CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Christianity Without Christ

Dec 4, 2016

We have gotten to a pretty bizarre place when you have Christians effectively disowning Christ. Yet increasingly we find some folks who seek to do just that: run with a Christianity without Christ. One might as well speak about Marxism without Marx, or Freudianism without Freud, or chocolate chip cookies without chocolate chips, or split pea soup without peas.

unitingBut liberal Christian churches and denominations have been moving down this road for quite some time now. You may never hear much about Christ or the Bible or basic core Christian truths like sin and repentance, but you will hear all about the latest lefty trendy agenda items.

Thus you will get all sorts of progressive causes being pushed, from homosexual marriage to pro-Islam interfaith hullaballoos. The truth is, theological liberalism most often results in political liberalism. The gospel message is jettisoned and the secular left agenda is run with instead.

We see another example of this happening here in Australia. A denomination known for its theological and political liberalism has been in the media of late, now because of its efforts to “rebrand” itself, making itself even more cool and acceptable to the pagan culture around it.

I refer to the Uniting Church and its revamped logo – a logo which could be something a New Age group or a leftist multi-culti group would happily run with. The story begins as follows:

An unholy war has broken out within one of the state’s biggest church denominations after it admitted to steering clear of religious symbols and even the word “Christ” as part of a rebranding and new advertising to avoid criticism over child sex abuse.
Child abuse survivors have criticised the Uniting Church, which has the third biggest Christian following in Australia, for trying to “disown” the past through a “culture of denial”. The executive director of Uniting — the services and advocacy arm of the church — admitted the royal commission into child sexual abuse had tarred religious institutions. Therefore he said it made sense to scrap “overt” faith-based language from its PR strategy.
“You are right to highlight that sometimes we do not mention Christ’s name in our advertising,” Peter Worland recently wrote. “Since the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, faith-based organisations like ours are perceived pejoratively. So, sometimes we are overt with our religious language, sometimes we are not.”

Even non-Christians got into the act, writing about this move. Tim Blair began his piece with these words: “Some time ago I joked about the Uniting Church tolerating gays, atheists and Muslims – but drawing the line at Christians.” And Andrew Bolt said, “Weak. Christ went to the cross rather than renounce his faith. But the Uniting Church has hidden both Christ and his cross.”

And both were decidedly unimpressed with the weasel words offered in defence of the new logo: “Mr Worland also claimed that if you looked hard enough you could still see a crucifix in the ‘t’ of its new logo. And the lower case ‘i’ either side of the crucifix were ‘people’, representing ‘connection and inclusivity’.”

The flak has evidently got the Uniting Church folks a bit shook up, as they have now come out trying to justify themselves. In their defence their Moderator said this:

About a year ago Uniting underwent a thoroughly researched and comprehensive rebrand and this was with the blessing of the Synod so that Uniting could have a brand that further enhances their services. We can proudly say we are a church with a mission to bring people to God’s love, responding to human need and strengthening community. We stand by our agencies and commend the work they do. In our congregations we witness first hand God’s work in our communities and the expression of the love of Jesus Christ. Never before have we been more united and blessed as a Church.
The Moderator, Rev. Myung Hwa Park

Hmm, the first thing I thought of when reading this is the similar line taken by the Victoria Salvation Army. They too claimed to have undertaken research to examine the “Safe Schools” program. They came out saying it was just terrific and fully something the Salvos could support: billmuehlenberg.com/2016/11/16/compromised-christianity-treachery-betrayal/

In both cases we sure would like to know who these expert researchers were. Did the Uniting Church hire some sleek pagan advertising firm to come up with their new logo? Back in the days of the early church the disciples prayed that the Holy Ghost would come down in power and lead them in effective ministry.

Today we run to marketing firms and advertising agencies – often secular – to help us get our “message” out. But when a message is so watered down and so hostile to biblical truth, the last thing you need is Madison Avenue or Hollywood spruiking for you.

And of course the Uniting Church has been moving away from the gospel for quite some time now, as it runs with all the “progressive” causes, be it pro-homosexual activism or what have you. Thankfully not everyone in the denomination has supported such secular left directions.

There are even breakaway groups which are seeking to remain on the straight and narrow. Consider the Assembly of Confessing Congregations within the Uniting Church in Australia: www.confessingcongregations.com/

Of course it is not just the Uniting Church which has made this move to appeal to the world – revealing its increasing worldliness. Plenty of evangelical churches all over the West are pulling down crosses and any explicit Christian symbols and changing their names to something nondescript and trendy in an effort to be “relevant” and “attract non-Christians”.

But if they are so intent on removing all Christian symbols and words to somehow attract outsiders, then what guarantee do we have that once inside the church they will be exposed to any sort of genuine biblical Christianity?

As mentioned above, gone are the days it seems when being filled with Holy Ghost boldness and a rock solid faith in the authoritative Word of God is sufficient to reach the lost and make an impact in the world. Today it is all about marketing schemes, advertising campaigns, focus-groups, seeker-sensitive services, market research, “rebranding,” and the like.

While there may be a very minor place for such activities, why do I suspect that for many Christian groups, churches and denominations it has become a driving force, one that consumes far more time and resources than the older tried and true basics such as prayer and fasting and standing solidly on the Word?

I am always reminded of the words of A. W. Tozer about such matters:

“Religion today is not transforming people; rather it is being transformed by the people. It is not raising the moral level of society; it is descending to society’s own level, and congratulating itself that it has scored a victory because society is smilingly accepting its surrender.”

“Never has there been more activity in religious circles and, I confidently believe, never has there been so little of God and so much of the flesh.”

“Almost everything the Church is doing these days has been suggested to her by the world.”

“The true church has never sounded out public expectations before launching its crusades. Its leaders heard from God and went ahead wholly independent of popular support or the lack of it. They knew their Lord’s will and did it, and their people followed them – sometimes to triumph, but more often to insults and public persecution – and their sufficient reward was the satisfaction of being right in a wrong world.”

“The Holy Spirit is not necessary to the church; we have arranged it so that he is not required. He has been displaced by what we call ‘programming’ and by social activity.”

“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”

www.heraldsun.com.au/news/uniting-church-under-fire-for-disowning-the-past-over-child-sex-abuse-and-avoiding-religious-symbols/news-story/23455f1073f95d56216c8b45c78abe3e?nk=af5c07d26895376be4b59fba350ac297-1480730717
www.dailytelegraph.com.au/blogs/tim-blair/uniting-church-not-so-churchy-these-days/news-story/aa4fd3e87d7f29d084f6f736eef3ef7f?nk=af5c07d26895376be4b59fba350ac297-1480731994
www.heraldsun.com.au/blogs/andrew-bolt/uniting-church-ashamed-of-its-faith/news-story/82ead07e8b7cf46f8be7d757bdfd901d?nk=3509a06b9aecb50c1c0441ad576a7987-1480810069
www.insights.uca.org.au/news/unitng-church-synod-refutes-misrepresentation-in-the-media

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12 Responses to Christianity Without Christ

  • Meanwhile the Laodicean Church sleeps on. 2 Thessalonians 2:3.

    A side issue: Greens Senator, Richard Di Natale has just sent out his Green ‘season’ card. The card has no mention of ‘Christmas’. No surprise. Interestingly ‘Di Natale’ in Italian (his heritage), means ‘Christmas’.

  • This sad state of affairs is the theme of a very expressive poem, written by Matilda C. Edwards in 1936….”The Church Walking With the World”. It’s very long, but the final verses say this….

    Then the Church sat down at her ease, and said,
    “I am rich and my goods increase;
    I have need of nothing, or aught to do,
    But to laugh, and dance, and feast.”

    And the sly World heard her, and laughed up his sleeve,
    And mockingly said, aside:
    “The Church is fallen, the beautiful Church;
    And her shame is her boast and her pride.”

    The angel drew near to the mercy seat,
    And whispered in sighs her name;
    And the saints their anthems of rapture hushed,
    And covered their heads in shame.

    Then a Voice came down through the hush of heaven
    From Him who sat on the throne:
    “I know thy works, and how thou hast said,
    ‘I am rich,’ and hast not known

    That thou art naked, poor and blind,
    And wretched before my face;’
    Therefore from my presence cast I thee out,
    And blot thy name from its place.”

    Echoing, of course, the words from Revelation…
    Revelation 3:16-19 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

    Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

  • Take Christ, the Cross and the Holy Spirit out of the church and what is left? Nothing but Social club of do-gooders without backbone, direction or real purpose. This is no more than “New cart” theology, eventually they will arrive at Nachon’s threshing floor, 2.Samual.6:6-7, and God will say “enough is enough, no further” Matthew.15:13-14, “when the blind lead the blind” a ditch awaits. Mathew.7:15-23, is also applicable.

  • Yes quite right Terry.

  • Here in New Zealand we have had some interesting developments. In the very early hours of 14 November, there was an earthquake in Kaikoura that killed 2 people and caused a lot of damage. My heart goes out to the friends and families of these two individuals, first and foremost.

    Around 14 hours earlier, Brian Tamaki delivered a message to his church congregation (Destiny New Zealand) where his conclusion was that sexually immoral practices, including homosexuality, cause the earth to literally groan under this type of sin and vomit out its inhabitants. There was a huge outcry in the secular media, with calls that the charitable status of his church be taken away. While of course this is of concern on one level and needs to be strenuously disagreed against, on another level we can expect wickedness to attempt to use the power of the State to either force a church to agree with the world or face the financial consequences. In that second context, it is a right choice to stand with Christ.

    Brian Tamaki’s stand, while it may be debated theologically, I think is an important step to take in that we do need to graciously and clearly say what is sinful behaviour and to point the way to Jesus – repentance and subsequent fruit as proof of a changed life.

    Taking such a stand costs the church, but it makes the lines for those wavering outside of becoming a follower of Jesus to consider carefully and make a determined step in the right direction.

    I do not attend the Destiny church and do not contribute financially to it, or know Brian personally, but so you can see it directly from the primary source, here are two blogs discussing this from him:

    www.bishoptamaki.com/single-post/2016/11/16/THE-LARGEST-EARTHQUAKE-IN-100-YEARS-FOR-CENTRAL-NEW-ZEALAND

    www.bishoptamaki.com/single-post/2016/11/29/Possessing-Cities%E2%80%A6-taking-the-nation

  • The Assembly of Confessing Congregation (ACC) in the Uniting Church of Australia are holding to their version of the Creed.
    More importantly they reject ‘other gospels’, which have caused them to be a breakaway group.
    They are not quite like Bonhoeffer’s Confessing Church, but they are making a stand against compromise and a false gospel.

    Good on them, God bless them.

  • Just before God brought judgment on His people for adopting the ways of the wicked nations surrounding them, Ezekiel 9 says: “[God] called to the man clothed with linen which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side and the Lord said to him, Go through the midst of the city … and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that are done … and to the others He said, Go after him … and smite; let not your eye spare, neither have pity. Slay utterly … and begin at My sanctuary.”
    There is a terrible day coming.
    God sees all that is happening and He sees how His true people are grieving at the wickedness all around us.
    As for the U.S., the lyrics to “America the Beautiful” is (was) a song for Americans to repent and remain righteous to the great God Who established and blessed her. What great judgment is about to befall this country that has abandoned His ways, except for the remnant that remains – who sigh and cry for all the abominations. How long can we go before judgment falls?

  • Thanks Bill. It is appalling how some have put their confidence on “research” as the basis of their decisions for change. Where are is the consultation with the Holy Spirit in all this? Isn’t he supposed to be our counselor in all things? Jesus said he will build his Church – meaning, the Church belongs to Him! How dare some take possession of what is Christ’s and attempt to mold her in their own fallen and corrupted Image?

    1 John 2:18-23: Children, it is the last hour; and just as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But their departure made it clear that none of them belonged to us. You, however, have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I have not written you because you lack knowledge of the truth, but because you have it, and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar, if it is not the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son can have the Father; whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well.

  • I have noticed a number of Christian organisations shying away from their roots as time goes by, even the Bible Society leaves me wondering how much they really believe the Bible. World Vision has gradually separated themselves from being upfront Christian. In fact on the website there is no mention til the last page where they acknowledge their origins in Christianity and this year I just couldn’t believe that their Christmas cards to the children we support didn’t even mention Jesus or the Christ of Christmas in any form. I am taking measures to change all our support to other groups like Samaritan’s Purse and Compassion who direct their support through churches and Christians and do their best to introduce them to Christ. To just feed and clothe and educate people without attempting to introduce them to Christ is failing them miserably I believe. It is denying them the power of the gospel which is surely the hope of all the world.

  • Yes exactly right Lesley – you are 100% correct. Many once great Christian groups are now close to being just secular left “social justice” groups. We need to support only those groups which fully adhere to Scripture and are not ashamed of Christ and the gospel.

  • So have they or have they not changed their logo?
    They published this indignant response on their website:

    They still have their “dove” logo on their website.

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