Systematically, historic Christianity is being undefined, unraveled, and disemboweled. The Twenty-first Century church is not that of Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, Thomas Cramer, or other fathers of the Protestant Reformation. Nor is the church of today that of Charles or John Wesley, George Whitefield, or Jonathan Edwards. Sadly, it is not even the church of our parents and grandparents. Biblical Christianity is under assault from within and from without, displayed throughout America and the western world. What most fail to realize is that this dismantling and emasculating of Christianity are from within. Exactly who from within is devouring the flock and traditional Christianity is the focus of this article.
The historic church that many of you recall as children or young adults is rapidly disappearing, for Christianity is not simply being redefined. Rather, it is being undefined, utterly removed from its historic, biblical foundations. Churches that still cling to the historic model of Christianity are increasingly becoming more rare. The tremendous Cultural Revolution that began in the Sixties initiated a systematic transformation of almost every aspect of society and did not leave the church unscathed. The spiritual apathy, passivity, and indifference that have robbed millions of their Christian zeal and appetite for Jesus Christ, the Word of God, and all things Christian are now reflected in an outright moral meltdown. America continues to be transformed in ways that few would ever have believed.
The rush to multiculturalism and racial diversity has left an indelible mark upon every branch of Christianity. No denomination has remained untouched by the Culture Revolution that afflicted America since 1960. In the aftermath of this societal revolution, the local church has been shaken to its core. Children of the Baby Boomer generation (1946-1964) and beyond are cutting ties and disconnecting from the faith and religious traditions of their parents in breath-taking ways, especially in the Millennial generation born between 1980 and 2000 and beyond. The church that caters to the spiritual demands of millions of this generation has simply cut ties with traditional Christianity. It is no longer the church in the world, but the world in the church. The Cultural Revolution of the past sixty years has simply undefined the church that guided America from the days of the Pilgrims and Puritans all the way through the 1950s. In metropolitan areas and even in smaller cities and less populated areas, a major transformation of the church is underway. The emerging church is being marketed in a way that has dismantled historic Christianity. The new model for the church is being reproduced throughout America.
If you ever wondered why Twenty-first Century Christianity has not been effectual in stopping the murder of the unborn, look to the emerging church for the answer. If ever you were concerned about the surge of homosexuality, race mixing, and other glaring examples of societal breakdown, consider the failure of modern Christianity to be engaged on the frontlines in holding back the tide of sin and moral corruption now awash across America.
The consolidation of smaller, local churches into consumer-oriented mega churches has coincided with the disappearance of the small, family-sized farm into giant agricultural corporations that now control so much farmland. Mom and pop businesses that once enabled every small town and even rural communities to have their own self-sustaining economies has evaporated from America in lieu of Wal-Mart, Target, and other corporate giants that have dramatically transformed communities everywhere.
So it is with the local church, which once was filled with friends and neighbors who knew each other personally and interacted on a regular basis. These local churches are becoming more rare in America as mega churches literally devour the smaller churches in packed-out buildings that bear little resemblance to the sanctuaries of the past. Not unlike the giant corporate farms or chains such as Wal-Mart, Christianity today is trying to meet what they believe are the consumer’s needs, i.e., the needs of religious minded people. Pastors are running these giant religious institutions in much the same fashion as CEOs would operate large corporations. The church leader is the CEO of a mass-marketing religious institution that is designed to get large numbers of people in and out of a service with minimum effort, all the while trying to maximize the ways in which the church can meet the spiritual needs (consumer demands) of America’s new breed of Christians. The success of the mega church is based upon a criteria that involves attendance, giving (money), the number of programs, the number of staff, and the square footage of the complex. Pastors/church leaders across America are now programmed to believe that the successfulness of their church is measured by the foregoing criteria. With that in mind, church leaders are trying to mimic the successful CEOs of the mega churches that have attracted thousands of people into their giant religious corporations. Thus, they cater to the new religious trends of a generation that has grown up on rock music, entitlement mentality, and a morality that allows a place for abortion, same-sex marriage, narcotics, homosexuality, race-mixing, and other sins once considered unacceptable and intolerable.
The Twenty-first Century church is designed to be consumer friendly to all the hurts resulting from the unrepentant sin debt building up in modern America. The sins of adultery, fornication, abortion, race-mixing, divorce, narcotics use, family disintegration, and other societal sins have come to a full harvest, leaving millions hurting and looking for help. Mega churches are designed to address these hurts and treat the symptoms with a myriad of programs that cater to an individual’s problem. Thus, endless programs are marketed to address the various problems members face. All too often, the sin debt of too many unrepentant sinners has been building for successive generations, so the biblical pathway of repentance, profession of faith in Jesus Christ, practice of self-denial, and turning to a new life in Jesus Christ are entirely lacking.
The biblical Christianity of former generations that checked wanton immorality and spiritual infidelity of the people is simply vanishing. Historic churches across the broad spectrum of Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Reformed, Evangelical, and Pentecostalism were pledged to teach God’s Word and keep people accountable to biblical standards of morality. The patterns of worship in these historic churches emphasized a life focused on Jesus Christ and founded on biblical principles. Far too often, modern Christianity operates on the premise that God loves you just the way you are, so there is no need for you to change anything—your lifestyle, doctrine, or morality.
Once upon a time, Christian worship consisted of a lawful approach to God with spiritual songs, psalms, and traditional hymns of the faith. Worship was personalized, with congregants actively involved in worship. People left these services believing they had been in the presence of God and personally moved by the preaching, singing, prayer, and fellowship. They felt prepared for and inspired to live via the morals of the Lord Jesus Christ. These congregations were close knit; people lived in personal accountability for their convictions and commitment to Jesus Christ.
A Look inside the Emerging Church
What will reveal startling changes in the historic pattern of worship other than a look inside a mega church? Open the doors and prepare yourself for a more corporate experience designed to make the masses “feel good,” improve their “self-image,” provide a special program for their unique pain, and entertain everyone in a spectator-based religious service. Active participation is not required, so if you do feel up to it, just sit and watch the show. The buildings that house these mega churches give no outward indication that they are where Christians meet God. Rather, they resemble a theatre/auditorium building such as those found in Branson, Missouri. Far too often, there are few or no religious symbols at all: there is no altar in the front of the sanctuary, and sometimes even a single cross is missing. These worship centers may cater to several thousand people, most of the larger ones with two thousand members upwards to five, ten, and even twenty thousand members. They are impersonal. People can be lost in the crowd, blend in too thoroughly. There is little possibility of getting to know anyone very well, unless it is through some small groups that divide out for specialized programs or small group Bible studies.
The CEO of this mega church generally is an excellent communicator, able to articulate the programs and business of the church in much the same fashion as a corporate leader would. These mega churches capitalize on copyrighted Bibles built on the principle of “Dynamic Equivalency,” rarely even referring to the Authorized King James Bible. There is no possibility of personal accountability for one’s lifestyle unless you are guilty of something that becomes public knowledge. Members may be guilty of almost any sin imaginable, yet no one knows. Everyone is lost in the masses.
As for music, they replace the great hymns of the faith with choruses posted on large screens, so there are no hymnbooks. The music is performed by a small cadre of musicians and includes the drums, electric guitar, keyboard, etc… The beat is deafening, and you can barely hear anyone singing along above the beat, although some do. Far too many do not even bring a Bible; but if they do, it usually is a paraphrased, copyrighted copy. These worship services are spectator-oriented, with a small core of people passing communion, collecting money, and performing various tasks during the worship.
Of course, one need not worry about how to dress. Come in your shorts and sandals, for there is no formal dress of any kind. Musicians and singers may well wear blue jeans or some other attire. There are no formalities. Women play a prominent role as they assist with serving communion, baptisms, and other functions in the racially diverse congregations. Your children will be instructed in special Sunday school classes that feature multi-cultural classrooms. They quickly learn to make friends and build lifelong relationships with diverse races, so please do not feign surprise when these friendships turn into marriage.
Specially packaged for the masses is our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. The “New Jesus” requires minimal attention to personal sacrifice, service, or conviction to live a godly, holy lifestyle. The new Jesus will meet every need of your life. You need not be concerned about law, doctrine, anything theological, or racial diversity. Jesus is all that matters, so you can trade the biblical Sabbath for Sunday and the Feast of Passover for Easter. Chuck Tabernacles and return to celebrating Jesus’ birth in December with Santa Clause and the Christmas tree. While you are busy making changes, you might as well trade in your King James Bible for the NIV or some other paraphrased, copyright Bible. This is all mere salt and pepper. Jesus is all that matters. It doesn’t matter what Sabbath or holy days Jesus followed. It is not important that Jesus Himself quoted the Ten Commandments and used God’s law to define sin and lead sinners to salvation. It is irrelevant that the real Jesus spoke boldly against hell and the eternal punishment of Gehenna.
No need anymore to teach antiquated ideas about doctrine, God’s law, the standards of biblical morality, or anything that might be considered offensive or cause one to feel guilty. Rather, the goal is to have you leave the worship service feeling good about yourself. Leave with your self-image in tact. The church is no place to feel shame or guilt for sin in your life, so there is no need to define sin. Just keep believing in Jesus and loving your brother—even if that love is not defined from Scripture.
The churches’ corporate CEOs avoid referencing national and world affairs for fear of offending someone. They will not instruct from the Bible on the critical social issues of the day, such as abortion, homosexuality, or other highly profiled national topics for fear of government reprisal and loss of religious tax exemption. And just like every other venue, racially diverse congregations are important for encouraging the brotherhood of man. Thus, racially mixed couples are welcome in these churches.
The Future of Biblical Christianity
Is there a place for traditional, Bible-based teachings in Christianity? Emphatically, the answer is “Yes!” Many sincere Caucasian people are packed into the racially diverse mega churches of America. God’s sovereignty in election will provide for at least some of these people to be plucked from these churches and inspired to find the biblical Jesus Christ and His true Gospel of the Kingdom. We must always be ready to receive these people in Christian love and good will.
The promise of Jesus Christ for the Church is that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). There will always be a hunger and a thirst for a biblical, Christ-centered church that builds upon the foundation of the Authorized King James Bible for English-speaking people. There will always be Caucasian people who desire a place where lawful worship occurs and where there is an altar before which the sacraments can be performed; God’s people will long to sing psalms, great hymns of the faith, and spiritual songs. Sound biblical doctrine and theology will always find a home in the hearts of those seeking to build their house on the foundation of Scripture. Someone somewhere will desire to celebrate the biblical Sabbath and the annual holy days, discarding Roman Catholic worship and rest on Sunday along with the corresponding pagan holidays.
Surely there will always be a people drawn to a Bible that was written to, for, and about Israel. Someone will remember what Grandpa and Grandma said about practicing separatism in their family, worship, and friendships. They will be inspired to preserve their ethnic and racial integrity and oppose becoming intimate with multicultural, racially diverse venues. Until Christ returns, there will never fail to be a time where someone somewhere seeks to hear God’s law taught as the only means of defining sin and leading sinners to the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
Time will validate truth. There will always be people who seek to understand the world through the prism of Bible prophecy. Never will there be a day when someone fails to valiantly oppose abortion, homosexuality, race mixing, and other heinous moral crimes that bring down families, churches, and nations. God’s Word is true. There will always be a faithful remnant that holds firmly to Jesus Christ and builds their lives upon the foundation of His Word.
The final prophetic word from Jesus Christ is encompassed in the apocalyptic words of the Book of Revelation. In this prophecy, Jesus Christ described the type of church that would prevail prior to His return. The description of the Laodicean Church is germane to the Twenty-first Century definition of Christianity. Speaking to those numbered in that church, the real Jesus Christ made this appeal: “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” The lesson is clear: Jesus is calling the people of this religious persuasion poor, naked, blind, and in need of repentance and salvation.
Looking to the future return of the Lord Jesus Christ, then, we can rest assured that Christ will preserve His remnant church on earth. Revelation (12:17; 22:14-16) defines that church: “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ…Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto these things in the churches...”
Believe it or not, there is a great future and tremendous hope for the remnant church. Our hope should rest in Jesus Christ, the Head of the church and the Savior of the body. Since His word will not fail, by faith we shall prevail! May God bless the remnant church, and may each of us be convicted of each one teaching one. Let us win souls to Jesus Christ. If you have found such a church, thank your Father in heaven and purpose to serve Him and those He has numbered in that flock to the end of your days.