Continued from “Candy Christianity: The Counterfeit Gospel of the American Church” (Part 1 of 4)
“Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.”
Acts 12:23 (ESV)
“I hope you have become nauseated with the tawdry entertainment that passes for the true worship of God in many of our churches and, like the saints of the past, are longing for more of the deep truths of the inerrant Word of God.”
James Montgomery Boice
As the origin and object of all that is good, He alone is worthy of glory. The harmony here is both apparent and essential to Christianity. If we believe that God is the author and objective of every good thing, then it is impossible to conceive of a valid justification for the assignment of glory – any glory – to anyone other than Him. He is the beginning and the end – the alpha and omega – of all that is good.
Enter: Pride. The hand that claims honor for any self outside of Him; the wide and welcoming gateway through which all other evil marches.
We are intensely prideful selves by fallen natural inclination. We yearn for significance. We desire glory. We have seen His glory and acted upon that desire.
As pride-filled and sinful men and women, ours is a relentless thirst for self-significance. This self-significance requires self-glorification. In a mad quest for validation of our selves, we’ve sought to make His sovereignty our possession and plaything. We’ve mocked His holiness. We’ve turned from His perfect love.
We’ve become pirates and pretenders seizing upon His honor.
We are the thieves who’ve sought to steal His glory and in doing so have instead transformed our great and beautiful adventure into a terrible, dark tragedy. At the end of the day, we’ve each stolen nothing but our own happiness, peace, joy and even life itself.
This is the price of the theft of His glory.
Though it was our intent to pilfer His prestige, we’ve only managed to secure a pirate’s nightmare payload of fool’s gold: Crushed spirits, soft bodies, weak minds, rudderless families, sterile churches, a crumbling nation and a depraved culture are but a few of the more spectacular gems that we’ve managed to acquire.
What a deal!
Who said crime didn’t pay?
Indeed, such thievery does pay. It pays in death: the death of a body, the death of a mind, the death of a spirit, a church, a culture and a nation. In choosing to rob our God and mock His holiness, we have chosen death in every way and at every level.
As we rob Him of glory, we rob ourselves of life. As He is given glory, we are given life. Peace, joy, happiness and fulfillment in any true, lasting sense can only be known when God is given glory. So it is that our attempted theft has stolen only hope from our future.
But what we have intended for evil, He will use for good. He always does.
This is sovereignty.
This is perfection.
This is love.
It never could have been any other way.
With all praise and thanks to Him, let us now prayerfully and thoughtfully consider the wicked path that we have chosen and from which He has saved us.
“God made man in his own image and man returned the compliment.”
“Any view of the human will that destroys the biblical view of human responsibility is seriously defective. Any view of the human will that destroys the biblical view of God’s character is even worse.”
“The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There is not one of them which will not make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide.”
Our will has spoken.
With great enthusiasm we’ve exchanged the perfect, sovereign, holy God for something much more comfortable. Something warm, fuzzy, fluid and kind. Something we can wrap our minds around and to which we can relate. Something sensible. Something less intimidating.
A kinder, gentler god is just what we wanted – exactly what our hearts desired – and now we have him.
He is not sovereign. We are, at least practically speaking, and practicality is the bottom line with this god and his people.
His word is not holy. We pick, choose, spin and distort his recorded pronouncements without hesitation or shame. We’ll go as far as to attribute our own words and thoughts directly to him, printing them out neatly and signing his name at the bottom as a sort of unintended punch line.
His name is not holy. We print it on t-shirts, bumper stickers and posters, shoe-horning it into every Madison Avenue spun secular mold imaginable. He must be sold, after all, and what better way to accomplish this noble task than to cloak him in counterfeit Coca-Cola, Calvin Klein and McDonald’s logos?
If we could dip him in chocolate and put a bow on his head, we surely would. Anything to entice the poor, lost sinner to choose wisely, of course.
All’s fair in love, war and evangelism.
Holiness can be compromised. Sovereignty can be explained away. The rebellious will be made to feel welcome, warm and even cherished.
Once this wonderful, harmonious relationship is established, there’s nothing left to rebel against, is there? What could be more perfect!
This permissive god will be adored and we will carry his message of respectful inclusion to the four corners of the earth. We’ll exhaust and embrace every option as we spread his name and his oh-so-marketable brand of love throughout creation.
We will attach his name to any secular enterprise, from the benign and banal to the vulgar and vile. This god is sure to be gratified every time someone picks up a copy of “Girls Gone Wild, Bible Style” from their local church coffee shop and book store.
After all, sex sells and we’re all about the numbers.
Numbers, numbers, numbers!
Numbers are good. Numbers are success. Numbers are the goal. Size matters most. More is always better, and ever-increasing quantity is this god’s given mission.
Hitting those targets, filling those pews, selling those tickets, books, albums and god-wear have become favored ways of spreading his seeker-sensitive message. With such great effort made towards secular accommodation, the counterfeit kingdom has grown at a frightening clip.
As this fiction-founded faith snakes its way into congregations and pulpits, the church body begins to rot from within. The bridge we’ve built to a God hating culture is now overrun by enemy forces eagerly seeking our destruction and happy to accept our helping hands in the process.
In countless ways we have forsaken His kingdom for the kingdom of the age. We have forsaken holiness. We have forsaken Him.
Our kingdom has come. Predictably, it is little more in overall quality than a well-landscaped subdivision of Sodom. We are cuddling and nurturing a world of God-haters. With the sovereign, holy Christ removed from its center, ours is a philosophy doomed to spread death to all it touches – all with a warm, happy smile, of course.
We’ve lost our way and are leading the world accordingly. We’ve hit the dimmer switch where brightness is needed most, we’ve smiled and shrugged at profound deviations from truth and sought to avoid conflict at any and all cost – and make no mistake, the price of this aversion to confrontation has been enormous in scope and catastrophic in nature. We’ve taken the Neville Chamberlain approach to dealing with the enemy and our enemy is quite pleased.
We are determined to be liked; adored even. The god of our age is a staunch advocate of a Barney the Dinosaur approach to life, and you can be sure that he is appreciative of our compliance. Hand in glove with this guiding principle, every worldly standard of goodness, kindness and warmth seems to have been coddled, appeased and accommodated.
We have accepted and subsequently fostered the notion that God can be known without being feared, and this was the first crucial step toward our replacing Him entirely with the kinder, gentler god we’ve come to support if not consciously embrace.
Amazingly, the notion of a god who is “Savior but not Lord” has gained currency in the church. Lost entirely is the concept of our slavery to Christ. We have been bought with a price. We are His. Consequently, we are to seek and submit to His will completely and joyfully. His sovereign lordship requires this of us.
Of course, this Sovereign Lord is incompatible with the spirit of the age. That spirit inspires and permeates the counterfeit kingdom. We have come to perpetuate this favored perspective of the enemy through our flight from the essence of lordship.
Continued in: “Candy Christianity: The Devil’s Favorite Flavor” (Part 3 of 3)
Copyright 2009-2014 Scott Alan Buss