Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Church’s Greatest Danger

I ran across a great article from 9 Marks written by James H. Hamilton, Jr., entitled “The Greatest Danger Facing the Church”.

Hamilton says that “The greatest danger facing the church is probably not what most of us expect. We expect some sort of direct challenge from without, but it probably comes from within. In our day, it may well come from well-meaning pastors.”

He went on to explain that these pastors pose the greatest threat, not because they deny the truth, but because they treat the Christian faith as a form of self-help therapy; how to have a better marriage, better relationships, better work performance, etc. In fact, these pastors generally hold to biblically orthodox beliefs such as the inerrancy of Scripture and salvation through faith in Jesus alone.

Sadly, the guiding principle of their decisions is based on a pragmatic what “works best”’ mentality.

Hamilton goes on to say,

"But Christianity is not primarily about any of that. Christianity is primarily about the gospel—about a holy God, rebels who deserve his wrath, a divine Son who takes the punishment rebels deserve, and the promise of forgiveness for all who repent and believe.

Christianity is about telling this true story in the words of the Bible so that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, people come to see God, the world, and themselves correctly."

He goes on to give some advice for screening a pastoral candidate so a church can avoid ending up with a pastor who will turn “Christianity into the American religion of self-help therapy.” His advice includes paying close attention to the biblical qualifications for ministry. (1Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) Ask the candidate some very direct questions concerning these qualifications. Since one of the key qualifications is that they are “apt to teach”, closely scrutinize his teaching.

One question that he asks, “Is the man a theologian, or is he just a gifted speaker with a good heart?”, is something that desperately needs to be asked today. Too many people are just drawn to “gifted speakers” with messages that merely sound appealing. What is most important is their ability to accurately interpret the Bible.

[Read the rest of the article at 9 Marks (Scroll to the bottom of the page to find the article; for some reason, I was unable to successfully link directly to the article )]


Tim A. Blankenship said...

That was good. Thank you for posting it here.
I too see this as a major problem of pastors. We are not self helps pastors, we are to be proclaimers of the gospel and God's Word calling people to repentance and to God through His Son Jesus.
Thanks again.

AuthenticTruth said...

Tim, Thanks for stopping by. I see this as an issue that seems to be getting worse as time goes by. It seems that there are fewer and fewer pastors that will commit themselves to careful, solid exposition of God's Word. Few want to make a stand and plainly preach the truth and are more concerned with being non-offensive so everyone will like them.