Jesus asked, “When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)
Depends on where He looks—and it might take Him a while.
Atheism has always been with us, and always will be. It’s natural in superficially educated fat-heads.
What really threatens to replace our Christianity in the West is a threefold combo of para-Christianity, pseudo-Christianity, and downright poo-bah. We shall see examples of all three, but the first two are the worst: people can swallow these substitutes for Christianity and still think they’re getting the real thing.
“Para” is a prefix meaning “kinda, sorta,” so para-Christianity would be “kinda, sorta Christianity.” Young people who have been raised in church-going Christian families and educated in Christian schools and colleges still seem to fall easily into the net of para-Christianity—which makes us wonder whether those Christian churches, schools, and colleges actually do the job they think they’re doing.
Last week I heard from someone who attended her young adult son’s Bible study group, none of whose members brought Bibles. When they wanted a verse, they just found it on their smart phones. Instead of the Bible, they were studying a book called “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan.
This is where the skid begins. Instead of getting to know and understand the Bible, they focus on what some guy thinks about the Bible. Granted, a capable Bible teacher can often be a blessing; but he should never be a substitute.
And so these earnest young millennials, who come from Christian homes and churches, schools and colleges, wind up with a peculiar theology which my friend describes as “no substance, no current issues, no reality—just soft Jesus-loves-me stuff,” with an emphasis on earning salvation by gaudy works of the flesh such as “giving away all your money and living below the poverty line,” etc.
In fact, this approach to Christianity is repeatedly rejected in the Bible, which teaches that salvation is the gift of God, received by faith in Jesus Christ who has already done all the good works necessary to obtain it. The good works that we do are evidence of our faith—not a ticket into Heaven. Here we have an ancient heresy parading around in modern clothes, still bamboozling Christ’s people after all these centuries.
As an example of pseudo-Christianity, I offer an email received from a publicist touting a modern rewrite of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” featuring a transgender character. Instead of telling us how Scrooge is made to see what a wretched sinner he has been, and how he sincerely repents, and is reformed and regenerated by the grace of God, this new, pseudo-Christian version of the story “encourages families to accept those members who may be ‘different.’” The author, a man who insists that he is now a woman, presents the pseudo-Christian doctrine that “love” transforms our sins into virtues that must be “celebrated.” The Bible, God’s word, turns out to be totally wrong on sexual morality; and instead of God, we have a fumbling Creator who makes mistakes which fallen man, in his worldly wisdom, can correct with science and technology.
Thanks to Biblical illiteracy—or, in many cases, willful blindness and rebellion—people can call themselves “Christians” while rejecting Christian teachings.
And then there’s poo-bah—truly weird beliefs that have nothing to do with Christianity but are nevertheless strongly held.
I heard from a reader who insists that Earth is flat, not a sphere, and that the whole space program—an enterprise involving uncounted thousands of persons over many years, in many different countries—is nothing but an elaborate hoax of gigantic proportions, none of which ever really happened. There are no satellites, he says, and never were—so much for his GPS, if he has one. No moon landing, either.
It’s like saying France is a hoax, that it doesn’t exist and never did. What it takes to believe such a stupendous shaggy-dog story, I can’t imagine. But there does seem to be an awful lot more of this now than there used to be.
Our Lord warned us (Matthew 7: 21-23): Many will come to Him, saying, “Lord, Lord, we did all sorts of really cool things in your name.” But He will only answer them, “I never knew you. Get lost, you workers of iniquity.”
For years I struggled with that parable, unable to understand what Jesus was telling us. But the message really is quite simple.
We can call ourselves “Christians” until we’re blue in the face, but that doesn’t make us Christians.
For that we have to turn to the Bible itself.
There is no substitute.
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