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Famine in the evangelical land

Famine Memorial in Dublin, Ireland
Famine Memorial in Dublin, Ireland
Dangle14 / Creative Commons

One question haunts a great company of professing Christians today, now that they have reached the so-called postmodern times. It echoes a question that 20th century Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer posed through a book that he wrote in the 1970’s: How Should We Then Live?

But as Schaeffer has himself modelled through most, if not all, of his works, we just can’t jump in too easily to right living without first embarking through right thinking. For where the mind is not properly and sufficiently informed, the heart is almost always divided in all of its commitments, the inevitable consequence of which is that life itself is lost in the air of confusion.

Such is the curse of this so-called Information Age, where information overload abounds, resulting into a loss of meaning because the young man of the modern world, as C. S. Lewis recounted decades before its advent, “has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen of incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head.”

The lost Christian mind

For which reason Harry Blamires has never been more correct today than when he first succinctly observed during the existentialist-infested days of the 1960’s that “there is no longer a Christian mind.” For which he adds,

But as a thinking being, the modern Christian has succumbed to secularism … a frame of reference constructed by the secular mind and a set of criteria reflecting secular evaluations.

Sadly, it does not only apply to ordinary Christians but, to some degree, also to a still growing number of evangelical ministers, missionaries, counsellors and church workers themselves.

Listen to not a few so called evangelical preaching and conferences today, and hear how the biblical message has lost the prominence it used to occupy in many evangelical platforms. Read most of the recently published Christian books, in which pages the authority of Holy Scripture is almost always ignored, if only to give way to the latest psychological, therapeutic schemes meant to create an aura of self-fulfilment, and to allow for the most advanced marketing techniques for successful ministry, not to mention the many other fads in the so-called Christian marketplace of ideas.

In not a few instances where biblical passages are still being quoted to support a claim, they nonetheless emerge without going through proper exegetical and hermeneutical procedures to start with, and are therefore oftentimes devoid of theological import.

God in the evangelical world

As evangelical theologian David F. Wells once declared more than a decade ago,

It is this God, majestic and holy in his being … who has disappeared from the modern evangelical world.

For what now occupies the center stage of life even among professing Christians is the imperial self of man and not God. In this scheme, the will of man is sovereign, which is therefore not that far from the way Lewis describes the new arrangement in the modern world in as much as God is concerned:

The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accursed person approaches his judge. For the modern man the roles are reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge: if God should have a reasonable defence for being the god who permits war, poverty and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God’s acquittal. But the important thing is that Man is on the Bench and God in the Dock.

In the popular evangelical mind, He is the God we can manipulate to come into our midst through our praises, so as to serve our ends. Yes, He is supernatural and all-powerful, and we want Him to, so we can call upon His name to deliver us from the troubles of our own making.

Not the God of the Bible

But this is not the God of the Bible, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The God of the Bible demands our attention whenever He speaks, and commands our worship at all times, in all places, and in all that we do. And He has spoken sufficiently in Holy Scripture; though it seems like nobody pays attention. And if the Scripture is read in our churches (and yes, it is still being read), there almost always comes the missing note of reverence.

So there now exists a famine in a growing proportion of the evangelical land, creating a real spiritual hunger that only those who have once tasted of the real Bread from Heaven can recognize. Not anymore are the people of God fed and properly nurtured.

If not by poor, soft or weak inspirational preaching almost always devoid of biblical and theological content, many times over all that they eat is junk – junks from inspirational stories of successful business people, of winning athletes, of multi-awarded celebrities, of the creative imagination of an artist, of the most innovative creation of a scientist, of the testimonies of people who have reached the summit of success, many of them neo-pagans who have no knowledge whatsoever of the fullness of life in Christ.

Ah, where is the prophetic voice in the evangelical land? Where is the fear of God? Where is the vision of His grand majesty? Where is the true spirit of worship of the One and only Living God?

Who among those who call themselves by the name of Christ still appreciates the beauty of His holiness? Who among us still cherishes the Old Rugged Cross? Who among us still desires the pure milk of His Word?

References:

  • Blamires, Harry. The Christian Mind. New York, NY: Seabury, 1963

  • Lewis, C. S. The Collected Works of C. S. Lewis. Edison, NJ: Inspirational Press, 1996

  • Schaeffer, Francis. How Should We Then Live?: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1976

  • Wells, David. No Place for Truth, Or Whatever Happens to Evangelical Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eeerdmans, 1993

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