T H E S I S # 32
Since evangelicalism seriously affects the relationship between Christ and evangelicals, evangelicals would be wise to examine evangelicalism.
Though this logic is simple sanity, it is dodged by most.
As it would be reasonable for the catholic christian to investigate catholicism, and as it would be wise for the lutheran christian to examine lutheranism, wouldn’t it be likewise reasonable and wise for the evangelical to investigate evangelicalism?
It’s obvious the catholic and lutheran who discovered Christ and embraced His salvation will be adversely affected by their religions. Both catholicism and lutheranism will soon replace Christ as First Love. Evangelicals could use these religions, and others, as mirrors to see their own predicament because….
Because likewise evangelicalism has countless times replaced Jesus Christ with itself as First Love.
Now it must be hurriedly repeated: Not all christians attending an evangelical church are evangelicals (though most are). An evangelical is more than an attendee; he is an attendee who has adopted evangelical traditions. It is possible to attend and yet maintain freedom (though some churches make such an endeavor burdensome).
And it should also be said examining one’s religion could upset life considerably. Catholicism, lutheranism, evangelicalism, and most other religions are cohesive agents binding family members. Actually, the more rigid one’s religion, the tighter the family bond. A family that’s united has many advantages over the family that’s divided. Scrutiny of the bonding agent, whatever it is, would surely threaten family unity.
A couple enslaved to a strict religious system is likely to raise obedient, submissive, and respectful children. They will bind their children to their religion, thus binding them to themselves. Though together in bondage, they are together. There will be many happy family gatherings throughout the decades if all continue to submit to the same spiritual ‘authority’.
It is this love of family and friends that keeps many from embracing “Jesus Christ and Him crucified”. One instinctively knows Christ causes upheaval. (“I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”) This attachment to family and friends keeps religionists from inspecting their religions. They will cling to the unreasonable and unwarranted and untrue rather than rattle the-way-it-is cage.
There are several advantages to attending an evangelical church. There are also dangers. The odds of an attendee evolving into a bona fide evangelical are overwhelming. (An evangelical is one who places the traditions of evangelicalism – of which there are many – over The Word.)
Two new converts to the Lord Jesus, husband and wife, timidly enter an evangelical church for the first time, five minutes before sunday service. Immediately they have a decision to make: Where do we sit? There are a few empty chairs on the elevated platform but obviously those are not for them. Everyone is sitting in the long pews, so they quickly conclude that’s where they belong. Hmmm. Can we sit in any pew, front or back? Or does everyone have a designated spot? An usher comes to their rescue before panic sets in: Please follow me. Soon they are safely seated.
During this first visit they have been taught, non-verbally, they belong in a pew. Like most everyone else, they are destined to be pew people. The chairs up front, it seems, are reserved for the extraordinary, the spiritually superior.
It takes only a few sundays for husband and wife to realize there are two classes in this evangelical church system: the (few) rulers and the (many) ruled. The pulpit people are talkers, the pew people are listeners. The trusting new converts assume the way it is is the way it should be, God’s preference.
As sundays roll by there is a subtle seduction occurring. An interloper is slowly positioning itself between the two young believers and Jesus Christ. With each service loyalty and dependence and affection are being transferred from Him to the officers of the way it is.
In time it will be thoroughly ingrained in their souls they are not meant to be a Peter or a Paul or a John. They are pew people. God simply does not expect them to do exploits in His Son’s name. They will shrivel under the weight of the prevailing herd mentality that insists that whatever is done is done in unison, and this always under the supervision of pulpit people.
Young converts should, but don’t, compare the evangelical way to Bible standards, trusting instead in the wisdom of those of seniority. And those of seniority should, but won’t, challenge evangelicalism for authenticity because that could upset life considerably.
The catholic who has the courage to challenge catholicism would soon cease being a catholic. Same with the lutheran. Same with the evangelical. The evangelical, because he professes confidence in the Bible, could be judged (at the judgment seat of Christ) more strictly. “Everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required.”