The dominate philosophy in our society is secularism. Our culture influences us to a great extent, maybe more than we realize. We are bombarded daily with secular ideology, and cannot avoid its influences. But what about the church? One of our tendencies is, in order to be relevant we try to adjust to the culture. We change our approach, service, music and our messages in order to be relevant. The question is where do we draw the line?
In this article we want to see some of the areas that secular thinking has impacted the church and the way it relates to the culture. To do this we have to paint with a big brush, some of the things that I will be highlighting may not be part of your experience, but I do see these trends coming and would like to caution us in regard to these influences.
Christ as the only way to God.
In secularism there are no absolute truths. All beliefs become equally valid. No religion can claim to be the truth. The statement that Christ is the only way to God is becoming more and more unacceptable in the culture. If we went back in time around sixty or seventy years ago and made the statement that Christ is the only way to God we may not have encountered much resistance among the masses. But today the statement would encounter resistance. More and more Christian leaders shy away from proclaiming Christ as the only way to the father. I personally have watched several Christian leaders being interviewed on T.V., the host asked these prominent Christian leaders if they believed that you have to believe in Christ in order to go to heaven. None of These leaders answered yes. They did their outmost to avoid the answer. The host then went on to press the issue and asked” doesn’t Christianity teach that you have to believe in Christ in order to go to heaven?” Once again these leaders avoided the question. But why? Because it’s no longer acceptable to make that statement. Because no one religion can claim to be the only way to God and the culture at large has a difficulty with that claim.
This world and man centered Gospel rather than God centered Gospel
Secularism is this world center. This world is where we live and have our being. If this world is all there is, what becomes paramount is success and well-being here and now. More and more churches are offering this world and man centered gospels. Biblical gospel is God centered, but we can make the gospel as a means to people’s well-being and success here and now.
Come to Christ to be healthy and wealthy.
Come to Christ to find purpose in life.
The goal is not to be a follower of Christ, the goal is to be healthy and wealthy or finding what my purpose in life is. Christ becomes a means to this end. But he is not the end in itself. The underlying goal here is to help people to become happy and fulfilled here and now. The goal is becoming successful in this world rather than the world to come. We offer Christ as a means to these ends. But the way we are defining success is the same way as a secular person would.
Replacing Godliness with social good
Many up and coming churches are involved with doing social work in order to influence their community and culture at large. There is nothing wrong with doing good works that will benefit our communities. However the danger lies in the fact that we could replace our goal of Godliness with social causes. More and more churches want to be known for social activism and causes, especially in our cities. These endeavors are fine and good as long as they are the byproduct of our discipleship and who we are becoming as individuals. But the danger lies in the fact that we could embrace causes that the culture and the people could agree on and feel good about. Rather than discipleship and trying to help people become Godly. Our goal should be Godliness and good works as the result of that, not an exchange of Godliness for feel good social causes.
Minimizing doctrine and belief
In the secular society belief becomes a matter of personal choice, background, and family upbringing. More and more churches are moving away from doctrine and belief. We rarely study doctrine and essential Christian doctrine any more, as a result most of us are unfamiliar with correct Christian beliefs. We fall more and more prey to corrupt teaching just because it sounds good and feels right rather than being in line with historical Christian teaching.
There could be more said as to how we are adjusting to the changing culture. I personally feel like we could be flexible in our style of worship, but we should never alter, or change our message. Most of the time we feel like if we don’t adjust our message people could not relate to us. One Christian author went as far as saying that it would be wise for Christianity to change its name because of all the wrong that has been done.
Many of our adjustments stem from the fear of not being relevant. Maybe instead of trying to become so relevant we should manifest our relevancy and trust the Lord more. He is able to accomplish his purposes in spite of the culture and mistakes of the past. If we compromise on our essential and be ashamed of our message than why should the culture takes us seriously if we don’t? Let’s be true to historical Christian faith and leave the results to God.
May the Lord be with you all