I’ve been that monkey more than I care to admit. However, Christians are concerned that the Western Church is irrelevant. If these concerns originate from a place of criticism or contempt, they should be axed. However, it is irrational to dismiss such concerns if they lead to improvement and growth.
How do we measure irrelevance? It is observable that each congregation has its own “flavor”. If God wants you to be strawberry and you are, chances are you are mostly relevant. But, the acid test is this: Lord Jesus told the Church to do two things; “go and make disciples of all nations“. i.e. 1) Get out there and connect people to God. 2) Disciple them till they know God. If our Church is not assigning significant resources to this end, we should question its relevance.
Many things frustrate the Church’s ability to achieve this relevance. We may roughly separate them into two categories 1) Internal Church thinking and 2) external influences on the Church.
Below is a non-exhaustive copy-and-paste list of teachings and trends that to a greater or lesser extent influence the Churches ability to make disciples of nations.
- Anti-Intellectualism – emphasizes rhetoric (persuasive speaking) rather than intellectual substance. Instructing congregations what to think rather than how to think. Discourages intellectual pursuit and accountability.
- Antinomianism – Anti-Law as a means to avoid accountability, similar to Hyper-Grace.
- Challenges to the validity of the Word of God.
- Clerical abdication – denies or limits the full occupation of the Clergy. Limits the role of the Clergy to equipping only. All other five-fold functions are abdicated onto the congregation. Noted for neutralizing the occupation of the Evangelist and Apostle.
- Deism vs Theism – Deism believes that God is Creator but does not intervene in human affairs. Theism believes that God is Creator and involves himself with human affairs.
- Denying Hell – often based on sentimentality rather than truth.
- Dispensationalism – divides the bible into 7 arbitrary dispensations. Fatalists that believe they qualify for an additional secret rapture. Often avoiding political and social reform as moot. Separates Jews into an additional category of believer/non-believer.
- Eisegesis vs. Exegesis. Eisegesis allows for subjective and manipulative interpretation of scripture. Eisegesis reads into scripture while Exegesis reads out of scripture. Similar to speculation and derivation (guessing and copying).
- Hellenism – replaces Hebrew thinking with ancient Greek philosophy. Separates the spiritual from the physical, claims the physical is contaminated. Claims that the physical does not affect the spiritual. Emphasizes leisure and entertainment. Sees work as drudgery rather than God’s blessing.
- Hope of Heaven – argues that believers will spend eternity in Heaven with God. Revelations states that God will ultimately live with believers on the New Earth.
- Humanism – argues that man is good and makes mistakes, not that man is a sinner in need of Grace.
- Hyper-Arminianism – over emphasizes human responsibly, minimizes or questions Gods’ sovereignty.
- Hyper-Calvinism – denies human choice and responsibility, does nothing and waits for God to do everything.
- Hyper-Charisma – over-emphasizes the Gifts of The Spirit, emphasizes experience at the cost of maturity. Excessive drama and entertainment.
- Hyper-Faith – “name it, claim it and frame it”. Imbalances the relationship component of Christianity, encourages entitlement.
- Hyper-Grace – Can promote license rather than liberty. Teaches salvation despite works rather than salvation for good works.
- Hyper-High Church – pomp, ceremony, dress-code. Over-institutionalization of the church.
- Hyper-Holiness – earning “points” to gain Gods’ approval.
- Hyper-Kingdom – claims that all biblical prophecy is fulfilled, The Kingdom is complete.
- Hyper-Literalism – overemphasizes logic and literal translation of The Word. Ignores inductive and abductive reasoning. Ignores or battles with metaphor. Often accepts or selectively accepts flawed premises to justify its argument.
- Hyper-Love – de-emphasizes the other aspects of Gods Character – imbalance.
- Hyper-Prosperity – overemphasizes money and wealth.
- Hyper-Rational – de-emphasizes the spiritual as “subjective experience,” over-emphasizes the mind at the expense of the spirit.
- Isolationism – resists outside or alternative influences. Only interested in own counsel or the council of those that agree with it. Demonizes anything it does not understand or disagrees with. Often leads to sects, legalism and stagnation.
- Legalism – emphasizes righteousness through works, ritual and structure at the expense of relationship and Grace.
- Mosaic selectivism and adoption – by association or for convenience, Gentile believers selectively adopt or totally adopt Mosaic laws or traditions. Gentiles were never under The Law of Moses. The first Jewish believers rejected The Law in favor of The Spirit. E.g. teach circumcision and tithing.
- Replacement theology – teaches that the church replaces the Jews and ignores the Abrahamic covenant.
- Self-importance vs Self-Denial – ministry emphasize people rather than God. Mostly about self-improvement or “my experience”. Ignores the original purpose and relevance of the Church.
- Universal-ism – argues that most faiths begin at the same place therefore end at the same place. Many faiths begin with similar principles, however, none of the faiths end at the same place. Relativism is a form or Universal-ism.