Theology Matters

Postmodernism is destroying the church. Dr. James Dobson said, “holds that there is no truth, no basic right or wrong, nothing good or bad, nothing evil or noble, nothing moral or immoral.” In other words, there are no absolutes.

This attitude is pervasive. “What’s right and wrong for you isn’t necessary what is right or wrong for me.” “That’s what I believe, but you may find a different truth.” “It doesn’t matter what you believe, so long as you believe in something.”

I suppose we can thank secularism for that — if the material world is all there is, then truly it doesn’t matter what you believe ((It also doesn’t matter if you slaughter people wholesale, but you won’t find many secularists that are that honest (nor do they have to be because, well, honesty in their worldview has no real value).))

If you’re wondering what any of this has to do with the church — and especially how it is destroying the church — you are absolutely correct to wonder.

Aren’t Christians supposed to adhere to the Word of God? Isn’t there a definite, absolute moral guide for Christians?

Well, yes, there certainly is, but that isn’t stopping some churchgoers today from setting aside the Scriptures in order to embrace — wait for — sin.

Let me be absolutely clear for a moment; I know Jesus Christ dined with sinners. Unavoidably, He spent His entire life among sinners. ((Yes, this includes His mother Mary; sorry, my Catholic friends!)) Yet He did not set aside the Scriptures in order to embrace them. He was a friend to prostitutes, but He did not conclude that prostitution was okay so long as they were good and decent and supported His mission. He was a friend to tax collectors, but not because He endorsed ripping the people off, taking advantage of citizens, and so on.

There are people out there who believe that Jesus promotes compassion over doctrine, that it is more important to show compassion than to stand for right doctrine. I guess it’s easy enough to come to that conclusion if one is content with ignoring the Scriptures.

Jesus Christ certainly was compassionate, as we can see here:

…Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.” The Gospel According to Matthew 21:31

The sinners will go into the kingdom of God before who? According to verse 23, that’d be the “chief priests and the elders of the people.”

Sinners ushered into Heaven prior to the religious leaders?

Boy, that sure does sound like compassion before dogma, doesn’t it? Maybe those post-moderns have it right…

But what happens if we keep reading?

For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him. The Gospel According to Matthew 21:32

Right belief. It matters. The religious leaders were rejected by Christ not because of their overemphasis of doctrine over compassion but because of wrong doctrine. Isn’t that interesting? What they believed mattered.

And what did the religious leaders fail to believe that the prostitutes and tax collectors did? What was it that John the Baptist preached that condemned the elders while leading to divine acceptance of the sinners?

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The Gospel According to Matthew 3:1

The prostitutes believed him. Repent. They didn’t just hear it. They didn’t say they’d obey but then didn’t. They trusted and obeyed.

And for it, they will be ushered into the kingdom of God.

This is compassion: the preaching of repentance to the world. Repentance from sin unto faith in Jesus — the Lamb of God which came to take away the sin the world. That is the most important message anyone could ever hear, for it is the the message of salvation, of being rescued from one’s sins.

To murderers, liars, adulterers, those whose hearts are filled with lust, coveters, homosexuals, idolaters, kidnappers, the proud, the hateful, the lovers of money… To these and more, we are to preach the message of John the Baptist, of Jesus Christ, of Paul, of Peter… the message of God: Repent.

When the Bible is shelved to give place for an idolatrous fixation on an unbiblical acceptance of unrepentant sinners, hope is lost not only for the sinners, but for those who are failing to reach out to them.

If your church’s idea of compassion toward the lost is anything other than pointing them to the salvation provided by Jesus Christ by grace through faith (which necessarily includes repentance of sin, as pointedly preached by the Christ Himself), you need to sound the warning bells.

I like what Paul said about this matter under the inspiration of God:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians 6:9–11

And such were some of you. I love that. The church, just as it is now, is filled with those who used to be gay, used to be drunkards, used to be cheaters, idolaters, and so on.

But they were washed — their sins forgiven in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

But they were sanctified — themselves being set apart from sin so that they may grow in holiness in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

But they were justified — the righteousness of Jesus Christ reckoned to their accounts in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Right belief matters, for apart from right belief we are damned in our sins.

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The Gospel According to John 4:24

I wrote this while still being a bit irritated by a post-modern site which I don’t care to link to from here. I stand by what I said above, but I recognize my thoughts aren’t that well organized. I apologize for that.

9 thoughts on “Theology Matters”

  1. Moderns destroyed the church! Post-moderns are their orphan children.

    post-moderns: post means out of or from. post-moderns are really hyper-moderns.

    where moderns were content to divide the body of Christ into denominations and eventually into individual, independent churches focused on the teachings of one particular individual, post-moderns have taken division to its ultimate conclusion; individual choice, choosing against identification with any larger unit.

    if a modern can emphasize a verse or chapter of the bible to the exclusion of other verses or chapters why wouldn’t a post-modern be willing to throw out part of the bible, reinterpret, or even abandon it altogether?

    If moderns reduced worship to semi-professional bands singing commercial “christian” themed anthems why wouldn’t post-moderns take worship as emotionalism to its logical conclusion and create multi-media arts shows and term them worship?

    If moderns taught us to be non-judgemental and preached a “seeker friendly” gospel why would post-moderns even begin to think of repentance, the cross, or heaven and hell? Let’s just all trip along towards some undefined nirvana if we can just learn to get along.

    you can take almost any distinctive of modern Christianity and follow it to its ultimate conclusion and there you will find so-called post-moderns.

  2. Nathan W. Bingham

    Theology absolutely matters!

    What frustrates me is that those who try to place theology and doctrine on a lower rung in the Christian life make all their decisions based on what they believe about God and Christianity. That is, they make their decisions based on theology and doctrine. Albeit, most of the time false theology and false doctrine, yet theology and doctrine nonetheless. It cannot be escaped. Doctrine leads to practice. Right doctrine to right practice, wrong doctrine to wrong practice.

    We are all theologians, however we’re to strive to be Biblical theologians.

  3. Very well said, Nathan. Orthodox begets orthopraxy… Reverse the order or replace “orthodox” with anything else, and it no longer works.

    Thanks for the comment and for visiting. Oh, and by the way, you have the coolest Web address ever: Great domain hack!

  4. Hey Rick, love the site, but I had to comment on this article.

    I am not christian, I don’t believe in a higher being or any “thing” that predetermines or governs our life in some small way. I am what most ppl would call an atheist, for lack of a better word. But I still have a moral belief in what is right and what is wrong. I know that there are certain things that someone should never do and I know that, with that being said, I also know that the main cause for wars throughout the ages, is that one religion disagrees with another or “my religion said that what you are doing is wrong, so I am going to kill you” etc … And because of this, religion should die.

    The problem is that people can’t differentiate from what is right and what someone is telling them is right. If people learned that their actions have consequences and that saying “it is in the name of a higher power” will not absolve them of their actions, they will think twice about doing what they doing.

    Because religion will never truly die, because ppl are like lamb’s, they have to be told what to do and how to do it, this world will never know peace.

    Here’s some food for thought, if you had never heard of religion, if you had never heard of the bible, would you still be moral or believe what you believe today?

    What would you believe if no one told you what to believe?

  5. If I had never heard of Jesus Christ, I would be honest enough to admit that nothing matters and that morality is majority-rules. Apart from God, man is an animal that matters no more or less than the ants burned under a child’s magnifying glass. In an effort to placate myself, I would either convince myself that somehow humans, and thus some arbitrary morality, matter; perhaps if somewhere along the way that illusion lost its luster I would do as billions have and bow to one of the myriad false religions present. Had I never heard of Jesus Christ, I would be doing any and everything to please myself and/or gods of my making.

    If you want to blame Christianity, though, for various things, I hope you’re honest enough to judge Christianity by what defines it and not by those who claim Christ’s name in vain. Straw men are quite easy to knock down; the real deals, not so much.

    Thanks for your comment, though, and I hope I answered your question satisfactorily. I don’t wish to debate anything, though, especially due to your already showing your belief system to be irrational: in an atheistic system, there is no true “right” or “wrong” to appeal to (humans, supposedly being part of the animal kingdom, are no more bound by law than the mate-devouring mantis, for instance). It’s often said that atheism is the logical end of agnosticism; I like to add that nihilism is the logical end of atheism.

  6. Don’t think that I only focus on the mistakes made by Christians, I am talking about all beliefs of all kinds.

    Also, please direct your attention to my line:
    “I am what most ppl would call an atheist, for lack of a better word.”

    I don’t consider myself an atheist, am saying that is what most ppl would define my belief to be ;)

  7. Dan Lee,

    It’s great you have personal moral beliefs. The challenge in your case is three fold: first, morality needs an anchor or framework in order to apply to everyone equally. Second, morality has no genesis in a materialistic only universe. Thirdly, no materialistic universe is infinite in size or time, i.e. basic laws of physics all point to a recent beginning in evolutionary terms.

    Like Rick says, “i hope you’re honest…” about Christianity and religion in general. Wars allegedly due to Christianity actually didn’t cause much death and destruction. Not that excuses any such war. Of course false religions, such as Islam, have and do cause some death and destruction. See, the Crusades and many of today’s conflicts.

    Still, atheism takes the all time prize! Communism wasn’t exactly “religion” was it? How many Inquisitions or Crusades would it take to equal any single atheistic communist dictator’s accomplishments? Hitler was a pastor of which church, a member of which denomination? His philosophy was based in eugenics and evolution and completely atheistic!

    The modern church abandoned many biblical teachings of Jesus but has always needed to pretend they didn’t. Modernity’s children, the post-moderns have fully embraced such abandonment without the pretence in most cases.

    Religion without God isn’t much different than atheism. Individuals are left to fend for themselves. Each and every individual’s attempt to discover their own personal expression of piety results in failure. Post-moderns struggle just like atheist. Sure, you believe in some version of right and wrong but why apply that to me? Who made you judge and jury of my life?

    Skepticism or agnosticism doesn’t do much for one’s belief system either. If nothing can be proven correct obviously it cannot be proven that all things are less than certain. You’re stuck with simply saying “I don’t know!” Indeed, if honest, when others make positive declarations the skeptic would still say “I don’t know!” Unfortunately, they betray their cause when they say “You don’t know either!” Really? How do you know?

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