[anzac] "COOL" CHRISTIANITY?? - Andrew Strom

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From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2013 19:55:52 +1000
"COOL" CHRISTIANITY - Entertained to Death??
by Andrew Strom

In 1993, the well-known evangelical preacher John MacArthur put 
out a book entitled 'Ashamed of the Gospel' (subtitled, "When the 
church becomes like the world"). Obviously, because it was written 
by a known Conservative, many modern leaders may have found it 
easy to bypass this book's insights and warnings. But when I read 
it, I found it an incisive and devastating expose of much that is now 
occurring in Christendom. In it, MacArthur writes: "Traditional 
methodology - most noticably preaching - is being discarded or 
downplayed in favor of newer means, such as drama, dance,
comedy, variety, side-show histrionics, pop-psychology, and other
entertainment forms... In the past half-decade, some of America's
largest evangelical churches have employed worldly gimmicks like
slapstick, vaudeville, wrestling exhibitions and even mock striptease
to spice up their Sunday meetings. No brand of horseplay, it seems, 
is too outrageous to be brought into the sanctuary. Burlesque is 
fast becoming the liturgy of the pragmatic church." 

In many churches today, it is seemingly no longer 'positive' enough
(in the modern TV-marketing sense of the word) to emphasise the 
cross, deep repentance, holiness, "death to self" and all the other 
meaty elements of basic Christianity which the New Testament 
emphasises again and again. And so we change everything (even 
the very essence of the gospel itself) to fit the spirit of the age in 
which we live.

"People don't want to hear about all that negative 'sin' stuff any
more," we reason. "We'd better preach things that win them over 
in a positive, modern way."  Thus, the epidemic of preachers who 
seem to sound more and more like TV commercials every week: 
"Come to Jesus, He will make you happy, He will fulfill the desires 
of your heart, He will comfort you, He will satisfy you, etc, etc."  

There is almost no difference here to the sentiments expressed in 
your average toothpaste commercial, but the most alarming thing 
of all is that many preachers seemingly wouldn't care even if there 
was. They cannot see what an enormous effect this 'marketing' 
approach is having on the very nature and content of the gospel 
they preach, and thus on the lives of the Christians all around them. 
Their attitude often seems to be:- 'Whatever brings them in the 
door is OK by me.'  This is the very attitude that has led to what 
I believe is a crisis of colossal proportions amongst today's 
Christian youth.

As I have said, today much of this error is flooding into the church
under the guise of "relevance". In the name of 'relevance' we are
rushing around desperately trying to make our music "cool" and 
our leadership style "cool" and our gospel "cool" and our youth 
events "cool", etc, etc,- all in an effort to attract the world on it's 
own terms. None of this is of God at all. It relies almost entirely 
on the 'arm of the  flesh'. It is really nothing less than worldliness 
and compromise in a new and very subtle (yet deadly) form.

Instead of "holier than thou", it seems like we are now expected 
to be "cooler than thou". Our whole effort is aimed at proving to 
the world that Christianity is just as cool, just as much shallow 
fun, just as much of a party, as the world has to offer. And so, 
to prove all this, we have to entertain and entertain and entertain. 
We feel we have to become just like the world, in order to impress 
the world on it's own terms. Thus, we  now need to be seen in 
fashionable (or better- still, 'hip' or alternative) clothes. And our 
youth events become an excuse for a "party". And our 
presentations become entertaining multi-media extravaganzas. 
All in an effort to equal or "out-cool" the world. (Which is why 
you now see 'moshing' heads, slam-dancing and stage-diving at 
our youth concerts - matching the world on it's own mindless, 
hedonistic terms. "Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God"). 
Like I said, cool pride, worldliness and rebellion - all in the name 
of "relevance". JUST LIKE the WORLD in EVERY SENSE. Does 
this sound like God to you?

Speaking of the huge Christian Greenbelt Festival held regularly 
in England, musician John Allen stated: "It seems undeniable that 
most of the audience is there simply to enjoy the music, not to 
think hard about anything; and there is a real danger of the 
emergence of the 'Greenbelt Christian', the semi-converted, 
shallowly committed teenager whose Christianity means little 
more than that he enjoys festival-going."   What a tremendously 
significant statement! And the tragic fact is, that such 'Greenbelt 
Christians' are now found in their multiplied thousands right around 
the globe. For it is not just the large festivals that have succumbed 
to this spirit of entertainment. We now find this 'entertain-them-at-
all-costs' approach everywhere, from local church youth groups 
right up to large regional gatherings. This spirit has pervaded 
everything, particularly those areas in the church that are connected 
with young people. In fact, it has become increasingly rare to find 
gatherings of Christian youth now in which these attitudes do not prevail.

What we are actually doing by trying to make our Christianity more
worldly, is placing it at a great disadvantage. We are stripping it 
of the things that historically have made the Christian faith so
appealing and powerful. I am also convinced that more than any-
thing else, today's jaded youth will respond to a CHALLENGE. In 
fact, I am convinced that the greater the challenge, the more interest 
and the greater level of discipleship there will be. What today's 
"amused-to-death" young people need desperately is a cause 
worth fighting and dying for - a cause that calls them to deny 
themselves and to live a life of radical obedience to God. Jesus 
Christ is that cause. And if we don't provide such a challenge to 
today's jaded generation, then don't be surprised if some much 
darker cause arises to steal their allegiance. In many ways, 
today's youth, raised for much of their lives in a spiritual and moral 
vacuum, are truly ripe for the picking. And the devil knows this 
very well. If we are not willing to provide the youth with a cause 
worth dying for, then he surely will.

There has always been a 'social' aspect to the Western church 
that has attracted a certain 'club' membership. But this is different. 
This is an epidemic, and it is being encouraged right from the 
very top down. Many pastors and youth leaders have concluded 
that it is best to give the young people what they seem to want, 
just so they can get the numbers in the door. And the problem 
is growing worse, not better. Unless something drastic is done, 
all I can personally see on the horizon is years and years of 
such continual shallowness that we end up with churches full 
of people who desire little else but 'ear-tickling', entertainment
and crowd-pleasing (rather than God-pleasing) "worship". In actual 
fact, this is already a total reality on such a massive scale in 
today's Western church, that it begs the question of whether true, 
historic Christianity can even survive much longer without being 
utterly swamped by the prevailing hedonism and selfishness. 
Despite what we are being told, things really are that serious. 
True, historic Christianity is in terrible danger on many fronts. 
Unless something dramatic occurs, I see only years of
increasing lukewarmness, shallowness and compromise ahead.

Surely the lament of Jesus found in Mt 15:8 is just as applicable
today as it was then: "This people draw nigh to me with their 
mouth and honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from 
me."  Where are those amongst today's youth ministries who will 
stand up and be counted for the Lord and His truth in our day?

-PLEASE COMMENT on this topic at the website below-

http://www.revivalschool.com/

[-From the book, "Entertaining Ourselves to Death?" by Andrew Strom]