Monday, December 26, 2005


The end of compromise

On the blogs I frequent, one of the most popular topics is that of the seeker-sensitive church or its younger cousin, the emergent church. Very few sit on the fence regarding this topic. On one hand you have those who think that these movements are today's most vital means for reaching people for Christ, whereas on the other there are those who decry these movements for the manner in which they have allegedly compromised the Gospel by emphasizing the positive (purpose in life, heaven, etc.) and eliminating the negative (sin, hell, etc.). Given that a number of bloggers are doing an excellent job of expressing my concerns about these movements, I'm not going to try to improve on their work.

Instead, I'm going to make a fearless prediction about what will become of today's efforts to make Christianity "relevant" to today's generation. In the short run, churches that ally themselves with Purpose Driven Life, Willow Creek, etc., will no doubt continue to experience rapid growth, but the day will come when such churches will wither and die, becoming mere husks of the seemingly vibrant churches they are today. I base my prediction on the sad fate of a very similar movement from the late 19th and early 20th Centuries that saw the rise of the Social Gospel. In the face of threats such as Darwinianism, a substantial portion of the professing church invested much effort in reinventing the church so as to better address the issues of the day. Proponents of this movement were found in many denominations: Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc.. For a time, their message attracted many people, but as the years went on, the affected churches ended up compromising more and more Biblical truth, resulting in what is now known as theological liberalism. The denominations in which this liberalism took greatest hold have seen substantial decline, both spiritually and numerically. Thus, a movement that began with an evangelistic zeal for bringing more men and women into the church ended by killing whatever spiritual life had once existed in the churches that had welcomed it with such enthusiasm.

My friend, we ignore church history at our own peril! Although the names and details of heresies and errors have varied substantially, the substance of them has varied very little. The seeker-sensitive and emergent movements bear more than a little resemblance to the Social Gospel movement of past days. Although these movements seem to prosper today, you may mark my words: time will make their true fruit known, and their now-crowded amphitheaters will play host to nothing but dead air. In the meantime, God will continue to gather His remnant among those who hear those preachers who faithfully preach the whole counsel of God.

I say all this not as a prophet, but as a student of history who knows all too well the inevitable fruit of doctrinal compromise. Like every attempt to water down the Gospel to attract unrepentant sinners, the seeker-sensitive and emergent movements will certainly fail.

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