It’s been fun sparring with the atheists lately. I truly appreciate their blasts against God, Christ, Scripture and the church as they serve to shape up the intellectually flabby and spiritually indolent Christians who’re coasting through life picking lint out their navels instead of engaging our culture.
Therefore, muchas gracias mis hermanos del diablo.
Look, Christian, if it weren’t for the atheists busting our chops and asking us the tricky questions and bringing up the offensive aspects of Scripture, most of the church wouldn’t lift a manicured, uncalloused finger to investigate such topics and formulate a non-whacked answer to the gloves-off godless inquiries.
So, quit crying church, the atheists are good for you. Embrace them. They’ll put meat on your bones and hair on your chest, Nancy boy.
Frankly, the people who concern me—the ones I think are more malevolent than the obstreperous atheists—are the postmodern prevaricating pastors and priests who sidestep the stout aspects of Scripture because of the pressures of political correctness.
Correct me if I’m mistaken, brethren, but I’m pretty certain that Christ saved his most scathing invectives for the in-house boys who were ashamed of His person, works and word and who bowed to the crowd.
I was thunderstruck the other day at how far the church has moved away from preaching the raw gospel when I happened upon an old black and white Billy Graham crusade on the tube. It had to be at least 40 if not 50 year old footage.
Billy was in his prime. He was young, had dark wavy hair, and he was full of P&V. I’m thinking this is pretty cool. However, let’s check Graham out. Let’s see if he preaches Oprah verses Obadiah like a lot of postmodern therapeutic Tony Robbins wannabe ministers are doing in the pulpit today.
As you can imagine, Billy didn’t play. The man delivered the goods. He didn’t bee-bop and scat around the difficult sayings of Christ and the gospel. He clearly wasn’t on TV preaching to get rich, to sell his latest book, to be Christendom’s playmate of the month, nor to soul stroke an impenitent mob of vapid narcissists.
Graham simply stood up there with boldness and verve and delivered the gospel unapologetically. It was heaven or hell . . . turn or burn . . . that came rolling off Graham’s tongue. I was blown away by how non-PC Billy G was.
Here’s a list of what Graham touched on during his 40 minute sermon. You won’t hear this stuff talked about much anymore, especially by the TV and mega church ministers. Too costly. Too offensive. Matter of fact, why don’t you take this list to church with you this Sunday or have a copy handy next time you sit down to watch the next televangelist and see how many times they mention what the respected Graham did, namely . . .
• The holiness of God
• The fear of God
• Man’s innate depravity
• The heinousness of sin
• The wrath of God
• Our eventual death
• Our personal accountability to God
• Our pending eternal judgment
• The reality of Hell
• The commandment to repent from sin
• The death, burial and resurrection of Christ from the dead
• Faith in Christ being the only way to God
• The command to the repentant to radically obey Christ in all things
Graham hammered home all the above without an apology or some befuddled explanation. He didn’t attempt to dull down God’s holiness, lessen His terror, go easy on man’s sinfulness, throw water on God’s wrath, sweep everyone into heaven, or make Christ one of many ways to paradise. Nope, he was clear, convicting and convincing, and there was a marked silence in the crowd as he ministered. There was an incredible sense of awe. No, not awe. Awe is too tame. It was more like . . . let’s see . . . um . . . fear. Yeah, that’s it—fear. The fear of God.
Y’know it was interesting that Billy didn’t talk about . . .
• Your success
• Your prosperity
• Thinking positive thoughts
• Confessing positive things
• Your personal happiness
• Your purpose in life
• Your personal destiny
• Turning your dreams into reality
• Creating your future now
• How to be a super you
• Broadening your vision
• Developing a strong self-image
There was zilch, zero, zippo, nothing, nil, and nada about you-you-you. It was strangely Christocentric instead of anthropocentric. It was crazy.
If someone were to preach today what Billy Graham preached in that old video, he’d get tagged as an extremist or a hater as we have become so entrenched in the politically correct gospel of gooey goose bumps for impenitent altar tramps.
Face it gents, Scripture is offensive, and if you stand for the unprocessed and uncensored truth claims of the gospel you will be barbequed within our nation which has officially become nicer than Christ. Jesus himself promised it in John, remember?
"If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world's terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God's terms and no longer on the world's terms, the world is going to hate you. When that happens, remember this: Servants don't get better treatment than their masters. If they beat on me, they will certainly beat on you. If they did what I told them, they will do what you tell them.” (John 15: 18-20, The Message)
Matter of fact, Jesus said, “you’re pretty much eternally screwed (woe to you!) when all men speak well of you and you’re the big cheese. That’s how they spoke of the false prophets who loved to tickle the ears of the licentious listener” (author’s translation).
As you can tell political correctness bugs me more than atheism. I appreciate, in all sincerity, the atheist’s attacks. They have served to bolster the church by pushing it back into sound doctrine and practice and away from superficiality and selfishness.
Pluralism and political correctness, on the other hand, continue to weaken the church by removing or vilifying the very hard and exclusive truth claims of Christ that can truly save and change a person and a nation both now and in eternity.
These truths, to be sure, are offensive to the selfish, but they happen to be the very thing which brings about real and lasting transformation. And that’s what we need: transformation. A radical 180 from the direction we’re going as a people and a country.
So my advice is twofold: First, let’s continue to wrangle with the atheists. They’re only helping things by rapping our knuckles. If we embrace their verbal mace we’ll come out as better believers. Secondly, seeing that PC-riddled Christianity is more dastardly than uncut atheism, why don’t we call to account ministers who have drifted from the whole counsel of God and have substituted it for a different gospel, a different spirit, and are preaching a different motivational-type-Deepak-Chopra-Kenny G-with-a-beard-guru kind of Jesus?
Yeah, that’s it. No matter how popular the pastor, no matter how much they grin, and no matter how much they love puppy dogs and candy canes, let’s challenge the PC priests of the new millennium to quit preaching half truths, psychobabble, trite clichés, cutesy sayings, sweet ditties and hackneyed aphorisms from their amputated Bibles.
Let’s press ‘em to just deliver sound doctrine, please. Nothing fancy. No gimmicks, por favor. Tell them that you’ll get your motivational stuff from Tony Robbins or Donald Trump and that you’d really, really appreciate them giving you the ungarnished gospel of God. Be patient, as some of these guys haven’t preached the gospel in so long they might have forgotten it. However, if after correction they don’t get back on track after a few months, I’d leave that “church” and find a church that’ll deliver the goods as Graham and other great preachers of old did back in the day.