Friday, July 24, 2009

Hell, The Ultimate Offense

Laura at Full Of Grace, Seasoned With Salt makes a good point in her article Softening Of Church Hymns. She points out that some churches
"have disposed of the whole notion of a "sinner" in the name of not wanting to offend anyone."
This mentality seems to be a preoccupation with the modern Church, and especially with the next generation of Church Leaders, as they usher in a softer gentler Christianity. Sin is down-played and people are assured that they are, at the core, good and worthy of God's love. While this is understandable in our age of self esteem, it is a marked departure from Biblical thinking. Jesus has been demoted from the Crucified Christ, who bore God's wrath toward us on the cross, to Jesus is our best bud who is always there with us during the hard times, like when our girlfriend moves out.

To be sure, the desire to not offend appears noble on the surface. And it does seem counter intuitive in a heavily commercialized culture to "sell" God by pointing out that people are sinners, and deserving of His wrath. But we are left with no other choice.(1) There is only one way by which we may receive the eternal mercy of God, the first step being that we realize our dire need of it. By down playing that need we do save from offense, but we do so at the expense of a far greater one; for nothing can be more offensive than an eternity in Hell.

(1)While we do not have the choice of whether or not to point out that all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God, it is not my intention to suggest that Christians behave in a manner consistent with the caricature of Christians that exists today. This image was perfected in the pit of Hell, and there will never be anything that the church will be able to do, barring abandoning the cross and sin altogether- as many churches have done-to win the approval of a ardently anti-Christian culture.

11 comments:

Larry Durham said...

I have attended a few modern churches that put Jesus in the "best bud" box as you contend. I will defend my "modern Church" though. While we don't do the hymns as much...we're more of a Casting Crowns type worship...our pastor doesn't pull the punches when it comes to sin and it's effect on our lives.

We don't stone them to death...but we do slap them around a little :)

http://deanhermanonline.com/2008/08/25/august-25-sunday-thoughts.aspx

Susan said...

May we only and continually proclaim the Christ of the Bible. Jesus the Christ, the anointed one. The only begotten Son of the Living God. Plain and simple. The who died for my sin amd anyone who will accept HIS finished work. Thank God I did!!!!!
Susan

Squigs said...

The softening-up of the gospel message is largely counter-productive to the mission of the church; sure, while we can preach a Jesus-meek-and-mild, and that will make some people comfortable, let's not forget that Jesus also demonstrated a lot of anger to the rebellion in the world. In the end, people need to be saved of their sins for their very nature's are in rebellion against God Himself.

In the end, Jesus will come as a commander-in-chief and will not be squeamish, wading through the blood of battle up to his elbows.

We ought not shy away from teaching about the Justice that the Jesus will return with. After all, Justice goes hand in hand with his Love and his Righteousness - you cannot separate them.

theoldadam said...

Dan,

Great post, Dan.

People need to be slain with the law, and then raised with the gospel. Weekly, if not daily.

Thanks!

Dan said...

Larry

I've been the worthy recipient of such slappings, and I'm all the better for it.

Susan

Amen. As I keep thinking of the scripture: "there is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death".

Squigs

The seed for this article was planted by the book Unchristian. While the book had some worthy and challenging points about how we come off to unbelievers, I think the author takes the idea too far. I think they miss your point entirely, that is the corollary relationship between justice and love.

OA
I've never heard it put like that, but I do like it.

Laura said...

Dan,
Thanks for the honor!
A whole generation is being raised to believe a version of fake Christianity without sin or hell. With this growing trend, I wonder where the church will be in 30 years or so. Luckily though, what isn't grounded in truth will fail. Hopefully this is all just a passing phase.

Christinewjc said...

Great post! And SO TRUE! The current "I don't want to offend anyone by talking about sin" modus operandi is (unfortunately) on it's way to becoming the express train of modern Christian thought.

People may think that such a worldview is an "enlightened " way to "do church." But the reality is that it is just another one of Satan's ploys to keep people out of Christ's Kingdom.

The truth is, such a mentality is just another deception and ticket to hell.

That quote at the end of your post says it all!!

Years ago, I ran across commentary that stated, "beware the crossless gospel." Such a terrible error (and heresy) is becoming more and more prevalent in many churches today.

The Bible tells us the truth about each and every matter. God's Word tells us that the cross is offensive to those who are perishing.

2Cr 2:14 (NLT) But thanks be to God, who made us his captives and leads us along in Christ's triumphal procession. Now wherever we go he uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Good News like a sweet perfume.


2Cr 2:15 Our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those being saved and by those perishing.


2Cr 2:16 To those who are perishing we are a fearful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

Kathy said...

I second Susan's remarks.

God being a jealous God makes sense when coming from the heart of the one who says, "I will never leave you nor forakse you." We cannot dismiss and make light of sin on the basis of His demonstrated love while we were yet sinners...That kind of love demands our all, our whole-hearted devotion.

El Cerdo Ignatius said...

Larry: ...our pastor doesn't pull the punches when it comes to sin and it's effect on our lives.

In the Catholic Church, there are all kinds of priests - those of the milquetoast variety, who rarely if ever mention sin, thinking they're throwing open the doors of the church to those who need "a gentle invitation" to attend Mass; and those who while recognizing the God of Love, also remind us of the God of Justice. Specifically, as Larry said, the actual effect sin has on our lives.

Give me the tough, orthodox, not-afraid-to-speak-of-sin pastor any day. Father Milquetoast makes my eyes glaze over. Generally, those in any field who fret continually about self-esteem make my eyes glaze over, because they approach life from (dare I say it?) a fundamentally dishonest angle.

Dan said...

Christine,

Thank you so much for dropping by. You quoted one of my favorite passages:

But thanks be to God, who made us his captives and leads us along in Christ's triumphal procession.

This always paints a picture in my mind of a victorious King returning from battle with his captive ex-enemies on display and in tow, one of which is me, in a procession through the streets. Such a parade was a humiliating experience for the captive and an assault on his pride. Oh but when we see the conquering King, we find ourselves dissolved into willing humility and thanksgiving before his throne.

Dan said...

ECI

"Generally, those in any field who fret continually about self-esteem make my eyes glaze over, because they approach life from (dare I say it?) a fundamentally dishonest angle.

This is well put.