Hallelujah! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights. Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly armies. Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, highest heavens,and you waters above the heavens.
Two years ago the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America changed their constitutional statement on marriage by replacing gender-specific vocabulary with gender-neutral language. The result is that the church now recognizes gay marriage as a moral equivalent to biblical marriage. The immediate question some might ask is “how could such a thing happen?” The short answer is that this adoption has been in the works in the PCUSA for some time, and anyone watching their decisions over the last several decades knew that such decisions were only a matter of time. Some would think that such a decision by a “mainstream Christian” denomination would be a clarion signal for all “true believers” to abandon these churches. The reality is that if any church or denomination makes such a decision, then it necessarily means that alarms have been blaring for a very long time. Consequently, if there were any believers left, then they have become tone deaf and blind to all meaningful sirens warning them that their denomination has left the proverbial reservation. So what are some of these critical alarms that should alert us to the fact that our denomination or church has been deceived and is on the verge of abandoning authentic Christianity?
- The Bible is not “inerrant” or completely “inspired by God,” its just an inspiring book. This means that some things in the Bible are either not true, or didn’t really happen, or are just plain wrong and should be rejected. Once this bell is rung then you are on a slippery slope inside a bobsled and it’s just a matter of time before your denomination or church begins to take the next disastrous steps listed below.
- Jesus is not the only way to God; or, other faiths are moral equivalents to Christianity. Religions are all just different roads that arrive at the same ultimate destination. Consequently, we should view all other faiths as viable equals. The only way any “Christian” arrives at this conclusion is to take the previously listed step.
- Love is God’s highest value; therefore, love trumps all of his other attributes. Since God is love (1 John 4.8 & 16) he would do nothing that is unloving. Consequently, his value for holiness and justice are subservient to his loving nature. Again, this perspective is only possible if one takes the first step. The fact is that God’s qualities are always simultaneously harmonious; thus, any decision he makes never offends anything essential to his nature. The God who is “love” is the same God that is a “consuming fire” who judges sin (Heb 12.29). God’s judgment of sin does not offend his loving nature. God is loving, holy, and just, and these attributes are all operable at all times in all of his decisions—none of them are suppressed whenever he acts. This consistency within God is true with respect to every one of his immutable attributes.
- Hell is not a real place or Hell is not an eternal place. Clearly if one believes that the only really important thing about God is that he is a loving being, then no one in their right mind thinks that such a God would create a place like “Hell.” Others might conceive that Hell is a real place, but it is only a temporal place where some are sent for a brief time; or that Hell is synonymous with becoming “extinguished” (i.e., ceasing to exist). In other words, Hell is the place where Satan, Hitler, and Charles Manson are sent, and once they arrive then they are extinguished like the flame of a match—thus, they literally cease to exist. The bottom line is this: there is no such thing as the ultimate judgment of eternal damnation.
- People are naturally well intending and are inherently good at heart. And let’s face it, good intentions and sincerity are all that really matters in this life, and no one should expect more than that since no one is perfect. This is pretty much a product of an atheistic/liberal western elitist mind. Most of the oppressed throughout the developing world know that it is not true (e.g., Christians North Korea or the young girls kidnapped by Boko Haram). The ironic thing about this idea (i.e., that no one’s perfect) is that this theme is systemic throughout the scriptures, and it is precisely why Jesus came in the first place. The Lord Jesus Christ graciously became incarnate in order to pay for our moral failures and to clothe us with his righteous perfection. Nevertheless, Jesus’ death demonstrates that God is not okay about the fact that we aren’t perfect. He has provided his solution for our moral imperfection.
- People should not be “shamed,” “ashamed,” or be made to “fear” because of their personal choices.” In other words we (i.e., the church) shouldn’t do anything that causes anyone to be afraid of a loving God. This is in spite of the fact that Scripture clearly emphasizes that God is holy and that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps 111.10; Prov. 1.17; also Lev 19.2; Ps. 77.13).
- God’s creation is our most important responsibility and we are only a small part of it. Every great lie always possesses an element of truth. It is true that we were given the responsibility to correctly manage creation, but regrettably we blew it; consequently, Satan now rules over humanity and its cultures. Jesus himself referred to Satan as the “ruler of this world” (Jn 12.31, 14.30, 16.11). However, we are not just a small part of creation; instead we are its pinnacle because man (generically understood—i.e., both men and women) is the only part in all creation that was made in God’s image. Creation reflects God’s glory, but only man and woman were created in his image (Gen. 1.26-27). Moreover, Jesus did not hang on a cross to repurpose or preserve creation, he came to redeem sinners (1 Tim 5.17), and he did so at great personal cost (Mk 10.45).
- Temporal cultural social “ills” are the foremost concern of the kingdom of God. Consequently, you shouldn’t try to tell people the gospel until you meet their felt needs. This particular step alone has caused millions to slip into a Christ-less eternity simply because it has caused countless churches to cease proclaiming the true gospel to the lost world. It has even caused entire denominations to be confused about what is actually the singular message of the gospel. Some denominations have wasted vast amounts of energy and resources seeking to cure the great unsolvable ills of the human race (i.e., poverty, addictions, oppression, wars, etc., etc.). Should the church be concerned about these terrible evils—of course! And many Christians have been instrumental in eradicating a few of them (e.g., Wilberforce and slavery). But if these social maladies become the focus of the church’s energies at the expense of proclaiming the real gospel, then the church will cease to fulfill the very commission that Christ is most passionate about; which is saving sinners from eternal separation from him.
- There should never be any inequities of outcomes. Just know that when you hear this alarm it signals that you’re nearing rock bottom. It is this mentality that has led to such things as “participation trophies.” Life is full of inequities. While all of us are equally valuable in God’s eyes, he did not create us all with equal abilities and opportunities. Moreover, equity of outcomes has never been achieved anywhere in human history; nevertheless, this idea is the “opiate” that communism and socialism has used to dope the masses into embracing their lies. And regrettably, even entire denominations have fallen prey to this seductive deception in one form or another.
- And finally, while the church may encourage heterosexual marriage, it should also recognize and accept gay marriage as a legitimate alternative. Why not? God is loving, people are inherently good, the Bible is scientifically incorrect in many areas, everyone should have the same opportunities, there is no such thing as eternal condemnation, and we are all ultimately heading for the same place anyway. So what’s the problem?
There you have it, the steps necessary for your denomination or church to become the next PCUSA. Denominations don’t normally take all of these steps in a single year; instead it may take a decade or even a generation before a single step is taken. A church may take a baby step here, or an entire denomination may take a giant leap over there—sometimes they may even take a step backwards before skipping a few steps “forward.” Nevertheless, evil and liberalism are never idle since they are the instruments of Satan, and he has played them effectively to lull many a Christian to sleep. Just be aware of one very important warning signal, once your denomination has taken the first couple of steps, then forget about ringing alarm bells, you might as well go ahead and start playing TAPS.
The views expressed above are may not necessarily be those of the Lantern & Shield Times LLC.
Monte Shanks, Copyright © December 1, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC