Intrusions Into Christian Faith: Challenges For Christian Theologians 2
Focusing Upon the Gospel:
Theologians’ defense against invasion must focus primarily on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul declares that God has chosen to save this world by preaching the Gospel (I Corinthians 1: 21). It is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1: 16). The Gospel is that proclamation of the forgiveness of sins, justification, and eternal salvation gained for us through the sacrificial suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit produces saving faith through hearing the Gospel (Romans 10: 17). If non-essential doctrines distort the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the very essence of Christianity is being undermined. Three vital biblical truths define the purpose of preaching the Gospel, the power, and the Gospel as the means whereby our Lord Jesus Christ comes to us. These three truths are presently being threatened or distorted by the intrusion of heresies and falsehood into the Christian Church. Let me briefly share these three truths and discuss how psychological theories and techniques have distorted them.
- The message of the grace of God in Christ Jesus is proclaimed within the context of human sin and depravity. Martin Luther discussed this truth as the relationship between the Law and the Gospel, and he said the key to understanding the Gospel is a proper understanding of human sin. From his perspective, if you get in wrong, you will get everything else wrong.
- Sanctification or living the Christian life results from the Gospel. Justification, my righteous position before God, and sanctification, my daily living before God, must be distinguished but never separated. One is the cause of the other.
- Scripture defines how our Lord Jesus comes to us and is sent among us. The Reformers spoke of the “means of grace.” They identified the Gospel and the Sacraments as vehicles whereby the living Christ is brought to us, offering us the benefits of life and salvation.
Let us now examine in its comprehensive format the various intrusions that have crept into Christendom, wreaking havoc on the Christian faith. About eighteen are listed here; some will be mentioned and skipped over; others will be discussed in detail. The intrusions are:
- Seeker Sensitivity
- Accountability and Corruption;
- Embezzlement and mismanagement of funds and resources;
- Leadership and Succession problems in the Church
- Lack of peaceful co-existence;
- Gender discrimination;
- Proselytisation and religious propaganda;
- Religious fundamentalism and violence;
- Religious persecution, violation of human rights, and denial of religious liberty;
- Religious pluralism and secularism;
- Problems of Religious politics and dominance;
- Rise of new religions, Cults and Occultism;
- Indecent dressing
- Gay/Lesbianism; and
- Modern Psychology
The attempted integration of self-esteem into Christianity has not only influenced the theology of Christian counselors. Still, it has also distorted the mission and proclamation of many evangelical and mainline Protestant churches. Influenced by the Church Growth Movement, church leaders ask: If the people in our community seek a sense of self-worth and self-esteem, how can we reach them? How can we be sensitive to the desires of these seekers? How can we produce a Sunday morning service that will allow these poor people with their wounded hearts and victimized lives to go home feeling good about themselves?. These questions have obvious answers. The Church has forsaken: the preaching of the Law, the doctrine of original sin, the confession of sins, and the preaching of a bloody cross as the payment for human sin.
As a result, in many evangelical “Christians” thinking today, Jesus is no longer primarily the suffering Savior who gave his life to forgive our sins. Instead, it is prosperity preaching, the Gospel of feeling good about myself and being happy. Jesus is my good buddy who helps me become a better father or mother, husband or wife. He makes me a good person. He helps me keep my promises. So, instead of gathering together in contrition and repentance, acknowledging sin, and hearing the Good News of the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ, Christians today often hear sermons on politics, morals, values, and principles for living the alleged Christian life. Whatever happened to sin and grace? That is a challenge to our Theologians. The integration of the self-esteem concept into Christianity has produced devastating results. For heaven’s sake, we must return to preaching human sin and divine grace. After all, what profits a man if he feels good about himself in this life, if his psychological “barns” are filled with security, support groups, and feel-good religion, and he loses his eternal soul?
Accountability And Corruption:
The Bible is good for rebuking and training in righteousness – 2 Tim 3: 16; we all know this bible verse and can conveniently quote it but do we use it as a guide for accountability and corruption in the house of God. The foundation of Spiritual growth is the understanding of God’s word. We grow best as we combine Obedience to the Bible in the context of close Accountability Relationships – Galatians 5: 16 – 26. Christians should be known for the good works they do within the community. What service project or act of kindness could you do as an individual, as a group, or with other ministries of the Church to demonstrate Christi’s love tangibly? But in reality, church overseers and leaders push their congregation to bring money called harvest into the house of God without a care for the source of the money. Even some church leaders convert Church funds to personal uses. The congregation becomes leaner, but the Pastor fatter. The monetary issue divided many ministries, and some leaders have sold their souls to the devil due to corrupt enrichment. This challenge is for Theologians to proclaim all the teachings of Jesus Christ on wealth accumulation and speak openly against corruption. Church leaders must be accountable and try to emulate the Master.
Embezzlement And Mismanagement Of Funds And Resources:
These social vices have crept into Christendom; the Theologians must preach against them and eradicate them before they consume the Church.
Leadership And Succession Problems In Church:
Politics of leadership and succession have crept into the Church. A church that is supposed to be led by the Holy Spirit has put the Holy Spirit on the back bench while inordinate ambition takes over the front row. People are no longer waiting to hear from God or be called by God. They call themselves. Church Ministries have become the alternative to unemployment and retrenchment. And the service of God is being treated like any employment. It has increased the tempo of craving for promotion as it exists in secular jobs. Spiritualism is no longer in effect; some even resort to consulting Babalawos’, Alfas’, use of Talisman and any Traditional armor to gain the upper hand in the Church of God. There are cases of in-fighting throwing overboard the fundamental teaching of Christ in loving one another. This prevalence is not only in unit Churches; it affects Church groups and associations. What role are our Theologians playing in eradicating this vice? None that I know of, but my appeal is for them to take this as a challenge and be role models for others to emulate.