Monday, June 30, 2008

Church & Culture

On his blog, Al Mohler posted a report about the PCUSA and their “move to approve homosexual clergy.” As usual, Al Mohler is insightful and just plain smart. This is but one more example of the world of “Christendom” capitulating to the prevailing spirit of the age. I wonder how the rank and file within the PCUSA (or the Episcopal Church or United Methodist Church, or any other group that has likewise considered this issue) would feel about the ordination of gay clergy. Is this really the sentiment of the parishioner who attends on Sunday, or is it the desire of the denominational leaders to appear to be politically correct and culturally “with it?”

I am probably one of the last people in the world to read 9 Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever. Actually, I may be the next-to-the-last: my Pastor and I are reading it together. I can tell when a book hits me by how I mark up the Introduction. There’s so much ink on this one that the pages are beginning to wrinkle.

What in the world do the preceding paragraphs have in common, you might wonder? As I read Mohler’s comments this morning, I though of the comments Dever made in introducing his book. Here’s the connection: evangelicals accuse Liberals (or non-evangelicals, whatever term you prefer) of giving in to contemporary culture by lowering previously held standards of morality. This is done, presumably, to make church life more reflective of modern life, more in touch with modern culture, or more appealing to more people by being more inclusive, more tolerant.

Now, most of us could preach fiery sermons about compromise and apostasy. Yet, some evangelicals have become what they criticize by adopting a philosophy of pragmatism and a market driven mentality. In other words, there is sometimes little difference in PCUSA and some evangelical churches that allow church life to be defined by the likes and dislikes of contemporary culture.

As Dever points out, the church is to be defined by Scripture, not culture. It is true that the church has not looked the same in different times, and it will look quite different in other cultures. This is not an appeal to return to the good old days (which, according to Billy Joel, weren’t all that good). True – we live in this world and we are to demonstrate to this world the “manifold wisdom of God.” But the glory of God and obedience to His Word should be the focus, not the favor of modern culture.

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