The Domestication of Christianity
- Tuesday, October 17, 2006
A friend and dear brother whom I respect, David Bryant, challenged me with a number of questions in response to last week's article on Rep. Mark Foley. David is, as you may know, the former president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI) and chairman of America's National Prayer Committee. If you know anything about David then you know he is a man who earnestly yearns for a God-given awakening among God's people. His wonderful book, Christ is All! issues a powerful call to the Church to recover the supremacy of Christ and the implications of this for the renewal and mission of God's people. For those of you who long to see the Son glorified in and through His Church; his book will have you shouting amen!
In response to last week's article David asks, "Why has society at large, and the Catholic Church in particular (and even the Evangelical church to significant degree), not become as 'obsessed' and 'outraged' with the hundreds and thousands of pedophiles among Catholic clergy -- and their thousands of young victims -- as everybody seems to be over one politician from Florida?"
David continues in saying, "It almost seems -- unless I've missed something somewhere -- that apart from some of the landmark lawsuits against the Catholic Church (such as in Boston), this whole horrific phenomenon has been swept under the rug, even by the secular, liberal media (as some like to call it). Why has there not been outrage and, even more important, deeply repentant, thoroughly biblical self-examination by the Christian movement in our land about how it is possible for such a huge number of clergy whose whole lives are lived 'in the Gospel' and as 'servants of Christ' to be so spiritually schizophrenic? Why have not even Evangelicals asked what all of this might say about what is missing in how the faith is being developed in our churches and, even more to the point, raise critical questions about the spiritual climate in our churches, and even more about the source of the spiritual 'dysfunctionality' that has allowed these seeds of lust and deceit to grow into such a wide-spread harvest of shame? After all, according to some studies as many as 60% of evangelical pastors are actually addicted to pornography."
To be clear, David is not singling out the Catholic Church; he is raising an important question applicable to the whole Church of Jesus Christ. Which is, "why are we no longer outraged by gross moral compromise and blatant disobedience in the Church?"
While the Catholic Church crisis may be centered on the issue of pedophilic priests; the evangelical church is awash in its own issues of moral compromise. Christianity Today reports that, "According to pastors, the 8 top sexual issues damaging to their congregation are: 57% pornography addiction, 34% sexually active never-married adults, 30% adultery of married adults, 28% sexually active teenagers, 16% sexual dissatisfaction, 14% unwed pregnancy, 13% sexually active previously married adults, and 9% sexual abuse." A Focus on the Family poll indicates that pornography is a problem in 47.78 percent of families and another survey indicates that at least 50 percent of men in church are "struggling with pornography." Numerous studies demonstrate that the American Church is a morally compromised Church.
This begs the question, why? What is happening (or not happening) in our churches to accommodate such moral compromise? While there are numerous conditions and causes, both cultural and theological, that have contributed to this deplorable condition; I think it could be summed up in what may be called the "domestication of Christianity."
By domestication, I mean the accommodation of Christianity to contemporary culture and in the process; the dethroning of Christ. Where Christ reigns supreme in the heart and life of His followers they will naturally appear in stark contrast to the surrounding culture, most especially today's culture. As has been the case throughout the last two millennia Christ's followers have often found themselves at odds with the prevailing culture both ideologically and in practice. This position is often uncomfortable and discomfort is anathema to our flesh. But to the spirit-led believer discomfort and suffering are recognized as the means by which God often brings glory to Himself.
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