2015…. Some churches got badly off-balanced. Let’s hope they straighten up this year!
- In some regions, the extremes revolve around fetishes. Holy water, anointing oil, even sacred brooms: for a fee, also known as a “faith offering” or “planting a seed,” you can go home with your fetish and “watch miracles happen!”
- Another extreme is the popular would-be prophets. Having a “word from the prophet” means more to many churchgoers than receiving your own word from God or sound biblical exposition. And the latter gets dumped in some circles for the sake of the more popular “prophetic word.”
- Others who offload biblical exposition do so to attract non-Christians. “Seeker-sensitivity” is grounds for everything from Clint Eastwood video clips to rivers of coffee. It’s all about making the unchurched comfortable inside the walls.
- There is a form of simony which also has knocked a few churches off-kilter. The idea of paying for services rendered. This has found such a welcome home among some clergy, that when you come for pastoral counsel or prayer, you better be prepared to leave a gift behind!
- Other legalistic extremes revolve around the tithe. In these slightly askew times, it is sometimes taught that, premise one, “according to the Bible, no robber shall enter heaven.” Premise two: “Those who do not tithe are ‘robbing God’” (Mal3:9). Ergo, we conclude: that “no non-tither will enter heaven!”
- The opposite extreme is around grace. “Let us sin that grace may abound!” was the catchword in NT times. If God’s grace abounds in proportion to our sin, why not draw upon this reservoir to the full? Paul’s response to such still stands: “Their condemnation is just.”
Maybe the worst extreme of all? Biblically speaking, you might have to give an edge to “the good news gospel,” which omits all reference to sin, judgment and the need for repentance. I call it the worst because of the severe penalties levied on its spokesmen, false prophets like Shallum, Hananiah and Shamaiah. If these fellows did not drop dead within weeks of being called out, they were to “die a donkey’s death..dragged out of Jerusalem and dumped” (Jer 22). All of this for what? “Preaching rebellion against the Lord,” which was proclaiming “good news” before the bad news of the sins of Judaism, “peace, peace” when no peace was to be had.
Still, we must not minimize the wonderful good news: the church is built on a sure foundation. And no matter how loud the howling winds of error, as the apostle said, “the foundation of God stands sure… let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”