Friday, December 14, 2007

Call Me Anything You Want, But Don't Call Me An "Evangelical!"

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. --- 1 John 2:19

There is a group of individuals within the ranks of professing Christianity known as “evangelicals.” They have been around for quite some time and have undergone a bit of evolution over the past few decades.

At one stage in their earlier identification “evangelicals” were considered to be quite radical in their faith and were at times the target of scorn and intense criticism by those of a more “liberal” persuasion in the profession of the Christian faith.

The group was made up of theologians, professors, pastors, and laity who occupied pews in churches of all sizes. They held to core doctrines of the Christian faith such as the divine inspiration and full authority of the Scriptures, miracles in the Scriptures taking place as reported, Jesus Christ being exclusively the way of salvation from sin, His literal bodily resurrection from the dead, His personal return to this world at some point in the future, etc.

As time passed these individuals became more popular and also recognized as a powerful voting block when it came to politics.

There was likewise an intense desire to shed the negative image of being radical and “narrow minded” on a number of issues. It became practically a goal that "evangelicals" be viewed as being “positive” and willing to sit down and discuss the issues where there were disagreements, and avoiding at all costs the appearance of being "judgmental."

Enter the process of “dialog!” And so, where we disagree with others on anything – just sit down at a table and talk about it with the understanding that all viewpoints must be respected – all have legitimate positions and a peaceful atmosphere is reached by adopting a loving “agree to disagree” approach to the issue at hand. Through this process we consent to work together for the common good of all in spite of differences that may exist. In so doing a spirit of harmony and good will are experienced and we all become “brothers and sisters in the faith” whatever that may mean! Compromise is a fundamental requirement when you travel this route! Perhaps “evangelicals” have learned from Washington DC politicians how to master this art!

After all George W. Bush, who is a high profile United Methodist and professed “evangelical” Christian, has expressed the spirit of the dialog principle on more than one occasion. He has gone on public record as saying that he believes Muslims and Christians worship the same God! George is the “poster boy” – the adorable delight of “evangelicals” who have had the privilege of meeting with him from time to time and this has resulted in glowing reports coming forth from those who have been in his presence.

And so it goes with “evangelicals” now willing to “dialog” on about anything, including the issue of sexual immorality!

The latest debacle has involved a few dozen very influential “evangelicals” signing a statement urging the formation of a separate Palestinian state in order to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict over territorial rights.

These people obviously deny the reality that Muslims who take their faith seriously and the teachings of the Quran seriously do not want Israel to coexist – they want Israel obliterated from the face of this planet!

Also denied is the Abrahamic covenant which God said would be established through Isaac and his descendants, not through Ismael and his descendants. And this involves quite a piece of real estate stretching from what is identified as "the river of Egypt" on the west to the Euphrates River on the east! (Genesis 15 in which it is recorded, "And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there was a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: 'To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates...'") Check the final chapters of the prophet Isaiah to see how this is going to play out. Other prophets have addressed this matter as well. Now if God is not going to keep this covenant, as some suggest, then will He keep any covenant, including the one made through His Son, Jesus Christ? And is the Scripture in error when we are told that God declares Himself to be One Who changes not? (Malachi 3:6). I know there is a lot of foot shuffling going on by way of so-called "interpretation" on these things, but for once could we just take God at His Word, and that He really means what He says by way of His promises?

Finally, “evangelicals” make much about the example set by Jesus and our need to “walk in His steps” as it were. OK, how about His example of doing “dialog.” For starters, check Matthew 23 as to how He did “dialog” with those who were in sharp disagreement with Him. And the persons to whom He spoke were powerful leaders of the religious establishment. It is understandable that they would not have nominated Him to be Time Magazine's "Man of the Year!"

Also, where do you see Jesus backing off from the absolute demands He placed on all human beings – for instance, that one must absolutely be born again as mentioned in John 3 -- that is, if you expect to be a future resident of His eternal Kingdom! And where do you see Him in "dialog" and expressing a willingness to back off and give space to Allah, Vishnu, Buddha or others when He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”??? Well, come on, I’m waiting – or do we take the modern approach – grab a chair – sit down at the table and say, “Jesus didn’t really mean all those radical statements attributed to Him!”

Added to this, note His statement about bringing peace to the world in Matthew 10.

"Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.' And 'a man's foes will be those of his own household.' He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” --- Matthew 10:32-40

And if we claim He is Savior and Lord and that we are to be His representatives here on earth, where does that put us when it comes to how well we will get along with others who take positions that are in sharp disagreement with the clear teachings of God’s special revelation to us via the holy Scriptures?

Call me anything you want, but don’t call me an “evangelical!”

"These things I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. --- John 15:17-21

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