September 3, 2011

Death Peddlers & Facebook Antichrists

I was having a few thoughts before returning to school the other day. They are not well thought through but poignant. More rant than reasoning but fodder for thought. What brought them to mind are the increasing demands I am being presented with by God and the world concerning ministry. It seems to be clear to many (besides me) that God is preparing me for a leadership role in ministry in His Church, in His time and at His working. I must be praying on the wrong wavelength sometimes because when I pay I am getting mixed/muted signals that are the equivalent of sideband while I am stuck on the carrier signal (or vice versa). That being said I am making some observations about the culture and its potential pitfalls and punji sticks.

Facebook Churching:

I have no desire to make judgment calls today or name by name Christian congregations, denominations or individuals who seem to be exercising the gift(s) given them in a self-serving manner rather than corporate way. I've expounded on this plenty of times in the past. What really concerns me though are the dangers of the electronic or Internet churches that is emerging in the social networks. This powerful tool can reach millions (eh, billions) of people worldwide and like many things on the web (like Wikipedia), there are not a lot of checks and balances and systems to hold people accountable for some of the nonsensical garbage or outright theological goobledy-gook that passes for truth under the Christian banner. Frankly, some of the stuff is downright embarassing and I prefer not to be associated with it. People are missing the mark Big Time. I see some of the most ridiculous stuff passed off as Christianity on blogs and or social networking sites such as Facebook.

We are obliged to correct error where we find it if it does not cause more damage to the writer and the readers. That being said, getting people to accept a rebuke online or admit they are wrong through online correspondence is usually a fools-errand. Most being isolated rogue agents will not and do not accept the rebuke and many retaliate in a non-Christian manner (and that is the key: non-Christian). Please note I did not say publicly tell them they are wrong and blasting them like an idiot. Do it privately when possible and back up your corrective response with a correctly interpreted Bible first and then reason with them from that Bible.

Just this week I alone I lost count how many people requested friendings and when I look at their patchwork theology (as John MacArthur calls it) I am stunned. Some of the prime movers on the Internet are propogators of skewed and skewered ideologies that at times...are blatently unbiblical even to an untrained eye. These then have a trickle-down effect on the smaller movers near the lower end of web-traffic. Often what I see is the same theology and errant doctrine farmed out by the larger movers that show up on the websites of the smaller ones in the form of widgets and ads. We are talking some serious big business here too when millions of dollars in revenue are changing hands...all of it pushing a God that is often not the one described in the Bible. We need to tend to our own or those that claim to be of us. If not we should not balk and whine when the government comes down and tries to take away tax-exempt status from religious organizations when we have these wolves hiding among our flock. Purge the wolves or the culture purges us.

When the culture sees these charlatans as one of ours because they cannot differentiate the two, it is no wonder they go on the offensive to strangle us out of existence through financal avenues that amount to nothing more than a believers tax. Some of the trash I've seen peddled on some sites, social network pages and other media outlets...geez man...its clear they could care less about Jesus Christ. They just care about Andrew Jacksons, Ulysses S. Grants and Ben Franklins. Remember folks, heretics and demons will not try to sell you their theology and flavor of church telling you it will lead you to Hell. All of them tell you they have the path or the answer that gets you to Heaven. Hell isn't a moneymaker (unless you're a satanist), Heaven is. Demons and evil will not come as dark brooding monsters but rather they will come as beings of light. They will come making promises they couldn't possibly keep nor do they intend to. They do not have the authority to do so.  

There is nothing wrong with using these tools for spreading the truth  but as we have learned painful lessons from other form of biased media. When in the worng hands or used improperly, tools become weapons of the world used to try and attack the Gospel eitherr directly or indirectly.

Trapdoor Evangelsim of the Public Square

Large-scale evangelists, Christian speakers, Christian performers and Christian leaders in general appear to face some unique and vexing circumstances that center around pride and ego. These issues are not unique to Christian leaders and Christians with a high public profile. The way that those of God need to respond to these temptations and pressures is often different from those on equal footing in the secular world. Christian leaders are called to higher levels of restraint, Godly and righteous behavior. We need to have inhibitions and self-consciousness in place and moral guidelines when presented with the ability to indulge sin such as money, sex or idolatry. Where everyone else should also practice moral rectitude in similar positions it is the Christian leader that is especially held to account for poor behavior when it comes to financial dilly-dallying, sexual impropriety or some other flirtation with sin with unsavory connotations. And many fail on these fronts as even a precursory perusal of the news and media over the last 20 or 30 years will show us.

Christian public figures and Christian leaders can easily and sinfully savor the glow of warm acceptance and ego intensifying comments or compliments from adulating fans. Leaders in Christian organizations and pastors are subject to the same temptations of pride and status as any other human being. What sets them apart is the level of their dependence on God. to release anything of true value does not come from them but from God through His grace and mercy. None of us is exempt because none us is righteous without Christ.

Radical Liberation or Liberal Christians who urge action in the inner city to the acclaim of similarly striped politicians are victims of this. On the other side we have politically conservative Christians who give large sums of their investments to missions to have names attached to permanent structures. We have the newly minted Bible college and seminary students who glory in and relish their new-found knowledge. New worship leaders that must constantly be center-stage and in the heat of a single stagelight. Even the cavalier or imperious church members who fill out committees and growth groups within the church. We all need to constantly come back to the Son of God kneeling next to unbuckled sandals in the Garden of Gethsemane. Pleading that the Father take the Cup of Wrath from Him if it is possible but realizing it is not about the His will but the Father's. The One who submits to another's will...even though He knows it means excruciating death.

Christ's doing things for the good of the whole Church. Not a rogue agent bungling up the entire works selfishly to make a buck. Body not individual. Our action must be for the sake of the Body. If we loyally serve Jesus, and human approval or even celebrity or noterirty are the outcome we need God's direct intervention through grace to handle it. But if we consciously seek applause or reputation for selfish ends we effectively ostricize ourselves from God's grace and condemn ourselves giving into our own lust. We have turned a good act into an impure act because of dubious motive. This is no different than priests of the Old Testament offering blemished sacrifices in Malachi's time saving the best cuts of meat for themselves.

When we push or adverstise the human personality over the Divine message of grace we are pushing a dead religion. Instead of the love of Jesus Christ and the adherence to the Gospel we will often see a business to push by the work of human personality which is no different than slapping a flashy label on a square and otherwise insipid cardboard box that says it offers the way to heaven but instead peddles messed up theology. Like selling coffins...with the dead body inside. Instead of selling life (eternal life) these charlatans sell a flashy version of death because what they are selling has no salvation in it. If it does not contain the message of Christ crucfied, buried and resurrected according to Scripture, it is a box (more properly a in grave) or message filled with death.

"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood." ~1 John 4:1-6

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