Evangelical [ee-van-jel-i-kuhl]

  1. adj. Pertaining to certain movements in the Protestant churches in the 18th and 19th centuries that stressed the importance of personal experience of guilt for sin, and of reconciliation to God through Christ.
  2. n. an adherent of evangelical doctrines marked by ardent or zealous enthusiasm for a cause

Amazing how a very popular word, that can be used in two different ways, can mean totally different things.

As an adjective, calling an action evangelical expresses fervor, passion and a firm commitment. However, as a noun, it denotes lukewarm people, phlegmatic expressions and tepid pablum.

You know, “I respect the person but that ‘Aw shucks’ attitude about Jesus is completely annoying.” And then, anyone in the Church rattles off the names ad nauseum: Rick Warren, Ted Haggard, Bill Hybels and Joel Osteen completing the “Non-Prophet Organization” (Imagine my cheesy grin now).

They sell books. They pack stadiums. They get invited to the big boys table at the White House. And they are living large! So, it’s all good, right?

evangelicalbookAccording to Warren Cole Smith evangelical journalist and editor of the Charlotte World (and this article in the Charlotte Observer): “Wrong!”

In his new book, an insider critique called “A Lover’s Quarrel with the Evangelical Church” (Authentic Books, $16.99), Smith argues that many, if not most, evangelical churches have lost their way. Instead of sticking with core biblical principles, rich traditions and church-as-community, he says, they promote feel-goodism, technological fads and church-as-entertainment.

Look out. Warren Cole Smith getting nice with “feel-goodism.” I know I didn’t study that theorem in Seminary, but I’m feelin’ it.

And, along with that new theological bent comes the technology to promote it: Twitter (I think I just threw up a little on my PC thinking of this trend for churches).

I mean, we should all have an elevator speech to witness – keep it simple, keep it sanctified. But, to ONLY do it in 140 characters or less?! That’s not outreach. That’s just plain lazy and saying you witness just for the sake of saying you do. But, that seems to be the trend these days.

Revelation 3:15-16 (NASB) tells us, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot… So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

While you kids are gallivanting around in your Learjets teaching the common man to “become a better you”, “being a contagious Christian”, “having a purpose-driven life” or just doing blow with a gay prostitute while fronting biblical organizations, there is all pomp… no circumstance.

Matthew 28:19 (NKJV) commands us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”

joel-osteen-smileAre you doing that, or just pitching a tent for a day, promoting a cause, pushing an ATM and leaving town to cut bait?

Now, before you consider me to be some reject ne’er-do-well, consider Smith who is about to punk the guy pushing folk to get “their best life now”:

Joel Osteen has a view of the world that you can have your best life now,” Smith said. “If I were going to rewrite Genesis and put (modern) words into the mouth of Satan … I’d put Joel Osteen’s words there: ‘You’re not so bad. You’re so close to being God now. Just a little tweak, a little tune-up, a little bit better. Just follow these 7 rules.’

Since I found this article, I have read this book… twice!

If you believe there is no issues with today’s Church and how they have become the Freudian couch of tomorrow, think again. If you consider how we are supposed to reach the lost, and aren’t, this book makes you think twice and reinvent the way you live a Jesus life out loud. If you think nothing is wrong, then … uh, I don’t know… read the Bible:

“Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:5 ESV).

NOW… go read the book. This is unsolicited but it got my goat. What can I say? Oh wait, scroll up… no “feel-goodism” there. Let’s hope it sticks.

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Comments
  1. Don in Texas says:

    I think Warren Cole Smith’s advice is great if we want to insure that we reach the fewest lost souls as possible. Perhaps his call to return to ‘old time religion’ was inspired by the plight of Christianity in Europe. Mr. Smith thinks the “narrow road” is really a tightrope and the fewer people who enter the gates, the better. Or perhaps, Mr. Smith, who is against everything (if you read his articles), has just found another thing to oppose. But this time he hopes to hit paydirt — a target that will get people’s attention — one that will finally put some zip behind his mediocre career. After all , his 401(k) is busted and he needs a miracle!

    • hiscrivener says:

      Don, let me preface – there is NOTHING wrong with technology, mass appeal outreach or large churches. Nada. I have worked in, been involved with and consulted many of them globally (a little inside track to yours truly). That said, it’s what is coming from the pulpit that is the chief issue for me. While the pastor is mailing it in with a warm and fluffy message, many of these so-called shepherds have full-time staff members without insurance and the dreaded 401K. Why? The mission field is everywhere you can take a step, not just across an ocean, but across the street. He does take extremists stances, but I think his premise is sound. We do need to collectively get back to the basics, regardless of the size of the building we do it in.

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