I know I have mentioned this before, but I feel the need to vent once again. Carrie Prejean, now the former Miss California, is an embarrassment for evangelicals everywhere. Back a few months ago, Prejean made headlines because she made some pro-marriage statements during the Miss America beauty contest. She won second place, robbed of the top ranking some say because of these comments.
At once she became the darling of the social conservative evangelical community as she continued to be mocked by homosexual activists and progressives everywhere. She was booked on all the big conservative programs. Religious leaders called her a role model – someone not afraid to stand up for her faith.
But let us evaluate exactly what she said that evening. Here are her comments:
“We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.”
This is not exactly a rousing endorsement of God’s plan for marriage. She is merely stating a personal opinion, not defending a Biblical belief. She bases her belief on marriage on how she was raised, which just happens to follow a Biblical model. Do you see the difference? Now, while this statement is not exactly a profession of faith, I am more than willing to admit it still took courage to say. However, this is more of a reflection of “family values” and conservative opinion as opposed to Biblical absolutes.
So, the statement itself was weak. Also keep in mind the venue in which she was saying it. She was competing in a beauty contest run by Donald Trump. She was strutting around half-naked being leered by judges only concerned with outward appearance. I’m not sure what kind of family values this portrays.
After the big event, we found out even more information about this so-called champion for family values – Ms. California had once posed for some topless photographs which quickly hit the internet. She defended herself by declaring that she was a Christian and a model, and sometimes models take these kinds of photos. Models may take these photographs, but should Christians?
Where was the Christian outrage? I could not find very much. In fact, many Christians I know still defended the woman. After all, she is against homosexual marriage… These pictures were just part of a conspiracy against Christians. Give me a break!
The latest news is that Miss Prejean has been fired even as Miss California for failing to live up to contractual agreements. She was not doing her job. To be honest, I do not know how legit these claims are, but the same Donald Trump who defended her during the picture fiasco is the same Donald Trump who now signed her pink slip. But, still Christians are convinced that this is part of a conspiracy. Hollywood liberals are out to destroy a godly Christian. Again, give me a break!
It always amazes me how simple minded some in my own circles can be. It seems like when anybody says anything that can be vaguely construed as religious, they are instantly heralded as the raising star we’ve been waiting for. Hurray, we’ve found somebody who is popular and mainstream! But, just as quickly as we build them up, they fall down. Of course, they have no where to go but down. We don’t bother to look for substance or depth, we just jump at the first site of what may appear as faith. Should we be surprised that such people so often disappoint us?
I think this has even seeped into the way we evangelize. I was at a meeting a few weeks ago that was described to me as evangelistic. Yet, as the speaker began to give the gospel, it sounded more like an “inspirational” message. He was describing how bad things were today. He spoke to those who dreamed of a better life. To those people, he boldly proclaimed that this man named Jesus wants to help them. He so desperately wants to rescue them from their situations and develop a meaningful relationship with them. How does one obtain such a relationship? We must first admit we are sinners. We all make mistakes in life, don’t we? Second, we must believe that Jesus wants to save us. Finally, we must call upon Jesus. Ask Him into your heart. He led asked all those interested in doing this to come forward and surround the pulpit, which several people then did. He led these people in a quick prayer, looked up and declared these folks to be saved.
My heart was crushed. In reality, salvation was just reduced to walking a few steps and closing your eyes at the right moment. This pastor, without ever meeting or talking with any of these people, declared them all to be saved! Why? Because they walked an isle and closed their eyes. Is this really Biblical salvation? Absolutely not. It is a shallow replacement. It is a gospel that is really not a gospel.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:6-10
The message I heard appealed to man’s aspirations and good intentions. The gospel appeals to sinners who realize their helpless condition. Men must realize they are not good people in need of a better relationship and a better situation in life, but sinners before a holy God. A Savior is only appealing to those who need saving. They must be made to understand this Savior is their only option. Pulling up ones self by their own bootstraps is not an option or even a possibility. What makes God’s love so great is recognizing that the object of that love is completely undeserving. This sounds awfully negative, but men must be made aware of the seriousness of their sin. This is what makes the Good news, just that.
The situation I described here can also be descriptive of thousands of church services each Sunday. Many people come, walk an isle, pray a prayer, sign a card, and then never be heard from again. Why? No real change has taken place. Why? No one ever took the time to describe the real gospel to them. If people were already good to start with and have now added Jesus to their lives, why would that have a need to do anything else? Nothing in their lives has changed. The gospel cannot be reduced to a mere decision or affirmation of stated fact. Yet, because of shallowness, laziness or so-called simplicity, many people will find themselves in hell after having been told they were on their way to Heaven. This is the tragic consequence of an incomplete, watered-down and ultimately false gospel.
Where the true gospel is preached, is will produce results. The results may not be thousands flooding to a pulpit during an invitation. But why does that matter if none of them ever step foot in a church again? What good are commitment-free professions of faith? Are we looking for quantity or quality?
Fellow Christians, it is time to grow up.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. – Ephesians 4:11-14
About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. – Hebrews 5:11-14
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Let us not be content with mere platitudes about morality. Let us never again be satisfied with shallow preaching. Crave the Word of God! Cultivate a desire to delve into the depths of Scripture. Sound doctrine ought to be our life and breath. Why? It is through the depths of the teaching of God’s Word that we grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. Relationships are built on knowledge. The more we learn about Christ, the deeper the relationship we may have with Him.
Allow me to use my wife as an example. Since Christ compared His relationship with us to a marriage (Ephesians 5), I feel justified. When I first started getting to know the woman that would one day be my bride, we began our relationship with a simple understanding of each other. We started to find some common interests and favorite hobbies. I knew the basic details of the woman. Then, as things began to grow more serious, we started sharing more intimate details such as life goals, dreams and even insecurities. At each stage of our relationship, our level of knowledge about each other increased. Then we finally reached a level in our relationship when we both decided that we knew each other enough that love was blooming. We decided to express that love in marriage. Yet, looking back on that time, Jill and I both realize that in actuality, we knew very little about other that day, at least compared with what we know each other now. I’m sure in the future we’ll be saying the same things about this current moment in our relationship.
The same should be true, but on a much larger scale when it comes to our relationship with Christ. As our relationship grows as our knowledge of Christ grows. Doctrine is what tells us more and more about the One we love. Surface knowledge is easy and sometimes praised, but leaves a lover of Christ unsatisfied.
Now, apply this to evangelism. Instead of spreading a shallow gospel that can never satisfy, would it not be better to take our time and explain the full story? Allow the Holy Spirit to change a life through the Word of God in whatever time that takes as opposed to three or four step presentation that only takes a few minutes. Instead of pressuring for a decision, we allow the truth to take hold of one’s soul.
The point of this rambling blog piece is this – beware of mere simplicity. It will always leave us disappointed and the results may be tragic. Learn to discern. Use your mind and cultivate the gifts God has given you. Grow in your faith and work to develop a more mature and deeper relationship with Christ. Don’t be afraid or judgmental of Biblical doctrine or of those who teach – it is for your good and for God’s glory!
End of Rant.