Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Itchy Ear Preaching

2 Timothy  4:1-4 flies in the face of the Seeker-Sensitive strategies of the Church Growth Movement's attempts to remake the Gospel into a commodity that  conforms to the preferences of those it seeks to evangelize. In these four verses, the apostle Paul solemnly charged Timothy to keep his preaching centered on God's Word, which would counter the more popular false teachings that threaten believers.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. ~~2 Timothy 4:1-4 (ESV)
Evangelicals used to be known for their fidelity to the Bible, and received much contempt for standing against popular culture in favor of upholding God's Word. During the 1970s and 1980s, we clung to conservative theology. Some of us (myself included) had come to Christ while we were members of mainline denominations. Upon our conversions, we recognized the liberalism that had seeped in to those denominations, and subsequently left those churches due to their abandonment of Scripture.

Now subtle (and not so subtle) error has worked its way into evangelical churches. As with mainline churches 40 years ago, evangelical churches minimize and/or adjust God's Word to accommodate sinful choices or to integrate mystical forms of spirituality into their "worship." Many evangelicals now follow the sad example of mainline churches, allowing false teachers to draw them away from sound doctrine.

Sadly, this abandonment of Scripture mirrors various churches leading the Church Growth Movement. Doctrine, according to church growth experts, must take second place to activities and practices designed to attract non-Christians. 

While such entertainments may fill pews (and offering plates), however, they generally don't cultivate mature disciples. Only faithful preaching by men who refuse to waiver from the Bible and will teach it in proper context can produce genuine Christians. Such adherence to Scripture guards people against the deceptions that so plague present day evangelicals. 

I pray for the leaders in the church we attend to continue preaching the Word without letting popular trends distract them. If the church grows numerically, great...but I'd like to see it grow in grace and truth, shunning false doctrine and practices, regardless of whether the church rolls grow or shrink. A  full church of empty souls does nothing to expand Christ's Kingdom.

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