Look around you… Do you see anything more troublesome than the erosion of Judeo-Christian values in our culture and society? Look upon the social norms of today and measure them against those you grew up with… Does it bother you? If not, it should. I believe we are on the cusp of losing our favor and blessings from God. I see us living in a time similar to that of the days spoken of in Jeremiah.
Chapter 6 of the book of Jeremiah speaks about the siege of Jerusalem. God is ready to deliver judgement upon the inhabitants for their wickedness and oppression. The word of the Lord states:
“To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it. But I am full of the wrath of the Lord and I cannot hold it in…” (Jeremiah 6:10-11)
This passage in Jeremiah is a reminder to us that we serve the one and only living God. He who will not be mocked or ignored. Yet, in spite of this knowledge an ever growing number of Christians have turned a deaf ear toward God and His word. Many in the church have taken a road of passivity and weakness that has led to the intrusion of the church by foreign doctrines and ideologies separate from God and His truth.
But how have we gotten here?
I often listen to the sermons of pastors from decades past. In their messages, I can’t help but notice their concerns for the trends in society and culture are the same as those we are seeing come to fruition today. Their fight back then was against a movement in the church toward intellectualism and against the conservative views of the church. It caused me pause and look at what was happening in their time. To see how this movement may have contributed to the evolution of the church as it exists here and now.
If we look back to the turn of the 20th century, we can see a movement called Modernism challenge many of the traditional doctrines of the church. Out of its rise and challenge to the “orthodox” views of the church, the Fundamentalist movement became the response. Most of us are familiar with the term “fundamentalist” and understand it to represent those who support a conservative/traditional view of the bible and God (a triune God, the bible is the innerant word of God, etc…). But what about this movement called “Modernism”?
One of the fathers of the Modernist movement was a pastor by the name of Harry Emerson Fosdick. In a sermon titled “Shall the Fundamentalists win?” given in 1922, Fosdick argued that most people found it impossible to accept the virgin birth of Christ, the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, or the literal second coming of Christ in the light of modern science (wikipedia). He further argued, that given the different points of view within the church, only tolerance and liberty could allow for these different perspectives to co-exist in the church (wikipedia).
In 1935, Fosdick would give another benchmark sermon, “The Church Must Go Beyond Modernism”. In this speech, he stated the Modernist view that, “God…is a living God who has never uttered his final word on any subject” (fpcnyc.org). Ironically it was by this time that Fosdick seemingly acknowledged the slippery slope the Modernist/Liberalist movement had created in regards to how culture would influence theology – however, in spite of this observation he would never denounce liberalism (fpcnyc.org).
Sadly, by the late 1950s the theology of the Modernist movement, neo-orthodoxy and other doctrinal movements were becoming more entrenched throughout the Church and within many denominations (fpcnyc.org).
(See more regarding the Modernist/Neo-Orthodox movements at: http://www.fpcnyc.org/about-us/history/harry-emerson-fosdick/the-fundamentalistmodernist-conflict.html#sthash.x81Oc9hw.dpuf)
From the benign innocence of “Leave it to Beaver” to the sophisticated maturity of “The Simpsons”, one can see how societal changes have occurred rapidly since the 50’s. In this time frame, the Church has suffered alongside the moral deterioration of our society. Prayer has been removed from our schools and the absolute truth of God has repeatedly come under assault by intellectual interests and cultural bias. As a result, it can be asserted that the Church has yielded to cultural pressures and allowed it to influence the prevailing theology of many mainline denominations – just as Fosdick had surmised 66 years ago.
Part 2 to follow 7/28/16…
Please remember Christian Helplines this month and keep us and the ministries we support in your prayers. We face numerous challenges in running our ministry and need partners willing to come along side us and aid us in our cause to “go and make disciples”.
Firstly, your greatest means of support will come through prayer. If you will pray for God’s favor to be upon Christian Helplines and His blessings in all that we need or do, we know He is faithful and will hear your prayer.
Second, please share your knowledge of Christian Helplines with your Pastors and friends. Help us to serve your church and aid you in the development of disciples who will go and aid in reaping the harvest. We know that time is short. We need to do all we can to gather as many to Christ in the short time we have left.
Lastly, be faithful in support for your local church with your tithes and offerings. If possible, please remember us in your measure of support for the Lord and this great cause for which we serve.
For these blessings which we are about to receive we are thankful and give complete and total glory to God. We pray for you everyday. May God bless and keep you till we meet again.