It was Peter, to whom the Lord Himself had given the keys of the kingdom of heaven who wrote, “Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.”(1 Peter 5:1-3) John Calvin, commenting on this verse writes, “In exhorting pastors to their duty, he points out especially three vices which are found to prevail much, even sloth, desire of gain, and lust for power. Calvin goes on to emphasize the importance of disinterested labor in pastors and how such an attitude is a ready protection against being a slave to his own stomach and purse. Contemporary evangelicalism is in the middle of a colossal collapse and much of the blame, in fact, most of the blame can be place square on the shoulders of her pastors, elders, and even deacons, not to mention her seminaries.
At the very core of the postmodern, post-Christian crises is a man-centered, society-driven, culturally-relevant gospel as opposed to the one that was delivered once for all to the saints by Christ and his Apostles some 2,000 years ago. Fallen man is infected with himself. He is infected, contaminated, suffers from the disease of, his own self. James explains to us that sin is located in self. Every man is tempted when he is pays too much attention to his own lust and as a result is seduced by it. It was the philosophies of the enlightenment period that challenged tradition and authority. At the time, the supposed reason that tradition was eclipsed by the human ‘self’ was due to the discoveries of science, so called. Man successfully deluded himself into thinking that he was neutral and merely in pursuit of truth and that he would follow the facts wherever they may lead. Man failed to grasp or understand the ancient teachings of the apostle: For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.(Rom. 1:21) What happened in the enlightenment was not the destruction of authority and tradition. It was the replacement of one authority for another, of one tradition for a new one. And today, we are witnessing the replacement of that tradition and authority with yet another new tradition and authority. But it is not a new one after all. It is man, who is infected with the disease of self, dead in his own trespasses and sins, being the measure of all things, reason, science, and the revelation of God in Scripture be damned. And as the self-infected culture collapses around us, it takes with it all those institutions that follow it. And apparently, the evangelical church in general seems to be one among many of those institutions.
The disease of ‘self’ locates the source of all truth in man. This includes morality. Once morality is no longer transcendent, moral propositions no longer contain truth value. Moral skepticism or arbitrariness are the only remaining options. Since moral skepticism is impractical and impossible, morality becomes arbitrary, fixed by the man who is hopelessly diseased with ‘self’. Man becomes the measure of truth, all truth, to include moral truth and his traditions will change based on the whims of himself in majority. The problem in this state of affairs is that 1,000 blind men are just as blind as one blind man. But this is indeed the state of affairs we see in American culture. Out of one side of her mouth, American culture brags about science and reason while out of the other side of her mouth she affirms sexual practices, attitudes, and philosophies that are not only unscientific top to bottom, but ones that are diametrically opposed to the most obvious facts of human biology. I would say that self-affirmation is the be-all-end-all goal of this pagan culture, but that isn’t entirely true. Men who act on their natural innate desire for female companionship are often depicted as chauvinistic pigs while other men who want to have the most unnatural and perverted sex with other men are embraced and celebrated. Men who self-identify as women are encouraged, affirmed, extolled. Men who act like men in how they view women, and many other activities like hunting, fishing, and just being men are mostly portrayed as backwards, unsophisticated, cavemen to be scorned and vilified and shunned. The current state of affairs in American society is indeed confused and chaotic at best. One of the primary reasons for the confusion is the denial of transcendent absolute moral standards. The reason is due to the fact that American society has replaced a tradition that was based on principles built off a transcendent absolute morality with one that is based off the whims of the self-diseased man himself. And the chaos we now see infecting the churches is the very chaos that has led to the collapse of genuine morality in American society.
Homosexuality and liberation theologies and philosophies have been smuggled into the churches under the guise of same-sex attraction and social justice or Marixism. Certain men have attained the highest levels of credibility within the churches and have either brought damaging views with them or they have begun to embrace views that are threatening and contradicting to Christian belief. For example, Tim Keller’s soft views on homosexuality, not to mention his Marxist ideologies; John Piper’s soft views on feminism; Russell Moore’s extreme views of a social gospel; David Platt and Matt Chandler’s unbalanced views on race and racial reconciliation. These are men with massive influence and credibility in the churches. They influence our pastors who then wish to turn around and impress those men by influencing and infecting their local congregations with these same ideologies. Most of these pastors are weak-minded men whose conviction of biblical truth has been diluted by the unconscious acceptance of pagan philosophies bred by a god-hating culture. In short, remaining culturally relevant, maintaining their own credibility in the eyes of the culture, and being loved, liked, and even worshipped is more important to most evangelical pastors than standing on the simple, hated, unpopular, absolute, exclusive, narrow truth of Scripture.
There are pastors within evangelical churches who have embraced the idea that the power of the gospel cannot change homosexual desire. It just doesn’t work. The language of Scripture that draws on metaphors like new heart, new mind, born again don’t seem to mean much more than sheer will power of the individual. To desire sexual relations with a man is itself prohibited by Scripture and described as unnatural. The culture doesn’t think so. In fact, the pressure from the culture on this issue is immense. This is where we find out just how strong our convictions are on the teachings of Scripture. The culture tested our convictions on Genesis 1-3 and we backed down. The culture tested our convictions on a literal Adam and Eve and many evangelicals are backing down. The culture tested our convictions on a virgin birth and many evangelicals are backing down. The culture tested our convictions on male leadership and many evangelicals backed down. Now the culture is testing our convictions on the power of the gospel using homosexuality as the vehicle and many evangelicals are backing down.
Another philosophy that has steam-rolled many churches is critical-race theory. This theory has been coupled with black liberation theology and as of late, it has run amuck in evangelical churches. It is man-centered at bottom. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the gospel or the mission of the church. Worse than that, it has been used as a tool to divide the church. Melanin has become a criterion for choosing leaders. Men have been brought on staff in evangelical churches and hired into seminary faculties based primarily on the content of melanin in their DNA. Students who would have other wise been dismissed from flagship seminaries, like Southern Seminary for instance, and men like Kyle Howard for example, would have been dismissed from the school were it not for the amount of Melanin in his DNA and were it not for the lack of leadership presently on display in evangelical churches in general and the SBC in particular. Our pastors and leaders have become men-pleasers in the sense that they seek NOT to please all men. They seek to please the men who are in possession of the gold. And for them, the majority opinion of the pagan culture is the gold.
Jesus Christ is the founder of Christianity. What was Jesus’ focus? What was his mission? Why did Jesus come into our world? An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him without ambiguity that Christ was coming to save his people from their sin. Jesus came to deliver men, not from human oppression, not from their temporal plight, but to save them from their sin. Jesus never lifted a finger to end slavery in his day. He did not even talk about ending slavery in his day. Jesus never lifted a finger to change the status of women in his day. He chose twelve messengers whom he personally empowered with his authority and message. He didn’t include a woman among them. What do you suppose American society would say about Jesus today? If Jesus showed up and practice today what he practiced and preached then, what would American society say about him? Worse, what do you suppose the churches would say about him?
Weak leadership is failed leadership. And failed leadership always leads to chaos. The reason for this is because the individualwill always find itself in the position to compete with the other individual. Rejection of the transcendent leads ultimately and unavoidably to unresolvable conflict. Alistair McIntyre observes: “When the distinctively modern self was invented, its invention required not only a largely new social setting, but one defined by a variety of not always coherent beliefs and concepts.”Incoherence seems to be the order of the day. We see it on display every day! We live in a culture that praises science while at the same time attempting to justify gender self-identification. In the church, we see it in the affirmation of both the power of the gospel to produce supernatural and radical change while denying that same-sex attraction can be fixed by the gospel or by anything at all.
For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:10)