Amusing ourselves to death
The Presbyterian Layman March/April 2001 Volume 34, Number 2, the Areopagus is fully functioning in the Presbyterian Church (USA). It is like sidewalk theater where people literally are amusing themselves to death by reincarnating ideas plagiarized from pagans.
Turning the deaf ear
To sustain their whimsy, some Presbyterians turn a deaf ear to what matters: the truth as revealed in Jesus Christ and in Scripture, the incarnate and written Word of God, respectively. And they mock those who believe otherwise.
Some people treat the great confessions in the Book of Confessions as relics of bizarre religious zealots. And those who should defend the Reformed faith too often allow themselves to be cowed by people who dumb down Christianity into personal appeasement programs.
Flirting with apostasy
As a denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA) perilously flirts with apostasy.
Some of its leaders make excuses for ministers and members who wonder aloud, “What’s the big deal about Jesus?” They cannot bring themselves to declare unashamedly that the sufficiency of Christ for salvation for all people is beyond question or debate by people who appropriate his name.
Others cheerfully announce that Jesus welcomes all people, forgetting that Jesus leaves none of us where he found us. They insist that God’s standards for behavior no longer bear the harsh edge of the Old Testament law. Really?
Did not Jesus say:
- “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matt. 5:21-22).
They want a vocabulary that exalts mercy without discipline, forgetting the chilling etymology of the phrase, “thy mercies are new every morning” – fallen Jerusalem as described in the heartbreaking lamentations of Jeremiah while he wandered among the smoldering ruins and corpses.
The denomination’s leaders are planning great things – 1,000 new congregations in 12 years – and forgetting that what we planned before has utterly failed. If these 1,000 congregations are not built upon the solid rock of God’s Word, they will be washed away along with the 1.5 million Presbyterians who have left the denomination since the mid-’60s.
Musings and decline
Blame whomever you wish for that ecclesiastical disaster, but every scrap of evidence suggests a connection between our novel musings and our decline.
Similar ideological flippancies were on the minds of those who summoned the bow-legged scholar, Paul, to share his “new thing” at the Areopagus. But Paul’s new thing was not an amusement.
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has appointed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter” (Acts 17:30-32).