Sunday, March 27, 2011

Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Heretic?

hy do so many evangelicals act as if false teachers in the church could never be a serious problem in this generation? Vast numbers seem convinced that they are "rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'; and do not know that [they] are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked" (Revelation 3:17).

In reality, the church today is quite possibly more susceptible to false teachers, doctrinal saboteurs, and spiritual terrorism than any other generation in church history. Biblical ignorance within the church may well be deeper and more widespread than at any other time since the Protestant Reformation. If you doubt that, compare the typical sermon of today with a randomly-chosen published sermon from any leading evangelical preacher prior to 1850. Also compare today's Christian literature with almost anything published by evangelical publishing houses a hundred years ago or more.

Bible teaching, even in the best of venues today, has been deliberately dumbed-down, made as broad and as shallow as possible, over-simplified, adapted to the lowest common denominator—and then tailored to appeal to people with short attention spans. Sermons are almost always brief, simplistic, overlaid with as many references to pop culture as possible, and laden with anecdotes and illustrations. (Jokes and funny stories drawn from personal experience are favored over cross-references and analogies borrowed from Scripture itself.) Typical sermon topics are heavily weighted in favor of man-centered issues (such as personal relationships, successful living, self-esteem, how-to lists, and whatnot)—to the exclusion of the many Christ-exalting doctrinal themes of Scripture.

In other words, what most contemporary preachers do is virtually the opposite of what Paul was describing when he said he sought "to declare . . . the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). Not only that, but here's how Paul explained his own approach to gospel ministry, even among unchurched pagans in the most debauched Roman culture:

I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Notice: he deliberately refused to customize his message or adjust his delivery to suit the Corinthians' philosophical bent or their cultural tastes. He had no thought of catering to a particular generation's preferences, and he used no gimmicks as attention-getters. Whatever antonym you can think of for the word showmanship would probably be a good description of Paul's style of public ministry. He wanted to make it clear to everyone (including the Corinthian converts themselves) that lives and hearts are renewed by means of the Word of God, and by nothing else. That way they would begin to understand and appreciate the power of the gospel message.

By contrast, today's church-growth experts seem to have no confidence in Scripture's power. They are convinced the gospel needs to be "contextualized," streamlined, and revamped anew for every generation. Forty years of that approach has left evangelicals grossly untaught, wholly unprepared to defend the truth, and almost entirely unaware of how much is at stake. The evangelical movement itself has become a monstrosity, its vast size and visibility belying its almost total spiritual failure. One thing is certain: the cumbersome movement that most people today would label "evangelical" is populated with large numbers of people who are on the wrong side in the Truth War.

We are right back in the same situation the church was in a hundred years ago, when modernists were busily re-inventing the Christian faith. Far from being a strong voice and a powerful force for the cause of truth, the evangelical movement itself has become the main battleground.

Labels: John MacArthur, The Truth War

Posted by Phil Johnson on Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

Men with breast

Men with Breasts
From; Banner of Trith

Only be strong and courageous. (Joshua 1:7)

We seem to be like the proverbial frog in the pan of water on the stove. As the water is slowly heated the frog is unaware of his perilous condition until it is too late and he is boiled to his death. We seem to be like fish in water. They do not know their environment because they have never known anything else. The feminization of men in the western world is a stark reality that many fail to see. It is so much a part of our culture that younger men in particular largely do not see it. If C.S. Lewis wrote of Men with Chests,1 I suggest we now have a culture of men with breasts, men who act more like women than men.

As God called Joshua to take over for Moses, as he was to lead Israel into the Promised Land, he told him to be strong and courageous, that the ground of his confidence was the fact that as he had been with Moses, so he would be with Joshua. It is time for men to be strong and courageous, but in order to be that we must see the rampant feminization of the western man. What are the characteristics of men with breasts? I list ten of them in no particular order.

One, sentimentality. Men seem to live on their feelings, being far too subjective, eschewing the necessity of objectivity. Men are told from childhood to 'get in touch with their feelings,' to express how they feel to other men, to bare their souls, to let others know their fears, struggles, and failures. Listen to how many men speak today. They say, 'I feel good about my job. I feel good about my marriage right now.'

Two, role-reversal. Moses in Genesis 1 and Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 both make clear that the wife is the helper of her husband. He is to tend the garden. He is to lead the family. In other words the husband is the provider and the wife is to assist him in his labours, freeing him to go out into the world and make a living for his family. Today, however, I see many couples who have this reversed. The husband is his wife’s help-mate. So, men stay home from work to babysit the children while the wife does her thing. Men who get home late from a trip and have an early morning meeting the next day are expected to stay up for an hour or two with a sick child while the wife sleeps. I know this may be controversial and by all means, husbands and fathers are to sacrifice for their families, but I wonder how much of this is fuelled by couples seeing the husband as the one to help his wife in her role.

Three, aversion to duty. We often hear today that a man ought to find a job he truly loves and do it, even if it puts a financial hardship on the family. I am all for men finding jobs they truly enjoy but what if that is not a possibility! Then what? Most men of the World War II and Korean War generations stuck with hard or boring work because they understood duty. They knew they had to provide for their families.

Four, irresponsibility. This goes back to Adam’s sin in the garden when he blamed Eve for his disobedience. Men have been doing it since, but now many take it to a higher level. Young men delay entry into the work force so they can 'hang out' in Aspen for a year or two. They delay marriage because they don’t want the responsibility, putting hardship on women whose child-bearing clock is ticking, who find it necessary to enter the job market when really what most of them want is to have children and rear them.

Five, many men today expect their wives to work outside the home, to provide a second income so they can enjoy the finer things of life. I have never said that women cannot or should not work outside the home (some really love it), only that their primary responsibility is the home. Unfortunately women who work outside the home are expected to work inside the home too.

Six, selfishness. It seems that many men today are all about their hobbies, sports, guy time, and television programmes. They seem to think they can come and go as they please. If one tendency is effeminate aversion to duty, then another is machismo, assuming they can run roughshod over their wives.

Seven, emotionalism. This is similar to sentimentality but with this difference — emotionalism is a state of being where a man is dominated by his feelings. He cannot seem to get past them. He is depressed. He is fearful and anxious. He feels bad about himself. He is paralyzed with fear. He cannot seem to get going in the morning. He wallows in his misery and looks for other men who will commiserate with him. Men’s groups like these remind me of the women in Jerry Maguire2 who are weeping and baring their souls to one another in their support group. Men who indiscriminately 'bare their souls' do not inspire leadership in their wives and children. Leadership can be a lonely existence. Sometimes a man must suffer alone, pouring out his soul to God, his only refuge and strength.

Eight, transference. Again, this is similar to irresponsibility but with a deeper meaning. I have long observed that men who became addicted to pornography, alcohol, or drugs in their teen years seem to have their emotional development arrested at the very time they began their addictions of choice. So forty or fifty year old men who began taking drugs at fifteen still act like fifteen year olds, and one of the ways this shows up is an unwillingness to accept rebuke, criticism, or to own up to one’s sinful living, just like fifteen year old boys. They are masters, yea have finely developed over the years the art of transference, blame shifting. It is always the wife’s fault, the boss’s fault. This is so terribly effeminate!

Nine, an aversion to pain and self-discipline. The effeminate man will do anything to avoid the pain of hard work, making the hard choices, telling his children 'No.' He is undisciplined in his eating and sleeping habits, sloppy in his dress and speech, inconsistent in personal and family worship. He prefers to let his wife do the hard things with the children. He sleeps in while she gets up early to feed the children. He watches television at night while she reads to them and tucks them into bed. And . . .

Ten, abandonment. While this unfortunately and dreadfully has been true in the African American and Hispanic communities for some time due no doubt to the ravages of a failed welfare system which castrates men — this is most certainly also true in the white community today. Men regularly leave their wives and children for other women, telling themselves that their wives do not understand them, don’t meet their emotional and physical needs, convincing themselves that the children will be okay with this, that they surely want to see their daddy happy. Men abandon their families for money, caving into the corporate ethos of giving one’s life for the sake of the company, telling themselves that they must work these ridiculous hours in order to provide well for their families. Do you not see this in today’s men? Why is this so and what is the remedy? See the devotional 'Why Men with Breasts.