I see the current progression in many evangelical churches, especially younger ones, like this:
In the first stage, instead of beginning with the fact that all have sinned and Jesus bore our sin and took it away, these churches start with the humanistic premise that we simply need to give people a hand up. Social justice can also be a part of this. The understanding and acceptance of original sin is being lost. Then when church members get burned out and discouraged because the poor and disenfranchised don't seem to improve through these Christians' well-meaning, but ineffective and even destructive means, the leaders will begin to go into stage two, which is to put laws and rules on the poor. When this doesn't work well, then more laws and rules will be put on them. The ones who originally said they were for the poor end up oppressing them. By the way, this is exactly the progression that most communist countries went through. The solution to this is to put the gospel of Christ's bearing our sin as the center of our faith and allow helping others come out of that, remembering that leading people to Christ is our central goal, not a distant one.
The Christian Right, on the other side, did the same type of progression. First they tried to get people born-again. Then when many people didn't, they could only put rules and laws on them. As a result of this, people rebelled, including Gen X and Y Christians. And that is where we are today. Lawless and rebellious.So what should Christians at that time should have done? Their message was all right but their method was shallow and manipulative. It was a hit and run evangelism instead of a relational evangelism. Acts 1:8, which was often quoted, doesn't say "you shall witness;" it says "you shall be witnesses." The first word, "witness," is an active verb and is probably why we all ran around with our head cut off trying to "witness." The second instance of the word, and how it's used in Acts 1:8, is a noun with the passive verb "be." It suggests that either you are a witness or you are not. If you are, then just relax and allow God to open up opportunities for you to tell THE story and also your story.
Before them, this progression was also what the Fundamentalists did. Their own church members weren't toeing the mark so they put laws and rules on them and today we are eating this bitter fruit with many having left their faith over this and many younger evangelicals completely leaving the essence of true Christianity (which isn't legalistic). So what should have they done? Somehow the Holy Spirit wasn't much in this theology to help people live the Christian life. Also, they dumped the Reformation understanding of justification and sanctification and got them confused and all mixed up.
All of the above shows us that doctrine is very important and if we Christians get it wrong, not only do we suffer, but the world suffers.
Steve Went Looking for Grace
1 day ago