Sunday, October 18, 2020

The church's turn to deceit

In the 1970's, the Church in America had a sense of mission and purpose. We had the light of God's Word and we wanted to take it to the regions beyond and the uttermost parts of the earth where people lived in spiritual darkness and needed to know the Truth.

I was born to a couple that understood this and dedicated their lives to exactly this mission. Through their organization they were headed to the tribal regions of Venezuela and the Yanomamo people.

Fast-forward 50 years and the roles are reversing. Yanomamo people have come to know Jesus and the American church is turning to spiritual darkness, even while still claiming to be “Gospel-centered,” having the Bible as their “final authority,” and giving money to support mission work.

The American church now teaches that the Bible and the Gospel are only about our relationships with one another. Everything is viewed through that lens. If the Bible says anything that doesn't pass through that filter, it goes unnoticed. It's like the inability to see the difference between red and white when both are viewed under a red light.

This narrow view of God's Word has left a void for truth. The American church is actively not teaching anything from God's Word that doesn't fit the relationship paradigm. Anything outside that is considered irrelevant. The problem is people do consider other things in life beyond interpersonal relationships as relevant, and the American church is teaching that God has nothing to say about them. You wouldn't know from an American church, for instance, that God's Word speaks to topics raised in any academic course of study.

This is not to say that the void is not felt in the church. The people are hungry for thorough spiritual nourishment and need to be fed. The shepherds themselves may not know how to comprehensively feed them from “the whole counsel of God” either (Acts 20:27). Even Bible teaching that appears to be expositional can be susceptible to the everything-is-about-relationships filter.

Some have concluded that if relationship teaching has not filled the void, then it's because the people need to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:23). However, instead of looking into “the perfect law of liberty” and continuing in it (James 1:25), they instead have turned to law to impose upon themselves supposedly spiritual “disciplines” and “practices” in the name of “spiritual growth.”

This is subtle because these practices do not present as a direct attack on the Scriptures or their authority. Still, these practices do not come from the Scriptures, even if they falsely impersonate meditating on the Scriptures. Taking the words of Scripture and repeating them over and over while gradually eliminating them and their meaning until nothing more than a mantra chant remains is nowhere taught in the Word of God. Never does God's Word teach that a believer in Jesus has to enter some kind of altered state to have a connection with God. If you study the proposed disciplines and practices, and note their similarities to other theologies, that's where they lead.

Man may try to use high-sounding philosophies that follow ancient traditions of men, but these things are “not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Self-imposed religion may appear wise, but it has no value (Colossians 2:23). The appropriate response to those who come in by stealth to spy out our liberty, which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage is not to yield submission even for an hour so that the truth of the Gospel might continue (Galatians 2:4-5).

The Gospel has continued among the Yanomamo. As LTRP points out today, “The Yanomamo have tried and proven that spirituality is not what sustains a people, but as Chief Shoefoot points out after his conversion, our hope is in Jesus Christ alone.

“It is tragically ironic that while a Yanomamo chief, like Chief Shoefoot, has time-tested and proven that mysticism does not work and has now turned to Jesus, countless Christians are now turning to mysticism to find answers.”

That means that while the mission field was in Venezuela in the 1970's, the mission field is now the American church, too, in the 2020's. The Yanomamo have found freedom. We need the American church to stop putting itself into bondage and live in freedom once again, too.

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