Apostasy Page

An article taken from my book
Facing the Storm
(Press here)

Church in America is facing hostility
and it's producing apostasy
     Up until very recently American evangelicals have, by and large, been immersed in a secular culture that fully endorsed the moral imperatives of the Judeo-Chris­tian tradition. Secular culture has been benign at worst and congenial at best.
     The Ten Commandments were posted not only in churches, but in public build­ings as well: on court room walls; in the hallowed chambers of legislative bodies; in the offices of governors and presidents; and, of course, in school classrooms throughout the country. In short, a moral consensus blanketed America.
     There was no moral cleavage between church and state. With few exceptions, the state upheld the church’s definition of sin and punished its transgressions with both criminal and civil sanctions.
     However, over the last forty to fifty years that ethical consensus has slowly passed into oblivion. It’s gone the way of the woolly mammoth and the passenger pigeon. Moral relativism now reigns supreme, leaving the church more often than not at odds with the state and frequently bringing the two into open conflict. More and more Christians are reluctantly concluding that hostility now character­izes the relationship between church and state here in America.

Hostility is producing apostasy
     Some Christian leaders have sought to ameliorate that hostility by playing down the church’s historic emphasis on sin, divine justice, and God’s wrath. Brian McLaren, for example, a bright light within the “Emergent Church” movement and immensely popular with “millennials,” has shied away from calling homo­sexu­ality a sin - to the point that he actually presided over his own son’s same sex wedding.
     Tony Jones, another emergent church leader, recently declared, “I now be­lieve that GLBTQ (gay, lesbian, bisex­ual, transsex­ual and queer) persons can live in ac­cord with biblical Christi­anity, at least as much as any of us can.”
     But if sin is played down, where’s the need for a savior? No sin, no need for a sav­ior! It’s that simple; and McLaren and Jones, both of whom claim to be evangelical Christians, know that. They’ve therefore re­inter­preted Je­sus - both his person and his mission: the Christian message is no longer cast in the guise of “sin­ners in need of a sav­ior,” but instead “seekers looking for a guide” - a mentor to lead them down the path to self-awareness, self affirma­tion, and self-fulfillment: what they claim is an excit­ing and uplifting jour­ney toward the truth.

Resist boundaries
     Most emergent church leaders, includ­ing both McLaren and Jones, resist es­tablishing bound­a­ries that define ortho­dox belief and that therefore deter­mine “who’s in” and “who’s out,” “who belongs” and “who doesn’t.” For them, the Christian faith is an “ongoing narrative” that has yet to be fully told; and all of us are in­vited to write bits and pieces of that narra­tive - to, in short, conform its meaning to our own personal concerns and sen­sitivi­ties.
     But on a deeper level - and here I’m giving them no benefit of the doubt - what they’re re­ally up to is far less heroic and uplift­ing: it’s cowardly. They want desper­ately to fit in with a secu­lar culture now at war with Chris­tians who still hold to a faith that casts humans in the guise of condemned sinners. A faith that, moreover, doesn’t back down on u­­n­derscoring the many spe­cific sins that call for that condemnation - sins which the sec­ular elites here in America now not only condone but actually en­dorse; e.g., homo­sexuality, same sex marriage, abortion, euthanasia, recrea­tional drug use, etc. McLaren and

The Three Leverage Points of
Heresy in These Last Days

Compromises underminging the Christian Faith are building around three leverage points - each of which is clearly at work even now - and has been so for the last 35 to 40 years ...
  • A siren cry for unity that plays down the teaching ministry of the church - often to the point of insisting that doctrine prevents unity. Unity, they will claim, is the key to revival.
  • A de-emphasis on the egregious nature of sin - which, of course, is an accommodation to the postmodern virtue of tolearance. Tolerance trumps doctrine. But who is Jesus if he's not a savior? A savior from what? A savior from Sin! De-emphasizing sin hides the true identity and mission of Jesus.
  • A de-emphasis and even repudiation of the Christian Faith's historic claim of exclusivity - that "no other name is given under heaven by which a man can be save"  ~Acts 4:12. Here we have an accommodation to the postmodern virtue of inclusion.
Rebuking Compromised Leaders and
The Churches They Pastor

Here is this video Jackie Hill-Perry rebukes the Black Evangelical Church; however, her rebuke is equally valid for today's white church - even more so. She minces no words and doesn't hold back on the tongue-lashing she dishes out. It's a much needed rebuke that the church desperately needs. The compromises the church today is guilty of are beyond the pale any of us who are in our late 60s and 70s ever thought possible. Her rebuke is in the form of a hip-hop poem. Both her orthodoxy and her boldness are truly astonishing.
Jones know cling­ing to that faith will elicit not just ridi­cule, but in-your-face hostility. And they’re un­willing to expose them­selves to that kind of risk. And there we have the real truth!

Sheltered hot house
gives rise to wimps

     Four hundred years in a sheltered hot house! Protected from the scorn and out­right persecution that Christians face in so many other parts of the world, espe­cially in the Middle East and in parts of Africa and Asia! The result: the emergent church replete with all its compromises.
     Admittedly, not all evangelical churches are “emergent.” Still ...

  • the same penchant for playing down the significance of sin is at work in far too many of them;
  • the same bent toward preach­ing a gospel message that soft peddles the theme of “sinners in need of a savior,” and, in­stead, plays up the theme of “seekers look­ing for self-affirmation and personal ful­fill­ment;”
  • the same tendency to avoid calling out for condemnation sins apt to in­cur the hostility of gov­ernment officials and the secular elites.
Dr. Nkoyoyo
a man of faith

     It’s all too easy to forget that the mercy, grace, and love of God can only be grasped against the backdrop of God’s wrath, arising, of course, from his ha­tred of sin: specifically, the unspeak­able cost God paid to ransom our souls from the claims of divine justice: the death of Christ on the cross.
     The vast difference between the faith so characteristic of Christians facing daily hos­tility and Christians who have been pro­tected from such hostility is re­flected in a letter sent by an African bishop to the head of the Episcopal Church, USA. The head of the Ameri­can church had promised the Afri­can prelate financial aid if he could over­come his aversion to the ordination of Gene Robinson, a practicing homosexual. Dr. Nkoyoyo, the Afri­can prelate, replied ...

     “The gospel of Jesus Christ is not for sale, even among the poor­est of us who have no money. Eternal life, obedience to Jesus Christ, and con­form­ing to his Word are more im­portant. The Word of God makes it clear that you have chosen a course ... that leads to spir­itual destruction. Because we love you, we cannot let that go unan­swered ... As a result, any delegation you send can­not be wel­comed, received, or seated. Neither can we share fellow­ship nor even receive (the) desperately needed re­sources (you’ve of­fered). If, however, you repent and return to the Lord, it will be an occasion of great joy.”

     The power, authority, and majesty of the gospel message are revealed in Dr. Nko­yoyo’s reply. Against that backdrop, the compromises of McLaren and Jones seem woefully pathetic.
     The peace bubble here in America has burst. Christians can no longer expect a sym­pathetic secu­lar cul­ture to guard them from hostil­ity. And the tempta­tion to down­play whatever in the gospel mes­sage elicits that hostility is even now split­ting churches here in America. Are we ready for that? The pro­phetic scrip­tures are very clear: it’s unavoida­ble. That’s why the pro­phetic scrip­tures are so im­portant - especially for the compla­cent evangeli­cal church here in America!

Evangelicals have bought
into a siege mind-set

     For the last thirty-five years or so, evan­geli­cal pastors have been work­ing hard to af­ford believers protec­tion from the dangers inherent in a cul­ture that’s becoming ever more hos­tile to the Chris­tian faith. The "fix" they've concocted has been sim­ple, and, on the face of it, quite rea­son­a­ble: to transform the church into a for­tress, where believers can find ref­uge from the scorn and an­tago­nism building against them and their fami­lies. But it's a fix that runs counter to God's intention. No­where in scrip­ture is the church lik­ened to a fortress. It's a metaphor that's often used for God, but never for the church. Indeed, quite the contrary: Jesus, in his first mention of the church ...

I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
                                                                       Matthew 16:19

… likens her not to a fortress, but to a plundering army. It's hell that he casts in the guise of a fortress, with the devil and his minions cowering behind its walls and the church furiously and relentlessly attacking it.

Pastors have it all
turned around

     Pastors have reversed the roles; and, in doing so, they have weakened the church - the very opposite of what they intended. It's a simple truth clearly underscored in scripture ...

  • The church affords believers effective protection only when she is on the attack.
  • The moment she retreats into a defensive posture her enemies are emboldened and believers are exposed to terrible danger.

Most pastors unable to
rebuild the church

     It's not likely that pastors alone can rebuild the church. The very nature of a pastor - the gift itself - militates against that possibility. A pastor's primary task - the first concern that springs to his mind - is to shelter and protect his congregation, not lead it into battle. It's far too easy for a pastor to both ...
  • lose sight of the church's most important single task: the salvation of the lost; and
  • ignore the significance of whatever historical circumstances are beset­ting her.

     The first is the task of the evangelist and the second is the task of the prophet - and here I don't mean so-called "rhema" prophets, but men rooted in the Word of God who call the church back to her over-riding goals of evangelism and discipleship and who don't traffic in ambiguities and "fifty shades of gray."
     That's not to suggest that the pastoral ministry is unimportant; quite the contrary: it's vital. Believers need the sympathetic care and tender shepherding that pastors are best equipped to provide. But whenever evangelists are pushed aside and prophets are shunned, the church loses her militant edge. She becomes soft and flabby, unable to go over to the attack, unwilling to take risks, unwilling to sacrifice, and, lastly, unable to either grasp the prophetic significance of the moment or to galvanize believers around it. It's the Laodician Church! Quite frankly, it’s the American evangelical church!
     The pulpit ministry must make room once again for evangelists and prophets if the church is to awaken from her Laodician slumber, dismantle the fortress she's made of herself, and once again go over to the attack - preaching a message of “sinners in desperate need to be delivered from both the penalty and the power of sin.”
     Alarm bells heralding the approach of the Tribulation have been clanging for well over four decades; yet today’s church pays scant heed. And at least part of the reason is obvious: pastors, not evangelists and prophets, are at the helm.

The Church Sleeps On
     And so the church sleeps on, with genuine conversions at an all time low, with almost 85% of her youth packing off after graduating from high school, and with little or no sense of direction other than "keeping on with the keeping on." Hardly any mention is made of the rebirth of Israel; or the capture of Jerusalem; or the inundating tidal wave of sin sweeping over the country; or the ever growing turmoil in the Middle East; or the social, political, and cultural polarization that has immobilized the governments of the United States and West­ern Europe; or even the global economic crisis now underway and plainly obvious to everyone. The prophetic import of it all is shrugged off. Once again, it's just "keeping on with the keeping on," building higher walls to hold the rabble at bay, and pressing down lower and lower into an unholy “holy huddle.”