September 17, 2014

How Believers Can Distort the Word

Whenever somebody mentions Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, what do you imagine? Likely, your thoughts drift to the painting’s infamous stoic expression or its mysterious legacy. What you probably don’t think about is the thick bulletproof glass that sits between the Mona Lisa and art gallery patrons. Vandals have attempted to distort the portrait by throwing acid, rocks and red paint at the portrait for centuries. So the world’s most famous work of art must be protected.

Our broken world constantly tries to vandalize famously cherished works, so why would we expect God’s valued work of art to be any different? Like the defensive glass in an art gallery, Scripture too must be protected from those who are twisting its contents and damaging its legacy.

As you might have heard, there is a “Millennial problem” within the Church. Religion analysts, pundits, and preachers alike are struggling to grasp why young adults raised in Evangelical— Pentecostal, Charismatic, Baptist, and Non-Denominational—churches are departing from the Christian faith at rapid rates. Simultaneously, Christians are watching with shock and horror as the state of America’s morality and foundational Judeo-Christian principles follow the trend of descent.

As a Millennial myself and public policy analyst, I can tell you first-hand that the action needed to fix both problems cannot be found digging into complex data, hazy statistics or even lobbying our Representatives’ offices in Washington D.C. For too long Christian culture warriors have been so focused on vandals’ threats to our faith from secular society that we failed to notice the damage being done from within our own Evangelical community.

It is painful to admit but, within many Evangelical churches, campus ministries, and even Christian universities Believers let our guard down. And so, the Christian Left crept in quietly championing liberalism and feeding a damaged and distorted version of the Gospel to young Evangelicals.

As I explain in greater detail in my new book Distortion: How the New Christian Left is Twisting the Gospel and Damaging the Faith, the Christian Left must dismantle the authority of God’s Word before they can convince young Evangelicals that same-sex marriage, abortion, taxpayer funded abortifacients, feminism, pacifism, Christian discrimination, and the expansion of a federal nanny state are Biblically endorsed.

To do this, the Christian Left typically starts by excluding mentions of “sin,” “Hell,” and “transformation” from their sermons, lectures or Sunday school lessons. This way, the need to address and turn away from immorality is intentionally avoided. Next, they incite confusion in Millennials’ minds regarding the clarity of Scripture. Some among the Christian Left will point to Levitical law outlined in the Old Testament and say that because we do not follow these laws in the Bible, then all Christian cherry-pick principles. Therefore, according to the Christian Left, followers of Christ don’t have to adhere to everything outlined in the New Testament either. Finally, the Christian Left has dismantled the Word of God so much that they have concocted their own cafeteria-style Christianity; That is, taking parts of the Bible out of context so that it fits their own liberal political activism.

Stay with me here. Right about now I know that these deceptive tactics are probably making your head spin. So I’ll give you a clear example. Popular blogger and member of the Christian Left, Rachel Held Evans illustrated this strategy. While writing her book Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master,” Evans essentially claimed that because it is impossible for women to follow all of the rules pertaining to women recorded in the Bible, then it should follow that Scripture is not an applicable guidebook for Christian women’s daily lives.

Thankfully Kathy Keller, the wife of Pastor Tim Keller, pointed out in a book review published by the Gospel Coalition why Evan’s formula was deceptive. “In making the decision to ignore the tectonic shift that occurred when Jesus came,” Keller wrote, “you have led your readers not into a better understanding of biblical interpretation, but into a worse one. Christians don’t arbitrarily ignore the Levitical code—they see it as wonderfully fulfilled in Jesus.”[1]

“Not my church,” you might be thinking. “We believe in the authority of Scripture.” So says Rachel Held Evans and many other Christian Left leaders shaping young Evangelicals faith and worldview.

I pray that distorted liberal theology is not permeating within your church. But a warning: Do not look for liberal political slogans or pro-abortion propaganda pinned to the bulletin board. The Christian Left is much more clever and deceptive than a simple Republican vs. Democrat debate.

America’s Founding Father James Madison stated, “I believe there are more instances of abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” Likewise, the Christian Left’s abridgement of the authority of Scripture is a gradual and silent destruction of the Word of God.

At this point you might be wonder how the Christian Left can successfully convince the Millennial generation to buy into its damaged, distorted version of the Gospel.

The simple answer is: Young Evangelicals simply do not know enough about their faith. Because they are not equipped with knowledge of traditional Christian teaching, history and the social science that affirms it, young Evangelicals are unable to defend their faith. Therefore they are likely to fall into one of two camps: either they buy into distorted theology or they remain silent.

Early in my college years, I was inclined to buy into this distorted theology. Not because I wanted a more progressive ethos or because I was rebelling against my parents’ “outdated” religion. My reason was that I wanted to “fit in.”

Having a big heart for those in need made me and other Millennials especially vulnerable. While attending a prominent Christian campus ministry, I was taught that social justice work within the community should be priority, not traditional Christian teachings. Of course, this was appealing. I could focus on caring for others, conveniently follow Jesus, and avoid offending anyone because topics like same-sex marriage and abortion were off limits.

I’ll admit that as a new, earnest member of this campus ministry, I tried to take counter-cultural Biblical stands. I tried to confront the excessive alcohol abuse among my fellow Evangelical peers and against abortion. Realizing my Christian friends, and some among the leadership, were uncomfortable with these conversation topics, I found it easier to stick with social justice as my Christian focal point. Seemingly, it was the compassionate route because at least I kept friends that way. Wrong!

Thankfully, my parents and other mentors were committed to speaking all of God’s truths in love to me. I finally recognized how I was snuffing out portions of the Gospel in order to maintain popularity among my peers.

My experience is not unique. It is the growing trend among Millennials raised within the Evangelical community.

Beyond being a Millennial and analyst at the Institute on Religion and Democracy, one of my most important roles is Sunday school teacher to Middle school-aged kids. My students are bright, funny and bold. But I often hear them explain how many around them—in and outside of our church—bombard their heads with messages of “don’t judge,” “tolerance,” “coexist,” and “political correctness.” These buzzwords intimidate them.

Seasoned conservative Christians have heard all these empty words before and remain unfazed. But for young kids who have seeds of confusion planted about Scripture’s clarity coupled with the fact that they love their non-Christian friends, these words cause fear. So they shy away from mentioning their faith in God and His Word that is inherently offensive to a fallen world. So when popular Christian culture leaders tell young Evangelicals that they can appease both the world and Jesus, then, of course this distorted theology captures their attention.

But the Christian Left’s damage doesn’t end with simply a misguided generation. Their distortions lead back to the “Millennial problem” I mentioned earlier. Once young adults buy into the lie that Scripture is not authoritative, then they find themselves drifting towards questioning, doubting and abandoning the faith altogether. After all, why believe in words that hold no tangible or applicable value?

There is good news. Like the art gallery’s steps to preserve and protect the Mona Lisa, Christians too can take precautions to guard God’s Word. Read your Bible and commit it to memory. Next, ask questions about the theological beliefs of your church leadership, seminary instructors, and the Millenials you know. Their answers may shock you. Then finally pray for wisdom and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the absolute truths contained in God’s Words.

Popular culture, inside and outside of the Church, will try to damage and distort Scripture’s value and its authoritative role in Christians’ lives. But as followers of Christ we can stand up and protect all of its contents with good conscience.

Remember that the counter-cultural messages found in Bible were not crafted by conservative Evangelicals. The Bible is not our words, but the divinely-inspired work of art produced by the one true living God. Scripture deserve to be protected.

Editor’s note: The original version of this article was published by Charisma News. You can view it here.


 

13 Responses to How Believers Can Distort the Word

  1. Jason Wert says:

    Rachel Held Evans is one of the most dangerous heretics today. Her unabashed attempts to undermine Christ’s teachings is disgusting and the way she leads thousands astray with glee just makes me sick.

    • ed-words says:

      Agreed. She grew up fundamentalist, completely turned against Christianity, and is managing to drag a lot of people along with her. Sad to watch.

  2. Alan Wakefield says:

    My head is spinning! Why has the Church allowed this war between good and evil, begun in the Garden (as was the New World Order) to become so complex? How many spiritual choices were available to our first parents? In effect they had a choice between two governments, God’s (God is the “Governor of the universe.” Madison and others) or satan’s (“the god of this world” 2nd Cor. 4:4). That alone should be evidence separation of church and state or atheism IS IMPOSSIBLE! But wait, there’s more. When Jesus walked this Earth He Commanded His human creation “Render unto Caesar,” representing the god of this world, or “Render unto God.” Here is God confirming the two choices that were available to Adam and Eve. Once again we find no hint of a third choice, Christ or satan, no third option! When the world faces the tribulation, do we then find a third choice? Taking the mark will confirm one as a satan worshiper; who but a born again Believer will have reason to refuse the mark? Do we find any evidence of a third option? How about eternity, do we find a third destination there? Lets take a calm, dispassionate look at the Words of Jesus Christ (Can you identify a more creditable Witness?) in His Book of the Revelation He said: “And they worshiped the dragon…And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:4 & 8. The ONLY way to have one’s name writ into The Book of Life is “You must be born again.”(Gospel of John, 3:7) If your name is NOT in The Book of Life, you are a satan worshiper. This clear, direct precept, from Jesus Christ Himself, IS THE BEST KEPT SECRET IN ALL CHRISTENDOM! In Revelation 13, Jesus affirms what He taught in the Garden, what He taught during His Earthly ministry, in the tribulation and by His creation of two, AND ONLY TWO, eternal destinies, Heaven of Hell. If someone is NOT BORN AGAIN, that someone is a satan worshiper. In the last ten years or more I have discussed this with many pastor friends and other
    Biblically astute Believers. Not a single one has said, “Alan, you are misinterpreting Scripture.” Not a single one has said, “Alan, you are twisting scripture.” And yet, the Church shrinks in fear from teaching this Christ centered, Christ honoring, easily learned, easily taught precept, a precept that exposes atheism, agnosticism, deism, and all Christ rejecting religions for exactly what they are, satan worship and corollaries to satan’s biggest lie of all, “I do not exist!” To use the word “atheism,” as if it actually exists as a real option, is blasphemy. I define blasphemy as any word, deed or thought that contradicts the Word of God (Thank God He paid for ALL our sin at the cross). God has made it crystal clear there is no such animal as an atheist. To identify someone or to allow someone to identify themselves as an “atheist,” would make me a co-conspirator with satan. I would be be promoting satan’s lie that he does not exist. The same may be said of the use of the word “evolution,” when used in its anti-Creation sense. That too is contradictory to God’s Word and thus qualifies as blasphemy. I “blame” the church (including myself) for our failure to obey God’s Command to love our enemies (God’s enemies) enough to tell them the Truth. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Gospel of Luke, 6:27-28. Why does the Church make itself complicit in satan’s lies of atheism, evolution and separation of church and state by refusing to expose and condemn these lies in the strongest possible terms using the readily available evidence from respected Biblical scholars like Newton, Blackstone, Locke, Montesquieu, Simon Greenleaf and so many others? How many souls have been lost due to this failure? Will God not hold His Church responsible for not revealing these easily exposed lies of the evil one?

    • MarcoPolo says:

      Dear Alan,

      Among all of the worlds’ religions, is Christianity the ONLY true religion?
      How can it be, that any of the others are not, also, the Truth?

      Sincerely,
      MarcoPolo

      • RhondaStar says:

        Jesus said that Christianity is the only true faith, not us or Alan. John 3:36, 14:6. Jesus is the only way to salvation.

        Peter confirms this (Acts 4:12) as does the Apostle John (1 John 5:12).

        It isn’t our opinion. It’s God’s decreed, divine truth that says so. And if we didn’t believe this, we wouldn’t be Christians…we’d be pluralists.

        Don’t waste your time arguing with us. Your argument is with God.

        • MarcoPolo says:

          Thank you RhondaStar.

          I have no argument with God, I simply think it is arrogant of any one religion to believe that theirs is The ONLY true religion.
          (Of course, we know it’s a sin to be prideful or arrogant, don’t we?)

          I liken the diversity of religion to that of Language. Since there are many, many different languages, wouldn’t it then be logical to think that there would be many, many religions?

          I’ve generally always considered there to be just ONE God, and each religion gave God a different name, hence, nuances of nomenclature for the purpose of sharing each faith with it’s respective followers.

          I know pluralism is a turn off to Christians, but it shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand, just because it differs from one’s own religion.
          Kind of like hedging one’s bet, having more than one deity…LOL!

          Respectfully,
          MarcoPolo

          • RhondaStar says:

            It is not arrogance to humbly submit to/believe the words of Jesus. It is arrogant, however, to believe in one’s own self-created smorgasbord religion, which is what you have created. The origin of Christiaity is the Savior–the origin of what you believe is self.

            We merely take Jesus at his word. That’s called faith, not pride.

            By the way, you say you believe in one God, but you do realize that not all religions believe in one God, don’t you? In fact, several believe in numerous gods. And a few believe that you are or can become a god…so, according to them, the number of gods is still growing!

            Moreover, several make mutually exclusive truth claims (meaning they can’t both be true). For instance, Christians believe that Jesus was crucified on a cross, but Muslims do not believe that the crucifixion ever happened. No matter how politically correct or nicey-nice you want to be, they can’t both be right.

          • MarcoPolo says:

            Good point, RhondaStar.

            As is with Hindu faithful, it is considered an enlightenment when one discovers that God is ‘you’!
            Now that might sound narcicistic, but it is meant to bring home, the idea that nothing else exists outside of one’s consciousness.

            As for the plurality of Gods, the Native religions of the world held many spirits as holy/sacred entities. That could hardly be considered wrong, but with the advent of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, there were bound to be conflicts that spurred many atrocities in the name of God, and for that reason alone, I find most Organized Religions a tad arrogant and therefore, offensive.

            Your point doesn’t go unnoticed about recognizing another’s religion as valid, or not. Take the number of people who believe that the Holocaust never happened?! So much for BELIEF! Is that just denial, arrogance or choice?

            Peace,
            Marco

    • MarcoPolo says:

      Alan,
      I think I understand that you’re reducing the choices between Good and Evil, to God and Satan. That stands clear, but are you equating the same dichotomy to that of Church and State…ergo, Church=God and State=Satan?

      Just curious! Thanks in advance.

      • ldwaddell says:

        Marco, Christians understand the state to have a legitimate purpose and that is to maintain the peace, to justly identify ethical and unethical behavior and to reward the ethical and punish the unethical. To ensure equal treatment of all under the law and to protect the nation from invaders. When the State begins to overstep its bounds and begins to favor one group over another or to pass laws or regulations that usurp individual freedom then the State has taken the role of oppressor and has joined the side of evil. In Christian belief the greatest oppressor is Satan.

        4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. Romans 13:4-5

        As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient Ephesians 2:1-2

        Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:11-12

  3. Lost_Lenore says:

    Great analysis, Chelsen! I would like to add my personal observations that the social justice gospel is incredibly appealing on so many levels. It appeals to the guilt that many of us feel here in the prosperous West as we’re being more or less constantly subtly and not-at-all-subtly how undeserving we are of our prosperity, having gained it unfairly from the developing world. It appeals to the parts of the human being whose reward circuits are activated by altruistic activities. It appeals to those who are afraid to be called haters or unjust. It appeals to the better angels of our natures that just want to be useful or helpful. It appeals to those who want to easily feel righteous without having to do the hard work of learning their faith or confronting their own failings. It appeals to those who are aware of the many scriptures that do indeed call for justice and mercy and who take those scriptures seriously. Then, once it has gotten hold of a person’s imagination, it can take on a life of it’s own, subsuming any conflicting elements of the Christian faith and creating a love for utopian schemes that promise to yield more social justice if only more people would be less selfish.

    • Sandy Naylor says:

      Good analysis. For the individual guilt of religion, liberalism substitutes collective guilt. The person can conduct his private life with no concern for morality, while claiming to feel guilty for racism, sexism, etc. It is so far removed from Christianity that it is amazing anyone could confuse the two.

  4. John Vian says:

    I hear you loud and clear about the “Christian left,” but where is the Christian right? Who is Biblically correct in America today? Where is God’s true church? Jesus said in John 4:23 “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” And we have false doctrines in every church, in every State, in every city in America.
    There’s the KJV Only movement, who are right about the King James being the Authorized Version in English but error in doctrine, like OSAS, pre-tribulation rapture, and English is the only pure language. None of these doctrines are even biblical and they use runes to embrace hidden biblical codes. Other false doctrines are spiritual drunkenness, the T.U.L.I.P theory, Gnosticism, Catholicism, LDS, SDA, Mormonism, prosperity, seed faith, New Age doctrines, magical prayers for eternal salvation, the emergent churches, Deism, perverted modern bible versions and the list is a mile long.
    Everywhere I go I can find some truths but then I have to spit out the sticks of false doctrines. The deeper I dig for truths and meaning the uglier it gets. So, where are the true believers in America?

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