What are we talking about? We are living in the day of the proliferation of cotton candy and sugar daddy preachers. We no longer have black and white, but a pale gray. We no longer have scarlet red sins, but instead a pastel pink. We no longer hear man being classified in Biblical categories – good and bad, holy and profane, righteous and sinful. This is all now taboo. That is because modern Christianity is not God-centered any more but man-centered, and when that happens, all of the century old crisp, sharp theologies and moral standards lose their precise definitions and cutting edges.
Both truth and morality are being blunted and dulled. The two edged sword that is being only slightly wielded and preached today can hardly break the skin, let alone penetrate and separate the marrow from the bone. Now morally and spiritually we are piling up an accumulation of carelessness, slackness and indifference. The sword of the Spirit is being turned into a child’s play rubber knife.
Satan just loves what is happening in the modern church. What is that? It is the attempt by modern ecclesiastical ethicists to blend historic moral absolutism with modern moral relativity. You know, kind of like a moral hybrid, neither here nor there. Nothing then is definitively right or wrong and then Satan has an amoral orgasm.
Satan could not conquer Heaven, so the next best thing is to make Heaven and Hell less antithetical. And if Heaven and Hell do disagree, at least they can disagree amicably. You know, sort of like Ehud Ohlmert of Israel and Mouhmad Ahmadinejad of Iran smiling at each other and shaking hands. Not likely!
“MODERN CHRISTIANITY IS NO LONGER ABOUT GETTING RIGHT WITH GOD, BUT
FEELING RIGHT ABOUT OURSELVES.”
There it is! That says it! Or as Emeril Lagasse shouts on his cooking show Emeril Live, which I really eat up, “BAM!” Modern psychology-religion! If you will, we have gone from getting right with God to getting right feelings about ourselves. This of course is futile, for we cannot get right with or feel right about ourselves, or get right with and feel right about anyone else until we get right with and feel right about God.
It is not only futile but fatal, for when religion deteriorates from God-esteem into self-esteem, it is no longer the force that enables man to overcome his sinful habits, and crucify his naturally violent and lustful nature for the glory of God. Rather, it becomes self-congratulatory and self-affirming in a society that is licentious and permissive. We are there, and much of modern religion is leading the way.
What is this modern religion called? I call it Religious Humanism, which in itself is a huge study. I suppose it could have many names, and one of them being used a lot these days is:
Another couplet for the same thing is:
However, what in essence it really amounts to is:
Being kind to and very careful around the sensitive human self! The seeker friendly styled religion of the 21st century is one that makes sure that seekers (whatever they may be seeking) find themselves and the whole church experience most pleasing, most unthreatening, and so very comfortable. Comfortable for whom? Especially comfortable for and with self! A religion that is more concerned about being man-pleasing than God-pleasing! I therefore also call this seeker friendly stuff nothing more or less than:
Today’s so-called modern Christianity (Selfianity) is a humanized religion that is far more concerned about sermons not offending church visitors than about sins offending the Holy God. A religion that is now all about the human self using God for its purposes, and no longer about God purifying and using the human self for His purposes! It is all about Pastor Santa and his little s-elves. Keep those little church s-elves happy and contented, and they will be dancing all over the sanctuary. They might even invite Pastor Santa over for Selfmas dinner!
In the end however, though these little church s-elves are made to feel like Pastor Santa’s sweet little pets, they often turn out to be unholy terrors who eventually are devoured by the savage beast of sin within them-selves, and they end up devouring others as well. I have seen it again and again, and so have you. Professed religious presidents and reputed church members of faith who are found to be serial adulterers (Bill Clinton) and serial murderers (BTK) because of the raging lust and hatred that fills them with foul and furious energies!
In this out of control immoral and violent world, we find ourselves disastrously with a corrupted modern Christianity that is more concerned about soothing the self than about taming the savage beast within the self. It is this convergence of all the current religious atmospheric ingredients that is creating the end-time perfect storm of gross immorality in our world.
KEEPING THE CONSCIENCE SHARP
We have kept the worst till last, namely, that this Seeker Friendly Selfianity today is softly killing the human conscience. In order for the conscience of man to be an alive, sensitive and reliable moral authority and policeman in our lives, it must constantly be stirred with strongly pointed reminders of what are sins and how bad those sins are. It must be constantly morally informed, or otherwise the conscience will more and more sleep the sleep of a spiritual and moral coma and eventually die.
Bill Bennett calls it “The Death Of Outrage.” I call it “The Death Of Conscience.” Same thing! The conscience must be continually, clearly and crisply morally informed in this age of moral relativism in order for its prohibitions and sanctions to the human mind and will to be reliable and effective. This informing can only be done by strong preaching of Scriptural moral absolutes which coupled with sanctified reason make up the conscience’s compass by which it is steered and in turn steers us. Otherwise it cannot and will not steer us right, only wrong.
I am sure you know this already, but it bears repeating. The noun conscience comes from two Latin words, con which means with, and scientia which means knowledge. With knowledge! In other words, the conscience can only function properly and effectively when it is informed by the Word of God. It cannot and will not when it is kept ignorant or wrongly taught.
Let’s keep this as simple as possible. The pastor on Sunday morning preaches on the 8th commandment from Exodus 20:15,
“You shall not steal.”
Neither from your brother, your neighbor, the department store, from the government, or the local gas station! Kids and grownups too need to hear about the Ten Commandments of God a lot in this lawless and amoral society called America. The Decalogue of Sinai must be preached on and read regularly today in churches. As goes the church so goes society.
The American church is the social conscience of America. Jesus said so! You know how it goes as well as I do. What with the criminal $4.00 plus for a gallon of gas today, people think to themselves, “This is sheer highway robbery.” I tell you, I have thought the very same thing. And given human nature, people rationalize themselves into thinking that it is perfectly okay to prepay 10 dollars, and then fill it with a few dollars more and take off without paying the balance. After all, it is only evening the score. One robbery deserves another. Tit for tat!
So the preacher explains the 8th commandment of God and tells his sheep and lambs that the taking of this or that which belongs to someone else, including the gas station’s gas, is a sin against God and must not ever be done. He tells his people that stealing 3 dollars or 3 million dollars in God’s eyes is the same. In either case, we are then thieves, robbers, cheats, crooks! The preacher then quotes from I Corinthians 6:9-10 which says,
“…Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor
homosexuals, nor thieves…nor swindlers shall inherit
the Kingdom of God.”
Then the mind of man informs the conscience, and the conscience in the name of God convicts and warns man’s mind and will that stealing is a very evil thing. If the person steals anyway and sins against his conscience, the healthy conscience will bug him so bad that he is convicted into confessing it, returning it and asking for forgiveness.
But remember this strong truth, namely, that a healthy functioning conscience will effectively police an individual only upon the basis of the known laws of God. If you will:
“THE HUMAN CONSCIENCE MUST NEVER BE ALLOWED TO BE ITS OWN RULE.”
The human conscience by nature since the fall of man into sin is as deceitful and corrupt as the human heart. The human conscience left to itself will sanction the attitude that it is a justifiable act under great need and distress to steal. The human conscience has often played the part of Robin Hood and magnanimously and laudably approved robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, especially when that poor person is one’s self.
But the really bad news is that the modern church’s and society’s consciences today are not only not being morally informed, but but they are being misinformed and deluded, and thereby the human conscience is giving false sanctions to the minds and wills of men. The conscience today is not only being told that sin is not sin, but it is being told that what was formerly deemed sin is really good and healthy after all. Sin is being presented as respectable, and therefore the conscience can no longer disrespect it. Because they are being told by society, pastors and church leadership that certain sins as abortion, perversion, fornication and adultery are not sins after all, but rather natural and benign, we are ending up with this horrendous situation today:
“MODERN SINNERS ARE BEING ENABLED BY THE SOCIETY AND THE CHURCH
TO SIN CONSCIENTIOUSLY.”
SEARING THE CONSCIENCE AND THE RESULTS
The Bible gives an interesting description of this lethal process:
We read these words in I Timothy 4:2,
“By means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as
with a branding iron.”
There are entire denominations today that now welcome active gay and lesbian members, and endorse same sex marriages. Katharine Jefferts Schori, chief Primate and Head Bishop of the Episcopalian Church of the USA preaches that God created people of the same sex to marry and have sex together.
The United Methodist Church welcomes gay and lesbian members, and calls their lifestyles merely incompatible with church teaching, but not abominable sins. (Leviticus 18:22)
These churches and their preachers obviously refuse therefore to preach against such sins as homosexuality and abortion. The preachers in these historic and long standing denominations hypocritically call themselves Christian preachers when they are anything but. They have seared their own consciences by believing and preaching lies for years. They then become the conscience searers of others by their seeker-friendly, soft-on-sin sermonizing as they cauterize the nerve endings of the listener’s consciences so that they become past feeling – branded by Satan’s branding iron.
The Apostle Paul describes what will happens to people when they grow thick calluses on their consciences when he says in Ephesians 4:19,
“And they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the
practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.”
When the calloused human conscience becomes past feeling, people, including church people will give themselves to sensuality for the practice, mind you, of every kind of impurity and greed. Lust on the loose and always looking for more! A sex crazed, greedy society! This is exactly what we are seeing in society, on TV and in the movies today.
What follows are the inevitable disastrous results when society and churches are more concerned about being seeker-sensitive than morally sensitive:
“UNLESS MAN IS CONSTANTLY MADE TO FEEL HE EVIL OF SIN, HE CAN AND
WILL NO LONGER RESIST IT.”
“WHEN THE SOFT SOAPING OF SIN DEADENS THE CONSCIENCE’S SENSITIVITIES,
MAN WILL END UP IN SENSUALITY.”
“THEN, LIKE THE MAN WHO HAS LOST HIS TASTE BUDS, ANYTHING
WILL GO DOWN.”
“THIS CONTEMPORARY THOROUGH CAUTERIZING OF THE HUMAN CONSCIENCE
WILL TURN MEN INTO THOROUGHBRED SINNERS.”
“ANY PREACHER WHO MAKES HIS PARISHIONERS DEAD TO RIGHTEOUSNESS
MAKES THEM BOLD TO SIN.”
“THE CALLOUS ON A MAN’S CONSCIENCE IS LIKE A FILM ON HIS EYES;
IT BLINDS HIM. THAT WHICH BLINDS A MAN TO DUTY MAKES
HIM BOLD IN DISOBEDIENCE.”
THE LOFTY STATUS AND ROLE OF THE CONSCIENCE
The human conscience is no small or insignificant entity. We must in these treacherous times hold this close to our hearts, and that is the realization that the human conscience is, as it were, the vice-president of God in the human heart. God’s vice-regent! It has a great but borrowed authority. Only with this difference, it can never be impeached, just informed or seared.
So far as Vice President Dick Cheney faithfully represents President George Bush, all that he does or declares under presidential mandate has the same force and authority as if the President had done or declared it himself. So to, the conscience is to be the applier and the interpreter of the fiats of the eternal Regent of Heaven and earth, God Himself!
Conscience alone stands between man and sin. For as all sin is in direct defiance against and opposition to Heaven, so the conscience must enable man to stand in direct defiance against and opposition to Hell. That is why the conscience must be kept strong and healthy, and its rebukes and chastisements stinging and sharp.
There is nothing worse than a pussy-footing conscience made so by pussy footing preachers. When it blares like a trumpet, and pierces the guilty man’s soul like a knife, it is the sign of a strong and healthy conscience! The healthy conscience is man’s best friend, and the seared conscience is man’s worst enemy.
Conscience is not only that which stands between man and sin, but between man and an awful and fearful judgment. We are not dealing with tiddlywinks here. We are dealing with eternal life and death matters. The principle is this:
“IF THE CONSCIENCE IS MAN’S FAITHFUL JUDGE, GOD WILL NOT HAVE TO
BE HIS EXECUTIONER.”
I close with this. My wife and I recently attended a church where the minister made this startling statement the essence of his morning message, “I will never call people in this church ‘sinners,’ for they do not need to be knocked down but built up.” That by the way is seeker-friendly vogue today. Sins and sinners are seeker-friendly non-themes.
Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason Ministries observes about the website of Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, “Warren’s statement of faith is orthodox as are many things he says and writes. Although the Biblical language is simplified, it appears he is speaking to someone in grade school or baby Christians. This would be fine if this was his only audience, but it is not. When I visited his website I typed in basic words of the Christian faith in the search engine, words like cross, sin, surrender, repent; it yielded nothing. What came up is a list of topics – baptism, counseling, free food, hockey, marriage, support, tithe, surfing, weight loss and topics similar to these. These are all activities in the church.”* This is not untypical, but in fact this is becoming all too atypical today.
Mike Oppenheimer then goes on to observe, “Warren’s seeker friendly philosophy is – Any visible differences between the church and the world must be reduced to a minimum, this will make the church acceptable to the unchurched and comfortable coming to church. Making the church neutral and acceptable is his main method. Tone down the language. Biblical words such as sinner, hell, etc. are kept to a minimum, so ones comfort is not jeopardized. This becomes a point of fear that one will drive them away with Biblical language and meanings instead of attract them. This underestimates the work of the Spirit in converting the sinner with the word of truth that is to convict them of SIN. In fact it is a lack of faith in what God has spoken.”**
No church is totally escaping the seeker-friendly virus. The same fella who preached to us that he will not refer to people as sinners, afterwards upon my further interrogation of him, told me that he would never preach against homosexuality or abortion. He is doing no one a favor and all of them a grievous disfavor. No pastor comes close to knowing who and what is sitting out there on any given Sunday morning or evening. If he could be a little mouse in their houses, often times he would be shocked.
He and all preachers will have to give account one day for his hearer’s souls to God. By his being soft on sin he is hardening hearts, searing consciences, and imperiling his people’s eternal welfare. By being seeker sensitive as the key focus, he is causing the conscience of man to lose its sensitivity to sin and righteousness. And that in the midst of arguably the most sin tolerant and rebellious world since the days of Noah. In other words, he is “Killing them softly with his song!”
*Let Us Reason Ministries, Mike Oppenheimer, “The Seeker Friendly Church Model”