we don’t realise we’re in a war, we wont know what prayer is for.”