Sola Scriptura or Sola Cultura --- By Doug Giles
Herewith is my last installment on why I believe the church is culpable for our cultural corruption and my top ten raucous remedies to help the church with its mad cow disease. My recommendations are:
1. Get men who dig being rowdy back in the pulpit.
2. Could we have some sound doctrine, por favor?
3. Preach scary sermons (at least every fourth one).
4. Get rid of 99.9% of "Christian" TV.
5. Quit trying to be relevant and instead become prophetic contrarians, I'm talking contra mundus, mama!
6. Put a 10-year moratorium on "God wants you rich" sermons (yeah, that's what we need to hear nowadays, you morons, more sermons about money, money, money!).
7. Embrace apologetics and shun shallow faith.
8. Evangelize like it's 1999.
9. Push lazy Christians to get a life or join a Satanic Church.
10. Demand that if a Christian gets involved in the arts that their "craft" must scream excellence and not excrement.
Having covered points one though five in my previous three columns, here's my final whack at six through ten. Enjoy . . .
6. Put a 10-year moratorium on "God wants you rich" sermons (yeah, that's what we need to hear nowadays, you morons, more sermons about money, money, money!). I've got to confess, I like money, and the more the merrier as far as I'm concerned. Money has been good to me. In addition, I've got to come clean and proudly announce that the Bible is not anti-denari, much to the chagrin of the pro-poverty Christians. Matter of fact, the Bible is chock-full of holy wisdom on how one can righteously make, adroitly juggle and justly bequeath one's hard-earned drachmas.
So, I don't have problems with either having cash or hearing about it from a balanced biblical context. The two things that I think do a massive disservice to God and country and make me want to spit are, one: the obvious hucksters (and the not so obvious hucksters) in the pulpit and on "Christian" TV who blather on about it week after week, and two: The Judases who preach the happy clappy crud that does not righteously offend, all for the sake of keeping the lemmings blissful and the offering baskets stuffed full.
Hey, Pastor Money Freak Boy: how about mixing up your teaching a tad? You're becoming a wee bit obvious. Here's a thought: How about preaching the gospel every now and then, or teaching on apologetics (if you even know what that is) so that your flock can defend their faith, or talk about how the Christian can be a major player in salvaging our nation, or teaching on the armor of God, or going verse by verse through the book of Romans? What do you think about that, Slingblade?
The Detergent Church, on the other hand, will not be imbalanced with a glut of money messages, nor will it hype the crowd with outrageous "you'll get rich if you give now" slop. Rather, it will address the pressing spiritual and social issues locally and nationally, give the biblical remedy to the malady, and not use Sundays to suck the cash out of the crowd ad nauseam. For the Detergent Church, a simple tithe and offering does just fine, thank you. The Detergent Church understands that if they do their job God will float their financial boat without them resorting to obsession or manipulation.
7. Embrace apologetics and shun shallow faith. The church has avoided apologetics for the last couple of decades like Paris Hilton avoids the pickled pig foot platter in the Telemundo green room. So, why has the church run away from both knowing and being able to articulate why they "believe" what they "believe" to the inquisitive unbeliever?
Well, truth be told, American Idol has been on and a lot of Christians are lazy, stupid and, in reality, they do not really care where we're headed as a church or a nation. If they did, they'd get off their McDonald's-enlarged languid laurels and do the difficult work of thinking and fighting for that which is holy, just and good.
The repercussion of the church taking a twenty year anti-intellectual nap is that we have morphed from being the sharp army of God to a dull gaggle of clods. Yep, Christians having embraced feelings over facts has left large chunks of Christendom intellectually naked before the anti-Christian Torquemadas who would love to see the church relegated to a religious ghetto on the sidelines of life.
The Detergent Church doesn't shun the role of the mind in the life of the believer. Like our testicles, we like our brains and believe that we don't have to check either at the door of the church to be a Christian. The Detergent Church thinks it is a sin and a scandal for congregants to stay stupid and not be able to give an answer for that which they believe. Yep, they take Jesus' command to love God with all their minds seriously.
8. Evangelize like it's 1999. You know what I miss? I miss the raw, politically incorrect turn-or-burn messages that used to be part and parcel of the evangelical world before it went limp and moved from sola scriptura to sola cultura.
Evangelism proper used to mean a message of salvation via the sacrifice of God's only son (that would be Jesus Christ for you ignorant secular darlings) from God's temporal and eternal wrath, brought about not by driving an SUV, but by intrinsically rebellious men and women constantly giving God the middle finger by what they both say and do (that's my definition of moral depravity, thank you very much).
Classic Christ-centered evangelism, as you can imagine, used to scare the bejesus out of the contumacious crowd. The good news only left the hell-bound heathen with the warm and fuzzies after it fully woke them up regarding how damned they were and what a great escape Christ's death, burial and resurrection was for their sorry backside. It was a beautiful thing. Oh! And it also changed not only their constituent makeup but also altered the culture around them.
Yep, the internal transformation from being a self-obsessed me monkey to being a Christ focused follower had not only great internal ramifications for the sinner but also positive external cultural effects everywhere the "good news" was preached and received. Need an example? The United States of America was founded by Christian men who were not a part of seeker-friendly, spayed and neutered churches. The gospel they were served was the old school Puritan brew that solidly shook both the sinner and shaped society. This untainted, untamed "good news" that humble men embraced not only caused them to bank heaven via Christ but also spawned the US of flippin' A. Coincidence? I don't think so.
The reason our nation is going to go down the latrine is because evangelism has had its teeth pulled. The message now gently gums the sinner versus fanging their carotid. It's culturally correct and man-focused instead of being Christocentric and Bible-based. How cute.
The Detergent Church, however, does not try to sneak Jesus into people's lives like he's a 16-year-old chick trying to get into Liquid on her sister's ID. No, we preach it raw and real even though we've been told by the church "experts" that our PoMo crowd can't take Jesus straight. The Detergent Church doesn't dial Christ down; we don't de-radicalize Him for postmodern puss-n-boots. We're too afraid we'd turn the good news into bland and false news that has no power either to truly deliver a person or culture from sin's corruption.
9. Push lazy Christians to get a life or join a Satanic Church. The Bible condemns the slacker, Christian or not. Plain and simple, "Christian," if you're a gum smackin' indolent Lurch who moves through life with the vision of Cyclops and the vigor of a Xanaxed slug crawling up a sheared cliff in the intensified gravity of the planet Jupiter, then God's getting ready to axe you. Where do I base my claims, you ask? From the Bible you never read, that's where.
What's weird is that the church is stuffed full of whining babies, welfare brats, and apathetic complainers who simply refuse to get a life. I have friends who are blind, crippled, have brain damage, cerebral palsy, or have been raped or experienced incest who are powerful and productive Christians of which you would never know that they had any kind of serious setbacks. With the odds tremendously stacked against them they have slayed their dragons, conquered their mountains and have been insane examples of faith at work.
Then we have the little wussies who have found within the church an extended womb of enormous proportions where they can live and wallow in the warm amniotic fluid of gooey fellowship that affords them the wherewithal to never, never grow up.
The Detergent Church, on the other hand, expects folks to get a life and to sport the bulldog attitude that Christ had, especially if you're an able-bodied guy between the ages of 18-40. The Detergent Church has no room for poodles trying to milk the church or the government when they have, in Christ, the means to overcome whatever stuff gets shot in their faces.
10. Demand that if a Christian gets involved in the arts that their "craft" must scream excellence and not excrement. Traditionally, when the Church has been at the top of its game, not burning witches or applying thumbscrews to petty thieves, we've had a high view of the pen, the paint brush, the piano and the chisel. Art itself needed no rationalization, and for five hundred years brilliant art emerged from the Church. Orthodox, biblically-based, non-wacky clergy and laity took pleasure in living, the arts, culture, their own talents, and the abilities of those around them. They got the message that beauty and culture come from God and therefore are good, and they didn't need a mediocre column written by a smart mouth to defend it.
The Bible shows off God's love for artistic endeavors and creativity as much as it scares the heck out of the general public with the moral law. Matter of fact, the first people to be "filled with the Spirit" were not apostles or prophets, but artists (see Exodus 35).
And that leads me to ask, where has the brilliant art gone? Where is the mind-blowing stuff, y'know, the paintings, sculptures, architecture and music that make you dribble your Slurpee down your shirt? Where are the books that are weighty and transcendent, books with a shelf life of 500 years, versus the five weeks my last book had? Where in the world is clever and tasteful Christian TV, and why do we have to wait twenty years between solid movies like Chariots of Fire and The Passion of the Christ?
I'll tell you why . . . The Church has embraced a low view of the arts. God hasn't changed His high view of art, we have. And here's the painful reality: If the Church doesn't shed this point of view regarding quality artistic endeavors, if we stay removed from creativity and human expression, then we will forever live on the peripheries of the public square, whining about Michael Moore movies.
The Detergent Church understands the power of the arts and doesn't avoid them or produce shoddy stabs at artistic endeavors but instead tosses up to God our utmost for His highest.