A few weeks ago I took a journey on the inter net to my favorite theological discussion forum to ask for help concerning Max Lucado. Dr. Lucado is no doubt one of most popular writers in contemporary Christianity. He pastors a mega church in Taxes. His followers, like most contemporary writers, who are now pirating what he did there in Taxes in their own Churches. Lucado's main philosophy is to make the church comfortable and inviting for the lost and stay away from doctrine. I visited a church, some time back, that has adopted his philosophy. Almost anything went in dress, music, and other activities. What went on in that church was like a commercial that once said, "have it your way." This attitude comes from a secular pragmatism. If it works do it.
But this does not merely affect one Church, one Denomination, or one person. Every were you go, the standards of our faith in both style, dress, doctrine, and evangelism has been reformulate. Some one suggested that each generation has the right to change style of worship. This has some merit. And the main reason for changing style, dress, doctrine is to bring people into the Church who other wise would not want to come. Evangelism. Add to this the list the urgency of reaching our teen population. Now who can argue with that logic? Sounds good doesn't it. After all who would deny a lost soul a place as wonderful as heaven? And is not winning the lost our primary objective as Christians? This seems to be the position of most of us Arminian types. Yet many of our Calvinist and Baptist friends are as deeply involved in this philosophy as we. And might I add, doing a better job.
But the question that emerges is this. Are there any standards that we should observe in bring others to Christ, reaching young people, and styles of worship? Is there such a thing as going to far in reaching any one for Christ? You know, are the any DO's and DON'T's that we are accountable too? To suggest any limits on these endeavors is considered by some as unloving. Perhaps we need to look at it a bit differently.
Strangely you will find that the world has standards, dress codes, and other guide lines for operation. For example, in education we find a whole list of standard concepts and objectives that teachers must teach during the year. Some school systems even have a standard dress code called uniforms because kids and teachers no longer could discern what is adequate dress. Have you ever flown? If so, did you know that many airline industries have a standard check list that their pilots use? They have a standard check list in the pre taxi stage. One for the taxi stage. One for the moment of take off. And finally one for shutting down the engines once they arrive at their destination. This is done to assure a safe trip. In the medical profession there are standards too. Before any operation there is a blood check, blood pressure check, a check to see if you are allergic to any medication, and the list goes on.
As a matter of fact in almost any profession, you will find a code of standards from dress to procedure, and everything in between. This is all done to assure us that the thing done will be safe and right. Standards are not there to inconvenience but protect the consumer, and the producer. These are reasons for standards. Why, should we not expect anything different in the Faith?
Some suggest that Paul agrees with philosophy when he said that he was "all things to all men." Do you really think that he drank and looked like a drunk to win a drunk? If Paul were a woman, do you think he would dress like prostitute to win one? You gotta be kidding. All this meant was that he could communicate on whatever level he met the people. Do you think that he was satisfied to leave them on the level in which he found them once they were saved? No! He vigorously encouraged them to the level of holy living. Take for example the Corinthian Church. It was a very talented and educated Church. As a matter of fact this church had more going for themselves, according to the scholars, then any New Testament Church we know. Yet two times Paul wrote and took them to task because of their misuse of grace. Their sins received no solace from the grace that saved them. Their criterion of grace was not the same grace of Paul or God's.
Years ago, it was reported that Church suffered form the same immorality as was taking place in the world. Amazingly enough, the percentages were about the same. It showed little or no difference between the church and the world. From that time till now a huge surge in Christian psychology and counseling emerged. All this to stem the problem. Add to this the do your own thing attitude in evangelism to get people saved. The "whatever it takes" to get them in. The acceptance of Christ became nothing more then a mere change in relationships. It rejects any necessity of outward standards as a result for fear that works will get the glory. And capping it off no restraints in entertainment in religion. Simply put, grace is glorified now by our permissive methods in bring people to Christ. Therefore, because of grace, we don't need standards of any kind. We can save people because of our new methods. And once they are in the Church our Christian psychologists will counsel them through any problems that may arise.
For the Arminians, this is truly a theological disaster. After all, it is us who accuse the Calvinists of approving of sin because of their concept of grace. Their carp on eternal security does little to discomfort sinful actions. We label this as antinomianism. Laws and standards mean nothing because it is all of grace. But we go willy nilly into permissiveness when it comes to standards and evangelism just to bring the lost to Christ. Is this not sinful too? It is our Achilles heel, or what we accuse the Calvinism of, antinomianism. If it is wrong for them, it is equally wrong for us.
Jude says in 1:4 "For there are certain men crept in unawares, ... ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness," Enoch and others spoke of this sort of thing in Bible times. There are no doubt profits to be made in religion, and contemporary Christian music. While that might not be wrong the question is were do we draw the lines? Many of our Christian performers freely mimic the haters of religion in Hollywood in both dress and style of music. Our churches are structured more for the performing arts then pure religion. Our goals of no doctrines and make people comfortable parallel human secularism's social clubs. The secularists are out to make people feel good. So what's the difference between the two? With the Church our Savior has been turned into some mystic being who want to make us feel good. You don't rock the boat in making people feel good.
I agree with Jude. The grace of God has been turned into lascivious behavior for Christ in our contemporary Church. Anything goes as long as it is done in Jesus' name. Where do we draw the line? At what point will the Church realize that while we tried to invade the world with the gospel, the enemy has invade us. Sadly, the salt has lost it savor. Seemingly, the conqueror has been conquered? And for the most part Satan twisted the conquerors concept of love to vanquish the real changing power of the Gospel. Love is nothing more then permissive permission to do your own thing for God. Indeed we have turned the "grace of our God into lasciviousness" with the don't rock the boat feel good gospel contemporary church. Our church is fast proving Paul was wrong when he asked, "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" Sadly, they ignore or reason away the next verse "God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?"
Therefore how far can we stretch grace to cover our methods in evangelism? How far can we stretch grace to cover our lack of personal standards? And how far can we stretch grace to cover our lack of a Christian ethic before it becomes whole sale antinomianism? Indeed the modern church is within a hairs breath of Calvinism's sin, antinomianism.