(May 17, 2021) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, brings a timely challenge…
Silence is not always golden – sometimes it is dross – rubbish! Solomon succinctly stated in Ecclesiastes 3:7, ‘(There is) … a time to be silent and a time to speak.’
I would maintain that the ‘time to speak’ is now! There is a rampant decadence and ungodliness today that is saturating and destroying our culture, unsettling our society and silencing our Christian witness.
That witness has been severely undermined in recent years. While the Christian faith was once seen as a pillar of society and generally enjoyed a degree of esteem and its message was respected and valued (even by many of those who did not embrace it), today the church and its message is largely scorned and dismissed in many Western countries. There are various reasons that could be quoted but I highlight two that I sense are very pertinent.
1. The scourge of ‘political correctness’
The so-called ‘good old days’ were not as good as some may want to claim, however once there were values that now have not only been discarded in society but also scorned.
(i) The reversal of values
There was a time when…
- Being ‘quick to take offence’ was considered to be a moral weakness but now it is paraded as a virtue – and alleged offences are repeatedly and enthusiastically promoted by others! If the ‘offender’ is a public figure, the ‘offence’ is vigorously promotion by the media, and this has often resulted in shattered lives and destroyed careers.
- Sexual intimacy was a private expression of love between a married couple but now it is frequently and graphically depicted in movies and on the television for the titillation and entertainment of the masses. And as sexual activity is portrayed as a norm in relationships, it is unsurprising that young people are being sexualised and exploited from an early age.
- Swearing was not considered socially acceptable, especially the use of particularly vulgar swear words, but it is hard to find a movie or television programme or a novel where coarse words are not liberally used in the dialogue.
I am not maintaining that in ‘the good old times’ everything was perfect, everyone lived in harmony, social relationships were warm and friendly, children were always safe and moral, political, business and media corruption was unheard of.
However… I am asserting that in recent years there has been a significant and observable slide into unrighteous attitudes and actions which has increased the stress and anxiety levels of many people.
The writer of Proverbs succinctly observed, ‘Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people’ (Proverbs 14:34).
As the waves of ‘political correctness’ and hostile atheistic philosophy have swept through nations that were established on Christian foundations, we are witnessing those foundations being disparaged, ripped up and tossed aside. So too is common sense! Recently a train conductor in London greeted the passengers with a friendly welcome, ‘Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls’. A ‘non-binary’ passenger (that is, one who claimed to identify as neither male nor female) took offence at the conductor’s greeting and reported him to the rail company who responded by saying, ‘Our Train Managers should not be using language like this, and I thank you for bringing it to my attention.’
So I ask, what has happened to society? And… what response has the church been making to these things?
(ii) The rise of ‘political correctness’
The movement of ‘political correctness’ has in recent years become endemic. Its moral and spiritual distortions vividly reflect Isaiah’s warning, ‘Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter’ (Isaiah 5:20).
And what has been the response of the church?
Sadly, we see that a significant portion of the contemporary church has in many ways been rendered impotent in countering the encroaching darkness and many people are dismissing the church as an anachronism, a throwback to earlier years.
Consequently the gospel message of forgiveness and new life in Christ is increasingly rejected as being impotent and irrelevant to modern men and women (and others)!
(iii)The practice of ‘cancelling’ in the media
The practice of ‘cancelling’ in social media and the entertainment media of those who dare to challenge the current deviant philosophy. Increasingly those who share alternative views that do not align with the current ‘politically correct’ agenda are ‘cancelled’ (that is, silenced and ostracised from social and professional circles.)
Some non-Christians who have not embraced the current PC narrative, as well as Christians who have refused to surrender their biblically based values, have been silenced and ostracised by the media. Well-known personalities such as sportspeople, entertainers, actors, authorsand others who are in the public eye have experienced the wrath of the PC protectors for not conforming. Those who dare to quote the Bible are now being accused of ‘hate speech.’
If Christians speak against the slaughter of unborn children (and the fact that some newly born babies are also left to die), we are denounced as bigoted. If we affirm that the practice of homosexuality is a violation of God’s clear declaration on human relationships, we are accused of being abusive
2. The witness of the church
While there are many Christians, churches and church leaders valiantly standing their ground against the current immoral and anti-Christian tidal wave of corruption and destruction of biblical values, some have capitulated.
(i) The response of some churches and church leaders
It is particularly disturbing to note that many church leaders have embraced the philosophy of political correctness and promote it!
Their departure from an acknowledgement of scriptural authority has led to their modifying and rejection of historic Christian doctrine, morals and values. In their attempt to appeal to the masses, they have discarded the core of Christian truth and substituted it with a ‘doctrine of devils.’ Paul has commented in I Timothy 4:1-2, ‘The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.’
Throughout history Satan has successfully influenced Christians and ‘Christian’ leaders to turn them away from God and to embrace beliefs and practices that violate God’s revealed truth. And today we see a veritable acceleration of such deviations which are supported and promoted by many of those leaders.
- Basic Christian doctrinal truths are being soundly rejected.
- Core moral practices, a bedrock of Christian behaviour for 2000 years, are being overturned.
- Even historic gospel proclamation has been frowned on (even by some within the church) despite the fact that this was commissioned by Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:19-20.
- Obviously, those ‘deceiving spirits’, are active in many in church leadership today and subsequently many have been influenced by them in recent years.
- Regrettably, many Christian leaders today throughout Christendom have not only not resisted the advancing demonic perversion of biblical truth and righteousness but have actively promoted their agenda.
An article in The Australian (April 27) illustrates this… ‘Original supermodel Cindy Crawford, Chelsea Clinton, a New Age meditation guru, a rock guitarist and a world authority on chimpanzees will be among speakers at a Vatican health conference next month. … Pope Francis will address the virtual three-day event which will cover an eclectic blend of medicine, New Age theories and religious discussion between groups as diverse as Muslims and Mormons. Exploring the Mind, Body and Soul, How Innovation and Novel Delivery Systems improve Health will run from May 6 to May 8. … Archbishop Carlo Vigano issued a statement … “The Holy See has deliberately renounced the supernatural mission of the Church making itself the ‘servant of the New World Order and globalism.”’
Cardinal Vigano deserves commendation for his bold challenge! We need leaders with integrity, leaders who hold fast to the faith, leaders who are not swayed by current philosophies, leaders who seek to honour and please the Lord rather than try to please people!
Today it is imperative that Christian leaders particularly ‘stand up to the plate.’ As the anti-Christian agenda picks up pace, we need leadership that remains firm and refuses to be intimidated and silenced by increasingly hostile pressures.
We need to pray for boldness, not only for ourselves but for all Christians and particularly for Christian leaders, to remain firm and faithful against the evil waves that threaten to overwhelm us.
While in prison in Rome the apostle Paul made this request to the Christians in Ephesus, ‘[Pray] for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak’ (Ephesians 6:10-20 NKJV).
(II) The scandal of celebrity preachers
While it may be easy to blame the disturbing social and political agendas that have been increasing in influence and acceptance in recent years, I would maintain that the failure of the mission and ministry of the church – and the lack of credibility it now often encounters – is to a large degree attributed to the church itself!
At so many levels the church and its leaders have failed to represent the mission of the church and its life-giving message and this has resulted in disillusionment among many Christians and non-Christians alike. Disappointingly the witness of the church has been undermined significantly in recent years by celebrity leaders who have exploited their status.
- Prosperity preachers who have been exploiting their followers with false promises of health, wealth and success. They have made themselves rich at the expense of their much poorer followers by misrepresenting the promises of the Bible.
- False prophets who have stirred up anticipation by claiming to have God-given prophetic insight concerning some passages of scripture and prophetic knowledge concerning current events. Best-selling books have often accompanied these ‘revelations.’ Yet when their predictions have failed to come to pass, many of those prophets have not admitted their error (or returned the money they made from their proclamations) but have moved on to other predictions.
- Sexual misconduct by some highly respected celebrity preachers has caused much distress and disillusionment among their followers who held them in high esteem. It has also given ammunition to those who want to attack Christianity.
- The integrity of the church has been measured and has been found wanting!
- And the message of the gospel has suffered accordingly.
3. The challenge
What should we do in the present circumstance? Certainly, we should pray and ask for God’s intervention. But is that all we can do? Just silently wait and hope for a turning of the tide? Should we just compromise a little here and a little there while we wait?
In Acts 18 we read that when Paul preached in Corinth, he encountered much hostility. It appears that Paul was intimidated by the opposition he encountered, but we read in verse 9, ‘One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.’”
In these challenging, intimidating days, God’s people need to hear God’s charge to us, ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.’
Silence is not an option! May the challenging lyrics of Keith and Kristyn Getty’s O Church Arise (ignore ads) – ring afresh in our hearts and those of church leaders today… and may the church respond!
‘O Church Arise and put your armour on,
Hear the call of Christ our Captain
For now the weak can say that they are strong
In the strength that God has given.
With shield of faith and belt of truth
We’ll stand against the devil’s lies,
An army bold whose battle-cry is Love
Reaching out to those in darkness.’
Dr Jim McClure, author of several books such as the enlightening Grace Revisited andBible study series, welcomes questions from Christians seeking enlightenment on biblical perspectives.
Offered free, all of Dr Jim’s writings are highly recommended – such as Looking for Answers in a Confusing World, Overview of the Old and New Testaments, Love, Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage, The Masonic Deception, Word of Life in the Old and New Testaments, Interpreting the Letter of James, and Faith Works – A Commentary on the Letter of James. All are available in electronic version in EPUB, Kindle and PDF formats with hyperlinks and. Link for orders and questions: OnlinerConnect@gmail.com