There’s a mad dash to soften the Christian Faith for our very sensitive generation, and the pace keeps getting faster. Our historic faith can seem rigid, anti-scientific, even intolerant; but everywhere you turn there are experts, authors and theologians who know just how to fix this.
- Many believe the faith is a turn-off because so many Americans believe in an ancient earth. They’re looking for ways to read a few million years into Genesis 1, and perhaps they can. We’ll see.
- Others insist we are way too dogmatic. We need to stop pushing moral categories, and welcome sinners just as they are. That depends on what you really mean by the word welcome.
- Another segment of church marketers argue that our structures are all out of date. Everything has to change: the way we communicate, the way we advertise, the way we approach ministry. We are still far too 1950’s. It’s a given.
There’s surely some truth in all those ideas and many others like them. In fact, I have said some of those things myself in recent years. Churches can drift into empty tradition, angry morality, and narrow mindedness . It’s easy to fall out of step with a generation on the move, particularly when they are running away from you as fast as they can. But it has finally become to dawn on me that the ultimate ministry challenge facing the US church in 2014 is broader and deeper than ministry style or communication techniques.
Genesis is emphatic that God created the universe, and that he did this with specific standards in mind. Forget about the hours in a day for a minute. He concluded that everything was “good,” until the sixth day when he evaluated it as “very good.” God has the authority to measure by those standards because he created everything for his purposes. That means he has the authority to critique us, correct us, and even condemn us when we fail to live up to those original purposes. We are the pinnacle of creation, and the Creator put us there for his own reasons.
And that’s the problem the Gospel will face in these United States even if we all joyfully embrace evolutionary theory, interactive sermons, gay marriage, and pot smoking. We would still be promoting a God of authority to a generation of people who reject all authority except their own. Twenty-first Century Americans want the freedom to do our own thing; write our own values statement; be our own gods. It’s not new, of course. That’s all Eve wanted way back at the dawn of time– to be like God. It’s what Americans want once again today- and not just the secular ones. Many churches are SRO with New Age consumers who want it their way- not The Way.
Only God can make hearts like these receptive to a Truth like his. We will never be able to make the true church cozy enough for humanists who utterly reject the authority of a Holy God. And that is the Spirit of our Age. Pray that the Creator will make our generation desperate enough that his holy fire can soften our hardened hearts. It is proud hearts that need to be softened.
And lift up the Cross!