The Pied Piper of the 21st Century
“Justification” is a word that we Christians love and rightly so, it is fundamental to our belief. The justification, as historically validated by Christ and preached by the Apostles, is not the Justification at issue in this article. The issue here is a fault that has been weaved into the fabric of Christianity and has succeed and is present today. Today’s Christians, being “in the world but not of the world,” have now justified the world to themselves. Amazingly, the starting point for this display was in the Lord Jesus Christ who conquered the world and is still in all actuality Lord over His creation.
First, from the authentic justification of Christ is extracted a new set of assumptions, which are all wrong. In this list of assumptions is hidden the idea that all the hard work which is accomplished by the Christian is valid and reflects the heart and will of the Lord. Apparently, by the simple fact that Christians perform these acts, they become part of the plan and strategy of God to reach the world.
Are Christian actions, that appear in all respects like the actions of other humans, positive? Should these actions be accepted carte blanche as Christian? All the works that the Church considers worthy are not all valid and meaningful to the Lord just because they are declared as works of “faith.” Can a Christian “Christianize” his actions and the actions of materialistic man by a simple resolve or loud proclamation? Does secular man have a “Christian” work to do? These people only need to take part in a production or work, even when anti-Christian, and declare it for the Kingdom and all is well and good. The question of permissibility is never asked. Now, the Christian “can do all things” in the Lord who allows all things. This Christian needn’t give it a thought if a certain action is satanic, after all, Satan has been defeated. Discerning good and evil is no longer a problem. “Where sin increased grace did much more abound.”
The world is the world and it is a hostile power in revolt. The Apostle John concludes the New Testament with his vision of a world thoroughly lost, politically, economically, technologically, militarily, morally, and spiritually lost; all the works of man are the radical enemies of God and none of its works are good works. Even though Satan was defeated he is still the ruler, governor, and Prince of this world. Satan’s promise to Jesus to turn over all dominion of the world was not an empty promise and Jesus does not dispute His claim. All the works of the world will be reduced to ashes.
Modern Christianity reasons as if the Kingdom of God is already apprehended in its fullness. There is no motivation to hope in some future Kingdom when all the future can be actualized in the present; hope has been canceled-out and replaced by a faith in the NOW. I have heard it said that this present hope (in man’s ability) that they can merely act and think positively and be optimistic in the current situation, is the answer God is looking for. Like the Preterist (who believe that all prophecy was fulfilled by AD70), their conclusions reinforce the idea that all has already been accomplished anyway.
On the other hand, they reason that “We have to live in this world, therefore, we must legitimize the work we do. Wouldn’t life be terrible (they say) if everything is destined for destruction if we remain so negative and nothing making any sense? As Christians, aren’t we to believe in–possibility thinking? Only in terms of that “possibility” can anyone continue day-to-day, otherwise why be alive?”
Past theologians were unwittingly led in most cases to find a doctrinal way to legitimize man’s work and his participation in an unstable world. That problem seems more real today when we realize the potential that the world could have ended several times with the devastation of so many wars and diseases. The job of present survival takes on renewed emphasis today with Coronavirus; the real threat of personal extinction grips men’s hearts and new questions arise about their vulnerability, even in the hearts of Christians who consider the world their home.
Secondly, if Jesus is the Lord of the present then He is also Lord of the past. This opinion causes us to view history positively because, after all, we have survived. Should we look at history that way? From a Biblical viewpoint do we have a right to view the march of history through rose-colored glasses? Does the march of time end in glory? Looking at the economy (especially today March 27, 2020), the social structures in the world, the moral low-bar in relationships, crime, and violence, etc., we do not see either the evident progress toward the Kingdom or the observable actions of the Lord in history, we simply see effects and facts.
What we are tempted to do is to look at the advances of technology, medicine, and science, and confuse that with progress, and it seems that Christians are on-board and lead the way trumpeting a new spirituality. But, the Bible paints a different picture; our future is grim if we believe the prophets; what it reveals is judgment. I see no continuity between man’s history and the Kingdom of God; if there is then maybe there is also continuity between my fleshly life now and the resurrection life, but that is a false hope. Christians want to imagine the spiritual and the temporal having continuity, the Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of darkness somehow influencing each other. In reality, the Kingdom of light has nothing at all to do with darkness and we are instructed to “die to our desires.” We must all pass through death, all physical things move toward death and disorder. All the historic things of this life, our works, and our creations be they scientific or artistic will see the flames of judgment along with all the elements, nothing will remain. The narrow gate will not allow any carry-on baggage; everything is left behind.
To be sure, our works will follow us. On the far side of death and the other side of judgment, where there are mercy and grace for those who cast away their own works for the works which were unseemly and unsuitable in the world, God will cherish and preserve in an archive of remembrance for His special purpose.
Christians have the habit of minimizing their faith. The acceptance of this new order of things is to be deliberate and intentional. The faith that we profess is not implied or presupposed, it is practical, concrete, hard-nosed, and unconditional; it is “NO” and “YES.” There exists a faith that is “YES” and never “NO.” For example; it is not correct to say that since “death has been swallowed up,” a person can live as if there is no death, or that since “grace abounds,” the whole horizon of possibilities is opened up. As Christians, we need to maintain a Godly tension between the two. The “Yes” of God is stated relative to His “No” creating this latent hostility with the world and its activity. We only have the absolute “Yes” of God because there is an absolute “No” also. Just as there is always the “Yes” of repentance and must always be renewed because there is the “No” of judgment. The “No” of God is total, radical, and always present and is pronounced by God over the works of man. “My God, why?” has rolled off the lips of many faithful Christians as God passes judgment on their works and like Christ, our death and our judgment are real, serious, terrible. This is not the minimizing of faith, this is following Jesus, and embracing the righteousness of our Father. The Gospel can not be proclaimed without preaching the “No” of God; the judgment of the individual comes before grace, the vessel must be emptied before it can be filled.
But, what does man desire from the Church? Because man is a sinner he doesn’t get what he needs but rather what he wants or expects. Unfortunately, the modern Church gives people what they expect and the Gospel is struck down and neutralized; the Good News is replaced with a good business plan. People sit in Churches across this land and are made to misunderstand the Truth and live out their lives in a cloud of ignorant bliss. Men and women leave the Church today supposing that Jesus has faith in them and their works. The Church has justified the world and men leave feeling justified. Even when the President turns to the Church it is to have theologians tell him what a great person he is and how his works are enjoying the blessings and approval of God.
Corporate Christianity makes men “right.” Traditionally, the Church has affirmed that God agrees with man’s works whether it be fighting wars, manufacturing, or playing football. We have declared God’s blessing on the space-race, the internet, Hollywood, medicine, politics, and everything else theologians are paid to bless. Men have declared the great “Yes” of God over these works and follow the Church to the world. Corporate Christianity is the Pied Piper of the Twenty-first Century leading men to punishment and judgment and God has declared all of their works as “No.”
The third and final article