Thoughts On the State of the Church

The Groundwork for Apostacy
The consequences of believing in yourself and following your heart

“He who separates himself seeks his own desire, he quarrels against all sound wisdom. A fool does not delight in understanding, but in revealing his own mind.” – Proverbs 18:1-2

While listening to music on my drive home from work the other day, I was going along distracted by my thoughts and paying little attention to the sound playing at the time. But for a brief moment I tuned in and listened to what was being said and found a certain irony in what I was hearing. In this, the song “I Vow to Thee, My Country” was playing. I don’t normally pay too much attention to the lyrics of music while I am deep in thought, but periodically I will find myself hearing something I did not hear before, and it will either verify my admiration of the song, or else ruin it altogether and I can never listen to it again. And the latter of the two is more frequent than I appreciate. In the second verse, the following statement is found:

“And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago
Most Dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies; we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.”

That last statement is a quote from Proverbs 3:17 (KJV) and is spoken of regarding Wisdom and the benefits of following her. I cannot speak to every context in which this song is sung, but within a certain context it is spoken of regarding the nation to which one belongs, and it is within that context that my soul is agitated. While perhaps meant to be sung regarding the Heavenly country, many have few devotions to this anymore. Instead, should they vow anything to a country, it would be in regards to their own. But there is a fatal flaw in this. The context in which the statement was written by the author of the Proverb was not in regard to anything other than Wisdom, whereas the nations of the world are subject to the very fact that the paths of peace “they have not known” (Rom. 3:17). The context in which the apostle Paul states this is in a description of the people of the world, summing up their error in the statement, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (vs. 18)

This is, I think, characteristic of people today, specifically because of their self-obsession. Even in what many would consider a clear example of selflessness, that being the service to your country, find it to be a cliché and old-fashion aspiration and one which is becoming increasingly offensive to the masses. Rather than service to our country, the focus and discussion have quickly turned to our country’s service to us, and any extent to which the government falls short in this regard is considered the height if immorality and injustice. And this is by no means restricted to politics (i.e. welfare, rights, taxes, etc.) but is centered within the self-absorbed individuals who make up the nation’s populous. Right or Left, you find a growing focus on the opinions of the individual- their rights, their demands and their ever-changing expectations- with the consequences of failure being abject murder of that individual’s reputation. Live a liberal life for the majority of your years, but suddenly change your public views to fit a more conservative narrative? You are now defended by practically every conservative voice. Associate with the Right politically and formally the majority of your life, only to turn against their figurehead because you lose your job? You are now praised to the heights of society by any and all forms of liberal media. Neither is a case of principle lived out but are rather perfect examples of what our political, and more dreadfully, our religious associations have become: opportunistic morality. Regardless of any past position, you are free to change your views on any subject to fit the issue at hand and can fully expect to be defended by the group who adheres to the same view. Allow me to give an example of this, within the church itself. The fairly well-known actor, Chris Pratt, is often viewed by conservative and some “Christian” media as being an example of a “person of faith” within the dark bowels of Hollywood, primarily because of his somewhat liberal use of Christian trigger words such as “prayer,” “faith” and “God.” Anyone who says these things is a bonafide saint whose faith must not be questioned regardless of any past, or even current, moral inconsistencies. And Mr. Pratt has built such a reputation within Christian media without a doubt, appearing consistently in their headlines the past year or so. And he was recently attacked by another fairly well-known actress, Ellen Page, who is an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ (the acronym of which grows longer by the day), an event which did not lack quick reaction of the aforementioned media outlets. She more or less attacked him because of his association within what is so gleefully titled a “hate group” known as Hillsong church, the building he attends. She claims that his attendance makes him guilty of being one of those Christians who is against homosexuality, and thus someone who hates any and every homosexual. His response did not take long either, as he wrote up a (rather fancy) response on Instagram, stating the following:

“It has recently been suggested that I belong to a church which ‘hates a certain group of people’ and is ‘infamously anti-LGBTQ.’ Nthing could be further from the truth. I go to a church that opens their doors to absolutely everyone. Despite what the Bible says about divorce my church community was there for me every step of the way, never judging, just gracefully accompanying me on my walk. They helped me tremendously offering love and support. It is what I have seen them do for others on countless occasions regardless of sexual orientation, race or gender. My faith is important to me but no church defines me or my life, and I am not a spokesman for any church or any group of people. My values define who I am. We need less hate in this world, not more. I am a a man who believes that everyone is entitled to love who they want free from the judgment of their fellow man. Jesus said ‘I give you a new command, love one another.’ This is what guides me in my life. He is a God of Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness. Hate has no place in my or this world.” –

And while many applaud this attempt to scurry towards a strange combination of society’s and the modern church’s definition of moral high-ground, it is a gross misrepresentation of what true Biblical love is. God’s love is not found in accepting us as we are, but rather in the very opposite. His love is found that “while we were helpless” and “sinners,” He gave Himself for the purpose of our redemption from the sin to which we were enslaved (one of which is homosexuality), and cleanses us from that sin to make us a people for Himself (see Rom. 5:6-10, 1 Cor. 6:9-11, Titus 2:14). And the most dangerous aspect of the church’s open acceptance of this theology is that it is so easily countered by the Bible, and is so graphically incompatible with the entire context of the Old and New Testaments. But no! We must openly accept anyone who claims to believe in Jesus, because love or something.

But such a trend did not begin with abject apostacy. Rather, it began with a watering down of Biblical doctrine and the standards which result from it. Instead of being overly cautious, the majority swung to the other end of the pendulum and are almost finished throwing out every conceivable standard imaginable, all with the express purpose to take in as many sinners as possible, without much thought to genuine repentance (a change of heart) because we are too busy accepting wicked and stubborn hearts. While people believe someone like Mr. Pratt are being persecuted for their ”faith” the reality could not be further from the truth. He is backtracking in order to avoid such persecution by making it seem as though the church accepts sinners for who they are without any mention of the Biblical demand for the absolute recreation of that sinner, morality and lifestyle not excluded. Yet we are so preoccupied with self-discovery and heart-worship that we have no time to see what the Bible itself says. No, we must apply the Bible to our current beliefs, taking from what it what we appreciate and can stomach, and spitting out whatever seems misplaced or unacceptable. And such rebellion is not limited to graphic immorality or public figures. Christians from all associations, Reformed and Calvinists included, are busy excusing all sorts of sins, from divorces and remarriages, justification for any and all depression, and an ever-dwindling filter on our speech, be it through verbal communication or social media. Sites like Facebook have revealed the immaturity of the elderly Christians and the ignorance of the youthful, with both speaking their minds to anyone and everyone. Find a meme showing a politician you despise? Insult them! Condemn them! Do what is the easiest and laziest form of accusation by finding such a picture in a group filled only with people who agree with you on your perception of this public figure and fill the comments with the meanest things you can think of with little to no possibility that anyone would actually contradict you. Answer polls from people who advertise them to people who agree with you. Share memes in the stead of substantive debate and quote people who are generally perceived as being smart so you yourself don’t actually have to put thought into your argument. I have seen Christians who are religious tied to the Right or the Left and both inevitably end up inadvertently contradicting some of the most base of Christian qualities, patience and kindness to name a couple. Yet these are all side effects of the foolish mind which is so preoccupied with self-discovery and/or validation that it pays little heed to subjecting itself even to the Scripture to see what is actually true, since there is a near-certainty they will be contradicted by the very book they claim to love yet scarcely read to understand. The end of the world is not evident because the world is evil, as the world has always been evil. On the contrary, the end of the world is most evident when those who are supposed to be righteous have abandoned the elementary things of the Gospel and refuse to advance anywhere beyond the most basic of moral principles. It is the Apostacy we are warned of prior to the revelation of the Anti-Christ in 2 Thess. 2:3, and it is of this that Paul writes to Timothy more than once, saying “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons…” (1 Tim. 4:1) And it is of these that he writes the following to his disciple before his own death:

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.” – 2 Tim. 3:1-9

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” – 4:3-5

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