Thursday, May 03, 2012
Reserving the Right to Define the Church
Ever notice that a growing number of unbelievers are eager to define the church and to define Christianity? They love to wax eloquent on what defines a Christian, even when they evince little knowledge of the subject, little knowledge of the Bible, little knowledge of church history or much else pertaining to the Christian life.
One little example I found one day was in reference to a well-known secular musician, who was described as a "non-practicing Christian." Excuse me? A "non-practicing" Christian is not a Christian. It's sort of like being a little bit pregnant. It's impossible. You either are, or you aren't.
Now, before you get your blunderbusses out, I know how this sort of terminology discussion generally goes. We know that there are nominal, or cultural, Christians. Their families might have had some sort of heritage in a particular Christian denomination. Maybe they went to church as children, and might show up as adults on Easter or Christmas wearing their Sunday finest. But they have never made a personal commitment to Christ. They have never repented of their sins and placed their trust in the shed blood of Christ on the cross as atonement for their sins. They have never given their lives to the Lord, or have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who is the one who spiritually regenerates the believer. As we like to call "Republicans in Name Only" RINOS, these can be called CINOS, or "Christians in Name Only."
I would like to see us get back to biblical definitions and standards of what these words actually mean as ordered by the Lord Himself and His Apostles. The Bible itself defines what being a true Christian is, and the Bible also defines what the true church is—those who are truly regenerate and possess saving faith in Christ. As a result of their faith and trust in Christ, there is a complete change in lifestyle and worldview. Not to say that new Christians don't have some growing to do, but there must be evidence of true conversion. There must be a true desire from the heart to live for the Lord, to bring Him glory, and the desire for others who are lost to come to saving faith in Christ.
This is especially important in the current political circus. A lot of people are running around wearing the Christian label, but their lives and actions suggest anything but Christ. Above all, we must not allow the secular media to define the church, nor to define what being a Christian is. The true Church must reserve the right to define itself, and not surrender that right to anyone else. And we need to stop being afraid to speak up and call politicians out on the subject when they're trying to use the Christian label to troll for votes. In other words, rather than loving and living for Christ from the heart, they're instead using churchy words to appeal to a block of voters because some focus group said it would be good to play up to Christians.
I could probably articulate this a lot better than I am. I'm writing in the heat of the moment, and knowing that I haven't contributed much of substance to my blog of late. But I think most of you will get what I am meaning to say- or trying to say.
Once again, I am not intending to play God and to look into someone's heart and determine whether or not they are true believers. Biblically, I cannot judge hearts and motivations. I can only judge actions. And very often, a pattern of actions over a period of time can give us a pretty good indication as to the genuineness of a purported Christian believer's faith.
We are not electing a theologian in chief. We are electing a president. But I believe the Lord gives a nation the leaders it deserves sometimes, especially when a very blessed nation is in nearly complete rebellion against Him. We are either going to be led by a cultist, or we are going to be led for another four years by a self-described Christian who adheres largely to Liberation Theology—a Christian heresy that in essence is Marxism with spiritual clothes on. This country is in trouble. And it's because the true Church isn't being the church and fulfilling its prophetic role to the people—prophetic in the sense of forthtelling biblical truth to the people.
One more aside. It would be nice if the news media would actually find and use some intelligent, articulate evangelical authorities to interview instead of the inflammatory rubes they usually go after on purpose to make conservative evangelical believers look like hillrods. They tend to use Roman Catholic priests, bishops or cardinals, or perhaps professors from a Catholic seminary as their "scholars," but use the worst possible people to represent Protestant evangelical perspective, if at all. When I use the quote marks around the word, "scholars," in this instance I am not intending to raise questions as to a Catholic spokesperson's academic background. I use it in the sense of how the media would use the term or think of it. There are true scholars in both Catholic and Protestant circles. But Protestant, evangelical scholars seem to get short shrift.
There are other Christian leaders out there besides Roman Catholics, and it would be nice to see one of them quoted instead of the ubiquitous Catholic bishops, cardinals or priests. They do not represent an evangelical perspective. Might I suggest Dr. Al Mohler, Dr. John MacArthur, or Dr. R.C. Sproul, just to name a few? There are others. I realize the TBN crowd might be more entertaining, but for the most part, they are theologically a mile wide and an inch deep, largely speaking from emotion rather than an articulate, scholarly response to serious issues at debate in society. In other words, leave Joel Osteen to the motivational circuit, and get a serious Bible scholar if you want to really have a biblical perspective on a controversial, misunderstood issue.
Sola's note: This has been edited somewhat from the original for clarity.