The Christian Life: God's Will

The Cure for Postmodern Evangelicalism's Spiritual Madness

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
The knowledge of God in Christ is the Christian's stability in a world in which much of the church has descended into spiritual madness.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part eighteen of a series. Read part seventeen.

The knowledge of God in Christ is the Christian's stability in a world in which much of the church has descended into spiritual madness.

Madness (mad?¢??²nis), noun: ideas or actions that demonstrate lack of sound judgment and careful thought.

The nation that is founded upon Biblical principles, and the ruler who governs in submission to the God of the Bible, are short-lived rarities in the long and broad course of history. In all times and places, believers can expect spiritual madness to dominate the world. The psalmist's inspired description of men and nations is the dreadful norm:

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, "Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us." (Psalm 2:1-3)

But the sad fact is that in our time, we also find spiritual madness ?¢?? ideas and actions that demonstrate lack of sound judgment and careful thought based on God's Word ?¢?? dominating much of the Evangelical church. Much of postmodern Evangelicalism ?¢?? typified by the Purpose-Driven Church philosophy ?¢?? is gripped by a mindset that is nothing less than open rebellion against the Word of God.

The Root of the Madness: God's Word Is Not Enough

One overriding presupposition is at the root of postmodern Evangelicalism's madness: the Word of God, and the expository preaching of the Word, is not enough. We must have more, and we must do more.

In actual practice, that thought quickly becomes this one: We must have something instead of the Word. It becomes not simply "God's Word plus" but "man's word instead." The postmodern Evangelical church has lost any grasp it may have had of the genuine will of God.

The Purpose-Driven Church on Steriods

I recently attended a pastors' conference in Atlanta, not as a participant, but as an observer doing research. The entire focus of the conference was on creating church "service" that would be, above all, a sensory atmosphere that would "wow" the un-churched. Nearly 3,000 pastors and church leaders attended. Over 280 exhibitors hawked the latest in stage settings to take the place of the pulpit, complete with mind-numbing visual effects, laser lights, ear-splitting and gut-shaking sound systems, holographic projection systems, fog machines, and much more. This conference was the Purpose-Driven Church movement on steroids.

I expected this gathering to be mainly a 20-something and 30-something crowd. Instead, most of those present were in their 40s and 50s ?¢?? church leaders who were convinced that all of this is necessary to "reach" the postmodern generation. As I heard one fifty-something pastor put it, "You have to have a passion for the technology." Passion for the Word of God and the will of God are not enough.

This was highlighted by one of the keynote speakers, a well-known missiologist. He said that he was going to be planting a church in Nashville during the coming year, and so one of his reasons for coming to the conference was "to see all the stuff we'll need to get." He stated that in the present cultural environment, expository preaching is actually sinful. Another keynote speaker told the crowd, "You can't invite people to a service that s__ks" (here he used a five-letter profanity meaning "is inferior").

The Cure for Spiritual Insanity

There is but one cure for such spiritual insanity, and we find it in Colossians 1:10: God's people growing into the knowledge of God in Christ that is found in His Word alone. God has ordained the true church of Jesus Christ as His means of communicating that truth through the preaching, teaching, and study of the Word. Paul repeats this thought in Philippians chapter one, beginning at verse nine:

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent," - that is, things that are superior and worthy and valuable - "that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."

God Promise ?¢?? And Warning

This is the true Christian's stability in a world where even much of the visible church has descended into spiritual madness. The prophet's words to Hezekiah are also God' present promise to His people:

The Lord is exalted, for He dwells on high; He has filled Zion with justice and righteousness. Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, and the strength of salvation; the fear of the Lord is His treasure. (Isaiah 33:5-6)

God's warning to the nations in rebellion against His Son is also God's warning to the church in the rebellion of spiritual madness:

Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. (Psalm 2:10-12)

Next: Is Knowledge of Christ the Foundation of Your Entire Life?

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