Truth, by definition is exclusive
It is absolute. It seeks not to negotiate the veracity of its substance by committee or by vote. It is eternal. It is inflexible. It is not opinion. It is not subjective, but objective. The truth of God's Word does not first ask the question: "will you embrace me?" But rather issues the command, "obey me."
Christianity today is being feminized (that is not the language of misogyny - so please relax); but softened as to its truth claims and assertions. Os Guinness is spot on in his analysis when saying: “This… sea change is a particularly important precedent because it was not so much from Calvinism to Arminianism as from theology to experience, from truth to technique, from elites to populism, and from an emphasis on ‘serving God’, to an emphasis on ‘serving the self’ in serving God.”
I know that there are some well-meaning and well-respected pastors that are calling today for a "humble orthodoxy". Though I understand and affirm their definition of this phrase, I think it may also need further clarifying to give it the context, and thus the impact, that it richly deserves.
Postmodernism, at its core, wants to minimize all claims to objective truth and keep it modest, unauthoritative... "humble" if you please. And left unfettered, that kind of application and reasoning can breed what Packer sought to warn us about in past years when saying:
“The outside observer sees us as staggering from gimmick to gimmick and stunt to stunt like so many drunks in a fog, not knowing at all where we are or which way we should be going. Preaching [and singing] is hazy; heads are muddled; hearts fret; doubts drain strength; uncertainty paralyses action…. Unlike the first Christians who in three centuries won the Roman world, and those later Christians who pioneered the Reformation, and the Puritan awakening and the Evangelical revival, and the great missionary movement of the last century, we lack certainty.”Today, the object of faith is no longer Christ, but self-esteem; the goal of faith is no longer holiness, but happiness; the source of faith is no longer the Scriptures, but experience; and the result of faith is no longer the glory of God, but having a conversation.
Spurgeon addressed this issue in his time:
“A new religion has been initiated, which is no more Christianity than chalk is cheese; and this religion, being destitute of moral honesty, palms itself off as the old faith with slight improvements, and on this plea usurps pulpits which were erected for gospel preaching.”And Dr. Al Mohler prodoundly speaks to this concern when saying:
“An aversion to doctrinal Christianity has been growing for several decades, along with an increasing intolerance for doctrinal and confessional accountability. Evangelicals have embraced the technologies of modernity, often without recognizing that these technologies have claimed the role of master rather that servant.”Sadly, that is currently our autobiography.
What is needed in today's religious climate and culture is a bold orthodoxy.
Or IOW, orthodoxy proclaimed boldly. The Emergent Church is proud of their "humble" orthodoxy. Truth to them is liquid, fluid, changing, evolving, and must remain adaptable to the times. By comparison, they without embarrassment mock the Scriptures as being God's infallible, inerrant Word; they wrest the gospel of its exclusiveness; they misrepresent the character of the One Triune God; they reduce the ministry of Jesus to Him being a social engineer or a compassionate advocate for the rights of the oppressed; they deny the existence of hell, penal substitutionary atonement, justification by faith alone, and that church shouldn't primarily be about the glory of God, but about man and his needs.
As you can see beloved, what we need today is an uncompromising, unapologetic, undiluted, BOLD orthodoxy.
BUT, that bold orthodoxy should be proclaimed by humble servants of the Lord.
Not soft, feminized men... but bold men clothed in humility. And there is a difference. It's odd to me that those that champion as a primary concern "the language of civility" in discussions about faith, are usually not the ones on the front lines defending the faith (Jude 3) Many in the EC think that Paul was too abrasive; Jude to negative; Matthew 23 too judgmental; 2 Peter 2 too offensive; the prophets out dated; and the Law, wrath of God, taking up ones cross, forsaking self, and sin in the proclamation of the gospel Jesus Christ too restrictive. They try to elevate tone over truth; demeanor over doctrine; and being "nice" over being biblical. "Can't we all get along" AND "isn't it unloving as Christians to let the world see us disagree about theology" is their mantra.
To be certain, we are to "speak the truth in love..."; but speak the truth we must. Love should be the motive behind the proclamation of truth and it certainly shouldn't mean being tolerant, nice for nice sake, or soft.
Biblically, love is not an emotion and is not conditioned upon a response. Love is sacrificial, unreciprocated, undeserved, unfailing, and unmerited. One of the most loving things a Christian can do is to proclaim the truth of Scripture and the gospel of Jesus Christ in the face of the error of postmodernity (Titus 1:9). And conversely, it would be very unloving to go on Larry King and purposely dumb-down the gospel or the truth of the Word of God for the sake of being accepted by the audience and embraced by the media.
True love doesn't soften biblical Christianity for the sake of keeping peace; and it doesn't water-down its truth claims to fit in with the postmodern times. In all honesty, The Emergent Church has missed the mark by a country mile. The world, beloved, isn't asking for the church to "relate" to them; BUT, they ARE asking for genuine, tough, honest answers--to their very real and difficult questions; and to see the gospel applied to every area of life in which they function. We live in profoundly dangerous and evil times; and this is not a season for weak, cowardice men absent of strong biblical convictions to try and lead.
It is, however, a time for men of God to stand for the truth with boldness and courage, yet always marked by the humility of the love of Christ for His people, His Word, His gospel, and those without Jesus.
What typifies and represents much of the current state of evangelicalism today, and in specific The Emergent Church, are four key "politically correct pomo" views:
1. Ambiguousness about the nature of saving-faith - justification (Rom. 3:21-26)
2. Awkwardness about the depraved nature of man as sinner and the doctrine of sin (Rom. 3:10-18)
3. Ashamed of the exclusivity of the nature, person and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom. 5:1-11)
4. Arrogance against the authority, sufficiency, and veracity of God's Word (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
The cross of Christ still remains the greatest and most profound example of a BOLD orthodoxy. "But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal. 6:14).
Arguably, the two most robust and popular theological tracks being discussed today across the board are reformed theology AND The Emergent Church. The former wants to proclaim the biblical gospel and truth of God's Word to the culture; the later wants to reinvent the faith by making culture the interpreter of Scripture.
Throw into this quadrate the "leaven" of the prosperity gospel; patriotism being equated with biblical Christianity; post-modern ecclesiology; pragmatism, a therapeutic form of sanctification, ecumenism, and the self-esteem/human potentiality movement and you have the disastrous recipe for a "PC" version of Christianity. This is a faith which is pleasing to man, but an offense to God. It is not representative of biblical Christianity anymore than The Message is representative of a real bible. Ultimately, it tragically leads to apostasy (Galatians 1:6-9).
We need reformation again in the church in America beloved. God will have to sovereignly work among His people to accomplish this great task for no man may conjure this of his own volition, unction, or desire. May we pray for the Lord to open the heavens and bring the church back to honoring Him again and His Word. And let us pray also for the many evangelical leaders that carry the weight of high visibility in the world that they would remain true to the gospel, true to God's Word, and true to the person and character of Christ.
May I suggest reading here and here for further insight and clarification on this important issue.
By His grace and for His glory,
(2 Tim. 1:6-18)