Lately I have been thinking about the easy-believism that is so prevalent in American churches and their general disconnect between faith and practice. I generally see this occurring on two fronts, each of which is equally dangerous, yet one has been largely ignored as of late.
A Dead Orthopraxy
The first front is made up of liberals and emergents; theirs is a gospel that radically alters the lifestyles of those who embrace it yet it ultimately lacks sufficient doctrinal content to truly be considered a biblical gospel. While they may in many senses be considered orthodox in praxis this movement’s impetus is a set of social concerns and not the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ and as such their orthopraxy is a dead one. To phrase it simpler their gospel restructures their lifestyle yet it fails to transform their belief structure. This movement has received prolific critique lately and as such it is not the focus of this post. If you are unfamiliar with the emergent church then I would recommend the following link (here).
A Dead Orthodoxy
The second front has largely been ignored recently and as such presents a far subtler danger. This second front is comprised of some conservatives and fundamentalists; theirs is a gospel that radically alters the doctrinal beliefs of those who embrace it yet it ultimately lacks sufficient doctrinal content to truly be considered a biblical gospel. While they may in many senses be considered orthodox in belief this movement’s impetus is a set of truth claims and not the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ and as such their orthodoxy is a dead one. Again, to phrase is simpler their gospel restructures their belief structure yet it fails to transform their lifestyle. While these churches will affirm the basic tenets of “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” their conduct argues to the contrary. I think several examples of this will suffice to prove my point.
- They deny the manifold glory of God by failing to teach and laboring to learn the deep things of God (Mark 12:30; II Peter 3:16-18)
- They deny the lordship of Christ by endorsing the salvation of countless voluntarily inactive members (Hebrews 10:25).
- They deny the sanctifying work of the Spirit by failing to discipline members in sin (Matthew 18:15-17; I Corinthians 6:9-12).
- They deny the efficacy and infallibility of the Scriptures (Isaiah 55:10-11) by failing to shepherd the flock (I Peter 5:1-5) and by refusing to engage in biblical counseling and “referring” their church members to secular psychologists (II Timothy 3:16-17).
- They deny the fundamental essence of the church by allowing inactive and sinning members to continue in membership (I Peter 2:9).
- They deny the interdependent nature of the church by failing to exhort the congregation to hold one another accountable (I Corinthians 12:12-13; Colossians 3:16).
These churches have been given a pass for far too long. Their verbal assent to the doctrines of Scripture apart from the proper practice thereof is far more than institutionalized hypocrisy, it is a false gospel.