THE CHURCH IN THE AGE OF RELATIVISM

Next door to my daughter’s apartment is a prominent downtown church; a rather large one.  She invited me to go with her to explore the possibility of her making it her church home.  There was no one to greet us, only a sign notifying attendees to help themselves to the daily program.

After being seated, I opened the program.  The “service” was “Honoring Great American Feminists; Bella Abzug, Hillary Clinton, Angela Davis, Betty Friedan, Oprah Winfrey,  Gloria Steinem, and a few names I didn’t recognize.  The music consisted of the organ playing; no congregational singing.  The Pastor/Speaker reminded us of a few community activities and then directed those gathered to refer to the program.  His “sermon” started out by reminding us of the “The Day of the Woman.”  So far, we heard nothing about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Nicene Creed, Abraham, Samson & Delilah, or the Virgin Mary, nor was a Scriptural basis used, not even Proverbs 31:10-31.

We had enough so we left …; and a few others did the same.  If I’m not mistaken, we thought we would hear something about Jesus.  Sorry Charlie!

Relativism is the philosophy that truth is only that which stands side by side to each individual’s beliefs and experiences, or more authoritatively, it is “any theory holding that criteria of judgment as relative, varying with individuals and their environments.” [Webster Dictionary]. In English it means: truth is not absolute!  In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Hamlet and Rosencrantz are talking: “Since nothing is really good or bad in itself – it’s all what a person thinks about it.”  So there is no truth, it is only what you think about it through your experiences of life.  

Therefore, basic and fundamental truth does not exist according to relativism.  Everything is nuanced.  To be up to date and appeal to the younger crowd, the millennials, the hip Preacher/Speecher, is required to make the Bible “a living, breathing” document, relevant to todays way of thinking.  Forget theology.  Forget thee’s and thou’s.  OK?  Some will say, “Its better to get them through the doors of the church than to force them to stay at the nightclub!”

Activities, music and customs have always changed with the times.  No problem so far.  But wait a minute-wait a minute.  It has only been in the last 50 to 60 years that the Christian beliefs taught in the Nicene Creed have been deleted from our pulpits.  Consequently, most of the younger crowd today know nothing about the Trinity, or heaven or hell or sin.  They may know a little about the niceties of accepting Jesus as their personal Savior, but please don’t make them cry over Calvary or the blood.  If you preach too strongly about repentance and confession of sins, we’ll just go to another church.  We want to hear things that lift us up and make us feel good – “Lord knows how we need to hear some good stuff with all the bad things we see on TV news and besides, isn’t there only one God anyway?   We can be like Ancient Greece with many gods.  Since Christian theology and the Christian belief system has been thrown out the window, we can say that the golden calf, Allah, Thor, Jesus and whoever can be a god to us.  

Trinity?  “Forget it.  I can/t explain it anyway.”

Heaven?  “Do you mean aliens in spaceships?  UFOs?”

Repentance?  “Well, I’m sorry for a lot of things.”

Praying?  “Omg yes. I pray all the time.”

Living a holy life?  “You gotta be kidding.  I’m no monk.  And nobody’s perfect.”

“You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you —keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.”

2 Timothy 4:3-5 (msg)

What is the true church?  Is the church of which Jesus is the founder an organization, an ornate, architectural building or arena or auditorium filled with happy-happy people listening to the latest rock music and a Speecher who stands on stage with one hand in the pocket of his torn jeans wearing sneakers while he make everyone laugh?   Is it a place where you can live like the devil all week long and come to “The Place” or “The Center” on Sunday, get out early for lunch and head for the beach?  Is a great church one that attracts the most people?   What about the music?  Does it truly bring out praises to God or does it simply tickle your fancy? 

God’s holy place of worship is, according to the Word of God, a gathering of those who “testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.”

Acts of the Apostles 4:33 (nlt)

In the early church, the power of the Holy Spirit was upon them all; not trying to be relevant; not trying to make the Word a living, breathing document; no trying to be a late night comedian.  It was so holy that when a man and his wife lied about giving, God struck them dead!  I fear that too many churches today are too busy counting nickels and noses to be filled with the Holy Spirit; to testify powerfully and be a great blessing!

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DOES GOD HAVE A ZAPPER?

LET’S GET THIS CLEAR: GOD DOES NOT “CAUSE” EVIL!  HE DOES NOT HAVE A ZAPPER THAT SHOOTS DOWN A LIGHTENING BOLT SIMPLY TO SEE HOW YOU SQUIRM.  

We live in a fallen world! To fully understand what happened in the eons of time before the earth was created is above my pay-grade … and your’s, too.  But this we know:

“when God created he “looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!”

Genesis 1:31

Human beings allowed themselves to be deceived by “wrong theology” – [so to speak]. 

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The Woman said to the serpent, ‘Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.’”

Genesis 3:2-3 (msg)

“The serpent told the Woman, ‘You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.’”

Genesis 3:4-5 (msg)

Does anyone know how, what, when or why Satan rebelled against God?  No!  Apart from the Holy Bible we know very little, but speaking of Satan, Isaiah 14:12 says, ‘How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!’”  And Isaiah indicates in vv. 13 & 14 that this fallen angel wanted himself to be something more than an angel through pride.  “You said to yourself, ‘I’ll climb to heaven. I’ll set my throne over the stars of God. I’ll run the assembly of angels that meets on sacred Mount Zaphon. I’ll climb to the top of the clouds. I’ll take over as King of the Universe!’”  PRIDE!

Isaiah 14:13-14 (msg)

A shallow reading seems like God causes evil and makes bad things happen like an evil genius. 

IT. WAS. SIN. and DISOBEDIENCE, NOT GOD’S PLAN! 

God’s sense of justice demanded he give humans the freedom to choose.  Otherwise, he would simply be a celestial puppeteer.  So Eve chose to give in. 

“‘The serpent seduced me,” she said, ‘and I ate.’”

Genesis 3:13 (msg)

“GOD told the serpent: ‘Because you’ve done this, you’re cursed, cursed beyond all cattle and wild animals, Cursed to slink on your belly and eat dirt all your life. I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hers. He’ll wound your head, you’ll wound his heel.’

He told the Woman: ‘I’ll multiply your pains in childbirth; you’ll give birth to your babies in pain. You’ll want to please your husband, but he’ll lord it over you.’ He told the Man: ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from, ‘Don’t eat from this tree,’ the very ground is cursed because of you; getting food from the ground will be as painful as having babies is for your wife; you’ll be working in pain all your life long. The ground will sprout thorns and weeds, you’ll get your food the hard way, planting and tilling and harvesting, sweating in the fields from dawn to dusk, until you return to that ground yourself, dead and buried; you started out as dirt, you’ll end up dirt.’”

Genesis 3:14-19 (msg)

God didn’t cause Adam and Eve to receive bad things.  It was a volitional choice on their part. 

Therefore, in this fallen world Jesus [God in human flesh] says, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Matthew 5:45 (niv)

This world is set in motion with immutable laws of the universe; some visible and some invisible; some tangible and some spiritual. 

Does God always protect us in all circumstances?  No! 

Does God heal all diseases?  No!

Does he give us answers to everything?  No! 

Is this an exhaustive study answering all questions about the subject?  No!

But this we know: His eternal, everlasting love will be manifested in all things.  He will not always protect you from cancer, but your faith in him will bring you a joy you have never known and bless people around you, maybe to their salvation. 

As with  HORATIO G. SPAFFORD.  Successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago.  Wonderful family.   Living a beautiful life. Then, his son died with pneumonia in 1871.  Later that year,  the great Chicago fire occurred and he lost his business. In 1873, his wife and their four young daughters took an ocean liner to Europe.  Mr. Spafford was to join them later.  Four days into the crossing of the Atlantic, an accident caused the ship to sink and all four children drowned.  Mrs. Spafford was found hanging on to some debris.  Later, they had another son who also died. Through these awful tragedies and sufferings, Mr. Spafford wrote:      🎼🎶

“When peace like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot, 

Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.

“Though Satan should buffet,

Tho’ trials should come,

Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, 

And hath shed his own blood for my soul.

“It is well (it is well) 

with my soul, (with my soul),

It is well, it is well with my soul.”

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:7