Christianity without Christ?
Is America being subverted by a fake Christianity – a Christianity without Christ and his teaching? A recent Barna study concluded that being Christian in America in 2021 has very little connection to the message of scripture. Modern Christians are not ‘sola scriptura’ Christians as were the Celtic Christians of the 400’s AD or the European Reformers of the 1500’s. In fact you might think that these Christians consider Eve’s choice of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, as the wiser choice…if they even know the biblical story. We might wonder if the decline in America is a consequence of an erosion of basic values and the watered-down Christianity that is the most popular religious worldview.
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism
Barna has labelled this pseudo-Christian perspective as MTD — Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. It is a philosophy of encouraging good people to do good things to make them feel happy about themselves. God is far off, and not involved in this picture, but he does want everyone to be nice. So instead of the old scriptural codes of right and wrong, right and wrong has become a matter of personal definitions and not God’s direct instructions. In reality it is a Christianity that denies Christ, and his message.
What is Your Authority?
Jesus when facing off with the Devil made it abundantly clear that not only was he the son of God, but he would not fall for the Devil’s deception. Jesus knew that the scripture had authority, and the words God had spoken were the only sure guide to a good life. Jude, Jesus half-brother confirmed that those God loved, the elect, would be walking closely with God by living in the truth of God’s word. And yet he was also aware that this would not be an easy walk. Due to the fake Christians who twisted scripture to justify their decadence and immorality, genuine believers would need to fight for the faith.
Feel Good Fairy Tales
Paul also warned of those deceivers who would talk nonsense, and upset peoples’ faith. These reprobate teachers would peddle fairy tales, and a ‘feel good’ message that would lead to tolerance of the things that God hates. Paul knew that those standing for the truth against the tide of ancient Rome’s ‘feel good’ religions would suffer persecution. And yet, God then as now, expects his followers to keep doing his work. This in spite of opposition, even when the opposition comes from those who claim to represent Christ. Peter had a similar warning, reminding the brethren that from antiquity there have been false prophets. They would invent dangerous heresies to exploit people, to discredit the truth, and slander those who refused to buy their lies.
Mighty Works or Lawlessness?
Jesus reminded his followers, true Christians, that a day of judgment was coming. Those who taught a fake Christianity, the purveyors of ‘morally therapeutic deism’ would be surprised at the outcome. Why? They thought they were ‘doing good’ with their ‘mighty works’ but they were wrong. They rejected God’s standard of right and wrong, and led corrupted lives. Hypocritically they honoured God with their lips but their hearts were far from God, for they had rejected righteousness in favour of lawlessness.
In our world we are experiencing a similar situation where hypocritical religious teachers reject God’s commands in favour of human reasoning. They espouse a vapid, moralistic therapeutic deism, instead of the true gospel of God. They talk about their personal opinion, “my truth” as if it were God’s viewpoint. But they are lying witnesses, distorting the message of scripture and implying that God will bless lives of dissipation and hedonism. They go even further to promote sin under the guise of loving your neighbour.
We Need a Saviour
John, Jesus’ beloved disciple, stated in absolute terms that sin is lawlessness as defined by the scripture. He warned the brethren not to be deceived by a world that does not know God. As God’s children we are to love God by keeping his commandments, given to us as a blessing. Just as the Lord God saved his people, leading them out of Egypt, and then giving them his law, so he is saving those who love his ways. He will have mercy on those who build wisely on the foundation of faith found in the scriptures. There will be scoffers who are sensual and consumed by their worldly passions, proclaiming a fake Christianity while denying Christ and his message. But Jesus is Lord and Saviour, and he will keep us from stumbling, if we hold onto the scriptures as our guide to right living.
What is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God that was preached by Jesus Christ and his disciples? What is the gospel that we must believe to be saved? What is the gospel of Jesus Christ?